Introducing FC Oswestry Town
Wed 25th May 2016 | General | By Ian Templeman
The newest of the five clubs to be joining our league next season are FC Oswestry Town.
The club were formed in season 2013-14 season and took the place of Oswestry Lions in the Mercian Regional Football League Division One.
They have no connection with the club previously known as Oswestry Town, who latterly played in the League of Wales from 2000-2003, before merging with the club then known as TNS, who are now known as The New Saints.
FC Oswestry Town play their home games at the Park Hall Stadium in Oswestry, a ground that Oswestry Town first used in 1993 but after that club’s financial problems and the merger with Welsh League side TNS, it fell into disrepair and was purchased by local businessman Mike Harris.
The stadium was then redeveloped at a cost of more than £3 million to house “The Venue”, an impressive leisure development, the playing area was completely reconstructed and now has an artificial Ligaturf pitch which is FIFA 2* approved.
FC Oswestry Town share the ground with The New Saints, who are the current League of Wales champions, and therefore the stadium will be hosting a Champions League Qualifying Round game in a few weeks’ time, before our NWCFL clubs begin to visit from August onwards.
At present there are currently over 1,000 seats in the stadium, with planning permission granted to upgrade to 3,000 all-seater capacity.
FC Oswestry Town have just completed a successful season, capturing four trophies - the Mercian Regional Football League Premier Division, Shropshire Challenge Cup, The Mercian League Cup and the Commander Ethelstone Cup.
Club Director Andy Burnett says everyone at the club is now looking forward to following in the footsteps of Whitchurch Alport, and becoming the second club from Shropshire to be playing in the NWCFL.
"The main thing we wanted to do was take the club forward", said Andy.
"We have got the best facilities in Shropshire, and when we found that Whitchurch Alport had successfully applied to join the league we thought we would be in with a good shout, especially as we had the support of the Shropshire FA and we knew the NWCFL had vacancies.
"We thought that if Whitchurch could apply and get in, then we could too and everyone is really pleased that we have done.
"Whitchurch have given us lots of information. They have told us they have found it tough but have enjoyed it, and although they are a local rival of ours they have been very helpful".
A glance at a map would suggest that the town of Oswestry is not situated in the area that most would consider to be the North West of England, and the more logical step football wise might have been for the club to look to move to a league in the Midlands, but Andy insists that the NWCFL is the right place for them.
"The normal progression from winning the Mercian League is to go into the West Midlands League Division Two, but that wasn’t our preferred league", he explained.
"We knew that some of the facilities wouldn’t be as good as other leagues, and we would have some awkward journeys to make.
"We would have had to travel to Telford which is about 40 minutes and then on to Birmingham for some of the journeys, and would have needed to go down as far south as Worcester.
"Whereas from Oswestry, it’s only 25 minutes up the A5 to Chester on a straight road, and Manchester is not much more than 40 minutes away, so coming into the NWCFL is easier geographically".
On the field, Andy is quietly confident that the club will make an immediate impact when they join the First Division.
"We do feel we will be well equipped to compete. We would never be as presumptuous as to suggest that we will win the league, but we have set a target of making the play offs.
"Once we had decided to look into joining the league, a few of us went to watch Barnton v Eccleshall, which at the time was a top v bottom of the table clash and it finished 1-1.
"After watching that game, we felt that we would be able to hold our own in the league, so it was really from that point on we decided we had to get moving and get our application in.
"We are a passing team, we like to play football and we have a great surface to play on.
"We have Chris Bishop up front who has scored 52 goals in all competitions this season, and we feel we have built a good squad with a good atmosphere around the club, as players thrive on winning and we have done well in the season just ended.
"We have beaten Step 6 and Step 7 teams over the past couple of seasons, and in fact we beat Whitchurch in the semi final of the Commander Ethelstone Cup before going on to beat Malpas from the Cheshire League in the final to retain the trophy, after we beat Whitchurch in the final last year.
"There are some good teams in the league and we are really looking forward to playing them, and we like to think that people will enjoy watching us".