Croydon Athletic look to Lineker to keep them on target

BRIAN GRANVILLE, the doyen of non-league football writers, gets ready for the start of the league season at Croydon Athletic tomorrow

AFC Croydon AthleticFinal preparations are underway for a momentous league season AFC Croydon Athletic, as they race to get their Mayfield Road home ready and their manager, Antony Williams, targets promotion.

It is an early start in the Combined Counties League, as teams get some competitive games in before the opening round of the FA Cup in two weeks’ time. The Rams begin their league campaign with a trip to Chessington and Hook United, who were relegated at the end of last season.

The warm-up games have been generally good with three wins and two draws from the six fixturess as Williams has tried out new systems and new players at a club which two years ago had to start from scratch all over again.

Nevertheless, he still has the core of the side who finished the season seventh last term but is confident that he has bolstered it further with new additions. Tomorrow will see the likes of Jake Pitt, Terry Lineker and Sam Roye looking to make their first starts for the club as all three have impressed. Lineker, who has scored three goals in the last four warm-up games will also be looking to keep that run going.

But it is off the field that most of the work has been happening during the summer. The return to the Mayfield Road Stadium is now tantalisingly close. The first scheduled fixture at their own ground is set to be Saturday August 23. Work is ongoing on the pitch as well as attention being given around the stadium to make sure that it is ready for that first game.

AFC have been forced to groundshare at Croydon Arena for the last couple of seasons, following a succession of problems off the pitch.

“It has always been our main objective to get back to our Thornton Heath ground,” Paul Smith, the club chairman, said. “We are a few months later than we should have been but that has been out of the club’s control. We are where we are and we will make the best of it.”

The club secured the Premises License for the clubhouse last week and with it about to be handed over formally to the club, they can now begin the process of getting it operational for the new season. But with just three weeks to go to the opening game this has left them a real race to be ready.

After tomorrow’s fixture, they are on their travels again next Saturday when they take on CB Hounslow United before the FA Cup extra preliminary round game on Saturday  August 16 at Southern Counties East side Erith and Belvedere.


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