Community spirit is shining through, says Keynsham secretary
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
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.
Action from Keynsham Town’s Toolstation League game against Cadbury Heath (red shirts) this season