Haverhill Rovers could regress without investment

Football - Haverhill Rovers (red) v Saffron Walden in the FA Vase. Rovers Jamie Challis on the ball
Football - Haverhill Rovers (red) v Saffron Walden in the FA Vase. Rovers Jamie Challis on the ball

Haverhill Rovers are in ‘desperate need’ of outside investment avoid going back ‘five to ten years’ according to manager Ali Shulver.

Shulver is eager to attract investment into the club to ensure progress, and said that the club’s current financial plight prevented him from adding to the squad through the recent defensive injury crisis, with both Sam Holmes and Jamie Challis out.

“I wanted to add an additional head or two to the squad last week to help, but the club finances are so tight this is not possible,” said the coach.

“We have one of the smallest budgets in the league, if not the smallest, and the club is in desperate need of financial and commercial support to firstly maintain our current level before we then look to take the club up to a level that the new stadium is designed for.

“The club is in a transitional period where it can either go on to bigger and better things and thrive with the right investment or if we do nothing will go back to how it was a decade ago.

“We’re not far off being a top team that’s good enough to win the league, we’re just two or three players short and could get them with the right investment.”

Shulver believes the lack of investment has hindered the squad size, preventing Rovers from being able to match their promotion-chasing rivals as they are unable to rest first team players carrying injuries or replace players who are out of form.

“The top teams have 16 or 17 players in their first team squad and we have 13 or 14, and that makes all the difference,” he added.

Rovers are now looking to recruit a commercial business manager to attract investment in the New Croft outfit and help it advance from the Thurlow Nunn Premier League.

The role is on a commission-based salary and would see the successful candidate contact businesses to arrange sponsorship, organise match day sponsors and hospitality, identify fund-raising opportunities and advertise and promote Rovers.

“With the right support we could easily see the Rovers first team playing Ryman league football and HSA playing in the Thurlow Nunn league, which would give the young talented players in town plenty to aspire, to but on the flip side if we do nothing we could easily go back five to ten years and see the club struggling,” said Shulver.

“The risk is if do not get more financial support we could end up like we were ten years ago where we had the best players in town playing for clubs such as Tiptree, Halstead and Sudbury, while Rovers struggled in the Eastern Counties first division.

“We are also producing some good players through the ranks including the youth and HSA but me and Ben (Cowling, HSA manager) both know these players are also starting to draw attention from our more wealthy neighbours and we want to keep them at Haverhill.

“Other clubs are offering £60 £70 a week to Rovers players who are turning out to play for us for next to nothing, and that shows the commitment they have, but how much longer can we rely on that?”

Shulver also voiced long-term fears about the youth system suffering if youngsters do not have a well supported first team to aim towards.

He added: “The club has got a real community feel and there is nothing better than seeing the young boys and girls who play at the club every Saturday morning, but it is equally important that these youngsters have something to aspire towards and I would like this to be the senior setup.

“We have a great stadium but still need further investment to the outside pitches that stand knee high in mud and its frustrating when pitches are a mub bath and games are called off

“We are told by the FA to teach kids to pass and move in the modern game but we then send these poor kids out every week on a muddy pitch left from last week where the ball will not even run let alone play pass and move football.”

Rovers host fifth-placed Dereham Town on Saturday (January 19, 3pm kick off), who have often proved to be their bogey team in the past.

In addition to Holmes and Challis, full backs Greg Strong and captain Paul Abbott and top scorer Dan Cornwell are all likely to be absent through injury.

Anyone interested in the role can write to The New Croft, Chalkstone Way, Haverhill, Suffolk, CB9 0BW or e-mail to mike.tokley@hotmail.co.uk

For all the latest sport see today’s (Thursday, January 17) Echo.