Michael Walther wants Clapton to learn off Essex Senior League champions Bowers & Pitsea
PUBLISHED: 14:00 13 August 2016
Old Spotted Dog outfit hope to improve on seventh place finish last year and looking to learn off newly-promoted Bowers
Clapton boss Michael Walther believes if his team are to earn more success, they need to try and learn from last season’s Essex Senior League winners Bowers & Pitsea.
The Tons finished seventh during the 2015/16 campaign and won the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy – their first piece of silverware since 1989.
After doing well last season, the Old Spotted Dog manager believes Clapton will now be expected to maintain the high standards they’ve produced in recent years.
It is a big challenge for the Tons boss and his coaching team, but he believes they must take note from Bowers if they are to remain a force in the Essex Senior League.
Walther said: “I’d like to think we can challenge to finish in the top five this season if possible. I know we are capable of beating any team in this division if we have our best side available.
“It is a challenge in itself to have your strongest XI all year round and another thing is if you look at Bowers last season, they found a way of pulling something out of the bag in tough moments.
“They would score a goal to get a win or a draw when they weren’t playing well and that’s key. It is an art to do that and it’s something we are looking to improve on this year.
“You have different types of pressure on teams as well this time around. Last season Barking kept on getting big results to finish as high as they did. Now it is expected that Barking will be at the top and it is the same for us, so we have to deal with that.”
When Clapton won the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy, after beating Stansted 4-0 in the final, it was the first piece of silverware they had won for 27 years.
Having been runners-up in the same competition and the Essex Senior League Cup in 2014/15, it was a special moment for Walther and his players to lift silverware.
He was delighted to give the Clapton fans a trophy, but admits it can be difficult trying to keep his emotions in check when backed by hundreds of passionate fans.
Walther added: “In my first season in charge we got to the final of two competitions and lost both.
“It was tough to take and we got to another final last year and I’m thinking, ‘just go out and perform lads’.
“As soon as we got the first goal we kicked on and it was lovely to see everyone celebrating, but as the manager I need to be the calm one!
“I’m the person that needs to make sure we don’t get carried away and get caught up in the emotion of the game, which can sometimes be hard with the fans cheering us on!”
Clapton’s manager has put together a large group of players for the new campaign with the hope they can cope when people are absent.
With some long trips to handle during the week and players away on holiday, it can be hard for Essex Senior League teams to always have their strongest side out, but Walther added: “What we have tried to do this year is put together a large group so when people are injured or away, we can cope.
“I think this season will be the first time Clapton have gone with a squad of 28 to 30 players, normally we have a core of 16 and a few others.
“This time I’ve tried to have a big group and hopefully our level of performances can always stay the same, regardless of who is or isn’t available.
“In addition to the squad we’ve got, we will try to introduce some of the players in our youth ranks and give them opportunities when we can.”