STEVE BROWNE held his first meet the manager evening on Thursday, which he hopes will take place once a month.
Here are the minutes from the evening.
What are the plans for the future?
Steve hopes to bring the PASE scheme back from the start of next season, but in the immediate future wants to reach as high up in the league as possible, and then challenge for the top next season.
Are you happy with the way things are going?
Performances have definitely improved, but silly mistakes have sometimes cost us. No side has outplayed us or looked better, and we’ve played three of the top teams away from home. However, it is currently about getting results rather than superb performances.
Are you building from defence?
Yes, with the acquisition of Lee Shearer on loan, and with Craig Cloke too, who has been learning from Shearer. Danny Braithwaite has done well too, though Dean Readings is not fully fit at the moment. Overall Steve feels we are missing two players throughout the side, a ballwinner and a goalscorer (which he thinks he has addressed by signing Paul Armstrong). With regards to wingbacks, Steve feels we haven’t seen the best of Nick Grimes yet, who will always give 150 per cent, and once Matt Carruthers is fit he could play wingback.
How is the morale in the team?
Fantastic. Craig Cloke has stated that he is really enjoying himself, and Matt Carruthers told Steve after the Hampton game that he doesn’t think we are far short. Warren Ryan has also stated that he wants to stay with the club.
What are the chances of keeping Lee Shearer?
The club has extended the deal by a month, however Lee is not performing the way that he can. However, Steve sees him as colossal, especially because he is a joker and brings the lads together. There is a lot more to come from him though. Steve is pleased that he is starting to get leaders within the team, as this makes his job easier too.
Steve feels that the last third has let the side down, with the lack of quality balls into the box, and when corners cannot get past the near post.
He feels that the youngsters came in too early before. Yet he sees Craig Cloke as a big talent, as he has the right attitude and likes everything about him.
Is there any news on a new striker?
Steve is looking at a guy from Dunstable, but feels that the distance to travel could be too far, so he is also looking at Andy Douglas from Hornchurch. He signed Paul Armstrong on Friday.
Why did you choose Dover, Steve?
Steve sees Dover as a big club, with a great history, pedigree and huge potential. Any young manager would have taken it, as it is a huge stage. He travels 70 miles to be here, though is used to that as he travelled to Yeovil for two-and-a-half years.
He still feels that there is a lot of work to do though, and he wants to look at the whole structure of the club, and implement soccer schools and schools of excellence. His commitment can be shown by a £400 mobile phone bill last month as he tried to get players in, but he feels that he has been committed at all of the clubs he has been at. He states that we cannot look down on the clubs that we currently face due to where we used to be a few years ago, as this is the level we are at because of the past few years’ problems.
What do you think about the standard of refereeing at this level?
At Hampton there was a mix-up with the referee, as the game was not assigned one, and Steve was shocked by a comment when he argued with the referee there, as he said, “you’ve had all week to prepare for this game, I’ve had 20 minutes”. He therefore feels that the standard is not good, but believes that it is probably the same whatever level you are at.
How long are you committed for?
When he arrived, he was happy with the wage budget available, but not the players he inherited. We have good youngsters, but they are not ready yet. Players have to want to play for the club, and there are currently a couple of players playing that are not being paid, which shows their commitment. He is currently working on loaning some players out.
What are the views of the players that you have brought in?
There are players travelling here from as far away as Watford, which shows their commitment. The players want to play on the big stage, in front of the 800 people that turned up for Steve’s first home league game against Tonbridge. However, the minute any player stops producing, they won’t be here.
What is happening about the players under contract but not playing?
Two of them are currently under disciplinary procedures. They have been given every opportunity to be part of the club, but they need to begin to earn their money. Steve wanted them to honour their contracts, but they have to abide by the rules of the club.
Steve has shown his commitment with the fact that he has a two-year contract, but if we get relegated then the board is able to sack him without honouring the second year’s wages, as for him it is not about money. Some people seemed to think they were bigger than the club before he arrived, but this has changed now.
What is your view of the supporters at the club?
Steve feels that there will be a hardcore attendance of around 500, with up to 1,000 when we are winning, though Steve would like to get it up to 1,200. The attendance needed to remain on budget is 650. Overall, we need to be positive. Steve wants to be aiming at the top10 around Christmas. He has players ringing him all the time, as they want to come here.
He sees kitman Robin Hastie as “first class” and says it is like a pro-club behind the scenes, the players cannot ask for anything more, especially from Robin. Frank the Physio makes his job a lot easier too. Back at Boreham Wood Steve said players had to pay �1 for some tape to go around their socks, whereas everything is available to him now.
Marion and Dennis Hammond also got a mention, for such things as sandwiches on the coach, and he says that he has time for those that give time.
Steve felt that certain errors had cost us, especially goalkeeping errors, but you cannot blame one player, as they are a team. Dominique Jean-Zepherin is only 22 years old, and the best trainer he has seen that is a goalkeeper. He believes that the current players will improve with better players around them, but added that two players should leave by the weekend to keep to the budget.
Steve is very impressed with the youth side, and said they were outstanding at Stevenage in the FA Youth Cup, and they play Wycombe in the next round, for the right to play Aston Villa. He feels that around six of the players will go straight into the reserve side.
The future is bright with regards to the youth of the club, with Sam Vallance, Nat Blanks and Nathan Ditchburn all getting special mention. Manchester United were looking at four of our players at the Stevenage game, which shows their potential.
Steve said that by the New Year, DAFC should be in 40 per cent of local schools, as he knows the importance of youth. All of his sides apart from his very first one have had an average age of 23/24, but an experienced spine is important.
The current finances
Mick Kemp stated that things are always tight, and that it is a balancing act as usual. At Yeading, it was noted that there were a number of big name companies with advertising boards, however Kemp made the point that we don’t know whether all of these had been paid for. He also stated that when trying to sell advertising boards, there are not a large number of local companies that are able to afford it.
Steve feels that this has been improved since he has been here, with only around four bookings in his games compared to around 20 before. He stated that if someone got sent off for dissent, then they won’t get played, and if it recurs, then they may have to leave. Browne had to have a go at Victor Renner due to his dissent at the referee at Bromley, and said that if he does it again he may be forced to withdraw him from the game.
He feels that discipline has to run all the way through the club, but doesn’t want the players too become too nice.
Steve noted that he looked a real talent in his first match against Bishops Stortford, but that night he had to go to hospital, as he has some kind of condition but they do not know what it is yet. He was played against Bromley, but was taken off because he was complaining of stomach cramps. Steve feels he has done well though, and just needed some confidence and guidance.
He added that Chris Wright is also eager, and will do well, but needs to work harder.
The team lacked confidence and direction before, and so Steve has been trying to change this.
Steve says that he does 90 per cent of the coaching, and that he is first class. They worked together at Slough and Boreham Wood, and he makes Steve’s job easier.
Steve says that a lot of what is on the website forum is valid, but feels that many people hide on there. He says if people have something to say, then he is open to talk to people.
He noted that one post said that he is building a team, but the next post just said that he was c**p, and that he has just got his mates in. Steve states that he has no mates here, even though he has managed some of the players before.
Steve has been pleased with the fact that he has invited his family and friends down, and they have been made to feel very welcome, which is the way it should be at a football club.
Steve admits that he only got the job because we are bottom of the league, but that he needs some time, things are not going to happen overnight, but they will happen. He has learnt from the mistakes he has made at other clubs, so will use this experience. He wants the best players here, he will not accept mediocre ones.
Although there were a number of Dover based players playing before, Steve said that you cannot have Dover based players if they are not good enough. Troy will get the players to play, leaving Browne to get the best players available on budget, and then motivate them.
The first team squad is currently only 17 players, which is much reduced from when he arrived.
Steve feels that the luck is changing for the club, but he has been instilled with the fact that unless you work hard you won’t get anything from life. The 16 that are in the squad each week will give everything, even if they do not win every week.
He was been given two weeks to prove his fitness, and is not currently on the wage bill, and will not be until he proves himself.
The team is fitter than they were, but need to be sharper. The spirit is good (which was said as the players were making a lot of noise whilst having fun training outside). The players really appreciate the support they get too.
Steve Browne’s career in football
Steve went straight from school to Charlton, where he made his debut in the first team at the age of 17 against Wrexham.
He then went to Fulham, and then to Reading, where he became disillusioned with football, so gave it up briefly and played for his brother?s side.
He then got back into the game, and joined Wealdstone, where he was then sold to Sutton for around � 10,000. Following this he went to Kingstonian, before joining Yeovil under Graham Roberts, and was there for two-and-a-half years.
He then followed Roberts to Chesham, and he looked after the side there for two weeks whilst Roberts went to the USA. When he returned, Browne worked with him in running the team, doing some of the man-management. He then followed Roberts to Slough, but, when he left, Steve took over the side, and was manager there for four years.
From there he went to Boreham Wood for six months, but his daughter got ill, so went to the USA to see her, and he found out that he had been sacked on the internet.
He was then at Hemel Hempstead for a short while, but did not like being assistant manager after being a manager, so was looking round at what jobs were available, when he saw ours.
He took both Slough and Boreham Wood to the FA Cup first round, and at the latter went 19 games unbeaten after he had only inherited five players when he joined the club.
Steve’s Final Comments
He wants to be a winner himself, he has done it as a player and now wants to win things as a manager, something that he is instilling into the players. He has told the players to aim for the top five, though he doesn’t guarantee that that is where we will finish.
Although he realises that it would be nice for the fans to beat Folkestone, like he would like to beat Slough as they are a former club of his, for him it is important to get wins, no matter who they are against.