Jack Smith Jnr, club treasurer and devout Beachboys supporter, took some time out of preparing for the new season to give us his take on the 2019/20 preseason program for Concord Rangers:
I write this piece as we complete our pre season program in preparation for the real deal beginning Saturday August 3, which sees our reassembled football team travel to a relieved (reprieved from National North obscurity) Oxford City.
Our football club has endured a rather turbulent period between the culmination of the successful 2018/19 season and where we sit today. We saw the departure of our management team due to unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances which paved the way for the appointment of a new leader. We welcomed in clubman Danny Scopes as manager. He made short work in placing his back room staff before beginning the squad building process. A new approach was adopted with a key emphasis of recruiting a majority of young and hungry men who’ve got that bit between their teeth, eager to prove and establish their skill set at a high level. Mixing these young men in with a handful of experienced heads who’ve seen and done it all we believe will yield a galvanised, well oiled, hard working football team willing to go through brick walls to get the right side of the results column.
Now pre season for me is always to be taken with a firm bucket of salt for all kinds of reasons. That said from a strictly results perspective, even the most optimistic of supporters may have had their new season butterflies dampened by the bottom line.
With mixed starting elevens in both marquee fixtures against Millwall (Championship) and Dagenham & Redbridge (National League) we shipped 8 goals to no reply which all told means very little. These games are traditionally for getting the legs moving and seeing what your troops and coach load of trialists have to offer on first glance.
The squad then took its first trim before rolling over Isthmian North Division Romford.
A speed bump in the way of the impressive Bowers & Pitsea hit a little hard as we were beaten 5 nil on their freshly laid 3G surface, in what was a little deceptive to the eye if you weren’t a close observer.
Next up was a well organised and timely weekend training camp at the stunning facility, Five Lakes Resort Colchester. This included an itinerary of rigorous fitness testing, multiple sessions on the grade A surfaces used in the past by Premier League outfits, plenty of fuel, shockingly bad singing skills and fair bit of bonding (via the golf course). By all accounts, a very successful weekend.
Next up saw the boys travel to our neighbourly friends, East Thurrock United with what resembled something closer to a match day squad. A one sided affair for the most part saw a narrow win and the only clean sheet of the pre season preps.
A youthful XI took to the field in a evening fixture played amidst the most brutal of conditions resembling something like a Floridian hurricane vs the YouTube founded Hashtag United who ran out 4-1 victors and gave us some useful insight to the current level of a few of our prospering youth team stars and a few additional trialists. The evening also provided some vigorous structural tests to our homemade “shed end” stand. It passed.
Culmination of this test run ended with a very handily arranged game with AFC Telford United who missed the National North playoffs by the narrowest of margins last season (goal difference), which would provide a great yard marker for the level we find ourselves at prior to the opening act. The game was played at similar intensity to how one would expect a league fixture to resemble with line ups to boot, as we chalked up a competitive 2-2 draw.
All in all, some good limbering up was had and the squad is now as complete as can be expected ready to put pedal to the metal on match day 1.
Nobody is under any illusions as to the difficulty of the task at hand this league presents. Over the 6 seasons we’ve spent at these lofty heights, we are well aware that we are competing among some special clubs and footballers. Torquay United stand out in recent history as a prime example. When we were still a member of the Essex Senior League, they were plying their trade in League 1. When you find yourself sitting in a stand at Plainmoor with our blue away shirts bobbing around before your own and 2000+ other prying eyes you realise just how ridiculous the effort and subsequent effect that the people of our club have had over the years.
A perfect opportunity to thank a whole host of people who know exactly who they are and what they’ve contributed. Notable mentions to Ant, Dad, Lewis, Dec & Brian, Toby and of course Jayne on the tireless work they’ve done during the “off season”. If I listed the items checked by these people alone you’d struggle to suss out why they do what they do. The simple answer to that question is for the love. For the love of the game and the love for our club.
Good luck to everyone at our football club on or off the pitch as we embark on yet another season and most importantly, enjoy the ride.