30th September 2019 - Bromley Heath boss reflects on testing start
CRAIG Britton reflected on a testing start to life in the Marcliff Gloucestershire County League for his Bromley Heath United battlers and admitted: "It's not gone quite to plan!"
The Pomphrey Hill outfit rose in a blaze of glory back in the spring as Bristol and Suburban League champions, only five years on from their move to introduce a senior section for the first time having been renowned solely for their provision of junior football since World Cup winning year 1966.
An ambitious merger with Suburban League club Winford PH in 2015 provided the backbone for an impressive period of league and cup successes, led by Britton who was there in charge from the moment the amalgamation was confirmed.
The 25-year-old had performed as a versatile defender with Winford before persistent cruciate knee ligament problems cut short his playing days.
Bromley entertain league leaders Wick tomorrow (3pm) eager to break their victory duck following five straight defeats since the start.
"It's not gone quite to plan so far," Britton smiled ruefully. "It's been a big step up for us it's not likely to get any easier anytime soon as we have Wick next and then (unbeaten) Frampton United in our next game a fortnight later!
"At least our team spirit and the social side of the club remain very much intact."
Still upbeat himself, Britton insisted: "We've shown glimpses of quality and we've created plenty of chances throughout.
"Several injuries to key players have helped nothing. Our centre-half and player of the year last season George Foyle, and striker Mitch Greenaway, both have knee injuries and our experienced keeper Tom Sheppard is out with a torn calf.
"Josh Slater, one of our top scorers last season, has been in America with work but should return after this weekend.
"We're a close-knit group; all of our players are BS15 and BS16 boys in their mid-20s having been here from the start."
The Heath supremo explained: "It made sense to merge with Winford as they had just the senior set-up based at Fry's (Keynsham) in the Suburban League and we only had the long-established junior section at Pomphrey Hill (Mangotsfield), so it was a chance to combine the two and provide a pathway for young players to adult football.
"My brother Jamie, who is president of the whole club now, was chairman of Bromley Heath Juniors so there was that connection too.
"These days we have a development centre for under-5s and 6s; junior age groups all the way through to under-16s plus an under-18 team and three senior sides, so it's all grown massively."
Britton, who managed Winford Reserves for a spell before the tie-up with Bromley Heath where his father Phil is club secretary, said: "Across our reserve and first teams here over the past four seasons we've won six promotions, three league titles and a League Cup, as well as being a League Cup finalist and league runners-up twice.
"Maybe we should have acquired more experience over the summer although I have just signed a couple of players I hope will make a difference in (winger) Dan Fowler, who recently moved to the area, and Jay Malpas, a central midfielder (once released by Bristol Rovers) who has played for Mangotsfield and Paulton in the Southern League.
"Of course, getting promoted was great as we"d worked hard on upgrading the facilities at Pomphrey Hill we share with the cricket club.
"All this has happened a lot quicker than we ever thought possible so it's a wake-up call as we've had a lot going our way over so many years."