ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
End of the road as door begins to shut on Fleet
BOSTIK PREMIER side Thurrock look certain to fold at the end of the season as Non-League clubs continue to feel the financial pinch.
In a season where National League Hartlepool United, Chester and Dagenham & Redbridge have run into difficulties, Bostik Premier Fleet are set to slip off the football map.
Boss Mark Stimson, whose side won promotion to Step 3 through the Division One South play-offs in 2016-17, says he’s been told the Essex outfit won’t play next year. The former Grays Athletic and Stevenage manager says his players will give their all for the remaining months, while their potential demise will impact the National League System club allocations ahead of the 2018-19 season.
A club is likely to be promoted up to fill any vacancy rather than a relegation reprieve at Step 3. Fleet’s Chairman Tommy
South, who co-founded the club as Purfleet in 1985, put the Fleet up for sale at the start of the season because of health reasons and admitted the future was bleak without a buyer.
Question marks have been hanging over the club all season and Stimson says he was told before Christmas the club, whose Ship Lane ground has been listed for sale, will close at the end of the current campaign.
He told The NLP: “It’s difficult because this time of year you’re looking at players for next season and talking to your own players, they are asking questions and you have to be honest with them and say, ‘Next season, who knows?’
“You ask your players to give you everything. They’re not stupid. They get phone calls, seven-day approaches coming in and, especially at this level, if someone wants to offer them £50-a-week more that can make a big difference.
Stimson believes he has a special group of players and he wants them to finish the season on a high for themselves and the club’s loyal band of supporters.
“There are some great people at the club, who volunteer and do things, they deserve a mention,” he said. “Also the fans. It will be sad for them as well. I’ve been here six years, but these guys have been there 10-15 years and some longer than that.
“It’s going be a massive thing for them not seeing their team every week.”