Let's meet the new member clubs - Droylsden

Tue 27th June 2023 | Droylsden
By Media Team

Continuing our series of discussions with new and returning members of the NWCFL, we have caught up this week with Droylsden Chairman, Dave Pace. The Bloods return to the League after a gap of around 30 years and in that time the club have scaled the heights of non-league and 15 years ago were in the Conference National League. The club eventually returned to the Northern Premier League, but withdrew from the league in 2020 due to the impact of the Pandemic but made the decision earlier this year to apply to return to the National League system.  That application that was successful and sees them make a welcome return to the NWCFL, where adventures can potentially get started – Will Droylsden go on another? We started by catching up with Dave and seeing what the club went through at the start of the Pandemic…

“Quite simply horrible, you could see what was going on in the news and whilst you could never predict what was going to happen, you could sense that this was serious and businesses were going to go to the wall and people were going to lose jobs. Taking the club out of competitive football was the most difficult footballing and business decision I have had to make in my life. I’m not a multi-millionaire who can just pay money out here, there and everywhere but I was putting a little money into the club, just small amounts here and there when required, I’ve put money into the stands here and we were really level with our incomings and outgoings but we had to make a decision as we would have gone under very quickly if we hadn't.”

“We made that decision for the good of the club to protect it’s entity as we didn’t want to go into administration or come back as a phoenix Club so we looked at the options and did what we had to do. We are one of only a couple of clubs that managed to step back, survive and return but as exactly the same business entity as we did when we left. Our history and identity is in-tact and that’s important to all Droylsden fans, we have a long and proud history at this club and we can now continue it.”

Dave, three years is quite a long time but are you planning on returning to the Dugout and also how much of the team have you been able to keep in touch with? Is it a case of getting the band back together or is it a complete rebuild?

“Yes, I’m back in the dugout, but only because I’m cheap! In all fairness, I’m time served and have won a quadrouple with this club and built it up to a Conference National Club where we were playing the likes of Oxford United and Cambridge United as equals and competitive games on the TV. My CV is good so it makes sense to try and start that adventure again but I am under no illusions, I have always said to the fans that if I don’t perform, I am as vulnerable to getting sacked as anyone else.”

“The squad is almost a total rebuild but there will be some familiar faces joining me as a favour. We put out recently that we were having a First Team Player open day and over 140 players turned up, some really good quality players wanted to turn out for Droylsden and we have whittled down the group to 30 players and we will get that down a bit more as we get closer to pre-season.”

The application to return to the National League System came in quite late, does that imply it was a difficult decision to make to return?

“I really didn’t think we would make it this year, I was always open to it but looking at business conditions, they’ve taken a knock for different reasons since the pandemic but a club is only as good as it’s people and we have plenty of good people about. A number of folk were asking for an update of what state the club was in and looking for an update, so I put on a small open meeting thinking a few people would turn up, I would tell them how we are and they, in-turn, would tell a few more people and we could get word out that when the time was right we would be good to go again. Well, so many people turned up wishing us well and wanting us to get back up and running again, we made a tentative enquiry to the Directors of the North West Counties League. These are proper footballing people, they didn’t put us on the spot or anything but they answered a lot of questions for us, provided us with information and support and were willing to back us in an application to the FA Leagues Committee if we felt the time was right. We likely wouldn’t have applied this year if that support had not have been there from the supporters and the Counties.”

There has been a lot of positiveness from around the football world locally, regionally and nationally about the club getting back in to competition, is this something that you are aware of and view with fondness?

“To be honest, I had buried my head in the sand a bit after we stepped out of football and my outlook had been negative for some time but I had made conscious efforts to keep the club out of debt as much as possible and in such a position that when we could come back – we would. I wouldn’t have blamed the fans for being negative when we first opened those doors to discuss the wellbeing of the club.  But they are a force and they have been instrumental in us getting ready for our return. The press reaction has been much appreciated and people from around football have been public in welcoming us back and for that we are thankful, and very much aware.”

You mention there about the support of the fans, has the fan base stayed in touch with you? We know that recent club meetings have been well attended but are the indications there that the Bloods fans will be there when you open those turnstiles back up?

“Yes, we are a club who are in touch with its fans and we know that they will be there with us from the moment we open those gates back up. Our fans are loyal and passionate and this season they will be back supporting their team.”

Opening the point up about fans being there, have the club managed to attract the required volunteers in and volunteers with the required football knowledge to operate and sustain a football club?

“Yes, that hasn’t been an issue for us, most of our volunteers are back with us as well as some new faces. We will be looking to hit the ground running.”

Having seen the success of Vauxhall Motors over the last couple of seasons, is this something you are looking to emulate or is there a different set of objectives?

“They’ve done well haven’t they, especially having been through a similar business decision as we had to make. This is a massive challenge for us, potentially on a similar scale for us for when we were in the Conference, but the same winning desire is there. It doesn't matter if its a game of football or i'm playing you in draughts, I will be looking to win.  We are not just looking to come in and make the numbers up, we want to compete in the League, the Macron Cup, The Isuzu Vase and every competition we enter but that competition comes with responsibilities. We will need to compete, work hard and challenge for every point and every round. That’s what the game is about though, taking your chances and we are going to give it a real go.”

Have you kept an eye on the NWCFL over the last couple of years and formed an opinion on what is required to compete and the type of football that is played at Step six?

“Yes, In a nutshell! Particularly over the last season or so I have been to watch the likes of Avro, who have done really well, Wythenshawe Amateurs, Wythenshawe Town and the Liverpool based teams and you can see from the way they play that it is still a really good standard of football. The player pool for the area is strong and winning teams always have something about them at this step and it’s about capturing that and getting that out on the park.”

What does your pre-season look like?

“It’s quite functional, I’ve never been one for playing 6,7,8 pre-season games before a season starts as the players will be tired before they’ve kicked a competitive football. We have got a pre-season of four games in place and it starts with a home game against local side, Stretford Paddock. It is a symbolic day for us and we are hoping to have a DJ on and a few balloons around the place to celebrate the event. Our new kit will be on sale that day too, so its a chance for fans to get their hands on our first new shirt for a while.  We will also be using the occasion to acknowledge Tony Downes, a Soldier who was killed on active duty in Afghanistan, we will be playing for a small trophy and medals in his memory. It is kind of a three-fold event but one that we are looking forward to.”

When all is said and done, what would a successful season look like for Dave Pace and Droylsden next April?

“Winning the League and holding the FA Vase at Wembley! I don’t do consolidation, you have to plan big.”

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