NEIL Hards believes that keeping the management team together will be the key to ensuring Winchester City's FA Vase glory boys do not split up.

City's failure to get their ground up to scratch has cost them promotion to from the Wessex League and there have rumblings that some of their star players want to move on.

Even team boss Hards admits he has some serious thinking to do in the wake of the 2-0 triumph over AFC Sudbury, but the bottom line is that he would hate two years of hard work to be thrown down the drain.

He said: "All the players want to go higher and I don't blame anyone for trying to do that but, due to circumstances beyond my control, we have been unable to achieve that.

"At the moment we're revelling in the glory of winning the Vase, but once the dust starts to settle I'm going to have a chat with each and every one of the players to see where we go from here.

"Before that I have to decide my own future and first off I will be talking to the rest of the management team (coach Steve Moss and player/assistant managers Mark Blake and Gary Green) to see what they're going to do. If the four of us stick together and there are no cracks on our side of the fence, we'll have a better chance of keeping the team together. I think the majority of them want to stay. We've worked too hard to achieve all this to just throw it in the bin."

Just as the players will be looking to Hards for assurances about the future, the manager will be seeking guarantees from the Wessex League/Cup champions that they can match progress on the pitch with improvements off it.

He said: "The team was asked to do a job and I'd like to think we've kept our side of the bargain - and a bit more besides.

"I can't ask for any more from the players, but there are certain promises that haven't been kept on the club side of things.

"If you make deals, I believe you've got to honour them, but the carrot's been dangled in front of the team and then taken away - and that's not right.

"Winning the Vase has helped, but we've had a taste of the big-time and we want to taste it again. Hopefully the club will listen to that - and that's not just down to Dave Malone (director of football). So much of it lands on Dave's shoulders, but we've got a board of directors too.

"I want some assurances about where Winchester will be going in two or three years' time."

Winchester City have tied with Christchurch as joint winners of the Wirral Programme Survey's Wessex League programme of the year. The efforts of City's matchday programme editor Doug Taylor place them 168th nationally out of 1,100 clubs.