Monday, 12 August 2013

Preseason Is Over, Now The Real Action Begins!

The preseason preparations are finally over, the friendlies have been played and squads rotated & tested. Now it’s time for the main show to get under way after what has seemed like an age of a summer!

The preseason has been an eventful one for the Beachboys, with plenty of goals being scored and up until the final two games very few being let in. It’s also hit the squad hard with a couple of significant injuries that have had to be addressed.

July saw the Beachboys involved in 6 preseason matches, and all of which saw Concord Rangers victorious. First up were a Stevenage Borough XI who were overturned by a 6 goals to 1 margin, which included goals from Tony Stokes, Paul Goodacre and Jason Hallett. Next up was a charity encounter away to Canvey Island, where the money raised on the night would be split between the Indee Rose Trust and the Danny Green Fund, the two clubs chosen charities. Although this was a friendly, there was still bragging rights at stake in what will be the only Island derby for at least a year. It was Concord Rangers evening on this Friday night on Canvey, as a dominant display saw them earn a 4-0 victory on a pitch they’ve not lost on now in 4 consecutive visits.

The following day another squad match took place, this one being used to showcase a number of the younger players in the Beachboys squad against Waltham Abbey. And showcase they did as Concord again picked up a preseason victory, winning 3-1 on a sunny Saturday afternoon on Canvey! What was expected to be the first real test of preseason turned out to be another one-sided victory on the following Tuesday night. Thames Road was the venue for Concord Rangers taking on St Albans of the Calor Premier League, and the Beachboys eased to a 3-0 victory. 12 goals in 2 games meant that Concord Rangers were able to see off a Southend United XI 6-0 and a Dartford XI 6-1 as the July preseason action came to an end.

August however was where the issues started to appear, with the first preseason match of the month being a 4-0 loss at home to Billericay, a team who this past season had been relegated from the Conference South back into the Ryman Premier League. A number of first choice Beachboys were missing, however the biggest story of the day other than the result was that captain Tony Stokes came off injured. After visiting the hospital it was found that Tony had locked his knee, will need an operation and will be out of action for the first couple of months of the season. Devastating stuff for Tony who overcame a niggling groin injury last season & was at a great fitness level coming into this campaign. Concord have wasted no time in trying to fill the void left by Tony, as former East Thurrock striker Sam Higgins was brought in to help lead the attack. Sam was able to slot straight into the preseason action this past Saturday away to Chesham, however no Beachboy found the score sheet in this 1-0 loss. Now thoughts turn to this coming Saturday, Concord Rangers finally open up their inaugural Skrill South campaign at home to Basingstoke, before travelling to Chelmsford City on the following Monday.

Competitive football is back at Thames Road and personally I cannot wait to get back & get behind the Beachboys. We’ve got a tough season ahead, pegged as the underdogs wherever we will go, but I’m sure that much like last season, the determination & heart of this club will prove many an “expert” wrong over the course of the next 9 months!

You Are My Concord!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Expecting Too Much?

The season is nearly upon us, just over a week until the Skrill Conference South (and North) kick off and get under way. 44 teams all with their own aims and ambitions for the season, whether that is to simply stay in the league they're in, to have a decent cup run, or to achieve promotion to the next level. Then of course there's the fans, we have our own hopes & dreams for the coming season, some realistic, some clearly not.

I'll be completely honest, at the start of last season I never even dreamed that Concord Rangers would achieve all that they did. There were hopes of a decent cup run or two (considering there was 4 the club were a part of) and a top half table finish, but that was it. Obviously as the season progress the expectations and aspirations change with how the team progresses, but at this point before the season begins in earnest you have to be reasonable with what you hope for your team, right?

Well a number of teams fans (especially at Ryman level after seeing Twitter recently) believe that their team will be promoted no questions asked, obviously they cannot all be right and given the strength of some leagues many will be in for a massive shock. In the Ryman Premier I've seen fans of Lowestoft, Canvey Island, Wealdstone, Billericay and Hornchurch all state they will be promoted this season, personally I think one of those could well be right, however some are just dreaming a bit too much! I am glad that Concord Rangers were promoted from this league, as it looks to be the toughest it's been in a long time, good luck to anyone who believes they can predict what is going to happen there!

We all want success for the teams we support, don't get me wrong, however there has to be a realistic view as to what success is for each club. For example, this coming season in the Conference South, my view of success for the Beachboys will be to be competitive and stay up in a league many believe we are punching well above our weight to be in. Another cup run would be nice, obviously it's tough to beat a cup win like last season, but making the 1st round proper of the FA Cup would come close! I don't expect Concord to challenge for the league title, I don't expect us to make the playoffs, it would be a fantastic achievement and a dream come true for all at the club, but it's not something that enters into my expectations for the season.

It's about being realistic about what your club can achieve, it may well be easy to get carried away in the excitement when you win your first 5/10 games and sit at the top of the table, but there's always a result or two which can bring you right back down again. For teams such as Manchester United and City, league championships and cup victories are almost a given, a regular achievement which fans expect to challenge for. For teams like West Ham and Fulham, mid-table finishes are achievable and can be made consistently, European football is possible along with decent cup runs, but you're not expecting to make the Champions League or win the Premiership. Fans of top level clubs generally tend to be more realistic over what their team can achieve, I think some non-league fans would do well to learn from them.

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