Posted: 23.08.20 at 09:38 by Derek Davis
There are many ways to celebrate a centenary, a message from the Queen, a Melchizedek of Champagne, or a huge cake. For Woolverstone United chairman Craig Catchpole it would be Division One football.
United mark the 100 milestone next year but Catchpole is already planning the anniversary and has made it clear to manager, and son, Clive, playing at the highest level the club has ever reached since it was first accepted into the Suffolk Ipswich League (SIL) in 1948, is the goal.
The elder Catchpole knows what is like, and what it takes, to achieve footballing success at the peninsula club after he took them to three successive promotions when he coached the side a few years back. That came about when Craig left Brantham Athletic where was the youth coach and many of the Under18s came with him to Woolverstone as they needed senior football.
Similarly, when Shotley Rangers youngsters outgrew their pitch, they went to Woolverstone and after a year assimilated with the hat club to be truly united.
Craig believes the club's ethos is encapsulated by this current crop of players and it will be their unity, team spirit, and no little talent that can see them win promotion and eclipse all previous success.
"This team can surpass those promotions," insisted Craig. "Our aim is Division One football for next season, We want to be playing at our highest ever level going into our 100th year.
“Many of the players are from the peninsula. The lads grew up together and along with some of the older lads, as a senior side we went up through the divisions winning promotion three times, once as champions and twice as runners up.
"The pitch is Division One standard, we just need to get the team there."
Woolverstone are also looking to win with style and have shown in pre-season they have plenty of goals in them, sticking seven past one team, with their high pressing style.
Craig said: “We don't have any superstars, they play like a team. Whether it is first team and reserves, we like to attack, get the ball into the box."
Like all teams, pre-season has been challenging, not just physically but mentally too, although Craig believes the good work by the four coaches, Clive and Guy Lawrence for the first team, and Steve and Matt with the reserves, will pay dividends.
While Woolverstone are looking for a goalkeeper, they have good numbers to run two teams, (the reserves are SIL Division Four) but that has not always been the case.
“Over the past 10-12 years there have been peaks and troughs when we have had to appeal for players," recalled Craig We even had a lad once who had only ever played rugby and every time he went down wanted to ruck or maul."
Woolverstone play in arguably one of the most idyllic grounds in Suffolk, now called Hazelwoods, named after long serving stalwart Dave Hazelwood, a legend around the league.
"We ran out of ways of thanking David, so we got permission to name the ground after him," explained Craig. "David works hours and hours and frankly we could not afford to pay him.
"He is also hugely respected, whenever we go away the first ting people ask is 'how's David?'.
The club also has good reputation, epitomised during the pandemic crisis, and Craig highlighted the importance of the volunteers, including Matt Clarke who keeps a well-maintained, quality pitch, and a youngster called Jake who is an all-rounder. All the current Covid-19 guidelines are in place under the direction of club secretary Julie Catchpole, who has worked closely with the SIL.
Julie said: "We have every system in place, risk assessments sent to every away team and officials, we have tried to tick every box so the lads can play.
"We can have supporters here, as long as they stay in groups of no more than six, and stay on one side of the pitch, after signing in with the track and trace details."
A grant from the Football Foundation helped them buy all the necessary hygiene and sanitising equipment, while district councillor Jane Gould has also promised a grant of £250, while last season parent Susan Gledhill raised £600 at horse racing evening, which all helps keep the club running.
For more details about playing or volunteering get in touch with the club secretary: [email protected]
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