Rye & Iden United are having a tough time at present, on the pitch and off. Both sets of problems came about as they reached their highest pinnacle of success, and originated from the same source.That source was the sponsorship they received from a very powerful backer who is not now in a position to support the club and it’s ambition of maintaining their place as a top notch County League outfit.
From being the second placed club in Division One at the end of the 2004-05 season they have now slumped to second from bottom of the table (December 8) and are in danger of being relegated to Division Two (the bottom three sides go down.) The reason that the side are struggling is because all but three of the regular first team players left for other clubs during the close season leaving most of the second team to be thrust into a class well above the standard they were playing at last season.
Despite their youth and lack of experience the team, under the guiding hand of Manager Paul Mitchell, have played with enthusiasm and energy and are now beginning to hold their own against the tough County League sides. Indeed they held Hillingdon Borough to a one all draw in the F.A. Challenge Vase and in an exciting replay played out in a chilly and misty Middlesex Stadium home of Hillingdon Borough, continued to worry the top London side. The description of “Two evenly matched sides unable to gain clear advantage over the other, creating a tension more akin to an arm wresting contest than a football match,” was accurate and demonstrated the standard of soccer the new side is capable of. Hillingdon eventually broke them down to score the only goal of the night but Rye & Iden United supporters gained new heart and began to believe their young players will achieve the impossible and avoid relegation at the end of the season.
Off the pitch money is very tight. Rother District Council charges for the use of the pitch are £50 plu pser match, this also applies to second team games, referees and linesmen have to be paid expenses, as much as £150 a game and then there are printing charges and all the other outgoings that mount up.
Members are organising social events and other fund raising efforts in an attempt to make ends meet. There are a great gang of ‘back room boys and girls’ all giving their time voluntarily doing the many jobs that go towards making the games possible, from making tea to selling tickets. Chris Ashbee, one time player and now Vice Chairman, runs the Bar on Match Days. Ged Say, whose Dad it was that formed Iden Football Club, runs the Third Team, and the legendary ‘Shoey’ Bennett, who played for United in the great teams of the 40’s and 50’s alongside Bill ‘Blower’ Pierce and Michael Lehey, bellows support to players and instructions to the Referee from his favourite position in the stand.
Despite the purse strings being tightened the Club is determined to look to the future. Rye & Iden United Youth teams are being encouraged and a plan to extend the scheme under the United banner is afoot. Teams for ages Under 10, Under 12, Under 14, Under 16 and Under 18 have been running for several years these will be extended to include girl teams if there is enough support.
Community Football Coaching takes place at Rye and Iden United Football Club, The Salts, Rye every Saturday morning from 10am to 11.30am. Boys & Girls aged 6-12 years are welcome. Specialist Goalkeeper Coaching takes place every fortnight. Further details 07885-298134 or 07775-736412. Do go along to home matches (3pm. start most Saturdays) Its £3 to get in (free for children under 16), £1 for a programme and as we all know the Sun always shines in Rye on Saturdays! You will be made very welcome United needs your support. The bar opens at 2pm and there is hot food and tea there.
Rye Observer gives a very comprehensive account of First Team matches so “Rye’s Own” will concentrate on personalities, background and give an overview of the club’s activities in a monthly feature throughout the year.
“Rye’s Own” January 2006
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