Chris Symes - the man who set Braintree on the road to success

WITH Braintree on the brink of promotion to the Blue Square Premier it’s time to reflect on the part Chris Symes has played in the Essex club’s history.

Chris is now manager, secretary and Jack of all trades at Ridgeons League First Division strugglers Cornard.

He has had five offers to buy the club having put it up for sale, and has an offer to join the backroom staff at Braintree next season when the Iron look set to be playing the likes of Luton Town, Mansfield, Darlington etc.

Within touching distance of winning the Blue Square South championship is a million miles away from the time Symes took over an ailing club in the summer of 1983.

Braintree had been propping up the Ridgeons League and had an exclusion order from the league hanging over their heads because of inferior changing facilities.


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Chris had taken over as first team coach at Arbroath a week before they beat Rangers at Ibrox and when he moved to East Anglia he led Halstead to runners up in the Border League before spending six months at Tiptree.

“I had a chance to go to Bury Town but that was too far away and Harwich were also interested but the only new thing they had at the club was a set of dominoes in the clubhouse.

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“So along with my assistant Keith Smith we opted for Braintree,” added Chris.

“There was not a blade of grass on the pitch when I arrived and my first job was to link up hoses from neighbouring gardens and borrow some seed from work.

“And I got my hands on a hammer and saw and made a home dug-out from a fence that I dismantled nearby.”

Chris went on to transform Braintree leading them to the Ridgeons League championship in his first two seasons and runners-up in 1985/86.

He jokes that he never has to buy a drink in Braintree, and it’s easy to see why with the club having continued to advance after he dragged them off the floor to advance to their present position - within sight of the Football League.

“I’ve been tagged the best manager that Braintree had, and I’ve certainly got fond memories of the club and what we achieved.

“My arrival coincided with president Philip Wicks donating cash for a new clubhouse and we managed to turn things around.

“I had taken a number of players from local side Doneyland Swifts to Halstead, and they followed me on to Braintree.

“They all did exceptionally well and within a few years of playing village football they were playing for an FA XI with the likes of Kevin Beattie at Portman Road.

“Braintree were never flush with money and when we won the league one year our reward was a dance ticket each for the end of season do.”

Chris move on to win the Southern League with Chelmsford before ending up at Cornard where he has tasted success but is now struggling for points at the wrong end of the table.

“A skipper is only as good as his crew, and this is being shown at the moment,” added Chris.

“I’ve been invited to go back to Braintree and look forward to enjoying the atmosphere of the Blue Square Premier.”

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