Who’s staying? Who’s going? Who is manager Jamie Howell bringing in? Some of the twitchiness among Eastbourne Borough supporters was eased this week, with news of new signings (writes Kevin Anderson).
And manager Jamie Howell has gone for experience: two seasoned professionals have committed to the Borough cause, in the shape of midfielder David Martin and striker Charlie Walker.
A third name, also well regarded on the non-league circuit, is expected to join them shortly – but the player concerned is on holiday, and it is unshakeable club policy not to go public until the ink is dry on the contract.
Martin, 33 but fit as a fiddle, arrives with an impressive CV, including at Football League clubs, and he was a key player in Steve King’s powerful 2014-15 squad at Whitehawk.
Walker is a proven goalscorer who last season was plying his trade for Ian Allinson at St Albans City. Also re-signed for the new season is popular keeper Mark Smith. “Smudge” - a nickname which he shares with his equally affable Dad, who seldom misses a match – quickly made his mark on arriving from Aldershot Town in mid-season, and he was always likely to figure in the long-term plans of Howell and assistant Danny Bloor.
But on the debit side, there will be lumps in many throats at Priory Lane. In almost 200 appearances, Jamie Taylor scored 65 goals for Borough – spectacular goals, improbable goals, outrageous goals – and he created many more for others. (His career goals total, for all clubs, is well over 200.)
Just as important, Jamie has been a loyal and selfless club servant, modest, likeable and held in huge affection by supporters and fellow professionals alike. With a Borough strike force which includes Yemi Odubade, Lloyd Dawes and now also Charlie Walker, Taylor would have been only an occasional starter or an impact player, and at 35, he wants regular football rather than stints on the bench. He is expected to opt for a club nearer to his Crawley home. Thanks, JT. You are one of the Unforgettables!
Meanwhile, Howell still has plenty of work to do as he assembles his squad. Defenders may well be next on the shopping list, with the departures of Kiran Khinda-John, Australia-bound Will Hendon and probably also James Haran.
Supporters can still take up Borough’s Early Bird offer on season tickets for 2018-19.Priory Lane officials report a brisk take-up on the offer, which closes on Saturday 16 June. Adults pay £150, and senior citizens just £90, for a full season of National South action – a respective rate of about £7 and £5 per match. Students pay £65, and the Under-18 ticket costs a nominal £10.