DIRECTOR Wayne Oliver says that the future is beginning to look brighter for Droitwich Spa, as the wheels begin to set in motion for Andy Crowther’s side to return to the town.
The Saltmen have been in exile at Stourport Swifts’ Walshes Meadow ever since the summer of 2017, something which has forced fans to travel roughly ten miles away from Spa’s original King George V Fields home.
However, with news of an approved plan to construct a stadium and community 3G playing surface – in addition to refurbished facilities on the existing King George Playing Fields site on Briar Mill – being announced in December, the cogs have slowly been turning in the weeks that have followed.
Oliver, previously a manager with the West Midlands (Regional) League Division One club, gave a positive update on the state of play, and expects the early stages of Spa’s vision to take shape in the coming months.
“We’re hoping that work on the main project, which is the development of the 3G and the floodlit grass pitch, will start during the spring,” he said.
“The application for the Football Foundation grant has now gone in, together with the commitment from Wychavon District Council, that should see us get a start date which we’re very positive will now happen – it’s getting real.
“Droitwich has previously played at Kings George V Fields, which is owned by the Fields in Trust, managed by Wychavon Leisure and funded by Wychavon District Council, so there are lots of hurdles to get over before we can put a spade in the ground.”
The club have made their desire to produce a hub for the community’s sports teams – from the men’s, women’s, veterans and youth football teams at Droitwich Spa, to the town’s hockey and boxing clubs amongst others – clear from the start, with this transparency offering real hope of excellent sports facilities finally being delivered to the town.
“Everyone has been fantastic and are working to make it happen, we’ll see what the spring brings,” Oliver added.
“Hopefully we can continue at the current pace.
“We don’t deserve anything unless we can put something in ourselves – whether that be in a monetary or physical sense – there are a few sports clubs that use the facilities down in Droitwich, obviously we’ll be looking to increase the usability of the site to involve more people and groups as well as ourselves.”
From a football point-of-view, the Saltmen have been at the right end of the table for a number of years now, with promotion to the Premier Division seemingly a matter of when, and not if.
Unsurprisingly then, those in the Droitwich boardroom are bearing the long-term standing of the club on the field into consideration with the forthcoming development.
“You’re always second guessing and taking a gamble with the level of the facilities,” Oliver continued.
“If you get one promotion, the required facilities have to be better again, and the same for a second promotion.
“In five years time, we could be two, three leagues above – we could be two leagues below where we are now, so you have to wary.
“It’s one of those things where we’ve got to look to the future, to be progressive, and that’s what we’re trying to do – especially with the football side of things.
“We’re in no rush, we’ve got a great relationship with our current landlords over at Stourport where the first team play, and that’s sufficient for our league requirements at the moment.
“We have waited for a long time for the re-development of the site so we want to get it right and not rush it through.”
And while it is of great frustration for the footballing world, particularly in non-league, for play to be grounded below the National League North/South, the Spa director is firmly of the belief that the good times will soon return.
“The lads are in contact with each other on a weekly basis via Zoom, they can’t train as a group at the moment but are all individually working,” said Oliver.
“It’s frustrating, it’ll be difficult to keep teams together – be it Droitwich or other clubs – when things get start again.
“Football has to come secondary to what we’re experiencing at the moment, we have to take things as they come when things pick up again.
“The West Midlands (Regional) League tend to follow the Midland Football League, who have said that there are no fixtures until the end of February.
“From a club and a players point-of-view, it’d be helpful if a decision was made one way or another so we know where we stand.
“It would be nice to get that clarification from the leagues and FA, but we’ll have to sit around and wait for any decisions.”