Published: 06:00, 02 June 2020
| Updated: 10:59, 02 June 2020
Two football teams in Swale have forged closer ties.
Isthmian League side Sittingbourne and Kent County League side Borden Village have already had informal links and hope to be able to help each other out.
Players will now interchange between the two clubs - albeit restricted to a certain number by league rules - and that will alllow Sittingbourne manager Darren Blackburn to give his fringe players some quality level football.
Sittingbourne have, however, applied for a place in the KCL themselves, so they can field a reserve team.
The tie-up with Borden began as the Brickies helped their neighbours finalise a management team of their own that will include names familiar to Sittingbourne fans, with former player Kevin Brown taking over as manager.
Brown, 45, also played for Tonbridge Angels, Gravesend, Worthing, Sheppey United, Greenwich Borough and Tunbridge Wells over a 25 year non league playing career.
He coached the under-23s at Ashford and is now looking to make the step up In to management. Joining him as assistant is another former Sittingbourne player, Simon Beard.
There was already a link between the two outfits through committee members of both clubs, Roger Pudner - who is also the groundsman for both - and Ian Jackson.
Sittingbourne Football Club said “the time was now right to join forces,” while the Borden committee released a statement which said: "We at Borden are excited to bring in our new manager Kevin Brown.
“These are exciting times for the club which will include a link up with Sittingbourne FC which will benefit both clubs."
Club secretary Edward Lucas was keen to state, however, despite the mutual co-operation, the clubs remain very much separate.
He said: "We are independent clubs and are run by our own committees and separate officials.
"It's not a merger, we're helping them out and we can help each other in mutual beneficial ways."
The statement from the Brickies said: "Sittingbourne manager Darren Blackburn will have an overseeing role over teams of both clubs and for Sittingbourne the interchange of players that this link up makes possible will prove invaluable, adding: “These are exciting times for Sittingbourne football.”
Brickies boss Darren Blackburn was appointed manager in mid-March, just before the coronavirus crisis ended the football season, and has yet to take charge of a match.