Village footballers make strides in bid to maintain success

Witchford 96 first-team (pictured) secured promotion to step seven for the first time in their history, as the club...

Witchford 96 first-team (pictured) secured promotion to step seven for the first time in their history, as the club continues to improve on and off the pitch. Picture: WITCHFORD 96 - Credit: Archant

A grassroots football club is hoping that improvements made now can help keep recent success rolling for years to come.

Witchford 96 have installed permanent crowd barriers to their Recreation Ground pitch from neighbours Ely City FC and a referees’ changing room.

The club, which boasts two senior teams who play in the Cambridgeshire County League, have also invested in pitch improvements for next year thanks to a pitch preparation fund from the Premier League, the FA and the Football Foundation.

“Our first-team are playing their first season in the Kershaw Premier League, so it was a good time to make improvements to take the club forward,” Adam Richards, first-team manager at Witchford 96, said.

“We have some very good sponsors like Deanta, who are helping with our plans too.

“In the future, if we can, we would love to look into installing floodlights but that is a much larger project.”

One of Richards’ plans as first-team boss is to link the adult teams with the club’s youth setup, in order to provide a pathway for young players into the senior squads.

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It’s just one sign of progress the club wants to make off the back of promotion to step seven, the first time Witchford, who sit fifth in the table, have played at that level since forming in 1996.

Most weeks, Richards has fielded players under 23-years-old, while he said the reserves mostly consist of players aged 18 or under.

Developing these players is key, which could help boost their chances of maintaining club success on and off the pitch.

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“The Colts under 15s and 16s have started using our main pitch for their home fixtures and we have planned to have some of the Witchford 96 players do some coaching and refereeing,” he said.

“Having a well-established adult team can help filter down through the youth system and give young players a target.

“We have adapted really well. A couple of games showed us that we have a lot of ability, but the effort needs to be 100 per cent every single game.

“If we continue the way we are, then the aim is to finish as high as possible with no pressure on us, and then try to beat it next season.

“We always want to be improving and players to stay with us, become the experienced players and the process to start again.”

Witchford 96 are due to host Cambridge University Press in a league clash on Saturday, December 5.