DORCHESTER Town are hopeful of brighter times on the horizon as they look to make the most of their relegation reprieve.

The Magpies were bottom of the Southern League Premier Division South when the 2019/20 season was cut short in March but the decision to do away with promotion and relegation means they have the chance to start afresh at the same level from September.

And vice-chairman David Martin believes that, in Leigh Robinson, they have the perfect manager to help the club do just that.

“We had a disastrous start last season but we brought Leigh in as manager and he was starting to turn the team around prior to lockdown,” Martin said.

“He has built a completely new team this season with a reduced budget and we are excited to get going.”

It is an excitement seemingly shared by the club’s fans, who were in August welcomed back after five months away to the Avenue Stadium for a friendly against Dorchester’s under-23s side.

“There is a real sense that people have missed it – people are scrambling for tickets,” Martin said.

“It is really nice to see some familiar faces back in the ground.”

Town were only able to welcome back those supporters thanks to the hard work of a volunteer task force who cleared standing water from the changing rooms and bar area throughout last Friday following overnight thunderstorms.

Those efforts were typical of the community spirit evident at Dorchester – a theme which is being highlighted by the Pitching In initiative.

The multi-million-pound, multi-year investment programme from GVC Holdings will deliver vital financial assistance to the 226 Isthmian, Southern and Northern Premier League clubs as they look to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

Pitching In also allows clubs the opportunity to apply for grants to ease the financial strain of lockdown – a process Dorchester have needed to become familiar with over recent months.

“We applied for every grant going and were fortunate to get support from the local council and Sport England,” Martin said.

“The support externally has kept the club going. If it wasn’t for that, we would have been in severe financial difficulties.”

In addition to financial support, Pitching In is supplemented by an emphasis on community volunteers pitching in and contributing themselves.

The programme has also grabbed the attention of football royalty, with former England captain Stuart Pearce offering his support having started his career at Wealdstone FC.

“It’s tremendous to have this sponsorship,” Martin said.

“Every bit of support that filters down to the clubs is vitally important.

“The focus on volunteers is so important as clubs at our level entirely rely on them.

“The Saturday before last, a group of around 20 turned up with brushes, shovels and bags and swept all the terraces, picking up all the leaves and debris.

“We were extremely pleased with the number who turned up but we could always do with more – there is always a job to be done for volunteers wanting to get involved.

“We encourage people to get in touch with us – we desperately need more people to help, particularly on a matchday.

“We are a community benefit society and we have a big role within Dorchester,” Martin added, drawing attention to the wealth of action that takes place at the stadium thanks to the 4G playing surface, which has been in place since the start of the 2018/19 season.

“Once the season gets going, there will be games from 9am on a Saturday and all day on a Sunday. It really harbours a ‘one club’ feel.

“We are also encouraging other sports – before lockdown we had an American Football team on the pitch. We are very much involved as a hub in the community.”

*GVC is launching a new multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports and is being launched with a flagship partnership with The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues - collectively known as The Trident Leagues. For more information visit: