Wednesday 3rd July, a date that will live long in the history of Concord Rangers, was the day when the promotion to the Skrill South really hit home. The fixtures for the 2013/14 season were released, and seeing names like Dover Athletic, Sutton United and Ebbsfleet United alongside little old Concord Rangers made everyone involved with the club sit up and take note! To paraphrase Dorothy, we’re not in the Ryman any more!
The friendlies through July were all won in convincing fashion by the Beachboys, only letting in 3 goals and scoring 28 during the 6 fixtures. One of which included a 4-0 demolition of neighbours Canvey Island in a game raising money for the two clubs chosen charities. The 2 friendly fixtures in August though were a different story, as losses to Billericay and Chesham not only hit the preparation for the league, but the Billericay game also saw captain & striker Tony Stokes suffer a knee injury which took him out of action for 3 months.
In reaction to the injury to Tony & one to Nicky Cowley, the gaffer wasted no time in bringing in striker Sam Higgins and midfielder Sam Collins as the season got under way. Concord earned their first point of the season away to Chelmsford City with a 2-2 draw, and the following Saturday went one better and picked up their first victory at this level, beating Dover 1-0 away from home. August ended with Concord having played 5 games and earning 5 points, with performances being at both ends of the spectrum!
Obviously this league is much tougher than the Ryman Premier, and our team did their best to rise to the challenges that came their way. An impressive and hard-fought 0-0 draw at Eastbourne was followed by a 3-2 loss at home to table toppers Bromley before Concord eased to a 4-1 victory over Maidenhead as September came to a close. The Beachboys also began their FA Cup journey this month with a 4-3 victory over St Ives Town, a journey that ended with an eventful trip to Barnet at the end of October! Prior to that though Concord suffered their biggest defeat at this level, a very bad day at the office was had as Weston Super Mare put 5 past the Beachboys with no reply.
The Essex Senior Cup also got under way for Concord Rangers during October, beginning with a 5-0 demolition of Waltham Abbey. This journey continues to this day, as we await the draw for the semi-finals in mid January. The Beachboys journey in the FA Trophy also began & ended during November, with a replay victory over Dulwich Hamlet & a loss at Gosport Borough. The league was kinder though, with a 0-1 victory at Staines ending their unbeaten home record for the season. Controversially sponsored Farnborough also visited Thames Road, but were sent packing after the Beachboys hammered 5 past the Paddy Power-less opponents! Another new addition to the squad was made prior to that game, as midfield dynamo Jack Powell signed on loan from Millwall.
The year comes to a close, and the month of December provided all the joys of the festive season! Cup victories over Chelmsford City & Canvey Island, coupled with draws against both Eastbourne Borough and Dorchester Town were rounded off with a 2-0 victory away to Boreham Wood on Boxing Day. This proved to be the final Concord game of 2013, as a power failure led to the fixture against Chelmsford City on the 28th being postponed. Welling striker Kiernan Hughes-Mason joined the club on loan at the start of the month, and has also bagged a goal & provided an impact going forward.
2013 was an eventful one for the Beachboys and everyone who is a part of this club, new challenges continue to present themselves and these guys will face them in the only way they know how, as a team. On behalf of the Concord Rangers Supporters Association, here’s to a healthy & happy 2014 for you all!
You Are My Concord