The Chairman’s article from the final programme of the season

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The Chairman’s article from the final programme of the season

The 46th and final league game for this season has arrived. Welcome today to the players, officials and supporters of Sittingbourne FC to the Pilot Field.

Last Saturday at Greenwich Borough we were excellent against an opponent who have had a great season and are cemented firmly in the play-off places. The 2-2 final score line did not reflect the superiority we had in the game especially in the first half when their keeper pulled off some tremendous saves. We had however to dig in towards the end of the match after Jack Dixon received a second yellow card on 67 minutes and unfortunately Greenwich came up with a 90 minute equaliser after several minutes of sustained pressure. Although disappointed the game showed just how far we have come and improved, especially since the turn of the year and this augers well for next season when we are likely to be under FA restructuring in a Step 4 league of 20 clubs in an area stretching from Worthing in the west, Croydon in the north and the Kent coastal region in the east.

On Tuesday night we entertained South Park in our penultimate league match. This was the original match that you will remember was postponed because South Park felt due to the inclement weather it was to hazardous on health and safety grounds for their team to travel, reasoning supposedly upheld by the Bostik League. This I thought was a decent game of football, on as usual a great Pilot Field playing surface, against experienced opposition who we were able to beat 2-0 with a goal in each half from Davide Rodari and Ollie Rowe. This cemented our eighth place in the league table where we will now finish unless Whyteleafe beat Shoreham and Horsham in their last two games and we end up pointless from our game with Sittingbourne today. Whyteleafe would also have to rectify a negative goal difference compared to United of 7 goals. We have ended up having a decent season with our form much improved since the turn of the year, our points tally accrued being higher than a number of the sides that will finish above us in the league table.

Overall it has been an encouraging season, as we have seen our first team improve and gain experience. We believe therefore our decision to change ethos has been vindicated whereby we now look to development young home grown players to go with young and energetic players who have something to prove from outside the area all such players being knitted together amongst a small band of experienced non-league semi professionals. Certainly the progress we believe we have made as this season has gone on suggests our amended ethos is bearing fruit!

Our Academy now in its third year, under the direction of our coaching partner Skiltek, goes from strength to strength. Our role of honour to date this season is impressive as detailed below. You will get the chance today at some point to welcome and give a round of applause to a number of our successful Academy teams:

U19 – National Alliance League Cup semi-finalists.
U15 – Sussex County Cup winners – Great chance still to win Kent Youth League title.
U14 – Sussex County Cup winners – Still could win Kent Youth League title.
U13 – Crowborough & District Junior League winners (all players still eligible to play U12 football).
U12 – Crowborough & District Junior League Cup winners – Still in contention to win league title.

In addition the Club’s Development Squad finished as runners-up in the Bostik Development League South and are still in the League Cup the semi-final of which will be played at the Pilot Field on this coming Thursday evening against Ramsgate 7.45pm kick off. We hope as many of you as possible will get along to support the lads.

Congratulations and thanks to Skiltek, our education partner Sussex Coast College and all of the coaches within the Academy for managing such a successful season which has seen the Club gain great credit.

We believe we have exciting times ahead that will see a good first team on the pitch and talent in abundance coming through the Academy whilst in the not too distant future the prospect of a new stadium and facilities remains very much on the agenda and our goal!

As usual during the summer months we will be undertaking summer maintenance work around the Pilot Field site. This year the work will be supervised by club photographer Scott White. We would like to thank Scott for agreeing to take the task on. We are very grateful to those supporters who lend their assistance. Details of when the summer works will be commenced will be published on our website and in the press in due course.

We of course, as every club is, are looking for ways to increase our commercial revenue firstly in order to support the general running of the Club but secondly to provide additional funds to the manager for the playing budget. Hayley Clout our commercial manager has our thanks for working hard around the Club and in our commercial office where she looks to attract more sponsorship and interest from local companies. Kevin Martin of Godfrey Martin, who do a lot of much appreciated sponsorship of our Academy, is also now assisting us with commercial matters which is great for the Club. In addition Jo Nesbit, Events & Fund Raising Co-ordinator for the HUSSC, who so successfully organised last Sunday’s Tottenham Hotspur Legends match, is also on the lookout for ways in which we might increase our commercial revenue. You of course as fans are also now involved via the Fans
Player Fund (FPF) and the Manager and the Club much appreciates any funds you generate which will be used, under the Manager’s request, for matters specifically in connection with players.

I would like to specifically thank our main sponsors Burney Group and Sherlock Consultancy for their much appreciated continued support and also Littlewoods who sponsor the back of our first team shirts, Skiltek who sponsor the back of our first team shorts and last but of course not least the Henham family at Macron Store who have as usual been terrific in both providing and sponsoring our apparel requirements.

Both my colleague directors and I would like to thank all of our very valued volunteers for all the work they put in for the club. Long may this continue! We are always on the lookout for more volunteer workers so if you know anyone who might be interested in lending a hand by all means put them in touch with the club. We would place on record our special thanks to the following:

– All of our commercial partners and sponsors.

– Safety Officer Dave Russell and his team.

– Public address announcer Eddie Denyer backed up by Pat McCrossan & Robin Powell.

– Turnstile operators Rob French, Ron Cook and Jill Swift.

– Ground helpers Rob French and Wayne Southby.

– Payback Team under the supervision of Peter Bond who undertake maintenance tasks.

– Community Development Volunteers & Development Worker Brian Clifford who ground tidy.

– All of our match day stewards and other ground helpers.

– Paul Hoggard who produces such an excellent match day programme.

– All our valued programme article contributors.

– Scott White for his first team photography.

– Joe Knight for his Development Squad and Academy photography.

– Kirsty Thompson for managing our website.

– Club shop managers Sue Gallop and Ged Clout.

– Simon Rudkins who continues to provide our excellent Pilot Field playing surface.

– Joe Knight (Junior) for assisting Simon Rudkins with pitch matters.

– Liam Jefferson for his excellent match video work and analysis.

– Phil and Barbara Glazier who sell match day programmes and 50/50 draw tickets.

– Bar manager Crystal McKeon and her staff.

– Kath and Pete Ward who launder all the kit and prepare it for match days.

– Clare Tomlin for her cleaning services.

– Our main refreshment outlet staff and Karen Rose at the main stand tea bar

– Stephanie McCrossan who organises a number of things on match days.

– Boardroom manager June Barry with assistance from Ness.

– Alan Ramsay who assists with Boardroom hospitality and other work when required.

– Skiltek our coaching partner and Sussex Coast College Hastings our education partner.

– Our Director of Football Dean White and all of our football management and players across the first team, development squad and academy plus kit man and physio Dane Martin, who is a great asset to the Club, in servicing all the squads and also Steve Hedges who has provided physio support.

We as a club cannot survive without the backing and support from our fans, commercial partners, staff and volunteers. Together with you all we will continue to try to make our Town proud of Hastings United Football Club.

From myself thanks to my fellow directors for their support and overall hard work on a day to day basis.

Finally but not least everyone is cordially invited to come along to our end of season awards night at the HUSSC on Friday 4th May 2018 from 7.30pm. As well as presentation of Club Awards there will be a buffet and music for you to enjoy.

Have a great summer and we look forward to welcoming you back to the Pilot Field next season.

Dave Nessling