Brightlingsea Regent aiming for Ryman North play-off miracle as fairytale continues

Brightlingsea Regent boss James Webster

Brightlingsea Regent boss James Webster - Credit: Archant

Brightlingsea Regent chairman Terry Doherty insists it would take a ‘miracle’ for his side to reach the Ryman North play-offs this season, as his side’s fairytale journey up the footballing pyramid continues.

James Webster’s side are currently seventh in the table, having won back-to-back promotions – the Essex-based side were plying their trade in Thurlow Nunn First Division just two years ago.

A third-placed finish enabled Regent to make the big step up to the Premier Division last season, but they took that in their stride, finishing as runners-up to Hadleigh United, who elected to not to apply for promotion.

Doherty has described Regent’s progress over the past couple of seasons as ‘relentless’ and saw his team notch one of the results of the season last weekend, second-top Needham Market leaving North Road empty-handed after a 1-0 defeat.

Regent are currently eight points adrift of the play-offs, ahead of today’s trip to Barkingside, which is subject to a 9.30am pitch inspection, but compulsory ground improvements are required to be completed by March 31, just for the club to stay at their current level.

There is never a dull moment at the north Essex club who are currently on a run of just one loss in 11 games.

“It’s absolutely fantastic, the boys have been relentless for three or four years,” said Doherty, a former chairman of Regent Park Rangers, who oversaw the merger with Brightlingsea United in 2005, culminating in the club’s current guise.

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“We played one or two Ryman teams in the cup competitions last season and we saw how tough it would be if we went up.

“The first target was to stay out of the bottom four this season, so to have any chance of challenging for the play-offs is absolutely excellent.

“It will be very difficult to get into the top-five. Needham and Harlow will take the top two positions, I think Needham will probably win the title.

“Brentwood have been strong all season and AFC Sudbury are flying.

“It would take three teams above us to slip up, while we’d have to win every game. It would be a miracle.”

Brightlingsea began the season with four defeats from their first five but, since then, have not looked back.

“We struggled a bit at the start of the season but got into the swing of things and we have not had that many changes,” he added.

“It’s a lot more serious at this level and teams at the bottom are prepared to buy and sell players regularly.

“None of our players are under full contract, but we will probably be in a position to do that a bit more next season.”

Baby steps then seem to be key for Regent and there will be no stopping them should the FA approve the club’s ground improvements.

“We have to install perimeter bars all around the pitch and build a players’ tunnel and medical room for supporters,” explained Doherty.

“It’s at the back of your mind until the work is done and obviously we are battling against the weather but we are in the process of applying for a Football Foundation grant.

“Because we are making these improvements, that restricts our playing budget, but there would be nothing worse than telling the lads, after another fantastic season, that they were not able to stay at this level.

“We are hopeful of getting it done.”

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