Imagine a football team winning the league but not getting promoted.
This is what could happen to non-league Northfield Town Football Club.
The team based in Selly oak, Birmingham, could win the Midlands Division Two title this Saturday; however, no matter what the result, the club will not get promoted to the first division.
With one game left of the season, Northfield are guaranteed to finish above closest rival’s GNP if they can defeat Feckenham on Saturday and will win their first league title in 13 years in doing so; having already confirmed promotion two weeks ago.
However, whether the club win the league title or not they will not get to go up because the club hasn’t applied for promotion to Division One.
Joint manager Colin Jones explained that the reason behind the club not applying for promotion was due to issues over their current ground.
The club currently play at Shenley Lane Community Centre. However, the ground does not have floodlights, a requirement for Division One clubs, meaning that the club would have to move to a ground which has floodlights. It is not possible to install floodlights at the community centre due to issues including nearby housing.
Shenley Lane has been the home of Northfield since 1966 however, it has become the epitome of the club; and the finances brought in by the clubhouse has helped keep the team afloat in recent years.
This view is echoed by Jones who said: ‘’Last season we struggled so we thought that we would not apply to go up and would assess where we are. If we win the league great, but it’s a case of looking where we are next season and if we are in the same position then we will change.’’
This is Jones’ first season in charge as joint manager of the club with Danny Pilgrim. Last year saw Northfield struggle on and off the field, so the need to remain at Shenley Lane for at least one more year is crucial.
With it now being public knowledge that the club cannot be promoted, there have been talks that a number of clubs who could come in for some of Northfield’s big players such as Sam Wills and Josh McGinley.
However, Pilgrim feels that the club should not have to worry about keeping hold of their star players. He said: ‘’The aspiration of playing up higher up is appealing; but the general feedback from the players is that they are happy here, they have enjoyed the season and I feel that they can see where we can potentially go if we build on this.’’
Despite not going up a division, Northfield’s brilliant season has had a positive affect on the community.
Local MP Robbie Lea-Trengrouse said: “The club has always been good for Northfield as it offers opportunities for little kids to play; but now with the team winning games more people are going down and there is a feel-good factor around the place.’’
Regardless of the plans for next season, it is clear that Northfield are a team planning for long term success but will be still be looking to clinch the league title on Saturday.