Roy Mason admits Steeton’s first competitive game at Marley Stadium won’t have the razzmatazz that it deserves.
Unless Tier 4 restrictions are extended into Yorkshire, Steeton will finally officially grace the 3G pitch at Marley when Nelson visit on December 28th for the North West Counties Division One North fixture.
The game will firmly close the chapter on Steeton’s tough 12 months which began when they were told they had to leave Cougar Park.
“We had planned to have a pre-season game to launch it with balloons, flags, kids playing prior to us but it isn’t to be,” Mason told Non League Yorkshire.
“We have to make the best of it and crack on. At least we’re playing football which is the main thing.
“But it is a really big occasion, not just everyone directly involved in the club but the supporters as well.
“They’ve not seen a home game of a competitive nature since the 9th February. We’ve nearly gone nine months without a competitive home game.
“I think most supporters have been down to Marley, purely because they wanted to have a look because they’d heard so much about it.
“It was good to get a couple of friendlies in at Marley but nothing gets you going like a competitive fixture and a lot derby over Christmas against Nelson.
“Hopefully we’ll get a decent crowd in, that would be fantastic for us.
“It is the end of what seems to be a very bizarre 12 months. It is just over 12 months since we had the first meeting with the council. There’s been snags in the road and we’ve hard delays with certain things but who thought we would have the covid scenario?”
Steeton go into the Nelson humdinger with a spring in their step having dispatched fancied Pilkington 3-0 on their own patch.
Luke Baldwin, Ben Wignall and James Wolfenden hit the net for Mason’s men and the Steeton boss was delighted with how side performed in the first game of the restart.
“Let’s put it that we had a good mini pre-season,” he said.
“We trained really hard and we drew 0-0 with Eccleshill, had a narrow defeat to Prestwich which I don’t know think we would have lost if we hadn’t made so many changes, and then of course a really good draw with Brighouse where we were looking organised.
“At Pilkington we changed our shape a little bit to get a bit more out of our more attacking players. We felt in the first few games of the season we made ourselves harder to beat but of course that Wiggy (Benn Wignall) playing up top was a little bit isolated. It was more really to get a few more players in and around him.
“We got the early goal and it seemed to settle us down. We were on the front-foot for the whole game and I thought we looked strong for the whole of the 90 minutes.
“As the game wore on what pleased us was our fitness levels because we looked fitter than they did. To get two second half goals was great and so was how we finished because it could have been more in the end.
“It speaks volume because Pilkington have ambitions to go further.”
The Pilkington game potentially could be their final game for sometime. With the Government believed to be preparing to roll out a further national lockdown or Tier 4 rules in more areas, hopes of playing football in January are fading.
The North West Counties is possibly the league in most danger of not finishing – although the league cannot be criticised as they always said a full campaign looked unfeasible.
Mason has been a vocal critic of the FA’s plan to pursue one – he backed the localised leagues idea – and he remains one with Tier 4 looming.
“Me and you have talked about this on numerous occasions and everyone knows my feelings on this,” he said.
“It was going to be very difficult for us to start and it has proved that way.
“I think with the news of Tier 4 in the last couple of days it is going to make it really difficult if there is another lockdown in January which everyone is anticipating.
“How are we going to be in a position to get the season finished?
“We’ve played six games and they’ve all been away so we have the advantage and position of where our home games won’t be off because of our 3G pitch.
“But for some clubs it is going to be really difficult to get games on. We’ve had another few days of rain so some games will be in doubt.
“It is going to be really tricky (to finish the season).
“When we do play we need to get as many points on the board as possible because if the FA do go points-per-points no matter how games you’ve played then we need to be in a position where we’re not struggling and not looking over our shoulder like we were last season.”
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.