Garstang skipper hints at Northern League future

Mark Walling
Mark Walling
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Garstang captain Mark Walling has hinted that the club will take up the opportunity of playing in the Northern League next season.

Garstang captain Mark Walling has hinted that the club will take up the opportunity of playing in the Northern League next season.

The Riversiders all but sealed the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division title – for the first time in their history – last Saturday with one game of the campaign to go.

In doing so, they have earned the right to promotion and a shot at coming up against teams like Leyland, Preston and Blackpool on a regular basis next summer.

For the first time ever, clubs finishing in the top two of the Palace Shield can take the place of the teams finishing in the bottom two of the Northern League Division One – which this season are Lancaster and Kendal.

However, the Palace Shield’s top two do have the option of declining promotion and staying put.

Walling revealed he and his team-mates plan to hold a meeting with club officials next week where they will finalise their plans for next year.

The final decision on whether the club will move up to the Northern League will rest with the players, but the skipper: “I think we will (go up).

“I would like to and a couple of the other lads have said they would like to.

“I think the club is going to discuss it after the season has finished. It will be the players’ decision – the committee have said that.

“But we haven’t discussed it yet and so I can’t really say for definite either way.”

Walling revealed that the club has not broached the subject of promotion yet because they didn’t want to tempt fate.

Up until last weekend there was still a chance they could have been overtaken by both Fulwood and Broughton and Vernon Carus.

“We haven’t discussed it yet because there were still three teams with a chance of finishing in the top two,” Walling said. “We could have dropped out, so there would have been no point talking about it.”

While the situation regarding promotion and relegation has been the main topic of conversation, it has not overshadowed Garstang’s fantastic achievement.

Although they are officially still to be confirmed as champions, the three bonus points they picked up in their abandoned match against Great Eccleston on Saturday means they are certain of lifting the title

Second-placed F&B can draw level with Garstang if they were to claim maximum points away at Torrisholme on Saturday and the leaders were to lose emphatically at Croston.

However, Garstang would still finish on top by virtue of having lost fewer games over the course of the season.

The only way Walling’s men can lose the title is if they were to be docked points in their final match, but that would be highly unlikely especially as they have not been deducted a single point all season.