Striker Yemi Odubade looks set to depart as Eastbourne Borough prepare to welcome Billericay Town – a club rarely far from a controversial headline or two.
Odubade, 34, has struggled to establish himself in the first team this season and finalises his loan move to Weymouth while Borough entertain one of the more colourful teams in non-league football.
Billericay owner – and sometime manager – Glenn Tamplin burst on to the stage a couple of years ago, piling money into his beloved club, earning boos and cheers in equal measure. Assembling a talented and very well-paid squad, the Blues took last year’s Bostik Premier by storm. This season, the opposition has proved a little tougher, but Billericay remain among the promotion favourites.
Their striker Jake Robinson scored his first goal for Brighton at 16, over a decade ago, but the nimble front-man is still notching a goal a week, and sometimes two. Behind him, the Billericay squad has seen some changes, and even this week there have been ins and outs – with a club decision to move to full-time status apparently taking some players by surprise.
Tamplin himself, who has rarely resisted the appeal of hands-on involvement with the team, has rattled through a succession of managers and coaches – one appointment lasted less than a day – but has now brought in the canny Dean Brennan, from Hemel Hempstead, to run team affairs. Since a controversial awayday at Woking, when Tamplin faced down an allegation – subsequently unproven – involving cocaine use, the owner has not always attended away games.
In contrast, Sports boss Jamie Howell doesn’t really do controversy. “I’m looking forward to a tough game. We have shown we can play well against the top teams.
“Three away wins on the spin speaks for itself. Horsham (Sussex Senior Cup) wasn’t our greatest performance, but I’m just pleased we got through. Having Lloyd Dawes back is a huge bonus, together with 45 minutes for David Martin. The two Reading boys – Adam Liddle and Joel Rollinson – are giving us lots of buzz and energy too.”
Howell’s other new loan signing, Manni Adebowale from Dover, missed the Horsham game with a slight back spasm. “Manni could have played but we didn’t want to risk him ahead of Billericay,” explained Jamie.
The towering centre-back, at 6’5” one of the tallest players in National League, played the final 20 minutes in Borough’s 3-0 win at Wealdstone.
Meanwhile Mike West has been loaned out to Tonbridge Angels for a month as Odubade discusses a similar move to Weymouth. “Yemi wants more time on the pitch, and I fully understand that,” Howell said.
Saturday at 12.30pm, the ashes of former chief executive Mike Spooner, tragically lost to cancer in February, will be buried with a newly-planted tree in his memory at the front of the ground. Family members will be there, and supporters are of course warmly invited.