Less travelling and exciting local derbies in prospect
Rugby Town are heading to the Midland Football League for the 2017-18 campaign, after the FA announced their step five allocations this week.
Subject to the usual final ratification process, Town will line-up in the league’s Premier Division following their relegation from the NPL at the end of last season, which ended a 34-year spell in the higher echelons of the non-league football pyramid.
Valley will join a number of familiar outfits as they seek an immediate bounceback – including Worcester City, who have taken a further voluntary two-step demotion after dropping out of the Conference structure at the end of 2016/17.
Also forming part of the 22-strong division are three teams that Rugby competed against relatively recently in the Southern League – Rocester, Shepshed and Stourport, whilst both Coventry Sphinx and Bromsgrove Sporting have visited Butlin Road for FA Cup Preliminary ties in the past couple of seasons.
Coventry United will provide Town will a further local derby as the recently-formed club look to continue their rapid progression through the ranks, whilst Hereford-based Westfields could well be a tough proposition on the back of the financial boost from their run in the FA Cup last year which saw them progress into the first round proper of the competition.
The Midland Football League was created in 2014 following the merger of the Midland Alliance and Midland Combination entities and this announcement ends the speculation as to Valley’s immediate destiny, with the United Counties League also having been touted as a possible home for returning manager Dave Stringer’s side.
Town Director Neil Melvin commented on the announcement: “We were prepared for both scenarios and were happy to compete in either league, but it is good to have the confirmation now so we can continue with our planning for what will be an important season for us.
“The Midland League means less travelling and also throws up some exciting local derbies. There are undoubtedly some tough fixtures ahead of us, but hopefully we will be able to build squad that is capable of challenging for a return to step four of the pyramid after the disappointment of last season.
“Dave has been working extremely hard in his first couple of weeks back at the club and he has already secured the commitment of a number of players for next season, and we will be announcing these over the coming weeks.”
Full list of Midland Football League Premier Division teams for 2017/18: AFC Wilfrunians, Boldmere St. Michael’s, Bromsgrove Sporting, Coleshill Town, Coventry Sphinx, Coventry United, Haughmond, Heanor Town, Highgate United, Long Eaton United, Loughborough University, Lye Town, Quorn, Rocester, Rugby Town, Shawbury United, Shepshed Dynamo, Sporting Khalsa, Stourport Swifts, West Bridgford, Westfields, Worcester City
# Following last week’s announcement of the appointment of Ross Miller as assistant-manager, Valley boss Dave Stringer has further boosted his backroom team with the return of sports therapist Kerri Holtham to the club.
Holtham previously worked as part of Stringer’s staff for two years between 2012 and 2014 in the physio’s role.