The west is stepping up

BURY Town chairman Russell Ward has welcomed the new Step 4 plan that finds his side, and near-neighbours AFC Sudbury, in the new Ryman League Division One North.

Ryman division one north football

BURY Town chairman Russell Ward has welcomed the new Step 4 plan that finds his side, and near-neighbours AFC Sudbury, in the new Ryman League Division One North.

Both clubs have now left the Ridgeons League and are part of the new pyramid scheme that was given the final green light last week.

Among a plethora of Essex sides, including Canvey Island, AFC Hornchurch, Witham, Maldon and Wivenhoe, Ward knows it will be a tough league.

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“It's indeed a strong league but we didn't expect any different,” he said.

“When we decided to look to move up, one thing we didn't want to do was create more travelling. And that appears to be the case.

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“Leaving the Ridgeons League is sad because it is a well run and good league. But we have got to look to progress.”

At a time when the managerial merry-go-round is in full swing, Bury are sure to have wanted to prove to their manager, the highly-rated Richard Wilkins, that they match his and his players' ambitions.

Again something Ward feels the club have done.

“We have loads of young players at the club and an ambitious manager in Richard Wilkins. We want to match his and the players' ambitions, as well as those of our supporters.

“They have been tremendous this season and our attendances, leaving aside Cup and Vase games, are up 30%.”

Wilkins echoed his chairman's thoughts.

“We are all really looking forward to it,” he said.

“It's a fresh challenge and so much has been done behind the scenes at this club. I don't think Bury Town were ready for the move up 12 months ago, but it is different now.

“People have speculated about me and Bury and whether I would stay. But I have never said I wish to leave and I think the Vase defeat probably had a more profound effect on me than anyone. But we leave that behind now and look forward to the new challenge.”

All this means the likelihood of no club from the Ridgeons Premier Division being relegated - and that means Clacton, who only picked up one point, Harwich and Norwich United could be reprieved.

Although nothing has been ratified, Fulbourn Institute, who finished third in the First Division, have been told they will not be promoted because they don't have floodlights, and neither will any club who finished out of the top three.

That leaves First Division champions Stanway and runners-up Felixstowe & Walton promoted and with Bury and AFC Sudbury moving out of the Premier Division, the numbers would remain the same as long as no club was relegated from the Premier Division.

Unless things change dramatically, that is the way it is likely to be.

Ryman League Division One North (Step 4): AFC Hornchurch, AFC Sudbury, Arlesey Town, Aveley, Barking & East Ham United, Bury Town, Canvey Island, Enfield, Enfield Town, Great Wakering Rovers, Harlow Town, Ilford, Maldon Town, Potters Bar Town, Redbridge, Tilbury, Watham Abbey, Waltham Forest, Ware, Wingate & Finchley, Witham Town and Wivenhoe Town.

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