New United owner looking up
New Hastings United owner Dave Ormerod wants to lead the football club ‘as high as possible’ up the non-league pyramid.
But the 68-year-old stressed that before concerning themselves with moving up the ranks, it’s crucial United firstly remain where they are.
The U’s are embroiled in a scrap for Ryman Football League Division One South survival, and Ormerod admits this is the lowest point in half-a-century of following the current and former incarnations of Hastings United.
He said: “I would like to get as high up the pyramid as possible. A club like Hastings and the size of the town should be in Conference South, but for the club to move forward, it’s vital that the club remains in the Ryman League.
“I would definitely like to see it in the Ryman Premier within two-three years, as soon as possible. But it’s no use me saying ‘we’ve got a five-year plan’ because until we know where we’re going to be next year, we can’t do anything.”
It was announced on Wednesday, last week, that Ormerod had taken over from Dave Walters as majority shareholder, although Ormerod revealed he didn’t really expect his offer - made on Thursday March 19 - to be accepted.
“I’m a bit surprised,” he continued. “At the start of the season I would’ve never said I would be the owner of the club. I’ve supported them for 50 odd years and I suppose it’s one of those things.”
Ormerod’s first involvement with United came way back in 1966 when he joined the committee of the old Hastings United FC Supporters’ Club. During the subsequent 19 years until 1985 when the old Hastings United ceased trading, he held the positions of chairman, secretary and treasurer of the supporters’ club at various times.
When Hastings Town, later to change its name to Hastings United, took over the lease of The Pilot Field at the start of the 1985/86 season, Ormerod was asked to become a member of the management committee.
He was elected treasurer of the club in 1992, a position he held until resigning in February 2006 after an initial bid he - and several others - put in to take over the club was rejected.
Hastings-based Ormerod, who worked as a postman for 47 years prior to his retirement, has also installed himself as chairman and intends to focus on the commercial side of things.
He has also brought Tony Cosens on board as a director, secretary and treasurer. Cosens stepped down as secretary after a remarkable 35 years in the role at the end of last season.
Ormerod intends to appoint ‘five or six’ directors over the coming weeks and another of them is Simon Rudkins, who was one of three directors under the previous ownership.
“It’s a big challenge, but I’m looking forward to it,” Ormerod went on. “It’s been a hectic start with lots of emails and texts, but the feedback has been absolutely brilliant - I’ve really appreciated it.
“I held a very successful meeting with the club’s volunteers and the supporters’ club committee, and was delighted that they all have agreed to remain in their various positions. Everyone was 100% behind me.
“I would like to pay tribute to Dave Walters for leaving the club in such a strong financial position, something of a rarity in non-league football these days, and also like to extend my sincere thanks to Dave for all the help he has given me during the transitional period.
“I must also extend my thanks to the club’s accountant Steve Toulson, of Deeks Evans, for all the time and hard work he has undertaken to ensure the changeover ran smoothly.”