The non-league club soaring to promotion under Gareth Southgate's best friend. - sportupdate
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The non-league club soaring to promotion under Gareth Southgate’s best friend.



With only two promotion spots available per season, the National League is a notoriously difficult division to flee, ensuring that many clubs remain in place for years.

Since its inception in 1892, Bromley FC has competed in the fifth-tier of English football for nine consecutive seasons. This is their highest-level campaign. Bromley has aspired to the apex of the non-league hierarchy for decades, but now that they have established themselves at that level, they are enthusiastic about embarking on a new journey. The EFL has set a call.


Bromley have progressed from a mid-table finish to a promotion challenge, securing a berth in the play-offs by placing seventh in two of the previous three seasons. The National League playoffs are even more suspenseful and arduous than their equivalents in the EFL, as they involve six teams competing for a single place in League Two, as opposed to the original four.Manager Andy Woodman reacts by stating, “I find it absurd.” “This country has an excellent tiered system, but it ought to be three up, three down in every circumstance.”


Having barely qualified for the playoffs in prior campaigns, they are attempting to establish a more predictable course of action this time around.In the interim, chief executive Mark Hammond has spearheaded the establishment of a youth initiative that has begun to generate pupils of exceptional ability who are sought after by clubs in the EFL and even the Premier League.


Additionally, in March will mark Woodman’s third anniversary in command. In March 2021, the 52-year-old was in charge of the goalkeeping department at Arsenal when Bromley made contact.


Woodman responds with a sardonic grin, “I reside 15 minutes down the road,” when asked what motivated him to leave the opulence and splendor of the Premier League for the rugged competition and uncertainty of the National League.


“Being from this region is helpful.” A lifetime has been spent living away from home. I believed the project was progressing positively, as evidenced by the facilities, and it was likely my final opportunity to attain a managerial position. I had always believed I possessed those qualities, and I believed I had accomplished everything in football, so I reasoned, let’s attempt management. “Thus far, so good.”Woodman is simple to warm, even on the coldest of nights when thermal socks and winter boots prevent your toes from freezing solid.


Woodman established himself as a goalkeeper and amassed more than 400 appearances for a variety of EFL clubs, including Northampton Town, Brentford, Colchester United, and Oxford United, during his prosperous albeit nomadic career. After hanging up his mitts, he continued his grand tour of the country by serving as Alan Pardew’s goalkeeping coach for various clubs, including Newcastle for four and a half years.


Finally, Woodman has returned to his south London origins in his capacity as a manager. It was during his 35-year professional football career that he made his acquaintance with a future England manager at Crystal Palace.As well as being the best man at his own nuptials, Gareth Southgate is also the godfather of his son Freddie, who is currently employed by Preston North End as a goalkeeper. Furthermore, he is the co-author of the autobiographical book Woody and Nord: A Football Friendship.


Woodman quips, “That will put you to sleep without difficulty!” in response to the reference to the 2004 Sunday Times Sports Book of the Year. It is impossible that a second installment will occur. These days, both men have a tad more on their plates.


“I converse with him approximately every other week regarding football, and we discuss our respective games, among other topics.” “He is positively priceless,” Woodman declares, confirming that the England manager has not yet observed his closest friend’s team in action.


Amidst the bitterly cold January afternoon, I made the most of the Premier League’s winter hiatus by attending their National League match against Boreham Wood at Hayes Lane.Hundreds of spectators seek shelter from the elements in the expansive Broomfields Bar, which was renovated two years ago and is accessible to the public seven days a week, prior to the game. Others pour into the beer garden, where they huddle under heaters while sipping craft golden pale ales and watching Arsenal’s rout of Crystal Palace, Bromley’s neighbors, unfold on the numerous screens dispersed throughout the area.


As 3 p.m. approaches, they progressively venture outdoors while adorned in shawls of white and black, the official colors of Bromley. Families assemble in the Glyn Beverly stand, which was inaugurated in 2019 and features an impressive 1,450-seater capacity. Meanwhile, others partake in pre-match hospitality in a capacious function room located at the rear of the John Fiorini stand.