Football: Non-League notebook - Chapple faces up to challenge

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The Independent Online
Outside the GM Vauxhall Conference, the non-League club making the most news this summer have been Kingstonian, who persuaded Geoff Chapple to step down a level to the Icis League Premier Division after 13 seasons in charge of Woking.

Chapple has been spending freely as he attempts to build a Kingstonian side capable of joining Woking in the Conference. David Leworthy, the former Tottenham and Oxford United striker, was bought from Rushden & Diamonds for pounds 18,000 - a huge fee by Icis League standards - while the experienced pair of Terry Evans and Matt Crossley arrived from Wycombe Wanderers.

However, Chapple's stay at Kingstonian may be dramatically cut short. Despite his success last season at Woking, whom he steered to a third FA Umbro Trophy success in four years and to the third round of the FA Cup, he was linked with a move to the ambitious Icis First Division outfit, Aldershot Town. Since then the Shots have lost their manager, Steve Wigley, when he returned to his former club, Nottingham Forest, as youth-team coach soon after Chapple, who lives in Aldershot, joined Kingstonian.

Aldershot chose their new manager after concluding interviews last week, but had to cancel a press conference to reveal his identity because his current club were unhappy about releasing him from his contract without compensation. The Shots, who are desperate to complete their climb from the Icis Third Division to the Premier, hope to be able to solve this problem and name their man next week.

Chapple is not the only Icis manager linked with a switch to Aldershot. George Borg is unhappy that his budget at Enfield, last season's Premier Division runners-up, has been cut, and he could be tempted by a fresh challenge.

Enfield may not be among the front-runners this term but Sutton United hope to be - they followed Saturday's 2-0 home win over Hitchin with a thumping 6-0 triumph at Purfleet on Monday. Gravesend and Northfleet and the Essex side, Heybridge Swifts, could also be challengers but, if Chapple stays at Kingstonian, they should be the favourites for the Icis title.

The UniBond League starts its season tomorrow with Altrincham, relegated from the Conference, against Barrow the pick of the fixtures.

Gresley Rovers, the Dr Martens League champions, have promoted Garry Birtles, the former Nottingham Forest striker, to the fill the managerial vacancy created by Paul Futcher's move to Southport.