Boss relishes step five test after 'deserved' March Town promotion

March Town celebrate

March Town secured promotion to the Eastern Counties League Premier Division following a restructure of the non-league pyramid by the FA. - Credit: Ian Carter

March Town boss Arran Duke is relishing the challenge of step five football after his team won promotion. 

The Hares will play in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division for the 2021-22 season having finished in the top four in the First Division North for the last three campaigns. 

Duke’s men have been unfortunate not to achieve promotion after the Covid-19 pandemic cut short the last two seasons, but thanks to the FA’s restructure of non-league football, they can finally savour the moment. 

“It’s been a long slog and a lot of people have put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes, so I feel it’s a reward that we’ve earned,” Duke said. 

“When I took the role, I said promotion is the aim and was told by the club that promotion was what they wanted.  

“To achieve it and give them what they wanted is great.” 

Changes by the FA to the non-league pyramid, including opting to promote the best teams based on points-per-game combined over the two campaigns, worked in March’s favour. 

March Town boss Arran Duke

March Town boss Arran Duke is looking ahead to the challenge posed at step five. - Credit: Daniel Mason/Archant

Other teams that will join March at step five include Lakenheath, Fakenham Town and Mulbarton Wanderers. 

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Hares chairman Phil White has also praised those at the club for their work on and off the pitch. 

Writing on Twitter, he said: “I am so proud to be the chairman of a step five club! I must say the board I have had over the last 13 years have been amazing!  

“To all the players & managers past & present, we did it!” 

It is believed March will play at step five for the first time since the late 1980s, but this time, they will field a side which hopes to boast the likes of marksmen Craig Gillies and Jack Friend. 

Some players have featured for nearby Wisbech Town, including last season’s captain Danny Emmington, but Duke still hopes the club can continue to develop. 

“I certainly don’t expect everyone to be here next season,” Duke said. 

“My aim is to keep achieving and climbing the ladder and, as a club, the foundations are there. 

“Promotion is something I felt we deserved over the last two seasons, so to get that recognition and a fresh challenge is something that gives me a lift again. 

“I’m more than confident with what we’ve got and we will look to add a few players to the mix and continue the good work that’s been done over the last two years.”