Alsager Town FC players have woken up from a “nightmare” of a season knowing that they can look forward to another campaign in the North West Counties League Division One South.
Finishing third from bottom, the Bullets managed to avoid relegation on the last match day thanks to a superior goal difference compared to Rocester, the team below who also finished on 29 points.
The final whistle blew on their season just three weeks after Town appointed joint managers Karl Brown and Josh Shepherd whose job it was to keep the club up.
That they did and the duo will now look to recruit fresh blood during the summer ahead of the next campaign.
Terry Greer, the long-standing chair at Wood Park Stadium, breathed a big sigh of relief after last Saturday’s game at New Mills, which the Bullets lost 4-0.
But it was still job done and Mr Greer said he wanted to put the season well and truly behind him.
“I don’t want another like this! It’s been a nightmare season!” he told the Chronicle.
“We’ve had four different managers. It’s been a nightmare from start to finish, which we could well do without repeating.”
Mr Greer revealed that he had been told by the league six weeks ago that the team finishing third from bottom would not be going down.
The team propping up the table, St Martins, was automatically relegated but Rocester still face an anxious wait to see if they will be joining them.
The second from bottom team going down is based on points per game across the country involving those clubs in step six of the non-league football pyramid.
Mr Greer said he believed that was unfair as other leagues were still playing, so the teams involved knew how many points they needed.
One hour into the game at New Mills last weekend and Town were facing relegation in the face when they dropped to second from bottom temporarily as Rocester were winning their game against Wythenshawe Amateurs, which they eventually lost 3-1.
In a club interview following the Bullets’ last match, joint manager Mr Brown said: “When we were appointed three weeks ago, a few people raised a few eyebrows on why we looked to join the club, based on the fact it hadn’t won since November 2021.
“We were told to finish third from bottom, second from bottom wasn’t good enough so from our point of view we are delighted.
“We got lucky today to be fair and the results went our way but all in all the lads deserve that bit of luck because over the last three weeks they’ve been great and credit to them.
“The remit for next season is at least the top six from our point of view. Ninety% of the squad said after today’s game that they want to stay for the course of next year so it’s going to be an exciting time going into pre-season in June.”
Said Mr Brown: “We have a bit of a rest time now then will look to start recruiting. My phone’s already started ringing with messages from players who want to join the project for next season so it’s an exciting time for Alsager.”
Of the new management set-up Mr Greer said: “Their goal was to save us from relegation and they managed to do that and pick up five points. We need a lot of new faces but whether we can get them is another matter.”
Mr Greer said he believed a top six finish next season was “too optimistic”.
“The top sides are paying a lot of money – some players are getting £150. As long as we are in the top 10, that’s more realistic.”
Average home support for this season was 80-90 spectators per game.
Mr Greer said he would like to recruit local players but he said there was too much local competition.
“There are too many local teams and that’s why a lot of the players come from further up the North West, from Manchester and Liverpool. There are too many local teams like Kidsgrove Athletic, Nantwich Town, Congleton Town and Sandbach United. There are not enough local players to go around.”
Looking ahead off the pitch, Mr Greer said the Bullets planned to apply for £50,000 in grant funding from the Premier League, available to grassroots football. Clubs must stump up 10%, which he said Town could afford.
Improvements at the Wood Park Stadium could include a new tarmac drive at the entrance or new led floodlighting.
“But we could always do with more bodies to help out at the stadium as well,” he said. “We are looking to recruit more volunteers. Most of the committee are elderly. You cannot get young people to do anything these days.”