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Cheltenham Civil Service fired up for return to the County League

All Areas > Sport > Football

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 12:00

The impressive clubhouse at Cheltenham Civil Service The impressive clubhouse at Cheltenham Civil Service

Alan Wakefield doesn’t want to wish a big chunk of the summer away but it’s fair to say he’s counting down the days until Saturday 20th August.

That’s because that is the day when Cheltenham Civil Service’s flagship football team make their eagerly-awaited return to the County League after an absence of more than five years.

And what makes the third Saturday in August just that extra bit special for the club – they travel to play Hardwicke – is that their previous time in the County League ended abruptly midway through the 2016/17 season when problems on and off the pitch saw them fold their first team.

Wakefield was instrumental in the club arriving at that decision, having just taken on the role of chairman for a second time, a position he still holds, so he is looking forward to the season’s opener more than most.

“Yes I am, it’s exciting,” he told The Local Answer. “It’s taken us a while to get back but now we’re here we’re very happy.”

It has indeed taken a while – three promotions in fact – but now that the club, who play their home games at Tewkesbury Road, are in the 16-strong County League they are going to give it a real go.

“The aim is always to win the league, that would be very good,” continued Wakefield.

And after winning the Northern Senior League last season that might not be as fanciful as it might appear because the last time Cheltenham Civil Service won promotion to the County League they won the title at the first attempt in 2014/15.

“There are a few stronger teams this time,” cautioned Wakefield. “Sharpness are always strong and Wick, who won the title last season, are still in the league. They are tough teams to play.”

Financial concerns allied to performances on the pitches were the driving forces behind the decision to quit the County League last time around, but Wakefield is confident the club are in a much better place ahead of the new campaign.

“We know what to expect this time,” he said. “Financially, we’ve planned for it. We didn’t expect to win the County League last time and we didn’t have the facilities required to go into the Hellenic League.

“Now we can start planning what we will need to get into the Hellenic League and whether we can achieve that on our ground. I think we’ll have to get floodlights, that’s one of the things we’ll have to look at.

“But as a club we want to go higher, we want to get into the Hellenic League, we want to attract better players. The aim is always to aim a little bit higher, to improve things. Not many clubs have their own ground, we’ve got a really good set-up where people can play good football.

“The two pitches we’ve got are as good as any in the county.”

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