Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Chairman blames lack of loyalty for side's struggle

THE chairman of Henley Town FC says the club is a “work in progress” as it battles to avoid relegation.

Kim Chapman says the Red Kites, who currently sit second-bottom of the Hellenic League Premier Division, have struggled after losing several important players in the off-season and are in a rebuilding phase.

Henley won the Reading Senior Cup last season but much of the first team was lured away by offers of more money from other clubs.

The new-look side has recorded just three wins from 22 games this season and has already had two different managers.

Chapman said: “It’s been up and down. We’ve had a lot of changes with players, new managers and a new structure to take the club forward. It’s a work in progress.

“We lost a lot of players early on to other clubs. When you are on a budget like us you rely on people and sponsors coming in and it has been hard work.

“Other clubs have been in this league longer than us and have more sponsors so the money is flowing. They can pay £100 a week to players and we can’t.

“There’s not much loyalty in players now, even if it’s an extra £5 down the road, but that’s the way it is.”

Gerry McGinty took over at the club at the start of the season but quit in October after overseeing just two wins in 15 games.

McGinty, who had been at Henley as a coach since April, left to become youth team manager at Football League club Barnet.

He was replaced by former Red Kites player Rob Creech last month.

Chapman said: “I don’t think Gerry was the right man at the time. He didn’t have the man management and the job at Barnet came up at the best time for him.

“I had 12 people interview for the job and it was difficult to pick the right person but I think we have with Rob.

“At the end of the day it’s going to be a hard task, he’s done well but it will be hard for him this season. He’s doing the best he can but we are where we are and getting the right players at this level is a big task.

“The performances have been better, there have been some games where we’ve been disappointed not to come out with a result. He’s got the players on side, he’s got respect and they are trying new things.

“They all went to Wales together after a game a while ago so the spirit is there.”

Despite their poor league form, the Red Kites are in the fourth round of the Oxfordshire Senior Cup following a 1-0 win over Adderbury Park before Christmas and reached the quarter-finals of the Perpetua Press Floodlit Cup before a narrow 2-1 defeat to Fairford Town.

Chapman said: “We’ve done quite well in the cups, we were knocked out of the FA Cup early but we are still in the Oxfordshire Senior Cup, although we’ve been playing the sort of sides we have got to beat.

“My target is to pick up points and stay in this league, then built for next year. It will need hard work but Rob has put that in.

“The structure of the league with teams dropping out means we may be fortunate with how many sides are relegated and hopefully we can stay where we are.”

The club has a busy reserve side and Sunday team and Chapman says they will hopefully pay off in the future.

He said: “The reserves are a pathway to the first team and so the results aren’t as important.

“There have been one or two players who have come through but not that many at this time, it’s difficult when you are in the situation we are in.

“The Sunday team is doing pretty well. It brings people in to the club, the team supports the club really well and it’s a pleasure to have them.”

Chapman added that away from the pitch, the infrastructure of the club is improving year on year. Earlier this month, a new 102-seater stand at the club was completed.

New turnstiles have also been built at the entrance of the ground along with tarmacking of the area and Chapman says he is targeting more improvement including a new 3G pitch in the future. He said: “There’s more things to do and we will apply for more grants.

“The goal is to make the football club a nice place to come so people will visit.

“In the last two-and-a-half years this club has gone forward more than all the other years in terms of the infrastructure and what we are trying to do.”

The club is still looking for local companies to advertise above both stands.

Anyone interested should contact Chapman on 07515 892909 or email itskimandrew106@gmail.com

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