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Cheltenham Town chairman David Bloxham looks to build on last season's success

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Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Friday, 29th July 2022, 10:00

Cheltenham Town host Peterborough United on Saturday Cheltenham Town host Peterborough United on Saturday

Cheltenham Town go into the new season with the hope and aim of improving on the previous campaign.

And that’s quite some statement because 2021/22 was the best in the club’s 135-year history.

Never before had the club finished as high as 15th in the third tier of English football and their points haul of 56 was also a club record for the level.

It meant they were officially the 59th best team in the land – quite some achievement – so it’s no wonder that chairman David Bloxham is looking ahead to the new season with optimism.

The 2022/23 campaign gets under way on Saturday with a home game against Peterborough United – managed by Cheltenham old boy Grant McCann – and Bloxham told The Local Answer: “I like to think we can replicate what we did last season and can even do a bit better, that must be the ambition.

“We know it will be difficult because there are some very strong teams in the division.

“I can’t say for certain that we will do better than last season but we will make every effort to do so.

“We are realistically ambitious, we want to improve every season.”

Last season was their first back in League One after winning the League Two title and Bloxham continued: “We were very successful. I suppose we set out with the ambition of finishing above the drop zone but we exceeded that by a good margin with games and points to spare.”

New Cheltenham head coach Wade Elliott, who has taken over following Michael Duff’s departure to Barnsley, was a big part of that success, of course, having worked as Duff’s right-hand man for the previous two seasons.

“Wade is the best man to take us forward,” Bloxham said. “We like his coaching experience and we like his playing experience.

“He played at a high level, he won promotions and captained teams. We knew him and his personality, he knows the players and he knows our system of play.

“He gave a very good interview and came across as someone who will do a good job.”

The 43-year-old will be hoping to make a fast start, of course, although that will not be easy because after Peterborough, Cheltenham travel to Barnsley – like Peterborough, relegated from the Championship last season – before hosting Portsmouth on Saturday 13th August.

All three of those clubs will be hoping to be in the promotion mix come the end of the season, along with some of the other big-hitters like Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town and Derby County.

They are all big clubs with big followings which makes Cheltenham’s showing last time out all the more impressive.

“You can divide the division in half between the clubs with big resources and those with limited resources,” said Bloxham.

“We want to be at the top of the second group. We want to be recognised as a League One club, a bit like Accrington Stanley who don’t have a huge following or huge resources but have established themselves in League One.”

This season will be Cheltenham’s seventh campaign at the level, although only once when John Ward was manager in the mid-to-late noughties have they played for three seasons in a row in the third tier.

Bloxham, a local employment solicitor who is Cheltenham born and bred, was a fan back in those days. He joined the club’s board in 2015, became vice-chairman two years later and replaced Andy Wilcox as chairman at the start of last season.

“It was never my expectation to be chairman,” he said, “but the opportunity arose and it’s a privilege to be in this position.

“My aim is quite simple, I want the club to be well-run and to be as successful as it can be.”

He admits that he didn’t want Duff to leave but said: “Once we had a bit of success, he was always going to be a potential target of other clubs. It wasn’t our choice but it was inevitable that day would come.”

Elliott will now look to build on the good work of the past few seasons, work that has produced great results allied to a very pleasing style of football which saw them score 66 goals in 46 league games last season.

“I like to think we play good football,” said Bloxham. “The fans certainly saw a lot of goals, I think we were in the top five in the league for combined goals scored and conceded.”

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