Flowserve's chairman sets his sights on step five survival and dreams of a Wembley visit
Flowserve’s chairman is dreaming of walking out at Wembley at the end of the forthcoming season.
Competitive football returns to Lowfields on Saturday, when Flowserve host Worcester City in the town’s first step five fixture, but come what May, Gary Clarke is dreaming of a Wembley visit.
His ambitious vision comes after The Highwaymen’s inclusion in the FA Vase — a national cup competition for teams playing below step four of the National League system.
Flowserve, then in the East Midlands Counties League, were dramatically thrown out of that competition by the FA because floodlights were not installed before the end of July.
“It’s a fresh start, but it’s an unfortunate situation because we can’t apply for the FA Cup this season, which we could have done if we were in the FA Vase last year,” said Clarke.
“It was always one of the goals (to play in the FA Cup) and it is something we are a little bit behind on, but now we are in the Vase, the focus will be on that.
“Every footballer will have a fleeting dream of walking out at Wembley, and this cup gives you the chance too.
“Everybody wants that feeling, regardless of if it’s the FA Vase, the FA Trophy or the FA Cup.
“Hopefully we can have a bit of a run, get through to the later rounds and enjoy the ride, but if that ride ends after 90 minutes, or if it ends after five or six rounds, we will enjoy it.”
Flowserve travel to step seven side County Hall in their first qualifying round on August 31, and Clarke said he is not expecting an easy win.
In the mean time, joint-managers Craig Roche and Stephen Kirkham will solely have their focus on Saturday’s opener, and, if pre-season attendances are anything to go by, the Hawton Lane ground will be buzzing.
“We had the advantage of being in the town and attracting people last season,” said Clarke.
“We want to repay them with success, but we want to progress in a sustainable way.
“We have met our ambitions over the past seasons, and yes, it would be nice to have a project with quick growth, but it’s got to be sustainable.
“You only have to look at Rainworth, former FA Vase finalist, who got to step five and were flying high, yet at the end of last season we beat them 12-0.
“There are those stories that I have picked up on during my time as chairman and they are lessons that I have kept close to my heart.”
Clarke, who does not want to put the pressure of instant success on his players, said the target for the season would change dependant on the situation, but set out survival as a must.
“The bottom line is we want to maintain our step five status for next season, though what I would like most is to finish in the top half of the table” he said.
“We are going to be coming up against well-established clubs that can attract players because of their name and that will be one of the fantastic things about this season — it’s a new challenge.
“We are already thinking ahead and looking at the 2021 season, looking at how we can build and make the next step up.”
Kick-off on Saturday is at 3pm — adult tickets are priced at £5, concessions £3 and under-16’s £1.