Billingham Town FC
INTERVIEW WITH THE CHAIRMAN
As previously promised, it’s time to catch up with Chairman Paul Beddow to find out what has been going on behind the scenes. In our second part of an ongoing series, I ask Paul what he’s been up to in recent weeks and discuss footballing matters on the pitch.
Paul, since our last interview, there has been a concerted effort to bring in new sponsorship to the club. I believe you have had discussions with interested parties. How has that gone so far?
It’s been hard work to be honest and we have been very busy since the new committee took over. We have been well supported in the past but it is key to our stability that we seek out and recruit new sponsorship, particularly major sponsors. It’s the major sponsors that have been the focus of my attention. You seen recently that Splash Utilities come on board with a much needed £5000 and I have had meetings with several others including the FA, Chris Musgrave, Drive Vauxhall to name a few. Barry Oliver and I were at another meeting in Durham yesterday (13th April) with a national vehicle leasing company and that looks promising too. It is early days but fingers crossed.
Not only is it important to build new relationships with businesses and local communities, how important is it we look after our existing sponsors?
Our existing sponsors along with the fans are what makes this club tick and it is vitally important that we secure their continued support and they know that their support is valued by us. We are going through a programme now of contacting each and every one of them, thanking them for their support and looking to keeping them all on board. Yourself and Jeremy Leeds have been key in that regard with you and he doing that work on behalf of the club. Jeremy from the Parkmore Hotel has secured 2 sponsor boards just this week. I will say, however, that we can’t leave this fundraising to just a few. we need to empower the fans at the club to go out and speak to all their connections and bring in sponsors. The sponsor boards are £275 for the first season and £200 thereafter.
You have now chaired several committee meetings with the supporters trust - what has been the main topic of conversation?
At our first meeting we agreed and set out our strategic direction with key objectives. Due to what has gone on at the club this season by certain individuals the first two and most important objectives were to manage the club debt and get the club on a more secure financial footing. That is our focus and we will not budge from that until I am satisfied that we have achieved that. All current decisions and actions of the committee are made around these important objectives. The whole committee have been working hard and the green shoots are beginning to appear and I am confident that we can land our plan.
Becoming the new Chairman was always going to be a major challenge, one I suspect you will have relished. Overall what are your thoughts, nearly two months into the role?
I think most people know that my intention was to finally relax and just enjoy watching Saturday football. How wrong was I? I can say with certainty, and I speak for all the committee, it has been difficult and challenging but worthwhile. If any club is worth getting involved in it is this one and you are right, I think it’s in my DNA to take on big challenges. I will also say that I don;t do things by half and outside of my paid work, the club is getting my full attention. We have good people at the club and I am convinced we can build success together.
We have seen little action on our home patch of late. How frustrating has this been in terms of loss in revenue?
It was always going to be a challenge. We have now got a financial plan going forward into next season but we knew how big the challenge was to get to the end of the season. We had very few home games to bring in revenue. The cancellation of the bar licence and the clearing out of the accounts and stock didn’t help but we have got that back on track and again we are confident that we can keep the players budget as it is and finish the season. I will say and acknowledge the work that all are doing but also the financial contribution that people like Barry Oliver and Liam Connor have made by giving their own cash to pay players.
On the pitch, results haven’t gone our way and surprisingly we haven’t won since we hammered Jarrow 6-1. Town have played well in patches but are you also surprised with the run we are currently on?
Yes I am surprised and circumstances have given Jama some significant challenges. I do think it is important that we don’t get carried away with the recent results and have a knee-jerk reaction to them. I suppose my football management experience tells me that sometimes this happens. Jama and his coaches have done a great job steering us through a difficult season but the time to evaluate the season is at the end of it. We have a number of games left and we can have a great finish to the season.
FA Cup qualification has gone now but the new season will be upon us soon enough. Has the club pencilled in dates for any pre-season friendlies?
We have one confirmed at the moment with Whitby Town and we are beginning to plan now. We have also looked at pre season tournaments. We will have a full programme and we will hopefully be bringing some exciting fixtures to Bedford Terrace. Keep an eye on the website.
INTERVIEW WITH THE CHAIRMAN
Chairman Paul Beddow sat through a questions and answers session with our very own Press Officer. Beddow puts his points across succinctly and would like the supporters to be kept updated with recent events. We begin with what will hopefully become a regular feature, discussing salient issues that could have a short as well as a long term impact on the clubs future.
Paul, first of all, congratulations on becoming the new chairman. Two weeks into the role, how have you found it so far?
Thank you Mr Press Officer!! A lot has happened in a short space of time. It’s been just over a week since the extraordinary meeting where a new committee was voted in with me as the chair. While that position was a little unexpected, I am honoured to hold such a position within the club and feel I can bring some vital skills and experience to help with the predicament we currently find ourselves in.
The interim committee wasted no time in arranging a meeting so positions could be fulfilled professionally. What are your early thoughts on the new executive and sub committee?
We got straight down to business when we called for a full committee meeting just four days after the vote took place. I was impressed with the positivity in the room even though we are going to have to negotiate some rough terrain going forward. While I welcome the democratic way the club is being run, it is clear that the club needs a structure in place and a clear governance with an ability to be fleet footed. We must be able to make fast track decisions for the good of the club. The wider committee were in agreement on this so progress could be made swiftly.
In the short term, what needs to be done now to secure the clubs long term future?
To get the club on a more secure financial footing including dealing with some of the debt left behind and have a clear agreed vision on the way forward. There are clear priorities that need to be followed in the short term so we can clear up the mess left behind. Ensure that there are clear roles and responsibilities for the running of the club. We also need to secure the liquor license and maximise the potential of the bar and the clubhouse as a whole.
Billingham Town is a unique club with an eclectic group of supporters who are very passionate about their football. What is your vision in bringing success for the long suffering fans?
The hard work has already begun. We have made contact with several sources this week to secure funds, so with a bit of luck and negotiation skills, we hope to bring some good news soon. Keep those fingers crossed! If anybody knows of any potential sponsorship or avenues of funding, please let myself know or contact the club. We all have a job to do and with the right communication, enthusiasm, luck and leadership, I am confident we will provide success for the fans. If we achieve this, then we will be able to create an environment that will allow the players to flourish.
Previous manager and chairman, Barry Oliver is now vice chairman. I believe you two have been good friends for some time now. How much are you looking forward to working with the silver fox?
I met Barry at Hartlepool FC. He invited me over to Billingham Town two seasons ago to take on the new reserve side. Anybody who knows Barry, will know he has boundless enthusiasm and energy,
particularly in relation to football. He also has the football l club at heart. We make a good team and I am looking forward to working with him and others, so we can get the club back on track.
Regards to football matters, what is the aim for the rest of the season and how well has manager James Hunter performed under challenging circumstances?
I spoke to Jama soon after I took on as chair. This is his first major managerial job and when he took on the position, I was impressed with his willingness to throw himself into the deep end of the Northern League. When you consider what has happened since December, it’s even more impressive that he has achieved the results he has, considering everything going on while the supporters wrestled back control of their club. I told Jama we should focus on getting as high up the league table as possible and it’s our job that we create an environment where the management, staff, and players can concentrate wholly on football matters. We have plenty of football still to come in the next month or two and it’s vital the supporters get behind Jama but in all fairness, the fans were always behind the team.
That concludes the first official interview. In the weeks ahead, we will endeavour to bring you further interviews from the management and if you have any questions that you would like the chairman to answer in our next Q&A session, then you can email them directly to the club via our website or send them to Grahamkhutchinson76@icloud.com.
INTERVIEW WITH REECE KENNEY & JOE KERRIDGE
Previous manager Barry Oliver was a frequent visitor to Easington on Thursday nights. Sometimes for match preparation, sometimes for scouting. One player that caught his eye - Luke Page proved to be an elusive capture but there were others on the radar. Former Newcastle United Academy striker, Joe Kerridge tormented poor old Bradley Staunch as Town lost to Easington 3-1 on the closing game of the 2015/16 season. Reece Kenney, who partnered Luke Page in midfield had previously played for Synthonia while on loan from Spennymoor Town while Jake Fenton, another Newcastle Academy product played against Town last season. Fenton was the first to arrive in the summer followed by Kenney in September and Oliver brought in Kerridge from North Shields after a brief stint with the north Tynesiders. This week, we got in touch with two of the lads and quizzed them on their time at Easington amongst other things. Unfortunately, Jake was unavailable for comment.
Good Afternoon gents! On Thursday night, you could both be involved against your former club. How much did you enjoy your time there?
I enjoyed my time at Easington - we had a great set of lads there along with the management staff. I was there for several seasons, being a local lad but I was ready for a change when Town came in for me.
Yeah, I also enjoyed my time there. It was my first Northern League club and they made me feel welcome. There was a great bond between the lads and the staff.
Last Season, Town won both league encounters. First up was the 1-0 win at Easington and then the return fixture ended up 4-1. What do you remember about those games and what were your thoughts on Billingham Town at the time?
I recall the 1-0 defeat better than the 4-1! I realised Billingham had become an organised team and were more defensively organised than in previous encounters. They came with a game plan, stuck to it and pulled it off on the day.
I cant really remember the first game (probably because Oak Tree and Danny Row had you in their pockets!....lol) but I can remember the 4-1! It was a dominant performance from Town. We had chances too but couldn’t break them down.
Barry Oliver brought you both to the club. What did you know about him and did you already know any of the Town players when you signed?
I knew Baz was an experienced manager. I knew several of the players too because I had played with them in the past (Kenney & Lee Moore were at Spennymoor Town together).
I didn’t know Baz that well but I knew Lee Moore from our time at Sunderland’s Academy. I wasnt playing much at North Shields and was looking for a move. Lee’s words persuaded me to come to the club.
You both came to the club at different times. How have you found the transition from Easington to Billingham Town? (Kerridge via North Shields)
I got off to the worst possible start! During the warm up for the Northallerton game I broke my foot. I had only signed the night before the game! My recovery was helped by the medical staff who contributed in getting me back playing within a couple of months. I feel I’m getting closer to my best but most importantly, I’m enjoying my football again.
I found the transition quite easy because Town play to a style that suits my game. The lads welcomed me straight away and were top notch!
Players come and go all the time. What do you know about the current squad at Easington? After a ropey start, they seemed to have turned a corner of late.
I still know a lot of the lads at Easington but they have added a few new faces since I left. They have always been a club based on working hard so we will have to show full commitment if we are to match them for work rate. In the end I’m sure our belief and talent will come through and get the three points.
Yeah I still know some of the lads too who are good players but they have brought in a lot of new faces like Reece said. They will be decent players though because results have improved.
Name one Easington player we need to keep an eye on and why?
Jack Pounder!! Jack is a big, strong centre forward and the team will try to channel everything through him. That means they will work the wings so they can aim for him in the box or go long because he is excellent at holding up the ball. On the night we will have to cut off the supply route.
Shaun Smith - workhorse and lightning quick!
And finally, what are your individual aims for the rest of the season and for the team as a whole?
Individually, I just want to keep working hard and maintain my enjoyment in playing football for Town. As a team, we should be aiming for a top five place and qualifying for next season’s FA Cup. Promotion is out of the question, it became more difficult to achieve after the Hebburn defeat but confirmed after losing our last two games to sides who were in the bottom four.
To end the season as strong as possible and qualify for the FA Cup and Vase!
Easington Colliery v Billingham Town will take place this Thursday night, with a 7:30 kick off time. Also, there will be an extra feature on the Bugle titled Dig For Victory as we summarise recent results.
INTERVIEW WITH THE MANAGER
This article was written shortly before this Saturdays game against Heaton Stannington was postponed due to the bad weather. With Tuesday nights game at Chester-le-Street already in doubt, Town face the prospect of playing two games a week up until the end of the season.
James, you mentioned a week ago that nothing less than three points at West Allotment would be acceptable. Was it just a bad day at the office or did the old artificial play a part?
Three points were a must and its extremely disappointing that we lost the game and the way in which we performed. Saturday is the worst I have seen a Billingham town team play since I have been involved at the club and especially since I have taken over, all of the players know that the effort levels on Saturday were totally unacceptable. I wouldn’t like to comment too much on the surface, it definitely didn’t make a difference. We rain on 4G most weeks so it's no excuse.
Had West improved since we beat them 3-0 back in October? I saw them hold Dunston for 89 minutes, days after that game and they looked an organised group of players.
West have without doubt strengthened their squad, they had a couple of good centre midfielders and they did well to get their goals see the game out.
Do you believe promotion is still a realistic aim for the rest of the season or should Town concentrate on qualifying for next season’s FA Cup which could potentially, be lucrative for the club.
Promotion could be realistic, but we need to be on top of our game and put a run of 5 or more wins together to have any realistic chance. I am definitely not ruling anything out, but we do take it game by game and next Saturday myself and the lads on the pitch need to make up for what happened last Saturday against West. I wouldn’t like to put a position on where we will finish at the end of the season, I hope to finish as highly as possible but we do take it week by week so the aim is for max points every week.
Next up is a tough home game against Heaton Stannington who themselves suffered a surprise defeat last weekend. Like ourselves, The Stan are usually within the chasing pack at the top of the table. Should be a good encounter James?
Heaton have just had a hiccup, they will be as happy that we slipped up against West as we were that they slipped up against Alnwick, no betting man would have expected those 2 results. Heaton will come and bring a strong quality squad as they always do and the game will be tough, we have what it takes to win the game if we dig in and show our quality but we know it won't be easy. It is a huge game and I hope the lads know that, it's nice to be at home and hopefully we can put on a performance for the fans.
The transfer and registration system closes at the end of the month. Would you like to strengthen the squad further if the right type of player became available?
Obviously in terms of bringing in/sending out players you always have to be careful what you say. I would like to being one more in, I have been after one more for a while to complete the squad for the run in. I am taking my time and have had opportunities to bring some players in but I don't want to rush into anything to find I have made wrong decisions. There are a couple on the radar but we have to be wise to make sure it's what we need and that they will improve the squad.