NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: New chairman, new ideas as brand new era comes to West Street

On the field, progress has been evident at Chatteris Town, and with a new chairman at the helm, leaps and strides look to be made off it too.

Adam Elliott took over the reigns at West Street from Julian Young this summer, with the intentions of building a reputation like perhaps never seen before.

An avid supporter of the Lilies, Elliott has set out his aims for a club who look to prepare for further development, particularly in the local community as a fresh image seeks to be painted.

With full commitment and focus on what could be achieved, the young chairman is hoping to make an imprint on a club, and a town, that he believes has the potential to gain increased recognition in the public eye.

Here’s what he had to say in terms of why he took over as chairman, his vision for the club, current off-field progress, involvement within the community and possible 2020 centenary year preparations.

Impact: Elliott vows to help the club become a fan’s favourite with the local public during his tenure (Credit: Adam Elliott).

REASONS FOR TAKING CHARGE

“It was only five months ago that I got involved with the committee.

“I have been going home and away with the First Team for most weeks for the last couple of years anyway.

“There are certain things I can bring to the committee that I have learnt from my short working life in terms of making money, events and ideas of how to grow socially.

“It was a shame that Julian had to step down because he did a fantastic job and I think some people forget what a good job he did do when three, four years ago when he took over, this club was struggling. He has done a magnificent job along with a lot of the committee members.

“I have got a vision and I am one of these people that want to act and want to get things done.

“I do not want this club to sit still because we are a sleeping lion and we can definitely wake up and crack on soon.”

VISION

“Primarily, we are looking to get as high through the leagues as we can.

“The first team (target) is promotion. If I am honest, they should be looking towards the title this year in a tough league, but it is a tougher job this year because we are going to have to finish top three because of how many teams are interested in going up compared to last year.

“We cannot forget about the Reserves and A Team and I think by looking to try and press our Reserves and A Team as high as possible, it will mean we can get a better quality of player here, which will automatically improve not only our First Team but also the other two teams.

“It is about continuity throughout the club on pushing through the leagues.

“As well as that, we need to become more of a community club.

“Chatteris is a small place; there are few surrounding towns. The only way we are going to make this club grow into what we want it to do is by getting the people of the town here, watching the games, getting interested and I hope that we can do that and get more of the support of the local community as much as possible.”

CURRENT OFF-FIELD PROGRESS

“Financially, we are in a great place.

“I am not sure if I can say too much about them (grants) at the moment; I think that (details) will all come out in the near future.

“With things like player sponsorship, the lads have done brilliantly. We would like to also thank the community and everybody that has sponsored players because we have raised £1600 through that, which is more than we could have ever hoped for.

“We have got the bar, now open properly. We have got BT Sport running in there all the time, so it is just about trying to get this place used as much as possible.

“It is the best beer garden in Chatteris is what we like to say! We are in a good place to push on.”

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

“The easiest way is to get more involved with a lot of other clubs around town.

“We have had a big summer especially with the cricket club, so a big thanks to Grant Osbourn and Max Kelly for a lot of the work they have put in with the cricket club and the football club.

“We have done things with the cycling club. We have had preliminary talks with the netball club. Walking Football is a big one. We want people to have kids parties here. We want to grow within the community.

“We did a study where we found out a stupid amount of people did not even know there was a football club down West Street and that is scary for us.

“We are nearly up to our hundredth year and so it is important for us to make sure that we are part of the community.

“We are trying to throw as many events as possible and grow within the community like that.”

CENTENARY PREPARATIONS

“With promotion this year, that would give us one year to get into the Thurlow Nunn League and settle. I do not think we have any plans to change on that (Step Six league) at the minute.

“There is so much going to happen here, even in the next two, three months. We are getting new furniture in the clubhouse; we are getting a new car park done.

“There is loads of stuff going on, so over the next two years, it is all about making people aware that we are here and just becoming a family club.”

NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Lilies skipper in high spirits as dawn to new season approaches

Chatteris Town can book their Step Six place whenever they want.

That is the view of Lilies captain Stuart Porter, who believes his fellow teammates are more than capable of playing at a higher level.

Town begin their campaign in the Cambridgeshire Kershaw Premier Division by facing Eaton Socon tomorrow at West Street (August 15, 7.45pm), a team they failed to beat in the league last term.

But Porter, one of the more experienced heads in the squad, thinks the team is ready for the challenge ahead as they hope to achieve manager Ashley Taylor’s promotion ambitions.

“I think the team is well-prepared and ready for Tuesday night”, Porter said.

“Pre-season has been as good as possible, going unbeaten and playing some good stuff.

“Ash has done superb in keeping the majority of the players at West Street.

“He has also added a few, which from what I can see, means there is cover in all areas of the pitch.

“Last year, we were flying in the league when we virtually lost our whole midfield through injury and had very little cover.

“This year will be different, which can only bode well.”

The Lilies finished their pre-season programme without defeat, picking up five victories including three against higher opposition, which the skipper feels has been beneficial to the players.

“Results do not mean anything, but momentum is gained in winning so we should be okay”, he said.

“As long as we take the good habits into the season, we will do okay; the club, players and management want trophies, so we shall see.

“We have been tight at the back with the new inclusion, Dean Grogan, showing he is a strong defender and a leader.

“We have been creating a lot of chances from midfield and Ben (Matthews) has fitted in well up top, so all areas of the pitch look strong.

“The players are having to prove their worth right up to the final whistle.”

With high hopes and a strong belief in what he has seen already, Porter is confident the ultimate prize is there and waiting to be grasped.

“Chatteris can get promoted whenever we want I believe.

“Every higher team we have played has commended and said we should be at that standard.

“We know it and they (the players) know it is all about points in the league now.

“Our side is young but experienced enough and the fact they love playing for Town helps, something I do not see in many clubs.

“The important thing is the club is going in the right direction.”

BOXING: Smith oozing with confidence as he claims maiden professional success

Jack Smith believes his first win as a professional has relieved some of the pressure from his shoulders.

Smith earned a 40-36 points victory over Gary Reeve at the Epic Studios in Norwich on Saturday, his first bout since suffering defeat at the hands of Craig Derbyshire in quite controversial circumstances in April.

And the 19-year-old fighter from Chatteris feels his maiden success in the professional ranks has been a real morale-lifter.

“For me to come back as soon as I did and to get the win, it’s boosted my confidence a lot and it’s took a lot of pressure off me”, Smith said.

“I learned that in my first fight, I was at the wrong weight – I was nearly three weight categories higher than what I boxed on Saturday.

“On Saturday, I was at the right weight and I felt fit and strong in there.

“The 32-year-old man came for a good go, but I just boxed clever and kept him at range and did what I had to do to get the win.”

Taking things slow: Smith feels more experience could lead to a promising career ahead

Not much mental preparation was needed ahead of the four-round contest with Reeve, but other targets were firmly in place in order to rectify previous mistakes.

“None mentally really, other than to study him more than my first opponent so I could see his style.

“Physically, I worked more on strength and conditioning and in the gym.

“Also, I did more rounds sparring and I just felt sharp in there.

“I put the time in the gym, on the roads and into my diet and finally the hard work has paid off and it feels amazing, no other feeling like it.”

Amid the setback over three months ago, Smith still had a large following to Norfolk, which the boxer could not have been more appraising.

“My supporters are amazing”, he said.

“What can I say; 115 in the first fight and around 70 in my second at this time of year is really good because everyone is away.

“But it’s not just who comes to my fights, it’s the messages on Facebook wishing me luck and congratulating me whether I win, lose or draw.

“It makes me feel confident with everyone behind me.”

Despite the jubilation of his victory, Smith, who fights out of the St Ives Boxing Academy, is not getting too carried away as he aims for the top of the tree.

“There are always areas inside and outside the ring to improve on, but that’s what I go to the gym and work with Steve Whitwell on.

“There’s no rush into fights that I’m not ready for.

“I just need more to get my experience and see where it goes from there.

As a boxer’s mentality is to win titles as soon as possible, that would be great, but I know my time will come.”

NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: New recruits dare to dream big with the Lilies

There seems to be a common factor between two of Chatteris Town’s summer signings so far.

The Lilies signed central defender Dean Grogan from nearby Ely City last week and, more recently, young full-back Adam Parmenter after appearing for St Ives Town’s title-winning under 18 side last season.

Both players made their debuts in the 1-0 Bill Salisbury Memorial Cup triumph at March Town last Thursday, and both have made the switch to West Street for similar reasons.

“Chatteris interested me over other clubs because of the young squad and the welcoming feeling they sent across”, Grogan said.

“They seem like a team with big potential and big plans, which I hope to be a part of.

“Ash has got plans which he and everyone at the club want to achieve, so hopefully, I can be part of a successful strong back four and team.

“The club has plans so hopefully we can achieve them and play some nice football.”

New signing Dean Grogan (right) hopes to add goals from defence this season

Although the former Robins man hopes to personally develop under manager Ashley Taylor’s tutelage, he also looks to succeed with his new set of teammates.

“I hope to bring my heart and passion to the team, along with my fight and ambition, some strong defending and a few goals.

“I hope I can progress obviously myself, but also help the team progress – the team is the main aim for me.”

Parmenter, who committed to the Lilies cause on Tuesday, has previously featured for fellow Kershaw Premier Division outfit Hemingfords United.

However, the 17-year old hopes to achieve bigger and better things at his new club.

“Although having several other offers, I think this team is going places and they have Ashley Taylor who believes in young, promising players to play at senior level, which I think is great”, Parmenter said.

“I had been training with three other clubs during pre-season and I was contacted by Ashley about coming to training and I thought I’d go along.

“I was also introduced to Jimmy Unwin through one of the young coaches at St Ives, Alfie Tate, so I went along to one of his pre pre-season sessions and his coaching was superb.

“I had played against them last season at Chatteris and thought they had a great setup there, and they finished in a good position.

“They are in a competitive league at a good standard of football, the players there have great quality and the club has great ambition.

“I think I can bring energy to the side and a hard-working attitude with a willingness to learn.

“I think the more games I play, I will improve and add to my game.”

One player that is one of Town’s key transfer targets is Jack Saunders, who appeared for United Counties Premier Division side Yaxley last campaign and highlighted in last week’s cup win.

Taylor’s men continue preparations ahead of the new season when they visit Step Five opposition in Haverhill Borough tonight at The New Croft (7.45pm), before playing three home games in seven days.

 

NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Derby success, regaining fitness and new recruits just some of the ideas on Taylor’s pre-season wish list

Chatteris Town boss Ashley Taylor believes his side can reign victorious on rival territory as they begin their pre-season campaign tomorrow.

The Lilies tackle March Town at The GER on Thursday (7.45pm kick-off) in the annual Bill Salisbury Memorial Cup fixture, their first test of a five-match friendly programme, in which they seek to reclaim the prestigious trophy back from the Hares after losing 1-2 at West Street last summer.

Taylor’s men have only had three training sessions since completing their return season in the Kershaw Premier Division in May, but he feels this is not a major issue against higher opponents.

“I’m optimistic and will always go into a game believing we can win”, Taylor said.

“March are a few weeks ahead of us in terms of preparation, but the lads have kept themselves in good shape.

“It would be nice to win the cup for Bill Salisbury’s family and if we do win, it will be good for our confidence with March being higher-level opposition.”

Activity off the field is in full flow for Town, having lost two star players from last season in Craig Gillies and Aidan Hollis to King’s Lynn Town and Wisbech St Mary respectively in recent weeks.

We are looking at all options right now – Ashley Taylor

And Taylor is committed to looking far and wide to replace them, but also wants to utilise pre-season for other reasons.

He said: ‘The main aim is match fitness, but also cohesion in the team, working on patterns of play and building team spirit.

“It (Gillies’ and Hollis’ presence) impacts how we used to play, but we are looking at changing the way we play this season and if we get things right, we will be fine.

“We will be looking to improve our squad in defence, midfield and attack.

“I would like to bring in three new players, but this is never easy with a lot of competition to sign new players.

“We are looking at all options right now.”

Pre-season training for the Reserve Team has began, while sessions for the A Team get underway tomorrow.

Reserve Team sessions run every Monday and Wednesday from 7pm at West Street, with A Team sessions, from tomorrow, running every Tuesday and Thursday thereafter, same time and venue.

New and current players are all welcome.

Friendly schedules for both sides have yet to be confirmed.

NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Gillies confident ahead of Linnets challenge

It may be the biggest challenge of his career so far, but one that he’s certainly ready for.

Striker Craig Gillies’ switch to step three King’s Lynn Town, who ply their trade in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division, may leave some wondering if he can succeed at a higher standard.

But Gillies, who netted 38 goals for step-seven Chatteris Town in the Kershaw Premier Division last season and finished runner-up in the league’s golden boot, is confident he can compete a few levels above than what he has been used to.

“Step Three is a massive step up and I really like the challenge to see how I can compete at that level”, he said.

“I enjoyed my time at Lynn last time and performed alright.

“I played three, scored three, but with work commitments, it was difficult at the time.

“I am going there with the intentions to score goals and win games, so hopefully it goes to plan.

“The club’s ambitions are to get promoted and be challenging along with a good cup run, so hopefully I can contribute well to that.”

The Lilies front-man has signed a one-year deal with the Linnets after impressing Lynn manager Ian Culverhouse, having previously featured for the club’s reserve side last year.

But Gillies admits there are still areas that can be bettered.

“There are a couple of aspects to my game I know I need to improve, but hopefully with a coach of Ian’s calibre, he can help get the best out of me.

“I had several other offers from clubs in different leagues, but when I knew Ian was interested in signing me, it was a massive privilege.

“From someone who has such experience was a big plus for signing for Lynn.”

The 25-year old forward also had strong words for Lilies boss Ashley Taylor, who has overseen his development since teaming up at Doddington United.

“Ash has been amazing since we first joined forces at Doddington.

“I have so much respect for Ash and I’ve loved playing every second for him.

“I’m sure our paths will cross again.”

END-OF-SEASON REVIEW: Improvements still to be made, but A Team can look back with great fondness

Having not reached the heights of what many may class as a successful 2016/17 season, Chatteris Town A have still achieved progress.

The A Team won 11 from 24 league games this campaign, six more than the previous year, and finishing one place higher in eighth, with an increased number of fixtures played compared to last season’s 18 matches.

Just over two goals a game were scored in all competitions on average, which adds to the impressive record the A side had at West Street, losing just four games on home turf, including an unbeaten run lasting over four months.

And with such a good-looking set of statistics, manager Roger Manchett is proud of what his players have accomplished one year after narrowly avoiding relegation.

“The A Team has had the best season in years”, he said.

“(Home form) was very important and we had a lot of support this year.

“We have improved our goal rate on previous seasons and as a team, created many chances with good attacking football.”

Manchett’s men were front runners during the first period of the season, but slowly fell away into mid-table, which he believes was down to one main reason.

It’s very hard when players get taken and none come back down – Roger Manchett

“We lost players at crucial times”, he added.

“Before Christmas, we were top of the league and then we lost two players – my goalkeeper and right-back/goalkeeper to our Under 18 manager who left the club – which was a big blow for us.

“I then found another goalkeeper only to lose him to the Reserves due to their ‘keeper being injured.

“Sadly for us, this happened when we were playing the top teams in the league.”

Despite losing key squad members, young forward Matthew Walshe was one of the most influential players for the A Team, netting 16 times in 23 games in all competitions, finishing as the team’s top goalscorer.

With Walshe’s impact on the side, Manchett feels fortunate to have kept him for as long as he did, but also thinks other areas of the team, particularly in defence, should be optimised for improvement.

“Matt Walshe is a player that always has a goal in him.

“We were very lucky to keep him this season as I believe he should have been with the Reserves, and when he did get the chance, he progressed to the first-team.

“He is a bright young talent.

“The loss of the ‘keeper didn’t help with goals being leaked and we are always looking to improve on this home and away.

“I want to improve on fitness, start training a lot earlier and want to train the A Team and develop them as a team.

“It would be nice to have a good cup run as it creates that winning mentality, which is always a good thing.”

Even higher expectations are set ahead of the new season as Manchett wants to develop the A Team further, but being able to even field a line-up could prove to be a major stumbling block.

“My ultimate aim would be to gain promotion, but as the A Team are the third team (in line), it’s very hard to when players get taken on a Friday or Saturday and none come back down”, he said.

“As a club, this needs to improve or the A Team will just get further away from the Reserves and then it’s too big a step up or down for players.”

For next year to be an even greater success, it seems the ever-present player shortage issue that looms over Chatteris Town A has to be minimised if development is to become a realistic possibility.