Hadley FC, the oldest football club playing in Barnet, have won promotion to a higher league.
Next season they are looking forward to hosting some high-profile local derbies at their ground in Brickfield Lane, Arkley.
The Bricks – as they are known by their fans – will be up against nearby teams such as Hertford Town, Welwyn Garden City, Ware and Berkhamsted.
After finishing the 2021-22 season in third place in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, Hadley have been promoted to the Southern League Division 1 Central.
There has been praise for the achievement of team manager Anthony Clark and his squad in moving to their highest ever level of football.
Weekly attendances at home matches at Arkley have been averaging well over 100 and the club, established in 1882, is hoping that promotion to step four of league football – for the first time in Hadley’s history – will boost support still further.
“Come on you Bricks” is now rivalling the shout of “Up the Bees”, the chant which used to ring out at the former – and now long one – Underhill stadium in the years before Barnet FC moved to the Hive, at Edgware.
Club general manager Steve Gray (left, with Anthony Clark right) said promotion would be a good test for Hadley’s young playing squad and fixtures with nearby teams should prove popular with their fans.
Hadley finished third in their Spartan South Midlands League, and they won their place in the Southern League because Risborough Rangers – who finished in second place above them – do not have a pitch that meet the standards for step four football.
Another option for Hadley had been to join the Isthmian League, but Mr Gray said the Southern League was preferable because there would be more local games and less travelling for away matches.
Hadley rounded off their successful 2021-22 season with a 3-1 win over Stotfold at Leatherstock Green to take the Gladwish Challenge Trophy.
In recent years £500,000 has been spent upgrading Hadley’s facilities and the latest appeal is for £200,000 to install an all-weather Astro turf pitch, fencing and floodlights at Brickfield Lane.
Planning permission has been obtained from Barnet Council and the club hopes that a new all-weather nine-a-side pitch could be ready for next season and the start of training.
The club has undertaken an extensive upgrade of the ground at Arkley.
Recent improvements include pitch drainage, floodlights, pathways, a spectator stand and the refurbishment of the pavilion, clubhouse and changing rooms.