Dave King keen to build on a season of progress
Dave King believes the future looks bright at Tividale following a solid return to the Midland League.
Having gained promotion as champions from the West Midlands League in 2018/19, Tivi made encouraging strides at step five under the astute guidance of the experienced King.
They were sitting in 15th when the season was declared null and void due to the coronavirus outbreak. But that was possibly a false position given they still had 15 Premier Division games remaining.
A push for a top-10 place may have been on the cards, but boss King is delighted with his squad’s progress.
“It was our first season back at step five and we wanted to establish ourselves, and we have done that,” said King.
“I would like to have seen how far we could have gone had the season been played out.
“We had 15 league games remaining and we had just beaten Sporting Khalsa in our final game before the season ended. I would have liked to have pushed for the top 10.
“But all credit to the players. They can be proud of what they have done this season.
“If you look back over the years, the team that comes up from the West Midlands League more often than not struggles
“It’s a big step up in terms of budget and standard. A lot of clubs in this league are very well backed financially. Some are paying more than sides at step four.
“We have achieved this with the 19th lowest budget in the league.”
And with a relatively young, tight-knit squad, King is looking forward to next season with relish.
“There is a lot of young talent in the squad and they will have benefitted hugely from playing a season at this level,” he added.
“It’s wonderful when you sit back and look at the average age of the squad.
“The overall picture is very pleasing and they are a great set of lads.
“I have been in the game a long time, but I have never known a spirit like the one we have. It’s unique. They are a really tight bunch of lads. When we were having games called off, they were insisting on coming in to train They just want to work hard and get better.
“And recently following the coronavirus outbreak, a fair few of the lads have been ringing around some of our older supporters and checking to see how they are and if they want anything picking up.
“That is something the lads have instigated themselves and that just shows what a good group we have.”
King admits it’s difficult to single players out for praise given the collective effort of his squad, but when pushed he felt striker Dan Smith and Brad Wheldon were worthy of a special mention.
“Dan is 22 or 23 and bagged 16 goals, and I’m sure he would have gone on to get close to 25 had the season been completed,” said King.
“He has been excellent and really taken to this league. But I knew that he would because he is a goalscorer.
“His attitude is on a different level. He travels from Cardiff at times but he never misses a match or training session.
“Brad has also had a very good season playing at left-back or left midfield. He has come of age this year. But it’s hard to single players out because the whole squad have been immense.”
The aim for King now is to build on this season’s efforts.
“As a club there are a few areas that we need to improve to make things even better,” added King. “But I think we are in a good place given the age of the squad.
“Like any manager, I will look to make a couple of additions, but if we can keep hold of these players then the future looks good. And I can’t see why we should lose any of them. If we stick together then we should look forward to next season and really cement ourselves at this level.
“I dare say some clubs will come sniffing and I would never stand in a player’s way if it’s the best move for him.
“But moving on is not always the best thing and there have been quite a few occasions where players have gone, and then they are on the phone a few weeks later asking to come back.
“Hopefully we will keep this squad together.”
The victory over a Sporting Khlasa side on course for the title is the standout highlight for King.
“Khalsa are a very good side and I had never beaten a side managed by Ian Rowe before,” said King.
“We had to work hard and had a bit of luck, but we looked a good side that day. It was a really pleasing win.
“And also the one early in the season against AFC Wulfrunians. It was important to get a win on the board quickly and that gave the lads the belief they could compete at this level.”