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Graham Ward aiming for promotion at AFC Bridgnorth

By Nick Elwell | Non league | Published:

Ambitious new AFC Bridgnorth manager Graham Ward has said he will walk if he does not secure promotion next season.

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Ward and his coaching staff are overseeing 'unfinished business' as they revolutionise the Crown Meadow club and target West Midlands Premier Division title success in 2020/21.

Four promotion places are on offer to step five next season, due to the delayed restructuring of the non-league pyramid, and Irishman Ward, who was Bridgnorth No.2 under Mark Clyde between 2013 and 2016, is targetting nothing less than a place in the division above.

"I'm putting pressure on myself and my squad. We're very selective of who we've actually signed," said former Wolves youngster Ward, for who the job represents a first as manage after successful coaching stints including promotion from the division with Wolverhampton Sporting.

"I want to sign guys with a lot of ambition. The club haven't got a budget, people are thinking we've got a four-figure budget, I can guarantee now we've got absolutely nothing.

"I'll be paying guys with a pack of Jaffa Cakes and a bag of Haribo. 

"I put expectation on us but it's not unrealistic, I know what I'm up against, the likes of Shifnal, a really good side with phenomenal players, I know Tom Hill really well, he will score goals.

"Their management team are really good and have been approached by teams higher but they want to stay.

"Dean Gill at Bilston Town were the best footballing team I've played and beat us (Wolves Sporting) 3-0 last season and rightly so. I know what I'm up against.

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"But I believe the team I've got, if they get their head down and apply themselves, they should finish in the top four.

"I'll personally see it as a failure if I come in the top four, I want to win it, that's my own expectation.

"I would probably walk away if we didn't finish in the top four to be totally honest."

Ward and his staff, Pete Whitehouse and Mark Donaldson, have already been creating a stir on social media with the announcement of several new signings – accompanied by the message of 'unfinished business'.

Several members of the Bridgnorth squad who finished second twice in 2014/15 and 2015/16 under Clyde and Ward have returned to the club.

Ward has agreed deals for Lewis Ayres to as player-coach, alongside defenders Alex Hall and Josh Bradburn, Glynn Coney, Andy Hartlebury, last season's top scorer Anwar Olugbon and stalwart Jason Pike.

Nick Elwell

By Nick Elwell
Grassroots Sports Editor

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