LISTEN Avro are champions – and joint-manager Hampson believes the future is bright
Wednesday 25th April 2018 @ 13:32 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

Avro Football Club is celebrating after claiming the Manchester Premier League title – and joint-manager James Hampson believes it’s just the beginning of a long and successful journey.

Alongside co-boss Lee O’Brien, and with the help of numerous people behind the scenes, Hampson has guided Avro to the league title and Manchester Challenge Trophy during his first season in charge of the club.

Such has been Avro’s quality this season, the squad has only lost one league fixture, winning 23 and drawing one.

The club were crowned league champions after a 5-2 victory at Old Altrinchamians on Saturday, thanks to efforts from Duncan Knott, Mike Stockdale, Vincent Howell, Sam Rothhbone and an own goal.

Hampson arrived at the club over summer and made vast improvements to a squad which had finished 12th the season before.

He began his reign in charge with a 4-2 victory at AFC Monton, before securing a 3-2 win over Royton Town in the first game at the Vestacare Stadium.

Little did Hampson know that the opening two victories would set a benchmark for the rest of the season, in which his side embarked on an unbeaten league run which amazingly – and also disappointingly – came to an end at Rochdale Sacred Heart on Tuesday, April 17.

Following Saturday’s title-winning victory, Hampson spoke to Reporter Sport and praised his players’ response to the previous defeat against Rochdale. “ We were delighted to get the win, as we were a bit downhearted after Tuesday’s loss. It put a dent in the unbeaten record, but we responded well and showed great character.

“You discover more about your fellow players after a defeat rather than a victory, and so we asked for a reaction and the players delivered.”

Avro can now look forward to playing in the North West Counties First Division next season, after the Vestacare Stadium met ground-grading standards required for that level.

Although the quality will be higher both on and off the pitch, Hampson believes the club has the infrastructure to compete in step 10. He added: “We have great facilities and fantastic support from the chairman, along with a solid management team in O’Brien and Paul Armstrong. With a network like that, I definitely think we’ll be able to compete in that division.

“We’ll enjoy it over summer and get some needed rest, but we definitely won’t be resting on our laurels as there’s a huge task to do well in the Counties next season.”

Although the season isn’t over just yet, Hampson already has one eye on player recruitment over summer. He is more than happy, however, with the core of players he already has. “The spine of the squad is very strong, but I think there needs to be one or two tweaks in order to make the step up next season. Most of the players were part of the Avro squad which finished towards the bottom end of the table last season, so it was just about instilling that belief in them. With the addition of one or two players with experience and quality, the blend should put is in good stead to make an impact next season.”

Avro now have three games of the season remaining, with trips to Springhead and Bolton County before ending the campaign with a home clash against Stockport Georgians. Despite having claimed the title already, Hampson says his players are hungry to end the season strongly with three final victories. “I think it would be a bad reflection on our season if we filtered out during the last three games” said Hampson. “We’re going out there to win every game and to make sure that there is just one loss next to our name once the season comes to a close.

“It should be a great occasion at the final game, as we’re trying to make it a real community day. The junior players and ex players will be turning up, and there will be a bouncy castle on offer, along with hot and cold drinks in the club house.”