Football: Harlow’s new Director of Operations reflects on first six months in job

HARLOW Town’s new director of operations, Shannon Toms has reflected on his first six months in the job.

Shannon said: “I am now six months into my role at the club and now feel this is an appropriate time to reflect on the progress we’ve made thus far.

We currently find ourselves bottom of the league. At the start of the season, we had five players remain from last season’s squad and if you look at the fixture against Whitehawk, in the FA Trophy and compare that squad to the first league game against the same side, we only have two players still with us. Therefore, inevitably, it was always going to take for the team to get to a point where it is ‘settled’.

This league season is unique, with two or three wins on the bounce, will push you right up the league table, with teams beating their opposition regardless of what the league table reflects.

Recent performances have been very encouraging, and I believe the squad is nearly at a place where it needs to be. If you take into account all the factors that Danny Chapman (Chappo) has had to endure during pre-season and the first couple of months of the season, he has done a great job in my opinion.

We must also remind ourselves that this is a record-breaking season, as it’s our third consecutive season in this division, which has never been done before. Testament to Chappo as he has made that happen and I have upmost faith that our fortunes for this season will change, and we will all be smiling come the end of the season.

Off the field, I am extremely happy with the progress we have made. We now have two senior ladies’ teams, a reserve men’s team and teams from u18s to mini-hawks, all using our wonderful arena.

We’re really looking to grow the youth setup and it’s got to the point where we will need a second site and discussions are taking place with relevant stakeholders. Alfie Babb, who manages the youth setup, came on board around the same time as me. Managing 30+ coaches as well as looking after 15+ youth teams is not an easy job. However, Alfie is doing an amazing job, with parents always providing such amazing feedback on his enthusiasm, professionalism and passion.

“The club has become a family friendly place, where all are welcome, and Alfie’s’ hard work is at the core of that. I work quite closely with Alfie and we’ve been trying to ensure that the youth are very much embedded into the club. Some of the initiatives to support this; U18s get free entry into every home game, we run activity camps during half-term, we always have an influx of mascots (40+ I think it was for the pre-season friendly against West Ham!) etc. We have also just recently partnered with Epping Forest College and Tottenham Hotspur, who will be using the arena for their sports development programme. The club has grown beyond recognition and is still moving forward.

The community is and should be a big part of this football club. We have been working very hard to ensure that the club continues to support the local and wider community. The club have held discussions in relation to partnership opportunities with a handful of local schools (where assemblies and PE sessions are being delivered by the club), local government, the leisure centre and local community, church and charity groups. We have some really exciting partnerships which we hope to announce in the coming weeks.

Overall, the club is making terrific progress and all of us from a club management perspective, are extremely positive and only looking forward. There are so many great things happening in and around the club and for me personally, it’s a great and fulfilling place to be. Great times are ahead! Come on you Hawks!

Shan Toms
Head of Football Operations
Harlow Town FC

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