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Step 6 non-League side Brimsdown FC – A real community club: (Including an interview with their chairman – Ahmet Toygun)

Brimsdown FC were founded as a club in 2013, when Lee Okugbeni, the manager of the Kentish Town Under 18 side, had aspirations of seeing his side transition into senior football, and hence Brimsdown FC were first on the non-League map. With no connection to the now defunct Brimsdown Rovers, who went out of existence as a club in 2010, Brimsdown FC would enter the Spartan South Midlands League Division Two, for the beginning of the 2013/14 season. Brimsdown have been on quite a journey since they were formed, and it is a journey in which those involved with the club should be proud of. Ahmet Toygun, along with Yilmaz Celik would become the joint owners of Brimsdown in February of 2018. However, in 2020, Ahmet Toygun, who is a real footballing person, would solely take over the club, as owner/chairman. Ahmet, a UEFA A license coach, had previously, from 2006, had run his own football academy setup, called North London Football Academy, which had a number of grassroots youth teams. Ahmet would later merge the North London Football Academy with Brimsdown FC in 2020, which meant that all of the youth sides from Ahmet’s Academy, had been merged with Brimsdown, of which are now a very important part of the club.

From youth level up to the men’s senior team, Brimsdown currently have eight teams. Brimsdown were in step 6 (Spartan South Midlands League Division One) of the non-League system, at the time that Ahmet Toygun took over the running of the club. And at the time the club were ground-sharing with Haringey Borough, at Coles Park. And the club who had first entered the FA Vase in 2015/16, and who had previously ground-shared with Tilbury (they would return there in more recent years) at their Chadfields ground, would later ground-share with Ware, at their Wodson Park ground (for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons). After being transferred to the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League Division One South (step 6) for the 2020/21 season, Brimsdown would be relegated from that step 6 league, to the Essex Alliance League Senior Division, during the following season. By this stage, the club who have hopes to move to a home of their own in the Enfield area in the future, were playing at Wormley Rovers’ ground, a ground which they currently still play their games at. Under the leadership of former Hadley assistant manager, and current Brimsdown manager Junior Matti, he would help Brimsdown to win the Essex Alliance League Senior Division, in 2022/23, at the first attempt.

Making it an instant return to step 6 football, after the club had applied for promotion back to the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League Division One South. Junior Matti and his coaching staff have done a tremendous job during the current 2023/24 season, at step 6 level, and of course during last season, as well. Brimsdown have a young squad of players, however, they are they are currently doing really well, in their first season back in the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League Division One South, with the club currently sitting in ninth place in the league, at the time of writing this piece. They also have two games in hand over eighth place Hackney Wick. Brimsdown are a club who give a real opportunity to young players who are looking to make their way in non-League football. However, they do have a good balance, and there is a really good structure to the club, and they are certainly having a great season back at step 6. 

What have you made of the current 2023/24 season, for Brimsdown in Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League Division One South?

Ahmet: We’re coming back from step 7, and into step 6. Our objective at the start of the season was to finish in the top 12 in the league, considering that there are 22 teams in the league this season, and that we would have to play 42 matches. Coming back into step 6 we had a couple of new players come into the club, as well as some more experienced players, but we still have a very young squad. I would say that the average age of our squad is around 21/22. We had a lot of injuries at the beginning of this season, so we had a bit of a slow start, but as a club we added some more players to the squad. For the first 10 to 15 matches, injuries definitely didn’t help us, and at one time we had about 12 of our players out injured, so there was a lot of rotation to the squad. But we did pick up in our form, and at this moment in time we’ve won six of our last seven games, and we’re currently ninth in the league, after our most recent draw with Dunmow Town. We didn’t aim for the play-offs on our return to step 6, because we wanted to be realistic. We have no budget, and so we don’t pay any of our players, and we’re all, including our coaching staff, here at the club on a voluntary basis. We invest money into the club through sponsorship.

Brimsdown is a very family orientated club, and on our club committee are my friends. My sister does the match-day programmes and the media stuff, so she films the games. And my wife is the club secretary, while my close friend Eric is the head of coaching for our youth teams. So the club is made up of friends and family.

For those who haven’t seen Brimsdown play, could you describe to me what style of football they like to play?

Ahmet: I would say that we play a typical non-League football style, and we like to get the ball into certain areas which are effective. But we can play football in certain areas, and we do like to move and pass the ball. We are a direct side, but we do like to win the second balls, and from that we like to start the possession from there. So that is the style of football that I’d say that we play.

Could you talk me through a bit about the current first team group of players at Brimsdown?

Ahmet: So in terms of the ages of the first team players, they range from 19 to 26. So we have players from different backgrounds and ages. Our top scorer for the senior side is Zion Dos Santos-Sinclair, who is 20. And I think that he has 19 goals out of 30 games this season. We’ve got a good squad of young and respectful players, who are also disciplined. I’d say that we have a core of about 20 players that come to the club consistently and regularly. Some of the players live in the areas of east and north London, but obviously now we are not based in the Enfield/north London area. Our players train in London on a Thursday, but obviously we play our games at Wormley Rovers. So these players are hardworking, as are the management team as well. We’re so proud of them, that they’ve taken a relegated club back to step 6 as champions of the league at step 7. And this season, even though that wasn’t our aim at the start of the season, we’re really pushing for the play-offs. We are taking games one by one, and as the chairman of the club I’m always there for them to support them, but the management team and the players are doing really, really well. Especially considering that there have been a lot of injuries this season. However, the most important thing for me is that the players enjoy themselves.

What are some of your personal aims/the clubs hopes for the future, for Brimsdown?

Ahmet: Our main objective is to get our own ground. So we have sent out emails to the council, about Brimsdown Rovers’ old ground – Goldsdown Road, because it’s just sitting there empty. So that is our main objective, to move back to Enfield, and specifically to Brimsdown. We need our own ground, and that is our main aim, as we need our own club facilities, for our youth teams as well, who are currently mainly based in Hackney, at the moment. We have nearly 100 youth players who are involved with the club. However, we need our own ground in the next five years.

What have been some of Brimsdown’s highlights as well as challenges (in your opinion), since the club moved into non-League football, and since you have been the chairman of the club?

Ahmet: I’m a football coach myself (a UEFA A license coach), so I’ve seen a number of challenges in non-League football. I managed Brimsdown in the 2019/20 season, when we were under the Spartan Leagues, and I would say that the main challenge was the budget. And if you don’t have any budget to cover the players/travel costs, then it makes things very challenging. Getting hold of sponsorship is very challenging, especially if you don’t have a bar of your own/ground, and so you get no income, especially as you’re not in your own area, and so you are not going to  have any fans of your own. So the main challenges I would say, are if you don’t have any money to pay your players, and also, trying to find a ground-share that’s not too far away from your area. You get no real support at all, and you’re talking about a minimum of £16,000 to £20,000 total of running a step 6 club every season, without even paying a player. So I don’t think that there’s enough support, from the bigger leagues for example, and also from the FA and the County FA’s. They need to be more supportive, as clubs like ourselves are presenting a platform for young people to play football, as well as for fans (even though we have no support) to come and watch us, even though we don’t have a ground like most clubs have.

As for some of the best moments that I’ve experienced with Brimsdown, I would say that winning the Essex Alliance League Senior Division was one of the best moments, as that was the club’s first ever silverware. As before that, we had been promoted to step 6 based on the fact that the teams above us couldn’t get promoted to step 6, and so there weren’t any trophies for getting promoted. So I would say that winning the Essex Alliance League Senior Division, has been the biggest highlight in the history of the club, so far.

Who has been in your opinion, the toughest/most difficult team that Brimsdown have faced, since you’ve been the manager/chairman of the club?

Ahmet: When we were in step 6 under the Spartan Leagues (Division One) we played New Salamis (a current step 4 side), as they were in our division at the time. They actually won like 9-0/10-0 during the 2019/20 season, and playing them home and away was very tough. So I would say that New Salamis have been the toughest club that we have faced.

What are your hopes/aims for the remainder of this season for Brimsdown?

Ahmet: I’d say just to finish as high in the league as we possibly can. We just need to take the games one by one, but we’re a realistic club, and although we’d like to be in the play-offs, we never aimed to be there at the start of the season. As we were promoted from step 7 last season, we have got to be realistic, and so we have always aimed to finish in the top 12 in the league this season. I think that the players and the management team at the club are just taking things step by step, and I think that’s the most important thing. Junior Matti and his management team are doing such a good job this season, and the club is very proud of them. And I, as the chairman of the club, am very proud of Junior and his management team, with the job that they have done so far, in their second season with the club. We also appreciate, and are thankful for Junior and his management team, for bringing Brimsdown back from step 7, to step 6. It’s a huge achievement from Junior and the management team.


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