Wakehurst plan next move after relegation is confirmed

Wakehurst interim manager Dougie Stevenson says the club wants to bounce back after relegation.
Wakehurst interim manager Dougie Stevenson says the club wants to bounce back after relegation.

Wakehurst officials will sit down this week to plot the club’s future following relegation from NIFL Championship Two.

A 5-1 defeat at Limavady United on Saturday ensured that Wakehurst’s 13-year stint in Irish League football will come to an end this summer.

Saturday's defeat at Limavady United confirmed Wakehurst's relegation from Championship Two.

Saturday's defeat at Limavady United confirmed Wakehurst's relegation from Championship Two.

“We’re meeting this Wednesday night to discuss the way forward,” said interim manager Dougie Stevenson, who is also on the club’s committee.

“Certainly the indications are at this stage that we would like to try to return to the Championship so we have to look at which league would give us the best chance of doing that.

“We still feel that there is plenty of scope for a town like Ballymena to have a decent intermediate team as well as the senior side so we would like to get back to the Championship.

Stevenson will feel relegation as strongly as anyone - he was a player when Wakehurst made their debut as an Irish League club in 2003.

“I remember very clearly winning 3-1 at PSNI in our first game - there are guys like myself, Roy Colville and Stephen Mellon who have been part of this adventure from virtually day one.

“But the one person who has probably held the club together more than anyone over that period has been Ian Gregg.

“Given the circumstances we’ve had of playing outside Ballymena and associated problems that brings in terms of recruiting players, we have done a manful job in playing at that standard for so long.

“Being out of the Championship means that we will be able to get back to playing in Ballymena and that will be a big help in terms of attracting players,” added Stevenson.

As for last Saturday’s game, it looked as though Wakehurst might be able to stave off relegation until another day when Andy Laughlin put them ahead against title-chasing Limavady.

However the north west side stormed back and with Wakehurst suffering injuries to four players, Limavady went to score the goals that sealed Wakehurst’s fate.