Belper Town chairman Ian Woodward targets promotion next time after season of improvement
Ambitious Belper Town, who ended the season with smiles on their faces after finishing unbeaten in five matches to claim ninth place, are already targeting promotion in 2020.
The fortunes at the Evo-Stik Division One East club have been revived after a drastic season of change both on and off the field.
Just 12 months ago the club had almost hit rock bottom. With spiralling financial worries and a run if six consecutive defeats to end the season, the future looked bleak.
However, fast forward a year and the feeling that surrounds the club is nothing but positivity. The appointments of Ian Woodward as chairman, and Grant Black as manager have transformed the club on and off the pitch.
Woodward has overseen the improvement of a number of stadium facilities, most notably the scoreboard and new club shop.
When he first joined the club, Woodward revealed his first aim was to show the supporters that the club was moving in the right direction.
He said: “When I first came to the club, I just felt we had to finish positively, either off the field or on it. Hence why I thought it was important to improve the facilities and give something for the supporters to see.
“My first aim was to show them that we were trying to move forward. The bonus of that is we have done well on the pitch as well, so I think the main thing is everyone has got a smile on their face and we are all looking forward to next season.”
Belper’s improvement has laid foundations ahead of next season, where Woodward and his team have already moved quickly to secure the future of both Black and Mick Norbury, as well as key players Danny South and George Milner.
Woodward revealed that promotion to the NPL Premier Division is the aim.
He said: “Absolutely. We have already shown our intent with signing Grant, George and Danny. Grant has identified these players that he wants, he has asked us, and we have done everything we can to get them.
“I know he is going to come for some more players, and we have told him we will do everything we can. We have some great sponsors lined up who are now interested in the club, which is good.”
Last summer, Black brought in an entirely new playing squad. Such change will not be required this time around and Woodward is confident that the group will remain together due to the direction the club is heading.
He added: “I think so but to be honest, it is if Grant wants them. All we can do is do what Grant wants, he is in charge of the team. What we have tried to do is create a football club. Next season we are doing new dressing rooms, a new boardroom. We have a new pitch and railings so hopefully players will want to stay — and not just for money.
“I know they will want paying but we hope they want to stay because it is a good football club. If I was playing again, I would want to play here, so that is what we are hoping to do.”