BOSSES at AFC Darwen are hoping to put a ‘nightmare year’ behind them by redeveloping the ground and dedicating the club to the community.

Members of the new club, which began when Darwen FC was wound up at the High Court in London, are hoping to concentrate on football in 2010, rather than events off the pitch.

Manager Dennis Hill said: “It’s been a nightmare year. The football’s been put to one side with everything else, but now we need to turn that around.

“We want to turn this into a community club and we’ve already got 12 or 13 kids’ teams come over to us from Knuzden Juniors.

“We’re working hard to get grants to upgrade the ground, and one of the first things we need to do is new changing rooms. All we have at the minute are old cabins. We also want to get a women’s team going and during the summer get courses running on the pitch for the local kids.

“It’s very important that we get them off the streets and doing something healthy and constructive.”

In May, 134 years of footballing history ended when Darwen Football and Social Club Ltd was wound up over a £13,000 bill for beer and £9,000 for tools, related to the tenure of a previous boss of the club.

The club then dropped out of the Vodkat League and had to ply their trade under the title AFC Darwen in the West Lancashire League.

Mr Hill added: “It was very disappointing to drop out of the Vodkat league and have to start from the bottom. It meant players didn’t want to come to us anymore and it’s been a struggle, but we have been told that we’ll be back in the Vodkat League again next season.

“We’re hoping that 2010 can signal a new start for us where we start to concentrating on the football and not on all the financial problems we have had to deal with this year.”