AFTER years of being so close, Campion are finally out of Division One of the Northern Counties East League, but they have gone sideways not upwards.

The Step 6 side have been transferred across to the North West Counties League First Division North as part of an FA restructure.

Asked if the decision had come out of the blue, joint-manager Lee Ashforth said: “It was mooted a couple of months ago that we could move that way, but with Covid, lots of things have been said and some have happened and some haven’t.

“It is what it is and they’ve done what they have with the leagues so we accept it. Geographically, we knew we were close to the border between the two anyway.”

If they had been promoted to the NCEL Premier Division, there would have been the prospect of a few tasty Bradford derbies.

As it is, the move means they at least have a couple of close neighbours in Steeton and Ilkley Town.

Ashforth said: “We didn’t really have the mix of the Bradford teams being in Division One anyway.

“The aim was to get to the NCEL Premier, but we’ll just have to try and get promoted from this new league and see if they switch us again.

“I know that’s happened with Brighouse and Glossop a few times in the past.”

Campion want the title next season, with Ashforth saying: “There’s 20 teams in the league and we have to be better than the other 19.

“We always want to win the league, whichever one we’re in, even if we’d been in the NCEL Premier Division.

“I think if you just aim for promotion that’s the maximum you can really achieve.

“There’s some interesting teams in there like Bury, the Isle of Man and AFC Blackpool, but I’ve got some contacts, so I can use those to learn more. I’m excited.”

Asked who he felt would be the biggest threats to their title push, Ashforth said: “It’s almost impossible for me to say who’s best at the moment, as some teams I didn’t even know where they were.

“Not knowing the areas, players and budgets yet makes it difficult to judge, but I know Bury are starting again down here.

“They’ve got a top manager in Andy Welsh, who’s got some good players, and they started last season on fire.

“It works both ways though, as we’ll be an unknown quantity to a few of the teams in there.

“We’ll speak to the players about the new season, go into it with a positive mindset, and maybe look to bring in a couple of lads from different areas because of the geography of the league.”

The move may affect pre-season plans, with Ashforth admitting: “It’s funny because we’d arranged friendlies with Steeton, Chadderton and Ilkley but they’re all in our league now.

“We might have to re-look at that, as we don’t really want to give things away in those games.

“I don’t like letting people down but they’ll be in the same boat as us and we have a good relationship with those clubs too.

“We might now look at some friendlies with NCEL sides instead.”