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Wisbech look to future with new reserve and U18 teams

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Wisbech Town FC manager Brett Whaley has spoken in detail for the first time of his club’s plans to expand the number of teams at the Fenland Stadium.

Whaley revealed to the Citizen last month that he and chairman Paul Brenchley thought a reserve, Under-18 and junior sides were pivotal to the strength of the club going forward.

Explaining those plans, the Fenmen supremo said: “It’s important we look at the playing side of things as a whole, not just the first team.

Wisbech Town manager Brett Whaley (33289583)
Wisbech Town manager Brett Whaley (33289583)

“The work in different age groups and a reserve side won’t see benefits immediately, but for a club of our size its really important. These plans are only just being discussed, but we have an outline of how we want things to work and a structure that could develop going forward.

“The chairman has had discussions with some younger age groups to hopefully start two different junior age groups next season.

“We would also like to add an U18 team to this youth set up, but we aren’t currently able to join the Thurlow Nunn Youth League, so the current plan is to run a Sunday U18 team, and for next season aim to fill this with mostly U17 players.

“This will give the boys two years to develop before moving solely into men’s football. The current plan is to have them playing in the back pitch, with some cup games on the main pitch at suitable parts of the season.

“We also hope to run a Reserve team that will play in either the Peterborough or Cambs League. We would hope this side would be mostly U21s and be a place that talented young players can develop.

“We don’t know what league we will be offered yet, so interaction between the sides will be limited straight away, but we’ve got to start somewhere. Again the plan is to play on the back pitch, apart from certain games.

“Both teams will be focused on developing young, local talent, that hopefully at some point can progress to first team football at the club.

“This will also allow us to protect the main pitch during the winter months, whilst still having games at home every week for supporters that don’t travel to away games to watch,

“The key to this working is having the right people in charge of both teams. We will be advertising over the next few weeks to see if we can find the ideal candidates to fill both roles, and then apply to the various leagues for places. We have time this year to get this set up, so it’s really important that we use it.”

Wisbech were bottom of the BetVictor Northern Premier League South East Division when the FA declared the season null and void last month, but he firmly believes his men would have escaped the drop.

Whaley added: “For us, the league finished a game too late, but I do genuinely believe we would have been able to catch Market Drayton over the
remaining games.”

Originally the 2020/21 season was going to see a more regionalised structure of the Northern Premier League with a lot less travelling, but now this plan has been put on hold until the following season.

So how will the Fenmen cope against a division of opponents they have struggled with?

Whaley continued: “We know just how difficult this league can be; it’s a very demanding and physical league, where mistakes get badly punished. We can’t complain about the
decision, because it will mean a third season at step four for the club and hopefully a chance to establish ourselves outside the relegation scrap.

“It also gives us a chance to prove ourselves, as a management team and the players that stay onboard. The standard and travelling last season wasn’t as tough as the previous one, but the difficult pre-season and high turn-over of players caused problems that we have to learn from.

“The momentum from promotion and a settled squad meant the previous season’s group had a solid base to start from, but looking back now you can see how impressive their achievements were.

“(Previous manager) Seb (Hayes) had such a difficult job with such limited time to assemble a squad, but time is something we have lots of at the moment.

“We have to create a squad that can deal with this league. The games we had this season, along with the other games I’ve watched, will allow us plan in more detail, especially for the physical aspect of the league.

“We can look at the current group and potential new signings to make sure they’re ready for the league, and that they have the ability and mentality for the fight we have ahead of us.”

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