Wands manager already looking ahead to next season after relegation

News Shopper: Keith Bird. Picture by Edmund Boyden. Keith Bird. Picture by Edmund Boyden.

Cray Wanderers are looking to make an instant return to the Isthmian Premier Division after finishing rock bottom this year.

A miserable season came to an end on Saturday with a 2-1 defeat at home to Enfield Town, the Wands’ 34th in a campaign to forget.

But manager Keith Bird, who replaced Ian Jenkins in October, is looking to turn things around and is hopeful the chance of a pre-season with the club will make a big difference as the club bid to bounce straight back.

He said: “I think to some extent we want to draw a line under this season as quickly as possible and now it’s about focusing on next year.

“This time it will be nice to actually have a pre-season.

“We didn’t have the benefit of being here last year so it will be good to have a proper pre-season.

“That way we will be able to assess players and test different systems rather than trying them out in real league games.

“We have been carrying a few injuries, so there will be a couple of weeks for the lads to recover.

“They’ve got their own work they have been given to do to come back fit and then we’ll have a really good pre-season.”

Bird admits he is disappointed at not being able to turn the club’s fortunes around after replacing Jenkins but he is ready for the challenge ahead.

He added: “It has been a difficult season to be honest with you.

“We came in at a difficult time, we were hoping we could turn it around and unfortunately we haven’t been able to do that.

“What we have got to do now is look forward and focus on next season.

“It is a chance for us to go into a division we can compete in, make a few changes here and there and hopefully come back stronger next year.”

Chairman Gary Hillman reflected on what has been a difficult period for the club after being refused planning permission for a new stadium by Bromley Council.

Mr Hillman said: “Ever since that happened in 2012 there’s been a little bit of negativity around the club.

“It has sort of carried on this season and we’ve ended up where we are.

News Shopper: Gary Hillman

“Everyone was so looking forward to the new ground and it would have been so good for the club.

“You have seen around the country at Maidstone and other examples where it has transformed football clubs.”

Mr Hillman confirmed the club will be playing at Bromley’s Hayes Lane again next season and is optimistic about securing promotion.

He said: “It is never going to be easy but I think with the basis we’ve got in the team now we should be there or there abouts and in the running.

“We are keeping with the same management team and structure for next season.

“Budgets all depend on sponsorship, so we have got to work hard in the summer to get the money in to splash back out again.”

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