By Matt Badcock
Rob Small says it’s all well and good talking about Bowers & Pitsea’s promotion ambition – but he knows it counts for nothing unless they achieve it.
The Bostik North leaders missed out on going up last season despite spending much of it in the automatic places.
Eventually, they missed out by a point and were then dumped out of the play-offs by Canvey Island.
They’re on track to avenge that with Small’s side leading the way and, ahead of the weekend, only tasting defeat twice while conceding just 16 goals.
But Small, who has revitalised Bowers since taking over when they were in Step 5 five years ago, won’t just be out to enjoy their latest ride.
“It’s more to do with the fact that there doesn’t feel any need to get carried away until you’ve actually achieved anything,” Small told The NLP.
“Since we were promoted to this division, we’ve had two terrific seasons. We’ve overachieved in terms of where we’ve finished in the tables, the points we’ve accrued, the teams we’ve beaten and where we’re competing.
“But we haven’t actually won anything. There’s not been a trophy, there’s not been a promotion. You can bang the drum and self-promote and talk about what you’re achieving with the resources available or get your head down and try to achieve something. I’m just so obsessed with actually doing something that I don’t tend to allow myself to enjoy the moment – it’s straight to work on the next game.
“I’m hoping if we can be successful by one way or another then I’ll allow myself to reflect. But, I wouldn’t say I am scarred by last year, I’m just aware of the fact that nothing matters apart from how the world looks when the final whistle goes at the end of the season.”
Small reckons they’re in a four-horse race along with Aveley, Maldon & Tiptree and Heybridge Swifts.
He says he now obsesses less about the wider permutations, instead focusing everything on their next opponent. But there’s also the bigger picture of the club being set up to cope with the next step whenever that comes.
“The club has to be bigger than just the first team,” Small said. “We’re not operating with an U23s, an U18s, we’ve got a ladies team and a thriving youth structure that continues to grow.
“In the summer where there were big changes at the ground, we moved to an artificial pitch and the stadium as a whole has been completely redeveloped, all this gives you the platform to go on to a higher level.
“Not to just compete while this manager and players are at the club, but compete and sustain it for years to come regardless of who is in charge.
“That’s the foundation all clubs need to try to live by. It takes a lot of work and sacrifice to achieve it and we’re far from perfect. But people are trying to make the club a club.”