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Non-league: Poole chase second promotion after unwanted record is banished
Tom Killick’s Dolphins are one of the favourites to win promotion to Conference South having cantered to Division One South & West glory last term.
And Poole’s recent exploits come after one of the more forgettable chapters in the club’s history was put to bed during the 2012-13 campaign.
Poole’s horrendous run of 39 consecutive defeats in all competitions saw Dolphins crash out of the Southern League with a single point in 1995-96.
However, the Tatnam outfit no longer have the league’s worst post-war record after Woodford United trumped that by losing their past 50 matches – a miserable run which dates dating back to April 2012 – to slide out of the Central Division for a duck last season.
The Northamptonshire club’s barren spell sets a new league record in the year that Poole completed a remarkable comeback from their lowest ebb, sealing their return to Premier Division.
Dolphins’ dubious accolade hit national headlines 17 years ago, equalling the record of Stockport United’s number of back-to-back losses in the Stockport League between 1976 and 1978, before a 0-0 draw in a derby date with Bashley prevented Poole from claiming the record in their own right.
AFC Aldermaston went one better in 2010, entering the Guinness Book of Records for their 40-match losing streak in Wessex League Division One, but now Poole no longer hold the distinction as the Southern League’s worst ever performers.
The then crisis-torn club were forced to cobble together a team without a budget after learning their ground share arrangement at Hamworthy United would be coming to an end.
Poole’s boss at the time, former Cherries midfielder Keith Miller, said: “It was just a case of trying to raise a team most of the time.
"We ploughed through under extreme duress and it wasn’t very pleasant. I was pretty distraught in the end and it played a part in me packing in non-league.”
Miller’s plucky youngsters did, however, earn the respect of their Southern League rivals. They were given a guard of honour in their 6-1 defeat at Braintree Town on the final day, while current vice-chairman Chris Reeves can still remember vividly the point at Bash as Poole got off the mark.
Reeves said: “There was a lot of media attention surrounding the game because we were on the verge of resetting the record. I remember commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme was in the crowd and the players were so determined not to lose.
"We desperately wanted to get a point and I was so elated at the end. It felt like we had won a trophy.”
And after steadily rebuilding an enjoying a remarkable record of success under current manager Tom Killick, there might be actual silverware awaiting once again this term.
Dolphins kick off their return to non-league’s third tier against fellow fancied outfit St Albans City at Tatnam tomorrow (3pm).
Ahead of the clash, Killick told the Daily Echo: “We want to try to be in contention for the play-offs and if you set out with the objective of winning the league, then you should be in a strong position to challenge at the top end.
“In the past few seasons, we have all been spoiled because we have been chasing titles or play-off places from start to finish.
“There is something riding on every game in that situation and we want everyone to experience
"Our early seasons in the Wessex fizzled out with nothing to play for and it will make all the difference to the supporters and the atmosphere around the club if we can have the excitement of another challenge.
“While I don’t regret making the statements about going for promotion, we are under no illusions over the size of the task ahead and the calibre of teams involved in our early fixtures is testament to the fact that we are at a completely different level now.”
Marvin Brooks (back) misses out and striker Richard Gillespie is facing a late fitness test.
Dolphins: (from) Hutchings, Clarke, Whisken, Spetch, Oliver, Preston, Devlin, Davies, Elliott, Byerley, Gillespie, Cann, Rowe, Dibba, Ohameje, Thomas.
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