Thurlow Nunn League preview: Downham Town’s relegation threat is lifted by the FA

Yarmouth, yellow, have a cup semi-final to look forward to this afternoon. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Yarmouth, yellow, have a cup semi-final to look forward to this afternoon. Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Nick Butcher

First Division club Downham Town will not be demoted – even if they fail to improve their ground before the FA's deadline.

Officials were told nine jobs had to completed before March 31 to fulfil a Category G ground-grading status and avoid the threat of relegation. But a statement from Wembley informed the club that they 'will retain their position at Step Six going forward' regardless of whether they pass the next inspection of their council-owned home or not.

Boss Bob Warby, whose side host league leaders Saffron Walden Town this afternoon, said: 'In my mind there was never a threat. The work would have been done even if I had to do it myself. I wasn't losing any sleep over it.

'The board had it all under control. And the nice thing was when that story ran last week I had pretty much every single player texting me saying 'we'll help out'. One lad even offered to put £500 in. That's the spirit that we've got at Downham.'

Town will, however, not be permitted to enter the FA Vase again next season if the work is not undertaken.


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So Warby is keen to still roll up his sleeves on March 14 – the planned date to get the Memorial Ground up to scratch.

He added: 'The Vase is the one thing I mentioned when I came down to the interview (for the job, in November). It's something I want us to get back into.

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'The ground developments to my mind, and I might be being naive, are minor. Again, I won't lie, I'll be disappointed if we can't enter the Vase next season because of it.

'I'll personally be doing everything I can to make sure it's all done in time because in fairness the lads deserve that little bit of reward at the end of the season.'

The off-the-pitch news comes as a huge boost to the perennial strugglers, 10th, who are enjoying one of their best seasons in the Eastern Counties set-up in recent years.

A Thurlow Nunn League spokesman said: 'The league is pleased that both clubs (March were also involved), that are long-standing members of the competition, have now been given the time to effect the necessary changes and hopefully move forward in a much stronger position.'

Downham's title-challenging rivals Swaffham Town, third, are also in action today when they host Leiston Reserves.

King's Lynn Town's second-string entertain their Needham Market counterparts.

Dereham Town Reserves welcome Stowmarket Town while Great Yarmouth Town are at home to Halstead Town in the First Division Knockout Cup semi-final.

In the Premier Division, Fakenham Town welcome Stanway Rovers, Gorleston host Godmanchester Rovers, Kirkley & Pakefield entertain FC Clacton and Norwich United open their doors to Haverhill Rovers.

To hear the full interview with Warby listen to West Norfolk Sports Podcast episode 56 at www.edp24.co.uk/wnsp

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