Tom Clark wants to deliver promotion to put Cornard United back on the map
Often the whipping boys in recent times, there is now only one thing Cornard United’s manager and players are focused on: promotion.
The Ards were lying 15th when the 2019/20 campaign was abandoned in March due to the pandemic and have only finished inside the top 10 in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division twice (9th & 10th) since they were relegated at the end of 1995/1996.
A new season always brings hope but with the squad that has been assembled, Tom Clark – who took over the reins in February – has no doubt a top four automatic promotion place is now an obtainable target.
“This season, with the side we have got and the signings we have made we are aiming for the top four,” he said.
“We are looking to push on and put Cornard back on the map locally.”
His summer recruitment drive began with the eye-catching addition of former Scunthorpe United youth player and reality TV star Jake Quickenden, who plays out wide.
Centre-back Anthony Waugh, who was a key part of Long Melford’s 2014/15 First Division title-winning campaign and successive Premier Division seasons has also now signed, having been thought to have left Stoneylands for lower-league Kelvedon. His former team-mate, midfielder Deklyn Roy, has also joined him along with former Stanway Rovers right-back Connor Seymour.
Another former Melford man, striker Scott Sloots, is among the players Clark has kept hold of after coming in to score 19 goals for them from 17 appearances. His brother Ashley, a former AFC Sudbury player, is also staying put.
“Scott will be massive for us this season,” said Clark. “We have got a really strong squad this year.
“I think it has come about with the vision we have for the club and what the club wants to achieve this year.
“They know we are upgrading the facilities and putting a lot of time and energy into the club to push on and that has been an attraction.”
With crowds at Cornard having been one of the lowest in the division in recent years, Clark is hoping the push to recapture some success can bring people into Blackhouse Lane.
“Hopefully we can start getting some numbers through the gates and start getting a bit of a following going,” he said.
“We want to build Cornard up again and bring something back to the local area that has been missing for a good few years.”
The Ards open their campaign up The FDC against a hosting Norwich CBS side on Saturday (3pm) who were sixth in the 2019/20 table.
But Clark believes they can take confidence from their pre-season campaign, which ended with a 4-2 victory at a young AFC Sudbury side last Saturday.
“It is a tricky one but we have had a good pre-season and been nice and strong,” he said.
“Considering we have played some games against higher-league teams we have done really well and proved we should be up there competing this year.”
Cornard's players wore t-shirts saying 'thinking of you' in support of their long-serving player Dave Dowding's family at Saturday's friendly, following the death of his father, also called Dave Dowding.