Wiltshire Publications

United crowned league champions!

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photo credit: Martin Pearce

WESTBURY United have been crowned champions of the Toolstation Western League First Division, securing promotion into the Premier Division.

A goal in the 89th minute from Dan Kovacs in United’s game against Devizes Town last week, gave the team the three points they needed to see off their rivals Roman Glass St George and Keynsham Town and take the top spot.

This is only the second time in the club’s history that they have won promotion into the Premier Division, the last time being in 1991. The team enjoyed 10 years in the Premier Division then, before being relegated to Division One in 2001/2.

The win at Meadow Lane last week was followed by jubilant scenes on and off the pitch as the club and supporters celebrated the win, which has been described as ‘an amazing turnaround’ after finishing in the bottom three of the league for the past three years.

Manager Neil Kirkpatrick, who manages the side alongside his son Joe Kirkpatrick, told White Horse News, “I’m feeling lots of emotion. It was a tight three-horse race at the finish and we wouldn’t have been happy to finish in third. So I am ‘happy as Larry!’

“I’ve told the team to make sure they enjoy the win. They’ve got about six weeks to celebrate and then it’ll be time for pre-season. I’m sure there’ll be a few sore heads stumbling around Westbury over the next few weeks!

“It’s been a long, hard season and we have done fantastically well. It’s one hell of an achievement to win the league and promotion after being in the bottom three for the last three years – it’s an amazing turnaround.

“My son and I came in to manage the team at the back end of the last season. We had to reorganise the team, and we brought in new players. I was the manager at Larkhall Athletic, so I know what it takes to win a league.

“Westbury has an abundance of good players and we have a good working relationship with the reserves. They really stepped up when we needed them and were happy to help. That’s probably reflective of the ethos of this club, we’re all working to the same goal.

“It’s been a long journey, we knew we could win it, but that’s easy to say, tough to achieve. Working alongside my son Joe as joint manager, and Barry and Luke supporting us, has worked really well.

“Lifting that trophy has got to be the highlight for me this season, and doing it with my son Joe, that was a proud moment.”

“Looking ahead to next season, in the Premier Division, everything moves up a gear, everything is better; the teams, the pitches. So we will have to be consistent in our performance, just like we have been this season.

“We will keep the squad together, and work to establish ourselves in the division, it’s going to be tough. We’ll be up against great teams like Plymouth Parkway, Buckland Athletic and Bradford Town, which will be our local derby.

“I want the team to get in amongst it, upset a few of the bigger teams and establish ourselves, on and off the pitch. I’d like a longer run in the FA Vase and some good cup runs.

“The fans have been great this season and I want to thank them for their support, we do appreciate it. We’ll need their support even more next season as we’ll be the underdogs. But I like being the underdog, it gives us the element of surprise!”

Club chairman, Greg Coulson added, “I am over the moon, delighted! Thank you to the coaching team, Neil, Joe, Luke and Barry. The aim this season was to finish in the top 5, so to go on and win, took a lot of good management. The standard of play has been so high this season.

“We built ourselves on a strong defence and only conceded 26 goals. We have an excellent bunch of lads who have performed phenomenally. Our captain, Dan Price, has been outstanding, a real leader on the pitch. He’s played every minute this season; he’s been fantastic.

“Next season we want to be comfortably in there, a mid-table place would be good and a good cup run would be another ambition.

“The fans have been superb, attendance has grown and we want to sustain this in the Premier. The supporters are the heartbeat of this club, they’re the ones that keep the club going.”

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