The bunting and the scissors for the ribbon cutting for Steeton’s historic first game at Marley Stadium remain in their boxes for the time being.
The ‘opening ceremony’ was meant to be tomorrow when Garstang were scheduled to visit Marley for the North West Counties League clash. That was until the new lockdown measures were enforced.
The 3G pitch has been operational for a few weeks and the ground is now ready for ‘action’. Steeton were ready to draw the line in the sand on a difficult year which began when they were told they would have to leave Cougar Park. The wait just prolongs the excitement for Steeton and manager Roy Mason.
“I’m 51-years-old and when we had the first training session down there I actually got my boots back on and trained myself for a hour because the surface is fantastic,” Mason told Non League Yorkshire.
“It is without a doubt the best artificial surface I’ve seen. The players have trained on it three times and they’ve seen the ground come together. The stand is up. The changing rooms are finished, the walkways are done, the dugouts are in and it looks like a proper football ground.
“The pay box is in so everyone is saying we just want to play football and get the crowds in there. It will be worth the wait and people who have come down have been pleasantly surprised and they’re looking forward to it.
“The players trained on the pitch on the Saturday (31st October) morning and credit to players they all stayed behind and did a little bit of work around the ground afterwards.
“The whole of the committee was down there working tirelessly. The Saturday night was closure on a tough year after we walked away and locked it up. We had put advertising boards up around the ground and the majority of the work was finished. It was like ‘yes it has been tough, but it has been worth it and we can look forward to hassle-free off-the-field season’.
“A few of us went for a pint at Steeton Hall afterwards and we were sat there saying ‘we are ready to go’. Then of course a few hours later Boris kibosh’s the whole thing for us.
“You have to be philosophical about these things, there’s no point beating yourself up about it. It is circumstances beyond our control. We’ll just have to grin and bear it and wait a little longer.
“It is literally 12 months since we had the first meeting with the council. You can look at it and say ‘we’re waited 12 months for it, we can wait a month longer, it is not a massive problem’.”
If or when the North West Counties League does recommence, Steeton will be looking to add to their four points from five games – collected from the win at Golcar United and draw at Cleator Moor. It is an okay return considering the calibre of opposition they have faced and Mason is content.
“You look at the first five games and all five teams we have played are up there in the league,” he said.
“Certainly you’d expect Bury to be challenging. Golcar will certainly be challenging. Bacup have had a really start and Liverpool are historically strong and Cleator Moor is never an easy place to go because of the travelling and they are a strong, physical, side. You’d expect them to be formidable at home and not many teams will get a result there. We got a point.
“In terms of the start it has been tough and people have to remember we have had five away games. We haven’t had a home game since March. The first three games I thought we performed really well.
“Despite the result against Bury the performance was good and we earned a lot of plaudits for the way we played and how close we ran them. The next game against Golcar was a really good victory for us because Golcar is never an easy place to go to.
“We then had a good draw at Cleator Moor. But then that was followed up by a couple of poor results. Against Bacup I never felt we got going and we never really showed any of the qualities we showed in the first three games. We didn’t create enough to win the game.
“AFC Liverpool was a particularly disappointing performance. One thing I have said to the players is that this year we want to be competitive in every game. I felt against Liverpool we weren’t competitive and the score-line could have been worse than it actually was.
“That said, you’re going to have those ups and downs and it has been hit and miss with players missing training because they have been self-isolating. We’ve had players miss games because they have been isolating. It has been difficult because we haven’t been able to have a consistent side out each week.”
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.