We're hand picking quality players to make us better, says Chatham Town boss Kevin Watson

Thursday 03rd July 2014
CHATHAM TOWN manager Kevin Watson says he is treating tomorrow’s pre-season opener against Erith & Belvedere as a training match.

The Chats play Southern Counties East Football League side Erith & Belvedere indoors on a 3G pitch at the London Soccer Dome – close to the Millennium Dome – on Friday night.

Both sides met each other in the Ryman League Division One North and the FA Cup last season but Watson guided Chatham Town to 12th place, while the Deres finished bottom and were relegated after just one season at that level.

Chatham Town reported back to pre-season training on Tuesday and were put through their paces during a two-hour session tonight.

“We’re treating tomorrow as a bit of a practice match really,” said Watson.

It will be the first time that an official pre-season match will be played at an indoor facility, which will close in October to make way for housing on the Greenwich Peninsula.

Watson said: “I think it’s a case of being a difficult time to get a friendly in because people are working on their pitches and we certainly can’t play games on our pitch at that time of the season because we have quite a lot of games late on our pitch which is always a bit of an issue for us.

“A lot of the so-called bigger clubs and professional clubs want to play teams at our level quite early on in pre-season.

“I spoke to (Erith & Belvedere manager) Matt Longhurst and he was able to get the facility so it’s good.

“We’re treating it as a training match because it’s a first chance (for my players) to get their fitness and for us to look at a few new faces and look at the conditioning of the existing players.”

Watson revealed that he expects sixteen players to be in the squad for the game.

When asked about new faces, he replied: “There could be a couple.  There’s been a few away on holiday’s etc, etc, but there’s a couple of players that we’ll certainly be looking at.”

Watson appointed Peter Hawkins, 35, as his new assistant manager after Keith Levett left the club after three years’ service.

“Peter’s come in and he’s seen how we do things and he’s added his ideas,” said Watson.

“It’s early stages. We done some quite hard aerobic work on Tuesday so tonight will be a little bit light with more ball work. 

“We have quite a structured programme with and we’ll be in three times a week over the course of pre-season.

“The boys look like they’ve got a decent base line of fitness already and I think in this day and age you’re responsible to do that really.

“You do have to do a pre pre-season on your own.  You certainly can’t afford to come back without doing much.”

Watson said he and Hawkins will be included in the squad for the season.

“I’ll sign forms like I do every season but it’s surplice to requirements really,” said Watson.

“You don’t have a big squad like some of the other teams have.  I’m a firm believe that everybody needs to have a decent opportunity to play.  I think if you have a big squad people will be left out.

“Both myself and Peter will sign forms to be able to play.

“The good thing is we’ve got the under 21’s as well and they’ll all be available for the first team and all the first team will be able to play for them if required so that helps people keep fit as well.”

Watson revealed that he is enjoying pre-season this summer as he looks to build on the club’s top 12 finish last season.

“I didn’t really used to like it just as a player because you never knew what to expect but now I’m on the other side of the fence as such I actually quite like it,” said the defender.

“The weather is usually quite good, even though you’re training quite late like tonight we’ll do seven-to-nine, so it be quite late when we finish.

“I think it’s a nice little atmosphere and the difference this year where in previous years we only kept four or five players, this year we’re keeping about ten players so there’s a structure already there and we can work on and develop.

“It’s not going to be wholesale changes and we’re not doing open end trials. We’re literally trying to hand pick the quality players to come in and make us better really.”

Meanwhile, Erith & Belvedere have confirmed the players that have put pen to paper for the Park View Road club.

Former Millwall and Fisher Athletic midfielder Charley Hearn, 30, has signed, as has former Sittingbourne and Maidstone United midfielder, Colin Richmond, who played for Fleet Leisure (now Gravesham Borough) in the Kent Invicta League last season.

The Deres have also added goalkeeper Rilwan Anibaba from Beckenham Town and defender Allan Matthews from Cray Valley.

Other players that have signed are Ben Wilson, Adam Marsh, Billy Parkinson, Richard Stroud, Chris Hubbard, Danny Nicholls, Ryan Johnson, Joe Minter, Joe Brown, Simon Dahl, George Humber, Charlie Penfold and Jordan Clark.

A number of players have joined Longhurst from his former club Corinthian.

Visit Erith & Belvedere’s website:  www.erithbelvederefc.co.uk

Visit Chatham Town’s website: www.chathamtownfc.info

Erith & Belvedere  v  Chatham Town
Pre-Season Friendly
Friday 4th July 2014
Kick Off 7:45pm
At London Soccer Dome, East Parkside, Greenwich Peninsula, Greenwich, London SE10 0JF