Pre Season thoughts of the Chairman
As the end of Season 2016/17 drew to a close Willenhall Town FC’s Red Army finished around about mid table. It was lower than where we would have liked or perhaps deserved to be given performance, but it was where we set ourselves as a target to be. For once we did not have to have a relegation battle and by and large things looked rosy.
Life in football and certainly at Willenhall Town FC is certainly never boring and challenges are what we handle best. So when our manager announced he was resigning, we knew that the pressure was on to find a replacement. This of course cam e hot on the heels of knowing that our lease was not going to be renewed at Bilston where we had been based for two seasons.
So to some extent, we had the double whammy – needing a new ground at which to play and a new manager. As is the norm, when a manager leaves the players often do too so I guess the triple whammy was finding we needed to get a full new squad too! No pressure then.
Our search for a new ground was not too far reaching. In our league and locally nearly 30 clubs ground share already and so grounds with a vacancy for a ground share in the for of Willenhall Town Fc was not going to be a long list. Then taking into consideration, geographic location and cost the list was shorter. We were however given the offer to set up base at Wednesfield FC who were kind enough to get in touch when we announced our imminent departure from Bilston Town FC, to make was for their Academy.
It seemed to be a meeting of minds, two long standing clubs and their view and vision very similar and the finances and terms acceptable to both and then them bomb hit. Wednesfield gained promotion into the Premier Division following an outstanding season; however celebrations were cut short when the League denied them promotion on the grounds of ground grading leading Wednesfield to appeal to Wembley for a reconsideration of the League decision.
Wembley overturned the decision which granted them their promotion to the Permier Division, so all looked well,
Willenhall were finally able to release news of their new home with Wednesfield and then at the League AGM another bomb dropped. This time it was announced that Willenhall could not play at Wednesfield on a ground grading issue unless they agreed to be demoted to Division 1 rather than remain in the Premier. Willenhall were literally in the middle of an AGM left with 3 options – find a Premier ground within a couple of weeks and decide to play there, drop a Division, even though the team’s performance did not warrant this, or, scarily, decide to fold.
If nothing else at Willenhall we are fighters! We knew that we could not find a ground close enough for local players to get to, that we could afford to rent and we most certainly were not prepared to close the Club once and for all. As such we decided to contact Wembley to challenge their decision, which was upheld and so our Board agreed to take demotion and keep the Club alive. Once we had made that decision, we had a new ground, a new manager in place and the parts of the jigsaw finally started to come together again.
We are delighted to welcome Joe Ball as our team manager, a young Willenhall chap but with a wealth of experience with the likes of Wolves Sporting and Sporting Khalsa and a local knowledge and professional approach that is already making a positive impact.
So with a new home for at least the one season secured and hopefully our location issues put to bed we are now ready to set up camp with the “other Red Army” and move forward as we always do. We were delighted to know that once again Bloxwich Environmental Services, our longest serving sponsor was right behind us and our decision to step down a division to preserve the Club.
So now Joe is training the lads like crazy and preparing for 5th August when the season commences. Ground share details are confirmed and we’re ready to go. We look forward to the friendly matches and also to the season proper.
We are keen to welcome new and existing sponsors and to also welcome new volunteers and supporters.
Do we do things the easy way, hell no, but we are here, alive and kicking and ready to move forward – Red Army all the way!
Article also appears in this months Willenhall Life Magazine.