Haringey Borough chairman hopes women's side will win the league title in memory of manager Steve Browne
PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:13 05 January 2017
Haringey Borough chairman Aki Achillea hopes the club's women's side will win the league title this season in memory of their manager Steve Browne, who passed away at the age of 52 on New Year's Day.
Browne, who lost a five-year battle with cancer, transformed the team’s fortunes in his two and a half years at Haringey.
His side won nine of their 11 games in the Eastern Region Premier Division in the first half of the season, leaving them top of the table – their highest ever position in the national pyramid.
Achillea told Ham&High Sport: “He was very inspirational, he really was amazing. I had quite a few chats with him about future plans for the women and he’s really pushed our side forward, to the extent that they’re top of the league. I just hope they can go out and win the league for him in his memory.
“They’re all distraught, and one of them is his daughter [Jaidene], who plays for us. There’s due to be a fixture on Sunday and, if that goes ahead, I’m sure they’ll do something in memory of him. The men’s team will do that on Saturday as well at home against Brentwood – either a minute’s silence or applause.
“He was inspirational in terms of his commitment to women’s football. Our team now is one he brought with him [in the autumn of 2014] – a young academy side that he’s developed.
“They were 15 or 16 years old when they arrived and he mixed them with the girls that we already had and formed a very strong side. He’s helped them to push on to better things.
“Despite his illness he was planning for the future. It was amazing, he attended games when he was very sick. He was there to the end really. His commitment to the football and the girls was absolutely immense and was inspiring for all of us.”
Browne was a former player, coach and manager at a number of non-league men’s clubs including Hendon, Dover Athletic, Potters Bar Town, Slough Town and Wealdstone before joining Haringey.
Achillea continued: “I presume it was his daughter that encouraged him to go into the women’s side of it.
“We were struggling in the Premier Division when he came and it was touch and go whether we’d stay up. In the last couple of years he’s turned it right round to the extent that we’re now top of the table.
“The women’s team is a very important part of our club and Steve was heavily involved in that. It’s a testament to him how well the girls have developed over the last couple of years, and the fondness they feel for the club is through him, which is fantastic – and we hope it carries on.
“I’m sure it will because it’s a good, strong, committed group of girls that have taken over the running of the team over the last two or three months, when he was really ill.
“I’m hoping the girls will stay and I hope they’ll win the league for him, which would get them into the south-east of England leagues. That’s a very good standard where they can continue their development, and if they do that they’ll owe a debt of gratitude to him.”
Haringey Borough’s men’s team have lost ground in the Ryman League Division One North promotion battle after suffering two defeats in the space of four days.
Tom Loizou’s side lost 2-1 at sixth-placed Aveley on December 30 and then went down 2-0 away against league leaders Maldon & Tiptree on Monday, leaving them six points outside the play-off spots.
Meanwhile, in the Premier Division, Wingate & Finchley extended their sequence of 1-1 draws to three games, tying away against both Dulwich Hamlet and Havant & Waterlooville at the turn of the year.
Hendon lost at Staines Town and Dulwich and lie third from bottom.