St Francis Rangers boss Simon Boddie has said his first season in charge has been a rollercoaster ride.
Two wins on the bounce in the last two games elevated Boddie’s side off the bottom, but the side were still relegated.
Boddie said: “Well what a rollercoaster ride we have been on this season, I arrived at St RFrancis knowing it was a rebuild as they had fallen through the trap door from the Premier Division the previous season with quite a bang.
“There were very few players remaining so it was no great surprise that I needed to go on a recruitment drive. This proved far more difficult to do than I anticipated as the local area is awash with clubs of varying success and Rangers wasn’t looking too attractive to older or younger players at that moment in time.”
Boddie came in after a season of turmoil which saw Dave Shearing, Kai Bichard and Joe Monks all try and turn it around before the inevitable relegation happened.
Boddie said: “Most of pre-season and the first few months of our season was spent trying to establish a squad and a pattern of play, unfortunately this also proved to be much harder than I first thought.
“It began to come together slowly but we took the odd knock back when playing the stronger teams some left and more arrived. By Christmas I felt we were getting somewhere now it was a case of bonding the squad, in reflection that proved to be more difficult too as half or more of the squad were from outside the immediate catchment area a bit of travel involved and training a bit haphazard at times.”
Boddie was always positive, even in the darkest of times and his side did pick up points throughout the season.
He said: “It was always glass half full and it was clear to see things were beginning to improve albeit we were some way behind the pack and then we dropped to bottom in January and February.
“However this is where I was very pleased as I was able to begin to make regular team selections in the same position, an understanding was formed between players and management alike, the supporters and club helpers were also seeing this improvement and they richly deserved it having followed us home and away through the bad times, the goal deficit really dropped and games were much closer until finally we reduced the deficit to the odd goal.”
And it was in the srping things turned more positive for Boddie and the club.
He said: “March/April we began to win, a match here and another there and losing by just the odd goal. Confidence began to return and players began to smile again, along with those watching.
“Opposing managers also congratulated us on our improving performances. In fact in the last month of the season we won five games albeit two being friendlies and the other two we narrowly lost, and they were to the current league leaders and one of the Division 1 cup finalists.
“In our very last game we went away to a much improved Ringmer and got a 1-0 win which saw us leapfrog Old Varndeanians to get off the bottom of the table. A great pity that some of our closer games hadn’t gone our way but we were off the bottom.”
Boddie’s aim now is to consolidate over the summer and get Rangers bouncing back.
He said: “Now we need to consolidate current team players in the close season, recruit a few more and plan a preseason which see’s us ready to start the season as we mean to go on. I am confident that a large percentage of players who finished the season will begin next season.
“I have accepted the position of manager and will be looking to move the club forward having had an extremely hard first season.
“The management team have worked hard alongside the non-playing staff and the players these last few months and I for one am confident that next season will look very different. It’s been hard and at times I honestly thought what am I doing but in the final phase of the season it came together albeit a bit late.
“We now have an end of season dinner to enjoy, I have the outline plan for pre-season completed already including seven friendlies, to be finalised, booked into that schedule.”
Boddie has been impressed with a lot of squad over the season. He said: “There are certain players who have stuck with it from day one and have grown during that period, we have developed a couple of very useful u21s and youth who will be first team next year.
“I have selected a manager’s player but there could have been two or three and the players have selected their player of the season which is always a big accolade as it’s from fellow players who you work with week in and week out.
“I believe the team top goalscorer went to the wire but all will be revealed at the end of season dinner on May 12.”
Boddie added: “Things didn’t go to plan and I would be not very honest if didn’t say I was disappointed with our performances however I would also not be very honest if I didn’t say how pleased I am with the way we finished and looking forward I do have a glass half full attitude.”
And it is clear how Boddie wants to move forward. He said: “My job now is to assist in a possible mini-restructure of the club, we will be recruiting on and off the pitch and I will be talking to players of course.
“We are seeking a physio which is a crucial position in any club who wish to progress and I am very confident that progress we will. In amongst all that I will be taking a well-earned rest until “she who must be obeyed “gets fed up with me at home and sends me back out onto the training pitch in late June where the hard work will begin again.
“However as I mentioned earlier I go into the forthcoming season better prepared, I have learnt a lot and will be using that steep learning curve of last season to ensure that next season starts well and improves gradually and stabilises at all levels within the club. My thanks to all at St Francis and here’s to a successful 2017/2018 season.”