By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Ossett Town boss Craig Elliott is keeping to his policy of searching the local leagues for talent in the wake of the departure of two experienced players.
Elliott has an impressive track record of scouring the local scene for players from his days at Glasshoughton Welfare and then for Ossett last season. And most of his summer recruitment has been made from the Northern Counties East League.
Young forward Jimmy Eyles, who has agreed to stay at Ingfield, was one of the finds of the season after his move from Nostell Miners Welfare and Elliott admits he is always on the lookout for the next rising star for his Evo Stik Division One North club.
“I go to matches all the time,” he told SportsPerformer.
“I go to matches on a Tuesday when we haven’t got a game and I then go on a Wednesday. Even when we are training I try and go watch a second half somewhere.
“I travel around on a Sunday watching Castleford Sunday League matches. I even try and catch some Central Midlands League games as sometimes they play on a Thursday night.
“That’s my market and I’ve been successful in it. There are some talented players at these levels, they just need to be given a chance.
“We signed some good hidden gems last year and I’m excited at working with some of the signings we have made.”
Only four players have stayed during a summer which Elliott describes as “frustrating”.
He has signed Chris Walton (Farsley AFC), Nick Wood (Mickleover), Steve Jeff (Tadcaster Albion), Will McGhie (Worksop Parramore), goalkeeper Tom Taylor (Brighouse Town), Scott McGrory along with Staveley pair Andrew Fox and Richard Patterson.
Out of the exit door have gone Shane Kelsey (Worsbrough Bridge) and Wes Milnes who have departed along with Danny Patterson and captain James Cotterill who joined big-spending Worksop Parramore earlier this week.
After a decent season, Elliott had hoped to build on what was achieved. Instead he has no choice but to build a new team.
“The biggest disappointment is that we have been unable to retain some of the lads from last season,” he said.
“I didn’t want to lose too many so that has been the main concern. Obviously you expect more loyalty, but at this level, players seem to go to the highest bidder.
“Over the last few seasons Ossett have had a big turnover of players and I had hoped to keep most of the team.
“We finished 12th after a strong finish when we showed we were a comfortable mid-table team so I hoped to keep most of the squad as we were going in the right direction.”
While not bearing grudges, Elliott is disappointed with the departures of Cotterill and Patterson.
“Cotty was straightforward with me as he phoning me all the time letting me know what was happening,” he said.
“When he told me what Worksop were offering, I was like ‘sign’.
“With Patts we agreed terms and he was saying the right things – ultimately he gave back word.
“But, they put their bodies on the line for me last season and I thank them for that.
“I’ve no problems with them, I’ve took players off clubs. This time the boot is on the other foot.”
Elliott is hoping to have a squad of 18 senior players with three more academy lads.
He is talking to three strikers this week with an aim of completing his squad.