It looks as though the Coronavirus will bring a premature end to Worsbrough Bridge AFC season. With 2 floods from the adjourning River Dove in October 2019 and February 2020 it has been an interesting and demanding first full season for the club.
Although the season is only currently suspended it is unlikely for teams at this level of the football pyramid to be able to complete their fixtures. However if the FA and Leagues make the decision to re-start we will be ready in the best way we can whilst still looking to protect the health of all connected to the club.
As a club Worsbrough Bridge AFC have had a good season. Our 1st team have been competitive in the NCEL and have drawn crowds 50% higher than last season and reached the Semi-Final of the Sheffield Senior Cup. Our development teams at U21s and U19s level have been excellent and at the top end of their respective leagues all season. Our Ladies, after a couple of difficult seasons have done brilliantly to be towards the top end of their league despite a stop start campaign. Our increased Junior teams have had seasons to be proud off with the U10s reaching the Cup Final, our U13s sitting top of their league and our U17s finding their feet in A Division to become a competitive team to beat after a difficult start. We were also delighted that AFC Hallamshire joined us at U16s level as our club partner so we could help to give their lads an opportunity to develop and continue playing next season.
The final two months of the season would have seen some important games played and I felt confident that we would have seen the club deliver some silverware.
The management teams of Lee Morris, David Taylor and Joe Thornton (1st team), Jimmy Whitehead, Joe Bedford and up till recently Ryan Smith (U21s), Paul Jackson, Dylan Jackson, Lee Moorhouse and Daz Fields (U19s), Gavin Felton (Ladies), Carl Pilkington and Adrian Barnard (U17s / U10s), Jason Watkin, Sean Crowcroft and Jack Whitehouse (U13s) and every single player can take great pride in how they have performed since August.
The big question now is what does the future hold for Worsbrough Bridge AFC and other non league teams. We are fortunate in many ways that unlike many clubs at our level we didn’t spend excessive money chasing a top 4 place in NCEL. We remain ambitious but our ethos remains to work within a sensible financial budget and develop and coach players to be better, or to give disillusioned players the chance to grow again. To stay at this level in normal times is hard enough, but now all income streams have dried up for the foreseeable future and all plans for the close season are on hold we have to work even harder.
We have to keep the team competitive at our level, and I believe we have achieved that. We remain ambitious for the future but we will do this by being financially sensible and grow within our means. The club is 97 years old and should outlive all of us, the club belongs to the supporters and the community and I am priveleged to have the responsibility to look after its wellbeing.
Usually as we approach the end of one season we start looking towards the summer and plans for the pitch, ground and teams and structure. We will continue to do that despite the uncertainty that surrounds us all. Our income streams at the club are limited and we are rely on our fantastic sponsors, supporters and community but with all the uncertainty at the minute and firms and shops having to close we are not sure how many people will stay with us over the coming months that is why we set up our Just Giving Page.
We know that when people are losing their jobs, businesses and worst of all their lifes to this disease that to ask for a financial contribution from people is difficult and we respect that people maybe can’t donate right now. If you can help then we really appreciate any donation, big or small.
The Welfare Club at the ground doesn’t belong to us and therefore doesn’t generate any income towards our costs although our landlords, Worsbrough Sports Development Association help us whenever and however they can.
We want to maintain this club for the community and I am confident we will do that with hardwork, pragmatism and typical Barnsley grit. None of us know how long this situation will last all we can do is keep monitoring the situation and make the right decisions at the right time.
I hope that the situation will bring some sanity back to non league football and some of the silly “expenses” that we all know are being paid will reduce and clubs will live within their means and that the game goes back to being played for the right reasons.
The most important right now is that everyone stays safe and well and we are all ready to try and get back to normality soon. I want to finish by thanking every single person at the club for their support and friendship in my first full season, it has definitely not been dull !
I hope my second season as Chairman is not as eventful off the pitch as this campaign has been and that you come and join us again as we continue to rebuild the “Bridge”.
I will continue to keep you informed through our website and social media channels of Facebook and Twitter and as always if anyone has any questions or comments please get in touch.
Stay safe and Best Wishes
Mark Booth, Worsbrough Bridge AFC