To say that preparations for the festive period have not been ideal is somewhat of an understatement. Games have been few and far between and finding facilities that enable the coaching team to provide appropriate training sessions to compensate for the lack of match practice has been difficult.
Matt Smart made the point in a recent interview that the Christmas schedule is beyond ridiculous and I am inclined to agree. Five games in 13 days at any level is undoubtedly going to take its toll physically and is subsequently likely to affect the level of performance of the teams.
While Christmas football is clearly a tradition in this country, I have no doubt that the gates will reduce if the quality of the games suffer as a result of the lack of recovery time between games and this is something the league may wish to consider in future.
In response to Matt’s interview I have once again read accusations from certain sections of ‘negativity from the players’ and suggestions that the players and management are ‘getting their excuses in early’.
Let me set the record straight. This could not be further from the truth. Nobody from Eastbourne Borough is looking for excuses because nobody from Eastbourne Borough is heading into the Christmas games expecting to lose.
Every game that we play, regardless of the level of opposition will be approached in the same way – positively.
We will take the field for each game believing that we can win and giving our all to do so. But this does not change the facts and that is exactly what Matt Smart was presenting....facts.
Take the time to look at other Blue Square Premier teams websites and you will find they are saying the exact same thing, the schedule is too demanding.
Every team will find this run of games in such a short period of time challenging. The likes of Crawley, Luton, AFC Wimbledon and Wrexham have all voiced concerns over the number of games.
If these clubs with their big budgets and full-time 25 man playing squads are going to be stretched, I think its probably ok to suggest that we will be too.
We have already established that we are at a disadvantage compared to our full-time opponents, even more so in such a hectic period, so if we are to achieve good results over the christmas it is about more than just the 11 players on the pitch.
As players we believe that in a one off game we are a match for anyone in this league, but to compete in all five games will need something more.
We will need a 12th man, the supporters, fans who understand the size of the task in hand and are prepared to get behind the team and help us to overcome.
Supporters who rather than just turning up to watch a game of football will create a hostile, intimidating atmosphere that lifts the team and puts doubt in the mind of our opponents at home and away.
Too often Priory Lane has been more like a library than a football ground and I am asking for this to change. So get your singing voice warmed up, get yourself to the Lane and help us to achieve something memorable this Christmas.
I have no doubt it will be a roller coaster ride. Derbies and games against the top teams are seldom without incident and excitement.
The club is desperate to do well and get back to winning ways and I can guarantee that the players will play their part in trying to achieve this – the question is will you?