What a waste
LEATHERHEAD chairman Peter Ashdown has described the season as a "wasted" one.
Speaking in the immediate aftermath of the club's relegation, following a 2-0 defeat at home to Kingstonian on Saturday, the Tanners chief spoke of the "great shame" of only spending one year in the Ryman League Premier Division.
He said: "It's a huge disappointment. I think we all held out hope to the very last and we probably should have won against Kingstonian on the balance of play, but at the end of the day the league table doesn't lie over a season.
"When we look back, after what was a very difficult and poor start, Richard Brady was left with a mountain to climb and we truly thought he would climb it.
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"I certainly wouldn't point the finger at anyone, but in my opinion it's been a wasted opportunity this season."
Despite his views though, Ashdown told the Advertiser that Brady was the right man to take Leatherhead forward, saying there was no chance of the boss being axed.
He added: "As far as I'm concerned the manager's future is secure here. It goes without saying that he will be the manager here next season.
"The board has met and discussed it and we have unanimously confirmed that he will be in charge next year.
"We'll sit down and talk to the manager, we've got to take stock, there's no point making a knee-jerk reaction, we'll plan accordingly, but the club goes on.
"It's a blow but it's not the end of the world, we'll regroup and we'll go again."
So where does Ashdown think it all went wrong?
"Physicality is probably something we didn't match with a lot of teams," he said. "Very few teams beat us heavily or turned us over and I think those who say there wasn't a big gap between the leagues were clearly wrong because the difference is quite simply that there are physical sides that have the ability to close games out 1-0.
"We've lost lots of games 1-0 where they've grabbed a goal and sat back, maybe there's a bit of inexperience too, but I still think we had players of sufficient ability, perhaps we needed one or two more with a bit of nous of this level and above."
Ashdown confirmed that the budget would have to be cut following relegation, but he hoped that the majority of players would stick with the club.
He said: "I suppose some players will have had a taste of this level, whose ambitions would mean they would like to stay at this level, but it's probably too early to say.
"We'll sit down and review it. We've been well supported this season and of course we shall have to cut our cloth. This season we have had gates on average 100 up on last season, which is what we predicted, so yes of course we will have to sit down and reassess all these things, of which the budget is one.
"But the team will respond, you get changes in any team, but I'd like to hope those younger players will stay with us. The great shame is if we could have stayed up so many of the players would have learnt so much and gained so much experience."
And what of a reprieve for the Tanners?
"I think four out of the last six years four teams haven't gone down from this league," Ashdown stated. "But the trouble with that is we probably won't know that for some time, so we have to start planning for the future in the next few days."