Com­mu­nity spirit is shin­ing through, says Keyn­sham sec­re­tary

Bristol Post - - SPORT - Si­mon PARKIN­SON post­

KEYN­SHAM Town sec­re­tary Jules French says “com­mu­nity spirit” is at the fore­front of lo­cal foot­ball’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to keep the game alive and kick­ing amid test­ing times.

The Crown Fields club have ex­pe­ri­enced mixed for­tunes so far in the Tool­sta­tion Premier Divi­sion and turn at­ten­tions to­mor­row to an en­tic­ing FA Vase sec­ond round qual­i­fier at the Cas­tle Road head­quar­ters of an Old­land Ab­boto­ni­ans out­fit lo­cated just three miles away.

French, con­tin­u­ing to or­ches­trate ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties from his Malta home, said: “All clubs are bat­tling to im­ple­ment Covid pre­cau­tions; ev­ery­one has risk as­sess­ments in place and you’re ask­ing vol­un­teers to mar­tial toi­lets etc now as part of that. It’s not easy.

“As far as Keyn­sham Town is con­cerned it’s not just about our com­mit­tee and helpers: John Allen, his play­ers and his man­age­ment team, in­clud­ing as­sis­tant Rus­sell Holt, physio Rich Wil­liams and coaches Jamie Price and Josh Bru­ton, have all been in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive of all asked of them dur­ing this whole un­for­tu­nate Covid sit­u­a­tion.

“If there’s an­other pos­i­tive at this time it’s see­ing com­mu­nity spirit com­ing to the fore. We’re let­ting sea­son ticket hold­ers with Bris­tol City, Rovers and Bath City into games at a con­ces­sion rate of £4, some­thing we’ve done in the past but have now made in­def­i­nite at a time when peo­ple sup­port­ing those pro clubs aren’t al­lowed to at­tend their own matches. We had 172 spec­ta­tors at our last home game watch­ing us beat Brad­ford Town (2-0) and in the one prior to that, also on a Tues­day night, 241 turned up to see us beat Cad­bury Heath (3-1).

“It’s that sort of thing that makes all the hard work ev­ery­one puts in over the years so re­ward­ing and I feel a lot of peo­ple are start­ing to see our level of foot­ball as real com­mu­nity foot­ball.”

French cited “good re­la­tion­ships” with lo­cal busi­ness as an­other key cog in keep­ing foot­ball flour­ish­ing at Keyn­sham’s AJN Sta­dium 3G fa­cil­ity.

“We’ve been of­fer­ing free mar­ket­ing via our so­cial me­dia plat­forms to busi­nesses when they’ve strug­gled dur­ing the pan­demic and we have more than 50 back­ing us through spon­sor­ship, some­thing you need as a club if you have a long-term plan of pro­gres­sion.

“Free mar­ket­ing fos­ters pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships although you al­ways hope it works both ways.”

Of to­mor­row’s Vase derby date, French re­called: “We came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in the last round at Bod­min Town, one of the high­lights of a mixed sea­son so far for us. Our cup form gen­er­ally has been dis­ap­point­ing over the last few oth­er­wise suc­cess­ful years and it’s nice to have some­thing like this to fo­cus on and I’m sure our lo­cal ri­vals Old­land will be feel­ing just the same.”

Hallen chair­man Lee Fair­man says he and his staff are “right be­hind” Dean Horse­man, who has been of­fi­cially ap­pointed new first­team man­ager af­ter a short in­terim stint in charge.

The for­mer Patch­way Town boss and Odd Down as­sis­tant to Ray John­ston had played No 2 to the same man at Hallen of late un­til John­ston was re­lieved of his du­ties last month fol­low­ing a dis­ap­point­ing open­ing few weeks of their Tool­sta­tion Prem cam­paign, which has yet to lead to a victory of any de­scrip­tion in ten at­tempts.

It’s un­likely to get any eas­ier for the new in­cum­bent or Hallen just yet as to­mor­row they em­bark on a 240-mile round trip to Corn­wall to col­lide with Mill­brook hosts top­ping the South West Penin­sula League Premier East ta­ble, with eight wins from eight, for an FA Vase tie.

Of that re­cent man­age­rial up­heaval, Fair­man said: “We en­joyed such a good last sea­son un­der Ray.

“We were play­ing so well and that was credit to Ray, Dean and ev­ery­one, on and off the field.

“Aside from only Aron Rob­bins (left winger) leav­ing us to re­turn to Manor Farm, and Cory Simp­son com­ing in as a like-for-like re­place­ment, pretty much ev­ery­thing else squad-wise re­mained in­tact over the close sea­son as our lads showed great loy­alty.

“Pre-sea­son wasn’t es­pe­cially bril­liant and although we did have an ex­tremely tough start to the new sea­son away at a very good Dun­sta­ble side to go out of the FA Cup (4-0), and had the likes of Ply­mouth Park­way and Bit­ton also beat­ing us heav­ily at home early on in the league, we felt things just

weren’t work­ing now be­tween play­ers and man­ager and that some­thing had to be done.”

Mean­while, Andy Black is look­ing on the bright side of life at Cad

amid a dif­fi­cult time at Spring­field.

Covid-19 con­cerns within the camp led to the post­pone­ment of Tues­day night’s away en­counter with Odd Down in the Prem this week, while to­mor­row’s home tie against Ash­ton and Back­well United in the FA Vase has had to be for­feited. Three more forth­com­ing games have been called off too, with a trip to face un­beaten pace­set­ters Ply­mouth Park­way on Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 24 for a tough league test now the next sched­uled ap­pear­ance for Heath.

Af­ter a promis­ing start to their cam­paign un­der new leader Mitchell Hodge, Heath have ex­pe­ri­enced a sharp down­turn, with the re­cent de­par­ture of ex­pe­ri­enced hot-shot Matt Hux­ley to his for­mer neigh­bour­ing Old­land Ab­boto­ni­ans

bury Heath

stamp­ing ground an­other set­back. Hodge has re­sponded by sign­ing cen­tre-back Ewan McMil­lan (exLong­well Green and Chip­ping Sod­bury Town), right-back Jaiden Sav­ery (ex-Larkhall and Odd Down) and at­tack­ing mid­fielder Conor Britton (ex-Old­land, Long­well Green and Bit­ton).

For­mer Heath boss Black, these days act­ing in an ad­vi­sory role with the club, ad­mit­ted: “Af­ter a good start to the sea­son we’ve had lots of in­juries and strug­gled as a con­se­quence.

“We’re hope­ful these three new sign­ings will help us get back to form.”

» Un­de­feated Hel­lenic Divi­sion One West team Thorn­bury Town are at home to Divi­sion East out­fit Abing­don United in the FA Vase to­mor­row.

Tyther­ing­ton Rocks, buoyed by a 5-1 mid­week home thrash­ing of More­ton Rangers, are at Short­wood United for a Hel­lenic Divi­sion One West fix­ture.

Pic­ture: Paul Gillis

Ac­tion from Keyn­sham Town’s Tool­sta­tion League game against Cad­bury Heath (red shirts) this sea­son

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