Brightlingsea Regent make the grade

Brightlingsea Regent's North Road

Brightlingsea Regent's North Road - Credit: Archant

There’s never a dull moment at Brightlingsea Regent!

The Essex side – on the edge of another possible promotion – have been busy meeting ground grading regulations recently to ensure they maintain their Ryman North Division One status for next season.

Following their rather unexpected promotion from the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division last season, the R’s have had a mad rush to meet the criteria of Step 4 football – with representatives of the FA and the League accepting new-look North Road on a nervous ‘ground grading deadline day’ on Tuesday..

I caught up with a relieved manager James Webster hours after the news.

“It’s another massive step for the club,” said Webster, whose side received leeway following their sudden promotion last campaign – their third in the last four seasons after winning promotion from the Step 7 Essex and Suffolk Border League in 2011.

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“We are more relieved than anything.

“If we wouldn’t have passed, I don’t know what league they would have dropped us into – it could have been the Border League again.”

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Regent have had to construct a players tunnel, erect a covered area for 50 spectators, provide a medical room for supporters, and fit perimeter fencing all the way around the pitch in a non-stop few weeks off the field with flocks of supporters and people of the community lending a hand – something Webster is extremely grateful for.

“The support we’ve had has been overwhelming,” he continued.

“It’s been great to see. We now average gates of 150. I remember one game when we had just 12 people come through the turnstiles!”

On the field, and following recent back-to-back league wins over Maldon & Tiptree (2-0) and Barkingside (2-1), the R’s are three places and six points short of the Ryman North play-off positions with five games to go.

“You never know what might happen,” added Webster.

“The position we’re in keeps our season alive and we have something to play for.

“Regardless of the outcome, it’s been a great season at the club, and we’ll all celebrate when it’s over.”

An outside shot of the top five and promotion perhaps, but you wouldn’t bet against a club full of belief and ambition.

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