When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Wallace: Totton DO want Conference football
AFC Totton’s acting chairman Paul Wallace insists the executive committee have always been fully behind the Stags’ push for promotion to the Blue Square Bet South.
In a week when manager Stuart Ritchie tendered his resignation, Wallace dismissed as “total non¬ sense” talk that the Totton hierarchy would prefer not to get promoted for fear that the Stags are moving for¬ ward too quickly having only just come up from the Southern One South & West.
Totton, who need a point from tomorrow's (Tuesday, 7.45pm) delayed final league game at home to Bedford Town to clinch a Premier Division play-off spot, are chasing a second successive promotion.
But there has been speculation that one of Ritchie’s reasons for leaving after eight success-filled seasons is that the club are struggling to match off the field what they are achieving on it.
Wallace, however, strongly rejects any suggestion that Totton are either unwilling or unprepared to progress to the next tier of the non-League pyramid.
“From a club point of view, that is total nonsense,” he said. “The execu¬ tive committee, the trustees and, hopefully, all the supporters are fully committed to improving and going up to a higher level.
“This season has probably exceed¬ ed all expectations, but if someone had said at the start that we would be challenging for the play-offs, we would have snapped their hands off.”
When Jim Fallon, the Stags’ former main sponsor, withdrew his funding in early March, he questioned the executive committee’s ability to raise funds and drive the club for¬ ward.
But Wallace, who stepped into the breach when Sean Whelan ended a brief reign as chairman at the start of April, stated: “We will cut our cloth accordingly if we go up – and, yes, we can afford to be in the Blue Square Bet South.
“The costs are slightly greater at the Testwood Stadium than they were at the old ground, but things have settled down now with the water, gas and electric bills.
“At first we were landed with a large lump sum for each while (ground developers) Linden Homes were sorting out the connections, but now we are getting regular bills and can anticipate our outgoings and budget for them accordingly.
“The team manager next season will have the playing budget we can afford, whichever league we are in.
"We have done one, three and five- year projections for this division and also for the Conference South.”
That manager will not be Ritchie, who has opted to step down after eight magical years at the helm.
Since leading the Stags to Wessex League Cup glory in 2006, the former Aston Villa and Crewe Alexandra midfielder has raised the bar each and every season.
Totton graced the new Wembley in the 2007 FA Vase final and have since won the Wessex League and Southern One South & West titles and back-to-back Hampshire FA Senior Cups.
Wallace added: “I hope everyone will remember all the years Stuart has put into the club.
"He’s been a great servant to AFC Totton.”