Sunderland West End boss Anthony Nelson insists his side can compete in Northern League Division Two
Sunderland West End manager Anthony Nelson insisted that his side won’t be making up the numbers when they take their place in Northern League Division Two next season.
The Wearside League runners-up had their promotion into step six of the non-league system officially confirmed this weekend and they can look forward to facing the likes of Bedlington Terriers, Chester-le-Street Town and Washington in league fixtures next season.
West End will be one of three new clubs to join the Northern League’s second-tier as Northern Alliance runners-up Newcastle University and North West Counties League club Carlisle City also had their place in the division confirmed.
West End will also compete in the FA Vase for the first time in their history, although the FA Cup will have to wait for at least another year and will be dependent on their final league position in their first ever season as a Northern League club.
Nelson praised the club’s hardworking committee for their efforts and revealed that he will look to challenge at the top end of Division Two when the new season gets underway in August.
The West End boss told the Echo “It was our aim when we first got into the Wearside League.
“We wanted to get into the Northern League, and we knew it would be hard because there are some great sides in there.
“It looked miles away, even two years ago it seemed miles away.
“But the committee worked hard, and we have to thank them for what they have done.
“People don’t understand how hard they work, and we have 13 or 14 working behind the scenes to get us to where we are.
“We can’t wait to play in the Vase too and that’s a great moment for us as a club.
“We were a pub side 14 years ago and now we will be playing in the Vase – who would have that could happen to us?”
“There is no pressure on us as a squad, or on me as a manager.
“We won’t go in to make the numbers up, we want to go in and challenge.”
Nelson confirmed that planning for a historic season are already underway as he looks to put together a squad capable of establishing themselves within the Northern League.
However, the West End boss will give a chance to the players that helped the club secure promotion last season.
“We can now go, and approach players and we have spoken to a few already,” he explained.
“But they didn’t know if we were in the Northern League, so couldn’t commit to anything.
“We have a good core and a good set of lads and we just need to add to what we have.
“These lads got us up and they’ll get a chance and I am confident that they will do well for us because we have got a great squad here.”
Northern League Division One clubs Sunderland RCA, Seaham Red Star and Ryhope CW have learnt their opposition for the new season.
The trio will face two trips to Teesside after Division Two champions Billingham Town and runners-up Thornaby had their places in step five confirmed.
Joining them will be Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup winners Northallerton Town, who finished in third place in Division Two last season.
League allocations are subject to final confirmation by the Football Association, although it seems unlikely that any changes will be made.
All Northern League clubs should find out their fixtures for the new season when the league holds its AGM on Saturday June 15.