THE top two clubs in domestic football in the Hucknall area are to go their separate ways at the end of contrasting seasons.
Linby Colliery Welfare will move up the non-league ladder, quitting the Notts Senior League (NSL) to join the Central Midlands League (CML).
However Hucknall Rolls Leisure, who wanted to make the same progressive move, have been forced to stay put in the NSL.
Linby’s move follows a remarkable turnaround at the historic club, who were on their knees last summer after finishing bottom of the NSL, Senior Division with only seven points from 30 games.
On the field, they have been revived by new managers Dave Bradshaw and Dave Marlow, who have guided the first team into fourth in the table and the semi-finals of the league cup.
Now they see the switch to the CML as vital to plans for improving their ground at Church Lane.
“We’ve taken the decision to move because, at that level (non-league step seven), there is funding available to get our development project moving,” said club secretary Ade Ward.
“The NSL is a good league but it cannot get step-seven status. There is a lot of hard work to be done in the summer but we aim to meet the CML’s criteria to widen and fence off our pitch.
“Then the next phase will be to build new dressing-rooms and a clubhouse, followed by the installation of floodlights.
“Our ultimate aim is to reach step six and the East Midland Counties League.
“We feel that the home crowds we attract deserve to be watching us at that level. The infrastructure of the club is good, which is a great start. The rich history of Linby is also second to none.”
It is a very different story at Rolls where their plans for progress have been thrown into disarray by off-the-field upheaval, caused by the disciplinary suspension of leisure club chief, Brian Willows.
They have also had to re-think their entire financial strategy after being told they must pay to play on the Rolls pitches from next season. Until now, all teams carrying the Rolls name have used the facilities for free.
“Because of uncertainty over the future, we had to withdraw our application to join the CML,” explained first-team manager Jez Corthorn.
“But now we have learned that as part of big changes, we are to be charged £1,000 per team per season, plus further fees to train on the new 3G artificial pitches.
“Therefore we cannot commit to joining a new league until we restructure our finances and fundraising.”
At present, Rolls pride themselves on not charging players a game-by-game subscription to play. But this might have to change.
A crucial meeting of the club’s management committee is to be held soon, with the entire future of the club, and that of Corthorn, at stake.