Next at The Rec: Bromley FC

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Two home games next after today’s frustrating defeat in the Midlands.

On Tuesday we are visited by Bromley FC so let’s take an insight into the club as told by one of their most fanatical fans, Derek Morriss…

It’s nearly here! What are you are looking forward to most about the new season?

Our first season with our shiny new stand, which looks incredible. Not to mention the absurd new sprinkler system which has been getting fans showered in pre-season!

Only four teams in the division conceded more goals than Bromley last season. Do your new signings give you any hope of that changing or do you feel you still need more?

Neil Smith has brought in some quality defenders who have looked very impressive in pre-season. Chris Bush in particular looks as though he’s going to be a crucial part of the defence and should hopefully shore things up a little at the back.

It’s been mid-table finishes for the past five seasons and Neil Smith seems determined to change that. Just how far do you feel you are away from challenging for promotion?

The players that Neil Smith has brought in this summer makes me feel quietly confident that we can get ourselves into a play-off place this term. Hopefully we’ll have more luck than we did last season on the injury front.

What signing has impressed you the most?

The aforementioned Bush looks to be a classy operator and should be a calming influence on those around him. Keeping Luke Coulson at the club was also a fantastic bit of business.

What will be different this season?

The manager was able to make his signings earlier on after the season finished as there was no trip to Wembley to distract us. That should hopefully enable us to hit the ground running this season and avoid a repeat of the painfully slow start we had last season.

What player will be on everyone’s lips this season?

Jordan Higgs. He came through the academy at Bromley as has been unlucky with injuries in previous seasons. He’s looked really sharp in pre-season and I’m hoping he’s going to play a big role for us this year.

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David Gregory (left) and Jordan Higgs

Who is looking like promotion or title material?

I expect Notts County and Yeovil to be very strong, whilst Solihull Moors and AFC Fylde will also be there or thereabouts at the business end of proceedings.

What are the away days that stick out to you?

I’m looking forward to visiting Notts County. Having the world’s oldest professional football club in our league is quite the boast.

What is the game you simply cannot lose?

Sutton. Always Sutton.

What player from another team do you wish you would sign?

Alex Gudger at Solihull Moors. He was majestic against us at Wembley for Brackley and was still an immovable object against us for Moors last season. He’s just a very, very good defender. Would have loved to have had him at Bromley.

Solihull Moors shocked a few last year, who could do the same this time?

I think we could be the dark horses this season, but seeing as I don’t want to jinx us, I’ll go with Dover. Andy Hessenthaler will get the best out of them.

If you had a crystal ball, where would you see Bromley finishing?

I’d be happy with a top-ten finish to be honest, but I genuinely think we will make the play-offs. Seventh.

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HISTORY

BROMLEY Football Club are one of the biggest and famous names in non-league football. Formed in 1892, they played twenty-five friendly matches in their first campaign – the first against Westminster on 1st October 1892, which resulted in a 1-0 win.

In season 1893-94 Bromley won the first of many honours, winning the South London League and Kent Junior Cup at the first attempt. Two seasons were spent playing Southern League football before they clinched the London League Second Division title in 1896-97, Brentford and Queen’s Park Rangers finished in second and third place respectively. The next campaign Bromley played in the London League before switching to the Kent League in 1898-99. However, they found the competition more difficult and finished the season in bottom place, as they did the following season, in the London League Division One. Bromley switched leagues regularly in the early days, having played in the London League Division Two, West Kent League Division One, Southern Suburban League, West Kent League Division One, and were runners up in the Southern Suburban League in 1904-05.

After winning the Spartan League championship in 1907-08, Bromley played Isthmian League football for the first time in season 1908-09 and won two titles in their first three seasons (1908-09 and 1909-10). Bromley played three years in the Kent League before moving to the Athenian League in 1919-20, winning the championship in 1922-23.

After the Second World War Bromley gained more honours. They won two Athenian League titles (1948-49 and 1950-51) before achieving runners-up spot on their return to the Isthmian League before winning the league title in 1953-54.   Runners-up spot was achieved two seasons later and were champions for the fourth and final time in 1960-61.

Since the 1970’s the club have been far from successful in league action, and the club is working very hard to return to the glory days of old. They finished bottom in 1969-70 and 1974-75 but were Isthmian Division One runners-up in 1979-80. Four seasons were spent in the Premier Division before they finished bottom in 1983-94, but returned to the top flight and finished runners-up in the 1987-88 season to Yeovil Town.

The club were relegated again to Division One in 1989-90 but were promoted straight back to the Premier Division at the first attempt, under former manager George Wakeling, finishing runners-up to Chesham United.   However, Bromley were relegated again in 1998-99 despite enjoying their best start to a season for many a year – 13 points out of the first five games – but the team won only four of their remaining 37 league games and as a consequence were relegated for the fourth time since promotion and relegation was introduced to the Isthmian League.

Bromley’s latest spell in the lower division has seen them finish in 9th, 18th, 19th, 6th and finished last season in eighth place.

Current manager Stuart McIntyre originally took over the reigns in October 2001, but resigned two years later. The club went through Eddie Saunders, chairman Jerry Dolke, assisted by John Myatt and Derek Parnham and Alan Walker, before McIntyre returned to Hayes Lane in January 2004.

Bromley won the FA Amateur Cup three times, the third being in 1949 when a then record crowd of 96,000 watched them beat Romford in the first Wembley Final. In 1911 they beat Bishop Auckland at Herne Hill, and in 1938 were victors over Erith & Belvedere in the only all-Kent Final. All three Finals were won by the same 1-0 scoreline, and the goal in each game being scored by the player wearing the number eight shirt.

Since entering the FA Trophy in 1974 – following the cessation of the FA Amateur Cup – Bromley have not gone beyond the Second Round until season 2000-2001 when they reached the Third Round after the competition was revamped. Either side of the Second World War Bromley played in the Second Round of the FA Cup three times, with First Round appearances on a further six occasions, but the appearance in the competition proper in 1996, when Bromley lost 3-1 against fellow league rivals Enfield at Hayes Lane, was their first in 19 years. Bromley have won the Kent Senior Cup four times, most recently beating Dover Athletic 4-1 in 1997’s Final, and the Kent Amateur Cup has been won on twelve occasions. The London Senior Cup has been won four times – the last time was when Ford United were beaten 1-0 in the 2002-2003 campaign – and the London Challenge Cup came to Hayes Lane in 1996.

After playing at White Hart Field, Widmore Road and Plaistow Cricket Ground, Bromley moved to Hayes Lane – some 300 yards from their present ground – which was purchased in 1938. They had to leave the ground when first destroyed the main stand in October 1992, groundsharing at Dulwich Hamlet, Croydon and Walton & Hersham, but returned home in September 1993. The record attendance stands at 12,000 for a game against Nigeria in 1950, but the capacity is now much reduced.

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