Shropshire Star

AFC Telford United so close but the revival is well underway

After a season of highs and lows, AFC Telford United fell at the final hurdle as they searched for an immediate return to the National League North.


As a result, the Bucks will start next season in the seventh tier again, but in a much better place both on and off the field.

We look back at the good, the bad and the in-between of Telford’s 2023/24 season, and what the future has in store for the club.


After years of misery, Telford’s greatest success has been the complete rekindling of relationships between the fans and the team.

There was little to no connection between Bucks supporters and the club they follow across the country, so manager Kevin Wilkin placed a big emphasis on recruiting more local players with strong characters and a desire to play for Telford, and achieved that with the likes of Orrin Pendley, Sam Whittall and Montel Gibson.

Elsewhere, the performances of youngsters like Remi Walker, Ricardo Dinanga and Ellis Brown were consistently to a high level as Wilkin balanced their youthful exuberance with a backbone of experienced, steady competitors.

They started slowly, but the Bucks were the best team in the division from October onwards, picking up a remarkable 70 points from their last 30 league games.

A run of 17 games without defeat between September and February took the Bucks from a struggling mid-table side to title contenders, and for the first time in a while New Bucks Head became a place filled with hope and excitement.

There was lots for Bucks supporters to be happy, and perhaps more importantly, proud of throughout the campaign.


While there was plenty to shout about it would be wrong to say that Telford’s aim for the season was anything other than promotion, and as such that goal has not been achieved.

They started the season poorly, winning just two of their first eight games and struggling to shake off the demons of the previous campaign.

There was also frustration at their early exits in both the FA Cup and the FA Trophy, two competitions that had the potential to earn the club important money and provide supporters with a welcome break from league action.

Those kind of one-off games proved difficult for the Bucks, which was never more evident than in a hugely disappointing performance in the play-off final.

Perhaps overawed by the occasion, Kevin Wilkin’s side did not turn up against an experienced Leamington side, and never got into the game in front of more than 4,000 supporters at the New Bucks Head.

Next season they will be looking to go one better and win the division to avoid the potential for such blips, while also focusing on putting in better showings in both cup competitions.


When Kevin Wilkin took charge of AFC Telford United, they were not in the best of states whatsoever, resembling a sinking ship more so than a football club.

He was unable to prevent relegation last season but was trusted with the job of guiding the Bucks back to step two at the first time of asking.

The former Brackley boss was well backed in the summer and attracted high-calibre players to the club with his reputation of building successful sides who challenge at the top end of the table regularly.

However, Telford’s slow start piled the pressure on the experienced boss, with several calls for him to be sacked in and around the FA Trophy defeat to Quorn.

Telford stuck with him, and the decision was vindicated as Wilkin formed a winning machine that consistently picked up good results on their way to a second-placed finish.

He signed a new two-year contract in February which secures his future, and if he can get his recruitment right this summer the Bucks are well placed to launch another promotion push under his stewardship.

Off The Field

In January it was announced that Andy Pryce had resigned from his role as chairman and director at AFC Telford United, ending a more than seven year tenure at the club.

Ian Dosser, who has been a director at the New Bucks Head since 2004, became interim-chairman shortly afterwards, a role he will not be unfamiliar with having been the club’s chairman between 2013 and 2017.

And more changes came in February, when a consortium led by Shropshire-born Chris Ball purchased a 21 per cent stake in the club. Fifteen businessmen, most of whom are Americans involved in the film industry, invested as part of the consortium, with Ball taking a seat on the club board.

While there are obvious comparisons to Wrexham’s Hollywood takeover by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, the group revealed their intention is to build the club up slowly and steadily, while aiming to run as close to self-sustainably as possible.

Crowds regularly exceeded 1,000 at New Bucks Head, and after record numbers across both play-off games, it will be interesting to see how many of those new supporters stick around for the ride next season.

What Next?

First things first, everyone at the club needs to overcome the disappointment brought on by the play-off final defeat before plans for next season can be made.

It has already been revealed that club captain Fraser Kerr will be leaving the club to pursue an opportunity overseas, leaving a hole to fill at centre-back in the process.

Kevin Wilkin’s time at previous clubs suggests the experienced boss will prioritise retaining the majority of the squad to avoid the ‘bedding in period’ that was necessary at the start of the season.

There will undoubtedly be interest in certain players from the division above, and with no players contracted beyond the summer Wilkin’s wish for continuity could be taken out of his hands.

The aim for the 2024/25 will be to win the title, and that will also be the expectation of Bucks fans who have seen their side make incredible progress in a short space of time.

They are more than capable of achieving it and are much better placed to do so now than they were 12 months ago.

At last, AFC Telford are ‘united’ once more.