Life in the Evo-Stik League was far from pleasant for our clubs.
In the Premier Division Stocksbridge Park’s hopes for a good season started fairly well but they collapsed in mid-season and were then, for the most part, left facing a relegation battle.
In the end manager Gary Marrow steered them well clear into 12th place but surely they should never have been in that predicament, with the strong squad they have.
One reason I suspect for their poor showing was lack of discipline, something that haunted the club for a couple of seasons and it must improve. Jack Muldoon had a great season hitting 24 goals and maturing into a really good striker, while Ward, 18 and Ring, 14 served the club well. Their average gate was 212, which was slightly up on last season.
They won the Senior Cup with a good 3-0 victory over Parkgate at Hillsborough but their report should read: ‘Done OK but really should have done better.’
Sheffield Club started as one of the favourites for promotion from Division One but after playing 13 cup ties in a 14 match run in September and October, that simple went out of the window. Manager Chris Dolby seemed to pick a different team each week and frustrated players began to leave. They were eventually followed by Chris and his assistant Gavin Smith.
The exodus of players continued with Cusworth, Outram, Jones and Eagers all going and acting-manager Ian Whitehorne did a sound job mustering his young players. They finished 11th but they too had a poor disciplinary record although the fans stood by them with an average gate of 243, the highest in the division.
In the four cup competitions they played 19 games and lost out to Parkgate in the Senior Cup semi-final. Andy Gascoigne stood by the club and scored 20 goals. Overall though, both our clubs simply under achieved by a great deal, something the two managers must bear in mind during the close season.
In the Kool Sports North Counties First Division Handsworth’s first season at this level was truly amazing. They finished third under manager Rus Eagle and if they hadn’t had a poor away record in mid-season they could have gained promotion. Handsworth finished with a great run of 11 matches without defeat gaining 31 points and scoring 29 goals and lost the League Cup Final after extra time.
Cockerill 22, Smith 13 and Johnson and Torr 12 each led the goal scorers as handsworth netted 98 league and 12 cup goals.
Worsbrough Bridge who were bottom last season finished a very creditable 12th.
Surprisingly in The North Counties East Leagues Premier Division, gates at our clubs are generally buoyant, when in the Premier division Hallam average 67(+3%),Maltby Main 59 (+9%), Parkgate 90 (+27%), with Dinnington down to 72 (-30%). In Division One Staveley 87 (+61%), Worsbrough Bridge 49 (+16%), while Handsworth finished second with an average gate of 105.
Well done to Sheffield Parramore who, after beating their closest rivals Blidworth Welfare 2-1 last Saturday, are promoted to Division One of the North Counties East League and will ground-share at Sandy Lane with Worksop Town and will be renamed Worksop Parramores.
As predicted, lack of funds is biting hard and it is something everyone must come to terms with, particularly some of our over-paid players while directors must make everyone within their clubs realise that discipline is where a good team builds its base from.