Last August I do not think any of us expected the season to pan out the way it actually did. Having been relegated from the Southern League Division One South & West, with a manager and team including many players who had won the CCL twice a few years ago we had some optimism that we would be competitive and have a strong season; not expecting promotion but at least being in the top third of the league. The reality was different.
We did not have a great start to the season on the pitch although there were notable wins including a 3-2 win at eventual champions Molesey. This was followed by a series of poor results, including 7-1 and 6-1 defeats at Horley Town and Spelthorne Sports respectively, coupled with an exceptionally poor discipline record, seeing us in the bottom three from very early on. Then, there was a change in management and players, immediately followed by two months with only a few games being played due to waterlogged pitches (both ours and others) but what games these were, including that unforgettable 6-3 win at Bedfont Sports. Then our new young team under Don Chislett put together a series of really good results, including the impressive wins 5-0 at Hartley Wintney and 4-0 against Farnham Town, before the team had to wearily compete in five games in 11 days in early April with mixed success. With three games left we found ourselves 2nd bottom of the league with the situation unclear as to how many teams would be relegated.
As the last week of the season started we had it in our control to get out of the bottom three: with wins in our home games against Colliers Wood, then our game in hand against Cove, leaving us needing to win at Mole Valley SCR on the last day of the season to guarantee staying up. In the end we did it; we managed the great escape, winning our last three games and finishing 17th after spending most of the season in the bottom two. It was a tremendous effort from the coaching team and the players, with a lot of support from fans at home and away games. Thank you to everyone involved.
We can now look forward to next season, where it looks like we will be able to keep the majority of the players from this seasons squad, minus a couple who are off to university. This gives us a chance to keep building the team, adding experience to the core of young players and some additional youth players.
We know that our fans are the bedrock of the club and we rely on them to create some atmosphere at home games in the expanse that is the Spectrum. Last season, despite the number of rearranged mid-week home games, our average home gate was 99. We usually take a very healthy number of supporters to away games too, often outnumbering the home fans, and certainly out singing them. I know that the team appreciates the support, the noise and the passion the fans have for the club. Next season it would be really something if we could exceed 100 for the average home gate, not just because this brings more revenue into the club but also to improve the atmosphere at the Spectrum and make it better for us to play there – it is worth noting that we have a better away record than home and it is possible that the improved atmosphere at away games is part of that.
Off the pitch we continued our quest to increase the profile of the club in the town and to find a permanent home; we submitted comments into the Guildford plan about providing sports facilities in any redevelopment, we have a strong relationship with the local charity the halow project, a stall at the monthly Farmers Market in the High Street, coverage in local press and radio has increased and we are forging stronger links with Guildford City Boys & Girls Club. The change in profile was shown recently in the Surrey Advertiser where all the prospective parliamentary candidates for Guildford were asked about City having their own ground and five of the seven candidates supported this.
Finally I would like to extend thanks to all the volunteers that keep this club running both on match days and in the administration and coaching that takes place in the background. We have a small number of dedicated volunteers who give up a lot of their time for free to keep the club running; without this help there would be no club and no team so I hope you will join me in thanking them for all their hard work. If you are interested in helping out either on match days or with some of the other tasks please get in touch, we welcome new volunteers to help keep the club running.
Now let’s see what season 2015-16 brings; I am sure it will be exciting.
Chairman, Guildford City FC