Last week I did a NonLeagueReview feature on Rylands FC, In the feature I explained their main sponsor was local businessman and leading sport agent Paul Stretford. During Rylands recent loss in the Cheshire Football League Cup Final we caught up with Paul and he told us about his involvement in the club and his hopes for the future.
Paul enjoyed the best days of his youth playing for Rylands, and along with what he said were very good friends they built a successful side and went on to break club and county records winning trophies along the way. Current chairman Ian Finchett was there then and has been heavily involved in everything Rylands ever since. Paul commented that if anyone deserves an FA award for services to football then there’s not many in front of Ian in the queue.
Back to the modern-day, we asked him about his involvement in the club and what he hopes to bring to Rylands. After going into business and becoming very succesful, Paul hasn’t forgotten his roots, from the area and his business based nearby, he’s planning to give something back to the club he once used to represent.
The grounds on which the club is based hasn’t moved on since I was there in the late 70’s early 80’s. We’ve identified the land around the ground and have plans to build changing rooms, catering facilities and our own clubhouse closer to pitchside. We have great facilities there already but in order to help Rylands progress up the pyramid we need to get these moved closer to the pitch. I gave the club a short-term mission statement when I got involved last year, and in the short-term I’ve given the club financial backing to get them looking the part. To attract the right players we feel it’s important to act and prepare for football as any professional team would. All first team players are provided with club tracksuits. As explained in the previous article the player of the month winner receives personalised boots and a bottle of champagne courtesy of Nike and their hypervenom range. With our connections there they also sponsor our player of the season award, I feel it’s important to treat all players equally so the prize I arranged for last seasons winner was the same as I’d give to any of my professional players. We took the winner of the player of the season to London first class and put them up in a 5* hotel for a few days. On the Saturday they were invited to Wembley as guests of Nike in their own executive box to watch the England v Scotland game, then the next day they were treated to an all expenses shopping trip to Nike’s flagship store. This year we are hoping to do something similar. The philosophy of this is to make the lads feel as professional as possible. If they work hard they know the rewards are great. At the level these lads are at they don’t get paid and rely on their full-time jobs. The team at the moment are the foundation of Rylands future, hopefully they can look back when they’re my age and have the same memories as I have and say they were the start of where Rylands aspires to be in the future.
Coming on to the present day and the football side we talk about the successive finals Rylands have reached and the hopes for next season. The club has had a better showing in the league this year and reached the league cup final again. Although after the interview they went on to lose 4-1, Paul was upbeat for the remainder of this season and his hopes for next year.
I’m not putting pressure on the boys that they have to win but as long as there is continued improvement we know we are heading in the right direction. With Dave and Paul in charge of the first team and Ian running the club Rylands is in safe hands.