By Nathan Jackson
May 22 2011
Alfreton Town could technically be considered a local derby for next season for the Imps. Just over 40 miles away, Alfreton won promotion to the Blue Square Premier by winning the Blue Square North last month, the highest finish in their history and the team with the smallest ground in the division next year know they have hard work ahead of them.
Just a month ago the Imps and Alfreton were separated by two divisions, but next season will see the two clubs face each other in league action for the first time in history.
"The Reds" (I bet they were thinking for ages about that nickname) play at the tiny Impact Arena, a stadium that holds just 3,500, the smallest ground out of any that will be in the Blue Square Premier next season, 500 less than Tamworth's The Lamb.
The Derbyshire club only formed in 1959 following the merger of Alfreton United and Alfreton Minors Welfare, it was two years before they started competitive football in the form of the Central Alliance North Division One. The last ten years have seen them win three promotions, and at one point in 2003 they recorded 17 straight wins in a run of 26 games unbeaten. They also became founder members of the Conference North in 2004/5, making the Playoffs a few times before winning it a few months ago. Their cup history isn't overly fantastic compared to some other teams that have come from their level. They have qualified for the FA Cup proper on four occasions, reaching the second round for the only time in 2008/9.
Lincoln will be one of the three teams they will consider a local rival, the other two being Mansfield and Tamworth.
Manager Nicky Law (right) has stated that he believes his side are one of the favourites to be relegated.
Speaking to the BBC, Law said ""We're going to be pushed to the max week in, week out, and I am under no illusion, we wanted to get to where we now are but it is almost another division of the Football League. Crawley have spent big and gone up. They have never been a league club but there are two more full-time outfits coming down which will make it even more difficult to compete against."
Law has already wielded the axe at the Impact Arena, releasing four players, including former Lincoln United man Chris Hall. Laurie Wilson has also left to join Simon Weaver's Harrogate Town.
Sides coming up from the Conference North tend to do well, two recently promoted sides in the form of Gateshead and Fleetwood both surviving, the latter of which even making the Playoffs.
"We have already seen what can happen with Fleetwood," Law continued with the BBC. "They did it the hard way, went up through the play-offs. They spent a lot of money in getting up and built on that, spending wisely again, and they are now in the play-offs for a place in the Football League. Then you look at Liam Watson at Southport, he kept pretty much all his players, brought three or four in without a big increase in his budget and they have gone down. There are the two different stories."
Alfreton's squad doesn't have many names many Lincoln fans will be familiar with, although Connor Franklin did have a trial at Sincil Bank just over a year ago.
|22 May, 2011 21:31||Report|
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