LONGRIDGE Town are targeting further rises up the non-league football ladder, after celebrating their second promotion in just three seasons.
Town will play in the West Lancashire League Premier Division next season after securing the Division One title on Saturday with a 4-0 win over Turton.
Anthony Keefe’s men have only lost one league game all season, and also reached the semi-finals of the LFA Amateur Shield.
The Inglewhite Road club opened a new £80,000 clubhouse earlier this season and, with plans under way to develop the site, the club is looking forward to a bright future.
Jubilant manager Keefe, 36, said: “It’s a tremendous feeling to win the title. We had no game last Saturday and were promoted without kicking a ball, so there was a danger it could have gone flat.
“But we had a great week of training and we did what we had to do on Saturday against a team fighting for their lives at the bottom. The lads are buzzing at the moment, and I am really pleased for them all.
“We lost quite a few games over Christmas with the weather, but they were all there training every week, and now they have got their rewards.
“They are a good set of lads, they have great banter and there are no idiots. They are all mates and it’s been great working with them.
“They are all sponsored by local people and businesses so they don’t have to pay subs.
“The club is fantastic. We have a committee, which works tirelessly, and I am so pleased for them, too.
“When I was a kid growing up in Longridge, good players used to go and play elsewhere, they didn’t want to play on Longridge rec.
“But now, with the facilities we have got and plans for tennis courts on the site, there is no reason why we can’t keep progressing, with players wanting to come here and play.
“There is good support in the town – we had more than 100 down watching on Saturday, so the interest is there. The North West Counties has to be our aim.”
Keefe, who was part of Kirkham and Wesham’s FA Vase winning side in 2008, strengthened in pre-season, but admits he will have to add a few players to compete at the top end of the Premier Division next season.
He said: “We lost to Charnock Richard in the LFA Amateur Shield semi, and the one big difference is they kept the ball better. We will learn from that.
“I think our squad is good enough for mid-table in the top division, but if we strengthen in three positions we can compete higher up. But we are not a million miles away.
“I’m a big advocate of fitness, and at this level it can make the difference.
“I had them training on the sand dunes at St Annes back in the summer, so if we can add a bit more quality to a side that is already very fit then I think we can do well.”
Keefe will have to try to hold on to 32-goal hitman Rick Coar, who has caught the eye of sides higher up the non-league pyramid.
Before that though, Longridge Town can still have a big say in who joins them in the top flight next season. They face second-placed Dalton United on Saturday before visiting third-placed Crooklands Casuals a week later.