SEASON ROUNDUP FROM STEVE KING

Best thing about the season This one is an easy one and that would be the brilliant crowds that we have achieved. To see over 500 here for the Holmesdale game was a brilliant experience and it showed how much the club has grown. When I first came to the club crowds were around the 50 mark so to regularly achieve crowds of over 300 has been brilliant to see. We are a community club so it makes such a difference to see everyone getting behind us and makes all of the hard work worthwhile. Worst thing about the season There are a couple of individual games that stand out as really disappointing parts of the season, especially the home loss to Sheppey in the Quarter-final after being 2-0 up. However, the biggest disappointment has been the number of injuries we have had in the latter part of the season. We have lost key players in our captain Kane Smith, Tom Chapman, Alfie Foster, Connor Coyne and Sam Wilson for the last couple of months and this has meant we haven’t been able to show our very best form all the way until the end of the season. The rest of the squad have done well in their absence but any side at our level would miss key players like those. Most pleasing performance This would have been the 3-0 home win against Glebe in the league. We played really well on the day and full deserved our win. That was the day that the boys really believed we could compete at the top end of the league and we went on a brilliant winning run around that time of the season. Proudest aspect of the season Seeing two young lads from Deal playing regularly whilst still at a young age Troy Howard andMax Niblett have both been excellent and played well above their years. To be able to give the opportunity to two players who can literally walk to the ground and see them perform to such a high standard makes the coach in me very proud. They deserve full credit and that has been great to see. There is work going on every week with young players in the area and we look forward to more players breaking into the first team over the next few years. Thoughts on league position We are delighted with how our league form has gone this year. This is going to be the club’s best season for over 20 years since Simon Bryant took charge after the Vase win. To accumulate over 70 points in what is a really tough league is a great achievement and we are all proud of how the squad have done. Thoughts on the cups This has been the disappointment as we were desperate to try and reach a Cup Final. However, in the three competitions we have lost to sides that have finished above us in the league so we have certainly done our best. For the third season running we were knocked out of the Vase by a team that have reached Wembley. What makes that even more frustrating is we were 1-0 up against Littlehampton before eventually losing 2-1. Littlehampton have also won their league and like Chatham and Sheppey will be plying their trade at a higher-level next season. We lost in the last minute of extra time in the quarter-final of the Kent Senior Trophy to Glebe having had a stonewall penalty turned down two minutes before our opponent’s winner. In the SCEFL Challenge Cup Quarter-final we were eventually overpowered by a very strong Sheppey team despite leading 2-0. So, all in all it has been frustrating but we have given our best in all of those games. Thoughts on the squad I think it goes without saying that all of the playing squad deserve a lot of credit. We are far from the biggest spenders in the league and all of the boys live local to the club and are fully committed. I have known and worked with a lot of the players for a number of years and they always do the club proud. To have such loyalty in a squad is rare and it is testament to how many of the players have played over 100 games for the club. We will continue to grow together and although we are always looking to add players to improve, the core of the squad is so important and they are both excellent footballers and excellent people. I’m sure you will but please give them an extra cheer today to recognise their efforts. Thoughts on some time off To be honest there is no real time off in our jobs as we now have to work on the squad for next year, speak to potential new signings and arrange pre-season but it will be nice to have a little break. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes from all of the management and coaching team so it will be good to have chance to re-charge the batteries. In preparation for every game we ensure we go and watch the opposition, develop a specific game plan and plan training to meet the needs of the next game. Post-game work then involves fully analysing the Veo footage and clipping it up for the players. That takes a lot of time as we are all volunteers it will be nice to have a few weeks off before we start again in pre-season. All of the members of the management and coaching team do a great job and we wouldn’t be where we are without them. Thoughts on next season We are looking forward to next season in what should be a very competitive SCEFL league. We will be aiming to improve on our performances this season and see where that takes us. It is hard to make any predictions at this stage until we have seen what teams are in the league and what everyone’s squad looks like but we will focus on ourselves and look to improve all aspects on our performance both on and off the pitch. We will be looking to keep the squad together, as is the Deal Town way, and add some additions that will make us a stronger team next season. Wishes for next season To see the excellent crowds maintained and even improved. It makes such a difference to the team when we see a busy Charles Ground. If we can continue with the excellent level of support, then it will help push the club forward further. Please consider bringing a family member/friend along with you next year; I’m sure they would enjoy it. Thanks again for everyone’s support, it really is appreciated. Final thoughts I would like to finish by thanking the board and all of the volunteers at the club. Without them all the club would not be able to function. The members of the board, led by Natalie, spend a lot of time at the club and do a number of jobs that go unseen. From running the Hoops 100 all the way through to sorting out everything that needs to be done on the Matchday they have been a constant source of support and are one of the reasons this club is so special. The volunteers around the ground have also done a brilliant job and again please say thank you to them if you speak to them today. Have a brilliant summer, we will see you back at the Charles Ground at the start of July when we will begin an exciting pre-season campaign. Come on you Hoops! Kingy

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