Farnham Town Football Club can confirm we have made the difficult decision to withdraw the Farnham Town Development Squad from the Suburban Football League Premier Division for the 2023/24 season.
This decision was not made lightly, but after what has been a turbulent season for our Development Squad on and off the field, it’s one that has been made in the best interest of the Club and it’s young players.
Last season, under the stewardship of manager Darryl Evans and his assistant Gary Pierce, the Development Squad were promoted as champions from the Suburban Football League – Central Division into the Premier, winning 13 of their 18 games while also cultivating an exciting atmosphere for young footballers to play, compete and grow.
Promotion to the Suburban Premier handed the opportunity to our Development Squad to pit themselves against some of the best non-league academy setups in the south of England, with the likes of Bromley U23s, Aldershot Youth & Woking Academy (Step 1), and St Albans City Reserves & Welling United U23s (Step 2) competing in the league as well.
The success of our Development Squad was further illustrated with eight members of the squad being rewarded with playing time for the First-Team earlier this season, including seven senior debuts in the 4-1 Premier Challenge Cup win over Horley Town in October where 16-year-old Joe Goddard was named Player of the Match and has since gone on to make several more first-team appearances.
On October 31st 2023, Darryl Evans left his role as Development Squad manager to become a First-Team Coach at Combined Counties Premier Division South side Fleet Town, at which point Gary Pierce was elevated into the vacated manager’s position on a caretaker basis, with Mark Sherman put in place as his assistant.
After a little over two months in the role, Pierce announced on January 7th 2024 that he would be vacating his caretaker role in order to take up the position of First-Team Assistant Manager at Godalming Town, and it goes without saying that the Club has nothing but respect for the decisions of both Gary and Darryl, and wish them all the best as they continue their football coaching careers.
In the aftermath of both of these departures, many of Development Squad players have left in order to pursue football opportunities at other clubs. This, in addition to the turnover in the coaching ranks, has led to our decision to withdraw the Development Squad from the Suburban Premier. This morning, January 16th 2024, we informed the Suburban Football League and the remaining players that we were officially withdrawing from the 2023/24 season.
We at Farnham Town have a responsibility to provide a competitive team across all the leagues and competitions we play in, but unfortunately the circumstances involved mean we could no longer provide this in the Suburban Premier Division, and will be focussing more attention and resources towards the growth and development of our U18s setup.