There’s a rallying cry from Ian Simpemba this week: playing standards in this year’s National South will be the highest ever, but Borough can and will keep pace.
“I’ve played at this level for eight or nine years,” said the popular player-coach, “and the standard goes up every single season.
I’ve spoken to colleagues at other clubs, across Div One and Div Two and senior non-league, and they all say the same.
Promoted clubs coming up have spent big to get here, and this year Billericay, Dulwich Hamlet and Slough Town are coming into our division with massive budgets.
Then a club like Torquay United, who are staying full-time, are coming in with big support and high expectations. There will be ten or twelve clubs in National South with major ambitions, and the rest of the league will be very competitive as well, so it’ll be a good test for us.
It’s a terrific level to be playing at. “As long as we get ourselves fit, stick together and stick to the game plan, Eastbourne Borough will hold their own in this league.
The first aim is to finish higher than last year – especially out here on our 3G – by getting the ball down and playing good football.
I remember Garry’s promotion season – when of course I was playing for the big rivals Lewes – and Priory Lane was the away ground nobody wanted to come to! It was windy, tough and the Borough team was formidable.
We want visiting clubs to come here and think, not how nice to come and play on this lovely surface, but blimey, this Eastbourne team are slicing teams apart down here! We need everyone on board in the cause, supporters and players, we need a dose of that old Langney Sports grit, and we need to get the joy back.” Coach or player-coach?
“Well, let’s say I’ll be available for selection. But we’re looking at one or two younger models with not quite so many miles on the clock! Seriously, Jamie has a game plan and what he wants is pace.
We all want a football club driven by young men hungry to do well – perhaps the sort of players capable of getting back into the Football League.
Older fellers like me can hang on to the coat-tails but also give them our wisdom too!
Watching from the dug-out is sometimes frustrating, more often rewarding, and that’s where I’m probably most useful to the team. But I will pull on a shirt if needed.”
Pre-season training? “It’s a tough time, especially in this current heat! Normally as a player I’d be flagging at the back but now, taking training myself, I’m taking my years of pain out on the players! But getting fit doesn’t cost a thing, and we plan to be simply as fit as any opponent, come the new season. Bring it on!”