West boss Rowley revels in title win

Fri 25th March 2022 | West Didsbury & Chorlton
By Alex Thrower

West Didsbury & Chorlton boss Chris Rowley believes his side’s ‘winning mentality’ and ‘resolute defence’ are what’s driven them to the NWCFL First Division South title.

A 2-1 win away at Barnton on Wednesday night was enough to take the Manchester-based club beyond the reach of their nearest rivals, FC Isle of Man, and return to the Premier for the first time since 2019.

“It was a bizarre game, a bizarre evening. So many people told me to enjoy it, but how can you,” he asks me. 

“We arrived at the ground and found out three of the lads were stuck on the M56!

“We had to reorganise and change the line-up, but we must give full credit to those who came in, they were prepared, and it shows how talented our relatively small squad is.

“We took the lead after half-time and looked confident but then they equalised out of nothing. I don’t tend to sit down much during games, but this time I just had to sit in the dugout to compose myself. Before I had a chance to cool down, James (Hooper) had scored the winner!

Despite joining West in December 2019, this is Rowley’s first full season at Brookburn Road due to consecutive seasons being curtailed thanks to the pandemic. The club missed out on promotion through the restructuring conducted in non-league last summer, but former Altrincham Reserves coach Rowley believes this is what West’s very loyal fanbase deserves.

“It was a record crowd for Barnton, 577, and I think we took around 400 fans. I was speaking to one after the game and he said if he misses the coach then he’ll sort a lift. I didn’t even know we had a supporters coach,” he continues.

“I think the way we’ve got promotion will please all our fans, going up this way means they’ve had a full season to get behind the team and push us back into the Premier.

“Brookburn Road has a capacity of 1200, so this weekend when we face Alsager Town there, we’d love to hit that number. We’re going to focus on the game and put on a show for the fans. They can enjoy themselves the whole afternoon, we’ll only do it when that trophy is lifted.”

This season has seen West be the pace setters in the First Division South, scoring 113 goals- incredibly only the second highest in the division behind FC Isle of Man- and conceding just 29, the lowest of any team in the North West Counties, it’s clear to see where Rowley believes success has come from this year.

“We’ve built a solid foundation defensively, we’ve gone with the theory of ‘if we don’t concede, we cannot lose’,” he notes.

“We lost in the league for the first time away at Ellesmere in December, but every time we’ve had a small setback the team has responded so well. It’s a winning mentality that’s been there since the season started in July.

“The standout games, for me, were the 2-1 wins away at Abbey Hey in September and New Mills in January.”

Turning attentions to the future and with West still competing in three cups- the Macron, First Division and Lancashire Challenge Trophy- Rowley knows the season is very much not over despite the biggest challenge now being completed.

“We’re going to take the cups seriously; the season isn’t over for us,” he assures me.

“At the start of the season we knew we could win the league, despite not having the biggest budget. The club are doing so much away from the pitch to the ground and around the community which is amazing.

“We may bring in a few players to reinforce the squad, but this team is young, talented and I believe they are ready for the Premier next season!”

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