ONE OF the largest football and community institutions in the Vale is preparing for the new season after a lot of hard work during lockdown.

Staff at Sully FC on South Road have been working around the clock to make sure the club is ‘Covid-proof’, with plenty going on behind the scenes to make sure that when the big opening day finally comes around next month, they’re more than ready.

With a refurbished clubhouse and lots of efforts gone into the new socially-distanced set-up, the club hopes to see some new faces coming through the doors soon.

There will be some changes on the field too, with a new and experienced first team management duo – coaches Daniel Jose and Shak Bousouf.

Secretary Bryn Walter, whose son plays in the junior section, has explained the changes and the challenges ahead for the new season.

“It’s been a tough time, especially for the players not being able to go out and train, it can have a toll on mental health and you realise it’s not just a game of football,” he said.

“Staff at the bar had to be furloughed, but now they’re back and they’ve returned to a lovely new clubhouse fit for a community-based club like ours.

“It’s important now we get the name out there again and welcome as many people down as possible – socially distanced of course – to support us.”

Mr Walters paid tribute to long-serving chairman Stephen Greenslade, the heartbeat of the club who is there most days.

On the challenges of social distancing, Mr Walters said: “We’ve had to follow FAW guidelines, which means getting more coaches registered. We need one coach per six players, as well as all the sanitiser and PPE.

“Financially we’ve had no money coming in, but we’re lucky because we’ve been financially astute enough to prepare for a time like this.

“It will be a huge struggle though if we don’t get people coming and having a drink here after lockdown. I think sometimes people don’t realise that anyone can come in, not just footballers and fans.”

Coming off the back of a mid-table ‘finish’ last season, when the season was cut short, Mr Walters says while they would like to challenge for promotion, but it is not the priority.

“On the pitch we’ll be behind Barry, as usual, but that isn’t an issue for us. It’s about making sure we’re financially sound and are at the heart of the community, both on the pitch developing players and people, and off the pitch by giving residents a place to come and enjoy the company.

“That said, the new coaches seem very ambitious and are looking to attract some new faces. We’re hopeful it can be a really positive time for us.”