Game 2 of the 2023/24 preseason is here! After some valuable minutes for the boys on Saturday, it is a short trip across to Heybridge where we face Steve Tilson’s Swifts. With 6 trialists featuring on Saturday, Robbie will be keen to assess some more players as he looks to improve his squad for the upcoming season, less than a month away.


The Swifts were founded in 1880, playing in Essex not far from Chelmsford. They have never been in the National League South, missing out in 03/04 after a 4-3 defeat to St Albans City. They have never been back to challenge since and now lie in the Isthmian League North Division, 2 promotions away from the Clarets. In the dugout, they have former Southend United midfielder Steve Tilson. Having come through the ranks at Witham Town, Steve went on to play over 240 games for Southend and north of 150 games for Canvey Island. An 18-year career with more than 400 games and 100 goals saw Tilson take up management in 2003. 2 of his first 3 spells saw him manage former sides as he had spells at Southend and Canvey. He has been in charge at Scraley Road since 2021, replacing former West Ham United legend Julian Dicks, who was in charge for the second time in Essex.

Last season, the Swifts came ever so close to a perfect ending. Cup-wise, they were able to overcome the Clarets, beating them in the Tolleshunt D’Arcy Memorial Cup. This led to them then winning rather convincingly against Wivenhoe Town, to lift the trophy for the 7th time. In the league, they went all the way, reaching the playoff final. With Hashtag United pipping AFC Sudbury to the title, the Suds went up in the final, with Jack Turner scoring the only goal of the game in first-half extra time. The Swifts were left devastated but will look to go again this season. Alongside Tilson in the dugout is a recognisable name to Clarets fans. Former player Ashley Miller will assist Tilson for the upcoming season. Upfront in their squad, they have former Concord man Ross Wall, who returns after leaving mid-season. Ross departed after scoring 13 goals for the Swifts, where he joined Brentwood Town. In midfield, they have a player no stranger to the Clarets’ level. Former Dartford man Lee Noble recently signed on for the upcoming season. Noble played over 500 games for the Darts and is classified as a legend. They have also retained the services of Myles Anderson who has endured many clubs within his career. From Heybridge to Exeter to AC Monza in Italy.


In late March, the Clarets faced Heybridge in the Tolleshunt D’Arcy Memorial Cup Semi-Final. After a goalless first half, it was Chelmsford’s Canadian veteran who fired them into the lead. Some good play from Cameron James saw him tee up Simeon Jackson who turned home. With many chances going their way, the Clarets failed to capitalise. Right at the dead, Callum Taylor was the Heybridge hero as he, on the second attempt, was able to fire an effort past Jacob Marsden and send the tie to penalties. After some good goalkeeping displays, Heybridge had the deciding penalty and won 4-3 after the spot kicks.


Once again, Robbie will have many of his squad to choose from. After 6 trialists featured against Ware, there may be an opportunity for others to get minutes as Robbie looks to asses even more players.


Scraley Road is roughly half an hour from Melbourne Stadium. Take to A138 in Chelmsford onto the A12, where you exit at Hatfield Peverel. From there, take Maldon Road through to Heybridge before exiting the B1022 to Scraley Road. The ground is then on your right.


To keep up with the game, follow the coverage on the @OfficialClarets Twitter page, where updates will be posted using the hashtag, #TheClarets.

Post-match reports and interviews will be found on the club website, social media and Youtube channel ClaretsTV, following the game.

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