A new Chairman in David Slater and a new President in Uriah Rennie, who along with many of the old “Blue tie” faithful have worked hard to keep the club afloat in what can be a ruthless world of cut-throat grassroots football.
The first thing the new regime had to do was keep the club flag flying in the Kool Sports North Counties East League Premier Division, and it was a hard fact of life when the club announced at the start of the season, that for the foreseeable future their players would not be paid.
There was no doubt that with the clubs funds dwindling, it was a brave but right thing to do, as the club must come before any player, even if it means they drop two or three divisions. It did mean that manager Kenny Geelan was facing a season that promised much hardship with some players leaving the club, and it meant others would be reluctant to come in. They have however, got a strong reserve team while their Under-19s squad too are doing well but the step up to first team football can be a hard and cruel one, though to be fair one or two have done well.
At Christmas Kenny saw the team next to the bottom of the table after a 10 match league run without a win, only five goals scored and 28 conceded, and they lost in both the FA Vase and Senior Cup. After a long Christmas break due to the weather, they travelled to Bridlington and turned a four goal deficit at half-time against Scarborough into a 4-4 draw that was a great credit to all the team.
They followed that up by losing 3-2 at home to Parkgate, who have since gone top of the table and many thought they deserved a point if only for their dogged determination.
On the following Tuesday they crashed to a dreadful 4-2 home defeat against Liversedge the only club below them, who won away for the first time in nine months, and were bottom after nine away games without a win and only four goals scored and it left Hallam bottom of the table.
Sadly Kenny immediately resigned after the game, and I along with many fans would like to say thanks to him for doing an impossible job with dignity and pride. The lesson to be learned is that you do not become a poor manager overnight and you are only as good as your players.
He was never under pressure to resign but when he did the directors had to move quickly to bring in a new manager and Julian Watts was their choice.
Julian started life at Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham and during in his varied career he won a Carling Cup Final medal while playing for Leicester City under manager Martin O’Neill.
He has worked at Hillsborough with the youth teams and just after the season started he agreed to be the No2 under Stevie Adams at Maltby Main. The move surprised some people, but after a short time, the pair brought in one or two good signings and as a result the club are currently enjoying their best ever run in the league with a record of nine games without defeat including eight wins and a draw, 26 goals scored, nine conceded including four blank sheets. They are in fourth place in the table as a result and still in the League Cup.
That record was enough for Hallam’s directors to offer him the job and though Julian may be a little new in management at this level, he is experienced and shrewd enough to know the ropes. His first signing was instant, as he brought in forward Andy Woods from Maltby Main and I dare say there are more signings to follow. Julian knows it will not be easy to avoid relegation but he is keen and his vast experience will no doubt help him to achieve the best from his players, who must stand up and be counted after their recent poor form.
He starts his managerial life at Sandygate with three home games against Selby Town on Saturday, fellow strugglers Arnold Town next Tuesday and Thackley a week on Saturday. That’s followed by three successive away games in the League and February ends with another home league game against a double-seeking Armthorpe Welfare.
Certainly by a week on Saturday Julian will know what he has to do to save Hallam from relegation and I along with all the ‘Blues’ supporters wish him well in what is certainly going to be a roller-coaster ride.