Month: July 2022

Town Defeated Despite Fightback

Hayes and Yeading United 3 Enfield Town 2

The scoreline may have flattered us somewhat but there were more than a few mitigating circumstances surrounding Saturday’s defeat to fellow Step 3 opponents in our penultimate pre-season friendly, writes Andrew Warshaw

Firstly Hayes and Yeading, who lost in the Southern League Premier Division South  playoff final last term, were a week ahead of us in their preparations, kicking off their league campaign next weekend.

Secondly, they had almost  a full-strength side. Perhaps most importantly of all, we were missing at least EIGHT players who might ultimately be considered members of the first-team squad.

Certainly at one stage it looked as if we might be overrun by a slick, quick-thinking, one-touch-passing H and Y side, reminiscent of that 7-1 drubbing almost exactly a year ago.

Yet it must be emphasised we are still a work in progress and one could only feel for the management team in terms of planning with so many key players absent for one reason or another.

However superior H and Y were for long stretches, there were definitively positives to take away from the game, not least another eye-catching performance from young Marcus Wyllie who is surely getting ever-closer to playing his way into consideration for a starting spot on Aug 13.

Hayes were quickly out of the blocks and twice came close in the opening couple of minutes though Town, too, could have gone ahead had Bilal Sayoud produced a stronger shot when rounding the keeper.

 The deadlock was broken on 16 minutes when Keano Robinson’s 20-yard strike was hit so powerfully, Nathan McDonald could hardly react.

 A great block by Juevan Spencer, who again looked to be an excellent signing, prevented a second goal while at the other end Lewis Taaffe was through on goal but lost his footing at the vital time.

The hosts doubled their lead on 25 minutes when Cole Brown took advantage of defensive hesitancy and curled a sublime effort  into the far corner.

Town then survived no fewer than three more gilt-edged H and Y chances before the break including a Mo Bettamer freekick that  smashed through the wall and almost pole-axed McDonald who somehow managed to stand firm.

H-T 2-0

Both sides made a flurry of halftime changes but it wasn’t long, despite us switching formation, before our hosts made the game safe, Robinson curling another unstoppable effort beyond McDonald for 3-0.

Whilst it might be argued that H and Y took their foot of the gas, Town commendably never gave up and finished the stronger. On 79 minutes,  Wyllie superbly held off his marker to reduce the deficit with a composed finish.

Appeals for a H and Y penalty were waved away before, six minutes from time, Wyllie turned provider for Bruno Tavares to slot home.

“A good workout against very strong opposition who begin their league campaign in a week but frustrating that we don’t have anything like the squad we will have available in two weeks,” was Andy Leese’s assessment.

“Some good performances across the group we had available, and a chance to familiarise some combinations but still lots of work two do before we start in two weeks.”

Town starting line-up

McDonald; Spencer, Bray, Richmond, Kirwan; Thomas, Shulton, Taaffe, Tavares; Wyllie, Sayoud

Subs: Connolly, Jordan, Marfo, Wilson-Braithwaite, Wilkes, Smith, McLean

Taaffe Hat-trick Seals Latest Win

Ware 1 Enfield Town 4

Enfield Town recorded a comfortable 4-1 win over Ware in their latest pre-season friendly, played for the Sean Mynott Memorial Shield, writes Martin Bentley.

 In an open encounter, with Town again fielding a mixture of available regulars and newcomers, a hat-trick from the unlikely source of Lewis Taaffe saw the Town home after being matched for more than an hour by their hosts.

Town succeeded in getting their noses in front after only four minutes when Lyle Della Verde’s 30-yard free kick deflected off a home defender, leaving the Ware keeper wrong footed, frustrated, and standing by the wrong post.

Ware gained the upper hand for a while, stretching the Town defence on the flanks but only managed shots off target. For Town, Marcus Wyllie had a shot well saved, and Ware’s keeper did well to cut out a number of dangerous crosses, before the home side levelled after 43 minutes, from a penalty that can only be politely described as ‘soft’.  Ex-Towner Sam Chaney sent Nathan McDonald the wrong way from the spot.

H-T 1-1

The second Town goal arrived after 56 minutes, with Wyllie’s perseverance after his shot was saved resulting in a cut-back to Taaffe and an excellent finish.

The home side were unlucky not to be level again on the hour when McDonald brilliantly tipped a 20-yard first timer onto the crossbar.

Town eventually made the game safe with two goals in three minutes from a goal-hungry Taaffe, the first a looping far-post header from Wynford Marfo’s cross after 71 minutes; the second a neat lob from the excellent Wyllie’s headed pass.

There was still time for an excellent save from sub keeper Adi Connolly near the end, but by then the Town win was confirmed.

Town line-up: McDonald, Marfo, Braithwaite, Thomas, Richmond, McLean, Taaffe, Youngs, Wyllie, Tavares, Della Verde.

Subs: Shulton, Wilkes, Bray, Jordan, Whyte, Connolly

Defence Strengthened With Trio

Three defensive reinforcements to bring you; with one retained and two new signings who you may have seen in recent pre-season action.

Firstly, versatile defender Josh McLeod-Urquhart – gradually back on the road towards recovery – has signed on for the 2022-23 campaign. He started last season well with three wins and two clean sheets before a season-ending injury at the end of August. He will be looking to add to his 27 appearances and three goals for the club once fully fit again. Welcome back, Josh (pictured with Andy Leese)

We also welcome two defensive additions to the club in Wynford Marfo and Dequane Wilson-Braithwaite. Dequane spent time with Carshalton Athletic and Potters Bar last season, and has also turned out for Welling Town and Maldon & Tiptree. Right-sided defender Wynford was a regular in Leyton Orient’s Under-18s side before most recently representing St Neots Town.

Andy Leese commented on the two: “Both are really good lads; good characters; good pedigree. Both have been with professional clubs: Dequane’s been at Spurs and then Luton, and Wynford’s been at [Leyton] Orient. They’ve come out of the professional game and into non-league clubs – they were at St Neots last year together, for example – but they’ve been very impressive. They’re disciplined boys, they work extremely hard, and they’ve come in and really impressed us with their ability and versatility. Thanks to Mark Salton at 12 Mountains Agency for helping get them in.”

Jake On Board

The club are delighted to confirm that striker Jake Cass has agreed to stay at Enfield Town for the 2022-23 campaign.

The ever-popular Jake joined from Bishop’s Stortford mid-way through last season and hit 10 goals in 18 appearances for the Town.

Welcome back, Jake!

Club Statement

The club has recently discovered an issue concerning the registration of a player.

This has been raised with the Football Association who will rule over the matter in due course. The other club involved is Cheshunt.

Given the dispute the club has decided not to partake in the tournament at Theobalds Lane this Saturday.

The club apologise for any inconvenience caused and will make donations to the charities connected to Saturday’s event.

The dangers of gambling

Enfield Town FC are proud to support  The Big Step,  a campaign to end all gambling advertising and sponsorship in football, led by those who have been personally harmed.

The Big Step are part of Gambling with Lives,  a charity set up by the families and friends of young people who have taken their own lives as a direct result of gambling. 

The campaign delivers gambling awareness sessions and a string of other initiatives designed to discourage players from gambling.

Earlier this month, more than 60 people affected by gambling – including families who have lost loved ones–  walked from Manchester to Liverpool to demand gambling reform.

With the online gambling industry increasingly pervasive in lower-league football, there is a growing need to update the  UK’s 2005 Gambling Act which is now out of date.

Non-league clubs are particularly susceptible and The Big Step  wants a blanket ban on gambling advertising in football.

Last week’s ETFC members meeting included a special appearance from  Chris Gilham, who stepped in on Zoom to replace The Big Step founder James Grimes, a former gambling addict, in speaking to members to raise awareness of the dangers surrounding gambling.

Chris gave a passionate account of  how the practice had affected him personally and how at one stage he considered taking his own life.

“It affects both your mental and physical health,” said Chris who revealed that a petition launched by the Big Step already has some 67,000 signitures. “We need to get all gambling sponsorship out of football, not just on shirts but all advertising.”

Saints Too Strong

Enfield Town 1 St Albans City 4

A mixture of registered players and triallists were put through their paces on Tuesday on a searingly hot evening that required several drinks breaks, writes Andrew Warshaw.

As expected, Step 2 St Albans, who knocked Forest Green Rovers out of the FA Cup last season, proved formidable opposition especially since Town were without a number of unavailable key players.

A couple of our players took early knocks which meant changes had to be made quicker than the management might perhaps have anticipated but everything is still in its development phase as we build towards that all-important opening league game in  mid-August.

Early doors, Adam Cunnington’s quickly taken freekick was helped on by James Dayton for Jake Cass to see his header blocked but Jake was narrowly offside anyway.

St Albans soon grasped the initiative and went ahead after 12 minutes with a lightning move down the right which a triallist, believed to have been on Brentford’s books, finished off by finding the corner of the net.

Nathan McDonald was forced into a fine save from  Liam Sole but we, too, were creating chances.

Fouled just outside the boss,  Cass almost found the net with the resultant freekick, then planted a header wide after good work by Wynford Marfo.

Right on halftime, however, the visitors doubled their lead with the kind of goal that demonstrated their National League South status as they showed dazzling pace, again down the right and again converted by the same triallist.

H-T 0-2

Changes aplenty were made at halftime to give as many of the squad as possible a run-out and we got back in the game on 67 minutes as the St Albans keeper took out Juevan Spencer and Sam Youngs scored from the spot.

Adam Cunnington came within a whisker of levelling but couldn’t quite adjust his feet before Saints made the game safe.

First Chez Isaac stole in at the far post to lash home a corner, then Ryan Kirwan was unjustly adjudged to have given away a penalty and Joe Neal did the rest.

“Another decent workout against good opposition” was Andy Leese’s appraisal. “It gave us a chance to look at some more players and different combinations as well as getting valuable game time for a couple who have missed some sessions.”

Members Meeting July 14, Part 2

Players come and players go but Andy Leese believes the squad being gathered for the new season will be just as competitive as during the last campaign.

“We’ve lost some players we didn’t really want to lose but it’s that time of the year,” Andy told last week’s  members meeting when giving a frank and honest appraisal of the current situation.

Andy, like the chairman, has spoken several times to Mo Faal in recent weeks but while Mo decides where his future lies with his contract having expired, the focus is on those who back in training and playing pre-season games including new signings Juevan Spencer, Scott Shulton, Marcus Wyllie, James Dayton and Ben Frempah.

“Whilst we are sorry to lose certain players the key is to focus on what you’ve got,” said Andy. “So far, so good. I’m really pleased with the attitude. I of course understand Mo wants to move up a level and try and become a full-time professional. I’ve invited him into training and will try and work my magic again by persuading him he belongs here but you have to respect the guy. He did what he said he would last season with his goals and I’m a bit surprised no-one has taken a chance on him yet.”

Andy made the point that there are goals all over the pitch in terms of the players who have already committed themselves including Adam Cunnington, Sam Youngs, Jake Cass and Lyle Della-Verde.

In response to a question about Andre Coker, who has been out of the game for disciplinary reasons, Andy said Andre was keen to right the wrongs of the past when he becomes available again.

“He’s been very humbled by events and really wants to come back. He’s pretty remorseful and I’ve seen a change in him and am prepared to give him another go,” said Andy.

The manager made a point of praising everyone responsible for maintaining  our pitch during the summer. “The work that’s gone on is first class, nothing short of incredible.”

He also gave an insight into how the state of the pitch determines selection. “There is no way back in February, say, that we could play football from the back. That’s why we played more directly when it suited us. All the players felt the same way.”

Reflecting on our playoff defeat to Hornchurch, Andy believes being shorn of crucial players so late in the day, including Scott Thomas, Lee Chappell and Nathan Smith, affected proceedings

“I’ve done a lot of soul searching and I genuinely thought we were in a winning position. With some extra experience on the pitch  we might have made some different calls.”

But onwards and upwards with the following message to the supporters.

“The support we get wherever we’ve been has been nothing short of fantastic. The players love it and so do I. I always tell the players about us being owned by the supporters and what that means. They all have a stake in us. I remember when we got battered at Eastleigh in the cup. We had a torrid time and were all doing Covid tests  before we even got on the coach. We took a side that was nowhere near full strength but the support  that day sticks in my memory. It’s the sense of belonging.”

And the ambitions for the season? “We want to do at least as well and try and go one better. We’ve got the nucleus of players and are again a top five team. Which of those places we take, I don’t know. We also want to go deep into the cups competitions which brings both prestige and revenue.”

Andy was joined at the meeting by Sam Youngs and Adam Cunnington, both of whom expressed the same sentiments about the fans and the work that has been done on the pitch.

“The increase in fan numbers really helps us a lot,” said Adam. “It’s all set up to realistically go to the next level. There is absolutely no reason why we can’t match last season. That’s why we re-signed, not just so we can have a chat with our mates and be a mid-table side.”

“There are teams who spend a lot more money,” added Sam. “But player for player, every time we go on the pitch we think we can win. We may not necessarily always be favourites on paper but we have kept the core of the team. And the biggest thing we’ve got in our favour  is our togetherness.”

Members Meeting, July 14

This year’s annual pre-season members meeting was conducted both in person at Butler’s Bar and on Zoom.

It was in two sections, with the chairman and vice-chairman taking the floor for the first part, reflecting on last season and looking ahead, followed by the manager and two players, Sam Youngs and Adam Cunnington

Part One (Paul Reed and Paul Millington)

Paul Reed

The chairman began by pointing out that gates were up last season by 40 percent on our previous completed season. This meant we were able to maintain a strong playing budget and allowed us to be financially stable despite the impact of Covid and enabled us to bring in the likes of Jake Cass. Paul recalled we achieved our highest ever points position and points per game at Step 3.

As regards stewarding we will be utilising the professional stewards who were employed towards the end of last season and who are all first-aid trained.

We are looking at making a profit for the 2nd season running, said PR, a rarity in itself. Improved gates means additional revenue from the bar, shop etc and less reliability on one individual source of income.

The academy remains an important source of income whilst our debt position is much improved. On the field, the academy won their regional league to compete in the Champion of Champions and lost narrowly to Chelmsford who went on to win the entire competition.

Despite the women’s first team getting relegated, the women’s section is in good health especially at youth level.

As far as the community section is concerned, the Saturday morning soccer schools still attract over 100 kids while the disability section continues to grow. Our social media presence is much improved, giving us extra profile.

On the technical side, the first team players are now equipped with GPS tracking systems to ascertain how fast they run, heartbeats etc. This is used extensively for analysis by the coaching staff and represents an important innovation.

A colour promotional brochure showcasing the club and at no cost to ETFC is almost at the printing stage and will be distributed throughout the local area in the build-up to the new season. 

Paul Millington

Paul focussed on an extensive outline plan for a new 700 sq metre single storey facility, prompted by the need to expand the academy. To increase the intake, we need more accommodation. At present classrooms are restricted to the bar area and portacabins.

Planning permission has been submitted for an additional couple of cabins. Not yet formally granted but likely on condition that it would only be a temporary situation for 3 years, with a permanent solution in place by then.

The unused grassed area behind the portacabins has been identified as the most likely possibility since Butlers Bar itself is a listed building. It will include a bigger bar and the club shop and provide classrooms for the academy during the day. It will also be available for functions. Discussions are underway with the Football Foundation to see what funds might be available as well as with the LBE.

Paul Reed

All players from last season were invited back for pre-season. Some decided not to take up the offer and the coaching staff have been working hard to identify how the gaps can be filled. PR mentioned James Dayton, Marcus Wyllie and Scott Shulton as new arrivals and later in the meeting the signing of centrehalf Ben Frempah was announced.

Team spirit last season was the best PR had ever seen and the same togetherness will be important. PR disclosed that players’ personalities were just as important a factor as playing ability when brought to the club in order to foster team spirit.

PR said there was a deliberate plan to get quality pre-season opposition and heaped praise on those who have been tending our pitch. Season ticket sales going strong, with over 100 already, while NHS season ticket offer and Go To Town has been extended.

In terms of sponsorship, WWE was always a one-season deal. Negotiations are at an advanced stage to announce a new main sponsor.

Finally, Paul introduced the concept of potentially replacing the playing surface with an artificial pitch and outlined the pros and cons.

The pros include a strong driver of revenue, potential success on the pitch (Aveley, Worthing, Dorking etc), providing a consistent playing style, saving money on hiring outside facilities and dealing with extreme weather conditions, whether winter or summer.

The risks include the need for commercial borrowing, whether supporters may be disenchanted, potential long-term injury risks, conflict with athletics at peak times and the need for more on-site presence .

In terms of costings, PR laid out the following estimates:

Installation – £600,000-700,000

Equipment/booking management system – £10,000

Extra staff – £10,000 pa

Need to save £250,000 over 10 years in order to replace the artificial pitch with another one at that point.

Total cost over 10 years would be approx £1m and PR estimates that we would need to hire the pitch out for 10 to 12 hours a week to break even.

The proposal is to engage with relevant stakeholders and then, at the agm  in January, put a business plan in front of the members ahead of a potential vote.

(Part 2 of the meeting will be published tomorrow)

Kick-Off Change

Because of the unseasonally hot weather, we are pushing kick-off against St Albans City in our pre-season friendly tomorrow (Tuesday) back to 8pm.

The temperature by then is likely to be lower than when we played in at Cockfosters or Maidstone.

We advise supporters not to attend if they have any health conditions that may be impacted by the heat (we can refund any tickets already purchased if they contact the club).  We are also stress to our volunteers that they have no obligation to attend.