Saunders wants to do it ‘like Chappers has done it’

The Haywards Heath team show off their two trophies. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj
The Haywards Heath team show off their two trophies. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj

Shaun Saunders hopes he can emulate at Haywards Heath Town what Ian Chapman has done at Burgess Hill Town.

Just a day after winning league and cup double, Saunders told Middy Sport his plans for the future of the South Combination League Division 1 champions.

Heath won the league at a canter, losing just two of their league games and winning the other 30, before wining the league cup on Bank Holiday Monday, hammering Langney Wanderers 5-1.

But now Saunders’ focus is on building the right infrastructure at the club.

He said: “My job this year is to help the club build-up the youth structure and get the infrastructure right and stabalise next season in the top league and build a strong footing to go forward.

“I don’t want to build something that’s built on sand because the feeder system at the club has not been brilliant.

But my priority was always to get into the Premier Division and then look at what’s happening behind me.”

And he cited Burgess Hill Town boss Ian Chapman as an inspiration.

He said: “I want to do like what Chappers has done it at Burgess Hill. I think he has done it the way I want to do it in as much as he brought quite a few youth players through. He has got a good youth policy there and I want to do the same at Haywards Heath.”

Saunders has a history in winning consecutive promotions after winning three in row with Peacehaven but is wary of doing so again. He said: “I haven’t sat down with the club people yet to see where they want to take it. But I know from the chat I had with them after we won it a few weeks ago they want us to sustain the position in the top league of the county and if we can do that next season then we can build on that.

“Sometimes you can jump leagues too quickly. I did it at Peacehaven, we went through three leagues in three seasons and all of a sudden we hit a glass ceiling.”

Saunders wants to add two or three quality players to the side for next season and he has already lost 40-goal Rob O’Toole to Shoreham.

The boss said: “This is probably my busiest time as a manager now talking to players. Obviously we need to add and strengthen.

“It’s a little bit of deja vu for me with Rob. When I last had Rob at Peacehaven we won the County League and Brian took over at Shoreham and Rob went with him, and we went on to win the Ryman South.

“I spoke to Rob and he told me three or four weeks ago he was going to leave. I have been approached by quite a few players. You know what it’s like, when you are doing well the interest is there and people have been private messaging and texting me since we won the league.

“It’s been really tough for me this year to get a side together to play in this league. A lot of players I know did not want to play at this level.

“I am really pleased we put a side together to get out of this league. And it now gives us a chance to get two or three players of real quality, and I am currently talking to two or three but they haven’t committed yet and signing on forms aren’t out yet.

“I don’t want to name them yet because it’s a cat and mouse job, someone else hears someone’s floating about all of sudden they are off with a better offer somewhere else.

“I have been actively working to get the squad together for next year and rest assured it’s going to be a good one. We are going to be competitive next year.”

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