18th February 2022 - Hanham Athletic Manager challenges players
HANHAM Athletic’s stoic manager Tom Morgan has challenged his players to rise to the challenge of turning their
crucial final ten games into the “great escape.”
The Vicarage Road side continue to prop up the rest of the Marcliff Gloucestershire County League table heading
towards an away fixture tomorrow that could hardly be any more testing in the shape of second-placed title
hopefuls Wick at Oldbury Lane (2pm).
Hanham enter the contest believing all things are possible after securing their only victory of a long and
arduous campaign so far – 3-2 in the run up to Christmas – at the expense of ever-competitive Frampton United
loitering with intent third in the standings at this time.
Since then it’s been downhill all the way, five straight defeats making life increasingly uncomfortable
entrenched inside the league’s basement.
That frustrating run has clearly failed to break the spirit of Morgan and his assistant Jason Side, who were
swept into the Hanham hot seat soon into the season having made the switch from established Bristol Premier
Combination outfit Seymour United.
Morgan acknowledged: “Obviously it was a tough situation to come into. In my view we have been pretty much in
every game until the last whistle when it comes to our competitiveness.
“For all Hanham’s difficulties when we came in, I could see how well-established they were and how much
potential the club had, with a good clubhouse, committee and infrastructure.
“It’s all geared up for a better standard of football; it’s just we’re going through a torrid time, the same as
many other clubs at all levels of the game experience. I can see that potential even now as we prepare for ten
more make-or-break games that can yet lead us to the great escape. That is the big and exciting challenge.”
It’s been all change on the pitch too, as the 35-year-old confirmed: “We’ve brought in up to a dozen new players
since we’ve been in; and from the existing squad, only a handful of long-serving players remain.
“It has taken me a bit longer than anticipated, getting enough lads in capable of competing at this standard.
But it was never going to be easy given our position down there in the table.
“There has been plenty to learn from along the way. We like to play football, and when you come up against big,
physical, route one sides that tend to be hallmarks of Gloucester-based sides in particular, it’s important we
don’t give away cheap set-pieces, as these teams tend to score a lot of goals from corners and free-kicks.”
Morgan believes Hanham have reason to attack their final ten games with confidence. “The new players we’ve
brought in have transformed the atmosphere; they’ve all bought into what we’re trying to do.
“The new lads have all played at a good semi-pro standard and all are footballers with a winning mentality.
“It feels as though we’re getting closer, that it’s only a matter of time before it all clicks. We’re nine
points off English Bicknor who are second from bottom, and we have to play them again as well as Bromley Heath,
who are two places above Bicknor, twice. Those are the sort of games we’re targeting for a decent points haul.
“In the meantime, we have the top two to try and get past, Wick on Saturday and Shirehampton at home the
“No one expects us to beat either of them; they both have reasons to want the points as much as we do. But make
no mistake, we’ll be going into both games looking to win and not just soak up pressure.
“Sometimes you just have to rip up the script and start again. We’ve done that here and hopefully it won’t be
too little, too late.”
More important County League fixtures tomorrow include Shirehampton’s home clash with Hardwicke at the Creek as
Liam Greening’s table toppers look to extend their current six-point advantage over a Wick team eyeing three
more points at home to Hanham.
Henbury, eager to return to winning ways after the setback of a 2-0 defeat by Broadwell Amateurs last time out,
entertain Frampton United; Little Stoke, by contrast in red-hot form en route to sixth spot for now, host Broadwell Amateurs,
and Patchway Town hope to make it back-to-back wins as they welcome Sharpness to Scott Park.
Bromley Heath United are at Gala Wilton and Rockleaze Rangers, smarting from Saturday’s 5-0 home defeat by Little
Stoke, also hit the road for an away-day with Ruardean Hill Rangers.
All games, aside from the Shire-Hardwicke affair which kicks off at 3pm, commence at 2pm.