Matt & James
THEIR FIRST INTERVIEW
On the eve of the club announcing their official appointment, I sat down with Matt and James for their first interview and asked them their ideas and plans for the season ahead.
Duncan Field (DF) Matt, James, Welcome to Arlesey Town. You’re both former players and having a brief spell of coaching for three games (In between Nicky Ironton & The Abbeys) here previously. What brought you back to the club ?
James Hatch (JH) It’s a club I have played for for 4 or 5 years now and it’s one of two clubs that I have felt homely at, this being one and also my previous club Leighton Town. To have the opportunity to come back to this club and trying to get it back to where we believe it should be, is a massive incentive for us and being on the playing and management side is a little bonus for myself.
Matt Endersby (ME) I was here when I was 16 under Nicky Ironton and came back again when Rufus Brevett was manager. I then followed that with coaching with Nicky (Ironton’s second spell as manager) and continued with Zema & Nathan Abbey. I love the village, the club and it’s a massive incentive to get the club back to where it belongs and we are looking forward to the challenge. There is a lot to do but it’s one of the reasons why we came back and we are very happy.
DF You’re bringing in other people into the management team, how many will there be?
ME There’s going to be myself and James, Keith West and Natasha Orchard-Smith with an added extra of my older brother Graham. Graham will be in and around the club doing bits and pieces. The management team will be made up of the 5 of us and we are looking forward to getting pre season underway.
DF and that was going to be my next question. I was going to ask about the structure and team selection. Does anyone have a final say on player selection? Or will it be an all round agreement?
JH I will hopefully be heavily involved in the playing side so those tactical decisions and Half-Time team talks will be led by Matt and the 3 others, where I will just have a playing role. We have a fantastic management team which everyone's opinions will be inputted into team selection and training sessions. During training on Tuesdays and Thursdays, It will then be a consideration between all five of us and possibly some of the senior players on the team as well. We want to make the club a big unit, we’ll be discussing things regularly with the players behind the scenes, to help the players gel with the management team and I believe the more we’re connected together, the better things are. That’s from behind the scenes with the committee and spectators, to the management and into the players as well.
DF James, you played for Leighton Town last season (scoring 24 goals in the SSML Premier) and so you have recent experience of this level of football. What did you learn that you can hopefully take into this season?
JH On an honest note, I was expecting the league to be a lot weaker than it was last year and there seems to be a lot of senior players who have dropped down from higher football, which made it a lot tougher. There are some good teams out there and so looking at the clubs this season, it’s wide open. I can’t see one team running away with it like Welwyn Garden City did and followed by Berkhampstead, I think there’s going to be 5 or 6 main teams up there but looking at how Stotfold finished last season, towards the bottom end of the table, they took points off of us at Leighton so I think everyone is going to beat everyone and home form has to be a major factor. We want this place to be like everyone else does, a fortress. It’s a nice place, people will like to come here but we want to make sure we stamp our authority on the games and that no one goes away with 3 points.
DF And Matt, you have extensive knowledge of this level of football, what qualities in players (that you want to bring in) are you looking for that will compete and hopefully bring success?
ME Obviously ability but it will be a mix of youth and experience. The qualities we are looking for are winners, people who have won at this level and as a management team we are coming here to get promoted and so players we want to attract here are the ones who want to win, very professional, very disciplined and skilled, added into that as well, youth and local players as well. Just a good blend of players
JH Yeah, it’s very hard to win leagues with a team of very youthful players and that gel of players who have played in the SSML and in the league above and have the experience of competing for league titles, we would love to get down here. Finding younger players who can run all day and take over from me when my legs have gone (in later stages of matches) is a bonus too. Obviously, the coaching side (on the training pitch) is where they will want to do all the learning and learn about the shape we’re going to play. We want tight units from the back, creative people in midfield and a strike force that can cause the opposition problems. We want to get balls into the box, with someone to break up the play in midfield and dictate the game. If we get all these things in place and If we can find those players, we will have a massive opportunity to be in contention in the league. It’s down to us now to go out and find those players through Pre-Season training and sign the ones we believe have got those qualities.
DF And that leads me nicely on to the next question. You’re starting a team from scratch as opposed to coming in half way through a season and inheriting a squad, meaning you’ve got probably 8-10 weeks to find 16-20 players. How will you find that challenge?
JH All the players playing for the club last year will be invited back if they want to take the opportunity. Some may want to stay at the level they were playing at and we won’t hold any grudges on that if they want to challenge themselves. Going forward, it’s going to be a challenge, we’re a new management team and obviously Matt has his ideas of players he would like to attract. I’ve played at levels with some good players that I will try to speak to and get along to Pre-Season training. Obviously we won’t be looking to make decisions (on players) until Pre-Season has started to see what bodies are down here. We’re quite excited with the people we’ve spoken to so far. I think we have got a few who are keen to get involved in the set up, ONE, because of the reputation of Arlesey Town and TWO because they know either Matt or myself and they know they can trust what we’re trying to do. A few players who don’t know us and once our appointment goes public will come out of the blue, so I’m hopeful we’ll get a good turnout for Pre-Season and because we don’t have that reserve team here now, we are probably looking at 18-20 players to bring in.
ME Yeah, I’m excited and we want to open it up as well, because it is a big club and to me it’s one of the biggest clubs around and I just want see who comes down here for Pre-Season because you’ll sometimes find the gems. You’ll find some people will just turn up with a mate and they’re like WOW, I’m looking forward to seeing that. It’s going to be tough as well, we’ve got 5 or 6 local clubs now in the same division and players will be dotted all around. We are doing our best and we’re confident we’ll get the players we need down here.
DF Last season, the club, the players and previous management took a lot of criticism from the supporters, with many staying away from games. What would you say to those supporters to try and entice them back thorough the gate this year?
JH We are a new management team and we are trying to attract young local fans into the stadium with their parents, we’ll also try and bring incentives to get them through the gate but ultimately, winning games brings people in which we have found before. If we are winning, we are hoping those people will come back through, plus we’ll go out in our roles away from the club to promote it as much as we can. The players we are trying to bring down, we will get them in the bar to speak with supporters. We have to integrate as a whole club and with the whole community around here. We have to get together as one and by us being social in the bar, hopefully that will help attract support together with attending events that the club will put on.
ME It’s a fresh start. It’s all new and that’s how we are going to take it on. It’s all about the brand and the whole club changing. We want everyone in and we want Arlesey Town FC the place to be on a Saturday. We want the bar to be packed, people having a drink and through the gate. That’s our goal
JH We want to make us as approachable, more open and where supporters can come talk to us
DF agreed, If you look at teams such as Welwyn Garden City and Baldock, you can see it in the bar, they have a unity, a team spirit. It probably took them 2 or 3 years to get that but it definitely helps on and off the pitch. Results are obviously the main aim but when supporters see that unity it will certainly help generate and increase the club’s fan base.
ME Yeah, I was at Baldock last year and had some good chats with Grego (Luke Gregson) on how it all works and that is some of the things we are striving for here but that does take time. First season we need to gel the team together which I’m sure we will do and then its getting that togetherness out there like Baldock and Welwyn. Like James says, we want to be approachable, the fans talking to us and we don’t want individuals, we want a ONE club, a happy, vibrant club and that’s the aim.
DF Looking at the clubs in the league next year, what fixtures are you looking forward to the most?
JH There’s going to be half a dozen local derbies, so I would like to say, the travelling for this league is perfect this year, there’s not a lot of travel with so many local teams around. The boys travelling isn’t far and so you always look forward to those local derbies and you always enjoy going to the pitches that are prestine like Wembley FC. I’ll enjoy going back to Leighton, I have some good friends over there from last year and with a new management team over there and everything behind the scenes is very similar to here which is why it’s such a homely club. So going to Leighton and bringing them here, is the one for me
ME I think I’ll look forward to Potton United, Stotfold and I think of all the clubs I have played at but I will look forward to them all. One thing about derbies is that you always get up for them, it’s great, everyone loves playing in them. It’s a great atmosphere, everyone gets up for it and it’s a good day. Baldock who ground share with us which is another good one. we’ve got them all so I can’t pick one, I’m looking forward to it and it’s all local which is brilliant, meaning more people can come and watch
DF Last question then, probably an obvious question deserves an obvious answer but what is your ultimate aim for the season?
JH Everyone sets out with the same aim and I really do believe there are great times ahead and I want to be pushing for promotion. Obviously with only one club getting promotion now, it’s going to be tough getting out of the division but as long as we are competing at the top end of the table that’s our main priority and cup runs after that is exciting times but league is always the ambition and competing is a realistic task
ME Yeah, we’ll have targets set and what we need to hit by certain dates but the league is it. Also the FA VASE, this club has won it and I do believe in the cup it is anyone’s on the day and with the players we are looking to bring in there is no reason why we can’t have that good cup run.
DF Thanks for your time guys and good luck for the season ahead.