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Beach bidding to raise Peterborough League club's profile in the community




New Oakham United chairman Thomas Beach wants to unlock the 'exciting potential' after taking over at the helm of the Peterborough League club.

Beach wants the Lonsdale Meadow club to 'expand their network' within the community and aims to raise their profile within Rutland.

They have already submitted an application to enter next season's FA Vase and, after a solid campaign of consolidation under the joint management team of Stewart Lambie and Michael Nelson, a return to the United Counties League is among their main targets.

And Beach, who has swapped more than a decade of management to take on the role, is relishing the challenge ahead.

Thomas Beach (8173289)
Thomas Beach (8173289)

He said: "I've played a bit myself back in Wales and I had been managing for 11 seasons, but I wanted to take the step to go from dug-out to boardroom.

"I've always had a business head and it was too good an opportunity to let pass by.

"I have come on board with the thought of really looking to work with the community and really try and build a community football club.

"I really want to grow something and help Michael and Stew fulfil the goals that they have got which is to bring United Counties League football back to the town.

"There is an exciting potential here. One of the first things I have been keen to do is to get out in the town and really get a feel for Oakham and what Oakham United Football Club is to the people of the town.

"I was quite shocked at how many people didn't really realise that we were here. It seems like we are in a bit of a bubble.

"It's been very much an exclusive group with the same people and the same fans week in, week out.

"I'm realistic enough to realise that, if we want to grow into the United Counties League, we need to expand that network.

"We need to make people more aware of who we are and why we want to work with them as much as we want them to be with us.

"There are mutual opportunities and there is the appetite there which really makes you feel that the people of Oakham accept the club.

"The rugby club are very good at what they do, but this town is big enough for both of us. For every rugby fan, there is also a football fan.

"We've got a great set-up here and we've got to maximise it to its true potential. I want to work with people and really grow together on this journey."

Oakham fans celebrate a goal against Long Sutton on Saturday (8173299)
Oakham fans celebrate a goal against Long Sutton on Saturday (8173299)

One of Beach's first aims after taking over is to create a supporters club to reward the number of young fans who have been following the teams this season.

He added: "I'm really keen to bring the fans into our group and launch a supporters club.

"I'd heard of our supporters before I even came here - they're absolutely brilliant for the club so what better way to empower them than by getting them involved.

"We've also got a number of sponsorship opportunities in the pipeline. We're keen to have regular match sponsors and really drive sponsorship.

"We're talking to businesses and schools about really trying to get this club on the map.

"We don't want to be solely exclusive to the first team. It's as much about the Under 8s, 9s, 16s, 17s as well as the reserves and veterans.

"We've got some great teams here and we want to work with them all and be really successful.

"I want to bring different things in to make people think that there's something special going on here."

Thomas Beach (centre) with joint managers Michael Nelson and Stewart Lambie. (8173297)
Thomas Beach (centre) with joint managers Michael Nelson and Stewart Lambie. (8173297)

On the pitch, Oakham ran out 3-0 winners on Saturday in their Premier Division clash with Long Sutton.

They are now unbeaten in their last five league games and look on course for a top half finish in their first season back in the Peterborough League.

Beach continued: "We'll probably consolidate in the top eight this season which is relatively satisfactory.

"Everyone expects more next season and we're starting that process now in terms of doing homework and identifying players for next season.

"It's not just about bringing anyone in - they've got to fit in into what we are as a club.

"We can offer something quite unique in that we are a community club and that, in many senses, is about playing in a good team environment.

"We can really build a strong community spirit. People are giving up their Saturday afternoons to be here so we want to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone.

"We're at the application stage of the FA Vase and, if we can get in that, it will be a big thing for the town.

"The long-term goal in the next five years has got to be looking at potentially knocking on the door for the UCL Premier Division which would give us an opportunity to play FA Cup football which would be excellent."

Oakham are back in action at Lonsdale Meadow on Saturday when they host Stamford Lions in a Premier Division derby duel.



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