United have been busy over the summer months, successfully negotiating an affordable ground share agreement with Marlow Football Club which will provide the platform for its future ambitions.
This platform reaped immediate rewards with the appointment of the equally ambitious James Pritchard who in turn appointed a management team of Yash Romeo, Sean Kelleher and Adam Dickens, so much experience of the higher level packed into one team!
With all of this comes pressure to succeed but that pressure comes from without and not within. There are already rumblings some of envy some of outrage but United will ride this and will never apologise for having ambition.
United of course are a former Hellenic Premier Division club having spent 3 years in Division One East and latterly two years in the Premier Division, enjoying some success in winning the floodlit cup v Hungerford Town and never being relegated despite competing with the big hitters of that league. It was an adventure that was enjoyed despite the club’s naivety at that level, lessons learned stay with you and the club learned much from that experience and will lean on that experience going forward.
One thing that needs to be made very clear and that is United have never paid players and never will at step 7 or 6 for that matter but our experience of the Hellenic Premier Division is that some expenses are necessary, it’s naïve to think otherwise. Back in the day we were charging a fiver and expecting players to put fuel in their cars to travel as far as Bristol, the fact that they did speaks volumes for those players but its not a breeding ground for success.
However, I believe if clubs choose to pay it is a matter for them and not our business. Good luck I say. United are not in a position to do this but indirectly we are laying our ambitions on the line. The ground share agreed with Marlow is very pragmatic and generously provided by Marlow FC who have the vision to understand the benefits to that club from both an indirect financial view and a more practical understanding regarding the very clear and obvious benefits of drawing our two clubs much close together.
For United the platform that Marlow FC provides enabled recruitment of what we regard as a top management team which in turn attracts top players, it isn’t always about money and who wouldn’t want to play regularly at the Alfred Davis Memorial Ground? That in itself is a draw for good players providing them an opportunity to leap from step 7 to step 4 with dual registrations. Its early days but as the season evolves those opportunities will appear.
For this season we look forward to what may well be the most competitive in the Thames Valley Premier League’s history, or so some would say. We did witness evidence of that on Wednesday evening when we entertained Berks County. County at times looked impressive especially for large periods of the first half and will certainly make their mark this season based on their play in what was a good competitive affair.
From a United perspective I felt that we were slightly overwhelmed to begin with, with the new surroundings and what was an excellent crowd of between 80-100, excellent considering a Wednesday evening and a very early 6pm KO, but none of our players are used to playing in front of more than 30-40 so I think that did have an effect added to the weight of expectation for what was their first competitive match together. Time is needed for the team to gel as while there are many familiar faces, Pritchard’s large squad contains many unfamiliar, for now, faces. Instant success, while desirable, isn’t necessarily expected, its more about the team evolving and with the strength of squad at Pritchard’s disposal we can look forward, I believe, to an ever-improving season as we progress, but it will take a little time and its unreasonable to expect otherwise. Every club wants to be part of a title chase and United are no different but we have to be realistic in what is a very competitive league.
It is a new look team for sure, while retaining all key players from last season Pritchard has drafted new quality into the squad which can only enhance and help to improve upon last season. United’s squad carried the club well for 4 seasons with a league and cup ‘double’ and two consecutive county cup finals but there were signs last season of ‘wear and tear’ particularly in the second half of the season where a Berks & Bucks FA Senior Trophy final papered over the cracks that were appearing. Time will tell of course but we do anticipate a title challenge that will ultimately lead to promotion at some point.
Coming back to the match I applaud Berks County for their very organised approach and they showed plenty to indicate that they could be a growing force going forward if they can maintain and improve further on their performance on Wednesday evening.
United have no game this Saturday but the reserves continue PSF with a match against Wycombe League Wycombe Athletic at Flackwell Heath 3G KO 2pm.
The first team are next in action when they travel to newly promoted Richings Park on Wednesday 29 August KO 6pm.
Following this United will face a mouth-watering clash with the defending champions Reading YMCA at the Alfred Davis on Saturday 1 September KO 2pm.
Updated 10:59 - 25 Aug 2018 by Alan Turner