So we did it, Saturday 27th April our club went into the last game of the season bottom of the table, much improved form wise in the second half of the season but unfortunately with results elsewhere bottom and needing a near miracle to survive relegation. The night before the game I couldn’t sleep, I know there was really nothing I could do as Chairman, just give the management team and players the support they deserved, and we all went down together with a purpose of delivering.
You’ve heard all the drama but by 4:50pm we did it! THE GREAT ESCAPE HAPPENED!!!
I want to take it back to the start of my journey here at EUAFC. I started showing an interest in the club because I just couldn’t understand why the club fell into the position it did, after a few months of attending games, talking with supporters and more importantly discussing with the committee I just couldn’t stop thinking about this club. I believed that the sky was the limit, but it needed to move forward, we needed to inject excitement, believe in the history but more importantly believe that this club will not only survive and escape the impending doom of relegation but can go on to have successful days and nights in the future. After a few discussions in October, Brian Cordingley came to me and asked me to take his place as Chairman of the club, without much hesitation I took the role on the condition he stayed alongside me as Vice-Chairman which I am glad he has done to this day.
Becoming the Chairman of this club has been a challenge, one I am up for in every single way. This season has been a rollercoaster but not one step of the way did I ever stop believing we would survive relegation. I would like to put on record the thanks to Ryan Cooper who took the reigns early in the season, Ryan did so when the club really needed help and without that maybe this club wouldn’t have had the opportunity to survive so with that I thank him and we appreciate the effort he put into the role in the first half of the season.
With that I have to give my thanks to Arron, Jason, Aidan and the lads who kept us up this season. Lots of speculation on the budget here have had me laughing but Arron has put together a special squad of players that if added too can be a force. They showed something about their character getting out of this battle and with a full season together I see no reason why we can’t aim high. I have enjoyed watching the likes of Jalen, Alberto and Ridwan come in from afar, the lads such as our skipper Willett, Dale & Kane Penn, Sam Schaaf, Chris and D Rodge fight for every single point and the younger lads such as Jordan, Alfie, George, Charlie and Dylan really show maturity in a hard situation. Anyone who has worn that shirt this season in this battle, thank you from me and the committee.
We made some changes behind the scenes at the club that have strengthened us as a business and we will continue to look at ways to make more money for this club and bring success. I really would like to thank Bob & Steve Cheffings for really helping with the changes, Jiffy for being my non-league encyclopedia because there is absolutely nothing he doesn’t know, Brian for supporting my every move, Terry, Trev, Jan, Kath and Keith for being real club people, Steve Huxley for his continued effort at this club, big thank you mate. Dean Alchin who gave me the time of day in the first place and made this possible and lastly Ian Dunk aka Dunky, this man despite his limitations these days barely misses a game. It was an honour to have him on the coach with us to the game last Saturday, 60 plus years involved in some way shape or form with Eastbourne United, I love listening to Dunky’s stories and hope my involvement and care will be with this club as long as his.
I would like to throw a special thank you to the supporters of this club. You didn’t know me, might not of understood my intentions from the off but you have embraced me as Chairman and shown me the respect and trust I need to get the job done. I love standing with you all at games, chatting, cheering away, agonising a missed chance or a goal scored against us. I feel all those moments just as much as you guys do, I will never lose faith in our 11 warriors but I will stand and cheer as loud as I can!
My aim was survival, it was a key priority in what I considered a 5-year plan to take this club up to where I believe it can be league wise, our season aim was achieved. Now being in the thick of it I understand how much work has to be done at this football club, I am not shirking from that responsibility, if anything I am thriving in it. This club will continue to grow, and I hope everyone sees my vision for the future for it to happen. I cannot do this alone, I am fortunate to have a committee strongly behind me, but we need to be as our name states, ‘United’. I was made Chairman for a reason and I will not allow anything or anyone to derail the momentum we are on, I cannot wait till we kick off the SCFL Premier League 2019/20 season celebrating 125 years and hopefully celebrating lots of success!!!
‘We have to be realistic’ is what I hear a lot but why be in football if you want to just tick along….? I am realistic, but I am ambitious and with that so is Eastbourne United AFC!
Over the next few days I will sit with our Manager and plan for the future, we will also enjoy our presentation evening this coming Friday (you are all welcome!) and we will look at the work that needs to be done on and off the field. I am also excited about the Women's team and working closer with the Youth section of our club to make sure it's more integrated in what we do.
I may not have been born in Eastbourne, grew up watching our club like lifelong fan Alison Gower or been on the committee for years on end but I guarantee you I will match anyone with the amount of love I have for this football club and I will give my all to make it as successful as it should be.
LET’S BELIEVE TOGETHER, UNITED AS ONE
Updated 17:58 - 30 Apr 2019 by Billy Wood
A very proud Club Chairman