Toolstation NCEL Division One
Replicating the mentality of the unforgettable Chris Hilton Invincibles team could be key in guiding Worsbrough Bridge to safety.
That’s the message from their new manager Luke Forgione following his appointment as the successor to Lee Morris who resigned for personal reasons several days ago.
Forgione, one of the Worsbrough Invincibles who went unbeaten at home in the NCEL during the whole of the 2012/13 season, inherits a Bridge side sitting second bottom after defeats in all four of their opening league games.
Worsbrough have also only scored three goals and conceded 16 times if you include the FA Vase defeat at Parkgate and Forgione admits the tide needs to turn ASAP.
“During my time at Worsbrough it was always difficult for teams to come to Worsbrough and beat us, no matter who they were,” Forgione, who has left Houghton Main to take up the job, told Non League Yorkshire.
“We need to create that environment where teams don’t look forward to coming to Worsbrough and if they are going to win they need to have been given a game. We had that unbeaten season at home under Hilts management and that was down to Hilts, the team spirit and the togetherness of the group.
“That team were all mates and a lot of my lads I had at Houghton are all mates and I think it does help towards creating a changing room where people enjoy working together.
“I saw the article you did with Willy (Mark Wilson) about Non League not being like it used to be and the social side is important as well, but it is getting the balance right.
“I’m coming in and I need a reaction straight away. We need to get some points on the board. I have set a target for the number of points we need to achieve this month.
“We need to make Worsbrough a fortress like it was during Hilts’ time. We need to be winning our home games and picking up points away from home. If you’re not picking up points at home it becomes even more difficult on the the travels.
“Of course we are in a relegation battle, there’s no hiding from that. At the moment we have zero points, but if we win two games we could be tenth. People need to understand that we want to come in and have a quick reaction and the players need to know that.
“But we might not get that. It may take two weeks or three or four weeks to get where we want to be. I look at Glasshoughton they were at the bottom last year (after ten games) and then they went on an absolutely fantastic run and got themselves up the league.
“There’s nothing to say we can’t do that, but it is one small step at a time. This year we need to make sure we get up the table and consolidate ourselves in the league.
“I don’t want to spout off and say we’re going to achieve this and that because that gives people ammunition to have a go at you.
“We need to be around mid-table to top mid-table and see where we go from there. We need to take it month by month and reassess it. Realistically at the moment we need to get 30-odd points as quick as we can and keep ourselves in the league.”
The backstory to Worsbrough’s bad start to the campaign begins in mid-August when a host of key players chose to drop to Step 7 because of concerns over the volume of midweek games and travelling concerns – fears which are proving to be well-founded.
That left Worsbrough with a major rebuilding job at short notice and ultimately successful results haven’t followed.
“The table doesn’t lie, it is four losses from four and they’ve been conceding goals which I’ve looked at and that’s an issue,” he said.
“That might not be down to individuals. It may be down to the team and it might mean we may have to work on things to at least try to be hard to beat.
“If you can’t keep the ball out of the net it is always going to be difficult. I don’t think it is as bad as the league suggests. I know they lost two games convincingly to Parkgate, but from feedback and reports, I don’t think the games have been 4-0 defeats.
“There are lads who weren’t getting an opportunity and may under me and there’s lads who need to prove themselves and work harder. I’ll be looking to bring in a couple of new faces to strengthen the team.
“The club aren’t where they want to be and it is not where I want the club to be and I’m hoping I’m the right man who can come in and start moving the club up the table.
“It is going to difficult and I’m under no illusions. We have East Hull on Saturday and on paper it is a game we need to be picking points up from and I’m sure they will be thinking the same.
“We then have Skegness and Emley at home which on paper are really difficult games which normally people would write us off and expect us to get no points.”
Inconsistent starting line-ups with several changes have dominated Worsbrough’s first five games and Forgione and his assistants Gaz Hunter and James Ritchie plan to change that.
They intend to take 16 players to East Hull on Saturday and so far on the ‘new faces’ front, Joe Dungworth is back to add glamour to their attack after previously leaving during pre-season.
“We need to use the experienced lads already down at Worsbrough and we need to give younger lads an opportunity,” he said.
“Look at Nostell. People say young lads can’t do it. Maybe 11 young lads it would be difficult, but Ian (Walker) is proving it can be done.
“We’ll be looking to blend it (between youth and experience). When people say college lads, we’re not talking 16-year-olds, we’re talking about 19 or 20-year-olds who are men.
“We need a settled group of lads and a team that is regularly the same and who want to go out and do well for one another.
“Changes, unrest or uncertainty is no good for anybody. I don’t want to carry a massive squad. I don’t want to be working with loads with players. I want to be working with 16 to 20 players this season.”
Forgione has received a ceiling high amount of stick for his decision to leave Houghton for Worsbrough.
Many have been keen to remind him about his August interview with Non League Yorkshire in which he said was planning to stay with Houghton for a season and not ‘jump at the first chance’. In some areas of Barnsley there’s been some who have cutting down trees so hundreds of copies of the now fabled interview could be printed off.
Forgione has no regrets over making the comments and insists Worsbrough were the only club who would have prised him away from Houghton.
“It is my club so if the opportunity came up, I was never going to say no and I explained that to Houghton,” he said.
“I’ve left on good terms and Carl’s (Houghton chairman Carl Brennan) given his blessing but I do think he’s a little disappointed because I did say to him that I’d try and give them a year.
“I didn’t hide it from him that I do want to go up the leagues. Like in your previous article I did say I didn’t want to jump at the first chance and that’s true, I didn’t want to jump at the first chance, but it is Worsbrough Bridge. The club pulls on the heart strings.
“Under Hilts’ management, that was the most enjoyable and most successful time I had as a player at Worsbrough, without winning any trophies.
“When I left school at 16 I went down there and played for Ian Shirt in the under 19s and progressed into the reserves and then the first team.
“Under Darrell Bowman I was trying to make my way in the adult game. Lastly I went back (in 2016) when the club was in a bit of turmoil off-the-field because they were playing at Maltby and I didn’t want to see the club get relegated.
“It is my club so if the opportunity came up, I was never going to say no and I explained that to Houghton. If it had been any other NCEL club, I would have turned them down.
“If you had said to me when we did the interview on the 17th August that Lee Morris would resign after four games I’d have thought you were joking. You can’t plan perfect timing.
“My mate said to me ‘did you see what (Jose) Mourinho said the other day about buses not stopping twice’ and it hammered it home to me. I thought if I don’t take this opportunity now, will I get this opportunity again?”
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.