Football seasons are like general elections – which means Eastbourne Borough are already working on the next one

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As the legendary Brenda from Bristol once famously groaned in response to news of another General Election, “Not another one, you’re joking!” Yes, another one – and another local football season.

Never mind the politics – one football season just rolls into the next one. While we all are checking our TV schedules for the Euros fixtures in Germany, Eastbourne Borough already have their sights on 2024-25.

The make-up of the National League – and the non-league pyramid below it – was confirmed last week, after the flurry of play-offs, promotions and relegations. Eastbourne Borough – whose National South status was confirmed with barely 48 hours remaining of 2023-24 – will face no fewer than six new opponents, including three who are new to Priory Lane fans.

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And as supporters log into their Google Maps (other apps are available) or stick pins in their ancient dog-eared road atlases, they will be bracing themselves for some long winter Saturdays on the road. A quick round of arithmetic brings up a grand total of 4,995 miles on the road.

Jayden Davis has joined Eastbourne Borough from Crawley Town | Picture: EBFCJayden Davis has joined Eastbourne Borough from Crawley Town | Picture: EBFC
Jayden Davis has joined Eastbourne Borough from Crawley Town | Picture: EBFC

Just another five miles, and the Proclaimers could write a song about it. Ah yes, it’s 5,000 and not 500, but at least the Borough players will travel in comfort – with, no doubt, a few overnight stops when they head for Torquay, Truro and other opponents in the far west.

In fact the division’s centre of gravity has shifted very slightly north and west. We’ve lost Yeovil and Taunton – respectively promoted and relegated – but Truro City’s improbable escape means a 664-mile round trip for the Sports. And promoted Salisbury City are back on the radar.

Newcomers Chesham, Hornchurch, Boreham Wood and Enfield are all north of the Thames, raising that perennial motorists’ question: clockwise or anti-clockwise around the M25? Relegated Dorking Wanderers rejoin the quite small clutch of clubs who can fairly be tagged as South-East: Tonbridge Angels, Worthing, Welling and Hampton and Richmond.

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With Dartford and Dover Athletic slipping into the Isthmian premier, the “derby” fixtures are few – and the Sports and the Rebels will probably renew their South Coast rivalries at Christmas and Easter. A full National South fixture list will be published in early July.

Alfie Pavey is another Priory Lane arrival | Picture: EBFCAlfie Pavey is another Priory Lane arrival | Picture: EBFC
Alfie Pavey is another Priory Lane arrival | Picture: EBFC

Meanwhile the club have announced a pre-season programme which builds steadily towards the first league fixture on Saturday 10 August. Adam Murray takes his new squad to Haywards Heath Town on Saturday 6 July, and then Borough entertain Hashtag United – a Men’s and a Women’s double-header – on the following Saturday, 13. Whitehawk are the visitors on Tuesday 16. And former boss Danny Bloor brings his new Hastings United squad to the Lane on Saturday 20 July.

A Borough XI travel to Crawley Down Gatwick on Thursday 25, before Charlton Athletic visit Priory Lane on Saturday 27. And opponents for Murray’s final friendly, on 3 August, are yet to be announced.

Half a dozen chances, then, for supporters to catch up with a refreshed and significantly strengthened Borough squad. Murray and his staff will be working with a tranche of players with significant experience at National South level.

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The manager will have a whole battalion of fire-power at his disposal – strengthened just this week by the arrival of top marksman Alfie Pavey, who has plenty of National League experience, and the re-signing of Finn Ballard McBride. And pacey attacking midfielder Jayden Davis, from Crawley Town, is the latest addition.

It adds up to a promising and exciting season in prospect. Yes, of course, that was just what some people were thinking this time last year – when then manager Mark Beard took on a squad of young, largely untried professionals who ultimately fell a little bit short. For 2024-25, quite a lot of us will be older and wiser.

Oh, and for those Borough supporters not subscribing to Brenda's world-weary view of politics - get to your polling station in good time, and then head for Priory Lane, where on that evening (Thursday 4 July, at 7.30pm) the club are holding a Q&A with owner Simon Leslie, manager Adam Murray, and CEO Alan Williams.

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