NON-LEAGUE NEWS: On the pitch, things had been running smoothly for Liam Giles’s Croydon FC. And then vandals and thieves broke into the clubhouse once again. ANDREW SINCLAIR reports
For the fourth time in 10 months, the Croydon FC clubhouse at Croydon Arena was the subject of a break-in in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
When members of staff from the Kinetic Foundation arrived at the clubhouse in South Norwood to prepare for that day’s lessons, they discovered a gaping hole in the side of the building, looking as if someone had taken a sledgehammer to the wall.
Firs team manager Liam Giles said that if anything had been taken from the clubhouse, it could only have been a few bottles of alcohol. It appears that after the vandals broke in, they had some drinks and left, although not before smashing the new camera system, damaging the alarms and taking the keys for the new steel doors – all measures taken to improve security following three break-ins between March and July last year.
Only a rallying around and community spirit among non-league football clubs and fans in south London last year prevented the losses or equipment and costs of repairs seeing Croydon FC go under last year. The building is now secure again, but the damage caused is expected to cost thousands of pounds to repair and make good.
“It’s just terrible,” Giles told Inside Croydon.
“All the work we’ve done to be a good community club, going to the local hospital and so on, is undone by members of the same community doing this to us again.
“We really need help from the council to deal with things like this. We’re just about making ends meet at the moment and then something like this happens and it puts us back to Square One again.
“We’ve got 13 games left this season and we need to win most of them to ensure promotion. All the expenses we’d managed to raise for the players for the run-in are gone now because we’re going to have to spend that money on the repair work.”
On the pitch, January had been a relatively quiet month for the Trams, especially after their Hospitals Charity Cup quarter-final against Phoenix Sports Reserves was pushed back to late February.
A disappointing 3-0 defeat against Rusthall was followed by a 0-0 draw at the Arena against fellow promotion challengers Thamesmead, a game particularly notable for a visit from club stalwart Alec Jackson, captain of the team during their famous FA Cup run 40 years ago.
Giles kept his players active by organising a mid-season friendly against Lingfield and they proved that they have goals in them, putting seven past the opposition with Andy Somo, Martin Smith and Leo Medrado on the scoresheet.
Croydon Athletic have begun to move clear of the relegation zone in the SCEFL Premier Division.
Kevin Rayner’s men extended their run of league wins to four by defeating Welling Town and Greenwich Borough, although they were beaten 2-1 by promotion candidates Chatham in their final league game of the month.
Shortly after their game with Athletic, Greenwich announced that they were withdrawing from the league with immediate effect.
Their full reasons for withdrawing and the effect of their withdrawal on promotion and relegation are not yet known, with SCEFL chair Denise Richmond stating: “This is in the hands of the FA. They are the decision-makers on promotion and relegation and on any new/re-entrants into the National League System next season.”
Athletic have also been left waiting for a final decision over the fate of their abandoned fixture with Fisher at the end of December. The London FA has decided to take no action against Athletic or the player, who was accused of racist abuse, prompting the mass walk-off by the opposition.
The Rams had another game abandoned this month, albeit this time for very different reasons. Early goals from Nahum Green and Jack Rose had the Rams looking comfortable against Guildford City in their Surrey Senior Cup last-16 game before it was abandoned at half-time because of a frozen pitch.
Club chairman, Paul Smith, was far from happy with the decision, saying: “It was frustrating because both teams were happy to play. If the referee was going to call it off he should have done so before the game; the pitch was no worse at half-time.”
Whyteleafe have been struggling for consistency as they looked to kick on with their bid for promotion from the Isthmian South East Division.
They began January with a disappointing 2-1 defeat at VCD Athletic, but they got back on track as Ryan Gondoh’s 89th-minute goal helped them secure a late win against Sittingbourne.
The Leafe also progressed to the next stage of the Surrey Senior Cup, beating Lingfield 5-3, but their fixture against Whitehawk last night could prove to be a big setback. Not only did their 1-0 loss see Whyteleafe drop out of the play-off places, it also saw key players Peter Wedgeworth, Bentley Graham and Helge Orome all sent off in a testy second half. Suspensions to all three will come at a crucial stage of the season.
Sat Feb 1: SCEFL Prem v Tunbridge Wells (H)
Tue Feb 4: Surrey Senior Cup v Guildford City (H)
Sat Feb 8: SCEFL Prem v Hollands & Blair (A)
Sat Feb 15: SCEFL Prem v Canterbury City (A)
Tue Feb 18: SCEFL Prem v Glebe (A)
Sat Feb 22: SCEFL Prem v Crowborough (H)
Sat Feb 1: Isthmian SE Div v Cray Valley (H)
Tue Feb 4: Isthmian SE Div v Burgess Hill (A)
Sat Feb 8: Isthmian SE Div v Sevenoaks (A)
Tue Feb 11: Isthmian SE Div v Cray Valley (A)
Sat Feb 15: Isthmian SE Div v Faversham (H)
Tue Feb 18: Surrey Senior Cup v Badshot Lea (A)
Sat Feb 22: Isthmian SE Div v Ramsgate (H)
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