RUGBY TOWN: Farewell - for now - to the Southern League

Receiving the Fair Play award (from left): Les Leeson, Neil Wiley (FWP - award sponsors), Mike Yeats, Doug Wilkins and Pete Kilvert
Receiving the Fair Play award (from left): Les Leeson, Neil Wiley (FWP - award sponsors), Mike Yeats, Doug Wilkins and Pete Kilvert
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Valley win division’s Fair Play award

Rugby Town officially signed off from the Southern League with a couple of awards at the league’s annual get together in Devon, writes Jon Venner.

Rugby departure to the Northern Premier League – Division One (South) was confirmed at the AGM, bringing an end to a thirty two year stretch as the longest continuous serving club in the league they had joined back in 1983.

The club were complimented by league officials for the way they had conducted themselves in that time, and they also received the Central Division Fair Play Award for the 2014/15 season – determined by the number of disciplinary points received throughout the campaign – at the Annual Presentation Dinner & Dance at the Palace Hotel, Torquay.

There was also a long service award for Valley’s President Pete Kilvert in recognition of his thirty seven year association with the club, which included a spell as Chairman in the mid 1990’s as well as his longstanding position as Club Doctor until his retirement from general practice in 2013.

The transfer to the new league comes after a similar move was mooted two years ago, but then ultimately rescinded, although the club’s geographical location on the borders of both leagues means that a return to the Southern League at some point in the future is a likely scenario.

In the meantime, the club look forward to a new adventure in the NPL – which is also sponsored by Evostik. The league was founded in 1968, and within two decades it had replaced the Northern League as the pre-eminent regional competition in Northern England at this level of the non-league pyramid.

New Town assistant-manager Craig Adams is one of many associated with the club who is looking forward to the switch.

He explained: “Nothing should be viewed as a negative, it’s a new league and an exciting new challenge for us. We will be the new kids on the block and many of the other teams may not know too much about us, so hopefully this can work to our advantage.

“We have heard good things about the league, and it is expected that the grounds and infrastructure may generally be of a higher standard than some of those we have encountered previously, and hopefully the better quality pitches will help with the kind of football we hope to be playing this season.”

The transfer of leagues will see a likely early return to Butlin Road for Dave Stringer, after the ex-Valley boss was confirmed as the new manager at divisional counterparts Chasetown. Stringer will be joined at the Scholars by his former assistant Tony Clarke, and players Justin Marsden and Lewis Rankin – the latter of whom had previously committed himself to returning to Town for the coming season.

# Town’s new look squad returned for pre-season training on Tuesday under incoming manager Gary Mills, with a first practice game against the club’s youth team now scheduled for next Tuesday (7th) on the Butlin Road astroturf with a 7.30pm kick-off.