Shropshire Star

AFC Telford United season review: A desperate campaign that ended in the drop

A desperate season that ended in relegation has AFC Telford United preparing to play seventh-tier football for the first time since 2007.


We look back at where it all went wrong for the Bucks, and determine what's next for the club.


There has been so little in the way of success, it is easy to forget the season started in winning fashion for Paul Carden's Bucks.

They overcame Chorley 1-0 on the opening day of the season at New Bucks Head thanks to Devarn Green's winner.

They followed that up a week later with a 1-1 draw at Spennymoor Town, but things quickly took a turn for the worse as they plummeted down the table and exited the FA Cup at the hands of lower-league Chasetown.

In fact, Telford would not taste success in the league again until December when Kevin Wilkin's side beat Banbury United – a team they would complete the double over in March.

A rare moment of celebration for the Bucks (Ashley Griffiths - Grifftersworld Photography)

They would also end a 784-day period without an away win in the league when they defeated Buxton 2-0 in January – repeating the feat twice more, so they can at least move forward without that particular monkey on their back.


Let's start and finish with the big one, shall we? Relegation.

After flirting with the drop in 2021/22, the Bucks could not get themselves out of trouble last season, finishing bottom of the table.

A strong 2018/19 campaign aside, Telford have rather stagnated in the second tier of non-league since dropping out of the Conference, as it was then known, in 2015.

Relegation can often be a chance to reset, find your feet and go again – but the Southern Central Premier won't exactly be a picnic.

There are decent-sized clubs with good budgets at that level, and those coming the other way with good fan bases and a boat-load of momentum, such as Halesowen Town.

There is a lot of work to be done to make them competitive initially after scoring the fewest amount of goals in National North last season and conceding the most.


The template that rescued them from the drop in 2021/22 could not be repeated in 2022/23.

After Carden came in to replace Dennis Greene in November 2021, he did enough to guide the Bucks away from trouble.

However, Carden and his players – many of who he trusted from the previous season to keep the momentum up – failed to carry that into the new season, not helped by a long-term injury to top scorer Jason Oswell.

Carden exited the New Bucks Head just 11 months into his reign, but Wilkin was unable to spark a revival this time around despite his best efforts to wheel and deal, particularly in the loan market.

Paul Carden endured a miserable time in charge at the club - and was sacked earlier this season (Pic: Kieren Griffin Photography).

Most notably, West Brom striker Mo Faal failed to score for Telford but then went and fired AFC Fylde to the National North title with 10 goals in 22 appearances.

Off The Field

Despite relegation, Telford remain in far more stable state off the field than they have done in recent years.

The club’s accounts for year ending May 31, 2022, filed to Companies House, revealed a brighter picture off the pitch for the club in comparison to the previous year, chiefly due to key share sales.

Those included the significant share purchase from Music Magpie co-founder Walter Gleeson in December 2021, as well as a further purchase of shares by the Pryce family in October 2021 that gave them a majority shareholding of 51 per cent.

“This balance sheet reflects a materially stronger balance sheet and therefore a stronger and much more sustainable financial outlook for the football club,” finance director Ian Dosser told the Shropshire Star in March.

What Next?

Kevin Wilkin now has a summer to build a team in his own mould, rather than work on one he inherited and supplemented with short-term loan deals and the few other signings he could make where possible.

Fortunately for Bucks, being placed into the Southern Central Premier rather than the Northern Premier allows Wilkin to tap into his book of contacts more easily.

Had the geography landed the other way, Telford may have been looking at an even bigger rebuild, as Wilkin admitted: “I probably wouldn’t have been the right person for the job if we’d have ended up in the northern section.

“So based on that, I’m fairly relieved we’re in the Southern Central, and where we can look to source players from, the majority of my knowledge and contacts lies around that area, so I’m pleased.

“I’d like to think for the club it’s the right division to go into and hopefully we can be successful.”

And as painful as relegation is, it will hopefully at least give Bucks fans the chance to enjoy some more wins as Wilkin and his team begin to plot a way back to the second tier of the non-league pyramid.