Blackfield & Langley toasted back to back promotions two weeks ago as they reached Step 3 at the first time of asking. However, in many ways, this season has served to put footballing success into perspective.
Back in February, with the Watersiders in the midst of a tightly run battle for the Southern League Division One title, they were rocked by the sudden passing of Assistant Manager Chris Farrell.
Farrell had been with Blackfield & Langley for seven years, quickly establishing himself as an extremely popular figure among the club’s faithful and his tragic death left a community in mourning.
Watersiders’ boss Glenn Howes told The NLP, “We were all in complete shock, there were no warning signs at all.
“He used to pick up the lads who were from Bournemouth and car share with them. He was really close to the all of the players.
“His knowledge of football in the local area was second to none and he was completely irreplaceable.
“He is sorely missed from a footballing perspective but also from a personal one because he was one in a million and was genuinely the life and soul of the dressing room.
“We now have a big picture of him in the dressing room and after the title victory at the weekend we were all talking about him.
“When he passed away we had a meeting to discuss postponing the weekend’s fixture but we agreed that he would have wanted us to carry on so we decided to play in his memory”.
With Farrell at the forefront of their minds, the Watersiders continued their quest for promotion, clamouring with the likes of Yate Town and Moneyfields.
A resilient backline, which conceded on average less than a goal a game, helped Blackfield & Langley finally gain an unassailable lead at the top and with the club having evolved from a Step 5 outfit in just two seasons, Howes admits that he still has to pinch himself when considering their meteoric rise.
“The plan for this season was just to consolidate and we have ended up completely surpassing that!” he added.
“We were fortunate that when we had a slight wobble the teams around us seemed to do the same and it was such a relief to finally get over the line last week.
“It was really nice to wrap up the title in front of a home crowd and it now allows us to concentrate on laying the foundations for next season.
“Last year we had to do a significant amount of work off the field to ensure we were ready for the elevation in divisions and the fact that that was done so quickly is testament to everyone’s hard work.
“Step 3 is a whole new ball game though and we will need to start getting things sorted now but are all so excited to get started”.
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