It will be another landmark weekend for Haughmond, the ambitious Shrewsbury-based football club, as they continue to move firmly in the right direction.
Fresh from the notable achievement of winning in the FA Cup for the first time last Saturday, they are now looking forward to kicking off the club’s historic first season in the Midland League.
Last season’s runaway West Midlands League champions – they won 32 and lost just three of their 38 games, scoring 135 goals and putting 99 points on the board – Haughmond will begin life at a higher level with a home clash against Coventry Sphinx tomorrow (Saturday, 3pm).
Manager Matt Burton, having bolstered his squad with five new arrivals over the summer, is raring to go ahead of an eagerly awaited campaign.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” said Burton. “The target for us? Mid-table would be absolutely fantastic. Anywhere between eighth and 15th would be amazing.
“I’d be over the moon with that and if we can get ourselves on a little cup run in the FA Cup or FA Vase run then even better. I think that would be classed as success from all at the club, certainly me anyway.”
Burton recently spoke to Shawbury United boss Dave Richards, whose side will start a second season at this level with a trip to Shepshed Dynamo tomorrow, about the strength of the Midland League and he knows it will be a step up in class.
Burton said: “It’s going to be a really tough league this year. I’m not just trying to make excuses for us, but there’s some decent, well supported clubs in there. Bromsgrove get 1,000 to watch them at home while Worcester City and Rugby get 500 and then there’s clubs like Westfields.”
Burton is pleased with the quality of Haughmond’s new arrivals.
Central defender Arron Simms and Joe Parry, a creative midfielder, have signed from Ellesmere Rangers, the versatile George Carpenter is now back in the area from Loughborough University, striker Anwar Ologbon has come on board from AFC Bridgnorth while the experienced Andy Jones, Shrewsbury Town’s academy manager, lists Telford United, Newtown and Airbus among his former clubs.
Jones made an instant impact, heading the winner, as Haughmond, for whom prolific striker Steve Hole also netted twice, ran out 3-2 winners at Wolverhampton Sporting Community in the FA Cup extra preliminary round last weekend.
Burton, whose side will travel to Bedworth in the next round on August 19, said: “It’s history for the club, the first FA Cup win they’ve ever had, so we’re over the moon for everyone involved.
“I felt we deserved to win it. We were the better team but fell behind twice which was pretty much against the run of play.
“It was AJ’s first goal for the club, an important one as well, so I hope it’s one of many.”
Former Wolves youngster Sam Phillips, who set up the winner for Jones, remains at Haughmond after a summer which has seen him on trial at the likes of League One club Bristol Rovers while Burton also has high hopes that Jamie Hyne, a midfielder who has progressed from the club’s under-18s, can also develop now he’s part of the first team squad.
On the outgoing front, Matt Jones has signed for Ellesmere while Scott Graham is off to Liverpool University.
Haughmond now also hope to receive plenty of support from locals at the Shrewsbury Sports Village and would love to see an increase in numbers watching them play, perhaps with Shrewsbury Town supporters coming along when the League One side are away, as is the case this weekend when Town travel to AFC Wimbledon.
Haughmond are also at home on Tuesday when Westfields, from Hereford, will be the visitors (7.45pm).
Pictured: The Shrewsbury Sports Village, Haughmond’s home ground in Sundorne, is ready to host the club’s first match in the Midland League.
*A similar version of this story originally appeared in this week’s edition of the Shrewsbury Chronicle.