Ryman League new-boys Brightlingsea Regent looking forward to testing themselves in Step 4 football

It’s been a non-stop and hectic few months for all involved at Ryman North new-boys Brightlingsea Regent but proud chairman Terry Doherty wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Essex outfit, who even surprised themselves at how well they did by gaining promotion out of the Thurlow Nunn Premier League at the first time of asking last season, have been busy preparing themselves for Step 4 football this summer.

Regent were only in the Essex and Suffolk Border League in 2011, but made their own history by finishing as runners-up behind Hadleigh United last season – enough to see them climb the footballing pyramid after seeing their Ryman application successful.

“Our rapid rise still comes as a surprise to me,” claimed Doherty.

“At the start of last season we certainly weren’t expecting to even think about promotion - we would’ve just been happy to stay in the division!”

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Regent got off to a blistering start last campaign and were soon being touted as potential title-challengers as they showed little fear.

“It wasn’t until Christmas when we were asked whether we were going to submit an application for promotion that we even thought about it,” continued Doherty.

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“I think that what helped us was that when we’d played everybody once we knew what to expect.

“That, plus the outstanding FA Vase run (which saw Regent reach the last 16 of the competition), gave us confidence – and the rest as they say is history.”

Despite the odd wobble, Regent went on to secure second place in a dramatic final day that could’ve seen the R’s crowned champions.

But it wasn’t just things on the field that they were making great strides in.

Off the pitch, and with ground grading inspections before the March deadline vastly approaching – a host of Regent people worked tirelessly to ensure they passed the relevant inspections necessary for Step 4 football.

As well as adding a new toilet block, a roof had to be placed on the 150-seater stand as well as other essentials including a turnstile block and a concrete path around the pitch.

After undergoing further behind-the-scenes work this summer, Regent now have their own on-line club shop as well as a commercial manager as life at Ryman level begins.

“I’m massively proud of everything that’s happened over the past year – we’ve worked miracles, and cannot wait to get started again,” added Doherty.

And the Regent chief is pretty confident his side has what it takes to be competitive in a division alongside a host of other Essex-based teams.

“We played Redbridge away from home in the Essex Senior Cup last season and gave them a really good game,” continued Doherty.

“We ended up narrowly losing 2-1 but their committee were very complimentary afterwards and said that if we manage to get up and play like that every game, we’ll be alright.

“And hopefully we will. We’re aware that unlike in the Thurlow Nunn League, if you finish in the bottom four you’re unlikely to receive a reprieve - although Wroxham did last season. That’s in the back of my mind but hopefully we’ll steer well clear of that!”

Meanwhile, the Thurlow Nunn League has two ‘groundhopper days’ to offer this season, allowing supporters the opportunity to watch four league matches in a 24-hour period.

The first of which, sees Felixstowe & Walton host Hadleigh on Friday, September 19 (7.45pm), before Woodbridge v Stowmarket on September 20 (noon), followed by Ipswich Wanderers v Kirkley & Pakefield (3pm), with Brantham Athletic v FC Clacton rounding things off (6pm).

The second is in March, where Swaffham Town host Downham Town on Friday, March 13 (7.45pm), before Norwich United visit Thetford Town on March 14 (noon), followed by Mildenhall Town v Gorleston (3pm), and finally Newmarket Town v Haverhill Rovers (6pm).

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