Duffers’ Diaries: What will 2018 really have in store for Ilkeston Town?

Montel Gibson heads home the winnerin the last Robins game against Walsall Wood. Photo by Craig Lamont.
Montel Gibson heads home the winnerin the last Robins game against Walsall Wood. Photo by Craig Lamont.

The stereotypical festive fixture schedule is one of relentless matches, tired players and food-filled supporters but Ilkeston Town have had the exact opposite.

With only one game scheduled over Christmas and new year anyway, that match was then postponed last Saturday meaning Robins players, staff and fans have been left with just leftover turkey and annoying relatives for company.

Not a great deal has gone on around them but they now go into Saturday’s game away at Coventry Alvis, who sit bottom of the table and who haven’t scored at home all season, in fifth place and seven points behind leaders Leicester Road with three games in hand.

That will be followed by a home game with Whaley Bridge in the Derbyshire Senior Cup next Tuesday and then a big game with Atherstone four days later who are up there challenging for honours as well.

A lot has been said about how the first few months of the new club’s life has gone but it’s the next year that could really shape how quickly they’re likely to rise up through the divisions.

There’s no doubt they’re realistic title contenders but perspective has to be kept in realising this is only season one and promotion would be a huge bonus despite the infrastructure and squad at the New Manor Ground.

The lack of preparation time at the start could end up proving costly but nobody can be faulted for that of course; it’s been far better to have a team than not!

If Ilkeston don’t go up this time you can be sure they’ll be hot favourites to do so in 2018/19 so one would imagine lots of focus will be on doing that at the very least.

If it is to happen this year then step five football will not, in my opinion, be too huge a step to mean that a second successive promotion could follow.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Ilkeston are growing and the vibe is good. That alone gives plenty of reasons to be cheerful as we enter 2018.