Friday, 31 May 2013

Scarborough Athletic manager Rudy Funk ups the stakes in the Evo Stik Division One South

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Photo courtesy of Ryan Clark from ClarkHirstPhotography
Scarborough Athletic manager Rudy Funk has upped the stakes in the Evo Stik Division One South with five masterstroke signings.
And the influence of new assistant John Reed is starting to show.
Funk has captured four key players from North Ferriby United’s Evo Stik Premier Division title-winning squad.
Paul Foot, Steve Ridley, Chris Bolder and Ferriby’s all-time top scorer Gary Bradshaw make the move to Queensgate. The signings of Bradshaw is the standout one.
Bradshaw might be aging, but he is still a class act and his incredible goal in the recent Doodson Sport Cup final in April, shows the quality is still there. He will be an integral part of Funk’s side for next season.
He’s going to get 20 to 30 goals for Scarborough next season.
Foot was the captain of Ferriby’s championship-winning side and is an out and out defender who will make Funk’s defence solid – a key factor if Scarborough want more success.
Reed’s influence is in the signing of Ridley. Reed is the man who knows Ridley inside out from their days together at Stalybridge Celtic
Bolder is a solid midfielder with bags of higher league experience so another great signing for Scarborough.
Gainsborough goalkeeper Jason White is the fifth to commit to Scarborough, while Ferriby stopper Antoni Pecora, Ben Chapman and Danny Frost (Retford United) will have trials in pre-season.
Funk has now fired the official starting pistol. And it’s going to take something special from other clubs to match the calibre of players Funk has brought to Scarborough.

Three agree deals to join Farsley AFC

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Neil Parsley has named three players that have agreed deals to join Farsley AFC.
Paddy Miller is arriving from Scarborough Athletic, while Matty Young and Anthony Lloyd return to Throstle Nest following spells with the old club Farsley Celtic.
Lloyd featured for Farsley in the opening stages of the 2007/08 Conference Premier season before leaving for York City.
He has since played for Guiseley, Stocksbridge Park Steels, Glasshoughton Welfare and last season Ossett Town and Parsley said: “Anthony comes with vast experience and fills a problem area that we have had Aaron Hardy left to join Guiseley.
“He’s a good fit in the jigsaw that we are trying to assemble.”
Popular midfielder Matty Young makes his comeback from Worksop Town having been a major part of the 2009/10 minus-ten squad that defied the odds.
Parsley said: “It is really pleasing that we have signed Matty and it is not even a gamble in my book.
“To get a player with his calibre and experience is a massive coup for the club.”
On Milller, who arrival was revealed last week on social networking sites, Parsley said: “Paddy played at Farsley as a young boy before he went to Yorkshire Amateur and then Scarborough.
“He was looking for a base closer to home and we had watched him in the second half of last season.
“He will give us competition on the left-side of the pitch.”
All three deals will be officially confirmed on July 1st when the Evo Stik Division One North registration window opens.
On the departures front, only Chris Walton has left so far.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Young West Yorkshire footballers have chance of winning professional deal with FC Halifax Town

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Conference Premier new boys FC Halifax Town are giving young aspiring footballers the chance to win a professional contract with Neil Aspin’s Shaymen.
The unique opportunity is perfect for those living in the West Yorkshire area and also across the Pennines.
Entrants need to be over the age of 17 and able to attend trials at the Stockport Sports Village on 22nd and 23rd June.
Trials are subject to a one-off fee of £60 and entrants need to fill an online form in or contact Halifax’s club secretary on 01422 341222.

Premier League Hull City to visit Winterton Rangers for pre-season friendly

Steve Bruce is sending a side, a mixture of first and second team players, to West Street on the 15th July (kick off 7.30pm).
The fixture is the fourth of Winterton’s planned pre-season schedule which begins at Market Rasen on the 2nd.
Winterton will then move onto Beverley (6th) and Westella (11th) before a home game with Conference Premier team Grimsby Town on the 13th July.
After Hull, Leigh Herrick and Mark McDonagh’s side will host League Two Scunthorpe United on the 22nd.
A trip to Bottesford Town follows on the 27th before the friendlies finish with Evo Stik Division One South side Lincoln United visiting on the 3rd August.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Leeds United playing at Farsley AFC is great to see

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
For the second season running, the Leeds United first team will play a friendly at Farsley AFC.
Last summer, over 2500 people turned out at Throstle Nest for the special occasion which saw many of Neil Warnock’s squad make their debuts for United.
It will be a similar situation when Brian McDermott brings Leeds to Farsley on July 6th.
But, while Leeds supporters will get a glimpse of the team from close proximity, the important factor is making Farsley some money and getting some exposure.
It is a great opportunity for Farsley to show off.
Every single Leeds United supporter that walks through the door is a potential future customer to Farsley.
Not all Leeds fans travel to away games. If they are impressed with the facilities and standard of the team, they may choose to watch Farsley in an Evo Stik Division One North league game.
The Farsley junior club also have a chance to recruit new players to their successful teams.
A friendly with Leeds is like a manna from heaven for Farsley so they need to take full advantage.
McDermott and the Leeds board also need to take credit for agreeing to the friendly because it is good to see the Championship club giving back to the community.
It is going to be another great occasion. Now all eyes are on Farsley to make the day one to remember.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Rhys Meynell stays with Guiseley, while Craig Nelthorpe joins Harrogate Town

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Following the news that James Walshaw had signed for Altrincham, Guiseley have received some good news because Rhys Meynell is staying for a second season.
Meynell joined the Nethermoor outfit from Stalybridge Celtic last summer and agreed to continue playing for Steve Kittrick’s men.
Nelthorpe has a point to prove after becoming a football journeyman, all in the last two years.
Since leaving York City under Martin Foyle, Nelthorpe has played for seven clubs including Matlock Town, Gateshead and Gainsborough Trinity.
With Nelthorpe joining, it has meant veteran Lee Elam has departed after two seasons with Harrogate. However, Elam will remain in his coaching role for the club’s academy.
Elam, 36, is still looking to continue his playing career and is likely to attract interest from the West Yorkshire-based Evo Stik clubs.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Guiseley need a striker with gravitas after James Walshaw joins Altrincham

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Guiseley manager Steve Kittrick will have to find a new talisman after James Walshaw decided to join Blue Square Bet North title rivals Altrincham.
But, admittedly Walshaw’s powers as the Lions’ key man were diminished last season as he wasn't as effective as previous years.
Tensions between Walshaw and Kittrick also did seem frayed ever since the striker’s red card against Brackley Town a couple of months ago.
His departure ends their long relationship, which began when Walshaw broke through the youth ranks at Ossett Town, for a second time.
But, he still leaves Guiseley as a hero. It was his and Adam Muller’s goals that won the NPL Premier Division title in 2010 – Wally was also the man who got both goals in the victory that clinched the success.
And efforts in the Conference North increased his popularity so he is arguably Guiseley’s best player of the last ten to fifteen years.
For Altrincham though, Walshaw is an ideal replacement for teenage striker Duncan Watmore who has joined Premier League Sunderland.
Lee Sinnott’s side finished the 2012-13 season strongly before losing to Brackley in the play-offs and with signings like Walshaw, Altrincham will do well again in 2014.
Guiseley now have to move on. Kittrick now has to re-shape his squad. Walshaw has followed Matt Wilson and fellow striker Kevin Holsgrove out of the Nethermoor exit door.
Kittrick has to find a new forward with the kind of gravitas that Walshaw held in the Division.
Who he will plump for is anyone’s guess. There is no-one in the West Yorkshire area who fits the bill so he’s going to have to look further afield.

46 league games is too many for Northern Counties East League Premier Division clubs

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Premier Division teams in the Northern Counties East League will face the arduous task of playing 46 league games next season.
Now in theory, the idea looks great. But in practice, it is likely to be a complete disaster.
The 2012-13 season limped over the finish line because of unprecedented weather throughout the season. The campaign had to be extended by a week.
Next season, if we encounter the same or worse weather, the NCEL Premier could be still playing at the May.
And for the majority of sides, the season will have been over for months – from a table perspective. Because of only one team can have the chance to win promotion, anybody around seventh to 15th, maybe even lower, will have nothing to play for.
This will render a substantial amount of games from February to the finish completely meaningless.
Then there is the issue of finance. Funds are limited for the majority of clubs at NCEL, look at Askern Villa last season.
Forty-six games will test a number of clubs to the limit. The cost of travelling to a long-distance meaningless fixture on mid-week would be probably more than the wages for players.
Then there is the added factor of getting a team together for a long-distance trip in midweek when there is nothing to play for.
There are going to be teams running on empty – both financially and in terms of their playing squad.
Increasing the number of games to 46 is a dangerous manoeuvre by the FA and even leaves the door firmly open for desperate clubs to play ringers – just to fulfil a fixture.
From another finance point, attendances for the string of meaningless fixtures are going to be extremely low so clubs won’t even have a chance to make money – will the gate receipts even cover the cost of the referees?
The decision needs to be reviewed at the earliest opportunity. And let us not forget that teams won’t be just playing 46 games. There are the cups to consider.
The FA Cup, the FA Vase, the NCEL League Cup, the NCEL President’s Cup and the County Cups add to the total. Teams could be playing an incredible 60 games next year.
If you have a view on this, please leave a comment at the bottom or email

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Garforth Town's hopes and dreams in tatters

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Garforth Town’s relegation back to the Northern Counties East League ends a project that began with a promise to get the club to the Premier League.
A 25-year plan was also mentioned, but Simon Clifford’s hopes and dreams for Garforth are completely in tatters following a disastrous year for the East Leeds club.
Last May the club were riding the crest of a wave. Manager Steve Nichol had guided Garforth to Evo Stik Division One North play-offs – historically their highest ever league finish. A title charge in the 2012-13 campaign seemed on the cards.
However, by early July, Nichol (pictured below) and his team were gone along with almost all the volunteers. The grass at Garforth’s Wheatley Park was overgrown with the ground looking abandoned.
All what has happened next is confusion and mystery along with multiple public relations calamities.
Supposedly all was well, but it took until late July for pre-season training to start with long-serving coach Vernol Blair taking charge as manager – his team mostly made up of the successful Chapeltown Fforde Grene Sunday football team.
The season started badly as alongside a number of battering, Garforth were forced to postpone their August Bank Holiday derby clash with Farsley AFC because of a lack of hot water.
It took until November 10th for Garforth to record their first league win – a 4-1 victory at Warrington. It was should have been a home game, but because of power problems, the Evo Stik imposed an embargo on Garforth playing at home. It led to fears that the club may be expelled from the league.
The problems were eventually sorted after a further delay and then a White Knight arrived in the form of former Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe. Lowe seemingly saved Garforth and provided investment in the short-term. His current involvement is unknown.  
Clifford returned at Christmas with Lowe seemingly appointing him as the club’s manager. A brief recovery followed with Garforth drawing 0-0 with Goole and then winning 3-2 at Harrogate Railway.
But, Clifford’s return as manager lasted barely a month so Blair was left to ensure that Garforth fulfilled their fixtures.
In the backdrop of growing concerns, Blair managed the side in a dignified manner, but was unable to inspire a revival. It means Garforth have to rebuild themselves in the NCEL.
But, they need to get themselves sorted and quickly. There has been no communication from the club since the season closed. Have the NCEL had contact with the club? Have the FA received their application to play in the FA Cup and Vase – which should have been done before the recently departed secretary resigned?
The community of Garforth want to know the situation. They want a team they can be proud of, but since last summer, they have never received real answers from their questions.
Blair cannot manage a side in the NCEL with the same resources as Garforth will go straight through into Division One.
A new beginning is needed and fast. Because of various reasons, Garforth have turned into a laughing stock. This is the club that nearly reached Wembley in the 1980s through the FA Vase when it reached the quarter-finals with a team that contained the likes of Vinny Archer. It appears closer to oblivion than Wembley.
The community was proud of that team. But, last season attendances sunk and will do even further unless answers are given.
It’s late May and the clock is ticking – the season starts on August 10th.

Scarborough Athletic manager Rudy Funk should not get too excited - just yet!

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Photo courtesy of Ryan Clark of ClarkHirst Photography
“The fans were amazing for us last season and I just want to prepare them for something spectacular.”
That’s what Scarborough Athletic manager Rudy Funk told the Scarborough News after confirming the returns of four key players for next season’s Evo Stik Division One South campaign.
Now there is no doubt that retaining Ryan Blott and captain Tony Hackworth could be crucial if Scarborough want more success.
Funk has now persuaded nine players from his NCEL Premier Division title-winning squad to return, but he going to need a few new bodies to be able to compete at the top end of the table.
Players with Conference North and Evo Stik Premier experience are type of people Funk should be looking for.
Funk’s club are riding the crest of a wave so next season is the perfect time to continue their success.
It is going to be tough. Coalville Town will be hurt from missing out on promotion to King’s Lynn Town and then to Stamford in the play-offs so will be very determined.
Chasetown and Belper Town will be strong as always, while Lincoln United, under the new stewardship of former Worksop Town assistant manager Dave Frecklington are making an early mark with a number of transfers.
Funk and neither the club’s supporters should get too over-excited by yesterday’s news just yet.
But, if Funk can deliver with some top-class signings then things will certainly get exciting for Scarborough and more success could be right round the corner.

Brian Johnston given Armthorpe Welfare manager's job on a permanent basis

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Caretaker manager Brian Johnston has been handed the permanent position at Armthorpe Welfare after beating off competition from three other candidates.
Former Askern Villa boss Johnston ensured the Northern Counties East League side stayed in the Premier Division following the departure of Leo Fortune-West at the start of April.
Armthorpe needed a last day victory over Glasshoughton Welfare to guarantee Premier Division football next season.
Armthorpe had over 20 applicants for the role, but in a statement, the club said: “After much deliberation amongst the committee, Brian was selected as we felt he was the best match for the club in its current situation.
“After a disappointing season last time around with a complete lack of consistency, Welfare are looking to stabilise and strengthen over the summer and hope to come back stronger in the 2013/14 season.
“Brian has said he would like to publicly thank the Armthorpe Welfare committee for their support and for selecting him as the new manager and is looking forward to the challenge ahead.”

Friday, 24 May 2013

Scarborough Athletic manager Rudy Funk agrees deals with four players

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Picture courtesy of Ryan Clark of ClarkHirst Photography
Former Leeds United youngster Hackworth agreed terms with manager Rudy Funk (pictured above) today along with long-serving striker Ryan Blott and midfielders Tommy Adams and Bryan Hughes.
The quartet take the total of the players that have agreed to return to nine.
Goalkeeper Arran Reid, Matty Plummer, James Bennett, Andrew Milne and Peter Davidson have already given Funk their word that they will come back.
But, Funk and Scarborough will have to wait until July 1st to officially get their signatures down on paper.
The news ends a day that began with disappointment because of the news that popular defender Paddy Miller was leaving to join Farsley AFC.

Last chance for Yorkshire Amateur after relegation reprieve?

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Had Yorkshire Amateur won their last game of the 2010-11 season, the Ammers would have promoted to the NCEL Premier Division for the first time in their history.
However, a last-gasp 1-0 defeat to Askern Villa at Bracken Edge gave Barton Old Boys a second chance and the East Yorkshire-based side clinched promotion the following week.
The Ammers finished third - missing out on promotion.
But, what manager Paul Lines (pictured above) achieved in his only full season in charge of the Ammers is of sharp contrast to the current predicament of the club.
The Ammers have received confirmation that they won’t be kicked out of the NCEL after finishing second-bottom in Division One following a disastrous campaign – but the decline began the moment Lines left in August 2011 as the Ammers failed to find the right successor.
Farsley AFC reserve team manager Mark Greaves was the chosen one, but he struggled to attract players and was undeservedly sacked in bizarre circumstances last summer.  
Former Bridlington Town midfielder Wayne Noteman was appointed as the new head coach having impressed with his coaching of the Ammers Youth Team.
And Noteman’s appeared to be the cure after his side collected 10 points out of the first 15. But, things soon collapsed and Noteman left in March.
Reserve team manager Glenn Preston and chairlady Jeni French picked up pieces, but couldn’t steer the club away from the bottom two – leaving the possibility of relegation to the West Yorkshire League.
It would have a crying shame as the Ammers are founder members of the NCEL and are also full members of the FA. However, that does not count for anything as relegation is decided by what happens on the pitch and they would have paid the price for many years in the doldrums.
Fortunately, the Ammers have survived, but it serves as a final warning. They have to be competitive next season, otherwise they will be out.
Their current predicament is not just down to themselves. The Ammers suffer badly from a lack of volunteers and only have a handful of people fulfilling matchday duties. The Ammers need new blood and fast.
They also need a new manager, one capable of pulling them away from the lower reaches of the Division One table. Chairlady French needs to pick the phone up and dial former manager Graham Hodder’s number.
Hodder is the only man in my eyes that can put the Ammers back on an even keel. Hodder has a fantastic contacts book containing the names of local talent – something that the Ammers need.

One in, one out for Farsley AFC

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Farsley AFC manager Neil Parsley has begun making his planned big changes to the Throstle Nest dressing room.
Former captain Chris Walton (pictured right) has departed, but Scarborough Athletic man Paddy Miller is set to join after agreeing terms earlier this week.
Miller was a fans’ favourite at Scarborough and a major part of their promotion-winning squad.
Miller, who was a member of Paul Lines’ 2010-11 Yorkshire Amateur team that finished third in the NCEL Division One, was also the club’s joint player of the season for the 2011-12 campaign.
Miller joins a Farsley team determined to repair damage caused by a bad season that had promised so much.
So far, Walton is the only confirmed departure having chosen to use Twitter to announce his exit two weeks ago.
Walton tweeted: “Due to 1 reason n another I have decided to move on from @farsleyafc thanks to staff and fans alike for there support. All the best!”
Walton re-joined his hometown last summer following a spell at Garforth Town and was the club’s captain for a large part of the campaign.
Alongside Miller, Parsley has agreed terms with a number of un-named players, who cannot be officially signed until July 1st.
More news from Throstle Nest is expected at the end of next week.

Versatile Matt Wilson leaves Guiseley for Conferenc North newcomers North Ferriby

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Guiseley have lost the services of versatile man Matt Wilson who has joined Conference North newcomers North Ferriby United for “family reasons”.
Wilson returned to Nethermoor for a second time in January following a previous loan spell from Alfreton Town, but has chosen to join Billy Heath’s newly-promoted side.
Wilson tweeted: “I want to announce that unfortunately I won’t be playing football at Guiseley next year. Moving clubs closer to Lincoln for family reasons.
“Thank you to supporters, staff and players at Guiseley AFC for making it a welcoming and friendly place to be. Good luck for next season all.”
North Ferriby have not officially confirmed the signing of Wilson.

Garforth Town placed into the Northern Counties East League

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Garforth Town have been given the chance to rebuild themselves in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division.
The NCEL announced their proposed constitution today and Garforth will join fellow Evo Stik side Hucknall Town in the new-look Premier Division next season.
Since the departure of manager Steve Nichol and the entire squad last summer, Garforth struggled to gather a team together and finished bottom of Division One North.
The long-serving Vernol Blair (pictured above) kept the club afloat on-the-pitch and acted in a dignified manner, but did not have the resources to attract players which would have meant that Garforth would have been able to complete.
Away from the pitch, the club had a series of public relations disasters throughout the season which now seem to have stopped.
The arrival of former Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe as an investor at Christmas provided some respite, but it is unclear whether Lowe is still involved with Garforth.
Joining Garforth and Hucknall in the Premier are promoted sides Albion Sports and Athersley Recreation and Basford United from the East Midlands Counties League.
In Division One, Yorkshire Amateur have received a reprieve and will stay in the NCEL.
But, Askern Villa will play Central Midlands League football next season.
Hall Road Rangers return to the Division after their relegation from the Premier and they will play Dronfield Town and Shaw Lane Aquafore who join from the Central Midlands League and Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League.
As confirmed yesterday, Arnold Town will compete in the East Midlands Counties League.
All changes are due to be ratified at the NCEL AGM on Saturday 8th June.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Arnold Town set to leave Northern Counties East League

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
The NCEL have not yet commented on the make-up of the league for next season, but Arnold chairman Graham Peck said: “This is great for Arnold as we have the opportunity to move on to rebuild ourselves in a competitive league that is known for its football and overall friendliness. A further statement will be issued later.”
Arnold have been in the NCEL setup since 1993, but have struggled in the Premier Division for the last few seasons.
They were deducted ten points for entering administration which placed them in the relegation zone.
But, 15 points from the final seven games saw the Eagles finish 19th – four points above relegated Lincoln Moorlands Railway.
However, due to the rules regarding administration, Arnold were told that they would be relegated one step.
If EMCL football is confirmed, Arnold will join the likes of former NCEL teams Borrowash Victoria and Gedling Miners Welfare.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Great Non-League moments: Steve Kittrick's Guiseley win the 2010 NPL title

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
The situation Steve Kittrick finds himself in is very similar to the predicament he was in, back in the summer of 2009.
Kittrick had been in charge at Guiseley for nearly two years and had narrowly avoided the sack on at least one occasion – only the arrival of James Walshaw in the March of that year and the subsequent charge towards the NPL Premier Division play-offs saved him.
The NPL Challenge Cup had also been won so Kittrick was given one last crack at winning the title – which the Lions did, but in stunning fashion.
And with five games remaining, it was all going to plan. But three straight defeats title rivals Boston United, Matlock Town and Marine put future Grimsby Town bosses Paul Hurst and Rob Scott’s Boston in the driving seat.
Guiseley restored hope with a midweek victory at Frickley which also ensured the fight went to final day with Boston top of the division on goal difference.
Guiseley, Bradford (Park Avenue) and even fourth-placed North Ferriby United had chances of glory.
Ahead of the final day home clash with Ashton United, Kittrick admitted that when his side were top of the Division with five games to go that “the pressure had got to one or two people, it also to me”.
Guiseley were now on a win and a prayer, literally. Kittrick’s men had to beat Ashton at Nethermoor and hope Marine take points off Boston.
Guiseley did their bit by comfortably beating Ashton 2-0 with talisman Walshaw (pictured above) scoring both goals.
But, as the final whistle sounded at Nethermoor, Boston were still playing at Marine and it was still 0-0 – Boston had buckled under the pressure.
Just minutes were left, but at Nethermoor it felt like an eternity.
Players and supporters were gathered together until the news was confirmed – Guiseley were the champions.
Kittrick collapsed to his knees as the party started.
It had been a long road for Kittrick, but he had finally got the Lions over the finish line – his last chance to do so.
That was three years ago. In April 2014, there needs to be similar scenes if he wants to remain in charge at Nethermoor.
The board have had enough of Blue Square Bet North, they want the Conference Premier at Nethermoor.

Craig Elliott's Ossett Town to visit Glasshoughton Welfare for pre-season friendly

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Ossett Town boss Craig Elliott will return to Glasshoughton Welfare for the first time in a managerial capacity in July.
Glasshoughton have confirmed a pre-season friendly with Ossett, which will be played on Tuesday 30th July (kick off 7.30pm).
Elliott was Glasshoughton manager between August 2010 and May 2012 and inspired an incredible turnaround of the fortunes of a club which had hit rocky times.
He guided them to seventh in the NCEL Division One table and led them to Wilkinson Sword Trophy glory in his first season.
But, in his second term, Glasshoughton went one better by winning promotion by finishing second behind champions Handsworth.
Meanwhile, former Glasshoughton player Anthony Lloyd won Ossett’s player of the year trophy.
Club captain James Cotterill collected the prestigious players’ player of the season award.
Highly-rated youngster James Eyles was the club committee’s player of the year.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A Scarborough Athletic supporter's view of Evo Stik Division One South placement

By Scarborough Athletic supporter Rob Bernard (Twitter: @Rob_Bernard)
Photo courtesy of Ryan Clark of ClarkHirst Photography
I was sat at home last Friday afternoon relaxing while watching the Test match on TV and checking the latest tweets on my IPhone, when I was suddenly alerted to an entry containing breaking news of the FAs placement of clubs at Step 4 level in the national pyramid.
To say I was stunned and initially angry when I saw Boro had been put in Division One South would be an understatement. I immediately texted a director to get confirmation, and he was extremely surprised as well. It was the first he said anyone at the club knew about the decision.
I am a Scarborian, but I now live and work in London. In many ways the placement will suit me better, and yes I will be able to get to more away games on the weeks when I find myself on night shift. Despite this, I was still pretty down.
I realise the impetus that had been built towards our championship season had seen already good away followings grow to amazing proportions for the level of football we found ourselves in. I wanted that to continue. I was also personally annoyed because I had already got my eyes on some weekends and overnight stops in Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool as well as the two games with Darlington. I’d even done plenty of pub research, so thorough was my preparation!
Then I had time to reflect and let the decision sink in. I am a well-travelled groundhopper who speaks to fans of lots of clubs across the pyramid either in person or through the social media. I’d heard and read of all manner of perceived injustices when it came to allocating league after promotions or to simply make sure that there were the correct number of teams in each division.
The pyramid is a complicated model and it becomes even more so because no one can guarantee that like for like replacements at the end of season shake up are geographically matched. I sympathise with the FA and especially the guy in charge of the operation; Mike Appleby. It is in inevitable that some clubs will be upset.
I think that the board of SAFC have dealt with the situation with calm and measured approach, and in my opinion they are doing the right thing by not appealing against the decision. Keeping their powder dry on this occasion means that they still have ammo in the locker for when a winnable battle looms.
Of course when the new ground opens at Weaponness, there will be further legitimate claims to be moved to the North Division, but who knows? By then Boro may be plying their trade in the Premier Division?
For what it’s worth, I think that the FA and maybe even the NPL may have even looked at the two divisions and thought that having a ‘big’ club in each will aid the profile and consequently that of its Premier Division if both Boro and Darlington are promoted in the quickest possible time? May they have done us a favour?
Whether the southern group proves to be easier to get out of remains to be seen. The consensus across the board seems to be that it may be, but that would be a ridiculous mindset for Boro to adopt. Admittedly there aren’t the ‘names’ on the list that would appear as enticing or previous opponents of Scarborough FC, but rest assured many will also fancy themselves and see Boro as a big scalp both home and away.
Hopefully the knowledge of Rudy Funk (pictured above), John Reed and Darren France and their extensive contacts list will prove beneficial, especially when it comes to attracting new charges who may be enticed by easier travelling to half of the matches?
I’m looking forward to seeing new places and making a few new friends along the way, and I remain extremely optimistic about the forthcoming campaigns. Many clubs will also see the trek to Queensgate as a bit of a pain, especially midweek, so we must make it a fortress as Rudy as appealed for.
Boro fans must back the club and even if they can’t make as many away matches, they can do so by making home games great occasions once again and play just as vital a role by cheering the team to success.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Glasshoughton Welfare boss Rob Hunter to meet old club Harrogate Railway

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Glasshoughton Welfare manager Rob Hunter will have a reunion with his old club Harrogate Railway in one of four announced pre-season friendlies.
NCEL Premier Division Glasshoughton will meet Billy Miller’s Evo Stik Division One North side on Tuesday 23rd July at Leeds Road.
Hunter (pictured above) served Railway as a player and then assistant manager to Dave Fell for many years. Fell and Hunter won the Northern Counties East League Division One title during their partnership at the end of the 1990s.
Before meeting Railway, Hunter’s side will travel to Northern League outfit Billingham Synthonia (kick off 3pm).
On the following Saturday (27th), Evo Stik Division One South side Lincoln United will visit Leeds Road.
The last announced friendly will be on Thursday 1st August when Glasshoughton make the journey to West Yorkshire League team Boroughbridge (kick off 7pm).

Steve Kittrick stays on as Guiseley manager, but will it be last chance saloon?

Next season failure is not an option
By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Steve Kittrick will remain as Guiseley’s manager next season, the club confirmed today.
Kittrick’s position at Nethermoor was in doubt last week before summit talks were held.
It was clear in Kittrick’s comments last week that there were tensions between himself and the board following a failed attempt at winning the Blue Square Bet North title.
However, its looks like his good record as Lions manager and the fact that champions Chester FC were unstoppable may have spared him the sack.
But it is fair to say that next season will be his last chance at guiding Guiseley into the Conference Premier.
Over the last few years, the board have invested a substantial bit of money improving Nethermoor and this summer will see more changes to make their ground fit for Conference Premier football.
The board, led by local businessman Steve Parkin, will continue to support Kittrick with an ambitious playing budget. But this time around, failure is not an option.
The pressure is on, but if Kittrick’s men perform like they did this season – with 91 points which earned them second place – then the Lions will have a great chance of winning the title.
Jack Rea, Wayne Brooksby, Phil Marsh, Gavin Rothery and Zack Dale are confirmed for next season, while striker Kevin Holsgrove, who missed the play-offs because suspension, is joining FC Halifax Town.
Expect quality Conference players to arrive at Nethermoor because Kittrick quite simply has to make sure his side hit the ground running straight away.
If there are any Guiseley supporters who wish to write a blog for the Sports Performer website about the news that Steve Kittrick is staying on, please get in touch.
300 words is sufficient and the email contact is

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Scarborough Athletic accept Evo Stik Division One South placement

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
The Scarborough Athletic board of directors have accepted the decision by the FA to place them into the Evo Stik Division One South next season.
Supporters of the NCEL Premier Division champions were stunned by Friday’s announcement and used message boards to vent their anger.
Whilst disappointed with the decision, the Scarborough board admit that a successful appeal would be unlikely and have found some positives.
The statement also states their intention to try and win promotion at the first attempt.
The statement read:
“The SAFC board of directors had previously gone on record to say that we believed our supporters would (on balance) prefer us to be allocated to First Division (North), and that the board would consequently endorse such an allocation. However, although we have a number of anecdotal examples where clubs have successfully been reallocated to other divisions and even to other leagues, there are compelling reasons why we will not be appealing against our unexpected allocation to the Northern Premier League First Division (South).
“Some of these reasons were exercised last year when we opposed proposals to reallocate SAFC from NCEL to the Northern League as part of the Step 5 restructuring initiative. There was also the precedent successfully put forward by Bridlington Town to join First Division (South) if they had secured promotion from NCEL.
“Given these precedents, we do not believe that SAFC has a strong enough case at this time to appeal successfully to the FA Leagues Committee to reverse their decision (although a move back to Scarborough may present us with suitable grounds to be reallocated should we decide that it is essential to our well being and survival as a club at some point in the future).
“It should also be noted that there are many positive advantages to our club of remaining in First Division (South). It is likely that our overheads will be lower, our manager will be better able to assemble and retain a successful squad; and we are satisfied that there are definite geographical, organisational and logistical benefits to our club competing in the south of the Northern Premier League catchment area.
“The club is determined that it will become a positive, ambitious and enthusiastic member of our allocated league, and we are sure that other clubs in the division will be as eager to welcome an ardent newcomer with the pedigree of Scarborough as their northern counterparts would have been. In any event, should we secure promotion to the Premier Division (be it next year or in subsequent years) our impassioned arguments over north versus south will vanish overnight as we visit bigger and stronger clubs throughout the entire Northern Premier League catchment area.”

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Marcus Newell takes charge at Cleethorpes Town

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Former Grimsby Borough midfielder Marcus Newell has been appointed as the new manager of NCEL Division One outfit Cleethorpes Town.
Newell replaces Andy Liddell who stepped down last month following fourth in their first season at Northern Counties East League level – six points from the second automatic promotion spot.
More information about Newell’s appointment can be found here.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Evo Stik Division One South placement could be to Scarborough Athletic's advantage

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Picture courtesy of Ryan Clark of ClarkHirst Photography
Scarborough Athletic have been provisionally placed into the Evo Stik Division One South for next season, the FA announced today.
But, while a lot of Seadog fans will be disappointed as the North Division contains more glitz and glamour clubs, the placement could work to their advantage.
Northern League champions Darlington 1883 head into next season as the favourites for the Division One North title, but with Scarborough in the south, that is one rival eradicated.
On paper, the South Division also appears weaker.
In the North, Darlington, Curzon Ashton, Farsley AFC, Mossley, New Mills, Northwich Victoria and Warrington Town are all potential title winners.
In the South, there is no standout candidate apart from Scarborough.
And it will help that most of the teams they will face are from manager Rudy Funk’s (pictured above) patch.
Nottinghamshire-based Funk will have a reunion with old clubs Eastwood Town and Rainworth Miners Welfare –the place he made his name.
But, he knows the areas inside-out and will attract the best players possible from that side of the country.
They might do already, but Funk might be best setting up a training camp away from Bridlington – meaning that the players only travel to Bridlington on match-days – something similar to what Neil Warnock did when he took charge of the old Scarborough in 1986.
Since most of the away games are Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire, a base at Wakefield, Barnsley or Sheffield might be an idea.
It took four seasons to get out of the Northern Counties East League Premier Division.
And at the first attempt, Scarborough will not get a better chance to win promotion out of the Evo Stik Division One South.

FA Cup hero Chib Chilaka heads Harrogate Town released list

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
He may have scored one of the greatest goals in Harrogate Town history, but Chib Chilaka is one of four players released by manager Simon Weaver.
Weaver has cited wanting “more movement up front” as the reason for Chilaka’s departure.
Chilaka scored 17 goals in total, but will be remembered for his legendary strike in the shock 1-0 FA Cup First Round victory at League Two Torquay United.
Luke Dean, Johnny Allan and goalkeeper Jose Da Veiga, who endured an injury-hit campaign, have also been released.
It means Weaver is on the hunt for a new striker and someone like recently released Gateshead striker Yemi Odubade may be a target – should he convince him to step down a level.  
Odubade would fit the bill if Weaver wants more movement.
Staying at Wetherby Road are goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray, Dave Merris, Dwayne Samuels, Shane Killock, Alan White, Matt Bloomer, Adam Nowakowski, Michael Woods, Adam Bolder and Paul Beesley.
Utility man Bloomer is the only player to remain from Weaver’s first game in charge of Harrogate at Corby Town in August 2009.
Since then, Bloomer has made 143 appearances for Town and has played in every position including goalkeeper.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Julian Watts is the new manager of Shirebrook Town

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Former Sheffield Wednesday player Julian Watts is the new manager of ambitious NCEL Division One outfit Shirebrook Town – a day after stepping down from the same role at Division rivals Hallam.
Watts replaces former Sheffield FC boss Mark Shaw who left to join Evo Stik Premier Division side Worksop Town.
Watts will be assisted by ex-Hucknall Town striker Danny Bacon and Mark Camm.
Watts said: “I’m really happy to be joining a local club that’s on the up, and I have been very impressed with club president James Doody’s vision for Shirebrook over the next five years.”
The new manager will be looking to build on the club’s sixth-placed finish.
President Doody said: “While I don’t want to heap any additional pressure on our newly appointed Management team, I am really excited about the experience, knowledge and blend that we have been able to assemble.
“Julian has a fantastic football background and brain as well as really detailed knowledge of our league and local players.
“In Mark & Danny we have people with a wealth of knowledge and experience in both the professional and non-league game with excellent player knowledge and a strong commitment to performance and coaching.”

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Neil Cluxton confirmed as Staveley Miners Welfare manager for next season

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Neil Cluxton is staying on as Northern Counties East League Premier Division side Staveley Miners Welfare's manager for next season.
Cluxton stepped into the breach in February after the departure of Billy Fox and “95% of the first team players” following a budget cut.
He had been in charge of the club’s under 19s before his promotion to the top job and his side managed three wins during the last few months of the season – under difficult circumstances.
A club statement said: “Neil was handed an almost impossible task in February when the first team management and 95% of the first team players left.
“He worked tirelessly to get players into the club and to get some of our U19 and reserve team players into the first team squad and, despite an awful run of defeats, he stuck professionally to his task.
“Other managers may have capitulated and ran away when things got beyond tough but not Neil who stuck to his principles.
“Managing a team losing week after week, he saw the Staveley support increase at Inkersall Road and they have been unanimous in their voice and opinion that Neil should be given this opportunity.”

Steve Kittrick's future as Guiseley manager set to be decided on Friday

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Steve Kittrick’s future as Guiseley manager looks set to be resolved on Friday when he will meet the club’s board of directors for talks.
The Lions were defeated once again by Halifax last night when the Shaymen won the West Riding County Cup at Valley Parade and Kittrick confirmed in his after-match interview with Colin Robertson that he was still in limbo over his future.
Kittrick admitted that he would like to remain as manager at Nethermoor where he has enjoyed a successful five and a half years at the helm.
He has led the Lions to the Northern Premier League Premier Division title alongside winning the NPL Challenge Cup, the West Riding County Cup twice as well two second-placed finishes in the Conference North.
Kittrick does seem to have the majority of Guiseley supporters behind him, but the decision rests with chairman Steve Parkin and the rest of the board of directors.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Darren Bland and Julian Watts resign from manager posts

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Two Northern Counties East League managers have stepped down.
Darren Bland, manager of Premier Division side Worksop Parramare, who will be known as Handsworth Parramore next season, has resigned.
Bland led Parramore to promotion in May 2012 having took over in August 2011 and led them to a seventh place finish in their first season at the top table of NCEL football.
A statement said: "Darren has been put under increasing demands from his successful business and cannot commit the amount of time necessary to meet the requirements of such a progressive club."
Elsewhere, Hallam boss Julian Watts has left his post after two and a half years at the helm at Sandygate – his assistant Chris Sellars will take over.
Chairman Chris Taylor said: "We are disappointed to lose Julian at a time when the club is making progress both on and off the field of play.
"However, we appreciate the work he has done whilst he has been at Hallam and wish him every success in the future."

Monday, 13 May 2013

Non League players and management have to start thinking before tweeting

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
A few days ago Matlock Town assistant manager Nick Buxton provoked controversy with a tweet aimed directly at striker Lee Ellington.
Former Halifax Town goalkeeper Buxton tweeted: “Will miss Lee Ellington his happy go lucky style !!!!! Only guy I know that got s***loads of money to watch football matches!! #moneygrabber.”
Now Buxton may claim ‘banter’ as the reason for the tweet, but from a Non-League Football public image perspective, it is a totally unprofessional thing to publish – and of course, totally derogatory to Ellington.
Buxton is wide open to possible civil action from Ellington, but while that is extreme, he certainly deserves a letter from the FA reminding him of his conduct.
Players, management and supporters of non-league clubs have to be more careful on Twitter as the whole world can see tweets. People must start thinking before tweeting, otherwise comments will come back to haunt.
Now Buxton should also remember that it was himself and Matlock Town manager Mark Atkins that put Ellington on a contract. I don’t know how much money he was getting, but Atkins and Buxton agreed to such a deal.
So if they feel hard done by then really they should be blaming themselves.
Ellington has proved season after season that he is a prolific goalscorer in the Blue Square Bet North so one bad year doesn’t make him a bad striker.
Buxton should also be concentrating on accessing his own club’s campaign as well because seventh-bottom in the Evo Stik Premier Division doesn’t exactly constitute a success.
But, the point is that the tweet was the wrong thing to do and as a member of management at Matlock, he should know better.
The moral, think before you tweet.