Published: 05:00, 17 June 2022
| Updated: 10:36, 17 June 2022
Rising Sun manager Nathan Eastwood believes their squad is the best he has worked with as they celebrate at the end of a trophy-laden season.
Risers bounced back from not winning the Herne Bay & Whitstable Sunday League Premier Division for the first time since 2013/14, when finishing second behind Monument in 2020/21, in emphatic style during their 2021/22 campaign.
They collected maximum points from their league fixtures - although some of those were forfeited by their scheduled opponents - while they won four cup competitions.
“This probably, for me, is the best changing room I have had since I’ve been at Risers,” said Eastwood, who has been with the club for more than 15 years.
“That’s credit to the boys.
"Some of the lads have stopped playing Saturdays at a good level. That certainly helps us.
“But the lads have been very committed, we have done training as and when.
“Having the disappointment last year of losing out in the league gave myself, some of the players and some of the other people at the club a kick up the backside.
“And we basically wrapped it up before Christmas.
"We certainly bounced back in style!”
Efforts from Joe Kennett and 37-goal Stuart King helped Rising Sun claim successive 2-0 victories against Crusaders and Chilham’s Sunday side to win The Fletcher Memorial Cup and The Whitstable Charity Cup Senior Section.
Liam Wellings (2) and Danny Wisker struck in their Faversham Charity Cup Senior Section 3-0 success over The Druids while a 10-1 thrashing of Crusaders gave them the Challenge Cup. King (4), Stacy Davis, Jay Hards, Wellings, John Rich, James Turner and Michael Turner were on target.
But Eastwood says a Kent Premier Sunday Cup quarter-final 2-0 loss to Ashford Genclik helped to spur them on.
He commented: “That was a disappointing day. It was a tough game and there was not a lot between us, although I’ll say they deserved to win because they got the goals.
“But after that disappointment, we have gone from strength-to-strength.
"We had teams that couldn’t get sides out against us, unfortunately. From February onwards, we were having games every other week. I think we had two weeks off at one point.
"To keep that momentum going despite that is testament to how the lads looked after themselves.”
Eastwood reckons new signings have helped Rising Sun, a club no stranger to success, reach dizzying heights even by their own standards.
He said: “I have been involved since 2005 or 2006, we have done trebles and things like that. But the changing room has been excellent.
“Some young lads have come in and helped the older heads. Coming into the big games at the end of the season, there’s been some real headaches.
“It’s testament to how strong the squad is.”
While Eastwood praised the whole squad, King’s record stood out.
“A lot of players have been excellent. The one who stands out is probably Stuart King,” he enthused.
“I think he got 37 in 25 games. I dread to think what he could have got if he played every game!
“There were lots of goals from midfield as well. Joe Kennett is always good for a goal along with Adam Woollcott. There’s been quite a spread, really.
“Stacy Davis, James Turner, Michael Turner and Liam Wellings nearly got double figures.
“I think we have scored 118 goals in 30 games. I think the three games that we were given count as 3-0 win walkovers.
“But that’s still more than 100 goals.”
Eastwood is helped in the dugout by assistant Jack Delo and Herne Bay assistant Ben Brown, a Risers coach.