Promotion the 'best moment' in Ashton & Backwell club history says Thomas

Ashton and Backwell United team photo 2019/20

Ashton and Backwell United will be playing step five football for the first time since 2006. - Credit: Ashton & Backwell United.

Ashton & Backwell United’s chairman Mike Thomas has called promotion to the Toolstation Western League Premier Division as the “best moment" in the club’s history.

The Stags were promoted after the Football Association confirmed the National League System (NLS) restructure for teams in steps 4-6 has been completed and will take place next season.

Ashton & Backwell United chairman Mike Thomas.

Ashton & Backwell United chairman Mike Thomas has been with the club since the very start in 2010 when Ashton Boys merged with Backwell United. - Credit: Julie Thomas

The decision will also see reduced travel and costs and provide great opportunities for generating income through local fixtures.

A&B will now play in step five, along with 66 other clubs moved up, for the first time since 2006 when they were known as Backwell United.

The FA announced last month they would be deciding on promoting teams on a points per game basis from the two curtailed campaigns, where Ashton & Backwell had played in 36 games and were confirmed in second place.

Ashton & Backwell's James White is congratulated.

Ashton & Backwell's James White is congratulated after his man of the match display against Wincanton in February 2020. - Credit: Jo Shepherd

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"We are really pleased, anything you do you strive to be the best you can and want to be in the best level you can," said Thomas.

"We are really pleased we have achieved that, it’s an honour. We are looking forward to the challenge. Some of the players we have in our squad have been there 11 years, that’s the fruition of 11 years hard work.

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"The reflection of the work that goes on behind the scenes, having a good reserve side and the spirit amongst all the playing squad and the hard work our sectary Charlie Cole puts in.

"I’m just pleased for the whole club, we've proved ourselves on however the FA wish to do it. Over the last two seasons we have clearly been one of the better sides. It’s deserved and I'm pleased for everybody at the club."

A & B's Billy Devoy celebrates scoring his goal against Portishead Town.

Billy Devoy celebrates scoring his goal with Ashton and Backwell during their win over Portishead Town in December 2019. - Credit: Sarah Robbins

Thomas, along with Matt Southern, has been at the forefront of the club since merging with Backwell United in 2010, who were playing in the Somerset League Premier at the time, five years after competing in the Premier Division.

Thomas was involved with Ashton Boys and always had a dream of wanting to lead a side playing at the highest level they could. Seeing there was an opportunity, Thomas decided to bring together the two clubs.

After setting a three-to-five year target of getting back into the Western League, achieved in 2012-13, Thomas says promotion is "deserved" and is looking forward to taking part in the Premier Division once again.

Ashton & Backwell United celebrate scoring one of their three goals at Sherbourne Town.

Ashton & Backwell United celebrate scoring one of their three goals at Sherbourne Town last September. - Credit: Martin Edwards

"It’s the highest club has ever been since 2006 so this is definitely the best moment in the brief history of Ashton as Ashton & Backwell and it’s nice to be in the top level of Western League Football," he added.

"I’ve always had an ambition wanting to be part of an Ashton side that we provide our own players and this has provided us with the platform to do it.

"To see over half of the playing squad have come through our own youth policy is fantastic, with the addition of some new players and in particularly the last two, three seasons that have really pushed us forward.

"It’s a real buzz for the whole club, it’s very exciting, a new challenge, division. We know it’s a jump up in the playing standard but we are looking forward to it.

"We are really looking forward to stepping up that level and proving ourselves. We have got a playing squad and a good young manager to do that. And we give him every backing that we possibly can.

"Personally I am proud and pleased, but it's the lads who have done it on the pitch, the managers all along the route who have developed the players and built up the spirit.

"It’s not about me, we will celebrate when the time is right and enjoy it. I can take personal pride in those players who were with us at the age of five, six or seven and they are now part of that squad who have got promotion to the Western League Premier.

"We have done something right along the way along with players who have joined the journey in the last 12 months, three years so it’s a team thing.

"We are going to enjoy the moment, we have got to go for it, it’s an opportunity we have earned and we have got to take it and we will see where we are during the season it will be tough but let’s go for it and enjoy it."

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