Devils step up recruitment drive after securing top-flight status

Christian Cole has signed up for next season. Picture: Dave Chapman
Christian Cole has signed up for next season. Picture: Dave Chapman
Richard Facey scores for Solent Devils against Haringey Huskies. Picture: Neil Marshall (171743-729)

IN PICTURES: Solent Devils 7 Haringey Huskies 2

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the top-flight survival party is no longer on ice for Solent & Gosport Devils.

They have been granted a second crack at National League south division one next season.

The Devils finished bottom of the table last season as a newly-promoted side.

But they have been successful in arguing their case, via an appeal, to avoid relegation to division two.

They managed to convince all bar one of the clubs in the league to vote in their favour and allow them to continue in the top division.

It’s a huge boost and shows how highly respected their efforts were last season – despite only managing three wins from their 32 matches.

They have responded to the good news by stepping up their recruitment drive as they look forward to returning to the ice for the new season in September.

Manager Paul Fitzpatrick was delighted to receive the news they would not be relegated.

He feels it is a vindication of what the club are striving so hard to achieve.

Fitzpatrick said: ‘Staying up is a big bonus for us.

‘As a result of that, we are able to pull in a few more players.

‘We made our case to stay up. Although we came bottom we fulfilled all our fixtures with a full team.

‘I had canvassed support from the other clubs and we were confident we would win as we had a good reputation within the league last year.

‘All but one of the clubs voted in favour of keeping us in the top division.

‘They were in agreement with us that there are two many teams in the league below and that we are too good to go down.’

The Devils have already secured the future of star netminder Christian ‘Chico’ Cole and they also have Aaron Tate back fit after injury.

It will be a good battle between the two to earn a spot in the side.

Fitzpatrick feels the re-signing of Chico sends out a clear message of intent to rival sides that the Devils mean business.

He added: ‘We had to get Chico signed.

‘It was vital to get him because when you talk to other players they always ask “who is your net minder?”

‘Chico signed so that meant we could tick that box so to speak.

‘He’s 21 and has got a future ahead of him.

‘Another year at Gosport will do him good.

‘Last season was his first season in the higher league and that was great for him.

‘If he can repeat that form next year it will increase his market value to other teams.

‘Aaron Tate is our other netminder and he’ll give Chico a run for his money.

‘He’s not here to sit on the bench and it means we have good competition in nets.

‘Aaron broke his finger in two places and severely dislocated it last season.

‘It knocked him out for half of the campaign but he is fine now and back on form.’

The Devils have also re-signed captain Kris Abbott and defender Andrew Goddard.

They are looking for sponsorship to help them push on and become a force in the top-flight next season.