Published: 09:10, 06 October 2021
| Updated: 10:38, 06 October 2021
A predicted table that had Sittingbourne finishing bottom of Isthmian South East has helped fuel their encouraging start to the season.
The Brickies sit seventh, a point outside outside the play-offs, with four wins and only two defeats from seven games.
And while manager Darren Blackburn knows it’s still early days, his team are enjoying the chance to prove people wrong.
“Whoever did that predicted table I’d like to thank them,” said Blackburn. “It was all the motivation the lads needed.
“I had five copies of it pinned up in the dressing room when the players turned up for the first game of the season, and they’re still up now.
“One of the lads had seen it the night before and shared it with everyone. They made their own comments - I kept mine a little more professional!
“We’ve had an OK start but we are only seven games in so we can’t get carried away.
“It could have been better but other things have gone against us and it could have been worse.
“To a degree, you make your own luck in football.
“It’s always important to be hard to beat. Players come alive when they have the ball, it’s keeping them switched on when you haven't got it that’s the challenge."
An injury-time equaliser at Chichester on Saturday denied Sittingbourne a second away win.
Johan Caney-Bryan gave the Brickies a half-time lead but Ryan Davidson levelled in the 91st minute and it finished 1-1.
Sittingbourne have won all three league games at Woodstock and want to make themselves hard to beat on the road.
With that in mind, they switched to a back five at Chichester and were so close to leaving with three points.
“We’ve sowed the seed at home, and that’s what we have to do if we’re going to try and compete in the top half,” said Blackburn.
“You’ve got to try and win a lot of your home games and pick up what you can away.
“If that’s seen as negative then I apologise but that’s the way it is.
"If we don’t get points or don’t hang on to the coat-tails of the those near the top, with all due respect, it’s my job on the line and I don’t want all the effort I’ve put in around the club to be for nothing if I get the boot.
"I want to try and build something here for the longer term, not a short-term fix.
“We want to establish Sittingbourne as a serious club again.
“There’s been good managers here who are still doing well now, Nick Davis at VCD being a prime example.
“I don’t know why Nick left, and I don’t need to know, but you can’t look at the history books and always say it’s the manager’s fault.
“You need to look at all the elements and get them all right to make it a serious club that players will look at as a contender to come and play for.”
Sittingbourne, who were due to play a young Gills XI in a friendly last night (Tuesday), host league rivals Herne Bay in the FA Trophy second qualifying round this Saturday.
Blackburn said: “If you took a vote, most managers in our league would probably say Herne Bay would edge it but we’re happy with that, we don’t mind being underdogs.
“They’ve got a quality side, they’re up there challenging, like you knew they would be.”