Wythenshawe Town chairman Kenny Hope is confident that the Hallmark Security Cheshire League club will be geared up on and off the field to take a place in our league next season.
Town are currently in third place in the Premier Division, nine points behind leaders Whaley Bridge with two games in hand, and work is well underway to make sure that their Ericstan Stadium meets the ground grading requirements by the deadline date of 31st March.
The past few years have seen plenty of progress, and as Hope explained, the club are well ahead of a target he set when he took over as chairman three years ago.
“When I came in I set a five-year plan to get into the North West Counties League, and at the same time took the decision to move us into the Cheshire League Division Two, away from the Manchester League”, said Hope. “Since then we’ve had two successive promotions, and if we are successful this time that will mean we have hit our target in three years instead of five, which is pretty good going.
“We’ve been building up for it, getting people in to help out in the background, and there have been a few working parties set up to help get the work done.”
That gradual progress over a period of time now means that the work required to get the ground up to standard is not as onerous as it has been for some applicants in the past, and Hope says they should have no problems in completing the required work.
“The good thing from our point of view is that our set up was pretty good to begin with. We’ve got a good infrastructure and there is not a lot of work to do.
“We are on target to getting the work done, and there is no reason why we won’t meet the deadline. The aim is to have all the work done apart from getting floodlights in, by the end of February.
“The floodlights we are a bit in limbo with, because the funding we can access from the Football Foundation will only be available once we know we are promoted, so we’ll be under pressure to get that done.
“When the Hallmark Security League officials came down to carry out the first ground grading inspection in the autumn, they said that some of our facilities were just as good as those already in the league, which was good to hear.
“The main work to be done is on the hard-standing around the ground. We had a gravel base round the pitch, so that will have to have tarmac put down, and that will hopefully be done by the end of February.
“We’ve also had to take down a big fence at one side of the ground, as it needed to be reduced in height, and we are working on extending our two stands. We have two, one on each side of the pitch, and at the moment one has 38 seats and one has 39 seats.
“We’ve got the seating, and now it’s a case of finishing off extending the stands and getting the seats installed.
“We have said to Geoff Wilkinson (the league`s ground grading chairman) that we’ll look to get him down in the first few days of March for an appraisal visit to see how we are doing, and that will give us enough time to tidy up any loose ends before the 31st March.”
In the meantime, as well as the work on the ground, on-the-field the team has to ensure that they finish in a promotion position in the Cheshire League Premier Division, which would round off an incredible three years of success.
“Winning the league is key for us, we’ve been up there all season, and now we have to finish the job off”, said Hope. “The Cheshire League at the moment is the toughest it’s ever been. There are probably about eight teams in contention, so whoever wins the league this season will be worthy champions.
“It would be some achievement for us to win three successive titles in three years. In all, we have won seven trophies since I took over as chairman three years ago, and were beaten finalists in a cup final last year as well.
“Now we’re aiming to be the first semi-pro team in Wythenshawe, and we think we can do well. We already get between about 50 and 100 for home games, I can remember when we were lucky to get three or four.
“We’re promoting the club locally, giving ourselves a big push on social media, and we have an excellent match programme which has been well received.
“We’ve come a long way since I came to the club, when we only won one game all season and were relegated from the Manchester League Premier Division”.