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By Royal Appointment

Another day, another new signing. I guess we must have finally found some new pens which somebody nicked from Ladbrokes.

So, welcome Mark Phillips. A central defender to replace Jones going back to South Wales, and somebody who sounds rather in the Frampton mould. And I don’t just mean being the wrong side of 30.

Let’s get the gags out of the way first – yes, he should be the captain. And yes, he’s well know for riding the Royal Horse, aka Princess Anne. If only he was ex-Reading, then we could have had a real royal flush.


Anyway, it turns out that Captain Phillips watched us when he was a nipper, although we must have left an impression on him as he can’t remember who against. Chances are it was at Shitehurst though, so he could be forgiven for that.

So, what do we know about him? He seems to be the proverbial hard-working pro, even if he doesn’t exactly lower the age of the back line. In accordance with rule 13.4.1 (ii) of the AFCW Constitution, he used to play for Brentford, while NA himself played alongside him at Millwall.

And he played for Southend and Aldershot last season as well.

I don’t follow any AFCW players on Twatter out of principle, but according to those already stalking following him, he’s a bit of a part-time DJ as well. So at least somebody will now be hogging the pre-game ghetto blaster.

What this does do is close a gap in an important area that has been left a bit bare. Framps does miss a fair bit of the season through injury, and Benno isn’t getting any younger.

So, what more do we need? NA has said we’re going to get four more in, one of whom will be a youngster. To be honest, I think we need another centre back – I’m not so bothered now about whether it’s some promising youngster who can sit on the bench, and get regular game time with the u21s. They won’t be difficult to find, and you add that in at any time.

The loan market may be a good option here, although it’s better to keep that particular powder dry if we can get our own. I would guess Captain Phillips would be the replacement for Will Antwi (remember him? He played for us last season).

I don’t know who would be coming up through the yoof system at the back, but if there is somebody very close to being that kind of fourth choice then I’d rather we stick with them and divert funds elsewhere.

A new left back is where I think we should go next. To give you an idea of how out of touch your editor is, I honestly thought Jake “Three Point Deduction” Nicholson was a left back, yet he’s in midfield.

So that’s definitely next on the list. I doubt if I’m alone in hoping we get another Barry Fuller-esque full back in that position. Lest we forget how we got our POTY, and it’s that time of year when some interesting names suddenly become available.

Is that a position for a youngster? Not really (and it makes you realise just how stupid Jim Fenlon was to put himself in a position where we wanted shot of him). Out of the three positions where we’re after experience, that’s one of them.

A third choice striker is obviously the other priority as well. For that, you could take a gamble on a non-league starlet, although oddly I thought Danny Hylton would have been a good choice (wages notwithstanding). One notes that despite being linked with a move back to Cambridge, Appiah is still at Palace…

Do we need another midfielder? Again, depends who is knocking around, although with our strike force being what it is I’d rather we have somebody who supplies the balls for them.

What is clear is that things are – finally – starting to come together. With the exception of the LB, we could start the season tomorrow if we needed to, personnel wise.

Your editor glanced at a few comments before Tubbs signed, and the mood and tone of comments then were very different. As is almost traditional this time of year, a few glances at messageboards of other L2 sides hints that we’re making progress in ways other teams aren’t.

Southend fans seem to be concerned at their inability to get in players, and they reached the playoff semi final last time out. We have been fortunate that we’ve got much if not most of our main signings done before pre-season starts this time next week.

Never underestimate the ability to get your transfer work done in good time, because it means the pressure to get people in is a reduced a lot. Arguably the main issue we needed to address is now sorted, and I am so thankful we haven’t needed to panic buy.

Remember when we tended to sign injury-prone players just so we could have a squad? Thank fuck those days are seemingly behind us. Whether we’ll get more signings this week, we don’t know. I would expect we would, but only in the important areas.

One final thing – today marks the eighth week without any AFCW related football. It doesn’t seem any time at all, which just proves just how wearing the end of last season proved to be.

It’s hard to think that in just under three weeks, the first PSF kicks off, in sunny Kent. I think we really did need this summer off, so to speak, and more importantly we made some signings that genuinely grabbed attention.

Needless to say, when AA does his cruciate knee ligament at Margate, we’ll be back to normal….