ALVECHURCH will head to Molineux aiming to complete an historic treble buoyed by top scorer Josh March becoming the club’s first contracted player in a decade, reveals Colin Stoner exclusively.
March, the two-goal hero of Monday night’s Polymac Packaging League Cup success, has pledged his future to the Midland League Premier Division champions by signing a deal for next season.
It completes a hat-trick of good news for Ian Long’s men after Ashley Carter, a highly-rated defender or holding midfielder, joined from Kidderminster Harriers to become their first new signing for next season and goalkeeper Paul Evans’ change of heart to continue playing.
Alvechurch will look to sign off a season to remember by winning the JW Hunt Cup for the first time when they meet West Midlands League Division One side Wednesfield in a showpiece final at Molineux on Tuesday, but manager Long is already putting plans in place for next term.
The FA has confirmed Alvechurch will be promoted to Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South next season and will line up alongside the likes of Chasetown, Romulus and Bedworth, plus relegated Corby Town and Ilkeston and fellow newcomers Peterborough Sports and Cleethorpes Town.
Long has made it clear he intends to keep the majority of the squad, many of whom played in the Evo-Stik under him at Tividale, and he is delighted goal-getter March, who would undoubtedly be a target for higher clubs, has signed on contract to stay at Lye Meadow.
“It’s a massive boost for club. Josh’s goals have played a big part in our success this season,” said Long.
“By putting him on contract, it sends a message to everybody that we want to keep taking the club forward. It’s the first time in my managerial career that I’ve had a player on contract and it’s the first time Alvechurch have had a player on contract since Keith Rostill.”
Long is equally delighted to include Carter and Evans in his plans.
He regards the capture of Carter, a former Wolves pro and the older brother of Church keeper Brad, as a real coup. Carter started 15 games, with 11 subs appearances, for Harriers in the Conference North season just finished.
“I’m amazed we’ve got him. He doesn’t want to play full-time football, he wants a new start and he can do that with Alvechurch,” said Long. “He is a versatile player, who can play at left back, central defender in a three or four, or as a holding midfielder, so he will give us options.”
Keeper Evans, one of the unsung heroes this season, will also be back in goal next term, despite initial suggestions he could put his football on hold. His wife is expecting their first child in August and Evans felt he would be unable to do the extra travelling but he has had a change of heart.
“It’s another massive positive to know Paul will be with us again,” said Long. “He has been brilliant for us this season. You’ve got to have a top goalkeeper to win the league. An average keeper will cost you ten points a season and a good keeper will save you ten points. Paul has been as important to us as Josh’s goals.”
While Evans was away on holiday, Ashley Carter was among the Alvechurch crowd at Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium as March netted twice to seal a 2-1 win against Hinckley AFC in the Polymac Packaging League Cup final to emulate Hereford from 12 months ago as double winners.
March headed home a Tom Turton cross for the opener on 63 minutes and then found space to slot home from a Zack Foster free kick 11 minutes later, before Hinckley pulled a goal back through Francino Francis with three minutes left.
“To complete the double, I’m so proud of the players,” said Long. “They are the ones that put their bodies on the line week in, week out. I do ask a lot of them but I think they realise it’s worth it when you have nights like Monday’s and to win the title.
“I’m pleased for the players, club, chairman, supporters and everyone connected with Alvechurch.
“But the season’s not finished. Now we want the treble.”