Chairman calls for unity to secure Wakehurst’s Championship status

Wakehurst chairman Billy Erwin has called for unity as the club strives to maintain its status within the highest levels of football in this country.

Wakehurst first team squad players, pictured at the club's annual dinner in Tullyglass House Hotel.

Having been steady mid-to-top-half finishers in Belfast Telegraph Championship Two in recent years, the Ballymena club endured a miserable campaign this year, finishing a lowly 13th out of 16 clubs.

And with proposals in place to whittle Championship Two down to 12 clubs over the next three years, Erwin has sounded a note of caution with regards to Wakehurst’s future in the third tier of football in the Province.

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“The Northern Ireland Football League has put a strategy in place which will see Championship Two go from 16 teams to 14 to 12 over the next few years,” said Erwin, following the club’s annual end-of-season dinner at Tullyglass House Hotel.

Wakehurst first team squad players, pictured at the club's annual dinner in Tullyglass House Hotel.

“If and when that takes place, if we have another season like the one just past, we’d be gone and that would be a massive blow after working so hard to establish ourselves at this level.

“We know the situation with resources and to keep ourselves going at his level, we have to have people within the club supporting the club in all ways, right down to attending all the fund-raising events.

“We need people to buy into what Wakehurst are trying to do and, with the lack of resources, people sometimes have to give a wee bit back to the club,” added the chairman.

Manager Ian Gregg reflected on a disappointing campaign, admitting: “We had the ability to be in the top half-dozen teams in the division but we didn’t apply ourselves, lost confidence and then losing became as big a habit as winning can be.

“But I believe in the ability of the players and I’m hoping to add three or four new players. We have also had three players come through to our first team squad from our partnership with Northend United Youth and hopefully that can continue.

“I feel the players don’t get the credit they deserve. These guys could have played junior football, maybe won medals, but they chose to play to the maximum of their ability in the Irish League,” added Gregg.

Jason Paul was named as Wakehurst’s player of the Year, with Conor Gregg Leading Goalscorer and Andy Laughlin winning Players’ Player of the Year.

The club’s second string, Wakehurst Strollers, had a successful season, clinching promotion to Junior Division Two of the Ballymena & Provincial League. Andrew Millar was named Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year, while John Alexander was Strollers’ top scorer.