Promising season ends on a downer

Harrogate Town's number four Curtis Woodhouse breaks away from Railway's Craig Smith.
Harrogate Town's number four Curtis Woodhouse breaks away from Railway's Craig Smith.

This season will long be remembered as the one that started with so much promise and ended in despair.

I tipped Sheffield FC for the play offs in Division One South at the start of their campaign and at one stage they looked likely to win automatic promotion but their form was simply not consistent enough.

True they reached the play offs, but to lose 7-0 three days later at the eventually promoted club Ilkeston Town, was simply not good enough and manager Mark Shaw paid the ultimate price.

Some will argue that the Board were too harsh in sacking him and Mark was quick to point out that they had had a reasonably good season. However, I feel that too many players played out of position and one or two, notably Charlie Weir and Matt Glass, left the club but Turner was outstanding as indeed were Gascoigne, Woolley, Higginson and Roney.

Then within days the club announced that footballer-turned-boxer Curtis Woodhouse was to be their new manager with immediate effect. Now after all the events that have taken place in this controversial season, two old sayings stuck out in my mind and the first was ‘You can’t serve two masters.’

Curtis with very little managerial experience will find it hard enough, even with a good backroom staff but with two major fights coming up, can he serve both sports with the enthusiasm and time they need? Only time will tell but I wish him well.

It was the worst season I can ever remember in the Premier Division, with all three clubs changing their manager at some stage.

Stocksbridge Park looked set for a great season, with manager Gary Marrow making some excellent signings that promised much, but after a poor run the second of my old sayings came starkly to mind ‘You never go back’ and sadly, hard though Gary tried, it never was quiet the same the second time around. The club were struggling after some horror showings and with some big names leaving the club new manager Chris Wilcocks was brought in from Woodley Sports.

In 10 matches up to Christmas they won two and drew three and in January they won two and drew one out of four starts. Then it all went wrong with only four wins and two draws in their last 12 games.

They staved off relegation on goal difference and again they too, simply did not perform at times. Many of their older players have now gone and the summer will see Chris and his backroom team search for some much needed skilful players. The good news is that skipper Brett Lovell is now fit again and along with keeper Ben Scott, Muldoon and Haigh they were the backbone of the team but needless to say, things simply have to improve next season.

Frickley survived relegation due to the demise of Northwich Victoria. Chairman Peter Bywater has now resigned while manager Peter Rinkcavage and his assistant Jason Maybury are both to leave the club.

Worksop Town sacked their manager in mid-season and new boy Simon Clark set off at a furious pace but again their form fell away. They finished 15th, just seven points clear of relegation and lost some big named players in the process.

Ironically the two teams met on Tuesday in the Sheffield and Hallamshire Senior Cup Final at Hillsborough and it was Worksop who lifted the trophy after a thrilling 3-2 victory. Frickley started the better and were twice in front in the first half thanks to goals by Grayson and Nyoni but the dogged Tigers twice drew level through Jackson and Warlow and a goal inside two minutes of the restart by Man of the Match Jamie Jackson gave his side the success they just about deserved in front of a good sized crowd.

Staveley played three matches in six days and crashed to a 3-0 home defeat against third-place Scarborough, went down 3-1 at Tadcaster (Ryan Damms got their goal) but ended their Baris North Counties East Premier Division season with a 4-1 win over Nostell Miners Welfare with Barraclough two, Damms and Tooton finding the net.

In Division One, Worsbrough Bridge also found their run in hard to contend with after winning only once in their final six outings, when in their final game they lost 3-1 at AFC Emley with McFadyen scoring their lone goal.

The only joy we had was again due to Handsworth, who finished their season on a high after twice coming from behind to win the Presidents Cup 4-3 over Winterton Rangers after extra time with Man of the Match/Season Sam Smith hitting a great hat-trick and Luke Broadbent also on target. Sadly though, their despair at being removed from the league still hangs over them.