Nelson ready to return to league

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BRIGHT skies are now overlooking Lomeshaye Way’s ‘Little Wembley’ once again as Nelson awaits its re-instatement into the North West Counties Football League.

The culmination of the 2009/10 season saw a decision made by owner and chairman Alan Pickering to put Nelson Football Club Limited up for sale after admitting that the club needed fresh impetus under new ownership headed by individuals with the necessary drive and vigour to take it forward. As a result Nelson FC withdrew its status from the Vodkat Premier League.

But the club has now had it’s application for re-election accepted by the Football Association and other relevant bodies and officials will now present its case to member clubs at the league’s AGM next Saturday.

“Everything is ready to go again for the new season come August,” Pickering said. “We’ve got to go to the North West Counties AGM next Saturday, which is just a formality really to rubber-stamp our acceptance back in to the league.

“The ground has been graded again, and our application has been accepted by the FA and all the other necessary bodies. We’ve got new people on board and lots of helpers.

“We’ve got new management, directors and new administration. There’s a massive interest in the club from players who want to be involved and former players who want to come back and play.”

Former Nelson Under 18s coach Mark Whittaker has been appointed manager and he is just one of a number of people who has volunteered his services. Pickering said: “Training commences in July and we’ve got Mark Whittaker, who has been running the under 18s team, to take over as manager of Nelson so it’s a natural progression really. We are in a completely opposite position to where we were last year when nobody was interested.”

A lack of voluntary workers and the withdrawal of financial input from a significant club sponsor had hit the football club hard and though the Blues weren’t generating any revenue streams, the club remained clear of any debt. And Nelson FC remains a stable franchise while a concerted effort to find a committee and voluntary workforce with passion and dedication has succeeded.

“Everything is going to plan, the facilities are still in great condition because they’ve not been left to rack and ruin,” Pickering said. “I’m probably going to take on a more advisory, consultancy role and step in to the background a bit more.

“The new faces on board have got the enthusiasm and energy needed to rejuvenate the club and take it forward. I still want to be involved but we needed a change of direction and drive so the key was to get new people involved to get fresh ideas. Things were getting a bit jaded before but now with more hands to the pump the club can be profiled and marketed effectively.”

He added: “We’ve had the necessary time to be able to put things in to place. We weren’t rushing around to get things done so it’s all fallen in to place. We are able to spread the workload now as well.

“We’ve just got to push on from here now. It’s still going to be tough because we’re still experiencing the same economic climate and we’re competing with a lot of other clubs in the region at the same level.

“It’s all about making the most of the situation now and enjoying it. We want to inspire the local community to come down again. There’s no financial difficulties; we didn’t go out of business, there was no financial loss or bankruptcy. We just pulled a team out so we could take stock and now we are ready to go again. You’ve got to remember this isn’t what we do for work, it’s recreation and we do it for enjoyment.”

Pickering, who will see his beloved Nelson entered into the North West Counties First Division on their re-election, also extended his thanks to Trevor Stanworth and Bob Widener who became directors of the club during its time of uncertainty and helped keep it afloat.