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Home arrow Ryman Football League News arrow Chairman has grounds for optimism ahead of play-off’s - EXCLUSIVE
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Chairman has grounds for optimism ahead of play-off’s - EXCLUSIVE PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 28 April 2008

CRAY WANDERERS chairman Gary Hillman believes the news about bringing the club back to it’s roots will inspire the club to clinch promotion this week, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Wands had to settle for third place - behind Dover Athletic and Tooting & Mitcham United - after their 42-match Ryman League Division One South campaign.

And Ian Jenkins’ men go into tomorrow night’s play-off semi-final showdown at Hayes Lane against Metropolitan Police - a side that finished 11 points below them in third - in confident mood.

“Very confident, yes, I think we’re fully-fit as far as I know,” Mr Hillman said EXCLUSIVELY to www.kentishfootball.co.uk on the eve of the BIG game.

“The boys have been playing well, defending well, passing the ball and scoring goals, with a good team spirit - we’re doing very well at the moment.”

The Wands will need to beat the Police for the third time this season if they’re to play Tooting & Mitcham United or Worthing in Saturday’s final.

“We normally do fairly well against them,” the chairman said of the Imber Court outfit. “We beat them home and away this year.

“We just have to concentrate on doing a job, pass the ball well, play our normal game and come out on top.”

The Wands’ 28-match unbeaten run came to an end with a 2-0 defeat at Tooting & Mitcham United during the middle part of this month.

And in a way the chairman was pleased that it did then.

“In a funny way, it’s nice to get a defeat under our belts against Tooting,” said Mr Hillman.

“The last thing we wanted to do is go right to the death and lose.

“It’s fairly pleasing, in a funny sort of way, losing to Tooting, otherwise people are looking to see when the run’s going to end.

“We got that out of the way, 28-games unbeaten, which was really good. We can (now) concentrate on tomorrow night and winning the match.”

Promotion will bring many lucrative Kent derbies to Hayes Lane next season, with the likes of Dartford, Dover Athletic, Maidstone United and Tonbridge Angels bringing plenty of support.

“Bromley’s ground is fairly set-up for a higher level of football and bigger crowds, that’s not a big issue,” said Mr Hillman.

“We’ve got a good enough squad to hold our own in the higher division (but) the top three or four in that division is a different kettle of fish.

“If we do go up, hopefully we’ll hold our own for a few seasons and see how it goes.”

But bringing the nomadic club back to it’s roots has been Mr Hillman’s long-term aim.

And he revealed that the club are in “negotiations” with Bromley Council about building a ground in the Cray area “along the A20 corridor.”

“We’re in negotiations at the moment,” said the chairman. “We’ve had some fairly encouraging meetings with the local authority, on a piece of land we’ve got our eye on.

“We’ve had meetings with the London Borough of Bromley, the mayor, and head of planning, signing land in the next few weeks.

“There’s a fairly big scheme, a mixed-youth scheme, obviously a football ground and other uses on the ground to make the finances on the ground ready to pay for the ground.

“I don’t want to really say (much) until we’ve signed up. We’ve looked at few sites and negotiating at the moment. When we’ve signed up, we’ll make it a bit more official.

“If we do sign-up on the piece of land it will be a good four or five years before the shovels’ in the ground because there’s big issues on it.

“We’ve got a good team of planners and on the case that we’ve been talking to for a while, with issues on green belt land, we’re very confident we can achieve our aim with what we want to do.”

Mr Hillman, meanwhile, criticised Kent’s top brass over the provisional arrangements for this season’s Kent Senior Cup final against Ebbsfleet United.

The Fleet will be playing Torquay United in the FA Carlsberg Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium on 10th May and will come to Hayes Lane next Saturday should Cray lose to Metropolitan Police tomorrow night.

However, if the Wands go all the way and play their play-off final next Saturday, then they’ll play Liam Daish’s side before the start of next season.

“Me, Ian Jenkins and the management team, have been disappointed with the Kent FA really, I think they’ve been bullied in my mind,” said Mr Hillman.

“To my mind, the FA Trophy (final) is a massive game for Kent - and Ebbsfleet.

“We wanted to play it on Bank Holiday Monday (5th May) and Ebbsfleet don’t want to play it.

“The Kent FA have been bullied by Ebbsfleet and in my mind, from Saturday to Monday is only 48 hours, but obviously I can understand Ebbsfleet putting the Trophy first.

“I’m a Cray Wanderers man and Ebbsfleet are thinking about themselves, and I’m thinking about Cray Wanderers.

“It’s been devalued a little bit. It would be nice to play on a Bank Holiday, (in front of a big) crowd just before the FA Trophy final.

“At the moment we don’t know whether it will take place.”

Visit Cray Wanderers website:  www.craywands.co.uk

Cray Wanderers v Metropolitan Police
Ryman League Division One South Play-Off Semi-Final
Tuesday 29th April 2008
Kick Off 7:45pm
At Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent, BR2 9EF

Last Updated ( Monday, 28 April 2008 )
 
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