New Kinsley Boys manager Craig Sunderland would love to bring the Simon Houghton glory years back to the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior League Division One club.
Sunderland succeeded Craig Edwards a few weeks ago after swapping life as a scout for Newcastle United for the Kinsley dugout. He has already overseen superb wins over the Silkstone All Stars and Luke Forgione’s higher league Houghton Main in pre-season.
His appointment marks his return after 12 years away from a club which is dear to his heart. Although his connection to village club Kinsley runs deeper, his most recent association is as player/assistant manager to Houghton in the mid-2000s.
Those were unforgettable years as Houghton led Kinsley on such a magical journey – taking from the Doncaster Senior League to the Central Midlands League – and the trophy cabinet was bursting at the seams.
“I think that was Kinsley’s best successful period,” Sunderland told Non League Yorkshire.
“I went to school with Simon and I played with and under him at a few clubs. We played for the Sunday side the Royston Pockets for a number of years and we played at Ponte together under Jim Kenyon.
“The job what Simon did back then (for Kinsley), what an amazing job and I can only give the highest praise for what he did and what we all did. We won the league, we won Sheffield FA cups, Saturday cups. They were good times, but football has changed a lot since those days.
“We were all close friends for a lot of years and that’s why Simon had quite a lot of success. We all played together and we all knew each other and we all went out drinking. We were all good friends and it helped our football because we wanted to do well for each other. We’re all still friends now and when we see each other we talk about the good times we had.
“I’d love to bring those times back (to Kinsley), but it is easier said than done. I’d love us to be successful. It is going to be difficult, but I’ll be definitely aiming to finish in the top four. I don’t want to be relegation fodder and I think the lads I have got are capable of doing well.”
Houghton departed from Kinsley in May 2008 for then-NCEL Division One side Pontefract Collieries where he performed miracles and blossomed into the leading NCEL manager he is today.
Houghton and Sunderland also went their separate ways in 2008. Sunderland managed Kingston United for a few years before running an over 35s side in Royston until he started scouting with his dad for Premier League Newcastle.
Kinsley trudged along for several years and at one stage Worksop Town assistant manager Craig Rouse held the manager’s reins for several years. Rouse did a steady job and even led them on memorable FA Vase runs with a side containing Jack Owen, Gaz Hunter, Connor Rollinson and Richard Watson to name four who are familiar to fans of the NCEL
Rouse left in 2014 and Kinsley folded halfway through the 2014/15 Central Midlands League campaign and later reemerged in the Doncaster Senior League.
The club had a few good seasons in that league and last year they returned to the County Senior League in Division Two. They are now in Division One and although he wants to bring success, Sunderland, who has brought back one of Houghton’s old Kinsley heroes Carl Turner back, is not making any bold promises.
“From looking in as someone who has been away from the club for a long time and has come back, I see good things,” he said.
“There’s some good people on the committee. They’ve had the new clubhouse built. The floodlights are sorted and the field looks the best it has been in all the years I’ve known it. The club is looking up.
“I’d love promotion, but without Covid they could have finished fifth last season and not gone up. If we’d been in the league below I’d have said there’s no reason why we can’t win it, but going up into a new league and saying we’re going to get promoted, it might be asking a little too much.
“It is something I want to do. The committee want to be in the Premier Division as quick as possible, but it is like I’ve told them, how would they class good progression?
“Good progression for me is finishing in a decent position in the league this year and then hopefully the year after winning it.
“I honestly do think with a couple of extra players I’m trying to bring in and with the lads I’ve got and who are showing they want to play with the right attitude, I do think we can finish in the top four.
“But proof will be in the pudding at the end of the year. The wins against Silkstone and Houghton Main are good signs and I have been more than happy with what I’ve seen.
“I went to watch them twice before I took the job and I wasn’t impressed at all. But over the last three or four weeks I’ve been in and spoken to them and said I won’t be bringing in players to replace them. I’ve also said it is up to them to prove themselves and they have.”
In Sunderland, Kinsley, who are situated on the border of Wakefield and Barnsley, have a Kinsley man through and through.
“I went to Kinsley Middle and I moved to Fitzwilliam in my teenage years and I played for Kinsley back then under a guy called Mr Wilkes,” he said.
“I think there’s a little place in my heart for Kinsley. Going back to my childhood days, a lot of my friends went to play for Hemsworth Miners Welfare and I could have done. But I always thought to myself that I was a Kinsley lad so I went to Kinsley instead of going to Hemsworth.”
Given his surname, it could be said it is fairly bizarre that he was scouting for Newcastle after stepping away from the over-35s. That opportunity came via his dad Dave.
“My dad is a first team scout for Newcastle so I’ve been scouting for the last year,” he said.
“Just helping really. We’ve watched a lot of Championship to see if there was anyone from the Championship good enough for Newcastle and I help my dad do his video games because they do a lot of video games now.
“I can’t do both roles though now. I’ll still be able to go with my dad in midweek, but obviously for Saturdays I want to give 100% for Kinsley.”
Kinsley kick off their league campaign on Saturday at South Elmsall United.
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.