Golcar United joint manager Ash Connor admits he can understand why some clubs will be angered at seeing the League One, League Two and National League seasons settled by points-per-game ratios when Steps 3 to 7 records were expunged.
The North West Counties were among the leagues whose campaigns were consigned to the dustbin without a conclusion back in March within days of Boris Johnson putting the country into lockdown.
South Shields tried and failed to overturn the FA’s decision through the legal route. The challenge was revealed to be unsuccessful around the time the National League and English Football League opted to take a different path by using PPG.
Connor, whose fifth-placed Golcar side were an outside bet for promotion out of Division One North, says he is surprised by the two competitions going the opposite way to the FA’s decision over the Step 3 to 7 leagues.
“When null and void was announced, from our point of view we were in a good position and could we have caught up with the top four, we think we could have,” Connor told Non League Yorkshire.
“Then I think of teams like Steeton if they had done points-per-game. They were in the relegation zone and they have spent thousands of pounds on moving grounds to Marley Stadium. It would not be fair on them,
“Obviously at the time the top four said ‘let’s do points-per-game’ and the bottom clubs would have said null and void so it is a hard one.
“But after seeing the Football League and National League doing points-per-game, I can only speak about our league, but I can imagine the teams in the top four not being very happy about it.
“If we were one of those teams, I’d have been the same. But I do think it should have been one rule for all. If it was going to be points-per-game, it should have been that right across the board.
“If it was null and void, it should have been null and void for everyone. It hasn’t riled me, but I was disappointed because I thought we had got ourselves in a good position to win promotion and we had strengthened at the right time.”
Connor, who is rated as one of Harrogate Town’s greatest goalkeepers in modern times, is preparing for Golcar’s second season in the North West Counties.
The Huddersfield-based outfit have made four signings in Joe Skarz, Karl Jones, Lee Bradshaw and former Emley goalkeeper Adam Lawlor – a throwback from the Darren Hepworth Emley era.
“We had a good season last year until the pandemic kicked in and we were in a great position for promotion so we’re going to be loyal to the lads who got us into that position,” he said.
“Everyone intends to come back including Buddy Cox who was a big part of our team in the West Riding County Amateur days, but had an injury-hit season. We’re hoping to get him firing again.
“What we need is competition for places and we’re in a position where we have two players who are capable of playing in each position.
“Obviously Joe Skarz has come in as player/coach and Karl Jones has come to us permanently after dual-signing last season.
“The two new signings are Adam Lawlor and Lee Bradshaw. Adam played for local side Hepworth last year and prior to that he played for Emley.
“I’ve known Adam for a few years and it will be good competition between him and Harry Stead.
“Bradshaw played for Newsome last year and I’ve known him a few seasons as prior to him signing for Campion a few years ago, he’s been around the Huddersfield League. He’ll add experience and be a good signing.”
Golcar returned to the field on Wednesday night with Connor leading a small groups training session with joint manager and brother Gavin.
Their phones have been red hot with text messages about training so the pair decided to organise a gathering.
“It has been quite busy (since March) with recruitment of players and making sure we are organised for when we get the go-ahead for next season,” he said.
“We had our first session last night with small groups in line with FA guidelines
“It was good to see people back together and we are going to do a couple of sessions a week until we get a start date and then we’ll move to three sessions a week.
“If we can get a start-date of September then great. The sessions are informal. We’ve said to the lads that it is their choice if they want to come.
“Since the lockdown started a lot of the players have been messaging about training because they are eager to get going. The captain Dan Stocker was messaging constantly night and day asking when training was starting to the point where I almost blocked his number!
“So as a management team we decided to put some sessions on. We’re not killing them with fitness sessions and it is more of a get-together.
“I’m impressed with how the lads have kept themselves fit. Joe Skarz did a charity bike ride in May and he did 100 miles a day.”
Extensive work to Golcar’s Longfield Avenue is ongoing. The place has transformed from a parks pitch to the brink of a top Non League facility in just under two years.
Money has also been ploughed into the club’s pitch which suffered during record-breaking periods of rainfall over the last 12 months.
Connor, his management team and the players have even been going up to the ground with their toolkits. Although Connor’s handy work is top secret.
“There has been a lot of work going on behind the scenes,” he said.
“They have put the new terraced area in at one end of the ground and they’re extending the clubhouse and putting in new toilets. The ground is looking good and it looks like a Non League ground.
“The committee are great and they are up there every day working on the ground. They have also spent about £37,000 on the drainage so next season we’re hoping we’ll get more home games on.
“I’ve been up myself to help out and one good thing about Golcar is that a lot of the lads who were involved in the first team last season go up and pull their weight and do a bit with a committee on weekends and evenings.
“It is one thing we ask and it shows the togetherness of the club. We’re not just turning up on a Saturday when the season is running.
“I’m not saying what work I’ve done, but I haven’t done any of the flooring. I don’t do flooring anymore.
“What I also do is write funding bids for the club and I work closely with the Football Foundation who have given us bits of money. We’ve had money from one of the the landfill sites for the fencing around the ground at the beginning of the project.
“We’ve also had some good news as a couple of companies have committed sponsorship to us. Skye Direct have sponsored the ground for five years which is massive for the club. Crocodile Products have sponsored the new Brook Johnson Stand and they have also sponsored the new first team kit.”
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.
Any amount raised above £2000 will be put towards new projects (when the world returns to normal) designed to further benefit people with disabilities and learning difficulties. You can learn more about the organisation HERE and on our Facebook page.
Watch the video below to see highlights from our three years as an organisation. The video was produced for our players at the end of March to remind them of good memories from the last three years.