Wroxham boss Batch hails ‘victory for Norfolk’ as club prepare for life in Ryman Division One North
Wroxham boss David Batch believes it is a victory for Norfolk that his team will find themselves playing Step Four football next season.
The Eastern Counties Premier Division champions had done all they could on and off the pitch last season to earn higher-league football but insisted they would only take promotion if the FA placed them in Ryman League Division One North.
After an anxious wait the Yachtsmen were granted their wish yesterday when the FA confirmed their Step Four set-up for next campaign – which to the delight of Batch sees Wroxham competing in the Isthmian League.
The Wroxham chief said: 'I'm delighted because had the FA not put us in the Ryman League it would have set a dangerous precedent for clubs in the county who showed ambition.
'It's great news for Wroxham Football Club but it's also a victory for football in Norfolk. Progression is important as are opportunities to better yourself and we can now take those.
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'We've done that on the pitch and we've done that off the pitch to develop as a club. We've won the Ridgeons Premier Division eight times and I've had an incredible three years here in charge myself.
'We've finished runners-up, got to Wembley in the FA Vase and then won the league. I'd have taken that success every single day when I started here and we've achieved it through hard work. The players deserve massive credit for that.
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'In a few weeks we hope to announce the biggest thing the football club has seen which will help us development wise in the future. It underlines our hard work and will hopefully make us continue to be sustainable on and off the pitch at the next level.'
Batch and club officials had told Soho Square chiefs that being moved into any other Step Four league would be unworkable due to their geographical location and the 'ridiculous' travelling distances they would face.
Wroxham, who will be competing at the highest level in their history next campaign, will now face trips to a host of clubs on the fringes of London, Essex and Suffolk, including AFC Sudbury and Needham Market.
The club's preparations for a historical campaign have already begun with Batch holding his first pre-season training session, less than a month after last season ended, on Thursday night.
The Wroxham boss insists it is the dedication and effort that earned them promotion which will stand his side in good stead against a better standard of players come August.
Batch said: 'Over half our squad this season hadn't played in the Ridgeons Premier Division but we've worked harder than anyone else.
'It's going to be a real good test but our hard work has already begun. We'll do the best we can. 'I'm fairly confident that if we work harder than everyone else we can amass enough points and I hope we do because the players deserve this opportunity – they've been magnificent.'
Josh Carus, Shaun Howes, Ross Durrant, Andy Eastaugh, Matt Blake, Ben Thompson, Matt Daniels, and Ben Jones from last campaign's title-winning squad have all agreed to stay with the club next season.
Batch says he hopes to re-sign more of his current troops but is looking to add three or four 'quality' players to the squad. He has already agreed a deal to bring Lowestoft Town defender Matt Halliday to Trafford Park.
The Wroxham manager said: 'Matt's proved himself at the level we're playing at next season, and the step above with Lowestoft.
'He's not played as often as he would have liked and we hope to be able to give him that chance. He's a Norwich boy and now we're looking to target some of those players – who have drifted 50 to 60 miles elsewhere to play higher-level football – to come to Wroxham.
'I won't make any promises about where we'll finish but we will definitely have a go in every game.
'When we played at Dover Athletic in the FA Cup last season I was probably more confident in the players' ability than they were themselves.
'I believe we can give a very good account of ourselves at this level. It's why we wanted to go up and I'm delighted that we will be able to do that.'