THE DUO behind an 11th hour bid to save Malvern Town FC have laid out ambitious plans to turn around the club’s fortunes.
Observer reporter Geoff Berkeley met the two new owners to find out more about their plans for the future.
THE ROLLING hills not only offer a stunning backdrop to Malvern’s historic Langland Stadium, but also signify the rocky road its 67-year-old football club has been on in recent months.
In August this year, the club appeared to be on a slippery slope to obscurity as it was being forced to sell its ground in a bid to recover about £100,000 owed to creditors.
The mountain of problems seemed to be too steep for the debt-stricken club, which had been struggling to find an alternative site for a new stadium, to climb as it looked set for extinction.
But after the club made a desperate plea for help up stepped two young businessmen with the determination and youthful exuberance to get Malvern Town FC back on an upward path again.
Chris Pinder, 28, co-founder of HD Connectivity, and Ted Grizzell, 23, managing director of ZigZag coaching, believe they have the mix of business brains and football fanaticism needed to make it the ‘pinnacle’ club for football in Malvern.
The ambitious duo want to bring in a professional ethos which they hope will make the club, which currently plays in the West Midlands Regional League – the tenth tier of English football, a more attractive proposition for players and sponsors.
Mr Pinder said: “Obviously we are two unknown young guys coming in and some die-hard supporters might be a bit wary of us and dubious of our intentions, but maybe it is because we are young and stupid that we have even considered taking it on.
“There are plenty of other people out there who could have rescued the club over the years and seen the problems.
“To run a club like this really well, you need a lot of time, energy, ideas and the impetus to implement those and that is what we have got.”
As well as sprucing up the clubhouse and giving players a new kit, the pair are looking to put their energy into creating a youth set up, which they hope will harness some of the area’s brightest talent.
Malvern-born Mr Grizzell, who is also an academy coach at West Bromwich Albion, will be heading up the scheme, which he feels will help give the club an identity.
“We want to create a DNA here, which goes right through the club, so whether they are in the under 18s, reserve side or first team they will know how Malvern Town play.
“In the past a new manager would come in, get rid of the backroom staff and say ‘we are going to play this way’.
“But that is not how it works. They will be fitting a job description like anyone else, so they will have parameters to work within.”
However, Mr Pinder insisted there were no immediate plans to reach the league’s summit this season as he admitted there were hard yards ahead with the side, which is managed by Les Jones, currently sitting in 18th position.
“If we can stay up this year, we can hopefully bolster the squad with talented local players and then we can become a force to be reckoned with next season.
“But we are just merely custodians of this club, so I hope we will be able to pass it on in a better state when it is time for us to retire.”
For the meantime though, club secretary Margaret Scott who has played an integral role in keeping Malvern Town FC alive in recent years is delighted to have them on board.
She said: “I welcome the fresh air which they bring. The club has been stuck in the doldrums for quite a long time now, so it is lovely to see two people with the enthusiasm to bring the club back up again.”