A cup final and safe in the division is more than enough to delight Letchworth boss Jason
- Credit: LETCHWORTH EAGLES FC
A trip to a county cup final and a place safely in mid-table will do very nicely indeed for manager Jason Valentine after Letchworth Eagles' first season in the Spartan South Midlands League.
The Pixmore-based football club had enjoyed success after success in the Herts Senior County League but after promotion up the non-league pyramid, they went into this year with a small amount of trepidation.
That was unfounded though as the Eagles found life going almost to plan, both on and off the field.
Valentine said: "We were unsure of what was going to happen. We had been used to success and everyone probably felt Letchworth were going to go down.
"We had three players which we maintained from the success [in the Herts Senior County League] but to go into the season like that was very difficult.
"That was a challenge but my plan was always to try and do things proper and right and look where we are now.
"I’ll take a cup final and finishing safe, that’s not bad."
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They couldn't win the Herts Senior Centenary Trophy, losing 4-1 in the final to Chipperfield Corinthians, but with four games to go in SSML Division One, they are 12th and safe to plan for next year.
Competing at the level has been difficult, with Letchworth's spending power and attraction not quite yet up to the level of their neighbours.
That's where the off-field work with junior players comes in.
"Football and sport is all about economics," said Valentine. "Those with the most money tend to do better so to be where we are is a hell of an achievement.
"Now we are in the football pyramid, it is about attracting the right players to the club but we are fishing in the same pond as Arlesey, Baldock, Potton, Biggleswade, Stotfold.
"Why would they come to little old Letchworth?
"That’s why you have to offer a pathway so it is a true pathway where players can play senior football. That’s all we can offer.
"We value youth development and if you can be true to that pathway, players will stay with you.
"That’s what we've done and the youth development has started progressing because people saw it wasn’t just hot air, we play the youth players.
"We’ve finished the season with a 17-year-old at centre-half and two 16-year-olds coming off the bench.
"It’s been remarkable to be honest but it is true to what we are trying to do at Letchworth."