Shoreham Football Club are getting everything in place to meet their goal of reaching the Ryman League.
Work is taking place around Middle Road to ensure the ground meets Ryman requirements, while work also still needs to be done on the pitch to make sure the club is in a position to go up.
Bryan O’Toole’s side top the Southern Combination League Premier Division and will be promoted into the Ryman League for the first time in their history if they win the title.
Breathing down their necks are Haywards Heath and Chichester, among others, and chairman Stuart Slaney says no one is getting carried away just yet.
To get the ground up to Ryman standard, another 50 seats will be installed in a stand behind the west goal, work is taking place on the main stand, the east stand will be extended by six metres and newly-built toilets need to have plumbing work done.
The club have a ground-grading inspection in the middle of February, with the deadline the end of March to make sure everything is up to standard.
Slaney has taken a week off work to ensure everything will be complete in time and said: “There’s no point having a football club if you don’t want to progress. There’s nothing wrong with staying where you are but I’m all about progression.
“If we get promoted to the Ryman League, that then gives incentive for our youth set-up and then we’ll develop that even more.
“We’ve got 16 youth teams, including three girls’ teams, which is great. There are other youth clubs in the county but they only go up to under 16s, so when they get to under 16 they might have been there for ten years and have got nowehere to go.
“With us, little Johnny or little Lucy will go all the way through and progress up to senior level.”
Slaney’s goal with Mussels has always been to reach the Ryman League but he said: “I’m not excited yet because there’s still a long way to go.
“It is my goal but, as Bryan always says, I’m just going to take things one game at a time. We’ve got some big games at the end of the season, against Pagham and Haywards Heath, so everyone could be saying ‘we need three points to get first and second’.
“But this season has gone better than what I could have hoped for. My first season here wasn’t too bad considering I was a bit green around the gills.
“After that we’ve had some ups and downs but we’ve settled down now and hopefully Bryan will be here for the forseeable future.”
If Shoreham do reach the Ryman League, what targets will then be in place? Slaney said: “It will be to do what we did when I took over here.
“We’ll want to settle down as a Ryman South team, find out where our mark is with the players we’ve got, then build on that and, hopefully, in two seasons time, go the next step further.”
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