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Hake: ‘The first goal has to be not to go back down again’
Hake: ‘The first goal has to be not to go back down again’

Chatham Town Chairman and manager Kevin Hake is thrilled to be taking the Chats into the Isthmian Premier Division this weekend for the first time.

In the second part of our pre-season chat, the Chats boss reflected on exactly what his side has achieved and what lies ahead of them as the Isthmian League begins this weekend.

“We faced some “big” Non-League clubs in the division last year, some really established Isthmian sides, we do have a habit now of finding a way, but the first goal has to be not to go back down again as Herne Bay did last year!

“Our second goal, is to get above the established teams that have been in the League for a while, the Margate’s and the Folkestone’s, who have been there year in year out; can we strive to get above them?

“Then you start thinking as a third goal, if we’re getting above them, we could be looking at Play Offs and obviously if you’re looking at Play Offs, you’re looking at getting promoted. They’re the realistic goals that you set but we must be realistic because there are a lot of big hitters in the Premier Division.

“What’s going to be great for the supporters to experience is that we’re going to go to a ground with big home support, maybe a couple of thousand people there, with the Billericay’s and the Dulwich’s and Hastings as well. There’s going to be another experience for our fans which I’m really looking forward to.” 

The crowds at the Bauvill have increased dramatically during the club’s success leading to an air of expectation over the red part of the Medway Towns, something that the boss is only too well aware of.

“In the last two years, our fans have only known success so that’s something else that we have to manage on and off the pitch,” he said.

“There will be troubling times, as there were last season; we went to the Kent Cup Final and lost! We came up against Aveley and Margate last year and they are good teams and that’s got to be our aim! We did well in the Cups against the Welling’s and Dover’s, so we know what’s expected and how we are going to set up to play and we’re going to be realistic as well, and I’m sure our supporters will be as well.” 

“We’re getting on for nearly two years unbeaten at home since we lost to Glebe in October 2021, I think that its currently the second-best Club record in the country which is something else we’re immensely proud of! But we won’t take anything for granted as we could well lose that record to Bognor on Saturday as records are there to be broken anyway.

“We have had a lot of setbacks since I’ve been manager, but one thing that I always say to my players is that it’s important to how you react to those setbacks. Fortunately, in the past the reaction has been very good, we know the setbacks will come and nothing will be rosy; we know that we’re up against some really highly budgeted teams and highly supported teams in the League, but one thing I will promise you, is that we will give it a good go.” 

“When you look at our starting eleven for last season’s opening day, it was completely different to the one at the end of the season because it has to evolve to get success very, very quickly and requires very quick decisions and very quick changes. It requires people to be receptive to change as well and we’ve done it brilliantly well to be where we are and get ourselves in this position and we’re going to enjoy ourselves and hopefully bring something extra to the division. 

“I believe all football clubs can do what we’ve done, and with the right group of people, it’s such a powerful thing when a group of people all pull in the same direction.

“Going back to experiences in football, you often see split committees, a first team and reserve team with no communication and whilst it has its disadvantages being both Chairman and manager we’ve got one singular goal now, every team, whether it be on the community, whether it be on the youth, whether it be on the first team, men’s or women’s and walking football too.

“Everyone is striving in the same direction to improve the facilities and the quality of the Club and it really is a powerful thing. I’m not going to sit here and take the credit myself as it is down to the team of people that we’ve got here, no one person could do what this Club’s achieved but we will continue to keep attracting people who through the community want to help the club, and we’ll just get stronger and stronger.”