Top of the Bill at City

THE future of St Albans City FC in the Blue Square South comes under scrutiny this weekend when they start the trilogy of matches that could save their season, just six days on from their Centenary.

THE future of St Albans City FC in the Blue Square South comes under scrutiny this weekend when they start the trilogy of matches that could save their season, just six days on from their Centenary.

The club was founded on April 13, 1908, and the significance of the Centenary was certainly not lost on club treasurer Bill Nicholson, aged 83, who first watched the Saints as an eight-year-old in the 1930s. Bill said: "When I first went to St Albans I was with the supporters club for years. I ran lotteries for them and made them thousands of pounds. I took on St Albans City FC treasurer then and I am still treasurer now for the club. We have had some good times when Syd Prosser and Ronnie Dukes were managers and we had a good time while we were up in the Conference National. It was a big experience compared to what we are normally used to."

Bill's attention like everyone else at St Albans City is currently focussed on the possible permutations of the relegation battle and he believes the struggle will go right to the final day. He said: "I think this won't be decided until the last game. We have to keep our fingers crossed. Weston-super-Mare have four games to play and we are hoping other clubs will do the job for us but you cannot rely on that. We have two hard home games because they are against teams in the play offs. It all depends with these play offs because second play fifth and third play fourth so it all depends who they want to play."

Chairman John Gibson has gone on record stating that he wished he had appointed Steve Castle as manager earlier in the season and Bill echoes those sentiments. He believes that the battle, made all the more intense by the defeat to Bognor Regis Town, would have been won earlier had Castle been in the hot seat. Bill said: "I think if Steve Castle had been in place instead of Dave Anderson they would be alright now. I think Steve is doing a fantastic job. If he keeps us up he will be a marvel.

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"Since Paul Bastock has been back he has made a vast difference to our team but what I think upset us the most recently was Ryan Frater having to miss two games because he was playing well. On top of that we got two injuries on Saturday as well. Ben Martin pulled a hamstring and Jonathan Hunt went off with a bad ankle injury. We have to hope for the best."

In 75 years watching St Albans City, Bill has seen many ups and downs and whether or not the club enjoy a positive outcome to a turbulent campaign, his loyalty will be without question. Bill said: "In my early years, the hours I put in for that club included when I was at work as I had phone calls coming in. I have enjoyed it, this has been a good pastime and that is why I am still doing it now. Because I am retired now it keeps me occupied. People don't realise what goes on behind the scenes. I have been down there this afternoon. We had two academy teams and the reserves down in the evening. I made the sandwiches for the academy and the sandwiches for the reserves. It keeps me out of mischief."

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City boss Steve Castle hailed the landmark for the club and hopes to provide a fitting tribute by securing the future of the side in the Blue Square South. He said: "With a relegation fight in hand it has gone a little bit unnoticed and it shouldn't be. It is a fantastic landmark. It is a credit to people in the back room staff such as Bill Nicholson and Geoff Brown, they are with us through thick and thin and taking sandwiches to reserve games and youth games. They really do make the club tick and they deserve the credit.

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