We’ve called in expert Non League pundit Jason Dodsworth, the former Athersley Rec and Nostell Miners Welfare joint manager, to give his predictions on who he thinks will be vying for the top eight spots in the Toolstation NCEL Premier Division and Division One.
Dodsworth also reveals who are his picks for top spots in both Divisions.
“They’re a team who are always at the top end. Obviously I’ve kept my nose in on social media, but teams that far from you, you don’t always know too much about their recruitment. They look like they’ve had a decent pre-season and they’ve signed people like Pete Davidson and Danny Earl. They’re consistently in-and-around it so I can see them being again.”
“Handsworth have recruited well and they have some good lads. Russ Eagle and Joe Thornton look like they have put a good squad together and moving back to Olivers’ Mount can only be a positive for them as well. It is absolutely fantastic what they’ve built up there and the committee and Steve Holmes deserve a big round of applause.
“Russ had a lot of young lads last year and he’s added a lot of experience like the lads who were at Worksop when they won the league. He’s got Lee Hill, Steve Wankiewicz, Kyle Jordan as well as Sam Smith from Hallam. They’ve all been there and done it and that experience will only help the younger lads. They’ll be around the top eight I would say.”
“I fancy Liversedge to win it this year. It may be an obvious choice, but I think they have a really strong squad. You look through the team-sheets and they have five subs who all could be starting in any other team in the league.”
“I had a short stint at there at the start of the season and Louis (Axcell) and Bamf (Dean Bamforth) will do well. They’ve got some class players in that squad. It is not an easy place to go and nobody likes going to Muglet Lane, I’m sure of that. If they have good home form they’ll definitely be up there.
“They’ve made some good signings and they’ve made another tonight in Jake Currie. Mitch Dunne is the signing that stands out for me. He’s an absolute quality forward and he’ll score for fun this season. I can see Maltby definitely up there in the top five or six.”
“You look at Penistone every year and you think ‘are they going to be up’? From my own personal point of view, they surprise me every year because I think ‘yeah the legs have gone on some of them’ and then they surprise you. Ian (Richards) has got a base and a good solid squad there and he gets the best out of the players year after year. Fair play to Ian and Duncan (Richards).
“Last year they were very unlucky with it getting cancelled because they were in a good position. I think they’ll be up there again and be one of the teams to watch.”
Staveley Miners Welfare
“They are another team I haven’t really seen any incoming or outgoings for. But you look at the size of the club and the fact they’re installing a 3G pitch. They’ll be definitely top eight. I know they have lost Mike Burke to Stalybridge, but they’re 100% going to be up there.”
“They’re going to be in the top three. They’ve got a really strong squad like Liversedge. Last year they were up there and their recruitment looks really good with players from the league above like Ross Killock and Luke Dean.”
Grimsby Borough, AFC Mansfield and even Barton Town would be the other teams I would say could finish in the top eight. I know Grimsby Borough have got quite a few players from Cleethorpes in there. Dan Barrett is a really good manager and they improve year-on-year-on and this year they’ll definitely cause a few shocks. Brody Robertson has signed for them which is a big signing.”
“They are another strong team and the Division is going to be quite strong this year. A lot of teams have recruited and Campion are in a good area to sign players. They’ll be up there as one of the contenders for the top four. Sean Hunter is their stand-out signing and you’d like to think he’ll break the 20-goal barrier in Division One.
“Emley are going to be dark horses for promotion this year. My friend Kane Reece has obviously gone there. They’ve got Jimmy Eyles upfront with Aiden Savory from Yorkshire Amateur, Gary Stevens in nets. He’s a really good ‘keeper and very solid. I’d say they will definitely be in the top six.”
“Glasshoughton always throw shocks in. Darren (Holmes) and Lee (Vigars) have had time to steadily to build over four years. I read the article on them earlier and their squad has been decapitated every summer, but this year they’ve kept it together. It is a hard place to go and if they can keep up their form from last year, they’ll be dark horses to be in the top ten.
“They’re missing Nathan Perks (who has joined Pickering Town). He was flying and everything he touched went in. They’ve lost 60% or 70% of their goals which is a big loss to anybody. But they are strong team who are very hard-working and that’s what you need.”
“Recruitment looks good and they have a good manager in Craig Denton who has obviously won the Premier Division with Worksop. He knows a lot of players. They should be up there with the players they have got like Danny and Rich Patterson, Kieran Watson who scores goals for fun and Steve Woolley. They have got the experience and basically they have serial winners on the pitch which is what you need. I think Hallam will be a top four team and with the squad they have got it has to be a minimum requirement.”
“I’m tipping Ferriby to win it this year. They’re a massive club with a big fan-base who shouldn’t really be at this level, but I know why they are. Last year they probably had weird results, but they’ve recruited well and fetched in Scott Phillips who was at Barton Town for years and him and Tom Corner upfront will be a handful for any defence. Niall Tilsley has dropped down two Divisions to play in defence for them.
“They didn’t really hit the heights last season and maybe it was a shock dropping down to the level. But they’ve found their feet and I expect them to kick on this year and start climbing up the leagues.”
“They will be up there, but I don’t know think they’ll be as strong as they were last season. Carl Stewart, Casey Stewart, Josh Rogerson and Sam Cable have gone and they were massive players from. I don’t think they have fully replaced. George Bissett and Mark Simpson are their only notable signings. Mark Simpson is obviously a proven goal-scorer in the league above. He’ll get some goals and Selby will be top four contenders, but they’re not as strong as they were.”
“Skegness are obviously miles away from us, but I’ve heard good reports from other managers I’ve spoken to. Nathan (Collins) had a really good squad last year and they were really big and strong and direct. They’ll be definitely top three with Hallam and Ferriby.”
“Jordan Stocks has done a great job there and they’ve benefited from the change at Hallam because a few Hallam players have gone there. They’re a club who do things on a minimum budget as well and they’re dark horses for top eight. On their day, they play some great stuff and can beat anyone. It is also one of the hardest places to go in the league.
“He’s also kept a core of players over a period of time and he’s had to time to build which you need as a Non League manager, especially at clubs who aren’t throwing big money around. if they give you time, you get it right and I think Jordan has.”
“Winterton are always a decent side, but I don’t know too much about them, but looking at who has just taken over at Brigg Town, they could be dark horses. Marcus Newell has gone and he was the manager of Cleethorpes when they got to the FA Vase final so he’s going to know a lot of players. I don’t know the budget, but as a manager you get players who tend to follow you and if he can get any of the players he had at Cleethorpes over to Brigg, they could surprise people.”
Dodsworth’s Own Future Plans
Dodsworth did briefly join the Maltby Main management team in the early stages of the lockdown after leaving Nostell. However, following the passing of his mum, he stood down for personal reasons.
“I lost my motivation when I lost my mum in April and I’ve been in a bit of bad place since then. I hit rock bottom and I’m building my way back up. I had no motivation because my mum had been the only parent I’ve had. I’ve never had a dad so I lost everything. I’d never lost anyone close to me and I struggled to deal with it for a few months. My close friends and family have helped me and I’m picking myself up slowly but surely.
“I never thought I’d lose my motivation for football because I’ve done it for years and I love it, but something just snapped. I was at Maltby with Louis and Bamf and I didn’t have any motivation to go. I didn’t want to go to training sessions and it just wasn’t fair on the club because they put a lot of hard work in. I didn’t want to be stood there as a spare part and I thought it was best to resign until I sorted myself out and got my motivation back which will come back eventually.
“I’m just going to watch some games this year. I went to watch Athersley in the FA Cup the other week and I like to go and watch the top games. It is nice to look and pick a game. Hopefully I’ll get some free tickets! Obviously my mate Kane is playing for Emley so I’ll probably go watch him a few times.”
If you have enjoyed reading Non League Yorkshire over the past few months, 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. As we slowly return to ‘action’, 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.
We have enjoyed great success over the past three years. Several of our players have represented Mencap GB in Geneva, including Billy Hobson from Selby and Greg Smith, whose story is quite inspiring.
Like most organisations, we have been affected financially by the Coronavirus and because of the cancelled Lucille Rollinson Memorial Tournament, we are down on projected income for the year and we have incurred losses in the last few months.
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. Several of our players are suffering from effects of the lockdown and we are determined to be in the strongest position possible to provide services for them.
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.