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First Team

An Open Letter From The Gaffer

Posted by Kelly Gilchrist
Posted on Wed 22 Jul 2020
Posted in First Team

Dear Fans,

I hope this letter finds you well and all your families are safe, as we continue through this difficult period. As I have reiterated through this time, football has taken a back seat and ‘lockdown’ has taught us more than ever, that family must come first. I have certainly enjoyed my time with my family and seeing my little boy develop, probably more than I would have been able to do if football had still been going.

After Friday saw the curtain come down on a successful 2019/20 season, I wanted to communicate with you all on what I saw as the first step on the ladder in our journey.

Rewind the clock back to when we walked through the door 12 months ago who would have known what great progress we could have made. We all know that David took a real gamble in appointing Chris & I and you were probably all thinking ‘who’. We’re very grateful for the Chairman taking that gamble on us and hopefully across the year we have repaid his faith in us. There was certainly a lot to deal with when we came in but we feel from our time at Oldham we had the ability to change and work under extreme circumstances. At this point I must compliment all the players and staff who we inherited, they bought into what we wanted to do and did this to the best of their ability.

On the pitch

From the highs of Ebbsfleet and Chesterfield away, the free flowing football of AFC Fylde and Dover at home . . . to the lows of Stockport and Bromley, we have tried to provide a brand of football that has grit and determination with an attacking element. Granted at times this hasn’t been the case but we certainly have ‘turned up’ more often than not. One of the biggest compliments we can take from this year is the amount of respect teams have shown us especially at The Shay. Teams have changed their approach when playing against us and we have gone from ‘let’s get at them’ to let’s sit in and ensure they can’t hurt us. That is a big step; it comes with its own problems as we now need to find different ways to beat the opposition. The players have given everything for the Club this year and deserve all the credit that is being thrown their way.

Off the pitch

We have an extremely hard working small team at the Club, who certainly go beyond the call of duty. We have tried to unite the staff and ensure everyone feels part of what we are doing. On match days the sponsors’ lounge is full, our communication team publicise the club like I have never seen and our interaction through our social media channels is better than some League clubs.  Our academy continues to grow and we have seen many of the players join the first team group to train or play in competitive games. We have also seen Jay Benn earn a professional contract and he will become part of the first team squad for next season. Nothing would give us more pleasure than producing our own and that is something that is crucial to the development of this Club.

Next season

We have learnt a lot this season and made some mistakes along the way, however that will make us better and allow us to improve the Club moving into the next campaign. We unfortunately can’t compete financially with most of the teams at this level but we can work in other currencies. One of the main things we can do is ‘go the extra mile’, that will be the strapline of my recruitment and coaching next season. We have to do more to keep up; we need to go above and beyond what is required in order to ensure we get more consistency on the pitch. We will be staying with the Hybrid model however we will be making an extra day compulsory. This might mean we have casualties from this year’s group; however it will be for the benefit of the Club in the long run. We want players hungry to develop and drive the Club to the next level and will be recruiting players who match our desire. As a management team we are working tirelessly to ensure we provide an environment to get the best out of our players and we’re already ‘going the extra mile’. As I will have a clear budget to work from next year this will hopefully allow me to manage our recruitment across the season better and allow me as and when appropriate to improve the squad. Something I didn’t have the options of doing this season due to the timing of our arrival. These are the two key areas I really feel we can improve and influence properly this year.

I will communicate our eagerly anticipated retained list as & when I’ve spoken to each individual player over the coming days.

The Fans

I would like to finally thank you the fans, as I mentioned earlier in this letter most of you must of thought ‘WHO’ when we were appointed and I don’t blame you for that. When I came in, one of my clear goals was to unite the whole Club and ensure we were all pulling in the same direction. I feel that we have achieved that, we have got out into the community, we have made you part of our match day preparations and we have certainly delivered on the pitch. One of the biggest examples of this has been the ‘Project Play-Offs fundraiser’; the amount of money you have raised for the Club has been nothing short of extraordinary. I can’t thank you enough for everything you have done, it has shown me that this Club is firmly at the heart of everyone in the town and makes us all want to ‘go the extra mile’. We missed you at Boreham Wood and can’t wait to have you back at The Shay and following us up and down the Country next season.

The journey has begun and let’s all work together again next season to ensure this Club continues to rise from the ashes. Thank you for all your support and making Chris & I feel so welcome over the last 12 months.


Read more posts by Kelly Gilchrist