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Avro looking favourites for promotion this season
Wednesday 20th December 2017 @ 11:57 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

Avro are currently flying high in the Manchester Premier League this season, but joint-manager James Hampson says the title race isn’t over.

Alongside co-boss Lee O’Brien, the former New Mills and Droylsden striker has guided his side to an unbeaten start to the season.

Of the 15 fixtures played so far, Avro have won 14 and drawn one – a huge difference to last season’s 12th place finish.

Hampson, who is Avro’s second highest scorer with 13 goals in 15 appearances, believes the club is on course for a bright future.

And although his side top the table by two points, and boast three games in hand on second place Wythenshawe Amateurs, Hampson says his side can’t become complacent. Speaking to Reporter Sport about the season so far, Hampson said: “We aimed to be top at Christmas, but we couldn’t have dreamed of going unbeaten as well.

“We’re happy with where we’re at, but like we keep saying, nothing has been achieved yet.”

Having inherited a side that struggled last season, it’s fair to say that Hampson has turned things around.

Improvements on the pitch have been matched by developments off it.

The beginning of this season marked the opening of the club’s brand new, Vestacare Stadium. The new facilities played a part in Hampson returning to the club. Reflecting on his appointment, he said: “I knew Rob Fuller, the chairman, for a long time.

“I played at Avro previously for about ten years, before I went to New Mills and Droylsden.

“I was at Prestwich last season, but Rob called me to outline the plans about a new ground. He asked me if I would be interested in coming back in a player-manager capacity.

“Rob was juggling between being the chairman and being the manager, and also looking after a number of age groups. I decided to come back to the club with a view of building for the future.

“We made four or five changes to the squad. A lot of the players were there last year, so they were already lads that we knew, and we took them around the new ground and laid out the project.

“We asked if they were interested in joining the club, and thankfully they were.”

The squad has certainly taken advantage of the new facilities, which are a far cry from what Hampson previously remembers. Reflecting on his earlier playing days, he said: “I played on the old pitch for Oldham years and years ago, and to be honest it was a bit of a cow field.

“I’ve seen it transform from what it previously was to what it is now. When I saw it in March, I couldn’t have envisaged it turning out to be this good. It’s still only 80% complete, so once it’s finally finished it will definitely be one of the best facilities in the north west in terms of what it offers.”

Asked if his side have benefitted from playing on an artificial surface, Hampson said: “I think we’ve adjusted to the size of the pitch, rather than the 4g surface.

“I played at Stockport Town as well, and a lot of the lads play and train on artificial pitches, so it’s not that big a change. We just have to prepare ourselves for playing on grass pitches when we travel to other clubs for away fixtures.

“It could possibly be viewed as an advantage for us, but I think everyone has adapted and most of the club’s are going down the 4g route these days.”

With a view to progressing up the football pyramid, the club has recently submitted forms to see if they’re eligible to play in a higher division. The next step, naturally, would be the North West Counties First Division. Hampson is excited by the prospect, but knows there’s still a long way to go. He added: “We submitted the forms and we’ll find out at the end of March if we’re eligible. That’s something that’s on mine and Lee’s mind, but all we can do now is concentrate on the footballing part and hopefully finish in the top three or four.”

While promotion is the main objective this season, the club is also in search of additional silverware. Avro have been handed a home clash in the Gilgryst Cup quarter-final against Rochdale Sacred Heart.

Although his side beat the same outfit 5-1 last weekend, Hampson is under no illusion that it will be an easy task. He said: “We’re in all cups and competitions to win them; there’s no point in entering just to take part.

“We’ve been given a hard draw, although it’s a cup game, so anything can happen. We definitely want to win it.”