Anthony Gale has provided an update on the club as the year comes to a close and suggests what’s in store for 2018.
Walton Casuals sit in fifth after 24 games and still face Faversham Town, Molesey and VCD Athletic before the year concludes. With the seventh-placed side potentially able to go up in May, it’s all to play for in a tight Bostik South campaign.
Read what the boss had to say before the trip to Salters Lane on Saturday…
ON THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON
“It’s been extremely positive, to be honest. I think that a lot of people wrote us off after our finish last year and I heard a lot of negative comments during pre-season from people thinking that we wouldn’t be successful this year. And we haven’t been as of yet – there’s a lot to prove and there’s still much of the season to play. But if I were to judge the first part of the season, I’d be extremely pleased. As I’ve said over recent years, it’s about trying to move forward, trying to progress and trying to improve the club – not just the team but the whole infrastructure of the club.”
ON THE YOUNG PLAYERS TAKING IMPORTANT ROLES
“They’ve been extremely important for us this year. I think that anyone that’s been involved and seen what we’ve tried to do over recent years, they’ll agree it’s always been about young players. It’s important to have that balance and you can see that in the team. We have the experience of Max Hustwick, Joe Hicks and Daryl Coleman through the spine at 35, 26 and 28. Then if you look elsewhere all over the pitch we have 22-year-old fullbacks, 25-year-old midfielders, a forward line of 18, 18 and 19 and a wide player of 25. It’s a good mix, and on the bench, there’s nobody older than 22. It’s all well and good being a young side, but it’s also about being good enough – and these young men are certainly good enough. The biggest thing for me is their ability to learn, move forward, and put things into practice.”
ON DEVELOPMENTS WITH THE YOUTH TEAMS
“Frank and Jo Scannella have done a tremendous job. It goes without saying they’ve been fantastic in building out the youth and what they’re doing with 500 kids, both boys and girls. And with longer-term views of having a female senior team and an Under-21s next year, we want to create that link between the youth and the first team. It’s been a very good link, I’ve gone to watch games on Sundays and watched their training, and built up links with the coaches at the club. However, there has to be that something to knit the first team and the youth section together. By putting the Under-21s in place it’s another forward-thinking move, it’s already been done by numerous clubs. It’s something that should have been done sooner, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
ON YOUTH PLAYERS PROGRESSING TO THE FIRST TEAM
“We’ll be announcing another three signings this week that will be coming out of our Under-18s, but the boys have got to be good enough. The opportunities aren’t just handed out, and these players have definitely earnt the chance to join the first team squad from now until the end of the season. They’ll all play a part in trying to move this club forward, and we’ll all try to move those players forward in their careers as well.”
ON THE REMAINDER OF THE SEASON
“I don’t mind saying this is, but we’re here to stay. It’s not a typical Walton Casuals side of recent years where we have played entertaining football, but found in the important months we tailed off and fell out of the playoff race We’re sitting fifth at the moment, and I think we should be higher the league if you take into account we’ve already missed four penalties this season and we’ve conceded five goals from the 85th minute onwards. They say the league doesn’t lie, and at the end of the season, that statement should be correct. There are moments in the next games that can be altered and corrected, and if we continually look to try and move forward one game at a time, there’s no reason why we can’t be in that shake up towards the end of the season.”
ON THIS SEASON’S LEAGUE COMPETITION
“There’s a lot of good teams and good managers in the division this year. The league is a strong one, especially if you look at the current top 10. It should be an exciting end to the season if you’re a non-league fan and watch these games week in, week out. We’ve been involved in some exciting games this year, and even on the side as a manager, you’re genuinely excited by the quality of football. It’s great to see because non-league has to be forward thinking and it has to produce quality like that week in, week out to get those fans in through the door and keep them entertained.”
The Stags welcome Molesey to the Elmbridge Xcel Sports Hub in a Boxing Day derby on Tuesday 26 December.