With the 2016-17 season entering its final phase, Eastbourne Borough’s management planning is already well under way for next season.
Hot on the heels of last week’s announcement of deals for Ryan Worrall, Gavin McCallum and Josh Street, manager Tommy Widdrington has today reached agreement with two more players which will keep them at the Lane for 2017-18.
And a major factor in the club’s planning is the integration of senior players – including today’s fresh re-signings – into the youth development pathway at Priory Lane.
Goalkeeper Charlie Horlock’s first season at Borough has been, if nothing else, eventful.
Charlie arrived last summer from Hitchin Town to give Tommy the happy situation of two professional goalkeepers on the books. But at the very start of the season Horlock broke his hand and was sidelined for two months. Then, after working his way back to fitness and contention, he suffered a freak ankle injury soon after the start of the Boxing Day fixture at home to Whitehawk.
It was a game which the Sports went on to win 4-2 with defender Brian Dutton in goal – although Dutts is not reported to have volunteered for long-term duties!
But Charlie has, for a second time, fought back to full fitness, and the Gaffer has seen enough to offer the agile 22-year-old a further deal for next season. “Charlie has shown great potential in what has been a tough season for him personally, with those two freak injuries. He has shown excellent character to battle back from those setbacks, and I fully expect Charlie to make a real claim for the no. 1 jersey next season.”
Charlie will also be closely involved with the younger goalkeepers at Borough as he joins the coaching team to work with our young keepers in the Development and Youth sections. And that, indeed, is an important factor with the second re-signing announced today. Miguel Baptista will return for a third season at the Lane.
The Portuguese playmaker – who scored on his debut in Benfica’s Stadium of Light before embarking on a career in English football – has been an increasingly influential figure in Tommy’s line-ups, with the new 3G surface enhancing his quick and skilful play.
“Miguel has today agreed a deal which will see him commit his future to Eastbourne Borough. He has matured tremendously in the past eighteen months or so, and has worked hard to make himself a regular in the Sports line-up. Miguel’s contribution in all areas has seen significant improvement,” commented Widdrington.
“Having learned to adapt to English football and this level of football, I feel Miguel has proven himself to be a success – but I equally feel there is yet more to come!”
Miguel, too, will be working closely with the younger players in the club’s Development and Youth Centre. With first team coach Hugo Langton now directing the Academy, and the manager himself closely involved, and with club legend Ian Simpemba also named as Hugo’s right-hand man, the bonds between youth, academy and senior squad have never been stronger.
It is a happy picture all round, and a partnership which must make Eastbourne Borough an increasingly attractive option for the area’s best young players and for their parents. Seven, seventeen or twenty-seven, this is a seriously good time to be part of the Borough!