Chief exec keen for Wings to continue making progress

There has been p[lenty to celebrate for the Wings this year back in the Conference. Picture by Dave Budden.

There has been p[lenty to celebrate for the Wings this year back in the Conference. Picture by Dave Budden.

First published in Sport by

Welling United chief executive Barry Hobbins sees the Football League as more of a target than a dream for his beloved club.

The Wings returned to the Conference for the first time since 2000 this season and guaranteed safety with a point at Alfreton in early April, not a bad effort considering they remain part-time in a division filled with professional outfits.

In theory Welling remain just one season away from promotion to the Football League so long as they remain in the Conference, a notion the chief executive doesn’t dismiss out of hand despite scepticism elsewhere.

Mr Hobbins said: “A lot of people would say no, but if you don’t have ambition then you shouldn’t be in football - and our aim obviously is to keep going and keep progressing.

“There is no reason why we shouldn’t.

“We can seem to cope with this level and we weren’t sure we would be able to.

“If we do go and kick on from here then who knows what it may bring?”

But Mr Hobbins recognises the increased workload needed from a part-time side in a virtual professional league.

“We are still a semi-professional club,” he said.

“But what we have done is train three mornings a week, whereas in the Conference South it used to be two nights a week, which has made things a lot easier.

“The players and staff have put in the necessary work and we don't seem to be suffering from it.

“It’s a step up because of the full-time clubs involved and we thought it would be particularly uphill.

“But it actually didn’t work out that way and we made a fairly good start and have held a mid-table position for most of the time.

“We had our ups and downs, we've lost games we perhaps shouldn't have done and others we’ve won we were perhaps fortunate to.

“But by and large we have coped OK.”

Manager Jamie Day has made a number of changes to the squad throughout the season to replace players who moved on and Mr Hobbins has been impressed with the new additions.

The chief executive said: “Alex Dyer went to Sweden and we sold Fraser Franks to Luton, so we had to replace them.

“Another lad was called back on loan from Exeter - we have lost three players there.

“Some of the loan players have done well for us.

“We’ve had them from Millwall, Charlton, two from Bournemouth and none of them have let us down, so you just need the extra numbers in case of injuries really.”

One of the main benefits of playing in non-league’s top flight is a higher profile for the Park View Road club.

Mr Hobbins added: “There is more interest locally, just generally even though people don’t necessarily come to the games.

“They are local interested people from around the Welling and Bexleyheath area.”

He has also noticed an increase in the number of Welling fans travelling to away games this year.

“They are seeing new grounds, places they haven’t been to,” he said.

“We’ve had an increased support.

“It’s not been huge numbers, but in some cases we’ve take two or three hundred and others we’ve taken a few less because they are long journeys.”

With neighbours Dartford becoming the latest side relegated from the Conference after just two seasons, Mr Hobbins is optimistic Welling will not suffer the same fate.

“We can start fresh again next season.

“People say the second season is always harder, but we’ve learnt a few things and hopefully we can look forward to another good year.”

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