Cugley hails the arrival of King
Folkestone Invicta boss Neil Cugley hopes his first summer signing will score the goals to make it an exciting campaign for the Cheriton Road faithful, writes Stephen McCartney of Kentishfootball.co.uk.
Striker, Stuart King, 23, has agreed terms and has put pen to paper to sign for the relegated Kent club.
After beating Leatherhead and Godalming Town to secure promotion via the play-off lottery a year ago, Invicta struggled in the Ryman Premier League and finished their campaign at the foot of the table after scoring only 34 goals in 42 league games.
But King, who last season scored seventeen goals for Kent League side Herne Bay, before a surprise move to Ryman League Division One North side Thamesmead Town last February, has been given the task to improve that statistic on the club’s swift return to Ryman League Division One South.
King, who started out in Herne Bay’s youth team, won the Golden Boot as he helped Whitstable Town secure their first ever Kent League title in 2007, before Jim Ward enticed him to Ramsgate in 2008. He then returned to Herne Bay and scored a hat-trick as the club defeated Sevenoaks Town in the Kent League Cup Final in May 2010, before Thamesmead Town paid compensation to the Winch’s Field club last February to take him to Bayliss Avenue.
“It was always one that was going to happen as I was after him last year. I kept plugging away with it and I’m pleased to get him,” said Cugley.
“He’s a natural goalscorer – one thing that we haven’t done for the last couple of years’ is get enough goals.”
Cugley, 56, added: “I’m talking to a couple more. It’s just tidying up and sorting out the budget and different things.
“I’d like to bring in a wide man very quickly and I think we’re desperate for a quality midfield player, which will make us quite a good side.”
When asked about last season’s squad, Cugley replied, “Nobody’s left*. We’re carrying on building from that lot and hopefully bring in a couple more to make us a bit more entertaining and try get at teams a little bit more. [*MEANING NO-ONE HAS LEFT, NOT THEY'RE ALL GONE!! Editor]
“The year before last was a great success (with) what we achieved and the squad we had was incredible – but we didn’t score enough goals that year and last year again we struggled at that department.
“Hopefully we can play a bit more entertaining football and get a few more goals.”
The cash-strapped club, unfortunately, were out of their depth last season, but Cugley will dust himself down and is ready to go again.
“It wasn’t unexpected I suppose with me being honest with the money we had and the squad – it was always going to be difficult. It came to fruition and the year before was beyond everybody’s dreams really.”
He added: “I think we want to go in there and enjoy it and try play some good, attacking football and see what happens at the end of it. What we don’t want to do is not be ready if we go up and go through it all again.
“The important thing we’ve got tremendous fans who get behind the club and it would be nice to entertain them with some attacking football.
“Paul Jones is back from last year, if we get James Dryden and James Everitt fit and maybe bring in a couple of wide men we can have a go at having a very enjoyable season.
“My budget is similar. It hasn’t changed for a couple of years and I don’t think it will change much. We’ll get on with it as it’s a realistic budget in that standard.”
Cugley is now preparing for his fifteenth season in charge at Cheriton Road and reflected on changing times.
“I suppose I’ve been loyal to them and vice versa. We’ve had a lot of chairmen as well during that time. We’ve got to be honest, it’s a club that seems to struggle to get the finances. If we’re lucky enough to get back to the Ryman Premier we have to get things off the pitch sorted out a lot better than they have been.
Cugley, who started his managerial career at his home-town club Hythe Town, admitted players are more professional nowadays.
He said: “On the pitch, obviously fitness of players has improved, it not always the quality, the fitness has improved immensely and dedication and attitude they have to put in to it is good.
“It’s not the quality as much, you haven’t got so many ex-League players coming into non-league. We had a lot when I first started, going back even further when I started playing, everybody was an ex-League player. Now you haven’t got that.
“The big difference, with phones and everything else and being able to watch games and different things (like the internet), you know a bit more about the opposition than the old days when you just worried about your team.
“Everything like that has changed. Everybody’s up to date with what’s going on you haven’t got the excuse when you play teams not to know something about them.”
Looking ahead to next season, Cugley feels there will be four clubs that will be challenging for Ryman League Division One South honours.
He said: “I’ve heard Bognor Regis were an excellent side last year. Whitehawk had loads of money. Whitehawk are a massive club with big financial backing there. I think Maidstone and Croydon Athletic (who were relegated with Folkestone Invicta) have the backing to get back to try and get back into the Ryman Premier.
“Folkestone Invicta? “We might be. We’ll have a go and we’ll try and enjoy it. It was a hard season both on and off the pitch last year and we want to make sure we give entertainment to everybody and hopefully enjoy it.
“This year I want to make us a little more attacking and getting people like Stuart King and one more wide player and one more attacking midfielder to make us go out and enjoy it and have a really good season.”
Football fans witnessed a majestic Barcelona performance as they made Manchester United look ordinary in last night’s Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium, which the Spanish giants won 3-1.
Greats Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Villa mesmerised the watching millions of fans around the world with their slick trademark passing game which left the record-breaking English champions chasing shadows.
“That will give us a lift watching that,” said Cugley, who admitted that kind of quality is out of his price range.
“Anybody watching that will be lifted up – it was brilliant – I can’t wait to get back now and be like Barcelona!
“That’s what’s great about the whole thing of Barcelona after the last couple of years just how they’re trying to play and I think that will help. Slowly people are trying to play a bit more football now. It’s got to the stage of big, strong and get it forward (tactics). To be fair to a lot of non-league managers they're trying to play a lot of football now and the pitches at our standard are better.”
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