Competitive football will return to Eastwood over the Bank Holiday weekend as the town’s newest club begins life in the Central Midlands League.
Eastwood Town Community Football Club will travel to Swanwick Pentrich Road on Monday (12.30pm kick-off) for their first ever league game, with their opening home match set to take place at Coronation Park on Saturday, August 30 against Pinxton.
Having only been chosen as the club to inherit Eastwood Town’s former home just over a month ago, time has been tight to ensure preparations are complete, but director of football Jamie Bennett believes the new entity is ready to go.
He said: “Obviously we haven’t had long to get ready but we have a good squad of players together now as well as a great structure behind the scenes.
“Everybody has been so supportive in what we’re trying to do and that’s really helped. People need to be aware that this isn’t a money-making scheme by people with lots of it already - this is a community club that we want to run properly and long-term.
“The on-pitch action will begin in earnest on Monday, whilst off the pitch we’re working hard to have Coronation Park totally ready for the first home game on August 30.”
The Central Midlands League season began a fortnight ago and Eastwood are the only team yet to play a game.
First opponents Swanwick have started well and sit second in the league early on, but Bennett, who is also expected to have a role as a player, believes Eastwood will be able to compete well in the CML.
He said: “There’s not really any pressure on us given how quickly things have happened and that we’re a brand new club.
“But it’s our aim to be competitive and we feel we can achieve that.
“It’s a tough league with lots of local derbies but we hope lots of people will get behind us as we’re really excited about the future.
“We’ve made no secret of the fact that we’d love to bring young local players through and be a stepping stone to higher levels, but there is a good dose of experience in the squad too, including some players with Evo-Stik League appearances behind them.”
The club’s home, Coronation Park, has required a good degree of work to get it up to scratch for the new season, and Bennett says it has been and will be all hands on deck in the run up to the first home game.
“We had one of Notts County’s groundsmen come up to assist and to do an assessment this week and the pitch is now virtually ready with the lines painted and grass cut,” he said.
“There was quite a lot of work do to given there had been some vandalism at the ground and we also had to sort some of the utilities out, but we’re confident everything will be ready.
“The first home game will see lots of things going on to mark the event, hopefully including events in the evening too.
“Those of us involved in the new club have various skill sets and areas of expertise that when put together should mean good things going forward, including making the clubhouse a huge asset once again.”
Regarding the support of the people of Eastwood, Bennett says it will be up to football fans in the town whether they want to get behind the new venture.
He said: “One of the factors we’re still unsure about is just how many people will buy into what we’re doing.
“Obviously there is a core group of fans of the old club we’re keen to attract back and many others will probably come down out of curiosity initially.
“This is a completely new club and not a phoenix club rising from Eastwood Town’s ashes - we’re merely playing at their ground.
“We’ve been honest with people from day one in terms of who we are, what our intentions are and how realistically we think we can achieve them, and people have responded well to that.
“This year we’ll have a first team, a veterans team, a soccer school and now a ladies team too, so there’s already lots for people to enjoy.
“More and more teams will be added to the junior sections over time and, as I’ve said, we want to see players progress up the pyramid and won’t stand in the way of any who might get approached by clubs higher up.”
Following the opening two games, Eastwood will have two away games at Mickleover Royals on September 3 and Bulwell on September 6 before hosting Belper United on September 13. Local rivals Hucknall Town visit on September 27.