Luke Danville admits Hemsworth Miners Welfare have to move on from the departure of six players this summer.
Five have followed Hemsworth’s greatest manager Wayne Benn to Ossett United, but even Danville agrees that it was time for the likes of Harry Viggars, Nash Connolly, Seon Ripley, Luke Hogg and Eddie Cass to step up to the Northern Premier League.
Viggars and Connolly have long been talked about as future NPL stars, but the pair have always stayed loyal to the Wells – to the point where they were close to testimonial campaigns.
Midfielder Sam Jones has also left as he has moved to live in Nantwich and Danville, Hemsworth’s joint manager with Luke Potter, says Benn and the five Ossett-bound players cannot be criticised.
“I was their mate before I was their manager and I always spoken to them about going and challenging themselves in the NPL,” 28-year-old Danville told Non League Yorkshire.
“I obviously did it at a young age. I think Nash had a bite at it at a young age, but the rest of them have come up through the Hemsworth ranks.
“As challenging as NCEL is, we have always talked as a club about them having the ability to go higher. That was mentioned about a couple of them when I came to the club four years ago.
“It is a fair assessment to say it is right for them to challenge themselves. For a couple of them, it is probably a couple of years later than what it have should be. That’s no discredit to Hemsworth or the league. It is credit to their ability.
“All of them have been class for Hemsworth. Nash and Harry have served their time twice over in football terms. There’s not many players who can they have spent that length of time at a football club.
“Harry’s still young and he must have made 300-odd appearances for Hemsworth. Him and Nash have been fantastic servants for Hemsworth. I can’t speak highly enough of all five.
“When the phone call inevitably came, myself and the club wished them well. We’re not bitter and there’s no animosity.
“Benno has done exactly what he sees fit to get his squad right. They have all served their time at the club and he has worked with them players and he’s trusts them.
“How many times in the pro game do you see certain managers take certain players they trust from club to club? He’s done nothing wrong and he’s done it in the right way.
“He could have done it as soon as he left the football club. We’d have had a massive hole in our team in the middle of the season. He’s left it until the end of the season and he gave us every chance of winning promotion last season.
“Benno’s my mate so I’m not going to criticise him. I’ve been playing golf with him so if I had took it badly, he’d have got the seven iron round the back of his head.”
Danville is as cool as a cucumber over the future as he is hoping the rest of last season’s promotion-chasing Toolstation NCEL Premier Division squad will remain in Fitzwilliam.
Although social media has been ablaze over concerns for Hemsworth’s future, Danville is not panicking and insists his squad remains strong.
“The summer gives me and Potts time to put our own little stamp on it,” he said.
“Losing the calibre of player we have gives us a lot of work. Luckily we have had a longer summer than normal to try and speak to players and get people down in pre-season who will do a job and push the club forwards and upwards.
“I’m not going to stick my neck and say we’ll be up there challenging, but it won’t be a transition period either. I’ve too much faith in mine and Potts’ ability. Players come and go at any football club and we’re still left with 13 really good players.
“Myself, Potts, Tonksy (Rob Tonks) and Jeffsy (Steven Jeff) have been talking to new players and we think we have the right few coming in. We won’t be announcing them just yet.
“It is not that we will have to play a set of 17-year-olds. We could easily field a side tomorrow capable of giving anyone in the league a game.
“We are left with a good core of players and it is about adding the right quality in the right areas and building the dressing room back up because we have lost some personalities who it will be strange not to have around.”
The Wells plan to begin their pre-season training campaign in early July, but in a relaxed way as Danville does see the point in going hell to leather.
“We’re hoping to start back training on the 4th July,” he said.
“It is a bit later than everyone else, but that’s because the club are getting the ground ready and safe for everyone.
“We’re going to do one session a week. We’ve not totally set anything in stone as we don’t really know what’s happening.
“It is about keeping the lads ticking over. We won’t be running them to death. I think everyone has to be careful about how much they are training because lads will burn out if they are doing too much.
“Lads are doing a lot of fitness work anyway and keeping themselves naturally fit. Some have been breaking records by all accounts too! Some trip themselves though as they don’t hide their break time if you look closely on Strava.
“I haven’t seen many of the Hemsworth lads’ efforts, but I have seen a lot from lads I know around Non League Football.
“I know a few who will put a time on and you click on the picture and it tells you how long they’ve paused it for and had a breather. I’m been having a giggle to myself when I have seen some of them.
“Some I see I think ‘top man, I take my hat off to you’. Others I think ‘that’s a bit too quick for you mate’ and you look and they’ve had a two minute break!”
When the 2020/21 season begins, centre-half Danville, 28, plans to play “as and when needed” during his first full campaign at the helm.
Danville replaced Benn in November and considering he is a youngster in managerial terms, he admits that if you had said to him 12 months ago that he would replace Hemsworth’s greatest manager in the dugout, he would have thought it was a joke.
“I’d have laughed my head off,” he said.
“Last summer I’d have been 27 and I had never dreamed of being a manager until I was mid-30s at least.
“I couldn’t see Benno leaving the club, but you can’t blame him for going to a class club in Ossett.
“It is what it is. The opportunity comes along and I’m always been one not to shy away from a challenge.
“I have always been honest and open with the club and I originally said it would be temporary while the club found a new manager. If I’m being honest, I couldn’t see myself enjoying it.
“You notice straightaway the way the lads treat as they started watching what they said. They used to just shout dogs abuse banter-wise when I was captain. They check what they said and I didn’t realise enjoy that change, but at the same time that has to change.”
If you have enjoyed this interview, please consider making a donation to the not-for-profit organisation NLY Community Sport which provides sport for children and adults with disabilities and learning difficulties. CLICK HERE to visit the JustGiving page.
There is a video at the bottom of the page showing our work.
NLY Community Sport, run by James Grayson and Connor Rollinson, has always had combatting social isolation at the top of our objectives when running our Disability Football teams so when the green light to return is given, our work will play an important role in reintroducing our players, who have disabilities and learning difficulties, back into society.
We have six teams, a mixture of Junior and Adult teams – Nostell MW DFC, Pontefract Pirates, Selby Disability Football Club and the South Yorkshire Superheroes (Barnsley) – across Yorkshire.
Like most organisations, we have been affected financially by the Coronavirus and we have incurred losses which we cannot recover. We have not been hit as badly as other organisations, but we do need raise £2000 to put us back at the level we were at in mid-March and enable us to make a difference once again to our players’ lives in the future, without having financial worries. As each day goes on, a substantial number of our players become further isolated so we need to be ‘ready for action’ when restrictions are lifted.
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