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.”

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.