MELKSHAM Town chairman Dave Wiltshire says the club are not giving up on their Southern League dream after having to put their hopes of promotion on hold for another year.
The third-placed finish for Darren Perrin’s side in the Toolstation League Premier Division left them with an outside chance of moving up to Level Eight of the English football pyramid for the 2017-18 campaign.
However, following the FA’s annual summer review of non-league football over the weekend, just one Toolstation team will be promoted, with champions Bristol Manor Farm taking their place in the Southern League.
Melksham have everything in place to become a Southern League side, with their new Oakfields stadium, opened earlier this year, passing a recent ground grading that will remain valid for the next three seasons.
Chairman Wiltshire says the club, who were crowned Toolstation Premier Division champions back in 2015 but were unable to be promoted while at their former ground at the Conigre, will continue with its quest to rise up the non-league ranks.
“In reality, it’s what we expected. We were obviously hoping we might be able to go up and until someone tells you officially, you have to hold onto that, but it’s not to be,” said Wiltshire.
“We are a little bit disappointed but the truth is that we finished third and that was never likely to be quite good enough.
“We have had a really good run at it and with all the changes we’ve had with moving grounds, we’ve had another great season where we’ve finished third in the league and won the Les Phillips Cup for the first time in the club’s history.
“We wanted to try this season but we’ll just have another go next season.
“With this wonderful new facility, we want to get to the highest level we possibly can but we will do it the right way, and the way we have done it since we’ve been involved.
“We want to get better every year and if you haven’t got ambition, you are never going to get anywhere.”
As well as a state-of-the-art new ground, Melksham also boast the best support in the league. An average of 321 fans attended each home game last season, with that figure more than double that of the second best supported side, Bristol Manor Farm, with an average gate of 127.
“We’ve got wonderful support and to be averaging more than 300 supporters per game at the new ground has been amazing. With that, we know we could hold our own in the Southern League,” said Wiltshire.
“Since we’ve brought Darren in, he’s taken us on to the next level.”
“Over the last few years we’ve become established as a top-three Premier Division side every season and that’s a big achievement.”