Pic: Will Kilpatrick
JASON AINSLEY says Spennymoor Town know they’ve reached the National League North – because interest has gone through the roof!
Ainsley’s Moors won a second successive play-off final to reach Step 2 last season, to make it three promotions in just four years.
Now the club who were in the Northern League just four years ago are preparing to take on the likes of York City and Stockport County in a daunting National League North.
Moors have been well-backed by ambitious chairman Brad Groves and boss Ainsley says excitement at the north-east club is already building.
“The Evo-Stik Premier is a gruelling league, an unforgiving league – especially for a north-east team,” Ainsley said.
“At the end of the season we had Matlock on a Tuesday, Warrington on a Tuesday, Skelmersdale on a Tuesday. It was relentless.
“But we got up and to now be talking in the same breath as some of the clubs we’re up against next season is unbelievable. It’s what you dream of as a manager at this level. You want to test yourself against the best and this certainly is.
“After the season you always have a high or a low, but it could have been tough to entice the players for the Evo-Stik league again – but everyone now is really excited.
“The lads really know what level they’re at and it’s exciting for everybody. It’s a real challenge. The amount of emails, phone calls, amount of agents you get is frightening. You can entice players out of the Leeds and Manchester area now. Once they’ve got over the travelling and see the enthusiasm of the management team, they see the training ground and they get a feel for it, we’re halfway there.
“I’ve said before, you wouldn’t have even taken players to the ground six or seven years ago. The chairman has invested so much time and effort into it and transformed the club.
“He wanted three promotions in five years – we’ve managed to do it in four! We had a laugh the other week at the presentation night.
“At the end of my speech I said, ‘I want to thank the chairman for everything he’s done, but he needs to set higher targets because we’ve done it a year early!’ Maybe I shouldn’t have said that!
“There’s a lot of redevelopment going on at the ground, but it’s not like we’re going to make the numbers up. We want to have a real go.”
Spennymoor have got used to winning. They won four Northern League titles in five years as well as the FA Vase before climbing the ladder. And Ainsley says they may be playing with less pressure than ever before next year.
“The expectations of the club and the fans are totally different now to what they were ten years ago,” said the boss, a former Moors player. “Now it’s a different mentality for us and the players.
“We got beat last year and there were teams banging on the door thinking they’d won the World Cup. Now we’re up against teams who will expect to beat Spennymoor. It’s different expectations. But we might have the bonus of players playing with more freedom.”