First Division

Long term strategy pays off for Faversham Strike Force

Faversham Strike Force have announced the news of their promotion into the SCEFL with this post on their club website:

Faversham Strike Force has received a huge boost with news that their men’s side has gained promotion to the Southern Counties East Football League (SCEFL).

Five years after the club hit its head on the football pyramid’s glass ceiling, and could not be promoted despite winning the Kent County League (KCL), it has reaped the benefits of its manager’s long-term strategy.

A key plank of this strategy was put in place last year when Strike Force agreed a ground share with Rochester United – one of the sides currently sitting in the SCEFL Division One, where the Faversham team will ply their trade next season.

This meant they met the criteria for facilities required to gain promotion to the next level and, following the Football Association’s restructure of steps four to six in the pyramid, it was confirmed on Monday (17 May) that they would finally attain their longed-for ascension to the SCEFL.

For manager Gary Axford and his assistant, Stuart Benfield, the promotion is testament to the rebuilding job they have undertaken since the team’s bitter-sweet title win in 2016.

“This will be the highest level the club has ever played its football and it is a historic moment for us – everyone is very excited and raring to go,” said Axford. “With all the final pieces of the jigsaw now in place, we are delighted to be moving up to the SCEFL after a complete restructure of the non-league pyramid. A lot of hard work behind the scenes has ensured that this is possible.”

Benfield explained how the foundations for the promotion were laid in the years following the KCL title triumph, when nothing less than a fundamental overhaul of the squad was required.

He said: “We knew it was going be to a complete rebuild to get the team back to where it was when they won the league and Gary had a five-year plan to get back to the top of the KCL. The title-winning side pretty much broke up the following season after finishing mid-table. In our third season, the team showed us what they were capable by getting into the top three before the campaign was declared null and void due to the pandemic. However, we’d seen enough potential to start looking for a ground with the facilities that would allow us to be promoted, and we seized the chance with both hands when the deal with Rochester became available.”

He added: “This is a monumental achievement for a club that started with just a youth team in 1999 and now has a senior side playing in the National League system.”

Promotion means a renewed challenge for the coaching team after two truncated seasons of football and planning has already started in earnest.

“With the league starting on 31 July, we are now busy organising our pre-season,” said Axford. “We’re looking to strengthen and would like to hear from experienced players and coaches. We particularly need strikers and centre-halves who have played at Kent County League Premier Division standard or above.”

Anyone who thinks they might be ready to play a role in the Force’s exciting first season in the SCEFL should email the coaching team on