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.”

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.

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.

 

 

END-OF-SEASON REVIEW: So close to silverware, but top-three finish caps off a season of progress

From cup agony to a possible promotion, it’s been a season of near misses for Chatteris Town Reserves.

Losing two cup finals and finishing nine points behind second spot may make head-coach Benji Brittin reminisce on what could have been.

Compared to the 2015/16 season, the second-string were five places better off in Mead Plant & Grab 1B after finishing eighth, perhaps showing signs of progress.

However, Brittin believes more can be achieved in the next campaign, with the added bonus of first-team assistant manager Sean McKay, who will step in as joint-manager at the start of the 2017/18 season.

“On the whole, I’m pleased with the season”, Brittin said.

“A cup final and a top four finish was our aim.

“I think we’ve surprised ourselves with what was achieved; two finals, a quarter-final and third place, wow! I want to better that next season.

“We won’t stop at just one possible trophy; we want all three, along with promotion.

“Bringing in Sean as joint-manager will be brilliant and we both can’t wait to get started.

“We have great expectations with what Sean and I have planned next season already.”

It hasn’t always been plain-sailing, with players having to switch teams, plus the regular worry of injuries and other absences.

Losing both finals in seven days was soul-destroying – Benji Brittin

Despite potential problems with inconsistency and misbalance within the team, these haven’t caused any major downfall to the Reserves’ trend of results, according to Brittin.

“Players stepping up or even down at times caused a problem balance-wise in setting the team up, but with that said, all involved have done brilliantly.

“We are what it says on the tin: Reserves.

“We support the first-team as and when and those who have done did the job well.

“Our squad was strong enough to cope with what was thrown at us.

“In all, I’m very pleased and would like to thank everyone who played for me when asked.”

Even though there wasn’t a damaging plummet in form or possibly performances, there was one time that Brittin thinks could have changed the end-of-season outcome for his side, particularly in the league.

“Up to the finals, we were buzzing, but losing both in seven days was soul-destroying”, Brittin added.

“Sitting them down and getting them believing in themselves again was the key.

“Once we did that, our run spoke for itself and I’m very proud of them.”

93 goals were scored in 35 games in all competitions, James Harness (pictured) netting 26 of those

The Reserve Team were red-hot in front of goal, averaging over two a game in all competitions, scoring four or more in a single match on 13 occasions.

Defensively, it’s been a different story, having kept just seven clean sheets all season, but this hasn’t dampened the head-coach’s praise for his numerous goalkeepers.

“Goalkeepers have been a problem this season.

“We’ve used a total of five ‘keepers this season, all have been fantastic.

“Jordan, Matthijs, Ryan, Ben and Ed have all done brilliantly.

“Goals came from everywhere, which is good.

“We are planning working with individuals and improving their game and we are lucky to have great coaches at the club now, willing to help and progress players.”

Progress has been there to admire, particularly at West Street, which acted like a fortress having lost just once there all season, and on the road, only six defeats in 16 fixtures were accumulated.

The celebrations begin as the Reserves snatch a dramatic late winner at Wimblington

 

There are great times ahead and silverware is a must – Benji Brittin

 

 

Even so, there still could have been further improvement from Brittin’s men.

“West Street has been a great place to be this season”, Brittin said.

“To be honest, our away performances could and should have been better.

“Vital points were dropped and we made sure we learned from those losses and put the results right in the return leg.

“Injuries and a lack of players in certain games didn’t help, but we learnt from these issues.”

With high hopes for success and targets to overcome missed chances at glory, Chatteris Town Reserves’ search for supremacy looks to begin early.

Plans to build on eight months of promise and heartbreak are already in the making as Benji Brittin looks to make the second-string’s quest for stardom a reality come next year.

Brittin insists his Reserve Team will claim success next season. Pictured is Tony Brown (middle) surrounded by teammates after scoring against rivals March Town Reserves

“A huge learning curve has been taken on board by myself”, he said.

“I’ve learned a lot and will use this to take the team forward.”

“Our aims for next season are keeping the team together and bringing in a couple more players to strengthen the squad and push for promotion.

“Having Sean as joint-manager will make this happen.

“A good pre-season is planned and there’s always room for improvement on and off the field with the players.

“The league is important next year and finishing third must make us favourites.

“There are great times ahead and silverware is a must.

“The 2017/18 season is going to be the Reserves’ season to remember.”

END-OF-SEASON REVIEW: Top-four spots just out of reach, but a solid return to Step Seven football for Taylor’s Lilies

Perhaps not a season to remember compared to last, but it has been a solid return to the Cambridgeshire top flight for Chatteris Town.

The Lilies finished fifth in the Kershaw Premier Division after spending much of the season in the top four spots, having not enjoyed the successes of the 2015-16 promotion-winning campaign.

But one success is for certain and that’s consolidation, the aim which departing manager (at the moment), Ashley Taylor, set out for his side in August, which was exceeded by a long stretch.

Taylor encouraging his players at West Wratting

 

I believe we are a top four team right now – Ashley Taylor

 

 

Even so, a year that has gone above and beyond initial targets could have got even better, potentially once Taylor’s decision to leave his managerial post at the end of the season was made.

“When I made my intentions clear to the team midway through the season, our performance levels dropped and also the injuries we have had”, Taylor, who is set to become the new director of football at the club, said.

“In my opinion, I believe we are a top-four team right now, but this season, we lost very important players at crucial stages of the season.

“I know and the players know we could have done better, but we have to be happy with a fifth-place finish.

“Overall, I think we have had a good first season back in the Kershaw Premier League.”

Town endured a run of one win in six games between February and April, a time where Taylor believes cost his side dearly.

“I think this was a crucial time where we lost ground on the top four.

“I knew at the start of the season, we were going to experience tough times where we would have back-to-back defeats and it’s all about how we dealt with the tough times.

“Generally, I was happy with how we stuck together and tried to find solutions to come through the tough moments.”

Hitting the back of the net wasn’t a cause for concern, converting 86 goals from 38 games in all competitions, 45 of those at West Street.

Craig Gillies (pictured) scored 38 in 38 appearances, nine short of last season’s tally

However, they accounted for very little in terms of victories against any of the teams above them, claiming just one win during the season, which Taylor thinks is down to one reason.

“We relied too much on Craig (Gillies) to score this year and the other teams around us simply had more firepower.

“Since I’ve been manager, nine times out of 10, we have put in excellent attacking performances at home and it’s created excitement within the town.

“Attendances increased because of the way we go about attacking the opposition.”

Striker Gillies was the team’s top goalscorer for the second successive season, with 38 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions, which his predatory instincts in front of goal can help inspire the youth within the squad, according to Taylor.

“Craig’s been a role model this year and any young player that wants to do well in the game should just look at his application and attitude towards the game.

“The lad’s a born winner and he’s not missed a game this season.

“He deserves all the credit coming his way and he’s been very important to our success.

“Craig’s been important, but so has every player that has played for us this season; it’s all about being together as a team.”

The Lilies celebrating with the Cliff Bullen Challenge Cup during their promotion-winning season

Since Taylor’s arrival in 2015, The Lilies have been through arguably their most successful time in the club’s history, winning promotion, three cups and achieving a top five place in the Kershaw Premier.

And in his view, there’s more development on the pitch to come next season as the Fenland outfit’s bid for promotion to the Thurlow Nunn League was cut short in March.

“Our pre-season was spot on last year, hence why we started so well, but this is all down to the new management team.

“This is a team that can only get better.

“Most of the players in our team have not reached their full potential yet with their best years still to come.

“If they stick together, I see very exciting times ahead for this football club.”

With a new manager set to be announced before the start of the new season, it seems Chatteris Town’s hopes of progression look to be enhanced as they try to improve on a strong start to life back at Step Seven.