Having closely followed the fortunes of Burgess Hill Town FC at very close quarters for six seasons, Ian Chapman’s walk from dugout to dressing room was one of the hardest to bear.
He knew, we all knew that we had been thrashed at home by one of the Bostik Premier new boys. It hurt!
Since the early days, as my column would have shown, I have always had a very healthy respect and admiration for Ian, Stuart, John and chairman Kevin for what they have done for the club over their time together.
During that period, we have shared a whole myriad of wonderful experiences especially on the road. We have travelled the length and breath of South East England including many long mid-week away trips. The club has progressed from a lowly division south team to now a proud member of Bostik Premier plus securing an impressive array of FA cup scalps along the way.
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However, three points from 24 during the current league campaign tells you all you need to know as to Ian’s dejected persona when trudging from the pitch yesterday at 5pm.
What’s even harder to fathom is that there appears to be no excuses for being bottom of the table. Sure, the first two seasons at this level were very tough indeed and the Hillians had to feel their way to safety.
When Sam Fisk headed home on 99 mins April 2017 to keep us in the league we all went mad with excitement, Chapman a hero!
However, things have got a lot easier and this season the Bostik Prem is a shadow of its former self. For starters there are four less games to be played (league reduced from 24 to 22).
Then there is a lot less travelling involved as we lose Needham, Lowestoft and Leiston from the schedule. Couple that with losing big time clubs Dulwich and Billericay and throw in no less than six clubs playing up this season.
For a team with the experience of Burgess Hill Town, the number of new players coming in, brilliant back room staff and home crowds of nearly 400 we should be flying this term.
For the mid-term objectives of perhaps securing a place in Conference South you do feel that we are at a cross roads at this time.
As this column has suggested on several occasions dropping into Bostik South East would be a complete disaster and would wipe out 5 seasons of hard graft. So we are left with rolling up our sleeves and getting out of the mess we currently find ourselves in.
My respect for Ian Chapman is total and I back him to do the correct thing for the club. If that is staying to fight then fantastic but if that means looking for other opportunities then that decision would be respected.
The club are back on the road this week with tough assignments at Bognor (2nd October) and Bishops Stortford (6th October)