Some surprising news was announced yesterday by Concord Rangers, striker & club captain Tony Stokes is to go on a 5 game loan spell to Canvey Island FC. I’ll let you digest that for a moment before I continue!
Canvey Island is a small place with two successful non-league football teams, a massive achievement in itself. With the recent rise of Concord Rangers through the non league ranks the rivalry between them & CIFC has intensified. The results in the recent encounters between the two clubs have been in the Beachboys favour on all but one occasion, players (& coaches) have made the small jump across the island, more recently in the direction of Concord, and the fact that the Beachboys ply their trade in a division higher than Canvey all adds fuel to the fire. You only have to have a glancing look at Twitter to see the banter that flies between fans of the two sides, always increased when one side is victorious & the other is subject to defeat. I will openly admit that when at a Concord game & we find out that Canvey are losing, a bit of a cheer can be heard, and I’d put money on fans at Canvey doing the same. All part of a healthy rivalry eh?
Now on to Tony, he’s been with Concord Rangers for a few years now and has established himself as a potent force in front of goal for the Beachboys. He was made club captain at the start of last season, and was an integral part of the side as they won promotion to the Skrill South this past summer. Stokes did have a niggling groin injury last season, but was over that and fitter than ever coming into what was (and is proving) to be a historical season for the Beachboys. However, disaster struck in the final preseason game as Tony injured his knee as Concord lost in emphatic fashion to Billericay.
His recovery & rehab went well, with Stokes making his return to the squad around the same time that his partner Meg was due to give birth to their first child! Plenty going on for Tony on & off the field during that time I’m sure you’ll agree!
Being in a league like the Skrill South, players need to be able to hit the ground running as the competition is fierce, opponents are very tough & it’s a massive step up for a club like ours. This means that Tony has found it a struggle to get back into the starting 11 for Concord; he needs match fitness & sharpness by playing 90 minutes consistently but isn’t getting that at the moment. You could liken it to the old job application excuse, you need more experience before we let you in, but the only way to get experience is by being in there in the first place! This is where the loan move comes in, and it was announced yesterday that Canvey Island FC, our long time rivals & opponents, will have Tony playing for them on loan for 5 games. It was a shock, and will have surprised many people around both sides, however when you look at the bigger picture it makes a lot of sense.
Tony was prolific in the Ryman Prem, knocking in goals for fun, stepping back to that level for a period of time will allow him to get comfortable banging goals in again. He’ll play regularly, which will ensure that his match fitness is back up to its peak, and will ensure that his confidence is at a high when he returns to Thames Road. He’s got a young family, and Canvey Island FC are just down the road, which is ideal for him & his family. Concord want their club captain back to his best, he’s an important part of the Beachboy family and this loan move will ultimately be good for us in the long run upon his return. Canvey Island lost their striker recently to a broken jaw suffered off the pitch, and need a goal scorer to replace him for a short period of time. In this move they get a proven player at this level who’s attitude & commitment is unquestionable, and fill the void until their guy is back fit & healthy.
Benefits all round then from this move, as surprising as it all was! Tony’s a mate, and I wish him the best over there & hope it works out, so that when he returns home the goals are flying in. It’ll seem strange when on Saturday a mate will be playing for the rivals, certainly makes it tougher to want them to lose, but as much of a mate as he is, you wont see me cheering for a Canvey win any time soon!YAMC!