When you think of certain managers one of the first words that comes to mind is longevity. Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger are, of course, the biggest names associated with the idea of staying at a club for long time. Paul Tisdale at Exeter also wears his loyalty with pride while some might even suggest that Mark Hughes five years at Stoke is an example of modern longevity.
For fans of Chesham United though, the first name that comes to mind when discussing long serving managers is Andy Lees, who served an incredible eleven year term at the club based in Buckinghamshire. Lees and fans at The Meadow built up a strong bond especially over their exciting FA Cup trips which saw them reach the second round, having dumped out league opposition in Bristol Rovers just over two years ago, before they were defeated by Bradford. His time in charge saw them rise up to step three of the non-league pyramid and miss on on promotion via the playoffs on three occasions with defeat to local rivals St Albans in the final in 2014 particularly heartbreaking.
Last season was to be the last for Lees as both The Generals and Lees himself decided that it was time to move on. Chesham decided that they needed fresh blood while Lees wanted to pursue new opportunities and has since moved onto a role at Enfield town.
Chesham decided to gamble on an internal appointment as they promoted Lees assistant Jon Meakes to the top job. As with many non-league clubs making these kind of gambles are very important. The non-league is ripe market for gambling as even when betting on football matches with a brand like William Hill they do not have the level of knowledge or scouting of non-league matches as they do for league matches. Make sure to take advantage of this by finding interesting and unusual non-league markets to bet on, it is really a great time to bet on non-league football with all the top brands covering it but lacking insider knowledge.
For Chesham their decision to promote Meaks is yet to really pay off as the side seem stuck and struggling to kick on and ignite their season in the way they would have wanted. Meaks came in in March of 2017 so has had time to work with the squad including a full pre-season but it seems as if he has not managed to find a way to improve the side enough to get them back into the playoff picture. While Chesham would not have been favourites to make the playoffs it was absolutely a target at the start of the season and the fact they are nine points adrift of fifth placed Tiverton Town in the Southern League Premier is disappointing. They do though have a game in hand on the Devon based side.
The worry for Meakes will be the painful lack of consistency from his side, who seem unable to put a run together. On four different occasions they have followed up a win with a defeat straight after. The best run they have managed to put together is three wins in a row, including a 13-1 thumping of Merthyr Town, but the fact that they have drawn six more games than Tiverton tells its own story about Chesham’s problem.
They need to convert more draws to wins if they are to find themselves anywhere near the playoff picture, they have also won less than half of their thirteen home games in a league where you need to make the most out of your home games.
After a period where, if Chesham were not competing in the playoffs then they were having fun FA Cup runs, the club feels like it is stuck a little. They seem unable to get up the table and have struggled to recreate the magic of 2015 and the Bristol Rovers match having been dumped out by Needham Market in the second qualifying round this season. If there is one thing Meakes can count on is patience from a crowd at The Meadow who are behind him. They know a manager needs time to build something and that they are not a well monied or storied club.
However they will be hoping to see improvement in the second half of this season and will be feeling that if they can’t make the playoffs then a top ten finish would at least suggest that progress is being made.