Charnock Richard clinch Division One runners-up spot
Sat 29th April 2017 | Charnock Richard | By Ian Templeman
Charnock Richard clinched the runners-up place in Division One with a 3-2 win at St Helens Town confirming their promotion to the Premier Division.
Charnock went into the game with the cushion of knowing that they could afford to lose, and Litherland REMYCA would still need to overcome a 20 goal deficit in goal difference to pip them for automatic promotion.
But in the end, Andy Westwell's men rounded off the season with a win, although they did initially have an early set back when St Helens full back Michael Chojnicki stormed into the box and fired home the opening goal for Town in the 16 minute.
But Jonathan Hession equalised with a close range finish from a left wing cross five minutes later, and shortly afterwards Charnock's leading scorer Carl Grimshaw put them ahead with a typically cool finish from a ball over the top.
Grimshaw then added a second midway through the second half with a near post header - his 47th goal of the season - and although Andrew Gillespie scored a second for Town late on, the visitors held on to seal the win and secure promotion just one season after joining our league from the West Lancashire League.
Shortly after the final whistle Charnock Richard skipper Josh Holgate was presented with the Division One runners-up trophy by League Vice-Chairman Geoff Wilkinson, and club representatives gave their thoughts on the club's first season in the Hallmark Security League.
Charnock Richard Chairman Shaun Tootell: "Two or three games into the season we'd had a few tough games and we had thought that the play offs would be a good achievement this season.
"In the end it has turned out much better than we anticipated. We knew we were coming into the league with a fairly strong squad, and we'd managed to hold the squad pretty much together from the West Lancashire League, with players who were used to playing together.
"So we were expecting to be competitive in most games, but the season has gone much better than we anticipated.
"One game that I think was a turning point was when we went to Alsager about a month ago, we were losing 1-0 at half time but came away with three points after a great second half.
"I think at that point, I felt if we could win games like that I knew we were in with a good chance of going up, and I think that helped us as we had a run of successive victories after that, and having those points in your pocket in the final few games was a major plus point.
"We are a small village and really football is the major sport activity in the village, and lot of our spectators are locals who come and watch us. We have had an average attendance of about 140 this season which is more than we anticipated, so it's been a great in that respect.
"We have always been a focal point in the community, the club house is used by locals for functions and so on. It will be interesting to see, with us playing in a higher league, how the community embraces that, and it will be good if we get more interest from the locals.
"I think any club moving into a higher division looks for stability, and in that situation I think a mid-table position would be perfectly acceptable. But we are used to winning at Charnock Richard Football Club, we have a winning mentality and we've had that for a very long time.
"It will be interesting to see how we deal with moving to a higher league, where the competition is bound to be a lot tougher, and we might not be winning as regularly as we are used to winning.
"But we have some experienced people at the club who will be able to deal with that, and I would be disappointed if we are not mid-table at least, if not higher. I think we have a good enough squad and a good enough set up and backing to be competitive in all the games we play next season".
Charnock Richard manager Andy Westwell: "My remit at the start of the season was to keep the team in the league and be competitive, and we have exceeded expectations.
"We knew we were a decent side and it was going to be tough with so many games, but we took the challenge on and I think for a club of our size and in a small village, we have done really well and I'm really pleased for the team.
"In mid-season we had key players missing and we have had important players missing for long periods, but everyone has a blip, I knew we would come back stronger and turn the corner.
"I am one of these who takes one game at a time, I don't think too far ahead. When you get to the Widnes game you know that's a crunch game and if you get a point from that you were in with a chance.
"But the Widnes game last Saturday was disappointing, on the day they were better than us and fair play to them, they are a very good side and I have to say congratulations to Joey and his lads.
"But I knew the character of the players, and knew they would relish going to City of Liverpool (last Tuesday night) in front of a big crowd. We didn't play well on the night, but we got what we needed to set it up for today.
"We've played a couple of teams in the Premier Division, we held our own at Hanley away and were a bit unlucky and we beat Barnoldswick in the Vase, so we have competed with them. That's what it will be like next year, we will compete in every game and see where that takes us.
"Hopefully we will add to the squad and strengthen a bit, but I will stay loyal to the lads who have been loyal to me, that's for sure".
Charnock Richard captain Josh Norgate: "It's a great achievement from all the lads. We started off really well and were up there challenging before Christmas, and then in the New Year we started to stumble a bit.
"If you had asked me in February if I thought we were going to go up I would probably have said I thought it might be a bit much for us. But then we started to turn it around a bit, and went on a great run for about 12 or 13 games.
"We were disappointed to lose at Widnes (last Saturday) because we really wanted to win the league, but it was important to bounce back on Tuesday (at City of Liverpool) and we did.
"I don't why we can do well again next season. We have got a good set of lads here, we all know we are capable of doing it, and if we get a few added extras to the squad we'll see where that gets us".
Charnock Richard Secretary Dave Rowland: "Our remit for the season was to establish ourselves in the First Division. We didn't know what we were going into, we'd done very well over a period of time in the West Lancashire League, but this season was an unknown quantity.
"It was a journey of discovery, we didn't know what to expect, but what has featured highly has been the hospitality shown by all the clubs.
"Everywhere we have been there have been wonderful people, wonderful hospitality and a great atmosphere. You can't beat it.
"It's not only been a step up in standard, it's been a step up in hospitality as well.
"I was with Bamber Bridge right at the start when they came out of the Preston and District League in the early 1990s, when they went right through (into the Northern Premier League), and the players did better than the club could cope with.
"With Charnock Richard it's more measured, and while we are looking forward to going to the big clubs next season , we have no illusions about the challenge we will face.
"Once again we are looking at another journey of discovery, and looking to consolidate".
Charnock Richard captain Josh Norgate is pictured receiving the Hallmark Security League Division One runners-up trophy from League Vice-Chairman Geoff Wilkinson. Photo courtesy of John McKiernan.