With the conclusion of the 2021/22 season now behind us, the last couple of weeks have given us the opportunity to take stock and to start planning for next season. Clearly, the outcome of last season for our First Team was extremely disappointing and not what we had planned for the season. Relegation leaves a bitter taste and especially as it brought to an end an 18-year run in National League One. While we did not quite manage to take that next step forward into the Championship during our time in National League One, we always managed to maintain a strong position in the League and we had enjoyed a top five position in each of the last three season prior to the Covid pandemic. Our goal going into the season was to achieve promotion but unfortunately, as we all know, that was not to be the case. In the period since our season ended, we have spent time reflecting on what went wrong and what might have been and we have also looked forward to start planning for next season.
Our immediate objective is to win promotion next season and return to National League One. That is easier said than done and requires very careful planning for all aspects of our First Team ahead of next season to give us a fighting chance of achieving our objective.
As a first step, I am therefore very pleased to announce that James Shanahan has agreed to remain as the Head Coach of our First Team for next season. James is one of the leading coaches in the National Leagues and has been with us for five years. During that time he achieved a top five or better position on three occasions. James has a very clear objective for next season: to win promotion and return Blackheath to National League One. To support him, we will be strengthening our coaching team and our playing squad. There is no doubt that we need greater strength in depth in key positions and we are in discussion with several key players who we hope will sign for Blackheath. We have been busy over the last few weeks and have started to announce the players who will form our squad for the season. I am delighted that we have been joined by some new payers who have committed to Blackheath and we will also see the return of a few familiar faces to Well Hall as well. James is currently planning his pre-season preparation so that our players are in top condition and ready to go by the time the league season starts in September. There will be plenty of opportunities for members and supporters to attend some of our pre-season sessions and meet the players and more details on this will be announced in due course.
It is important not to dwell on the outcome of last season but to understand how to improve ourselves and use our energy in the pursuit of a much better finish to next season. I am confident that we have made a good start in that context with the appointment of our Head Coach and we have thereby given ourselves the maximum time and the best opportunity to plan for a successful season when it starts in September. We will enjoy the opportunity to play against clubs that, in some cases, we have not played against recently and others that we will be encountering for the first time. We will have a few local derbies to enjoy as well and I am sure that we will have some big crowds on those days as our local friends bring their supporters to cheer them on. I hope all Club members and supporters will join me in looking forward to what we believe will be an exciting season and in the meantime I wish everyone a relaxing and enjoyable summer.