We're now two games into the season for the under 18s after starting way back in early june, and its amazing how far the boys have come in that short space of time, this is reflecting after a solid 2 - 0 win against Ringmer and now 6 points picked up after the 2 games and without conceding a single goal. Pre season was drawn out over a longer period, which included 9 pre season games, concluding in 5 wins and 3 losses and a draw although the losses came against Ryman League opposition. The team is very young this season with most of the boys being 16 or just 17. But what the boys lack in age and experience they make up in ability and endeavour. There's not one boy this season so far that has let themselves down, there altogether as a team and looking better and better as the games go on. Probably the most pleasing fact though is that every boy has gone on to play for the reserves and 6 have made their first team debuts already this season, I'm sure that many more will go on to add to the tally. This season is going to be a very good and successful term based on what I have seen this season so far, let's hope it carries on.
A decimated Westfield side make a stuttering start to the season.
We speak to Beaky over a beer on Sunday afternoon about the opening to the campaign and how he and the trio view the opening to the season.
P: Afternoon Beaky.
P: Excuse me for saying this buddy but it looks like you want to crawl into that Guinness and drown.
DJ: It feels that way if I'm honest Phoenix. It's all incredibly frustrating.
P: So where's it going wrong?
DJ: It's a tricky one. We have a fantastic squad, and thank god an incredibly strong under 18s. We started early deliberately because we wanted to change the way we play. It's coming slowly but is difficult because we're asking players to change the way they've been taught to play, especially our defenders. It's a slow process that eventually will reap benefits, we just need to be patient. But this coupled with the amount of players we've been without across the start of the season is making life incredibly tough.
P: Are you saying the 'kids' are failing to live up to expectations.
DJ: Not in the slightest! Brad, Khaya, Ross, Sam, Jockey, Rickkie and Sam Henham have all come in and done fantastically. The problem is that County league football can be very rudimentary...
DJ: Yes. In that I mean it's basic, very traditional English non-league football. Fast, frenetic and physical. Asking our more senior players, most of whom are still only 20, to have the confidence to change the way they play on what are invariably poor surfaces, is job enough, but asking 16 year olds to do it within a new environment is a very, very big ask.
P: So it is too much to soon for them?
DJ: No not at all. But it is too much to ask when we have four of them in the side at the same time. It's difficult to carry that many youngsters at any level and if I'm honest it's not fair on them and their development. I think that over the last 6 games we've been forced to ask to much of them too soon.
P: So what's the answer?
DJ: That's simple. to encourage them, make sure they're not afraid to go out and have the confidence to 'play' and make sure we look after them both on and off the pitch.
P: What do you mean by having the confidence to 'play'? Are you saying some of them don't want to pull on the shirt?
DJ: No don't be ridiculous. What I mean is that with the kids, actually with all our team, we're asking them to try and play the game in a certain way, we want to be proud of the way our side deploys itself and I think you've seen it in patches this year. At the core of that is the idea that they must never be afraid to get on the ball and play, they need to have the confidence to get on the ball and influence the game, they can never be afraid of making mistakes. The one thing we're trying to drill into all of them, which for me has been the route of the problem in English football, is they can't be scared to play or afraid of making mistakes. We won't shout at them for getting on the ball and trying to play. They won't hear us screaming because of a bad touch or a misplaced pass, the only time they'll hear us pulling them up is if they go missing, if they don't take responsibility and hide on the pitch. It's simple; know your role and responsibilities, stick to them and then go get on the ball and influence the game.
P: When you put it like that it makes perfect sense. So, can you see light at the end of the tunnel?
DJ: We have a tough few weeks left, culminating in away league games to Wick and Bexhill, slowly we should start getting everybody back and we'll be able to integrate the kids more carefully and take better care of their development.
P: How are Jim and Ringers?
DJ: They're both looking like being a few weeks off if I'm honest. I know they both love to be back for the Bexhill game on the 27th but I think it might be a bridge too far.
P: So have you revised your expectations for the season?
DJ: Not at all, we have pulled together the best squad this club has seen, the problem is at the moment it is being stretched to the limit. It's early days in all competitions, let's just see how it goes. But for me, other than bringing a trophy to the Parish Field, I just want these lads to persevere and have faith in what we're trying to achieve so we can see a Westfield side playing the game in the way we three believe it should be played.
P: Cheers Beaky.
DJ: No probes pal.
Westfield reserves season could of been better to be honest. During the first half of the season we were losing matches to silly mistakes that cost us goals. We also had a team of "old heads" and the likes of Ross, Ryan and Harley didn't really get a sniff. Second half of the season is more pleasing to me. We had a more youthful look to our team with the emergence of Bradley Owens, Jack Davies, Curtis Coombes, Mike Cane, Josh Eaton, Sam Winter, Tom Watson and Khaya all wanting to play county league football for Westfield FC. These are the type of players we needed for this and next season. Its no coincidence that as soon as these players joined and started playing for Westfield FC that our performance and results were getting better and better. We were on a bit of a run going towards the end of the season, with these players involved, and this resulted in the superb team performance against St Leonards Social FC in the Robertsbridge Intermediate Charity Cup Final in which we won 2-1, we were all over them like a rash !
Reserve team management is a hard job to do as you don't tend to have the same team playing week after week, but it is also an enjoyable job as well to see my players been giving the chance to play for the first team. The trio management team have always said that they will look at players who impress them at training or at our games they have seen and they have stuck to their word this season as we have seen the likes of Ross, Ryan, Bradley, Mike, Josh, Sam W and Tom Watson all being given their chance in the first team.
With pre season just around the corner, I am looking forward to next season as I firmly believe, with the players I have got, that we can challenge for the league title and have some good cup run's. On our day we can beat anyone in our league and I predict we will finish in the top 3 next season.
So watch this space !
When the season started, the average age of my team was around 32 but as the season developed, it has gone gradually down. We have had an influx of youngsters joining Westfield FC but these youngsters are all very good players for the future. Even though the league position does not show it, we have been playing some really good football. This is due to the way that Tony, Dunc, Bally and myself want the game to be played every Saturday ! When I have played players as young as 16, none of them have looked out of place. They have all justified their place in the team and now I have 5 or 6 Under 18's playing for me on a regular basis, which is good for the future of the club. One of my jobs as the reserve team manager is to tell the first team management trio who has the potential to play in the first team and hopefully I have done this since I took over in November. Almost every week, the first team has had a reserve player as part of the squad which is so pleasing to see and I always ask how they did and it is always good reports. This is gives me a sense of pride that my players that I have at the moment are good enough to be a part of the first team set up where the same players at the beginning of the season were overlooked, not by the management trio !!
As the end of the season is fast approaching, I am looking forward to next season already and I am looking forward to welcoming old and new players to pre season.
I look at this season as a sense of pride with the players that I have got and its been a learning curve for myself and the players throughout the season. I would like to thank AJ for looking after the team while I was away and would also like to thank George, Darren Smith and Dave Burt for all of their help this season.
Check out Co-Manager Tony Harris's Season Review so far.
The 2010-11 season has been a season of transition at Westfield FC with most of the players from the previous season moving on to pastures new, be it at their decision or the managements, in their place came a group of players that were new to senior football and many of them new to men’s football.
At the start of the season the average age of our squad had gone from 28 the previous year to 20, pre-season was spent ensuring the players fitness levels were up to speed but most importantly that the side which featured players who’d mostly never played together before were knitted into a cohesive unit. As a squad the boys showed some great potential and we had no doubt over the boys ability levels it was the lack of experience that was a concern and this showed in early season defeats to Little Common and Bexhill Utd, local derbies are always a competitive game and it’s fair to say that we were out battled and didn’t win the right to play in these games. However, as a group the boys stepped up and learnt from this and the return fixtures showed just how far we’d improved when we comprehensively outplayed Little Common to take 3 points and were unfortunate not to beat Bexhill when we drew 1-1.
We’re one of the very few teams that beat Champions elect Lancing and also the only team to go to second place AFC Uckfield and win, we’ve showed in big games that we can compete with the best teams at this level and I firmly believe that if we can keep the team together coupled with one or two additions in the summer then we’ll be in with a shout of challenging for honours next season.
We need to ensure we’re consistent in order to maintain a challenge for honours and that will come with experience, the more games this side plays together then the better we’ll get, it was disappointing that we didn’t mount a challenge in the cups this season and one that we want to put right next season. If you were to ask for our highlight of the season I would have to say our victory away to AFC Uckfield or our victory at home to Lancing when we gave a really good account of ourselves and beat the supposed best teams in our league.
Every player that started the season with us has improved and that’s down to them being given the opportunity to play at a senior level and also down to their own attitude and ability that they’ve constantly looked to learn and improve. Our ethos as a management team at Westfield FC is to take players with ability, improve them and give them the opportunity to play senior football. Although we want to keep the side together nothing would give us greater satisfaction than to see our players move on to play for teams in the Ryman league and upwards.
We’ve already started our planning for next season and are delighted with the potential influx of youngsters that will formulate our U18’s and reserve teams as well as pushing for places in our first team squad, we’ve already seen a number of these youngsters appear in the first team squad this season.
My personal view on this season is one of pride at the side we’ve created, most people outside of Westfield FC expected us to struggle this season and still with 5 games to play we’re in with a shout of making a top 6 finish, this in my opinion would be a well deserved finish and when you consider the fact that at the start of the season we only had 3 players with Senior Football experience add to that the budget that other teams are paying out locally and across our league then we’ve done brilliantly to compete at the top end of the table.