Frickley Athletic manager Dave Frecklington backs a January restart so Non League players can enjoy Christmas with their families if restrictions allow.
If Steps 3 to 6 football is granted permission to return following the lockdown, Frickley have four fixtures scheduled in December – with the Boxing Day battle at Stocksbridge Park Steels being the final game.
But Frecklington is looking at the bigger picture and believes the December matches should be postponed to give everyone the best possible chance to spend Christmas with their relatives – if the Government also relax restrictions over the festive period.
“I would start it on January 1st and I would extend the season to however long is needed until it is done,” Frecklington told Non League Yorkshire.
“What’s the point of starting in the first week of December? You need at least a couple of weeks to get yourself right. Then you have the Christmas period and I would let everyone enjoy the Christmas period, let everyone try and get fit and then start afresh in the New Year.
“That way if we are allowed to enjoy Christmas that’s what they can do. If we are allowed to see families over Christmas, is it really fair to be playing matches on Boxing Day when many won’t have seen relatives since March?
“There’s a lot of scenarios and it is about picking the right one for everyone. We have to think about people and their families and what they have gone through. People have been more fortunate than others.
“Football really is relevant because it is what we all love and it gives us a release, but it is not normal at the minute and you only have to look at every level of football, there’s people going down with Coronavirus or symptoms. The last thing you want is someone having to self-isolate over Christmas after playing football on say the 19th December.”
Frickley are 13th in the NPL Division One South East table after an indifferent start, but only seven points off the play-offs so Frecklington admits it is not all doom and gloom.
“We’ve been inconsistent,” he said.
“We have been really good in games, but conceded some really poor goals from set-pieces this season. We have created a lot and lot of goal-scoring opportunities and not taken them.
“If you look at our record we have won three, lost five in the league, scored 14, conceded 14. It sums us up. In certain games like Hyde away (in the FA Trophy) we missed a penalty and lost 2-1. We lost 1-0 to Newcastle and missed a penalty so we could have got a point.
“There are lots of things we could have or should have, but in both boxes we haven’t been as good as we can be. We have had a lot of injuries and we need to get people back fit and this lockdown may be a blessing in disguise.
“If anyone puts a run they have a chance of the play-offs. We have 30 league games left because we’ve only played eight. If we put a run together then who knows? It may put us in the mix.”
A major highlight was the 4-0 battering of Market Drayton Town in their final league game before the lockdown. That was one of two league victories during October and although they suffered four defeats, Frecklington was pleased with what he saw towards the end of the month.
“We have had to change the style of play because we lost six key players,” he said.
“We have to get a couple of loans in and gone down the route of a young team. We were very front-foot, very direct and we’ve get the ball forward and play a lot of possession football.
“We’ve had to totally change it. We play out through the thirds now. We play out from of the back because young lads now, it is their type of game. It is a bit more pleasing on the eye because we’re keeping it on the floor. By the reaction of the supporters and everyone at the football club, I think they have enjoyed the last few performances.
“The lads have totally adapted to it and seem to like playing that way and we were very unlucky to lose 2-1 at Glossop.
“We then went and beat Market Drayton 4-0 in the league. We went to Hyde United in the league above in the FA Trophy and we totally dominated the game. We should have been four or five up at half-time as we missed a load of chances. We then lost the game 2-1.
“We’ve been really pleased with the last four performances and probably haven’t got what we deserved. Yeah we have finished in the league on a bit of a high and when we get going again we’ll be in a better shape in terms of fitness-wise and I’m looking forward to seeing what we are about when we do get back.”
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. When we properly 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.
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.