Kimberley MW boss says title win is 'beyond our wildest dreams'

Kimberley MW joint-boss Graham Furnell says the club becoming champions of the UCL Division One was beyond anyone’s expectations.

Thursday, 21st April 2022, 9:28 am
Updated Thursday, 21st April 2022, 9:29 am

The Miners secured the title on Saturday with a 2-1 win over Harrowby United and then beat local rivals Hucknall Town 4-0 on Easter Monday to move on to 109 points – nine ahead of second-placed Hinckley with one game to play.

And Furnell, who is assisted by fellow boss Ant Ward and coaches John Cherry and Reece Limbert, says it’s been a huge effort by everyone at the club.

He said: “It’s beyond our wildest dreams. When Ant and I took over the club were taking a gamble because we came from a youth coaching background, although we’d swept the board in terms of honours with various clubs.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Kimberley MW's players celebrate after their title win. Photo by Jason Chadwick.

"We had literally no players and put a three-year plan in place – firstly to avoid relegation, then to consolidate and in the third of those years it was to finish in the top ten.

"Here we are, after two curtailed seasons, winning the league in that third year. It’s miraculous.

"Ironically, we probably played better football in the two previous years with younger lads, but although our oldest player now is still only 24, we’ve got a bit more experience in the team which has made a huge difference.

"Whereas before we could play a team off the park for 20 minutes before they cottoned on and started bullying us, now we can vary things more by playing good football but also mixing it up if we have to.

"We’re ambitious and worked hard after last year to identify areas we needed to improve in, but we’ve ended up winning the league with basically no budget.

"Our ethos is that money doesn’t buy you love – we’ve had players come here who just want to play football, treated them properly and they’ve thrived, perhaps rather than them going elsewhere for financial reasons or going to a higher level and struggling to get games.”

Furnell says that genuine belief Kimberley were serious title contenders began to form after Christmas, particularly with a number of games being won late on, emphasising the fitness levels in the team.

He said: “We were in the mix at Christmas and then went into the new year having not played for a month until a 0-0 draw with another promotion-chasing side, Belper United.

"After that we began to get a lot more points on the board and the catalyst was Sacha Markelic scoring a 94th minute winner against his dad’s team, Radford.

"We pride ourselves on being a fit side and being able to kick on when a lot of teams start to wane at about 65/70 minutes, and a lot of our wins came from that.

"The goals have been spread around the team – you’ve got players like Luis Rose who has scored over 30 goals, and that’s even with him having gone to Heanor for a short while, and then our skipper Sam Brown who has got nine or ten – in fact I think our whole back four each scored at least four or five goals.

"Our defence has conceded the least amount of goals in the division. It’s been an incredible season.”

*See the Chad website next week for Furnell’s initial thoughts on next season and how Kimberley are planning for their first ever season at step five.

*For a gallery of images from the title-winning match against Harrowby United and the trophy presentation, CLICK HERE