Darren Holmes claims that if Glasshoughton Welfare win promotion it would rank as one of the biggest NCEL shocks in recent memory.
An unexpected promotion would certainly eclipse Non League Yorkshire’s manager of the decade Craig Elliott’s achievements during his magical two years in charge at Leeds Road between 2010 and 2012.
Elliott, now performing miracles with Boston United in National North, led Glasshoughton out of doldrums and guided them into the NCEL top flight, winning the Wilkinson Sword Trophy as well.
In the present day, Holmes and Lee Vigars, favourites for the manager(s) of the year award, must have watched Paul Daniels on Youtube as Glasshoughton have gone hitting rock bottom after an appalling start to the Toolstation NCEL Division One campaign due to losing their opening six games to now sitting in sixth place.
Welfare are two points away from the four promotion spots and if they play their cards right over the next few months, they have a chance of returning to the Premier for the first time since 2015 – a dream they are chasing.
“Well we are in with a shout and we’ve said all along that as long as we are in with a shout we’re going to keep going for it,” Holmes told Non League Yorkshire.
“We’re two or three points off fourth place. It is a big ask for a team like Glasshoughton, but all the lads are talking about finishing in the top four.
“The team spirit is fantastic, they’re all working hard and if you talk to the players the aim is to finish in the top four.
“I don’t know what resources Craig Elliott had, but for a team the size of Glasshoughton and on a limited budget it would be a fantastic achievement and one of the biggest shocks in the league for a number of years.
“When you look at teams above. North Ferriby, huge. Winterton, Selby, all big clubs with big followings, but we believe.”
The embarrassing 6-1 pre-season defeat to West Yorkshire League Beeston St Anthony’s red-flagged Glasshoughton as potential strugglers.
A struggle to recruit players was at the heart of the problem, but a handful of signings in mid-August helped turn the corner.
“In pre-season we truly believed that we would put a competitive side together,” he said.
“Obviously we did not think we would not be pushing for the top places, but we knew we would get the players that would make us competitive. That’s not a surprise.
“(In pre-season) we got battered by Beeston, got battered by Pontefract by whatever score (9-2) that was.
“It didn’t look good did it. It was a low point and we were quite down, but we believed we could get the players in and we did.”
The league’s top goal-scorer Nathan Perks, with his 27 goals, helped engineer the turnaround. Seven straight victories over October, November and December propelled them into the promotion reckoning.
Even in recent weeks when injured trio Mat Zaniewski, defender Josh Vamplew and captain Adam Walsh have been ruled out for long periods, their form has not dipped.
Players have stepped up and Holmes paid tribute to them.
“We have got to give credit to the squad because we have lost three of our strongest players, Mat in goal and our two centre-backs,” he said.
“You have to credit the lads who have come in along with those who have or have been playing out of position. They have been playing really well.
“To still be picking up results is fantastic. Our form since October has been top four, top five form. I think there has been games such as Hallam that had it been played last season or at the start of the season we would have rolled over or lost. We’re not doing that now. No-one is turning us over.”
Glasshoughton visit North Ferriby on Saturday.