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Longlevens players get reward for hard work

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Hellenic League Longlevens' players have aided their club's promotion bid by demonstrating their skills off the pitch as well as on it.

The Gloucester side were awarded the Uhlsport Hellenic League Division One West trophy on Saturday following their 3-1 defeat at Shortwood United Reserves and expect to find out next month if they will be promoted to the Premier Division after making the necessary improvements to their Saw Mills ground.

Longlevens have had to build hard standing on three sides of the ground, a hospitality unit and install 50 seats with another 50 set to go in during the summer, with the majority of the labour coming from the players and committee members. They have also applied to Gloucester City Council for planning permission to improve the quality of their floodlights after a request from the Hellenic League and are getting grants from the FA and Football Foundation to help with the costs after raising £15,000 themselves.

Chairman Chris Bishop said: "You're never quite sure until they say yes but I would be quietly confident that we're going to go up. The football players in the first team and the hardworking committee members have made it all possible. We didn't think we were going to be quite as good as we were this season but the manager has worked really hard."

After a comprehensive start to the season Longlevens led the Hellenic League Division One West title chase but suffered humbling defeats to Lydney Town (0-4) and Tuffley Rovers (1-2) respectively at the halfway stage. However, they recovered well and as the season reached its climax a 3-3 home draw with Lydney Town and a last minute winner in the Easter Monday derby against Tuffley Rovers gave Longlevens the chance to clinch the title at Wantage Town with a 3-1 win.

Manager James French said: "Next season will be a real test. We've got an extra 10 games to play for a start so all the squad will be needed at some stage. I hope to get a few new faces in and I'd like to think we can finish in the top half of the division. We've played Premier Division Ascot and Wootton Bassett in cup competitions this season and done okay against them so I'm hopeful we can give a good account of ourselves."

The first team have now won three consecutive titles with their second team set to play in the Northern Senior League next season after earning back-to-back promotions in the Stroud and District League, while the thirds and fourths have also reached cup finals. Bishop added: "We're going to need a bigger cabinet for trophies! We've had a good couple of seasons so I can't complain at all. It was important that the reserves got promoted to lessen the gap and the manager is pushing a lot more younger players through at the moment."

Source: www.hellenicleague.co.uk

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