Pic: Nathan Cracknell
GO on, be honest. Who hadn’t heard of Brightlingsea Regent before this season?
OK, I had, but I’ll confess I’ve only just found out where exactly it is – or how they got their fantastic name.
But they are a club whose story needs to be told. Six short years ago they were playing in the Essex & Suffolk Border League (yes, the answer is ‘Essex’) and next season they’ll be in the Ryman Premier after celebrating their biggest ever moment last weekend.
From Step 7 to Step 3 without throwing money around is a great credit to the club, and their boss James Webster – a young manager with a CV to rival anyone.
When Webster arrived, Regent were in the lower half of the Border league, their crowds were so small they needn’t have bothered employing a gateman.
Next season it could be Dulwich Hamlet, Jamie O’Hara and his Billericay team-mates and even Havant & Waterlooville – who were giving Liverpool a real fright in the FA Cup when they had less than 20 people coming to their matches with no barriers around their pitches.
The Ryman North champions aren’t one of those Essex clubs who have been bankrolled through the leagues either. Webster has taken them to four promotions since 2011. Can any other manager boast that kind of track record?
Chairman Terry Doherty admits to being ‘frightened’ at the prospect of Ryman Premier football. Webster has already proven beyond doubt he doesn’t do fear factor.