Eastbourne Borough’s survival squad – who’s in and who’s out for 2024-25 season?

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After 12 months of a National South voyage that began in sunshine, narrowly evaded the icebergs, and reached safe harbour with 48 hours to spare, Eastbourne Borough are already recruiting their crew for the next tour of duty.

In sharp contrast to the close season of 2023, the Sports are already two-thirds of the way to a full squad. Here – according to the club website – is the current picture at the very start of May:

Still under contract for the 2024/25 season: Brad Barry, Jack Clarke, Jay Beckford, Siya Ligendza, David Sesay.

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Returning with freshly agreed contracts: Fin Holter, Freddie Carter, Dan Quick, Yahya Bamba, Scott Leslie.

The Borough squad at their final game last week at Braintree | Picture: Lydia RedmanThe Borough squad at their final game last week at Braintree | Picture: Lydia Redman
The Borough squad at their final game last week at Braintree | Picture: Lydia Redman

Offered a new permanent contract: (after his loan deal from Barnet) Moussa Diarra.

Still in negotiations: Finn Ballard McBride, Ben Dudzinski, Matt Green.

Offered new deals but choosing to move on: Harrison Foulkes and Sam Beard. Borough wish them all the best in their future careers.

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Out of contract, and not offered new deals: Alex Finney, Decarrey Sheriff, Michael Olarewaju, Imran Uche. The club will also be supporting Alex Finney on his road to recovery.

Returned to their parent clubs after the conclusion of their loan deals, and Borough would like to thank them for playing their part in a memorable journey last season: Billy Vigar, Archie Procter, Jake Hutchinson, Alfie Bendle, Pierce Bird.

Stefan Vukoje and Camron Gbadebo have been invited to attend pre-season training after recovering from long-term injuries picked up in the 2023/24 season.

Give that sieve a little shake, and it shows a core of 11 definites. They do include Jay Beckford and Scott Leslie, who spent most of last season on the fringe of the squad. But both have clear potential, which full-time training and further experience will enhance.

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Brad Barry, a warrior captain originally signed by Danny Bloor, is both a fine player and an outstanding leader in – dare we say it? – the Ben Austin mould. Alongside him in the trenches will be genial giant Moussa Diarra and the underrated Dan Quick. Dan seemed sometimes overlooked by former manager Mark Beard, but he is heavy-pencilled in on Adam Murray’s teamsheet.

Fin Holter and Freddie Carter are local youth products: goalkeeper Holter stands a formidable six-foot-something and could hold down his own place in many non-league line-ups, while Freddie climbed assuredly up the learning curve at the heart of last season’s defence.

Returning in midfield is talented Jack Clarke, once infamously described in the Herald as Borough’s Jack Grealish – well, he has the left foot, the hip-swerve and the headband! Dogged by injury in 2023-24, Clarke can really seize the playmaker’s shirt this season.

Two inspired signings from last season brought astonishing pace, and that priceless ability to terrify opposing defences: David Sesay and Yahya Bamba. The inspired recruiting of Bamba – to replace departing Leone Gravata – was the turning point of Murray’s four month rescue mission, and his seven goals saved the Sports’ National South status.

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Finally, among the retained players, Siya Ligendza is a proven goalscorer who can deliver the goods for Murray. And the possibles? Aussie Finn Ballard McBride arrived from Australia via the University of California, spent a few weeks working out which time zone he was in, and then exploded into almost unplayable form at the very end of the season. He will be hot property.

The number one keeper’s jersey is an interesting one: the departing Harrison Foulkes was phenomenal at the end of the season, but Ben Dudzinski is the proverbial safe pair of hands if he is re-engaged. Matt Green, recruited for the final run-in, is a proper centre-forward and – just as important – a wonderful character in the squad. But he has always been West Country based.

And finally, who will be missed? Versatile Sam Beard, combative Pierce Bird, striker Jake Hutchinson and midfield terrier Alfie Bendle. Young Alfie can certainly succeed at a higher level, while local fans will warmly wish Jake to find the right club for his scoring talents.

Arguably more crucial than any of that long list of players, Borough have the right men in charge. Adam Murray was an inspired choice to take charge in January, and his experienced assistant and mentor Stuart Watkiss is the perfect support and sounding-board. With three or four further signings on the field, those two can pilot the Borough to the very top.

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