Lowestoft's plan to follow Histon's road
Michael Bailey Lowestoft Town chairman Gary Keyzor wants his club to follow Histon's model after stepping up to level four of the non-league pyramid. The Blues confirmed yesterday they have been promoted from the Ridgeons League to Division One North of the Ryman League following a season in which they racked up 114 goals and 100 points on their way to the Premier Division title and lifted the Suffolk Premier Cup.
Lowestoft Town chairman Gary Keyzor wants his club to follow Histon's model after stepping up to level four of the non-league pyramid.
The Blues confirmed yesterday they have been promoted from the Ridgeons League to Division One North of the Ryman League following a season in which they racked up 114 goals and 100 points on their way to the Premier Division title and lifted the Suffolk Premier Cup.
The footsteps they now want to follow in are those of Histon - who having stepped up from the Eastern Counties League in 2000, came close to reaching the Football League this season, having dumped Leeds United out of the FA Cup along the way.
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Keyzor believes that is the model Lowestoft Town, and their impressive fan base, needs to follow.
“It has got to be,” he said. “Nine years ago they were playing in the league we've just got out of. You've got to admire that and what they've done, and that is what we can do.
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“The people of Lowestoft can make that happen and I will do my utmost to make that happen.”
Confirmation of Lowestoft's fate was not expected until next week, as the FA decided on issues further up the football ladder, including King's Lynn's appeal against Conference North relegation.
However, club secretary Terry Lines received written confirmation yesterday that the Blues will be competing in the Ryman League next season, regardless of other decisions.
“If it had been the Southern League, as it is now, we wouldn't have taken it. We had our heart set on the Ryman League,” admitted Keyzor. “It is still a little bit further to travel, but not unreachable compared to this season. We won't have the local derbies and every away trip will be longer, but it is manageable.”
The Blues are proving to be a club on the up, with last summer's introduction of former Norwich City duo Craig Fleming and Dave Carolan behind the scenes the catalyst for this season's success.
Keyzor is yet to sit down with joint managers Ady Gallagher and Micky Chapman over their Ryman plans, but he is confident the club will be able to compete at the higher level - a point backed by Town's 1-0 FA Vase quarter-final victory at Division One North side Concord Rangers, one of their new rivals, two seasons ago.
“I came on board in October,” he said. “The club has stayed put for however many years, but I didn't want to stop here in the Ridgeons; I wanted to go further. And in my eyes we're not going to just stop in the Ryman either. There is no point going up and stopping. You've got to keep going and I believe we have got the stability at the club.
“There are people wanting to financially assist and we have got fantastic sponsors - so the future of the club is much brighter. And having Craig Fleming and Dave Carolan on board, a lot of clubs I'm sure envy that - some more than two levels up as well.”Crown Meadow has been cleared for the move up, news which will be a blow for the Ridgeons League as Lowestoft's average league attendance of 562 is higher than any other club at its level in the entire country.
Officials from the club visited the FA's HQ in London two months ago, to make their case for promotion to the Ryman League should the club clinch the Ridgeons title.
Waveney MP and club patron, Bob Blizzard, said: “All the lobbying and the hard work has paid off and the FA have seen sense through the strength of our case.
“Winning the league by 17 clear points and an average attendance of 562 helped our cause.
“Lowestoft Town are a football club on the up. Next season will be a new adventure and a new challenge. It is a very exciting and we look forward to next year. Our aim now it to win the Ryman League North.”
The Blues will compete against 22 teams in Division One North, including Maldon Town, Enfield Town and Concord Rangers.
A further step up, in the Ryman Premier, includes a few bigger names in non-league football - Sutton United, Canvey Island and Dartford.
Town's departure from Ridgeons football also signals the end of their recent love affair with the FA Vase.
After a final and semi-final appearance in the last two seasons, Lowestoft will compete against teams from up to Conference National level next season for the FA Trophy.
t Ryman Division One North - Final table
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t Aveley and Waltham Abbey have been promoted whilst Witham Town and Hillingdon have been relegated. Harlow Town and Heybridge Swifts will also play in Division One North, following their relegation from the Premier Division.