Friday, 27 January 2017

Concord Rangers: The Battle to Stay Up.

Let's start with a quiz question.  Look at the above picture, taken at the end of the 2015/2016 season. How many of those player's still play for Concord?  I'll answer it for you. It's four.  Therein lies the problem of Concord's current season. Yes playing at the Conference South level with the lowest budget in the league does come with difficulties, but for a team of Concord's size to constantly be losing player's through transfers, or long term injuries it's going to have an effect eventually.

Since I've followed Concord thing's have generally been on an upward curve.  The success of the Danny Cowley years, followed by an excellent first season in charge by Adam Flanagan. But this season, oh this season.  Where to begin? Let's go back to the picture. Ben Greenhalgh and Lewis Taaffe two key components in 2015/2016, spirited away by other clubs. Tom Stephen the supporter's player of the year last season - did his ACL in pre-season. Out for the season. The goalkeeper, Ben McNamara, he won the Chairman's Player of the Season in 2015/2016. Now not being horrible to Ben, but I don't know what happened to him in the Summer, it's like his twin brother turned up at Concord at the start of this season. Ben's now left the club.

Concord hover just outside the relegation zone, having played more games than their rivals, but what remains at Concord is probably the key to their survival. Whilst Concord have lost player's left, right and centre through one mean's or another. The Concord heart still remains. "I've never been involved in a situation such as the one we are in now, but I do know through speaking with others and being around football long enough what it takes to get through a period that we're experiencing at the moment" said club stalwart Steve King "We need to ensure we work hard on the training pitch firstly, and then on matchday we must be determined to win our individual battles on the pitch. If we can do that, the team has enough quality to get ourselves out of the mess we find ourselves in" confirmed Steve, when I asked him how Concord work their way out of this sticky situation.

What Concord do you have through Steve, and the captain James White are individuals who will run through walls for Concord, they're not the only two, but it's their voices you can hear loudest on a Saturday afternoon, "For me, as skipper, I've got to keep the group close and make sure your willing to help your mate out on the pitch. This is no time for individuals now." said Whitey. Now that team ethic runs deep in Concord, it always has done.  Actually from the player's on the pitch, to the people behind the bar, to the volunteers who give up their precious time on a weekend to help the club, everyone pulls in the same direction. But what about those people who pay to watch the matches, now admittedly there's not many of them, but I tell you what, they don't moan or boo at the team during the match, unlike some "bigger" teams supporters. I won't name those team's supporters here, it would be wrong (I will it's Ebbsfleet and Chelmsford). "A club the size of Concord depends on everyone, there a few that keep the club ticking over constantly, however everyone is important, we are going through a difficult phase and want the staff and supporters to keep faith that we do care about the club and the league we are in. Everything is put on to help us, so there can be no excuses from the players, we need to perform to the qualities that Concord are known for" again James White, see the skipper of the club, knows exactly what everyone feels.

Now I don't think I would be writing this blog, if it wasn't for one thing.  You see, Concord have dropped, I say dropped, lost is better.  Concord have lost 8 points from goals conceded in the 88th minute or later in games this season.  That has happened across 5 matches this term. You'd expect it happening maybe once or twice in a season as that's football, but 5 times. You're sitting there thinking of "for fucks sake". That's the fan's view, but how about the player's, again Steve King "There's no clear reason why this happens. When it starts to happen you put it down to bad luck and not having the rub of the green, but ultimately it's a desire or concentration issue. At this level you need to have 100% focus every second of the game or you will be punished. Added to that you need to want to die for the cause whether it be getting on the end of a delivery to score a goal, or throw your body on the line to block a goal bound effort defensively, which as a team we haven't been doing well enough."

Concord still have sixteen games to play this season, so there is plenty of time left for them to dig themselves out of the hole they find themselves in, but are the player's confident?  I'll leave the final word to firstly Kingy. " I'm confident, there is a lot of quality in the changing room. We just need to get the mental side of things right and once we put a couple of results together I'm certain we will be fine."

Secondly the Captain James White, boomed out this statement. It gets the heart pumping this. "Yes, being honest now if any player in the side has committed to relegation, then please leave the club. There is a lot of football to be played and I can guarantee we will all fight for the right to play in this league next season."


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