But departure of several key players may follow

WINCHESTER CITY duly brought a momentous campaign to a close when they overcame their opponents from Suffolk to win the FA Vase at Birmingham City's St Andrews ground last Sunday.

They captured the trophy in only their second season in the competition and added it to the Sydenhams Wessex League and Cup silverware already on show in the trophy cabinet at the Denplan City Ground.

But amidst the celebrations came the realisation that several of the team's key members may not be with the club next season to defend those titles.

League club in for Andy Forbes

City have this week received approaches from football league clubs for two of the squad.

One of them is top scorer Andy Forbes, who was the subject of interest recently by AFC Bournemouth.

He opened the scoring in the first half against Sudbury with his 76th goal of the season, but was non-committal about his future plans.

"I'm under contract here and until someone makes an offer to the club for me that's how it stands," he said recently.

"I love this club, but I really don't much fancy another season playing at Wessex League level."

City's director of football, David Malone, recently placed a price tag of £30,000 on Forbes, who cost nothing when signed from Andover two years ago.

But Malone said this week: "I couldn't possibly stand in the way of a player if he gets the chance to go to a Nationwide League club.

"But the deal would have to be right for us and the player concerned."

Malone declined to name the other player attracting the attention of a top side.

No more departures

Several other players are considering their futures, but Malone commented: "Danny Smith is the only one who'll be out of contract and no-one else will be leaving unless it suits this club.

"It's very frustrating for us all to have to play Wessex League football for another season, but we have trophies to defend and promotion to go for again and that should provide enough of a fresh challenge for the players."

Smith to be first?

The failure to gain promotion to a higher grade of football almost certainly means that skipper Smith will leave Abbotts Barton when his contract runs out this summer.

The 24-year-old former AFC Bournemouth player made that known just minutes after he had lifted the Vase in front of around 2,500 City supporters among the crowd of twice that number.

"This has been my biggest and best day in football, surpassing even my debut for Bournemouth in the professional ranks," he told me.

"But I don't want to be playing Wessex League football again next next season. I've been there and done that and I believe I'm capable of playing at several levels higher than that.

"The club's aim this season was to move onwards and upwards and for various reasons it hasn't happened.

"I'll be thinking things over in the next few weeks."

Green set to retire

Malone's views were countered by assistant manager Gary Green, who announced his retirement after the match.

The 40-year-old said he too would be weighing up the situation.

"I hope we can keep the squad together, but a lot of these lads should be playing at a higher level and I don't think we would want them to stay if their hearts are not in it," he confessed.

"Danny Smith would be a massive loss to us, but you couldn't blame him for wanting to move on. He's given us two great seasons."

Green said he's likely to re-register as a player in case of emergencies, but indicated that he too wanted some time to think things over.

Dyke is unsettled

Goalscorer Shaun Dyke was delighted to have been named man of the match at St Andrews.

His all-action display, plus scoring the vital second goal with a penalty thirteen minutes from time, rightly earned him the award.

The penalty was given when Danny Smith was pulled down by Neil Calver, who was sent off for the offence. Dyke coolly converted the kick as regular penalty taker Forbes had been substituted.

"It's been a brilliant season and I'm chuffed to bits that it ended like this," said Dyke.

"But I'd rather have moved up a league than winning this trophy. A lot of the players are pretty gutted that we're not going up and I think a few teams will be in for them.

"I don't know where I'll be next season - I'm just going to thinks things over first."