Hillingdon FC could have the best possible helping hand in their bid to save their promotion dream – FA chairman Greg Dyke.
The Middlesex County League Premier Division champions are expected to have their place in the Spartan South Midlands League blocked as their ground, at Brunel University, does not meet the right criteria.
Even if they find a ground share, they would not be able to make the step up as such arrangements have to be in place before promotion is won.
However, manager John Ely is hoping to call on his old pal, a link going back to when Dyke was chairman at Brentford FC.
Brentford’s club captain is Kevin O’Connor, who played for Hillingdon in their early days as youth side Hillingdon Irish Saints. O’Connor’s dad, Pat, helped found the club in 1989.
Ely said: “It’s crazy the things you have to have in place to step up to that level.
“We get about 15 people watching us, yet to go up we’d need to have a covered stand with 100 seats.
“The FA say at that level you can enter the FA Cup and theoretically play Chelsea, but if that were to happen I think we’d play it at Stamford Bridge!
“I’m not knocking the FA, most of what they do is brilliant, but sometimes they strangle the game at this level, and rules like this stop teams stepping up.
“I know Greg Dyke quite well though, so maybe I’ll have a word in his ear. It will be a shame if we don’t go up, but if that’s the case, most of the lads are young enough to give it another go.”
Hillingdon’s rise is in contrast to the fall of Hillingdon Borough, who could be relegated to SSMFL Division One if no reprieve arrives, meaning the young upstarts could play at the same level as their more illustrious neighbours next season.
Ely added: “The adult section was only formed 10 years ago and we came over to the Middlesex League after two years in the London Commercial. We worked our way into the Premier and after finishing last season strongly, we should have won the title more comfortably than we did this year.
“Although I’ve been with the club for 16 years, coaching the kids teams, I only took over as manager three years ago from Trevor Prior, who had been in charge of the adult side since its inception. The kids I used to coach now form the spine of the adult side.”