Sunday, 1 May 2011

Concord Rangers with Anthony Smith

Please read below for my interview with Concord Rangers chairman Anthony Smith. It was published in the latest Football Focus magazine which can be viewed here for absolutely free! Included in the current issue are Leyton Orient, Dunfermline Athletic, Crawley Town and many more football clubs.

Concord Rangers
Thames Road - the home of Concord Rangers
Concord Rangers originate from a team of boys who played friendly matches during 1966 on a pitch along the Canvey Island seafront, close to Concord Beach. The club took their name from this beach and rather aptly, nicknamed themselves the Beach Boys. Around twenty years later Rangers secured land at Thames Road, Canvey Island, and it is here that the club can be found today.

Football Focus discovered more about the Ryman League Premier Division side when catching up with chairman Anthony Smith last month. Although Anthony has been chairman for a number of years, his involvement with the club goes much further, having played for the Beach Boys aged nine, all the way till twenty-six years old.

Anthony is delighted with the success the Beach Boys have achieved this season, after winning promotion just last season. Despite the on-pitch success Anthony insists that enjoying the roller-coaster ride is primary objective. “The main thing is that everyone at the club has enjoyed this season going to new clubs and meeting new people. We started the season just wanting to stay in the Ryman Premier and set ourselves fourteenth or higher as a great achievement for our first season. But at the moment we are on the verge of the playoffs, so now I would say top ten would massive in our first year at this level!”

In fact, it appears that Rangers have a habit of exceeding their own expectations and as Anthony explains, the board are now considering the possibility of Conference South football in the near future. “We set a five year plan in 2008 that was to gain promotion from the Essex Senior League to the Ryman League and then the Ryman Premier within three years. We are a year ahead of the plan. We will assess the viability of Conference South for our club before pushing for a further promotion, although we may have no option if the lads carry on in the form they are showing currently!”

Indeed, as Anthony notes, the current crop of players are attracting some interest from big clubs. “We have a few that are regularly being watched by various Football League clubs, most notable is Tony Stokes.” Stokes is a former West Ham United youngster and it seems the London club are linked to Concord in more than one way. Former midfielder, Billy Knott, left the club for the Hammers and he stayed there until he was snapped up by Chelsea in 2006. Steve Bruce spotted his talent, picking him up for Sunderland in 2010 and the eighteen-year-old is clearly admired by his gaffer, who recently claimed the youngster “has the world at his feet.”

As with most football clubs up and down the country, the recession has hit hard and Anthony is determined to keep Concord in the black. “As with all non league clubs the financial side is always the one to watch, But I have strong beliefs in that you set a budget and stick to it, I have seen too many clubs go to the wall or get in trouble when the correct finance has not been in place.”

However, the club have still been able to make improvements despite financial restraints and now Concord Rangers have the appropriate facilities to host Conference South football. “Over the last three years we have enhanced the ground extensively with new pitch perimeter fencing, three new all-seater stands and we are now approved for Conference South.” Clearly, the only way is up for the Beach Boys.

written by Will Lyon

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