BUDE Town chairman Bradley Hopgood hopes to have floodlights installed at Broadclose Park in time for the 2022/23 season, as the Seasiders look to get back into the South West Peninsula League.
The North Cornwall club competed in Division One (West) of the SWPL for several years before being relegated.
They have spent the last two years in the newly-formed St Piran League at Step Seven of the non-league pyramid, and under the management team of Ben Potter and Josh Allen, flourished in 2020/21, sitting top of the league when COVID put paid to a second successive campaign.
Bude have the likes of the Hopcroft brothers – Billy and Harry, Liam Sandercock and James Dart who have all played at SWPL level or higher before, and the club are desperate to get back there.
Hopgood told the Post: “To go into the South West Peninsula League you have to have either floodlights in place or be seen to be going down the route of trying to get them fitted.
“We had a meeting with the guy who has done most of the clubs around here, and we had everything in place. But then COVID happened and we were in lockdown.
“The floodlights are mainly paid for by a grant, but the club has to contribute 25%, which is around £15,000.
“We held back as we were of the understanding that we could have the season in the SWPL, but again the season ground to a halt due to COVID.
“Then the FA decided to restructure the leagues. We applied again to the SWPL, only to be told by them that we don’t fulfil the criteria for facilities.
“This means another season in the St Piran League, so we’re now going back down the route of obtaining planning permission and continuing with the process such as grants.
“Hopefully we can get the floodlights in place over the next 12 months so we can go up for the 2022/23 season. Hopefully we can keep hold of the squad of players we’ve had for the last couple of seasons as we’ve got players who have played at a higher level and have been offered money to play at a higher level, but they have stayed with us.”
Hopgood is under no illusions of the importance of getting the floodlights installed and securing promotion at the third time of asking.
He said: “It’s massive for us that we do get the floodlights as we have ambitions to go back up.
“Bude is probably the biggest town in Cornwall not to have a team in the Peninsula League or above, and like any other club whether it’s football, rugby or cricket, you want your first team to be playing at the highest level possible.
“Our ethos as a club right from the bottom up is for everyone to try and get into the first team, so the better the facilities we have, the more chance there is of that happening.”
Bude have several teams across the club. The reserves play in the Duchy League, the ladies compete in the Devon Women’s League, the Veterans turn out in the Cornwall Veterans League, while several youth teams are in the East Cornwall Youth League.
Hopgood, who is joint manager of the reserves alongside Ian Adams, believes they are on an upward trajectory.
He said: “We’re really thriving as a club. Away from the first team, our reserves have lost just once in two seasons but have been denied promotion both times by COVID, our ladies lost a few players but have regrouped and are starting to thrive again, we have a really good bunch of lads in the Vets team, and our youth system, which is primarily run by parents, is starting to pay off. At the moment we start at Under-10s but we’re looking to start younger age groups.
“Off the pitch, there’s also a lot going on. We have plenty of volunteers that put a lot of time and effort into the club free of charge, and we have a lot of events.
“We’re holding the Euros in the clubhouse for the England matches, and they are all booked out, we’ve recently had Sky installed, we do camping around the club grounds and also host a lot of private events.”
Looking forward, Hopgood wants to see his side compete with the best sides in the county.
“The short-term aim has to be to get the first team back into the South West Peninsula League and then have a sustainable team in that league where teams pay a lot of the players.
“When we go back up, we want to be competitive in that league. We don’t want to just make up the numbers!”
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