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Wetherby Athletic: A New Dawn

Started on 16 October 2019 by Jack
Latest Reply on 31 March 2020 by Justice
Love all the updates, finally caught up and you have real clean graphics here

Wednesday, 11th of March 2020

“Well, yeah!” Mark said, almost aggressively to his mother, Eileen - the club’s General Manager. “Look, at some point with the way things are going, we are going to have to look at players who aren’t as dedicated to the Wetherby cause as much as the lads that I know now. And when the hawks swoop in for one of our players and he’s not tied down to a proper contract here, he will leave the club - no doubt.

“It’s common sense for a club that is being run successfully. Garfield, for example, he deserves a new deal that he’s getting properly paid for.”

Eileen sat back on the sofa, looking over at her husband, Harold. She hated being told what to do, especially by someone with less - as she called it - ‘life experience’. But Eileen feared that Mark was right and that the club had to go semi-professional next season, promotion or no promotion. Wetherby Athletic couldn’t maintain itself in this league at amateur status.

“But your dad used to play in a team that was semi-professional and that eventually went kaput!” Eileen said, looking over to Harold.

“Because that was Halifax Town! Everyone knew what was going on there, with the loans, the takeover, the tax - it was unsaveable. Fact is, there a hundreds of teams that are either semi-pro or just simply fully professional in England and Scotland.

“Just because some egotistical owners that have come in from nowhere don’t pay their bills, that doesn’t simply mean that we are heading into financial ruin - we’re in profit for goodness sake!” Mark said, raising his voice a little more.

It was clear that Eileen didn’t really know much about the modern game, particularly behind the scenes. Mark thought that putting her at the head was a clever idea, with his mother working as Bill Fotherby’s secretary at Leeds United during their Division Two and Division One title-winning seasons.

This was always going to be a concern with her knowledge of football therefore circulating around the game of the 1980s and 1990s where money didn’t need to be understood as much, as there wasn’t that much of it before the arrival of the Premier League in 1992.

“Alright,” Eileen said, calmly. “We’ll go for it. I won’t take any credit away from you as Wetherby Athletic, it’s technically a thing of your creation. You made this community the way it is, there’s no doubt about that. But you have genuinely convinced me that going semi-professional is a good idea, moving into the future.” She looked sternly at Mark.

“Thank you,” Mark said, relieved.

“However,” Harold interrupted, sitting up from his excluded position throughout the conversation. “Don’t you go thinking that off the back of this, you can come to us and get through anything you want. Don’t forget that we put in seed money for this dream you have - and I’ll be fair to you, it’s working so far. There’s also Alan Kitchener that we have to put this by, but you know he’ll pass something like this through.”

Eileen nodded her head, with her lips pursed. A moments silence passed. “So, did you tape Corrie last night Harold?”

Griffo: Indeed, but the singular promotion spot really worries me. Even if we finish a high 2nd, it'll all be for nothing!
Seb: Jacobs really is something else. He should be playing way higher up, there's no doubt about that! Liversedge was an awful game in the way that we deserved to get a win, never mind a point, but we were held out of it in fairness by a resilient team.
Scott: That's the lower leagues for you! Less talent, more entertainment. Still a long way to go yet, but Barton have got a decent lead at this stage - a lead that we'd love to have!
Jim: Well, 45 goals in all competitions, including our cup games in the FA Cup & FA Vase ;) Let's pray you haven't jinxed anything with your earlier comments. If we don't go up, it's on your head!
MJK: Thanks mate! Appreciate it.
To be fair, Halifax did return and look where they are now. ;) The decision to turn semi-professional will certainly increase the running costs required, but it's certainly a necessary measure as so eloquently put by Mark.
Like the little tension there
At least Eileen asks the important question...nobody messes with her Soaps!
The club is evolving! Turning to semi-pro will surely bring changes to the club. But as it's making profit, I'm sure the costs won't be anything big. Basically, a very good decision by Eileen and Mark!
Come on Eileen, get with the times!
Come on, Eileen, At this moment, you mean everything

As Wetherby’s first season in the English national league system comes to a close, Mark Milne has secured his first ever title in the competitive game after beating Barton Town to the title after a 38-game season in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division.

The beginning of the end of a marvellous season actually began with cup heartbreak as we were finally defeated in the FA Vase on penalties by Newport Pagnell following a missed penalty from our centre-back and vice-captain Sean Garfield.
Despite this, we got back on the horse in our first league game of February after a few of our matches were postponed due to a waterlogged Old Boston Road. We defeated AFC Mansfield 3-2 with goals from Jacobs, Herd and Milne.

Our top of the table clash with Barton Town ended two apiece, with Barton maintaining their lead at the top of four points. This was followed by a 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Hemsworth Miners Welfare.

Athersley Recreation were defeated 5-1 as we kept pace with Barton Town in February before finishing the month with another tight win against Albion Sports at Throstle Nest thanks to a dubious Henry Jacobs penalty.

Garforth Town were our first opponents in March, having been on a fantastic run of form leading to them taking 3rd place away from Yorkshire Amateur who had dropped off towards the end of the season. A vital 2-0 win against Garforth allowed us to keep up with Barton Town, who were also winning every week.

That was up until the 33rd gameweek when we gave Grimsby Borough a 3-0 hammering at the recovering Old Boston Road turf. However, news began to come in about Barton Town actually being defeated against 19th-placed and relegation destined Thackley, as Sion Jones made Barton drop all three points, sending us just one point behind the league leaders.

In gameweek 34, though, Barton Town got back to winning ways against Albion Sports with a 2-0 win as we dropped three points behind the league leaders after a 1-1 draw with out-of-form rivals Yorkshire Amateur.

This was quickly mended the following week as we returned from Maltby, Rotherham with an emphatic 8-3 win, with Henry Jacobs bagging a hat-trick. Meanwhile, over at Barton Town’s Marsh Lane, it was discovered that they had not scored in a goalless draw against Staveley Miners Welfare.

The first game of April began on the first Saturday as both ourselves and Barton Town won our fixtures against Eccleshill United and Bridlington Town respectively, maintaining Barton Town’s slim one-point lead at the top of the table in the sole promotion place in the division.

The final two games of the season would ultimately determine the way the title swung as we achieved two straight wins against Goole and Thackley, meanwhile Barton Town absolutely collapsed in their final two fixtures, losing two on the bounce for the first time since late September as they lost 1-0 to AFC Mansfield and 2-1 against Handsworth Parramore in a stunning turn of fate for us.

The final three games of the season saw us begin April trailing one point behind Barton Town to finishing five points ahead. With my mother and General Manager, Eileen spending the day in Handsworth, Sheffield to provide live updates on the Barton Town score, as Christian Owusu’s 92nd minute winner for Handsworth Parramore went in, we knew we had done it and achieved a title and promotion in our very first season in the ninth tier of English Football.

At the other end of the table, Silsden were finally put out of their misery in mid-March as their relegation from the Northern Counties East League Premier Division was finally confirmed. However, it was down to us to send Thackley down on the final day of the season as Hemsworth Miners Welfare stayed up thanks to our victory over the 19th-placed side.

With regards to individual performances throughout this season, Henry Jacobs finished the season with an incredible 61 goals in all competitions (53 goals in the league). He also won the divisional Player of the Year award with a 7.93 average rating this season in addition to his outstanding goal tally. Craig Herd also created the most goals at Wetherby, with 26 assists in all competitions, although he and Karl Milne had equal assists in the league with 21 assists each.

Mark's Verdict

Despite thinking that Barton Town would run away with the league back at the end of January, and not even considering a top ten position at the beginning of the season, to finish top of the table in our first season is an incredible achievement.

Obviously everybody who had played at Wetherby before moving into the national league system had a huge part in this success, namely Henry Jacobs, Craig Herd and my brother Karl. But also, there is an abundance of credit to be handed to the players who were brought in upon our entrance into the division such as Tom Godden, Jovanni Sterling and Kian Smart. They were brought in after being rejected by their former clubs, whether they were youth graduates or experienced lower-tier players, the shift and motivation that these players provided was phenomenal and a title victory would not have been achieved without them.

With regards to next season, we need to discover what division we will be in first of all, with many regional divisions still to finish. However, if we struggled in the ninth tier and scraped a title win only at the end when the pressure got to Barton Town, the eighth tier won't be any easier. I will give our team three months to see what standard we look like we are at before managing expectations.

Scott: I suppose, but that has to take into account the support Halifax already had ;)
MJK: There was a slight bit of tension around the room!
Seb: You can mess with the football team, but do not mess with Eileen's Corrie recording.
Jim: It provides a lot of security on both sides for the club and its players, so it's a massive leap forward for sure!
Justice: That's not the lyrics.
Griffo: They are the lyrics!
Just the 61 goals for Jacobs then, not the worst season I guess. Next year should be a bit tougher just like Mark says, hopefully some additions can help out the squad and we see another push next season in the eighth tier.
Loving the story elements of this Jack! Surely you could've picked a better name for your Mum, come on, Eileen? Ok, that was poor but I had to. As I read that I got wee Alexa to put the song on haha! Great read as ever and I look forward to seeing you climb the leagues, it will be a long slog for sure.
The players highlighted in this particular update had an incredible season, but the team as a whole were fantastic. An amazing season for the football club and a testament to their character when you consider they were chasing Barton for the entire season on the most part. The lads were there to take advantage when Barton slipped. Brilliant!

As the build-up to the 2020/21 campaign in the Northern Premier League Division One North West, we can confirm what will be our first-team going into this season’s preseason campaign - beginning with a friendly against Farsley Celtic at Old Boston Road.

The addition of Chris Elliott means that last season’s number one Tony Holt faces tougher competition for the spot between the sticks.

Holt had a good season for The Salmons in our title-winning season of 2019/20, conceding 49 goals in the full 38-game period in what was a notoriously high-scoring division. In all competitions, the 30-year-old kept 15 clean sheets, achieving an average rating of 6.85. Chris Elliott was contracted as backup for Darlington in the Vanarama North last season and didn’t get a game in any competition in 2019/20.

From right to left, Bryce Hosannah and Lewis Turner arrive to fill the right-back spots in the side, with Hosannah likely to be the starting player out of the two, having just been released by Leeds United. Vice-captain Sean Garfield is set to be our star centre-back once again, with Will Thornton coming in from Guiseley to partner him. Oliver Casey and Jovanni Sterling are set to be backup centre-backs for Garfield and Thornton. At left-back, Wetherby stalwart Shaqeel Khan looks like he is being shifted out of his starter spot by Matty Downing.

In midfield, captain Mike Jackman will be our defensive midfielder for the season, with Kian Smart leaving this summer. In the center, Seth Meeson arrives to prove himself to be the main central midfielder in the team. Scott Scholes and Alfie Raw will have to fight with him and Cole Gibbon for a highly-contested starting spot in the middle.

Craig Herd will remain our starting right-winger, with Theo Hudson coming in as backup. On the left, Karl Milne will also remain as our starting left-winger with Dylan Mottley-Henry coming in as backup.

In strike, our main man Henry Jacobs obviously keeps his place after a record-breaking season last time with 61 goals in all competitions. Rob Harker comes in this season to try and compete with the 23-year-old.

This summer eleven players arrived, mainly from Leeds United’s youth team following their release.

Although not pictured, the first signing was right-back Bryce Hosannah, arriving from Leeds United. The 21-year-old featured in Marcelo Bielsa’s Australian preseason tour for Leeds United, playing against Manchester United, but not taking part in the Championship season for his club.

Hosannah shows great promise, with great talent in the attacking sense with his crossing and dribbling ability. His defensive play may need some work, but his physicality makes this a reasonably achievable task.

Cole Gibbon was our second arrival, having been released by Leeds United earlier than his contract expiry date by manager Gordon Strachan. The 18-year-old never featured for his hometown club in the end.

However, he featured regularly in the youth sides at Thorp Arch with his great physical talent bettering most in those divisions. He has appeared to be more of a defensive central midfielder rather than one that likes to get forward. He will have to scrap it out with his central midfield compadres for a starting spot in this season’s team, though.

Oliver Casey was the first centre-back we brought in this summer following Paddy Miller’s intention to quit the club having only played a substitute last season at Wetherby. He comes from Leeds United’s academy and possesses great defensive attributes for his age at this level. He certainly won’t be out of consideration for starting spots on matchdays.

Matty Downing comes in to be our starting left-back after Jordan Baldwin quit Wetherby in the summer, meaning that Shaqeel Khan drops down the pecking order to fight Downing for the starting spot down the left.

Similar to Bryce Hosannah on the other side of defence, Downing possesses great attacking ability for a full-back, but isn’t as lacking in defensive ability as Hosannah perhaps is. Despite being on loan to Guiseley in Vanarama North last season, Downing sadly didn’t get to make any first-team appearances.

Chris Elliott comes in after Fletch Paley proved last season that he simply couldn’t provide challenging enough competition for starting keeper Tony Holt.

A Bradford City academy graduate, Elliott has seen a lot of action in the English - and even Swedish - lower tiers. He played for Harrogate Railway and Harrogate Town before a move to Swedish Second Division side Bodens BK. Harrogate Town brought Elliott back in 2016 before he got himself a starting spot at Vanarama North outfit Alfreton Town. Elliott has spent the past two seasons not playing at all for either Spennymoor or Darlington.

Despite providing a good backup to Henry Jacobs last season, Ryan Ferguson wanted to leave Wetherby this summer for a starting spot elsewhere. Rob Harker, recently released by Burnley has arrived to fill that void.

Jacobs will undoubtedly be an immovable object as the lone striker this season, but if injuries are an occurrence, I believe Harker is a great backup to have when called upon. Harker scored 5 goals in 20 games for Burnley’s U23s last season.

Theo Hudson is an extremely talented individual, joining us from Leeds United this summer to fill the backup spot left behind by Adam Baker. He will be a backup to another star performer from last season in Craig Herd.

Hudson made one appearance for Leeds United in the cup last season in a Carabao Cup match against Oldham Athletic. Aside from that, he has impressed in the club’s U18s and U23s, helping out with numerous assists over the years.

Seth Meeson joins us from Championship side Huddersfield, who he made one senior appearance for last season against Queens Park Rangers in the league as a substitute in the 80th minute.

Possessing a great range of passing and physicality up to the standard that he will come up against in the 8th tier, he is a surefire starter in this Wetherby team.

I believe Mottley-Henry is a super signing, despite being brought in initially as backup to Karl Milne on the left. His appearances in the Football League for Barnsley and Tranmere are a testament to how good a player he is. However, his 3-goal return in 54 games is a worry for us, but he is a superb backup to rely on if needed late in a game.

22-year-old Will Thornton is likely to be a regular starter alongside our vice-captain Sean Garfield at the back. Last season, Thornton played in defence for Guiseley and made friends with fellow new arrival Matty Downing whilst playing there. He has made 57 appearances for his hometown club Guiseley in his career. He finished 13th in Vanarama North last season with Guiseley, so is a superb addition to an 8th tier team.

Lewis Turner has made himself familiar with the lower leagues ever since his first couple of loans to Chester whilst under contract at Leeds United until 2014. He later moved to North Yorkshire to play for Harrogate Town, earning promotion with them in 2017 after three years at the club. Turner joins from Farsley Celtic this time and is set to be backup to fellow right-back arrival Bryce Hosannah for the 2020/21 campaign.

In terms of departures, Adam Baker, Jordan Baldwin, James Blair (now at Harborough), Shaquille Clarke, Ryan Ferguson, Jamie Underwood, Tom Godden, Caldon Henson, Paddy Miller and Kian Smart all departed the club after being released.

Seb: Aye, just the 61. The additions are here, with a lot of deadwood also shifted before we went semi-pro! There is room for maybe one or two more, though.
Imagine: Thanks mate! Shh, Eileen's becoming a cult hero just because she fits the bill of a song ;) It will be a long slog, hence the three-monthly updates.
Scott: Although a couple players had minimal influence on last season, all of them should be happy with that title-winning performance. I was terrified of another season in that league going into the last few games, but what a relief when they swung my way! Onto the next.
Cole Gibbon looking fly with a suit
First of all, I guess I didn't jinx it. ;)
Secondly, nice to see you strengthening the squad for the new division. Henry Jacobs to be the key-player again!

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