Season 2008/09 News Archive

Phil Dowrick has spoken following his appointment as Chairman of Tunbridge Wells FC. Dowrick has been lined up for the position for 2½ years, having initially linked up with the club through Foresters FC at former Chairman Norman Sales’ request - but took a step back whilst the club considered other proposals. He has, however, been on the Tunbridge Wells committee for the past year with a view to taking over the reins from Nigel Bourne when the time was right - and that time was at this year’s AGM.

"The first actions we have is to make sure that the club steamlines it's administration and commercial activities to achieve the same high standards that we can expect on the pitch," he noted. "This club must now be run as a business whilst allowing those involved in coaching to coach. Costs were up last year by 26%, and we need to make sure that the way this club runs brings in the funds to cover that. We have installed a professional business team - a board of directors at the Club - to make sure that happens. While the committee will still exist, they will ultimately answer to the board."

The new board at the club consists of Dowrick, along with Garry Jefferies as vice chairman - a long term supporter of the club, and managing director of local company Printwell; Joe Croker as company secretary - who brings expertise in project management, having spent most of his career in managing the development and implementation of large scale computer systems; Les Pendlebury-Bowe as welfare officer; and a Financial Director. Dowrick confirmed he was currently talking to a highly experienced individual to fill this final role.

Dowrick was also delighted that the AGM approved a new constitution last night. The new constitution and codes of conduct bring the club in line with FA Compliance as we seek to earn an FA Charter Mark, which will be essential to the future running of Youth Football from next year. Youth Football is something close to the heart of Dowrick - and it is the intention of Tunbridge Wells Football Club to have Elite Teams running for all age groups feeding into the Reserve and First Teams - this season sees the start of that with the establishment of an Elite U13s side.

Meanwhile, First Team manager Mike Robbins was confirmed as elected to the committee, and in addition to his first team management role, will work at co-ordinating football at the club at all levels.

Two targets have been set by Dowrick for the season ahead. "The club will be looking to sell at least 50 season tickets for this season for the first time, and by the end of the season, will look to have 100 paying spectators coming through the gate at home games" – a challenge that will involve all those concerned with the club.

Finally, Dowrick acknowledged the valued endeavours of Nigel Bourne and former secretary Barry Whitlock over the last year. Both are now taking a well-earned break from the day-to-day involvement with the club.

First team manager Mike Robbins has revealed that the vast majority of last season’s squad have re-signed which will be a massive help to the cause as the side looks to challenge the top pack in the Kent League in the new season. While he’s waiting for one or two players’ decisions on their immediate futures, striker Adrian Stone is the only player who has definitely left the club. Joining the club for a second stint at Culverden is forward Benji Agana. Agana’s last spell in Tunbridge Wells colours was in 2003/04 during Kevin Metcalf’s reign, when he scored six goals in 18 starts. "Benji will certainly give us something that we did not have last year,” Robbins predicted.

“Wells are obviously looking for top six this season, and this year I have the advantage that this time, I start with a blank canvas,” he adds. “This time last year I was listening to someone else’s ideas. Now they are ours. We (Martin Larkin and I) have put much thought into each and every session, and I believe that the players are already responding well to our methods. I will finalise my squad within the next two weeks - and while I do not need to sign twelve new players, I need a couple to give competition," Robbins concluded.

09/07/2008 – SIX SIGN, TWO LEAVE
Mike Robbins has made a clutch of new signings ahead of the coming season. Among those announced were two familiar faces - Alex Rich and Aaron Shade. Rich was a popular player in the Tunbridge Wells side before picking up a long-term injury that kept him out of the game for several months. Since the start of the New Year, Rich has featured for Tonbridge Angels, but re-joins The Wells to offer Robbins more left-footed options. Shade - also 22 - initially joined the club at the start of last season, but was released by the previous management.

21-year-old Danny Powell also joins Tunbridge Wells from Tonbridge Angels. Powell scored 13 goals in 16 starts for The Angels' reserves last year. Meanwhile, former Sittingbourne and Herne Bay-man Stephen Devereux impressed during pre-season and has consequently signed. The Irishman can play on the flank and in midfield - and is a tenacious player with plenty of pace. Adding competition to the goalkeeping position is 23-year-old Barry Andrews who joins from Croydon. Finally, 22-year old centre-half Luke Robbinson joins.

"A team is judged by the strength of its bench," Mark Robbins summarised. "There are plenty of very skilled players competing for first team spots all over the park now. If you get any of these players on the bench, you're going to look very strong."

Two players have been released by the club: Richard Vidler has left due to work commitments, and Danny Jones has left due to the travelling commitments.

Ross Cable, Matt Foreman and Phil Rhodes have all signed for Tunbridge Wells ahead of Saturday’s opening game against VCD Athletic at Culverden. The signing of this trio rounds out the side, and first team manager Mike Robbins is now happy he has a squad capable of meeting his targets for the new season. Ross Cable will need few introductions as he has regularly been on target against The Wells over the past few years. A seasoned campaigner, the striker has played - and scored - for Faversham Town, Beckenham Town and Thamesmead Town in the past. Last year, he bagged 20 goals from stints with Erith Town and Croydon. “All I want to do is play football - and provided the chances are being created, I’m going to be pretty happy here,” Cable explains.

Matt Foreman, 18, who joins from Brighton & Hove Albion. Foreman has been on Brighton’s books for two years and plays an attacking role just behind the strike force. Foreman - comfortable with the ball at either foot - brings strength into the side. Phil Rhodes, meantime, arrives at Tunbridge Wells from last year’s Sussex League winners Crowborough Athletic, where his instrumental role in The Crows’ success earned him the Manager’s Player-of-the-Year award.

Following on from the injury piked up by goalkeeper Chris Arnold last night - an injury that saw him taken to hospital we can report that Chris was due to go into surgery. The news is not good: Chris has dislocated his knee cap, and ruptured tendons below his knee. He is being operated on today and is looking at three months on the side lines. "Mike Robbins and I are obviously devastated for him as it is no coincidence that our great form since the turn of the year coincided with Chris joining us," commented Martin Larkin, First team assistant manager. "The club will obviously give Chris everything he needs in his rehab and hope to see him back in between the sticks as soon as possible."

Robbins has acted quickly to address the goalkeeper shortage, bringing in Slovakian goalkeeper Mikelle Czanner for a second spell with the club. Czanner has most recently been playing at Redhill, but has also been on the books at Maidstone United and Tonbridge Angels.

Mike Robbins has unveiled his second signing of the week, in the form of Kris Parker. Formerly a goal-getter for Faversham Town, Parker has been training with the first team at Tunbridge Wells in a bid to regain full match fitness, and has now opted to sign. Parker lists Ramsgate and Whitstable Town among his former clubs. This news follows hot on the tail of the signing of goalkeeper Sam Moore from Ashford Town.

Meanwhile, three players have left Culverden. Danny White joins Slade Green, while attacking midfielder Ross Campbell opted to join Crowborough. Aaron Shade has been released.

As from 6th September, The Wells Reserve side will be known as Tunbridge Wells U21s. The side will still be managed by Vince Shell, assisted by Brian Curtin, Gregg Thurstan and Gary Sharman. First team manager Mike Robbins said "This is a positive move for us here at Wells, and reduces the stigma of a ‘them and us’ culture. We all train together here at Tunbridge Wells and the side will still be used in the same way as it was before."

Tunbridge Wells signed Crowborough Athletic hotshot Wes Tate on Friday. Tate - one of the leading goalscorers in the Sussex County League last season duly bagged a debut goal at Faversham Town today to ensure passage for The Wells to the First Round Proper of the FA Vase. Mike Robbins has also added another former Crowborough Athletic player to his squad this week in Dean Chamberlain. Chamberlain was not only part of the Sussex League title-winning Crowborough side last season, but also a part of the Sussex FA representative side.

Mike Robbins has confirmed the return of Jason Barton to Culverden after several years away. Left-back Barton re-joins the club from Redhill. Initially Jason left the club to become a part of a successful Maidstone United outfit, who he skippered to the Kent League title, and through Ryman League Division One - and Robbins expects his mentality, experience and fitness to be of huge benefit to the side. Leaving Culverden, however, are Benji Agana, Ben Hilden and Matt Foreman.

"Ben Hilden has joined Lordswood where he links up with Kevin Metcalf and Martin Telford," Robbins explained. "He goes completely with my blessing. He spoke to me two weeks back to discuss his next move, and it was clear what he needed was to be playing regular football again. Ben is a fantastic lad, who has been with the club for several years, and I'm sure I speak for everyone when I wish him the very best for the future."

Central defender James Holder, 23, has signed for Tunbridge Wells. Holder has played for Erith & Belvedere and also in the Isthmian League with Chatham Town. In linking up with The Wells, he renews his acquaintance with Ross Cable - the pair previously played at Faversham Town together, where Holder skippered the side.

The following statement has been released by the management committee of Tunbridge Wells FC:

The committee is as ambitious for the club now as it was when elected back in June. Since that time the committee has been working hard to stabilise the club in preparation for moving forward. To this end planning permission has been obtained to legitimise hiring our facilities during the week to Compaid and NHS Transport and a company limited by guarantee has been set up for the members to continue to control the club.

The club is also working towards obtaining the Charter Standard so that grants can be obtained for ground improvements.

The footballing side is going exceptionally well with the team currently occupying second place in the league and with the U21s playing attractive football with a very young side.

The aim of the committee has always been for the club to play at the highest level sustainable on the income which can be generated; certainly their duty is to consider the long term not just short term ambitions.

The current base of the club is too narrow for long term growth. Although the prime objective of the club has to be the success of the first team, the base needs to be widened to support it. The club is therefore being repositioned as a ‘community club’ to increase its appeal to wider sections of the Tunbridge Wells residents. The club already runs self funding U15’s and U13’s youth teams and this will be increased to three youth teams next year. In addition to these teams there will also be a ladies team and a disability team. The expectation will be that all of these extra people involved will also support the club in other ways: as supporters, attendees at social events or by sponsorship or advertising. The hope is that they also involve their friends so we reach the wider community.

The overriding question for this season is should we seek promotion? This is a difficult one to call. Last season we could have confidently expected major sponsorship from promotion but economic circumstances have considerably deteriorated and sponsors have their own concerns at the moment. The committee has decided to apply for promotion so it will be a possibility if the team finishes high enough in the league. The ground will be inspected and a list of improvements will be given to us which have to be completed by March. There is a lot of uncertainty and possibly cost in this.

Several clubs in our league and in the leagues above us are struggling financially and it is incumbent on the committee to be prudent and ensure that the club can prosper and succeed not only now but also into the future.

The committee is working hard on behalf of the club but more help is needed from sponsors and with ground maintenance whilst greater attendance is required at the games and functions if the vision is to be realised.

10/12/2008 – RIKKI CABLE JOINS
Centre forward Rikki Cable has joined his brother Ross at Tunbridge Wells, after agreeing to sign for the club from Isthmian League Thamesmead Town. He retains his forms with Thamesmead, but is also available to play for The Wells and featured in last night’s Kent League game at Erith & Belvedere. As well as Thamesmead, Rikki has also played for Faversham Town and has scored goals wherever he’s been.

Tunbridge Wells FC is launching its disability football on the 12th January. The club has partnered with Compaid, Pepenbury and Oakley School to form the basis of the club. However all are welcome if they have been denied the opportunity of mainstream football. The first training session is being held at Pepenbury on Jan 12 at 4.00pm. The club are still looking for volunteer helpers and coaches.

Mike Robbins confirmed this morning that he has released Ross Cable from Tunbridge Wells after an approach from Erith & Belvedere. “Obviously we wish Ross the best at his new club and thank him for his efforts for the club this season. But we also need to look forwards,” he said. “I’m not in a position to name any names right now, but we have made an approach for another established striker, and expect to be able to announce who that is shortly.”

Ross has scored 19 goals in all competitions this year for The Wells, but Robbins believes in spite of Ross’ departure, there is plenty left within the side to finish the season strongly.

The Committee of TWFC met this week and takes this opportunity of offering a mid-season update to members and colleagues on the tremendous progress we are making in achieving all four key challenges set at the AGM:

• Secure an average home gate of 100 spectators throughout the season.
• Secure the FA Charter Standard accreditation.
• Secure a top 6 finish for the first team.
• Resolve long-running disputes with neighbours and TWBC.

We can confirm that we are well on-track to achieving all four tasks. Our application for promotion has been received by the F.A. and we are now actively working towards completion of a number of the ground improvement tasks required.

Our U21, U15 and U13 teams are all performing at levels far above pre-season expectations and plans already exist for new youth teams next season.

Financial Security: Financially we have been able to clear all previous season debts and with some sensible budget adjustments that we have now implemented, we are confident of our future liquidity so that we can move into next season in better shape. Of course, the credit crunch is affecting us as, we are sure, it is with many others, and Clubroom takings are dramatically lower (per paying spectator) than previous years. Advertising revenue is down, but your Board and Committee have taken immediate and sensible decisions to ensure that the Club not only thrives this season but for many more to come.

HM Revenue & Customs Review: We, as all other Kent Premier clubs, have been subject to an examination by HM Revenue and Customs to review the processes by which expenses are paid to players. An initial meeting has highlighted a few administrative changes that were required and we have immediately acted to adhere to the HMRC guidelines but as the inspection could be extended to cover the past 6 years this will take some time until a conclusion can be reported.

Board Changes: There have been a couple of changes at Board level to report. Les Pendlebury-Bowe has stepped down as Club Welfare Officer and has now been replaced by Alan Kibbey (who is also our Youth Team Coordinator). Our vice-chairman, Garry Jefferies, has recently also assumed the role of Club Treasurer. We thank Les for his previous help and support and wish Alan and Garry our full support in their new roles for the Club. We have also strengthened our Committee by recruiting John Milton as our Supporters Representative. We welcome John to the team.

Compaid/NHS Links: Discussions with Compaid and the NHS continue regarding the development of links with these two organisations, and it is excellent to note that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council planning consent has now been received to cover all current Club activities.

Fans’ Forum: The committee would also like to clarify that TWFC has no official ‘forum’ and any comments read on the unofficial fans’ forum, or indeed on any other forums, cannot be considered as statements or announcements from this Club.

Together, your committee, management, players and all staff are working towards securing the short and medium term future of this great Club to ensure that The Wells play here at Culverden for many years to come. Please keep supporting The Wells as the run-in for the remainder of the season now starts in earnest.

Issued by:
Phil Dowrick - Chairman
Garry Jefferies - Vice Chairman
Joe Croker - Club Secretary
Alan Kibbey - Welfare Office and Youth Coordinator
Mike Robbins - 1st Team Manager
Darrell Cousins - Clubroom Manager
Norman Sales - Club President

The club's protest against the result of the Erith Town v Tunbridge Wells League Cup (Second Leg) has been rejected by the Kent League and the result will stand. Therefore Erith Town will play Hythe Town in the Semi-Final. The inquiry took place as a result of Thamesmead Town’s refusal to allow the second leg to go ahead at Bayliss Avenue unless Ross Cable left the premises. Thamesmead had previously barred Ross from attending Thamesmead Town FC.

The decision of the Kent League has been accepted by the club because it is acknowledged that the Kent League should have been consulted prior to the game, and not just the Kent County FA. However Tunbridge Wells FC goes on record to state it believes the situation that occurred is unacceptable as it put the club at a disadvantage in the game, and was unjust to Ross Cable. The Kent League has therefore been asked to take up the matter with the FA to ensure it is dealt with appropriately and not allowed to happen again.

Midfielder Brad Mortimer has returned to Culverden to rejoin The Wells. Brad - who spent more than three years with Tunbridge Wells during his last spell at the club after initially joining from Sevenoaks Town - has been working hard on his fitness in training during recent weeks.

Saturday’s game at home to Croydon proved to be the last game in a Tunbridge Wells shirt this season for James Russell, Jason Barton and Gary Clarke. “We are delighted for Gary Clarke,” explained Martin Larkin, first team assistant manager. “He has been training with Blue Square South outfit Thurrock for the last few weeks, and they have decided to have a closer look at him for the rest of the season, which is great news for him. It will leave a huge hole in the middle of the park but it’s a great opportunity for him and the boys have all wished him well.

“Meantime, we had a seven-day approach from Erith & Belvedere for James Russell, and unfortunately he has agreed to join them,” Larkin continued. “James has been our stand-out defender this year but unfortunately the move makes financial sense for him, as does a move back to Redhill for Jason Barton. We would like to thank them both for their services this year. We have made moves this weekend to replace them, and give the squad a fresher local feel.” Joining the club is Matt Newman.

25/03/2009 – FOUR JOIN
Joe and Steve Wade made debuts for Tunbridge Wells at home to Norton Sports, having joined the club after stints with Lordswood at the start of the year. Alan Chapman has also signed forms to offer cover in the squad. Chapman hails from the South West like Mike Robbins, and is an FA Vase winner. “Alan will add quality and experience when we need to call upon him. Luke Wallond re-joins, too, to try and force his way into the first team picture.

On transfer deadline day, Tunbridge Wells completed several signings to carry the club through suspensions and injuries, and replace the players that had left - the latest being Wes Tate to Burgess Hill. Linking up with the side is George Fenwick, the former Cray Wanderers, Ashford Town and Erith & Belvedere forward, who scored on his debut on Tuesday night. Defender Nick Fenwick joins from Ashford Town; midfielder Jamie Lawrence (formerly of Dartford and Erith & Belvedere) comes in from Slade Green; and Alex Jackson, a midfielder, signed from Lordswood. “We did miss out on two of our targets,” first team manager Mike Robbins explained. “One player elected to stay and play in his side's upcoming Cup Final, and another missed the transfer deadline by minutes through a late train!”

After a successful season with the Under 21s that has seen three players emerge to play for the first team, Vince Shell and Brian Curtin have decided to stand down as the Under 21s management team. A number of the squad will be moving on to University, so Vince believes a local manager with better local links is what is required to further improve and develop the links with the First Team.

"The U21 team manager's job is the most difficult role at the club and Vince and Brian have carried their roles out with great enthusiasm and ability and on behalf of Mike and the rest of the club, I would like to publically thank them for their hard work and help since they joined the team,” first team assistant manager Martin Larkin commented. First team manager Mike Robbins has been busy speaking with candidates to fill the role.

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