Increase to 24 teams will make Borough’s Premier Division debut even tougher, says player-boss Westcott

EXCITING TIMES: Borough manager Martin Westcott acknowledges the challenge of Thurlow Nunn League changes but is still  excited by promotion
EXCITING TIMES: Borough manager Martin Westcott acknowledges the challenge of Thurlow Nunn League changes but is still excited by promotion

Martin Westcott admits his task of keeping Haverhill Borough competitive in their debut Premier Division season has only got more difficult after three more teams were added to the Thurlow Nunn League’s top tier.

The Football Association announced the step five and six allocations for 2017/18, which has confirmed an expansion to 24 teams in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division.

The increase means that each side will play 46 league fixtures next term, as opposed to 40 in 2016/17.

Martin Westcott, Haverhill Borough player/manager, said: “It will certainly make it more challenging for us.

“We just don’t have the resources of some of the other teams; we run with a much smaller squad and very little funding.

“And more games in the season is obviously going to have an effect.

“It will make it more challenging for us to deal with injuries in particular, but also a more general rotation of the squad — and that’s true of all the smaller, less well-funded, teams.

“There’s going to be some tired legs at the end of the season.

“But we’re massive underdogs this year anyway, we really don’t have anything to lose.

“We’re a bit of a surprise package, though we didn’t climb through the league without quality in the squad.

“We’re just really excited about a great year ahead for us.”

He said the team would be returning for pre-season training in mid-June, and would be working hard to retain their players.

“We really don’t have a big budget, and that might cost us in pre-season negotiations,” he said. “If we can keep last year’s team, we will definitely be able to give sides a good game.”

The team will kick off their season with a friendly against Cambridge United on July 8.

The changes to the Thurlow Nunn League saw Stowmarket Town, Coggeshall Town and Haverhill Borough all promoted from the First Division, while Wroxham and Histon have been relegated from the Isthmian and Southern League set-ups.

FC Clacton and Wivenhoe Town will also remain in the Premier Division, having been granted reprieves after finishing in the bottom three.

However, there was no such luck for bottom-placed Swaffham Town, who have been demoted.

There had also been suggestions Saffron Walden Town were destined to move sideways into the Essex Senior League, but The Bloods look set to stay put.

The First Division will consist of 21 teams following the additions of Little Oakley (Essex Senior League) and Spixworth (Almary Green Anglian Combination Premier Division).

Norwich United Reserves have been elected into the division, with Leiston Reserves spared relegation.

n Meanwhile, Haverhill Borough have announced their first team home kit will be sponsored by local firm Koppert UK next season.

Koppert UK Ltd is a subsidiary of the Dutch company Koppert Biological Systems BV, and are world-wide market leaders in biological crop protection and natural pollination.

Borough Chairman David Hardwick said: “We’re very pleased we have been able to attract another local company to sponsor our home kits.

“The team is mainly made up of young, local talent and it is pleasing we have been able to form a partnership with Koppert who provide employment for people in Haverhill.”