TOUGH -- that's the one word Worcester City boss John Barton uses to sum up his first year in charge.

Saturday marks the first anniversary of Barton succeeding Graham Allner in the St George's Lane hot-seat.

Bearing in mind City's dire position when he took over, Barton can feel quite proud of his achievements to date.

He steered them to safety in the Dr Martens League Premier Division last season and also took them into the last 16 of the FA Umbro Trophy, despite financial restrictions giving him no scope at all to strengthen his squad.

This season, with a sprinkling of new signings, City have are on the fringes of the title race despite the setback of their FA Cup thrashing by Hampton and Richmond Borough.

A league record of 41 games, 18 wins, eight draws and 15 defeats is testament to the way City have revived under his command.


Barton admitted of his task: "It has been tough, as tough as anything I have taken on.

"I don't think you are ever fully aware of the degree of the problems until you have been in the job for a few weeks, and it was no different here.

"We have talked about the restrictions many times and you accept them, but after a while they begin to bite in on occasions.

"But in many respects it has been rewarding in the fact that we achieved our first objective, which was to retain Premier Division status.

"When I came in cold to it with no knowledge of the depth of the position, I thought it was going to be tight but I had no doubt we would stay up. I certainly wouldn't like to do it again.

"The Trophy run was also a highlight, but the way it was concluded on the day was a bit of a disappointment.

"We also had a good run in the Southern League Cup and good things came out of that in the early rounds -- at least we got into the habit of winning games.

"In 12 months there have been some positive if small steps in the right direction. We can feel pleased and satisfied with what we have done, but we are in the first phase of the recovery period at the moment."

He's also impressed at the amount of young talent coming through, with Nathan Jukes and Steve Lutz established as first-team regulars and the likes of Jamie Hyde, Paul Wyatt, Wesley Joyce, Danny Scheppel and Chris Jefferson all impressing as well.

And the level of support has also hugely impressed the manager. "It has been tremendous. We know we can call on that if we can deliver success on the field."

As to the next 12 months, how does Barton view the future? "We know what we have to do and achieve with a squad of players which we need to add to.

"If we can bring a couple of players in that can make an impact and improve us, then that is what we will try and do. If we can have a decent close season we will have improved it by three or four players."

But he's making no predictions about where City might finish come next May. "All I will say is that if we are good enough, we will do quite well."

City are back in Dr Martens League Premier Division action on Saturday when they entertain Dorchester Town. Then on Monday they are at home to Western Division Blakenall in the Dr Martens Cup first round.