Source: M.E.N. - no online content
FC United have a long road to travel
Lyons prepared to play waiting game
FC UNITED are ready to resume the challenge of bridging the yawning gap which still separates them from the North West’s “elite” semi-professional clubs despite their debutseason promotion success in the Moore and Co Construction Solicitors League.
The Rebels tomorrow make their bow in division one with a trip to St Helens Town, secure in the knowledge they boast a fan-base which is the envy of all the region’s other leading nonleague outfits.
But, though United’s huge following makes them currently the second-best supported non-league team in the country, so lowly is their status in the semi-pro pyramid that it will be another four years at least before they might be ready to rub shoulders with the likes of Altrincham in the Nationwide Conference’s national division – the last stop before the Coca-Cola League.
For them to achieve that within that time frame, United will have to maintain their present rate of progress and secure promotion not only this season but for the next three to come – a daunting prospect even for a club of their size and potential.
But player/coach Darren Lyons insists that’s a marathon they plan to complete by adopting the approach of an endurance athlete and concentrating, not on longterm objectives, but simply on the next step.
Speaking as manager Karl Marginson was away sunning himself on a Spanish beach, Lyons said: “Of course, we’d love to be in the Conference or the League, but, hopefully, that will come in time.
“And, in any case, I don’t think it would be right for us to jump leagues, especially given the financial benefits we’re bringing to the clubs we meet along the way in terms of their attendances when they play us.
“At the same time, we know it’s good for us that we focus on walking before we can run, taking each step as it comes. It might take us a few years to get to where we want to be – but I’m sure we’ll enjoy the journey.”
While there’s talk that as many as six clubs could be promoted from the Solicitors League to the UniBond at the end of this season as a result of ongoing restructuring at the foot of the pyramid, FC United are, says Lyons, working on the premise that just the champions will go up.
Nevertheless, optimism’s running high in the Rebels’ camp, despite there being little margin for error.
Lyons added: assistant manager “Karl, Phil Power and I know exactly what to expect of this division and we’re all aiming for the same thing – to go up at the first attempt.
“We’ve strengthened last season’s division two championship-winning squad in the areas where we felt it needed to be and, although losing Steve Torpey to Halifax was a blow, we now have competition for places in every position.
“We also now have some terrific prospects coming through the club’s new reserve and youth set-ups and, if we can build on the form we’ve shown in our recent friendly wins over Halifax and Leigh RMI, we’d like to think we’ll take some stopping.”