It was so good to be back playing football at The Meadow this week with a very good performance in beating Hemel Hempstead Town 1-0 in a pre-season friendly, and we are back in action tonight when we host a Wycombe Wanderers XI with a 7.30pm kick-off. It would be good to see you there for some Friday night football. The bar will also be open, and Billy Burger will be there to serve you dinner – what more do you need!
In the playing squad we do still have a few niggles, injuries and holidays to contend with so we are having to manage the games and training very carefully to make sure that we are fully prepared for our opening game of the season next weekend, a nice little 246 mile trip to play newly promoted Plymouth Parkway. I know there are many supporters that are planning to make the trip, your efforts are hugely appreciated by the players, management and officials of the club, let’s hope we can get the season off to a winning start.
I appreciate that there is an element of frustration at the lack of news coming out regarding players signing and re-signing and it is very easy to conclude that this is hiding bad news of budget cuts and squad reductions, I can assure you that is not the case! Quite the reverse in fact, although with the previously mentioned niggles and injuries we have agreed to delaying official announcements, but I can confidently say that squad announcements will begin next Tuesday!
Talking of next Tuesday, as has become the norm in recent years, we will be hosting an open training session at the club, 2nd August, when you can watch the squad train whilst enjoying a drink. At 7pm there will be a Meet the Board and Managers in The Chess Suite, with the managers joining the meeting at 7.30pm giving you plenty of time to ask the Board any questions you like before the conversation inevitably moves on to the football side of things – but we will be there all evening and will be as open and transparent as we can be.
With regards to preparations of the ground ahead of the start of the season we have been frustrated by worldwide shipping issues. Believe it or not, the floodlights are on their way from Shanghai and are in the sea somewhere awaiting arrival in the UK! As soon as they arrive, we will be in a position to begin the installation – the sooner the better as our electricity costs have gone up by a whopping 270%.
One of the benefits of the new floodlights was the improved player visibility as we return to claret and blue colours for our home kit, but can you believe that the delivery of the new kit has also been delayed, COVID being the reason for this one apparently. Fortunately this is only a one week delay, we are told, and will hopefully be here in time for our first home game of the season on Saturday 13th August.
On a more pleasing note, I was taken aback this week after inviting a previous board member to Tuesday’s impressive performance against Hemel Hempstead Town I had a lovely surprise when I got home to find a very complimentary email and a sizeable donation to club funds. Moments like this really do help you to get through the weeks when sometimes it feels like the world is against you. This donation has helped us to begin the installation of artificial grass at The Meadow…ok, so we are only replacing the tired looking carpet that is in front of the dugout areas, but it is another one of those jobs that needs doing and donations like this enable us to stay on top of things.
Similarly with the donations towards the water traveller that we are using to water the pitch, in these dry conditions it has been an absolute life saver. Even now we struggle to get enough water on to the pitch, the traveller covers a third of the pitch in each run which takes twelve hours each time. Apologies to the sun worshippers, but I am desperately hoping we get some good old soggy English summer downfalls in the coming days and weeks!
In other activities the Alex Horne Taskmaster event on Saturday 17th September sent our ticketing system into meltdown – 2,000 tickets sold in just 3.5 hours; it should be a fantastic day. Another date for your diary is Friday 4th November when we have booked in our annual family fireworks display. The length and extent of the display will be the same as last year, although as with everything these days, we are faced with spiralling costs for the pyrotechnics. Full ticketing pricing and details will be released slightly nearer the time.
There is more football at The Meadow this Sunday when England Fans Lionesses will be playing Chesham United Ladies with an 11.00am kick-off, giving you plenty of time to stick around afterwards for a couple of drinks before the big final that will be shown in The Chess Suite at 4.00pm.
Apologies for finishing on a sad note, but we were all disturbed to hear that one of our former young players, Billy Busari, now playing for Gosport Borough, was attacked by youths with a knife and allegedly a pit bull terrier in Gunwharf Quays Portsmouth and sustained serious injuries that required surgery. He is now back home with his family in London recovering and, understandably, no longer wants to be in Portsmouth. Everyone at Chesham wishes him a speedy recovery from his injuries and best wishes for finding a university that he can transfer his degree course to.
As we all get excited about the start of the new seasons, stories like this certainly bring your emotions back down to the ground. Bill Shankly was a wonderful manager, but contrary to his most famous quote, there are some things in life much more important than football.
Stay safe, stay well and thank you for your support
Peter Brown, Chairman