SPORTING 87 are looking forward to lots of ‘firsts’ following finally winning promotion.
The Bury St Edmunds-based side sealed the Macron SIL Division One title last Saturday, a week after confirming their promotion to the Senior Division for the first time in their 35-year history.
They were presented with the Division One trophy after their 4-2 win at home to AFC Kesgrave in their final match of the season.
Jonathan Warnock, who has been first-team manager for 26 years during which time he has missed just six matches, is also club secretary and director of football and so oversees the whole football programme within the Christian club.
He was quick to praise the work of his assistant Neil Van Holland, who he has worked with for four years.
“Neil has been brilliant and has been a major influence in our success, during which time we have become really good mates,” said Warnock, who is already looking forward to the next chapter in the club’s history.
He said: “Obviously, we are very excited. It will be great to host some big SIL clubs, but also we are looking forwards to a lot of firsts – our first Senior game, home game and, of course, our first Suffolk FA Senior Cup fixture!
“They are all things to be excited about, but if we are not excited then we probably shouldn’t be involved in football!”
The Sporting 87 first-team squad. Main photograph: Sporting 87 players celebrate after receiving the Macron SIL Division One trophy.
Sporting 87 have previously come close to winning promotion a few times, most notably in 2017 when they needed to win their last game of the season but lost 1-0 to Claydon, then in 2019 they finished third, missing out on promotion on goal difference by just two goals.
Warnock said: “It is something that we have worked towards for many years, and I hope and believe the club is ready to make this step.
“It’s not just the first team that has had success this year, the Reserves and ‘A’ teams are both in the top three of SIL Intermediate A and B.
“The Sporting U18 Thurlow Nunn League team have achieved their highest-ever points total in the league since we joined in 2014, and they still have three game left.
“Also, Luka Gelevski is the highest goalscorer in the Southern Division, and third highest across all six Thurlow Nunn Youth leagues!”
Warnock said one of the differences this season compared to previous years has been the number of goals Sporting 87 have scored.
“Brandon Salisbury is the division’s leading goalscorer on 22, and we have the best goal difference – plus 16 more than anyone else in the league.
“We have other players that have contributed to this, Nathan Banks (9) and Sam Fenning (7), but both have been out with long-term injuries. Jarrod Lebbon, our captain and centre midfielder, has scored 10, the first time he has reached double figures.
“Like all clubs we have had players out with Covid but we have a good squad, plus we have been able to use players from Reserves, ‘A’ team and Under-18 Thurlow Nunn League team.”
Warnock added: “It’s our 35-year anniversary (1987) so maybe it is fitting that we have finally reached Senior football.
“There is obviously going to be a lot of work going on in the summer to prepare and we will be looking to increase our sponsors, so if there is anyone interested in supporting us please contact us!”