17th February 2020 - AEK Boco looking for necessary promotion
AEK-BOCO chairman John Winter insists his club will do "everything in our power" to secure a coveted and "necessary" promotion – and hasn’t ruled it out for this season.
The Hanham-based mid-table Marcliff Gloucestershire County League outfit and 2016 title winners urgently want to push on to non-League step 6 status in order to satisfy the demands and expectations of a burgeoning set-up involving youth, female and senior male performers.
Winter, who is also first team manager, takes BOCO into league combat tomorrow at Greenbank Road HQ for a date with Little Stoke.
And while that takes immediate priority it’s the bigger picture that is soaking up so much of Winter’s and his colleagues’ time and energy, with elevation "as soon as possible" to the Toolstation Western League, or equivalent Hellenic League, of pressing concern.
He explained: "We have under-18, under-17 and three under-16 teams packed with lads all eligible to move into senior men’s football. If we can’t progress as a club we’ll continue losing them to other clubs. So it’s a real key time for us.
"We also have two under-16 girls’ teams doing well and ready to move into successful women’s football here at BOCO. Again, if we don’t demonstrate we have the facilities to stage higher-level football they’ll move on too.
"You can only do so much as a club and we’ve been held back by red tape for far too long."
BOCO are making strides to upgrade their facilities in readiness for a potential move up the pyramid.
"We’re working at laying a solid pathway around two sides of our pitch and the V-mesh fencing around the pitch needs to be installed," Winter outlined.
"We’re on course to meet ground grading criteria for the next level up and we’re just awaiting South Gloucestershire Council final planning confirmation and landlord permission.
"We understand too that we’re the only club in the County League this season to apply for promotion and that a top five finish could be sufficient.
"If we can get the go-ahead to carry out these necessary ground works it would give everyone a lift and incentive to press on hard for that top five place and I see no reason, with games in hand, why we couldn’t achieve it."
Of his team’s on-field battles, Winter stressed: "We’re doing okay and we’re in the semi-finals of the League Cup where we play the current leaders Sharpness at home (on Saturday, April 4, 3pm).
"Our Jake Slocombe is top scorer in the league with 23 goals although we could really do with others pitching in with goals as we are creating chances.
"Everyone tells us we play good football and we just need to find the finishing touch more often to cap it off.
"It’s also encouraging to see so many of our successful under-16 Avon Youth League players going so well under the guidance of their manager ‘Spenny’ Thomas.
"Joel Manning has stepped up to us and done really well in goal and we’re gradually introducing others such as Kai Stenner (central midfielder), who was in the squad last week, and Liam Jones, a winger, with a view to getting them their first senior starts," added the BOCO leader, who can recall central midfielder Jason Thatcher and centre-half and captain Austen Shopland tomorrow.
He is, however, without Kalum Withey and Liam Powell, who scored in the 2-2 weekend draw with Broadwell Amateurs.