Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Beachboys 2013 Review Part 2

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

Beachboys 2013 Review Part 1

With another year coming to an end, it’s that time once more to look back & reflect on the last 12 months, and look forward to what lies ahead. 6 months first, and the following 6 months will come at a later date!

Concord Rangers began 2013 with a 2-0 away victory at Cray Wanderers, but the main story of the month was that the weather, and mainly snow, was playing havoc with fixtures. A Ryman League cup tie vs Wroxham was put back two weeks on the bounce due to snow before finally being played on the 29th January. Concord won that fixture 2-0 as the mist descended on Thames Road, almost leading to a 3rd postponement! A comeback 2-1 league victory over Margate at home on the 5th January had extra significance for the Beachboys faithful, as on the same day Canvey lost a 4-1 lead & lost 5-4 to league leaders Whitehawk.

Other highlights of January were an Essex Senior Cup victory over Chelmsford City on penalties (déjà vu this season), Danny Cowley earning league Manager of the Month honours and former Canvey midfielder Leon Gordon signing for the club.

February may be the shortest month, but it contained events that would live long in the memory of all involved with Concord Rangers. The Beachboys picked up big victories at home to Hastings & away at Lewes in the league, but fell to a 0-2 loss against Grays in the Essex Senior Cup semi-finals. Two weeks later the Ryman League Cup semi final vs Hastings took place, and the end result was just one goal shy of the league fixture as Concord won 3-0 to book their place in the final. The big news though occurred 4 days later, as Concord hosted Thurrock in a league tie. A nasty tackle left influential striker Harry Elmes with a broken leg, and the game was abandoned shortly afterwards. I’m happy to say that Harry is back running with the team, and although still a while off playing again, is still very much a part of the Concord Rangers family.

The club had to move on, and that they did with March signings of Leon McKenzie from Hornchurch, Serge Makofo from Farnborough, and probably the highest profile of the lot, Ben Greenhalgh. Ben had previous won a TV football talent show which earned him a contract with Inter Milan, and after spells with Welling & Ebbsfleet he was to spend the rest of the season playing for the Beachboys! The month was full of league games, 9 of them in total, and Concord were able to grab 21 points from a possible 27 to leave them in a great position trying to get a playoff spot.

April kicked off with the 2nd Island derby of the season, a familiar story on the day as the Beachboys picked up a 2-0 victory. However 2 losses in succession were not the most ideal preparation for the Ryman League Cup Final on the 9th! It didn’t matter though, as Concord Rangers fought like warriors to beat Dulwich Hamlet 3-2 aet and win the Isthmian Ryman League Cup. The celebrations continued well into the night & on to the morning, but the focus went right back on to the league and the push for a playoff spot. 3 consecutive away wins coming against Leiston, Met Police & Kingstonian cemented the Beachboys place in the playoffs for the first time.

The 1st of May, Concord Rangers travelled to Wealdstone for the semi-finals of the playoffs, the place where over a month before Concord had dominated the game but lost 2-1 on the night. It was a total opposite on this occasion though, Wealdstone had the better of the possession but the Beachboys won 2-1. The victory was made all the more sweeter because of the manner of the victory compared to the previous encounter! Lowestoft were next up, a location where Concord regularly lost in the league. Streaks are there to be broken though, and thanks to a combination of the overwhelming over-confidence of the Lowestoft team & fans and the dogged determination of the Beachboys the odds were overcome. Goals from Steve King and Leon Gordon sent Concord Rangers in the Skrill South and the fans into hysteria, with many of us invading the pitch and celebrating with the players.

So June was a month of change and preparation for all involved at Concord Rangers, alteration work began on the turnstiles & ground in general, whilst staff & players were brought into the fold. A new physio was hired in Mike Hine, Jamie Butler was signed to keep goal, and Bradley Hamilton was brought in to boost the midfield. There was also two high profile returns, with defender Paul Goodacre and midfielder Gary Ogilvie coming back to the Beachboys.

Optimism was high, and there was plenty more to come for everyone who was a part of the club as the new season approached.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

A Rivalry Renewed!

Over the past three seasons both Concord Rangers and Canvey Island have plied their trade in the Ryman Premier Division, which has led to 6 interesting encounters between the two sides. However this season, with the Beachboys being promoted to the Skrill South, a charity friendly was organised prior to the season to fill the derby day void. As far as the clubs were concerned, that would be it for the season, the only meeting between the two Island based teams.

Then on Thursday 5th December, the draw for the Essex Senior Cup Quarter Finals threw up the fixture that would provide probably the most important chapter in the Concord/Canvey history! Concord Rangers were drawn at home to Canvey Island FC, made even more interesting by the fact that it was Canvey gaffer & former Concord striker Danny Heale who made the draw for the home side! The game is to take place on Tuesday 17th December down Thames Road, and it promises to be an eventful night, with both sides looking to progress in the only cup competition they both remain in.

Now for a bit of recent history. The first scheduled encounter between the teams was due to take place on Boxing Day 2010, but due to a frozen pitch this was put back to a cold Tuesday night in February! It was a tense affair this first game, but a late goal gave Concord Rangers the 3 points & the bragging rights until the return match on the following Easter Monday. This return match was a totally different game though, as the Beachboys eased to a 4-0 victory over the Gulls at their own ground!

During the 2011/2012 season the honours were shared between the two clubs, both earning victories as the away team. Firstly on Boxing Day Concord picked up a 2-0 victory at Park Lane, then Canvey scored their first goals against the Beachboys on Easter Monday to earn a 2-1 victory. Normal service was resumed for the 2012/13 season as Concord were victorious in both league encounters that year. The Beachboys won 3-0 at home on Boxing Day, and then won 2-0 on Easter Monday. 6 league encounters over 3 years, 15 points for Concord and just 3 for Canvey, with the goal difference being 13-2 in the Beachboys favour.

The friendly prior to this season saw Concord Rangers emerge victorious once more, keeping a clean sheet in a 4-0 win over the island rivals. It may have just been a friendly, but it still meant bragging rights for the fans given that at the time, it was to be the only fixture between them this year.

All of that history, the current form of the team, the friendly prior to the season, that all means absolutely nothing now. Cup competitions are all about the day, it’s whether each team turns up with the focus to get the job done, it’s about who can make the most of the 90 minutes on that pitch. History would suggest a Concord victory, but as we all know anything can happen in this wonderful roller-coaster of a sport. There should be a great atmosphere at Thames Road on Tuesday night, I can’t wait!

#YAMC

Alan Jessup-Peacock

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