New captain raring to go as Eastbourne Borough chairman predicts 'most joyous season ever'
New Eastbourne Borough club captain Charlie Walker can’t wait for the season to get under way.
The striker is entering his third season at Priory Lane, and was announced as the new club captain by boss Danny Bloor last week. And after a strong end to the 2019/20 season before lockdown, Walker is looking forward to the resumption of football back at Priory Lane.
Speakng on the club website after signing for another National South campaign at Priory Lane, he said: “I feel at home, and I really like the club.
“I have enjoyed the last few seasons, but Danny (Bloor, manager) is a big reason why I’ve decided to stay. Since he’s come in, I feel like I’ve played my best football under him.
“When he worked with Mark McGhee during his time here, I had my best spell, so I feel like he gets the best out of me.
“Sergio (Torres) also made the decision to stay easy, we’re really good friends and he has the makings of a really good coach and I can’t wait to get started and see all the fans and support again.”
Walker had 12 goals to his name before it was announced the 2019/20 season would be ended, making him Borough’s leading scorer, as well as notching the Goal of the Season – an astonishing 45-yard strike against Salisbury City.
He picked up the accolade – shared jointly with defender Ian Gayle – of Manager’s Player of the Year. He is hoping to continue from where he left off when action gets under way.
“Any striker wants to score goals,” he added. “It’s been a weird one with the extended break but I’d like to think that I can pick up where I left off and score.
“With Danny and Sergio having a full season ahead, and with the team that they are looking to construct, I think this is something to look forward to. Having seen a few potential signings, there are definitely some exciting times ahead.”
With the news of Walker’s commitment to the new season, also came the announcement that he will be wearing the armband after Kane Wills’ departure.
And after notching up over 50 appearances for the club over the two seasons, Walker was delighted to be made the new club captain.
“Being asked to be the club captain is a massive honour,” he said. “Eastbourne Borough are such an established and well run club and are one of the best in Sussex, so I’m buzzing to be given that opportunity.”
In line with government advice, the Sports have begun training sessions ahead of news for when the new season will get underway, something Walker has enjoyed - but it hasn’t quite been the training that you’d normally expect.
“Training has been good, but it’s a weird one,” Walker explained. “We’re having to train in groups of five with an individual coach without contact, so it’s had its challenges. But it’s been good to be around the boys again and get that buzz again – you don’t realise how much you miss it.”
Actually Saturday mornings at the Lane have taken on quite a celebrity feel. Manager Bloor has enlisted the likes of Garry Wilson and Ben Austin – respectively former manager and club captain – to share their expertise with the current squad. Last Saturday saw fifteen players put through their paces, under the approving eye of board chairman Dave Blackmore.
“You could say it’s football, but not as we know it,” smiled Blackmore, “but we are edging closer all the time to the real thing. Other than the clubs involved in the current National South play-offs, Borough are probably a bit ahead of the curve.
“We won’t be training this Saturday morning, but our next step – next Tuesday evening – is to test a return to full training. We have stringent FA guidelines and will follow them to the letter.”
As well as the first team squad, the stadium hosted coaching last weekend – carefully distanced – for some of the club’s youth teams. And with parents and friends scattered around the terracing, there were plenty of hints of normality.
“The government gave a strong steer last week that by, say, the start of October, we could be playing in front of a crowd,” says football chairman John Bonar. “The word on the circuit is perhaps 25% of ground capacity – so around a maximum thousand spectators at Priory Lane. We are convinced we can plan for that, with rigorous safety measures – strict entrance and exit procedures and sensible spacing.
“Non-league supporters are the salt of the earth. They are not prone to madcap behaviour, and as for distancing, most of them have their own chosen bit of terracing anyway! There is a pent-up sense of anticipation for live sport, and once we get the final go-ahead, this will be the most joyous football season ever!