Bromley FC’s National League Play-Off place is reward for doing things the right way

3 min

Hot on the heels of Sutton United’s historic first promotion to the Football League in 123 years, Bromley FC could be set to replicate the achievement with a promotion of their own.

Having snuck into the National League Play-Offs on the final day of the season courtesy of a 1-0 win over Notts County, the Ravens find themselves the joker in a pack that includes six former Football League clubs.

Following a similar pattern to Sutton, Bromley have made steady progress since promotion to the National League in 2014/15. 

Under the guidance of former manager Neil Smith, they established themselves as a solid top half side with a ninth place finish and an FA Trophy final in 2017/18 a particular highlight.

Yet it is off the pitch where the ambition of Bromley Football Club can mostly be seen with the demanding leadership of chairman Robin Stanton-Gleaves seeing the club transition from part-time to full-time, put down 3G pitches in and around the stadium and install a 1,500 all-seater stand.

With further work planned and Stanton-Gleaves clear in his intention to get Bromley into the Football League perhaps their appearance in the post-season shouldn’t be seen as a surprise but the natural conclusion for a club doing things the right way.

The recent history of the National League indicates that being a ‘big’ former Football League club no longer guarantees you promotion.

Last season it was Barrow and Harrogate Town who upset the odds and with Sutton already emulating them this season, it would take a brave person to write off in-form Bromley.

The gap between ex-Football League clubs and traditional non-league sides has narrowed year on year. 

A financial advantage and a big stadium may give some teams a greater profile but the quality of the coaching in the league negates the overall impact.

No more so has this been evident than with current Bromley manager Andy Woodman. In March this year Stanton-Gleaves made the controversial decision to remove the popular Neil Smith when Bromley were seventh in the league.

Sensing that Bromley would fall short by the end of the season, Stanton-Gleaves entrusted the hotseat to Arsenal’s head of goalkeeping Woodman with the decision deemed to be the next stage in further professionalising the club on and off the field.

With 15 years of Premier League coaching experience behind him, Woodman has used all of that experience to return 28 points from the possible 39 on offer in his 13 games in charge. 

READ MORE: Why Bromley FC’s ‘The long, long road to Wembley’ is more than just another football book

Having only tasted defeat once since he took control, no other club has shown better form in that same period of time.

Although Bromley’s path to the final looks insurmountable as they would need to defeat both Hartlepool United and Stockport County in one-off games away from home, the Play-Offs are all about momentum.

Their current run has been built on a defensive solidity that has seen them keep six clean sheets in 13 games, two of those against the aforementioned teams.

A year ago when Bromley hosted their end of season awards, Stanton-Gleaves stated that his ambition and desire remained as strong as ever to get Bromley challenging for National League promotion. 

With a historic Play-Off place now secured, who would bet against Bromley celebrating their first promotion to the Football League in 129 years come the 20th June 2021.

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