THE CHAIRMAN of Hastings United Football Club is celebrating securing Ryman Premier League status and already planning for next season with a glamour friendly against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Dave Walters ended up with a hefty drinks bill after buying his players a round for their heroics at Lowestoft on Saturday.
The 53-year-old said: “That feeling of joy and satisfaction was worth every penny - I can’t describe what a relief it is to stay in the league.”
Just a dozen hardy souls shared the raw emotion on the pitch as United celebrated a deserved 1-3 victory against the high-flying Suffolk side.
Now the club can look forward to a sixth consecutive season in the third tier of non-league football.
And on July 21 the club expects to welcome Gus Poyet and his team in a mouth watering pre-season friendly at The Pilot Field.
But there will be no letting up in the hard work to keep the club afloat.
The club welcomes the Met Police on Saturday (28th) for the final game of the season.
Mr Walters has been working hard this week to get more supporters through the gates.
The parents of any of the club’s youth team players will be allowed entry for £5 and all under 18 year olds can enter for free.
And on May 11, Chelsea legend Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris will be talking about his career in a special sportsman’s fundraising dinner at the club.
In a long and arduous season, United have experienced a rollercoaster ride which has seen them lose manager Jason Hopkinson in their fight against relegation.
And with the season almost over it is a chance for Mr Walters to exorcise a few ghosts.
He said: “I had a phone call last week from the woman who organises ghost tours.
“She wants to put a ghost walk on around this site to try and generate more interest. Well we’ve certainly exorcised a few ghosts this season.
“Somebody else rang offering to help us with catering and filming matches.
“We welcome any ideas to get more bums on seats.
“The two challenges this season were to stay in the league and to get through the season financially.
“We have managed so far but there’s still a lot of adversity ahead.
“We are expecting Brighton to come in the summer which will be another major boost for us.
“There may be a crowd of 2,000 plus and if we could just retain a few hundred next season it would be a massive shot in the arm.
“The players rolled up their sleeves to show what Hastings means to them. Now it’s time for Hastonians to show what their club means to this great town.”
Supporters Club treasurer Sean Logan-Walker was one of the dozen who made the 330 mile round trip to Lowestoft.
He said: “It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. A fantastic result - I only wish there were more than 14 Hastonians there to see it.
“Sean Ray has done a brilliant job and inspired his team throughout. I can’t wait for next season.”
Chairman of the supporters club Marie O’Mara said: “I was working at a club function and had to follow the match on Twitter. It was a mixture of relief and joy.
“We’ve got a fantastic manager and a good squad of young, keen players. I think we can make the play-offs and then we’ll get more fans through the door.”
The Ron Harris dinner starts at 7pm and tickets cost £30 a head or £240 per table of eight. For tickets call the club on 444635.