Borough closing in on an historic promotion

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Haverhill Borough will have a year’s grace to get their ground up to scratch if they clinch promotion up to Step Five level this season.

Borough moved into their new £700,000 3G facility at The New Croft in September, and it is expected they will have to make some improvements in order to meet Grade F of The FA’s Ground Grading requirements.

It is believed The New Croft 3G was initially built to meet Grade G standard for Step Six, with Borough, by their own admission, surpassing pre-season expectations on the pitch so far this season.

The club, formerly known as the Haverhill Sports Association, only joined the Thurlow Nunn League back in 2013, but are within touching distance of achieving promotion into the league’s top division (Premier Division) and securing Step Five football for the first time in their history.

And while The New Croft 3G does not currently pass all of the Grade F requirements to play at Step Five, the club will be able to go up if they finish in the top three and be given 12 months of grace to get all of the improvements completed.

Peter Hutchings, the chairman of the Thurlow Nunn League, told the Echo: “Clubs promoted from Step Six to Step Five have to be Grade G, which that facility (The New Croft 3G) is.

“(If Borough got promoted this season) they would then have up to March 31, 2018 to get up to Grade F, so they get 12 months’ grace to make the changes.”

Peter Betts, the facilities manager and football development officer of Haverhill Community Sports Association, added: “Obviously at the moment they are in a promotion spot, which is great for the football club.

“Some improvements will need to be made (to the ground) but the club will have a year’s grace to get the work done during that time.

“We’ll sit down with the club in the summer and get a better idea on how we can make the improvements.”

Borough continued their scintillating form in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division with a 2-0 victory over Diss Town on Tuesday night.

Second-half goals from Craig Pruden and Ryan Swallow helped make it 15 wins in 16 league games for Martin Westcott’s side.

Borough (2nd) remain 11 points clear of fourth-place Woodbridge Town but, despite their promotion rivals having two games in hand, Westcott’s men could potentially secure a top-three spot as early as next weekend.

If Woodbridge drop points in their trip to league leaders Stowmarket Town this Saturday, and Borough win their home clash with Braintree Town Reserves (7th) on Wednesday (7.45pm), a draw when the two promotion rivals meet at Notcutts Park on April 15 would be enough to clinch promotion to the Thurlow Nunn League’s top flight for the first time.

Borough chairman Dave Hardwick added: “It is a momentous season for Haverhill Borough.

“Not just for the first team to have achieved what they’ve done, but the reserves are going for promotion in their league as well.”

n Haverhill Borough’s abandoned Suffolk FA Senior Cup semi-final clash with Crane Sports has been rearranged for this weekend.

The original tie on Saturday was abandoned after just three minutes after a collision (more on page 62), with the fixture now being replayed at Hadleigh United FC this Saturday (3pm).