FOOTBALL - Alvechurch thriving off the pitch despite on-field struggles - The Bromsgrove Standard

FOOTBALL - Alvechurch thriving off the pitch despite on-field struggles

ALVECHURCH chairman Richard Thorndike admitted things could not be going better for the club off the pitch despite their on-field struggles this season.

Church head into the festive period sitting in the lower reaches of the Southern League Premier Central table.

However, despite finding life tough on the pitch, the club are continuing to build a solid infrastructure behind the scenes.

Thorndike said: “On the pitch it’s been tough but off the pitch it has been amazing.

“Our charity status was accepted for the Alvechurch Foundation which is in full swing with lots of coaching for under-privileged kids.

“The women’s section is building and the juniors are all thriving all the way down to our under-eight’s.

“We’ve got a new classroom at The Hayes as well for our further education programme for 16 to 18-year-old’s.

“It couldn’t be going any better off the pitch aside from we’re still waiting for the planning decision to be made on whether we can get Lye Meadow developed and sold to give us more money to develop The Hayes.”

And Thorndike believes a lot of hard work can turn the club’s season around after losing a number of key players in the summer following their run to the FA Cup second round proper last term.

Thorndike added: “On the pitch it’s a different matter, we’ve struggled, we’re just in a rut, I’ve been here before, we normally manage to navigate our way out of it.

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get it right on the pitch. Every year is a transition year for us because of the size of our budget and where we are in the non-league pyramid food chain.

“Our DNA and method is to take younger players who nobody has heard of or who have been in decline at their respective clubs and train them properly and make them better.

“That’s what we do every year, on the promise that as soon as those players achieve good things on the pitch, they can move onwards and upwards.

“We’re sixth or seventh in the pecking order locally, we have to target a specific player type, an ex-academy product and recognise potential.”

Church sacked former boss Ian Long in September, following a heavy defeat at Halesowen Town in the FA Cup, and replaced him with James Fry who only retired from playing last season.

The club enjoyed a mini-revival at the beginning of Fry’s reign but failed to win any of their games in November before losing their opening two matches in December.

However, Thorndike insists Fry is working tirelessly on the training ground to ensure Church climb up the league table.

He said: “The new manager came in and said we’re going to go for experience to complement the young squad that we’ve got and we’re not far off.

“It’s his first job and he’s come straight in at step three, that’s always going to be a challenge.

“I watch him almost every day on the training pitch and he’s top draw, things just aren’t quite clicking for him at the moment.

“He has to believe in what he’s doing and the lads have to believe in what they’re doing, it’ll just take a scruffy win somewhere and we’ll be good.

“Jimmy is a knowledgeable football person, the only thing he hasn’t got is experience, he’s never been staring down an abyss.

“We find ourselves in the relegation zone coming into a busy Christmas period and he’s never been there before but I and other people at the club have so we’ll help him and support him to get through this period.”

And with Church still playing their home games at Lye Meadow, Thorndike hopes a decision will be made early in the New Year regarding the club’s protracted move to The Hayes.

He said: “It’s getting to the point where somebody somewhere needs to put an inquiry into it, it’ll be five years in January since we submitted the planning application.

“Five years is unheard of, we’re being told they’ll make a decision in January or February, it’s on a knife edge but it’s the hope and uncertainty that kills you.”

Alvechurch host Needham Market on Saturday, December 23 with kick-off at 3pm at Lye Meadow.

And Church then travel to local rivals Redditch United on Boxing Day (Tuesday, December 26) with kick-off at 3pm at the Valley Stadium.

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