Carl Marston’s Around the Grounds: the rise of Brightlingsea Regent
- Credit: Archant
Football writer Carl Marston dons his anorak to visit clubs in the region (and beyond) in his quest for good football and a good cup of tea. Here Brightlingsea Regent are in the spotlight
Brightlingsea Regent have come a very long way, in a very short space of time.
Only formed in 2005, the product of a merger between Brightlingsea United and Regent Park Rangers, the club have risen from modest beginnings in the Essex & Border League Division Two (Step Nine), to now grace the Bostik Istmian League Premier (Step Three).
In fact, this ‘little’ club from the coastal town of Tendring celebrated a staggering six promotions in just 11 years, a remarkable rise.
The R’s enjoyed unprecedented success under former boss James Webster, while current boss, Tom Rothery, has carried on this good work at North Road (Taydal Stadium) as the club continues to punch above its weight.
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Last autumn, North Road hosted an FA Cup third qualifying round tie, against former Football League club Torquay United.
It was the furthest that the R’s had reached in the competition, and they were certainly not disgraced by a 3-0 defeat.
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In the league, the R’s are sitting in the top half of the table (12th spot), while off the pitch the ground has been developed to accommodate more seating.
I have always enjoyed my visits to North Road – and its great to see them holding their own at Step Three, alongside such non-league stalwarts as Haringey Borough, Lewes and Bognor Regis Town.
Club: Brightlingsea Regent
Ground: North Road
Manager: Tom Rothery
Chairman: Terry Doherty
The newly-formed Brightlingea Regent began life as they set to continue, by winning the Essex & Suffolk Border League Division Two title in their first season (2005-06), the first of six quickfire promotions.
Ground-wise, the old Brightlingsea United moved to North Road in 1929, for the princely sum of £400. Apparently, the local press funded a press box, which was initially used as the dressing room for match officials.
In more recent times, the club hit the national headlines when buying a 107-seater stand, via online auction website eBay, for £5,500 in 2014 to boost the ground’s seating capacity to 157.
The stand came from the Isle of Wight, travelling to Essex on a ferry and a truck, and meant the R’s met the league requirements, so enabling their promoton bandwagon to keep on rolling.
Tom Rothery has done an outstanding job, since he took over the managerial reins from James Webster in October, 2017, after Webster had moved to Aveley.
Rothery was actually a head coach under Webster’s regime at North Road, before switching to Needham Market.
“It’s been a bit of an up-and-down season for us, with good runs in the FA Cup and FA Trophy,” explained Rothery.
“But we’ve been going well since we got knocked out of the Trophy at the end of November.
“Getting (attacker) Aaron Condon back (from Coggeshall)certainly helped, as did getting a couple of the injured lads back fit again. We’ve gained confidence off the back of it, by getting our strongest team on the pitch. So a lot of little things have made a big difference.
“We have momentum, and as a manager you feel that you can’t do anything wrong. Little changes of formation and making substitutions all seem to come off, though you have to make the most of it, while it lasts.
“I’ve been here since 2011, with the exception of my spell at Needham, and six or seven players have been here the whole time, which shows loyalty. In fact, our left-back Jack Gould goes back to when we were playing in the Border League!” added Rothery.
Carl’s first visit
Tues, Jan 12, 2016: v Thurrock (Bostik North, 2-2 draw)
I got a taste of the R’s never-say-die spirit, first-hand, on my first visit to North Road three years ago. Trailing 2-0 to high-flying Thurrock inside half-an-hour, they stormed back to claim a point with Jake Turner equalising via an injury-time penalty.