PENISTONE Church’s David Hampshire said the club will carry on trying to punch above their weight and earn promotion to football’s Northern Premier League.

The progressive club have been nominated for the Proud of Barnsley Sporting Achievement award after coming agonisingly close to realising their ambition last season.

Church, who only moved up from the Sheffield County Senior League in 2014, went toe-to-toe with Worksop Town for the Northern Counties East League title and the one promotion spot.

The meeting of the sides at Worksop in late March attracted a crowd of 1,628 - the biggest recorded for any game in NCEL, which has existed since 1982.

Church lost 2-1, and Worksop ended up taking the title and earning a Northern Premier League return.

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As well as the disappointment of missing out, long-serving manager Ian Richards, who is also vice-principal of Penistone Grammar School, has had to deal with the departure of four key players to higher-level clubs.

Sam Scrivens joined Guiseley and Jordan Coduri left for Ossett United while Brighouse Town signed Kieran Ryan and Tom Brennan.

“We don’t begrudge them their chance at the higher level,” said David, who has been club secretary for 28 years.

“When you have representatives of various Northern Premier League clubs coming to all your home games, you know you’re doing something right.

“We were all disappointed to miss out on promotion, but it was a great season, and that’s credit to our management team of Ian Richards and his brother Duncan and all the players.

“They showed great stamina and great consistency. We lost only eight out of 38 league games, and never two in a row, and scored 112 goals.

“In most seasons, that would win promotion, but credit to Worksop. They were very good and won each of their last 18 matches, so you can’t really argue with their right to success.

“But I think we should take pride in pushing them so close. We operate on a tight budget and face clubs who are far more established, and it’s not unreasonable to say we punch above our weight.”

Church have existed since 1906, but it’s only in recent years that they have started to climb the non-league ladder.

David, 62, whose link with his hometown club goes back to the age of five, when he was a

mascot, added: “Ian Richards is in his tenth year as manager, and has done a great job.

“He has a really solid knowledge of the game, having been at Blackburn Rovers as a youngster and then played for Halifax Town in the Football League.

“Ian has put together a competitive squad, and as a club, we have tried to support him by moving forwards off the field.

“We have a really good chairman in Scott Fairbank, who is very driven and has excellent contacts throughout the area, which has helped bring in vital sponsorship from the likes of DSM Structures and Wett and Windy builders.

“We have also worked to develop the ground (on Church View Road) and build up our women’s and junior sections.

“We’re averaging crowds of around 200, and it’s vital to have strong foundations and live within our means, because we have seen clubs like Shaw Lane and North Ferriby United depend on the financial input of one or a few individuals and disappear when the money dries up.”