FOOTBALL

OPINION: Just how far can Gloucester City go? By Ollie Williams.

If you’ve spent any time around Gloucester City Football Club in recent seasons, you’ll probably have a feeling of hopelessness and a lack of ambition. A club competing at its highest ever level yet going through its darkest days.

The squad this term wasn’t expected to do well, with a relegation scrap predicted before potentially falling into obscurity or settling for mid-table. It’s been the same story for City since promotion in 2009. They also remain without a home, but have had the news of a potential return to Meadow Park in 2017 after years of back and forth with Gloucester City Council.

However, in 2016 things seem to have changed at the club, something has clicked and nobody knows how it has happened. Manager Tim Harris assembled not a completely new squad, but shifted the dead wood and invested in youth.

They’ve been recruited from two places, either the lower leagues having impressed at the likes of Cinderford or Cirencester or players around the age of 21 who did not make it in the higher divisions.

On Saturday, the not so hapless Tigers travelled to FC United of Manchester in a game that they were expected to lose by a considerable margin, despite being above them in the table. However, four goals on the road from Tom Owen-Evans, Joe Parker and a Zac Kotwica brace sealed a win which sees Gloucester sit one position outside the play-offs.

Looking at the table, having achieved the best ever start to a season with goals flying in, Gloucester City look set to have a exciting campaign. In a year of footballing shocks we’ve all heard before, Leicester’s title win, Iceland and Wales’ amazing Euro 2016, it seems there has been a shift in the dynamics of the sport.

Tim Harris has a young hungry squad who are desperate to impress. Joe Hanks’ release from Cheltenham Town in the summer has seen him move to a club where he spent time on loan. Since re-joining he has scored some of the best goals in the club’s recent history, with no less than five long range efforts finding the net. Luke Hopper has scored nine this season, which is impressive bearing in mind he’s been injured for over a month now.

If Hopper returns and continues his form, there is a serious chance that Gloucester City could be in the mix for the play-offs come the end of the season.

Stranger things have happened and in a world where money talks, Gloucester competing with the likes of Salford City, FC United of Manchester, Darlington and especially AFC Fylde, there could just be hope for the game yet.

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