Change is on the way at Nyewood Lane.
Rocks supremo Jack Pearce admitted after the final game of a season which has ended in relegation from National League South that he expected his role to change within the next 12 months.
Pearce wants to introduce new, younger investors and volunteers to the club to maintain the professional way the Rocks are run and give them a chance of staying up if they can get back to National South level next year or longer-term.
It is the first time Pearce has spoken publicly about his need to hand over team and club responsibility to others, and his words are likely to be welcomed by fans who feel he has stayed too long as team manager, even if he is still seen as an effective ‘chairman’ or boss of the club as a whole.
Pearce’s immediate priority is to see which of the present squad he can keep for next season. “That’s the big challenge and that’s what I’ll be working on over the next two weeks to see who we’ve got. I’d like to keep the majority of them,” he said.
“Because we’ve had good housekeeping we can most probably have a budget that’s very similar to this year, but we have lost money this year. We’re living on our reserves.
“We can probably keep to what we’re doing (spending) if we’re successful. But if we start falling down the next league down, then we will be under great pressure.”
Pearce feels the present squad would do well in the Bostik Premier, or Southern Premier, whichever the club are placed in for 2018-19.
“If you can be in charge of proceedings at this level, then if you play the same sort of football the next level down, you should do well. But until we find that goalscorer, that will be the challenge.
“Look at Jason Prior. He’s done ever so well for Havant and he was one of ours, and so was Alfie Rutherford. They would make an immense difference to any team. You’ve got to try to find the next one of those, which will not be easy.”
On the structure of the club and the management team, he said: “We’re looking at what we need to do as a club, because obviously I haven’t got much longer running everything here. Over the next year, maybe less, things will change with my position.
“I think we need a restructure off the pitch because, if we get back to National League South level, we need a minimun of £60,000 a year on top of what we spend at the moment, or probably £80,000, to give whoever comes in a chance. and if you want to be up with the Havants of this world, we’ve got to find an extra £200,000 a year.
“What we have to do as a club is look at the way we run things off the field of play. We need younger people. I’m not really into the big sugar daddy. But people need to come forward who actually want to take responsiblity for things. We probably need half a dozen people to show interest in committing themselves to doing things for the club.
“As a club we’ve a great opportunity. The pitch is good, the facilities are good, but if we don’t act soon we could lose that. So I’m appealing to the younger businessmen of the town to come forward and invest in the club and also to young people in football administration – secretaries, book-keepers, all those sort of jobs. I’d like to put all that on a more professional level.”
Pearce said he could see his own role changing over the next year. But he added: “I love managing footballers, I love talking football, and I’ve enjoyed this season. I know other people feel differently and I understand that but if you speak to the players, they’re not as anti-me as some of our supporters. They understand what I’m trying to do.
“I encourage people to pass it, and move, and they enjoy that. I understand those who say you can’t play like that at this level (National South) but I actually think you can.
“But we’ll have to work at it and see where we go. There’s not many people who get relegated and don’t moan about their players. They’ve been excellent – I’ve got no complaints with the players.
“I can’t knock their effort, I can’t knock the way they’ve tried to put into practice what we’ve told them. But unfortunately we’ve just come short every time.
“Some of our football has been excellent, even some we’ve played since we were relegated. And that’s what gives me a lot of hope, because I don’t think we could produce performances like that if the players had jacked it in. If they’d jacked it in they’d be getting well-beaten.
“In about 80 per cent of the games we’ve played, we’ve probably had more possession and looked more dangerous than the opposition, we just can’t win a game of football. When you win it becomes a habit and when you lose it becomes a habit, and we’re definitely in the habit of losing games of football.
“If we can keep the players together there’s lots and lots of hope because there’s not many teams play as well as us.
“You saw on Saturday the physicality of Dartford compared to us and that’s common throughout the league.”
The Rocks supporters’ club hold the player presentation night at Seasons clubhouse tomorrow (Friday) which will see numerous awards handed out and will be a last chance to fans to bid departing coach Darin Killpartrick farewell.
Pearce again paid tribute to Killpartrick and said: “He’s been immense for the club and hopefully he’ll miss it more than he realises.”