Pitching In Isthmian Supporters predictions 22-23: Brightlingsea Regent

Paul Ketchley takes a turn as a Brightlingsea Viking- unless, of course, the water is too cold!

We're asking fans from each of our clubs to answer a series of questions about the past, present and future- and to predict the final league table for 22-23. Where heading east until we almost fall off the end, with Paul as our Regent.

1. Thinking about last season, what were your highlights?
The high points of last year were the end of season wins against Enfield Town and Haringey Borough which made certain that were would stay up at Step 3. What a party!

Contrary to what people seem to think we were never bottom of the league last year although we hovered above the relegation places throughout and built up a formidable negative goal difference of -47 by the end of the season.

After some heavy defeats by five or six goals in October and November the club decided to change the management team and brought in Brett Munyard and his team, who stabilised the situation, re-built in mid -season and turned us into a competitive side playing attractive football. I lost count of the times opposing fans would express amazement that were down towards the bottom of the league.
Hopefully we will kick on from that and continue our second half of last season’s form into this campaign.

2. Moving on to your current squad- which players do you think will make a big impact during the 2022-23?

We’ve lost a couple of our best players in Aaron Blair who is back at Dagenham and Wyan Reid who joined Cheshunt in the NLS but Ollie Sotoyinbo looks a good acquisition up front, and we retained most of our defensive unit so it would be nice to think that we will be difficult to beat.

Last year we picked up several key players as the season progressed and the new management seem to have a good knack of picking up players with real ability that other clubs don’t seem to recognise, so I wouldn’t be surprised about there being some late additions as the new season approaches.

3. Realistically, how do you think you’ll do this season?

Hopefully, we’ll at least be comfortably a mid-table prospect but you have to go into a new campaign looking to get into the promotion places because that’s what the opposition will be doing. If you don’t aim for promotion it’s likely that you’ll end up battling against relegation. Given Cheshunt’s success in 2021/22, who knows?

4. Which matches are you most looking forward to going to- and why?

We have gained a lot of local Essex clubs this season with Billericay coming down and Aveley and Canvey Island being promoted replacing Leatherhead, Merstham and Worthing, so we’re looking forward to closer away trips and seeing more visiting fans.
Herne Bay is alluring too because it’s only 20 miles directly south of us across the Thames estuary as opposed to a 100 mile drive over the Dartford Bridge. Some of our local fishing charter boats go out the 10 miles to the Knock John and Shivering Sands forts which are out in the middle of the estuary and you can see Herne Bay and the North Kent coast from there. So, we enquired about chartering a Thames sailing barge for a day trip. Unfortunately there were practical constraints with the tides and winds which meant it could have taken two or three days and in any case there’s no landing point in Herne Bay since the Pier was destroyed. We would have needed a tender to get ashore or jump off into the water and storm up the beach like Viking invaders. Apart from being cold and wet we didn’t think it would go down well with the locals. Then the fixtures came out and we were down to play Herne Bay on 26 November and nobody fancied a boat trip at that time of year.

5. What is your favourite Isthmian away ground?
Lewes because it’s a nice ground in a nice town which has excellent beer (Harveys of Lewes). Lunch in the Brewers Arms in the High Street should not be missed. We got a draw there too.

Decent ale goes down well with our traveling support so an honourable mention also goes to Potters Bar Town who had beer from the Tring brewery when we went there earlier this year!

6. Who do you consider your biggest rivals- and why?

Well, it has to be the Essex quartet of Billericay, Aveley, Canvey Island and Bowers & Pitsea. We know we are a bit out on a limb for fans from Bognor and Margate but it’s worth the trip and we are glad to have more local derbies.

7. What advice would you give to any away supporter visiting you for the first time?

If you’ve not been here before Brightlingsea is one of the Cinque Ports (it’s a “limb” of Sandwich). So we have a seaside with a Promenade, a harbour and a beach with views over to Mersea Island. There are some excellent fish and chip places especially down by the seafront from which you can walk to the ground.

Street parking is a bit limited on North Road so park at the ground or in Seaview Road and Cinque Port Road and use the entrance off Kent Close.

As you know we’re keen on decent beer and our clubhouse usually has kegs of Colchester Brewery beer on offer as well as a good selection of mainstream beers and lagers.

8. Who is your favourite player of all time (for your club)- and why?

I’m going to exclude anyone known to still be playing regularly to avoid difficult choices and say Aaron Condon who left us to move down to Hastings a few years ago. Aaron had a combination of pace, control and shooting power which fired us to promotion into this league and then nearly making the play-offs.

Hopefully Aaron will come along and watch us when we play Hastings and Lewes as he did last year. So, the home fans might not know what to make of some inexplicable applause and songs aimed at someone in the crowd. Don’t worry, he’s hung up his boots but is still a legend for us.

9. Who do you predict will finish in the top five this season?

Hornchurch, Enfield Town, Lewes, Bognor Regis Town, Bishops Stortford

Thanks Paul- right, who's next? If you'd like to represent your club, email Ian at townsendaround@gmail.com and he'll be in touch shortly.

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