The Evo-Stik League Southern
Published 11th May 2012
....League Southern Premier Division.
After an outstanding title-winning season in Division One South & West, several players are sure to attract interest from other clubs. But despite having to operate under financial restraints, Portch is hopeful they will remain loyal to Sean Joyce, the long-serving manager.
"There's not going to be a massive budget," said Portch. "It just can't happen.
"It's difficult out there with the recession. Everybody is going to be struggling but we have got to give it a go.
"We want to keep the squad together if we can.
"I have spoken to a few of them and they have basically said, 'Money is not important'.
"But you have still got a nagging doubt in your head that somebody might come in and offer them silly money.
"There's all sorts of rumours flying around about what clubs are paying. You can't take it all with a pinch of salt. This is what we are up against."
Portch hopes Bideford can put themselves on a sound financial footing with the appointment of a new commercial manager, Darren Hollyoak, on a three-month trial.
"It's the most important job at the club because we need to look at our sponsorship and advertising," said Portch.
"It's something we have been sadly lacking over the years. I think I have had five commercial managers since I have been chairman."
The extra travelling will test Bideford's resources even further next season. Having clocked more than 6,200 miles on the road this term, that figure is set to rise to almost 8,000 miles.
"There are going to be some horrific journeys," said Portch.
"Our local derby is going to be Frome Town. When we were in the Western League that was our furthest journey."
Improving the Sports Ground pitch and attracting more supporters are priorities.
"We have got to be looking at 250 supporters minimum in that league but I have got my doubts that we will get them," said Portch.
"We'll see if we can get the council to get the pitch up to standard.
"We have had quite a lot of complaints about the bumpiness and unevenness of it.
"They know what needs to be done - they just won't spend the money, especially in today's climate. We'll work on that one."
Portch praised the team for their spirit in winning promotion in only the second season back in the Southern League for Bideford.
"It was the never-say-die attitude, that's what won it for them," he said.
"We haven't buried anybody. We've sneaked it 1-0 or 2-1 and it has been exciting.
"It's been a brilliant season all round. The first team have done far better than anyone could have imagined.
"The reserves won their league quite convincingly and the three new youth teams have all done very well for their first season.
"It makes it all worthwhile. There have been some brilliant celebrations."
At the annual awards dinner at The Royal Hotel last Saturday, Aaron Harper-Penman was named supporters' and players' player of the year.
Kevin Squire was the manager's choice and James Richards was named best young player.
"I make a presentation for young player of the year and it's getting more and more difficult every season," said Portch.
"A couple of years ago you had experienced players like Ellis Laight, Ian Down and Darren Hawkings. Now you could give it to eleven of them."
"They are a young squad and they are only going to get better."