‘It will be an achievement just to stay in the league’

Luke Fogarty celebrates Brakes' previous promotion from the Southern League Premier with Liam O'Neill and Paul Holleran.
Luke Fogarty celebrates Brakes' previous promotion from the Southern League Premier with Liam O'Neill and Paul Holleran.

Former Leamington chief scout Luke Fogarty says a lot has changed in the two seasons Brakes have been out of the Conference North.

The ex-Southam boss should know having moved on from Brakes to North Ferriby where he enjoyed promotion from the division in 2015/16 before following Billy Heath to Halifax and repeating the trick a year later.

Now chief scout at Telford, Fogarty says the amount of cash swilling around the Conference makes it even harder for teams like Leamington to compete.

“Money’s the difference. There are no easy games in the league this year,” said Fogarty.

“The first time they were in it there were a few teams like Vauxhall Motors and Colwyn Bay who weren’t well funded and didn’t have the best pool of players.

“Now you look down the league from one to 22 and you don’t see any weak teams.

“Even the likes of Gainsborough and Spennymoor have got money and are attacting decent players. It will be a very difficult job for Paul [Holleran] and Martyn [Naylor]. It will be an achievement just to stay in the league.”

However, Fogarty does believe Brakes will do enough to escape the bottom three.

“I’d back Paul to keep them out of it. He’s savvy. He was unlucky last time with the injury to Danny Newton. But it’ll be touch and go.”

And given his knowledge of the division, who does Fogarty think will go up?

“Salford are my favourites with the money they’ve spent. My dark horses are Boston. They’ve recruited well and they’ve got a young up-and-coming manager.”

And how about Telford? Does a third successive promotion beckon for Fogarty?

“It’s a new era,” he said. “Hopefully mid-table and perhaps a late run into the play-offs.”