Season 2019-20 – Club In-Focus: Old Southendian Reserves [EOFL 19/20 I-F 28.5.20]

Old Southendian FC
OS emblem (Image: OS/Twitter)

Written by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]

Hello and welcome to the latest of my ‘Club In-Focus’ blog series, where we ask Clubs how they felt their 2019-20 season went. This time around, it’s the turn of EOFL Division Two side Old Southendian Reserves, who play on the 3G at Garon Park, which opened this season. I caught up with Manager Ben Manley (BM), his assistant (and brother) David Manley (DM) and last season’s captain Olly Tatton-Bennett (OTB), representing the players’ viewpoint.

My thanks to all for their time and thanks for reading. You can find the team on Twitter: @OSFCReserves

 

Going into the Essex Olympian League season at Division Two level after winning Division Three the previous season, how did you feel the side would cope with the opposition? 

BM: To be honest a lot of teams came up with us from Division 3 which we had won the previous season so our aim was to secure a 3rd consecutive promotion.

DM: We’ve also played teams in leagues above us in cup games over the last couple of years and generally faired pretty well against them. We also have a lot of quality and depth in the squad so another promotion was always the goal.

What was the favourite match of the season and why? 

BM: I would probably say Corinthians away which you yourself attended Scott. I thought we played some great football that day coupled with a lot of grit and determination which is what our side is all about and we also scored some great goals. I also really enjoyed Barnston away. It was our first game in the Essex Premier Cup having won the Essex Junior Cup the previous season. We had several players out that day and I even had to start in goal! We came from behind a couple of times and were really up against it but ended up winning on penalties with some heroics from our goalkeeper George Dugdale after drawing 3 – 3 aet.

DM: I’d agree with the cup game Ben mentions as that was an epic battle of two teams going for it. I wasn’t at the Corinthians win but the home game against them where we scored an equaliser in the last minute was great and we actually had a chance in the last seconds to win the game which would have topped everything else!

What was your best performance away from Garon Park this season?

BM: Along with the game at Corinthians, probably Epping away although we did end up drawing. We were unfortunate to play them twice towards the beginning of the season when they were very strong. They had already turned us over at our place and had won all their games up until playing them away. We played them off the park that day, squandered a lot of chances and as always happens when you can’t put a team to bed, we conceded a last minute equaliser!

DM: Yep, this was by far the best football we played on a nice big pitch.

What was your best performance at Garon Park this season?

BM: I would have to say our home game against Beacon Hill Rovers. Up until that point, I think they’d only lost once and we really needed to win to keep us fighting at the top end of the table. It was a real battle but we fight hard and scored some fantastic goals including a worldy from top scorer Molsy (Greg Molford), a free kick from Tatts (Oliver Tatton-Bennett) and 18 year old Lewis Telling scoring with his first touch for the club!

 

On or off-the-pitch, what was your most memorable moment from this season?

DM: I actually think one of the great memories personally was when the final whistle went in our first game of the season against Wakering Sports. We’d put a lot of effort into our pre season and knew it was so important to get off to a good start.  It was a really tough game but getting that first win as new managers was a great feeling!

OTB: Personally a moment that sticks out for me is actually Andy Cable hammering home right near the end of the game to bring us back to 3-3 against May & Baker Reserves. It was raining heavily at Garons and I think we had been behind three times in the game before pulling it back again to level up. Typical gritty performance but really showed our commitment!

 

Were there any low points of the campaign for you? 

BM: Losing at home to Epping 5-1 was a horrible day for me. I think we got our tactics wrong that day and didn’t really turn up but I learned a hell of a lot from that defeat and I think it really helped me improve for the rest of the season. Tatts breaking his collarbone was also a particular low point for me as he’d been having such a fantastic season, grabbing games by the scruff of the neck and I know the rest of the team really fed off him throughout.

DM: Agree with the Epping result…I was away at the time but hearing we’d lost did put a huge downer on the weekend!

OTB: Definitely breaking my collarbone!

Besides yourselves, which team do you believe played the best Football in your division this season?

BM: I think our division was extremely strong and a lot of teams wouldn’t be out of place in the Essex Olympian Premier division as can be seen by some of the results in the Essex Premier Cup. Epping were strong both times we played them as were Chris Stoneham’s Corinthians. I thought Laindon Orient were also very good when we played them and we were very fortunate to get a point from that game and of course Leigh Town had a fantastic season and are great at finding a way at getting a result. We always seem to have cracking games against them.

DM: I agree, Corinthians and Leigh Town are very similar to us in terms of their playing styles, and like us they play with a bit of bite about them so it always makes for a great game against us.

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? 

BM: The job you do along with others is so important. We play at a really good standard with players and management having to travel quite far at times and most of us paying for the privilege! There is also so much hard work and volunteering that goes on behind the scenes that people don’t always see, so I think it’s great that we get the kind of recognition and coverage that you give. I know everyone at the club really appreciates it as well.

Ben, you’ve indicated you’ll be stepping aside as Old Southendian Reserves boss in the summer, what are your favourite moments from your tenure as manager of this team?

BM: I think generally watching the lads buy into and implement the subtle changes we’d made to the system was great to see. Some of the team goals we scored as a direct result were superb. Generally speaking as well, seeing some of the youngsters come through and improve in confidence week in week out, particularly Lewis Caplin and Nick Skinner, was one of the most rewarding parts of managing last season.

Finally, any other exciting news for the future you’d like to share?

BM: We’ve made our links with Southendian Youth more official which is an exciting time for the club and it gives their players a real path into men’s football as we’ve already seen some of their guys such as Lewis Caplin make the step up. Aside from that, we have Olly (Tatts) and David along with Josh Bambury taking the team forward next season and I know they have very ambitious plans for next season! I’m very much looking forward to supporting them and seeing how far they can go.

End

If your club (at Essex Olympian, Essex Senior or Eastern Senior League South levels) would be interested in sharing your thoughts on your 2019/20 season then please DM me on Twitter. Thank you

 

2019-20 Season – Club In-Focus: Wakebury FC [EOFL 2019/20 I-F 29.4.20]

Written By Scott W  [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]

Hello and welcome the first of a possible series of blogs which clubs themselves give their thoughts on the 2019-20 season and their favourite moments, favourite matches and more. First up is Essex Olympian League Division Three side Wakebury, who joined the EOFL last summer, after a spell in the Southend Combination League.

In this piece, manager Matt Cardy and assistant boss Dan Blewett (MC & DB) and club captain Chris Gore (CG) giving a players’ viewpoint, shed some light on how they felt the season went. My thanks to Matt, Dan & Chris for their time, you call find the club on Twitter: @Wakebury_FC

Wakebury FC
Wakebury emblem (Image: Wakebury FC/Twitter)

 

  • Going into your first Essex Olympian League season at Division Three level, how did you feel the side would cope with the opposition?

MC & DB: Looking back and reflecting now, we are really pleased with the progress we made through the season. We stepped up to most challenges put in front of us. The players bought in to how we want to do things and as the season went on we felt we was getting better all the time. Joining the EOFL was a big step for a club of our size and we was aware we would be “punching above our weight” and be underdogs in the majority of games so to be sitting in a promotion spot at the close of play is really pleasing and we are glad to have achieved the clubs’ highest-ever finish in this fashion. This level of progress motivates us more to get better and improve all aspects of the club.

 

  • What was the favourite match of the season and why?

MC & DB: We’re going to go a bit ‘outside the box’ on this one. It was Basildon Town Reserves (away) in our first-ever EOFL league game. We won the game 3 -1 after going 1- 0 down to a penalty in the first half (which is still a mind-blowing decision thinking about it now!) we had made a big effort in the summer to bring in better characters to make us mentally stronger, this was a test of that in the first game and we was able to turn it around in style and win the game, this set us up for the rest of the season as we demonstrated how much character we have on a number of occasions.

CG: For me personally, my favourite match of the season came away at ACD Utd – we went into the game with 12 available players, 2 – 0 down inside the first 10 minutes, then an injury put us down to 11, which included the manager & assistant! We managed to come back and grab a point with a last-minute free-kick. It was a great performance with all factors considered.

 

  • What was your best performance away from Shoebury Park this season?

MC & DB: Toby Reserves (away). Although we lost the game, this was 100% the turning point in our season. We all came away feeling hard done by and this brought the group closer together and saw us go on unbeaten. We played with 10 men for 35 minutes and battled against a top side heroically at times. This was our last defeat of the season and really got us moving in the right direction.

CG:  Our best away performance would be away at Leigh Town Reserves. Having lost to them a couple of weeks before and after suffering a couple of defeats we came into the game under pressure as we wanted to challenge at the top. We completely dominated the game from start to finish and came away with a 3 – 1 win.

 

  • What was your best performance at Shoebury Park this season?

MC & DB: Corinthians Reserves would be a stand-out home performance. We had billed it to the players as the ‘game of the season’. Make or break. I could feel it changing just before we went out for kick-off that the players were in the right frame of mind. We had really created a squad that wanted to step up and be involved in these pressure moments. We went 1 – 0 down just after half time and in our first season in charge, we would have collapsed. But this group used that goal as extra motivation to perform. We went on to win 3 – 1 and it was a great show of character and determination. We were proud of the players following that performance.

CG: Our best home performance would be against Corinthians Reserves. We knew going into the game that if we wanted to challenge for the league title we needed to win this game. I felt we was under pressure as a side and even more so going 1 – 0 down just after half-time. We managed to come back and win 3 – 1 which showed the amount of character we have as a side.

 

 

  • On or off-the-pitch, what was your most memorable moment from this season?

MC & DB: Generally speaking, we would say how we grew as side the longer the season went on. When you have an idea in your head of how you want your team to play and be, we really made some big strides this season to working towards that. Off-the-pitch, the players became a tight-knit group, the best group since we began four years ago. We built a side of not only good players but good people – that’s why we have had a good season.

CG:  Back to the away game at ACD, to steal a point with a depleted side and with the free-kick being the last kick of the game. The celebrations after the goal showed how much it meant to everyone. To go away from home with the side we had out on the day, it meant a huge amount to everyone.

 

  • Were there any low points of the campaign for you?

MC & DB: Home defeats. We lost two league games at home and both times we under-performed. Looking back, that is the only frustration of the season. We don’t like losing. Especially in games where we should be winning. The week following a defeat always seems to drag on a little bit more and you are just counting down to the next Saturday to hopefully right the wrongs of any defeat.

CG:  Lowest point would Toby Reserves (away) back in November. Probably our first big game of the season, after taking an early lead we had goal wrongly disallowed. After dominating we were hit with a ‘sucker-punch’ to make it 1-1 at half time. Early in the 2nd half we was reduced to 10 men and battled on a muddy pitch until the last minute when was beaten by a penalty. That day we showed so much character, and that was our last defeat of the season and was a real turning point.

 

  • Looking forward to 2020/21 season (whenever it starts), what are the aspirations for the club?

MC & DB:  We hope to rewarded how we feel we should be after a fantastic debut season in the EOFL. We hope the relevant people see sense and reward all sides across the divisions for their hard work. We are ambitious and will always strive to improve all aspects of what we do. From our coaching to how we deliver information to the players in preparation for matches, this period of lockdown has given us great chance to evolve how we work and we can’t wait to put some new strategies and practices in place for next season.

 

  • Finally, any other exciting news for the future you’d like to share?

MC & DB: We have announced the launch of a new youth set-up. Wakebury Youth is a new strand of the club and something we believe is vital to having a long-lasting, stable football club. Football Clubs are all about young people so it will be great to see some young players coming over and represent the club. This being said, we are looking out for any coaches or volunteers that want to help and get involved in Wakebury Youth, so if anyone is reading this and wants to get involved do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you! This is an exciting time and we continue to grow on and off-the-pitch.

End

 

My particular thanks to Matt Cardy, Chairman of Wakebury for setting this piece up & I wish the club well going into next season. If you’d like to contact the club, a reminder that you can find them @Wakebury_FC on Twitter or by email at wakeburyfc@gmail.com

If your club (at Essex Olympian level for the moment) would be interested in sharing your thoughts on your 2019/20 season then please DM me on Twitter. Thank you. Hope you enjoyed the article & stay safe.