WHALEY Bridge FC is taking its football to the next level after being accepted into the Cheshire League.
Last season’s Hope Valley League Premier Division Champions, who lifted the Derbyshire Divisional Cup for a record-breaking third consecutive year, were unanimously voted into Division Two of the Cheshire League at a meeting last month.
The club’s second team will continue to challenge for honours in the Hope Valley Football League A Division - with the added incentive of now being able to progress into the Premier Division.
Whaley’s first team manager Darryl Hall believes his crop of cup winners - they also won the Dore Shield and Lawrence Cup last season - will be more than able to hold their own at Step 7 of the National Football Association Pyramid system.
“We have retained all our players in the first team from last season, however we are interested in a couple of local players to strengthen our squad and a couple of players who can’t commit weekly as cover,” Hall told the Advertiser.
“While we have some very good young players who are emerging into top amateur players, such as Joe Williamson, Dan Christie, George Langford and Dan Whelan, we have plenty of experience in Raymond Dwolitka, Micky Ryan, Scott Dignan and Robert Newton. All that, plus the likes of Matt Brown, James Tattersall, Chris Wood, Paul Walker, Paul Kelsall and Bill Sutton.
“This should certainly not be construed as arrogance, but we believe we have enough quality on the field, and if we could add a couple of players to that squad then we could not only compete, but look for promotion in our first season.
“We may have to change the way we play and adopt a more patient style/pattern of play as we normally want to attack for 90 minutes. With some of the quality these sides have in the Cheshire League, if we concede possession too much without scoring then we could end up on the back of some losses.
“Our aim is to eventually top the Cheshire League Division One and, depending on further improvements to our ground, progress into the North West Counties League.”
Chairman Steve Rampley added: “Being an FA Charter Standard Club, we encourage all of our junior players and they aspire to play for the senior teams, so this step-up is only going to fuel that ambition.
“It is a great step forward for the club, and for the town.”
With the Cheshire League season getting underway in August, much earlier than the Hope Valley League, the club has been quick to line-up a pre-season programme which includes matches against Northern Counties East League side Rossington Main FC, Formby FC of the North West Counties League, plus Ashover and Rylands FC.
Behind the scenes, Matthew Baldwin has retired and will join Hall and Jon Brogden as assistant manager. John Bradley will be the team’s physio. Club sponsor Paintmaster has also agreed to extend its support for another season.
l Training at Whaley’s ground begins on July 6 and any new players are welcome to attend. For more information, contact Darryl on 07870 907 970.