www.hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk     Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Dave Ormerod with the team before Herne Bay Photo: Scott White Front row (LtoR):Steve Brinkhurst, Sam Cruttwell, Olalekan Bankole, Mascot, Tyrell Richardson-Brown, Fraser Logan, Richard Rose & Marlon Patterson Back row (LtoR)Luke Turner, Josh Pelling, Josh Jirbandey, Dave Ormerod (Chairman), Sean Ray

Revolving door at the U’s

As the long Hastings United season draws to a close, perhaps it’s a case of what should’ve been, rather than what could’ve been. After last season’s play-off disappointment, the only way for the U’s seemed to be up. With high expectations from seemingly every supporter, HOT’s Liam Willis analyses how the season has panned out.

An opening day win for the U’s, away on the banks of the Thames at Walton Casuals, was nothing less than everyone expected. A 2-0 win looked comfortable enough to visualise a successful season, this couldn’t be much further from the truth.United’s home campaign started with a draw against Whitstable Town, a goal from Frankie Sawyer securing the U’s with a point.

The first defeat of the season came at home against Chipstead. With only five wins in the first thirteen games, Terry White stepped down as the first team manager, after being at the helm since January, taking over from John Maggs. White lead United to a play-off semi-final in the previous season, with United narrowly losing out to Folkestone in a 112th minute own goal.

Dom Di Paula on the programme cover

Two weeks later, United appointed Dom Di Paola as their first team manager. Di Paola had won the county league twice in a row and numerous cup competitions with Brighton-based East Preston. Expectations were high and Di Paola got off to a glorious winning start. His first game – and home debut against Guernsey, a fixture that United had not won in three attempts – was United’s best display of the season so far. Kenny Pogue grabbed himself a hattrick and United romped home, winning 4-1.

The following Tuesday, Di Paola took his side to West Sussex and took three points from East Grinstead Town. Di Paola brought in a few new faces that were reliable at his former Club: Evan Archibald, Kevin Keehan, Joe Shelley, Marc Pullan and Charlie Farmer amongst them.

United’s form slumped once again, but then the team had to travel to league-leaders, Faversham Town. A day that many of the away fans won’t forget for some time, United thrashed Town 5-1. The U’s form then slumped once more, taking only one point from bottom of the league Walton Casuals, followed by a home defeat to Walton & Hersham. Christmas and New Year went by and United’s form got no better: on New Year’s Day after a defeat away at Hythe Town and after only fourteen games, Di Paola resigned as the first team boss. A shock to many – and now Mark Stapley & John Masters had to take charge of the first team affairs until United appointed their third manager in half a season.

The U’s wasted no time and after only five days appointed Nigel Kane as the man in charge. Kane had lead United to promotion to the Ryman Premier in 2007 and had the task to keep United in the league this season, which he had done successfully in his previous reign. Kane started with three points away at Horsham, with a late Evan Archibald winner in front of previous manager, Dom Di Paola.   

Kyle Holden Photo: Scott White

In Kane’s first set of programme notes against East Grinstead, he described United’s home form as ‘dismal’. United hadn’t been leading at home at half time all season – and this didn’t change throughout the entirety. However, on Kane’s first game back in the hot seat at the Pilot Field, a goal was scored that would receive the Goal of the Season award just four months later. Kyle Holden’s superb debut volley gave United a consolation goal and United fell victim to fellow-strugglers, East Grinstead Town.

United’s poor form hit a new low on 21 March. Bottom of the league Horsham visited the Pilot Field in a must win game for both sides. Horsham had been bottom of the table for quite some time and escaping relegation looked beyond them, but United gifted Horsham three points and a clean sheet. A goal in either half followed by a red card for striker Ade Olorunda saw United plumb new depths in a game of such importance. The Horsham defeat was followed by a point away at Tooting and Mitcham, courtesy of a goal from Tyrell Richardson-Brown.

Steph McCrossan presented Sean Ray with the Player of the Season award with Nigel Kane (Manager right)Photo: Joe Knight

On 1 April, United released a Club statement containing the resignation of Chairman, Dave Walters, after eleven years at the Pilot Field. Walters was in charge when United were promoted to the Ryman Premier with Nigel Kane in charge, reached the FA Cup Third Round against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium with player-manager Sean Ray and were relegated to the Ryman South in the same season.

The majority of the shares were sold by Walters to Dave Ormerod, a long-term supporter, former Club Treasurer and once a member of the Management Committee. It later emerged that Club Director, Dave Murphy, would also be stepping down from his role. Ormerod’s first match as Chairman was an important win against Herne Bay, United’s first win in 11 games. This was followed by a piece of Sam Adams’ brilliance against Ramsgate, ensuring United won their second game of Ormerod’s reign.  Tony Cosens was then appointed as the Club Secretary, after Darryl Tribbeck stepped down. 

Dave Rimmer Supporters Club Vice Chair presents £3500 cheque from supporters to Dave Ormerod chairman Photo: Joe Knight

Two directors were appointed by Ormerod, as his boardroom started to take shape. Supporters Liaison Officer and former voice of the Pilot Field, Pat McCrossan was one, and the other, Dave Nessling. McCrossan and Nessling join the board alongside Simon Rudkins, Tony Cosens and David Ormerod himself. The last home fixture of the season for United was against Faversham Town. A game with free admission to all saw the biggest attendance of United’s season with a bumper crowd of 900. Prior to the game, Steph McCrossan presented Sean Ray with the Player of the Season award and Liam Willis presented Kyle Holden with Goal of the Season. A Sam Adams brace ensured United took three points from Faversham once again.

Liam Willis presents Kyle Holden with Goal of the Season award with Nigel Kane (Manager right) Photo: Joe Knight

The U’s travelled away to Walton & Hersham on the last game of the season. An excellent hour from United saw them two goals to the good, with each and every fan keeping a close eye on other results around the table, making sure United couldn’t get relegated. However, two goals in half an hour for the hosts allowed them to clinch a point. A needed point for United, but due to results elsewhere, United weren’t to be relegated.

United finished sixteenth at the end of the season, an expected place to finish regarding last season’s near promotion success. A week after the season finished, the Club announced that they would not be retaining the services of manager Nigel Kane or his backroom staff in the following season.

Liam Willis is also Hastings United Programme Co-Editor  @MrLiamWillis 07554882302

Liam Willis is travelling back to Uganda for voluntary work in August. To donate to the little village of Kabubbu, text KABU49 £Amount to 70070. (E.g KABU49 £10). Watch his video at ITV’s This Morning with Phillip Schofield here;

Posted 14:58 Tuesday, May 5, 2015 In: Sport


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