Written By Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14] with additional photos courtesy of Dave Adelman
Hello and welcome the to part four of my ‘In-Focus’ series of blogs which clubs themselves give their thoughts on the 2019-20 season and their favourite moments, matches and more. In this article, I caught up with Essex Olympian League Division Two side Leigh Town. I’m pleased to that manager Jack Pearman (JP), assistant boss Alex Kennedy (AK) and Chairman Dave Adelman (DA) all shed some light on how they felt the season went.
My thanks to Jack, Alex and Dave for their time (and to Dave for graciously sending the photos), you can find the side on Twitter: @LeighTown1st & @Leigh_townfc
Going into the Essex Olympian League season at Division Two level after promotion from Division Three the previous season, how did you feel the side would cope with the opposition?
DA: If I am honest, there was a little bit of trepidation due to the fact that in reality we were promoted via the backdoor and we were introducing a new management team in Jack Pearman and Alex Kennedy, along with the knowledge that we would probably be without our leading goal scorer of the last three seasons due to injury for the whole campaign.
JP: To be honest, I was initially worried after struggling to get good numbers to most pre-season games. Although saying that, we still held our own and only lost one game during pre-season. Knowing the talent I had in the squad and the ability of our players I was always confident that we would be more then capable of competing.
AK: To be honest I was confident we would be up there or there abouts, quite a few teams came up from Division Three to Division Two, so we knew what they were all about. We had a strong squad going into pre-season and added a few decent signings which was all we needed.
What was the favourite match of the season and why?
JP: My favourite match was easily Epping away, which was our first game back after the Christmas period which we won 4 – 2. Epping had massively hyped it up all over social media and the feeling before the game was that their players were expecting to walk all over us, however thankfully we proved them wrong.
AK: There’s quite a few to pick from to be fair but for me it’s Epping Town away, they had built the game up massively in the week leading up to it on social media etc and I don’t think they quite expected us to turn up and roll them over like we did so yeah that was a good one.
DA: Not sure that Jack or Alex would agree with my choice but my memory goes back to the second game of the season when we travelled away to Beacon Hill Rovers with a heavily-depleted team (without nine regular squad members) and we came away with a 2 – 0 victory. After the game we found a lovely little pub in the Essex countryside and every player to a man celebrated a hard-fought victory. I had a feeling then that the season ahead was going to be a little different and with some luck successful.
What was your best performance away from John Burrows this season?
JP: Personally, this was May and Baker in our third game into the season. Having won the previous two games this was a huge test for us; however, we went into half-time with a 5 – 0 lead. The first-half performance was by far the best I have seen from my lads. Although the opposition changed their tactics in the second period, they were unable to break us down, which gave us a lot of belief and made us a stronger unit. The performance was significant.
AK: Have to say Chingford Athletic away. Going into this one I think both sides were unbeaten and hadn’t dropped any points, and obviously them being a division above us we knew it would be difficult, but the boys were unbelievable that day and went into half time 2 – 0 up. Second half, we had a lot of defending to do but the lads were solid and Chingford just could not break us down.
DA: Unfortunately the best away performance of the season was one of the few games I was unable to attend, which resulted in Jack and the lads travelling away to a high-flying undefeated Chingford team who were proudly sitting at the top of Division One and deservedly winning 2 – 0. Easily the best away performance I witnessed was against a lively Epping Town early in the New Year where the boys won 4 – 2 in an extremely competitive encounter.
What was your best performance at John Burrows this season?
DA: A tough one… On reflection we beat four teams from leagues above in the various cup campaigns, however massive satisfaction was taken from our win against local rivals Corinthians in the quarter-final of the Essex Premier Cup in a game which turned out to be a fine advertisement for Div. 2. [I watched this match as well, it was a corker – Ed]
Running a close second was a league game against Laindon Orient, which wasn’t probably considered a great performance by the management team, but a vital one in which we won 1 – 0 having beat the same opposition the previous week in the cup 4 – 1 … a potential ‘banana skin’ overcome!
JP: I would say the best performance I have seen this season at JB was the 4 – 1 win against Laindon Orient. The reason for this was because at 1 – 0 down after only five minutes, however the lads reacted and decided to turn it around by showing tremendous tenacity, ability and strength and completely turning the whole game around which led us in the end deservedly winning 4 – 1. Over the years Laindon have been our biggest rivals, which made the result even sweeter.
AK: Hard to pick one game in particular to be honest but I’d say the Laindon Orient game in the cup, we went 1 – 0 down after about five minutes in but after that goal we just turned up and was too much for them. It finished 4 – 1 in the end but could have easily been a lot more. We were class.
On or off-the-pitch, what was your most memorable moment from this season?
JP: My most memorable moment was beating Chingford Athletic away 2 – 0 in the cup, with both sides going into the match unbeaten, we knew it would be a big challenge. Having gone 1 – 0 up early doors, Chingford I remember soon after hit the bar which could have been a game-changer. We importantly scored a second before half-time. The defensive performance on the day was unbelievable and the changing room antics after the game showed how much it meant to everyone.
DA: As a club we have always placed a heavy emphasis on the importance of a great social side stressing constantly that LTFC is more than just a football club. One Saturday afternoon stands out, which was referred to as “Ladies Day”. The lads had a big game against Harrold Wood from the EOFL Premier Division in the Cup, which we won 2 – 0. Prior to the game an invite went out to players’ partners and mums who proceeded to turn up in big numbers to support the lads ending up in very good, hearty social time at the clubhouse and were great company.
AK: When Dansie got smacked in the face with the ball and nearly scored off his hooter! No, I would say the Essex Premier Cup quarter final win against Corinthians was a memorable moment, both clubs also raised a lot of money that day for a local girl Lily Whyte who sadly passed away. That was a nice touch from both clubs.
Were there any low points of the campaign for you?
DA: Frankly on-the-pitch very few! From day one, since the bulk of the players and management joined the club, they have been nothing less than a credit to themselves and to LTFC both on and off-the-pitch.
The low point undoubtably will be that the team have remained undefeated in every single competitive game during season 2019/20, resulting in them topping EOFL Div.2, reaching semi-final of the Essex Premier Cup, Quarter-final of EOFL Senior Cup and seemingly they are going to remain unrewarded, which is an extremely bitter pill to swallow, especially as the reason we all get involved at this level is to ideally gain some silverware and glory.
JP: For me personally the dropping of points away at Ryan… I could give you every excuse in the book for this result but sometimes with a poor performance you tend to learn more about your side than when winning. The fact that we still managed to get a last-minute equaliser showed the character and the little bit of luck you need during the season. Credit to Ryan they done everything they could to stop us playing!
AK: Probably the only game we dropped points which was away to Ryan FC, other than that we have not really had any low points to be honest, it has been a quality season.
Besides yourselves, which team do you believe played the best Football in your division this season?
JP: This one is a tough one to answer for me, but Wakering Sports seemed to push us extremely hard in both our games against them with their lads working their socks off and never giving up.
AK: Basing it on the games we have played this season I would say Old Southendian Reserves, we always have good matches against them. Corinthians are a decent little side as well.
DA: Stand-out opposition in my opinion, which was clearly reflected in their style of play was Epping Town, Laindon Orient and our local rivals Corinthians. Strangely given the overall strength of Division Two, the only points we dropped last season was against a highly-competitive Ryan, who finished bottom of the table.
How important is it that the EOFL matches are covered by amateur media, particularly with focus elsewhere on other divisions higher up the Non-League pyramid?
DA: You cannot be anything other than impressed with the efforts made by the EOFL to keep everyone informed and motivated via the various media options available. Seeing or hearing your clubs name ‘up in lights’ gives everyone a fantastic buzz and this was highlighted when Simon Thorosian (Mr LTFC) was invited by BBC Essex Sport [Radio] to make the draw for the Semi-final of the Essex Premier Cup where to everyone’s amusement, all efforts from the broadcaster failed when they tried to stop him talking all things Leigh Town FC… keep up the great work Scott!
JP: Amateur media plays a massive part for us as a club in helping clubs at our level get noticed and recognised especially when advertising results and things going on within the club, which can only help create interest and improve our profile.
AK: Yeah I think you guys are doing a great job, it’s always nice to read reports on the game from a neutral point of view as well, keep doing what you’re doing – a lot of people appreciate it!
Finally, any other exciting news for the future you’d like to share?
JP: Without giving to much away I can’t wait to get pre-season back up and running, a few new faces to help strengthen the side and push players for places is always healthy, along with new sponsors has to mean nice new kits!
LTFC is just getting started we are not just a football team were a family!
DA: The club during the break cannot be accused of ‘sitting on their backsides’. In whatever league our first team start next season they will I assume start with a healthy degree of confidence. Recent conversations with the management team suggest that all the squad from last season remains intact and they should be bolstered by hopefully three or four strong new signings. who will hopefully quickly buy into the unique team spirit that has been fostered by Jack and Alex, which in all my years involved in our great game has rarely been matched. The introduction of strong new sponsors looks likely and once the pandemic finishes, we will once again continue discussions with the various authorities about sourcing a dedicated LTFC facility.
AK: Yes, as Dave mentioned we haven’t just been sitting around, we’ve been planning a lot for next season for whenever that may be, but the whole squad is right up for it and we’ve got a good few signings coming on board as well so we’re ready to go again. Bring it on.