2019-20 National League South

Aberstone

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It's that time again and a new thread for the new season.

Teams:
Bath City
Billericay Town
Braintree Town
Chelmsford City
Chippenham Town
Concord Rangers
Dartford
Dorking Wanderers
Dulwich Hamlet
Eastbourne Borough
Hampton and Richmond Borough
Havant and Waterlooville
Hemel Hempstead Town
Hungerford Town
Maidstone United
Oxford City
Slough Town
St Albans City
Tonbridge Angels
Wealdstone
Welling United
Weymouth

This is probably the strongest the league has been since we entered 5 years ago. 2 to go down this season as the league expands to 24 teams in 2020-21. The above is subject to the AGM cup and whether or not Gateshead can still field a side in the National League next season, if they can't then we'll be going back to Cornwall.
 
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Raymondo316

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#3
Gateshead have the AGM cup sewn up now so you will have to put up with us next season
Wouldn't be so sure of that.

They still have to show the National league they actually have the money to complete next season. These are the same people who kicked out Salisbury and Hereford a few years back because they didn't think they would last the whole season.
 
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Silver Stone

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#4
I don't mind this, going to Dartford/Dulwich/Welling will be fun... for a year or two anyway, when I'll be itching to go back up again.
 

Aberstone

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Godfrey Poku has committed to join Woking which is a massive kick in the proverbials, player of the year for us and I think he'll be really difficult to replace (if at all). We've signed our first of what will be at least 12 new players this summer with Reece Beckles-Richards joining from Wingate and Finchley. I do vaguely remember him playing and scoring against us in the Trophy a couple of seasons back but those at Wingate seem to rate him highly.

Kyle Connolly has left Hemel too so the rumour that he's joining us will pick up pace now.
 
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#6
Jeffrey Monakana is leaving the Vale. Signed by Wilkinson towards the end of season 17/18 as the one to lead his attack the following season and then benched him for most of the time.

When he did play, did show glimpses of talent and would have got far more assists if we had had a functioning forward line.

Scored our goal of the season at the Dartford and gave us probably the moment of the season with our second goal at Bath in the play offs. Proper limbs.
 
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#7
Godfrey Poku has committed to join Woking which is a massive kick in the proverbials, player of the year for us and I think he'll be really difficult to replace (if at all). We've signed our first of what will be at least 12 new players this summer with Reece Beckles-Richards joining from Wingate and Finchley. I do vaguely remember him playing and scoring against us in the Trophy a couple of seasons back but those at Wingate seem to rate him highly.

Kyle Connolly has left Hemel too so the rumour that he's joining us will pick up pace now.
Poku will be a massive loss and a little surprised that he’s gone Con National as he didn’t want to do the travelling. Maybe as Woking are staying part time, that’s the trade. Fantastic player, brilliant attitude and a leader of men. Woking have a gem.
 

Pink Panther

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#16
Chelmsford are known play off bottlers. I think they're destined to never get promoted out of this league.
How many times have they actually lost: 2? 3?

Dulwich had this "play off bottlers" tag applied to us by supporters of some other clubs whilst losing four finals and a semi in 7 seasons (with a promotion as champions in between), but all the defeats were away from home, and four of the teams that beat us had finished 10 or more points ahead of us. We twice reached the final from 5th place and the first time we had home advantage in a final we won it. Logically we were usually the underdogs, but because we were always there and pulled big crowds everyone seemed to assume it would be "our year" then when we lost again we were ridiculed for it. I know Chelmsford stuffed up at home last year but this time they were beaten narrowly at Welling, who had the best home record in the division.

Of the clubs left from this season Chelmsford and Bath look best placed to push on and be a bit stronger. Several others have changed manager and there are rumours of budget cuts and a possible change of manager at Welling. Of those coming down Havant will probably be the bookies early favourites after winning the division two seasons ago and appointing Paul Doswell as manager, and Maidstone may be amongst the favourites too but it looks like the squad will need a major overhaul. I'm not sure Braintree are really geared up to be a National Division club, although that doesn't mean they can't finish in the top 7 and win the play offs like last year.

Of the three promoted clubs Dorking Wanderers have an owner/manager who seems to give them a lot of financial clout and they've come a long way in a short time, but sooner or later they're going to hit a glass ceiling, at least for a few years. (I understand they've just picked up a few players from Aldershot.) I don't know anything about Weymouth except that they've been at this level and above in the past and seem to have the potential to pull big crowds. Tonbridge were promoted with just 68 points and 14 defeats, and for the last couple of seasons Dulwich were in the same division they always seemed to be pleading poverty and trimming their playing squad so I reckon consolidation at best for them.

My own club ought to be stronger, with a more secure agreement to pay at Champion Hill for the foreseeable future and complete control over all financial operations, whereas before we got evicted our landlord was effectively the proxy owner, managing gate receipts and bar takings and paying the bills on behalf of the majority shareholder, including the players' wages. (They told us at the time the whole thing was running at a loss and they were covering the losses, but it's since become apparent that the situation was a lot more complicated than that to say the least.)

At a recent open forum for supporters the managing director (whose background is in accountancy and auditing) spoke very openly about the club's finances, where the money comes from, and what it's been spent on. Our stated aim for next season is to finish in the top 7 and a playing budget will be set based on an average league attendance of 2,100 plus zero revenue from cup ties, i.e. any gate revenue or prize money from cup runs will be a bonus. (Average league attendance for 11 matches since returning to Champion Hill on Boxing Day was just under 2,800, although our attendances are traditionally lower during the early months of the season and for midweek matches. Therefore I'd say a predicted average of 2,100 is about right.) Since December 10th the club's gross takings have been £620k, with £614k spent, so it has made a small profit despite having to spend a considerable amount on clearing old debts and making the ground and facilities fit for purpose. There are other revenue streams such as ground and pitch hire and sponsorship opportunities that haven't been fully tapped yet as the directors have been too busy dealing with other matters, but income has included £77k for hiring out the ground to Adidas and Puma for video shoots.

Hamlet are also giving consideration to "going full time". I'm not certain about every other club, but it was explained that this is not such a black and white issue as a lot of people imagine. I think many supporters equate "full time" with players training every weekday morning and having no employment outside their club contract, whilst "part time" means a team full of office workers and tradesmen working 8 hours a day Monday-Friday then training two evenings a week. It may still be like that at many Isthmian League clubs and at county league level, but my impression is that very few clubs are like that in the National South. The main distinction is that part time players are on a 40-42 week contract covering the playing season and don't get paid again until the new season starts, whereas full time players are on year-round contracts that generally run from 1st July to 30th June; they're not necessarily getting paid more each week during the season itself than their part time counterparts. Obviously its attractive to the player not to have a couple of months with no football income during the summer and it means the club can have a more intensive pre-season build up and hopefully gain an advantage over its rivals. Players with full time day jobs are apparently already in a minority at Dulwich. I know we added a daytime training session once a week a few seasons ago; at the time those who had other work commitments were excused but we've possibly targeted new players who can commit to that since? The club's manager Gavin Rose and assistant Junior Kadi have just completed 10 seasons in their roles and are both professional football coaches running an academy associated with a local college, which in turn represents the Hamlet at youth team level, so I guess the first team and youth team all more or less train together.

The days when most lads left school at 16-18 and went into full time jobs seem to be over. A lot of the younger players at this level are at college or university, typically studying for sports science type qualifications. Those who are working will often be self employed as personal trainers or sports therapists; lots of players are already studying for football coaching qualifications and may be employed as football coaches at schools or colleges, or in some cases with professional clubs' junior academies. We've had some players who work for family businesses - one as a motor mechanic for his uncle, and other in a family restaurant/cafe. Other players may just have basic low paid or part time jobs with flexible hours. Some players have small businesses outside football and employ other people to work for them, for example Kenny Beaney who captained our promotion winning squad couldn't commit to National League football because he was launching his own scaffolding business and needed more time to focus on that.

It was also stated at an earlier forum that there is a massive gulf between being competitive in this division and making an impact into National Division. Apparently the median annual spend on playing budget is three times as much at the higher level - £750k as opposed to £250k. So a budget that ought to get you into the top four in this division might not be enough to keep you out of the bottom four at the one above if you manage to go up. It wasn't made clear precisely what Dulwich are spending on players; we were giving a figure of £167k spent since December 10 that included the playing budget, but I think that also encompassed other HR spending, i.e., full time bar manager and staff as well as matchday security and stewarding, but I would imagine we'll have a "competitive" playing budget for the forthcoming season.
 

Pink Panther

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#19
Its a lot worse than that.
In the last 15 seasons they have made the play offs 9 times and failed winning them everytime.
You'd think they'd have got lucky once from that number of opportunities. I hadn't really noticed as we've never actually played them until just now.

Then again, it's only ever a 1 in 4 probability of going up in any given year, or 1 in 8 now if you don't quality directly for the semi-final. I just get the feeling play-offs tend to raise hopes to an unrealistic level. Maidstone were only in them twice as far as I recall and went up both times, but most of the time it ends in disappointment for most of us.
 

Aberstone

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The parameters of what is deemed to be a 'competitive budget' are so loosely defined however. All I've heard for next season is we'll have a competitive budget but the figure has ranged by a couple of thousand pounds per week depending on who you speak to. Dulwich will have a competitive budget too but will no doubt be much higher than ours as it should be with their matchday and commercial income (those figures put ours to shame).

In other news, Hemel supporters really haven't taken the news well that Jordan Parkes has left the club (if to be believed he understandably turned down a new contract which would have led to a 65% pay cut). He'll have plenty of potential suitors from clubs in and around the M25 in the division.

Concord are getting plenty of early business done, they're putting a lot of faith in young players from further down the pyramid and hoping they flourish at this level.

Edit: Havant will be odds-on favourites by an absolute country mile when the bookies finally release their odds for this division.
 

Pink Panther

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#21
The parameters of what is deemed to be a 'competitive budget' are so loosely defined however. All I've heard for next season is we'll have a competitive budget but the figure has ranged by a couple of thousand pounds per week depending on who you speak to. Dulwich will have a competitive budget too but will no doubt be much higher than ours as it should be with their matchday and commercial income (those figures put ours to shame).
Yes it is a bit of a bullshit phrase, hence I used it in inverted commas. My personal interpretation is one that gives you an even chance of finishing where you feel a club of your stature ought to be, whether that's champions, play-offs, or just consolidating without getting involved in a relegation scrap. I think club officials and managers use it to avoid dampening supporters' expectations meaning either "we might be in the promotion mix if a couple of the big spenders screw up", because they know a few other clubs will blow them out of the water for the most coveted players, or "we can't afford any mistakes with our own recruitment" because they've had to slash the budget.

I'm guessing Dulwich were about par (between £5k-£6k a week?) last season, but recruitment was difficult as word got around among players and their agents that we were at risk of being unable to honour contracts due to the uncertainty of our ground situation. We missed out on a number of players we wanted last Summer and lost a few we'd like to have kept, then ended up offering terms to a few triallists at the end of pre-season because we were a bit desperate, so we didn't really get best value for what we could afford. We ended up using 9 loan signings over the course of the season whereas the previous season we had just one, and that was a goalkeeper when we needed one at short notice following an injury.

Whilst we're getting some of the largest matchday attendances in the division at Dulwich, there's no benefactor beyond the sort of sponsors who are paying for a commercial partnership that benefits themselves with publicity and tapping a market for their own business. When I look at some of the attendances at other clubs and the sort of players they sign I'm just bewildered as to where the money comes from. I generally take any figures I hear with a pinch of salt, but I was told by one of our own club officials that Weston went down on £10k a week!

In other news, Hemel supporters really haven't taken the news well that Jordan Parkes has left the club (if to be believed he understandably turned down a new contract which would have led to a 65% pay cut). He'll have plenty of potential suitors from clubs in and around the M25 in the division.

Concord are getting plenty of early business done, they're putting a lot of faith in young players from further down the pyramid and hoping they flourish at this level.

Edit: Havant will be odds-on favourites by an absolute country mile when the bookies finall
Sammy Moore seems a very impatient and ambitious manager. He appeared to have a generous budget when he was appointed at Leatherhead 2 years ago but they spent most of the season in the lower half of the table, surged into the top five by Spring, then blew their chances of a play-off place by conceding crucial stoppage time goals in all of their last three league games one of which was a 1-0 home defeat to the Hamlet. I was a bit surprised such an inexperienced young manager got offered a higher level job after that, and he took several of those Leatherhead players with him to Concord.

My feeling is that Jordan Parkes has probably had the best seasons of his career at Hemel. He must have been there for at least 6 years and at the age of 30 I'm not sure he'll interest many National Division clubs, and even though I'm certain he'll get a few offers from our division he may not be quite so effective in a different team at a different club.

Concord suddenly appear to have reverted to being the underdogs punching above their weight and promoting from within after their one season splurge ended in farce thanks to their ground grading failure.
 

Raymondo316

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#22
Really not sure where the money has suddenly come from at Hemel, but they are putting together a pretty good squad.

Alex Wall & Jake Howells are both very good signings at this levels.
 
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#23
Reckon the price of gear round the Hemel area must have gone through the roof.

Either that, or Dave has expanded his empire.

Not to be sniffed at.
 
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Aberstone

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They've always been a delusional bunch when it comes to their budget.

As for us - we've announced 3 signings since Sunday with Connor Smith, Jacob Cook and Nick Arnold coming in from Billericay, Kings Langley and Aldershot respectively. Smith was on loan with us 7 years ago during our Trophy and play-off run so we know what he's about. Cook is a defensive midfielder and a prospect who was released from Watford's youth setup back in 2018. Arnold from what I can gather has been crocked for the Shots this past year and a bit so this is a massive gamble as to whether or not he is over his injuries.
 

East Bank Shot

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#27
They've always been a delusional bunch when it comes to their budget.

As for us - we've announced 3 signings since Sunday with Connor Smith, Jacob Cook and Nick Arnold coming in from Billericay, Kings Langley and Aldershot respectively. Smith was on loan with us 7 years ago during our Trophy and play-off run so we know what he's about. Cook is a defensive midfielder and a prospect who was released from Watford's youth setup back in 2018. Arnold from what I can gather has been crocked for the Shots this past year and a bit so this is a massive gamble as to whether or not he is over his injuries.
Nick Arnold has been injured for almost 2 years now, picked up a horrible one down at Eastleigh. Started to come back into the side for the last few games of last season. On his day he’s brilliant, definitely NLP/L2 standard, just hope his injury hasn’t set him back too much. Great bloke as well.
 

Aberstone

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Dejon Noel-Williams signs this evening after being released by Oxford United. Consensus seems to be that he was awful when on loan at Slough but much improved when on loan at Gloucester. Thoughts Clem Fandango?
 

Clem Fandango

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#30
He started like bambi on ice to be honest with you, didn't impress at all. But in the last few games found his feet and started to become a nuisance for opposition defences with his height and strength. He's a strong lad but had a tendency to allow himself to get bullied to start off with.

He didn't score a lot and missed an open goal from 5 yards at St Albans, but with the right coaching he could be effective. He's not what I would call a goal scorer though, more someone else to play off.
 

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