RUGBY TOWN: Relegated after 34 years at top non-league level

Rugby's Star Man Levi Rowley in Saturday's final game with Kidsgrove    PICTURE BY MARTIN PULLEY
Rugby's Star Man Levi Rowley in Saturday's final game with Kidsgrove PICTURE BY MARTIN PULLEY

Club’s annual presentation evening tonight (Friday)

Rugby Town’s 34-year stay in the higher echelons of the non-league football pyramid appears to have come to an end for now, after their place in the NPL South Division drop-zone was confirmed at the weekend.

Ryan Quinn in Rugby's final game of the season

Ryan Quinn in Rugby's final game of the season

Valley’s home defeat to Kidsgrove came as the other contender for the remaining relegation place Loughborough were beating Market Drayton - ensuring a disappointing end to the club’s diamond anniversary season in the process.

At 3.30 pm on Saturday afternoon there was a definite air of positivity circulating Butlin Road with Town - needing to better Dynamo’s result to stay up - ahead thanks to a Levi Rowley strike and Loughborough a goal behind at their Nanpantan ground.

However, to exemplify the often finely-balanced nature of the sport, within just 22 further footballing minutes the Leicestershire side had scored twice to take the lead whilst Rugby found themselves all-square again.

Two further goals from both Kidsgrove and Loughborough before the end of the games added further nails in Valley’s coffin.

Tevin Shakespeare in Town's final defeat

Tevin Shakespeare in Town's final defeat

Rugby will now most likely line up in the Premier Division of the Midland Football League in 2017/18, after a season which saw them record just eight NPL victories - with only three of these coming at their Butlin Road home.

Hopes of survival had been boosted last month though, after they recorded back-to-back away victories at Romulus and promotion possibles Witton to finally lift themselves out of the bottom two.

A further win at Northwich near the beginning of April further boosted optimism levels.

But Town’s return of just one point from their subsequent four fixtures compared to Loughborough’s highly admirable run-in of four straight victories - including one at Rugby’s expense - settled the club’s fates.

Town Director Neil Melvin reflected on the confirmation of relegation: “We are naturally very disappointed by how things have turned out this season. For large parts of the campaign, the effort and commitment has been clear for all to see and we have all too regularly just been edged out by the odd goal and maybe not got our fair share of good fortune along the way either.

“However, come the end of a campaign the table usually doesn’t lie and we have to accept the consequences of this. We now have to do all we can to ensure we bounce straight back up the pyramid again and return the club to a level that is worthy of its infrastructure, history and supporter base.”

# The club’s annual presentation evening will take place tonight Friday (28th April) in the Butlin Road hospitality suite. All supporters are welcome for the event which starts at 7.30pm with a buffet also provided.