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These are exciting times for FC Lakeside, says joint first-team boss Dave Simmons

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Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 09:00

FC Lakeside are enjoying good times FC Lakeside are enjoying good times

It’s not difficult to see why Dave Simmons says “these are exciting times” when talking about FC Lakeside.

The club boast some 26 teams, with their most senior teams enjoying good starts to their campaigns in Northern Senior League Division Two and Cheltenham League Division Three.

The club are also busy behind the scenes with the new community facility at Cold Pool Lane in Up Hatherley, Cheltenham.

As adult section secretary of the club – he’s in his second year in the role – Simmons’ focus is on the club’s men’s teams and while he keeps a close eye on all aspects of the club, he has a particular interest in the first team because he is their joint manager along with Simon Greenwood.

Simmons would love the club’s first game at Cold Pool Lane to be a Northern Senior League Division One clash, of course, although he recognises there’s a long way to go before that becomes a reality even though they have made a bright start to the 2019/20 campaign.

He joined the club along with his brother Mike in October 2015 when they took over the running of FC Lakeside Reserves.

Within a year they had been elevated to the first-team and when Mike left last year Greenwood stepped in to work alongside 30-year-old Simmons.

“The club are in their fourth season in the Northern Senior League after winning the Cheltenham League,” said Simmons. “So far we’ve always finished around mid-table, we haven’t quite realised our potential.

“We’ve started this season quite well, we’re quite solid at home but we just need to be a bit more consistent.”

So how far does Simmons think the club can go?

“At least the County League,” he said. “Given the facilities and the players we have got within the adult section, I think FC Lakeside are more than capable of that.”

They’ll need to get into – and out of – Northern Senior League Division One first, of course, and Simmons knows that will be no easy task.

“Division Two is a bit of a sticky league,” admitted Simmons. “Some clubs go straight through it, but some can get stuck in it.

“There are some tricky teams. We are a footballing team and we’ve struggled a bit against teams who don’t play such good football, although we are working hard to adapt our play.”

If FC Lakeside are to put that right this season, then club captain and central midfield kingpin Lewis Dawes is sure to play a key role.

“He’s got a great eye for a goal, he can really strike a ball,” said Simmons. “He’s got two good feet and has great distribution, he’s a different level, he’s a fantastic player.”

Simmons is also a big admirer of experienced central defenders Curtis Bennett and Ben Reeves.
“Ben has been with Lakeside pretty much since his first training session as a kid and he and Curt are really good together, strong, composed and with a good understanding,” said Simmons.

“We’ve also got Charlie Crawford playing at full-back, he’s only 18 but he’s been playing for the first team for two or three years. I forget how young he still is. He’s very composed on the ball, very strong and he’s consistent.”

Crawford isn’t the only youngster in the team because there is also the energetic duo of Ollie Wilkes and Archy Greenwood.

“Ollie is only just 18 but has been playing in the 1st team for a number of seasons now,” continued Simmons. “He’s got good feet, pace, can strike the ball and is not afraid to get stuck in.

“Archy is enjoying his first season of adult football and he also has that fearless streak. Scoring two goals on his full home debut didn’t do much wrong for the lad’s confidence either!”

The club are hoping that striker Jed Griffiths can also make his presence felt in the second half of the campaign.

“He’s been our top goalscorer for the past two seasons but he’s been out injured,” said Simmons. “He’s a fantastic goalscorer, very pacey.”

That pathway from youth football into senior football is likely to see a number of youngsters play for the club’s reserves before progressing into the first team and the reserves are certainly on an upward curve after a disappointing 2017/18 season.

“Warren Fitzgeorge and Jamie Moore ran the team last season - Warren is the manager and he’s been assisted by Richard Webb this season - and they walked Division Four and the Minor Charity Cup competition,” said Simmons.

“They brought in a lot of new players and built up a phenomenal squad from practically nothing after that 17/18 season. There are some fantastic players in their team such as Leroy Odiero.

“Leroy is a goal scoring centre-back who is strong, composed and excellent on the ball. Last season he scored 17 goals.”

The reserves’ main goal scoring focus falls to Joseph ‘Chocky’ Richards.

“He finished last season with 37 goals in all competitions,” added Simmons. “He is a sharp, strong young lad and his eye for goal is phenomenal.”

The reserves are blessed with talented footballers right across the pitch from Robert Jones in goal, Harry Mansell in defence and the midfield experience of Lawrence Gorry and Cleo Hoare to name but a few.

The team has both youth, with the introduction of some of last season’s under-16s into adult football, and experience, and they’re all hungry for success with the team, at the time of writing, challenging on three fronts - the league, the Minor Charity Cup and the County Cup with a fourth competition to come with the Senior Charity Cup fixtures in December.

It’s not difficult to see why Simmons says “these are exiting times” for FC Lakeside!

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