Karl Rose is immensely proud of how he and his volunteers have established Wombwell Town as a force for good in the community.
The very successful former Frickley Athletic and Goole AFC manager stepped away from the Non League game in 2018 to form Wombwell and three years on they are flourishing on-and-off-the-field.
Promotion from Division Two of the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League followed in the first season and two attempts to reach the Premier have been stalled by the covid-19 pandemic.
Whilst the aim of taking Wombwell into the NCEL and beyond is the long-term goal, the club’s community work is the centre-piece achievement for chairman and manager Rose.
The club took over the Recreation Ground in 2018 and they have transformed a derelict site into a major community asset which welcomes ever-increasing numbers of people each week for various activities.
“It is not just down to me what we have achieved because there is a lot of volunteers who have put more hours in than me, there are blokes who go down daily,” Rose told Non League Yorkshire.
“The place had been left dormant and we have breathed new life into it. With a bit of vision and a lot of hard work we have created an exciting place for community sport in Wombwell.
“We’ve now set-up eleven junior teams which is huge for the community that we have managed to get kids playing football.
“We have managed to get a perimeter fence around it which is an achievement as it was fifty-odd grand to do that.
“We will have new changing rooms and work will be started on them in the next month so that’s more good facilities.
“The clubhouse was an absolute wreck when we took the site on and we’ve managed to turn that into a nice area where people can socialise.
“From where it was to where it is now, we have made absolutely huge strides in the last two years.
“The structure of the place is critical for me.
“It is a community sports club. It is not just about the football.
“We want to get kids and adults of all ages enjoying interaction and sport, whether that’s athletics, rugby, dance.
“Wombwell Town are driving the football and the facility forward, but with that we want full community involvement in all aspects of sport.
“We want thousands of people using the Recreation Ground each week.
“In the summer we had sports clubs down there and we had outdoor gym sessions going on and mums and toddlers flying about all over the place.
“We have a men in sheds club and I remember being sat in that room with 20 blokes over 60 and they all said ‘I’ve come down because I want to get out of the house’.
“It gives me massive pride when you look round and you’re affecting people’s lives in a positive way and you’re putting a smile on somebody’s face.
“It is emotional when you have blokes coming down and saying ‘I’ve been staring at four walls all week and I look forward to coming down here to have a coffee and to talk to someone’.
“They talk about mental health in the younger generation, but sometimes the older generation are forgotten about because they don’t speak up.”
The former Barnsley striker performed miracles with Frickley over a five-year stint at Westfield Lane. He consistently kept them in the NPL Premier Division during his four full seasons in charge despite limited resources and even delivered their highest placed finish for ten years in 2016.
He won the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup three times and also developed a reputation for identifying lower league talent and nurturing them into top NPL or National North players. Defender John Cyrus is one example of many.
There’s no doubt Rose should be managing at a higher level, but one day he might do again as he does not hide the fact he wants to return to those managerial heights with Wombwell.
“We got promoted in season one which was great and we gained promotion in season two before it got null and voided so the coronavirus has had a huge impact on us on-the-pitch,” he said.
“We certainly would be one league higher now and we want to try and progress as quick as possible.
“It is about making sure we are dragging the club forward both on-and-off-the-pitch at the same time so we are ready to go up if we get the results in the league.
“Once we get the changing rooms we will certainly have the set-up to get into the NCEL.
“If we do go into the NCEL, that comes a whole different raft of things. You almost have to rebirth your club.
“That’s when you have to start charging on the turnstiles and you have to start paying players.
“You try and get through that league and then you’re dreaming of the NPL. That’s where we were with Frickley and you look at the facilities in that league, it wouldn’t take too much (for our ground) to get up to that standard.
“That’s dream two if you like. Dream one is to get out of the County Senior and get into the NCEL.”
For now the team’s concentration is on the League Cup which kicks off tomorrow behind closed doors.
Wombwell host Denaby Main who were second in Division One and above Rose’s men when the season was aborted.
The Wombwell boss is certainly looking forward to it to the Group A clash.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to bits we can get out,” he said.
“I know it is a competition that everyone wants to win, but that probably comes secondary this time to getting out there and putting a smile on people’s faces.
“We have six games of football. Yeah, everyone will be wanting to win because they are athletes, but that’s secondary for me.
“We have come through the toughest time period since the Second World War and now it is about enjoying a game of football.
“I think a lot of people took football for granted and now they realise how much they love it and how much it means to them.
“Everyone has been in complete lockdown for three months and it is six months without kicking a ball for some so fitness is going to be key in some of the early results because of the quick start (after the restrictions).
“It will certainly be interesting to see the last ten minutes of games when lads are blowing!”
Wombwell have been talked about potential dark horses for the League Cup.
Rose isn’t getting involved in speculation about his own side’s chances and he points out that his men have a hard group with Dodworth Miners Welfare, who were top of the Premier, Oughtilbridge and Denaby the opponents.
“You look at Swinton who are heads and shoulders above everybody for the last year,” he said.
“The fitness may be a leveller, but they are a class act.
“Dodworth who are managed by Daz (Darren Young) who is a good friend of mine and they were flying before the lockdown.
“They have brought in some good lads from the league above.
“When you look at our group we’ve been drawn against first and fifth in the league above and the top of our league so it is a tough group.
“Oughtilbridge were doing well and Denaby were second in our league when it ended so it is a tough group and we would love to get through.
“For me it gives us chance for us to look at how far we have to progress and compete in the league above if we do get promoted.
“I remember going to Dodworth when we first started and getting smashed in our first game with hardly any players. We played them last summer and we’d made huge strides.
“Wombwell Main are a strong side and Penistone are always a good side as are Handsworth in our league. They have been very competitive in the last year, especially at home where they’ve had some great results.
“They have some young fit lads so they’re probably a dark horse to look out for.”
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.