We asked a supporter from each of our member clubs to answer the same series of questions as part of our preview of the new season. We also asked them to predict how their particular division would finish, from one to 24- and their answers will be revealed in a collection of Supporters Prediction Tables to be released the day before the big kick off.
Here are the answers of Steve Barton, Chair of the Herne Bay Supporters Association.
1. What was your favourite moment of last season?
Leading 1-0 against Conference South Hemel Hempstead Town in the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, with 13 minutes left on the clock. Our keeper Jack Delo had saved a penalty, but the Tudors levelled to take the tie to a replay. As so often happens in these circumstances you only get one bite of the cherry, and Hemel won the replay 5-1.
2. And what was the worst moment?
Unfortunately, there were a few. With the fan’s minibus leaving for Hastings United in the middle of the afternoon for the mid-week outing and a late return expected I decided to take a couple of days off work. We lost 7-0, after already having drawn 1-1 with them twice in the league and League Cup. Losing to bottom side Godalming Town in October, four days before the Hastings game, was also pretty dismal. It was their first win and the defeat meant we dropped into the bottom three. They later had the points deducted for fielding an ineligible player.
3. How will you do this season?
The twenty-four-dollar question! Our manager, Sam Denly, resigned at the end of last season and nearly all of the players have moved on. New joint managers John Embery and Jermaine Darlington have brought in a group of young, talented players, interspersed with a few experienced heads. There has been some exciting play so far this pre-season which has had the crowd buzzing. We need to manage our expectations, last year saw a 17th place finish, so anything above this, for the new group of players would be a result. I would be over the moon to end in mid-table.
4. Which matches are you most looking forward to- and why?
To be quite honest, all of them. A lot of players have moved on from last season’s top clubs and I think this time out there will be a more level playing field. One thing that I do know is that we will surprise a few of the favourites.
5. What is your favourite away ground?
I like Lewes, friendly people, and especially love the beach huts, a great innovative idea.
6. Who do you consider your biggest rivals- and why?
It used to be Whitstable Town, but they were relegated a couple of seasons ago and Canterbury City may be one day; they are playing in the same league as Whitstable and have a lot of our ex-players, but still don’t have a ground of their own, and have been ground sharing for what has seemed an eternity. So probably the nearest are Ramsgate or Faversham, although Sittingbourne should be interesting, the first away game of the campaign as we now have many of their former youth team squad.
7. What advice would you give to an away supporter visiting you for the first time?
Get to the town early, have some fish and chips on the seafront and visit Parkerville (other micropubs are available). The Altira Park Stadium, Winch’s Field is a lovely example of old school football grounds, covered accommodation on all four sides. Whatever the weather you can get the perfect view. The Club Shop, Snack Bar and Clubhouse are pretty good too.
8. Who is your favourite player (for your club) of all time- and why?
Like many others this is a tough decision. Eddie Collins was a prolific striker between 1968 and 1971, many fans thought he resembled a giraffe or even Bambi because of his long legs but it soon became clear that he had the knack of scoring goals with every part of his anatomy including feet, head, bum and just about any part of his body. He scored 6 out of 7 in a 7-3 FA Amateur Cup replay win against Erith & Belvedere at Winch’s Field. He even managed the team for a brief period and is a Honary Life Vice-President and still makes regular trips down from his Hertfordshire home.
9. Finally, predict who will fill the top five positions at the end of the forthcoming season:
Whyteleafe, Lewes, VCD Athletic, Carshalton Athletic, Corinthian Casuals