Weather Icon 8.7°C Overcast
Curzon enjoy momentous weekend
Monday 7th November 2016 @ 16:47 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

Curzon Ashton have been crowned as the Greater Manchester Club of the Year for 2016.

The Nash received the accolade after winning the same category at the Pride of Tameside Sports Awards in September.

Friday’s ceremony, organised by Greater Sport, was held at the Point, Old Trafford, and hosted by BBC North West Tonight’s Roger Johnson.

Natalie (second right) collecting the award from BBC's Roger Johnson with fellow Curzon staff at the GM Sports Awards.

Natalie (second right) collecting the award from BBC’s Roger Johnson with fellow Curzon staff at the GM Sports Awards.

Reflecting on the momentous occasion, Curzon CEO Natalie Atkinson told Reporter Sport: “Curzon Ashton are absolutely delighted to have received the Club of the Year at the Greater Manchester Sports Awards 2016.

“This award is for all the coaches, volunteers, players and supporters that work incredibly hard to make Curzon Ashton the fantastic club that it is.

“I’m incredibly proud to be the CEO of the Club and want to thank everyone that works so hard to ensure our club is the best that it can be.”

Less than 24 hours after receiving the award, Curzon competed in the first round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2008 and salvaged a 1-1 draw at Westfields FC.

The hosts took a surprise lead from the penalty spot in the ninth minute, but were unable to hold on for victory as Adam Morgan rescued a draw with ten minutes to spare.

If victorious against Westfields in the replay next week, Curzon will host the winners of Bury and AFC Wimbledon at the Tameside Stadium.

Prior to kick-off on Saturday, Natalie featured on BBC One’s Football Focus preview show. She said: “There’s been a real buzz at the ground in the last week or so.

Natalie alongside Football Focus presenter Dan Walker, and pundits Trevor Sinclair and Dean Saunders

Natalie alongside Football Focus presenter Dan Walker, and pundits Trevor Sinclair and Dean Saunders

“It’s been a fantastic run for us – as well as for Westfields – and it’s so great to be part of such a prestigious competition, and we’re really, really enjoying it.”

Asked what her ambitions are for the season are, Natalie said: “Reaching the third round of the FA Cup would be absolutely fantastic for us.

“Everyone knows an FA Cup run is financially great for clubs at our level, but from a league point of view, we want to sustain ourselves in the National League North.

“With me coming into post at the club, our vision is to move forward and develop mentally as well as on the pitch, so we’re doing great and today will be a good test for our team.”

Natalie was also asked about the difficulty of competing with other sides in the league that have much bigger budgets. She said: “It’s really hard, but what we’ve found is that the passion, team, management and structure that’s behind every player at the club is helping.

“Yes, financially we’re not at the level of other clubs, but we played really well last season and finished 12th in the league.

“This year we are struggling, but we’ve got the passion and the commitment from all the players to move forward.”

Following the draw in Herefordshire, manager John Flanagan reflected on his side’s performance.

Curzon boss John Flanagan

Curzon boss John Flanagan

Questioned if he’s happy to be in the hat for the second round, he said: “Yes I am – obviously we’re still in there, but for a long time I was wondering if this was the point where we drop off the scale.

“We were always in with a shout; we had a lot of the game, kept possession and moved the ball around quickly.”

Reflecting on Morgan’s equaliser – the former Liverpool striker signed for the club two weeks ago – Flanagan said: “He’s a smashing lad who’s fitted in quickly with everybody, and he’s obviously cute, his movement’s good, he’s bright in and around the box, and I have no doubt that he’ll score plenty of goals for Curzon, although we need to work on his fitness and get him up to speed with his sharpness.

“I think if we could have got him in through pre-season and put him through some real good sessions, we’d have enjoyed a much better start to the season.”

Asked what the ideal draw in the second round would be, Flanagan said: “Probably the next lowest ranked club in the competition.

“I suppose it’s drawing a lower ranked club – although there’s not many of them now – or a top professional club, where we can get a day out.

“I don’t know what the results are today, but the likes of Bolton Wanderers, Sheffield United and Portsmouth – big clubs who have been at the top – a great experience for everybody.”