The season may be over, but the club doesn’t stop!
After last month’s end of season review, I thought my AFC Whyteleafe reporting duties were over until the new season began. But then I received a message from the Tandridge Independent saying ‘Well, what else is happening at the club? Do you have any news?’ And my answer was a resounding ‘yes!’
We have had to say goodbye to the players released over the summer, which is one of the hardest things to have to do in football. Those decisions are even harder to make when the player is one of our ‘originals’, somebody who started this crazy journey with us and gave their all to get us where we are now. Their contribution will always be remembered.
On to our summer signings. First up sees the return of Helge Orome, the former Ivory Coast U21 international and current England 6-a-side player, to Church Road. He will provide our midfield with leadership, bite, guile and goals.
Antone Douglas is also back, on a dual reg with Sevenoaks. The classy centre back will add experience and a high level of technical ability to our back line.
Both players could have remained at a higher level, but chose to drop down a few leagues, such is their love for the club and this project. Both were part of that incredible Harry Hudson side that were, in my opinion, robbed of a promotion to Step 3 by Covid a few seasons ago. With the acquisition of Aaron ‘Azza’ Watson and Jamie McGeoghegan at the tail end of last season, that means we now have four of that memorable team in our current squad.
Our next signing is Callum Hart: essentially a right winger but has the attributes to play as a 10 too (in my humble opinion). A direct player always looking to go forward, he has the potential to become an instant fan favourite. The standard at training was unbelievably high in the first session back but ‘Cal’ still managed to stand out, with numerous whispers of ‘who is that guy?’ being heard pitchside. Cal made it to the FA Vase quarter finals with his former club Peacehaven last season and is definitely one to watch.
The final new player (at the time of printing) is Kleon James. A touch of the Aaron Wan Bissaka about this lad as he rarely (if ever) gets beaten in a one-on-one. The young right back joins us from Edgware & Kingsbury, where he was their Player of the Season two years running.
There may be a further addition or two still to come but with the aforementioned ‘incomings’ we already have a squad that has the ability to compete at the highest level in this league. I don’t like to make predictions but I do think something special might just happen at Church Road this season so buckle up and enjoy the ride!
If you can’t wait until August to catch a glimpse of our new and existing players in action, you are in luck. We have a couple of ‘Summer Blockbuster’ friendlies taking place at Church Road: on 8 July we take on Balham FC, and on the 22nd we welcome Eastbourne Utd, both 15:00 KOs. We’ve also got the return of the ‘Battle of Tandridge’ (well, kind of), as our U23s take on our newly promoted friends Oxted FC on Monday, 7 August at 20:00 – it should be a cracking game. Details of away friendlies are on our social media, so check there for times, locations and latest news.
The season fixture list is expected around the middle of July, and season tickets are now available via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Become part of the Leafe family
We are looking for local businesses for an array of sponsorship opportunities to suit all budgets, from main shirt sponsor to matchday programme and pitch side advertising. We are one of the country’s best supported clubs at this level and can offer great exposure to the local community and beyond.
We are also calling on parents, teachers, friends and family to nominate someone who is deserving of being a Leafe matchday mascot. This can involve a pre-match team photo, a fun penalty shootout, walking out with the players, presenting the referee with the match ball and receiving a small Leafe gift. It’s a great afternoon for the nominated youngsters.
Please contact email@example.com for more details.