AFC Croydon Athletic had a lot to shout about in the first season as a newly-formed club. Having built a side from scratch this time last year, they finished an impressive eighth in the Combined Counties Division One. But lifting their first piece of silverware after nine months thanks to a 5-0 win in the Lemon Recordings Challenge Cup was a huge achievement for manager Ant Williams and his players. With the club looking to kick on and push for promotion to the Premier Division, interest in joining the club has risen, with a number of players attending a pre-season trial recently in a bid to impress Williams. "More than 60 players turned up, and from that we selected ten, who were invited to attend our pre-season schedule to have a closer look at," the boss told the Advertiser. "Considering we only formed last season our attraction and name has continued to spread across the local community. "The quality has been good and much better that we got to see last year. I think our successes last year definitely helped, plus I have managed to secure a couple of players who will continue to add extra quality to our squad. "I do not want to make wholesale changes to the squad, just add a couple with experience, which I felt we were missing on occasions last season. "Not having a playing budget is challenging, especially with so many local sides all fighting it out for the best local talent. "We would still like to hear from people interested in helping support the football club and we're hoping our return to Mayfield Road will help continue to raise the profile of the club and attract sponsors, which is definitely needed at non-league level." Winning the cup was something Williams admits "exceeded" the club's aim after one season, but he has eyes on winning promotion now, especially with the league reduced in numbers. "If I'm honest, I wanted promotion and perhaps may have been slightly optimistic in achieving that goal," he said. "To achieve silverware in our first season probably exceeded most people's expectations, so to walk away with an empathic win in the final rewarded all the hard work that had been put in by the players, board, supporters and my management team. "The aim this season is without doubt promotion, which I would think would be the aim of the other sides in our league. "And the numbers in the league has been reduced this season, so three teams from 16 really does give us a good chance. "The chairman also thinks it's an important season both on and off the pitch, particularly with our intention to return to Thornton Heath as soon as possible. "We both share a desire to be successful." And Williams has a message to any new players thinking of joining the club too. "AFC Croydon is very well run by great and honest people, who are working tirelessly to move the club through the leagues as quickly as they can without taking financial risk that would jeopardise the longevity of the club. "It's a special project, and with the club looking to return to Mayfield Road as soon as possible, which is, in my opinion, the best ground in the league, why wouldn't players want to be part of that?"
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