Hello everyone. I thought it was the right time to update you on the board’s thoughts and progress since the end of the season.
Both personally and as a board we have sat down with Andy and Mario to review in detail our performance last year, look at the successes we can build upon and where things went wrong, and to discuss how we can make improvements for next term.
Let’s be clear, we all feel that the first team underachieved last year and, having built a squad capable of challenging for the play-off spots, we ultimately fell short in the second half of the season. Additionally, we delivered disappointing performances in both national cups in games where we were expected to win and, despite never budgeting for prize money a cup run is always very helpful in creating financial headroom for us. On the flip side, we moved forward in terms of league position, and were the third highest scorers in the league with the third best goal difference. It was small margins in important games that cost us a significant number of points over the course of the season and we need to take steps to rectify this.
I think it’s fair to say that our best performances were predominantly away from home - Tonbridge, Bognor, Worthing and Whitehawk spring to mind - but we weren’t able to replicate these showings at home, where we dropped far too many points. But, in addition, the league cup win was a great night and gave us some silverware for the first time in a while.
Whilst first team success is key to all of us, it is not the sole indicator of improvement across the club and the board are delighted at the progress we have made at U23 and U18 level. Both age groups are developing an exciting crop of players (along with the U16s) and we have already seen the likes of Josh Davison and Matt Nolan come through our development system to make significant contributions to the first team squad. Andy and his management team have been by far more proactive then any of their predecessors in working with and improving the whole of our development pathway and again this is something we want to build on in 2019/20.
Andy, Mario and Steve all agree with the board's concerns and are committed to making improvements ahead of the coming campaign as well as building on those aspects we got right last year. The board has made the management team aware of our budget for the year ahead and of how the success of our club as a whole is very dependent on income generation, with us all working hard as a community club structured as a supporter owned entity without a major benefactor.
Given this tight budget we do not have the means to match some of the offers being made to players in pre-season; as such we were disappointed to lose the services of Matt Johnson and Joe Wright who recently received and accepted offers which we were simply unable to match. Non-contract players are always free to come and go at this time of year and we thank them both for their efforts in a Town shirt and wish them well for the future.
Andy and his team are working hard to bring in some new faces that we feel will improve the squad and we are pleased with the progress to date. We are unlikely to announce many names though until we are able to sign them on league forms when we return to pre-season training in early July, so please be patient with us on this front. We’ve also been working on a line-up of friendlies and hope to be able to announce these very soon, including a very attractive home game against another fan-owned club.
One piece of great news we can confirm though is that former fans' favourite Nathan McDonald has agreed to re-join the club. 28 year-old Nathan has had huge success at both Braintree and Chelmsford over the past two years and we’re thrilled to welcome him back. He of course previously spent three seasons at the Town under George Borg and Bradley Quinton and was ever-present in the league for us between August 2014 and April 2017. He returned to Braintree at the end of the 2016-17 campaign, moved on to Chelmsford City in August 2018, and was released by the Clarets earlier this month.
Andy is delighted to have signed Nathan, commenting: "He is a winner who wants to be a part of what we are trying to do here, as well as being a top class keeper who will fit back into the club seamlessly. Nathan is the first of a few new players we are looking to add to the squad and we will keep you informed as we progress."
We will, as ever, have a pre-season members meeting in July and will set a date for this in the next few weeks.
Thank you all for you continued support, enjoy the summer and I look forward to seeing you all back at the QEII Stadium next season.
Up The Town!