Bowman on the Road: To achieve progression first you require consolidation
Back in September 2013 I had a good old chat with HilliansÂ General Manger John Rattle,Â a guy that I have got to know well and have a lot of respect for.
During our conversation he made it clear that the clubs mid term objective was to bring Vanarama Conference South football here to Mid Sussex.
Since that day Chappers, Tucky John and their players have taken us all on a grand and exciting journey. There has been expansive Cup and Trophy runs and that glorious Promotion tilt from Ryman South to Ryman Premier.
It's been brilliant to have been part of this important segment of the club's history and of course I am looking for more success and brilliant days on the road. But unfortunately this pesky Ryman Premier division is proving to be a very hard nut to crack.
After last season's huge slice of luck (avoiding relegation on a technicality) we have been given another chance. However 15 matches in we still appear to be fighting for that all important foothold and crumb of consolidation. Its not a comfortable situation at all for any connections around the GES especially after a tepid one nil loss in Suffolk.
Football aside it turned into an exciting road trip for Dan Steve Sponge and I as we left Mid Sussex at 3.30 pm last Friday afternoon. We all piled into the old 206 and headed north arriving in Mildenhall at 6.45 pm. After checking in to the local Travel Lodge we got a cab out to Mildenhall dog track for a evening of gambling and drinking. Brilliant evening had by all and although it was proving tough to pick up winners there were no disasters to report on. We rounded the evening off back in town with a couple for the road.
The next morning we awoke to stunner, blue skies and bright sunshine. After a fried breakfast the old 206 was again called upon to get us 70 miles east to the seaside town of Lowestoft. Its as far east as you can go in this country!
The town is rather tidy to be honest, modest sea front and impressive war memorial square. The north sea was like a mill pond reflecting wonderful weather conditions for a football match.
Crown Meadow was just starting to come alive as we arrived at 2 pm. We were met with a very warm welcome indeed which was well received. The ground itself was in pretty good shape complete with a large grand stand, two covered terraces warm clubhouse and rather excellent Burger bar. In short our hosts have a home facility to be very proud of and with 404 in attendance a decent atmosphere to boot. I am sure that the dozen Hillian fans would have been suitable impressed.
The accompanying match report will give the finer points but to my mind this particular result was pretty tough to take. Our hosts didn't have to do much to walk away with all three points. Sure they might of started well and perhaps should of been two up after 20 mins but after that they didn't look all that special to be honest. Unfortunately we just couldn't land any type of blow on their goal and to be honest their keeper had a very easy afternoon. As Steve pointed out we sort of slept walked to a pretty dismal defeat. It was a case of the host's doing the simple things far better than the visitors.
It would be a real disaster for Burgess Hill Town to disappear back to Ryman South but the reality of the situation is pretty clear. There is no need for wholesale panic just yet but the club really do need to arrest the current league form (3 points for 12) and start getting some points on the board. Perhaps three back to back home games in early December could provide the springboard.
The Ryman Premier is one hell of a tough environment to operate in. But its something that the club are going to have to find an answer to. While consolidation would be phenomenal right now I would snap your hand off for survival come 22nd April.
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