On the eve of their big local derby against HUCKNALL TOWN, the Dispatch district’s highest-ranked football club have renewed their plea for public votes to secure their future.
BULWELL are urging fans to back a bid by their ground-landlords, Basford United, to win a ‘super grant’ of £100,000 in a competition run by Budweiser.
As part of their sponsorship of the FA Cup, Budweiser are splashing the cash on grassroots football.
Eight non-league clubs from across the country, including Basford, have already landed a bumper windfall of £50,000 each.
Now they have gone head to head in a Facebook vote to pocket another £100,000 to improve their facilities.
And if Basford win, much of their money will be spent on creating a second, enclosed main pitch at their Greenwich Avenue headquarters, which would be a permanent home for their groundsharers, Bulwell.
With just two weeks of voting to go, Basford currently lie fourth of the eight competing clubs. But only 200 votes separate the top five.
“The voting remains very close and anyone coming with a late run has a great chance to seal the victory,” says Basford’s general manager, Chris Munroe.
“Therefore it is imperative that we can get as many votes as possible to bring this money back to our region.
“To add an incentive to vote, Basford have launched a competition for the last two weeks, giving the opportunity for every new vote to be registered in a super prize draw, to be drawn on Saturday 15th March.”
The Bulls are currently top of the Central Midlands League’s (CML) South Division -- having won the Notts Senior League title for the past two seasons.
They are hoping to make further progress up the non-league ladder. But their ambitions have always been hampered by the lack of a permanent base to meet ground-grading requirements.
Basford offered them a valuable lifeline with the groundshare tenancy. Now that lifeline could be made secure with victory in this contest, which is part of the Budweiser Club Futures programme that has already injected £1 million into non-league football.
To vote for Basford and Bulwell, simply go to the the Budweiser Club Futures page or the up page on Facebook between now and the end of February.
Says Munroe: “This is what dreams are made of. The money would provide us with the chance to convert an ageing ground into a superb venue for watching and playing football.”
Basford have rocketed up the leagues since leaving the Notts Senior League in 2011. They were crowned CML, South Division champions in 2012 and East Midlands Counties League champions last season. They now play in the Premier Division of the Northern Counties East League -- two levels above Bulwell and Hucknall Town.
The Budweiser conpetition is for clubs on steps five to seven of the non-league pyramid -- ie: below Evo-Stik Northern Premier League level.
Basford won the East Midlands section after impressing judges on how to run a sustainable club.
The seven other clubs in the ‘super grant’ draw are Bedfont Sports (London), East Grinstead Town (South-East), Parley Sports Club (South-West), Bromsgrove Sporting (West Midlands), Handsworth Junior Sporting Club (North-East), Wythenshawe Amateurs (North-West) and Linton Granta (East).
IRONICALLY, the Greenwich Avenue pitch has taken such a battering from the recent rain that Bulwell have been unable to play on it since December.
If this Saturday’s match against Town at Watnall Road is on, it will be their first action for almost two months.
The two sides drew 1-1 when they met at Basford on Boxing Day. But since then, The Bulls have made several changes to their squad.
Five new signings have been made. They are: Jamie Walker and Darren Garmston from Basford, Ryan Bowen from South Normanton Athletic, Chris Myton from Attenborough and Aaron Marks, a former Mansfield Town trainee.
No fewer than eight players have left the club, including last season’s top scorer, Scott Litchfield, who has returned to Keyworth United before emigrating to Australia, Allan Jeffries (to Moorgreen) and Josh Niblett (to Awsworth Villa).
Looking ahead to the Town clash, Bulls manager Terry Witts said: “We were on a 13 game unbeaten run in the league prior to the new year, so we areconfident we can continue that sort of form.”
“However, because we have not played competitively for six weeks, I am not expecting too much of a spectacle.”
The Yellows will be without injured duo, skipper Cameron Davidson and Mark Smith. But they hope to welcome back new striker Courtney Bonnick.
With more rain forecast, the Watnall Road pitch will almost certainly need to pass an inspection on the morning of the game.