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Club Focus: Wakehurst

Wakehurst manager Ian Gregg has confessed that this season has been something of a disappointment.

After competing at the top end of the division last year, the Ballymena club have failed to repeat that form this season. They're currently stuck in tenth place in the Belfast Telegraph Championship Two.

Gregg explained: “It's been a disappointing season for us. Last year we finished sixth and we were hoping to build on that this year, but we've suffered from injuries and suspensions, and we currently find ourselves in the bottom half of the table.

“We haven't really gelled in the way I would have liked. It's been a frustrating season.

“Our aim now is to consolidate in mid-table and try and claim as many points as we can. I've already started planning for next year, as we can't afford to stand still.”

With an exciting title race on the horizon, and two teams competing well in the Irish Cup, it's been a great season for the Belfast Telegraph Championship Two. Gregg, however, believes that the division suffers from poor administration.

“Championship Two is a fast and furious league and I think it deserves more credit than it gets. It's a diluted version of the Premiership.

“All the teams are fit and well organised and it's highly competitive. It doesn't surprise me that Queen's University and Armagh City have both done so well in the Irish Cup.

“I think the division could be administrated better. The big question at the moment is, what happens to the team that comes last? We're told they will be relegated, but what division will they enter? We already know that they can't enter the Amateur League, so it's an uncertain time for teams near the bottom of the division.”

In recent years, Wakehurst's big problem has been that they haven't been able to play in their native Ballymena. The club used to play its football at the Intermediate pitch at the Ballymena Showgrounds, but it's now not up to Championship standards. The club's requests to share the main Showgrounds pitch with Ballymena United was rejected, so they now ply their trade at Moyola Park's Mill Meadow ground.

Gregg explained: “It's a huge disadvantage for us. It's difficult to attract local Ballymena players to the club. Castledawson is only 25 minute away in the car, but players have the perception that we play out in the sticks.

“When we played in Ballymena you'd get 50 people or so at our games, and that's disappeared now. It makes it difficult for us to attract sponsors as well. Hopefully we can return to The Showgrounds in the near future.”

Name: Wakehurst

League: Belfast Telegraph Championship One

Founded: 1969

Nicknames: The Hurst

Ground: Mill Meadow, Castledawson

Colours: Black and White stripes

Gaffer: Ian Gregg

Skipper: Douglas Stevenson

Sharpshooter : Connor Gregg

Most Skilful: Lee McCaughern is the most technically gifted

Hard Man: Andy Laughlin likes to get stuck in

Club Comedian: Lee McCaughern

Best Moment: Reaching the Steel Cup semis in 2003

Club Man: Willie Allen

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Belfast Telegraph