By Danny Bloomer
It has been a drastic season of change both on and off the field at Belper Town this year, with Saturday’s 0-0 draw securing a ninth placed finish in the Evo Stik East Division.
Just 12 months ago the club had almost hit rock bottom, with spiralling financial worries and an end to the season which conjured up six consecutive defeats, 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 has transformed the club on the pitch and off it.
Woodward has overseen the improvement of a number of stadium facilities, most notably the score board and new club shop. When he first joined the club, he 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 actually give something to the supporters and show them that we are 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 now 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. He revealed that promotion to the 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 starting from scratch. 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 said: “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 board room, we have a new pitch, 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.”