Friday, 26 April 2013

The Season Draws To A Close

With just one game left in the regular season, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on how the whole thing has gone, and look towards our impending playoff journey.

Coming into our 3rd season in the Ryman Isthmian Premier League, the main priority was survival, it’s no secret that we as a club are punching above our weight, and the focus was keeping Concord Rangers established at this level. The months that have passed since the season kicked off back in August has seen the Beachboys do just that and much more. We’ve had heartache, joy, tragedy and more bumps & bruises that you could care to count.

The start of the season saw some poor results come our way, including 1-3, 1-4 & 0-3 defeats from 3 of our first 4 games in August. Only 2 league games in September thanks to cup commitments, both of which produced 2-2 draws. The cups however provided a bit of welcome relief after victories at home to Needham Market & away to Kettering Town. It was possibly the first game n October which started to light a fire in the lads when in the league, as we grabbed a deserved (and to outsiders unexpected) 2-0 victory away to Margate. The cups also continued to provide excitement for the Beachboys, as they came back from 0-3 down to win 4-3 away to Dagenham & Redbridge in the Essex Senior Cup.

An unbeaten November highlighted the corner that had been turned by the lads, winning 4 league games, drawing 1, and winning cup games against Takeley and Redbridge (which Jason Hallett score 7 & 6 goals respectively). A total of 34 goals were scored by the Beachboys this month, highlighting the strength of not just the strikers (Stokes, Hallett & Elmes) but the rest of the squad in that respect. December gave the club a smack in the mouth a week before Christmas as Lewes came to Thames Road & won 6-3, but the team were able to recover quickly and win the first of the two Island derbies 3-0. January became a month controlled by the weather, as did much of February, with snow & rain meaning many games were postponed and rescheduled! The good form continued though, and Concord were able to reach the semi-finals of both the Essex Senior Cup and the Isthmian League Cup. Although Grays sent the Beachboys out of the first, a victory over Hastings sent Concord into the final of the latter.

Thanks to the previous months weather, March & April were some of the busiest months I’ve known for any football club. Tuesday night games were a mainstay, with a few on Thursdays having to be thrown in for good measure. Concord were able to cope though, and remained unbeaten through March until an away trip to Wealdstone on the 28th where they fell 1-2. A victory over Canvey Island on Easter Monday did little to stop a slide though, as the Beachboys then lost their next 3 league games. The league wasn’t the main story at this moment in time however, as on Tuesday 9th April history was made when Concord Rangers beat Dulwich Hamlet 3-2 aet to become Isthmian League Cup Champions. It was a fantastic performance from the team, and the support shown for the lads was excellent.  Later that month the form returned with hard earned victories at Leiston & Met Police which confirmed our place in the playoffs, but at the time of writing our opponents were not certain.

Within the season we’ve also seen our players take a battering. Striker Harry Elmes suffered a horrific broken leg in a home game against Thurrock, a player who means a lot to the team on & off the pitch, I personally wish him all the best and it’s been great seeing him at games recently cheering the lads on. Other players have been seen to take harsh knocks too, Easterford putting his head on the line & coming away a bloody mess, and more recently Danny Spendlove suffering a double break to his eye socket & a compressed/fractured cheekbone. The team have been through the wars this year, and they have worked hard for what they’ve achieved. Now after the home game against Leiston it’s time to focus on the next goal, securing promotion through the playoffs!

You Are My Concord

Alan Jessup-Peacock
Chairman “Concord Supporters Association”

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Bit of a Mixed Bag

Lately the fortunes of Concord Rangers have been as mixed as the weather! Since the end of March it really has been a rollercoaster for the Beachboys & their fans, and it’s not hard to see why given the fact that the team are running on empty (as most teams with hectic schedules are right now).

The topsy turvy run of form began on the 28th March with a tough away trip to fellow playoff (and possibly title) hopefuls Wealdstone. An early sending off for Leon McKenzie made the job difficult for Concord on the night, however some exceptional defending and determined play kept the game scoreless through the first half. John Easterford rose above all others midway through the second half to give the Beachboys the lead they deserved after being the better side even with 10 men. However 2 quick goals in the last 5 minutes gave Wealdstone the victory. There were some ugly scenes at the final whistle from the Wealdstone “fans” invading the pitch, but highlighting the details would give them publicity they do not deserve.

Another away game lay ahead on Easter Monday, this one being the 2nd of the seasons Island Derby games against Canvey Island. To be completely honest it wasn’t the greatest game between the two sides, but Concord ran away easy winners on the day by a 2-0 scoreline. An early Tony Stokes goal & a bit of luck from Jason Hallett got the job done against a Canvey team seemingly not bothered (save for maybe one or two players) whether they won or lost.  

2 more defeats followed for the Beachboys (at home to Hendon & away at East Thurrock) which really killed off any hopes of pushing Whit£hawk all the way for the title, but the playoffs were (and still are) a very good possibility. Before the playoffs though there was the small matter of the Isthmian League Cup final against Dulwich Hamlet. I won’t go into detail as there’s already a great report on the site by Jack Junior Smith on the match which sums it up completely, but after extra time Concord Rangers won 3-2 on the night. The celebrations after the game continued long into the morning for some of us, and it was a date that will live long in the Beachboys memory, even more so for captain Tony Stokes who that day announced he and his partner are expecting their first child.

Concord were brought back down to earth with one hell of a bump this past Saturday though, as relegation threatened Harrow Borough came to Thames Road and pulled off an unexpected 2-1 victory. Players were playing injured, 4 solid penalty appeals were waved away by the ref, & 2 sending off offences were also ignored and just punished with yellow cards, but even so it was a tough defeat to stomach. This made it 4 league losses from the last 5 games, 3 of them in a row, which is the poorest form we’ve been on this season. Every team has blips, and it appears that ours has come right at the business end of the season.

The final 4 games of the season will be tough, as all games are in this league. Tonight Concord travel to Leiston, visit Met Police on Saturday, go to Kingstonian next Monday before ending the regular season at home to Leiston on Saturday 27th April. Now depending on how those games go, the playoffs will take place during the following week, 2nd & 3rd place will host 5th & 4th place teams respectively before the final on Saturday May 4th. Obviously we’d love to see Concord there, so it’s fingers crossed as the final weeks come and go. It won’t be easy though, and the lads will need all the support they can get, it’ll be good to see as many of you as possible at the games!

You Are My Concord!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Cup Final Fever

I am writing this with a little over 24 hours to go until kickoff of the Ryman League Cup Final between Concord Rangers & Dulwich Hamlet, and I have to admit, I am buzzing!

I’ve seen finals before, watched West Ham in the FA Cup final against Liverpool, and went to Wembley to see West Ham beat Blackpool in the Championship Playoff Final last season, but this is different. I tend to approach watching Concord & watching West Ham as following two different sports, although it’s the same game, it’s a different atmosphere, different set up etc. And I know that tomorrow, when I’m on the coach down to Maidstone for the game, it’ll be an experience like no other.

Ok so I’ve followed the Beachboys for 3 years, I’m open when it comes to that, and I’ve not been here through the Essex Senior League days of yesteryear. But it shows the type of club this is, and the effect it has on people, that in these 3 years I’ve become a passionate supporter, a regular contributor to the club (by these articles, PA announcing at matches) and being named “Chairman, Concord Supporters Association”. So when the team does well, it’s the club as a whole succeeding, and it is very easy to feel a part of that success, as even us fans singing in the shed end all have a part to play. The word being used around the club to sum it up is Teamship, sounds made up I know, but thanks to some work by Miki Hood, he found that it’s a proper word, and the meaning he found sums it up completely:
Teamship – “The state or quality of being a team, associated or working with other teams, towards a common benefit or goal.
Teamship, where multiple teams work together, is necessary for the better care and good stewardship of the planet. It’s the next level up from partnership, which is a one-to-one concept.”

So the lads have to take that Teamship, that togetherness, that focus on the goal into the game tomorrow night, even more so after 2 consecutive league losses. This game will be the perfect opportunity to forget the league for the moment, take in the atmosphere of a cup final on what will be a spectacular pitch, and put in a performance worthy of the prize ahead. A number of players have been a part of the Beachboy journey this season, some for only a couple of games and many throughout the whole season, and all their efforts come down to this period, the “business end” of the season. The team have had a fantastic season so far, and it’s nowhere near over with so much still to play for. But a cup final victory, well that would be a payoff for all the hard work the lads have put in over the months since it all kicked off last summer.

I’m excited, it’s hard not to be, it’ll be the biggest game for Concord Rangers that I’ve been a part of without a doubt. And to be fair it’ll be one of the biggest some of the players would have been a part too. It’s a big occasion, as the Chairman has said a few times, it’s a big game for big players, the lads have to step up, put the performance in that’s needed, and work to bring home the first bit of silverware in a few years! There will be a healthy amount of Concord support down there tomorrow night, it’ll be a pleasure to be a part of it, here’s hoping we all come back as very happy Beachboys!

You Are My Concord!

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