North West Counties Division One North
Steeton are settled. Marley Stadium is up and running and now it is down to Roy Mason’s side to establish themselves in the North West Counties.
Mason arguably deserves an MBE for his work at Steeton which has seen rise from the West Riding County Amateur League First Division to Step 6 over the last 15 years.
Open Five Fixtures
Nelson (a), South Liverpool (h), Golcar United (h), Bacup Borough (a), St Helens Town (h).
Out: Tim Hird (retirement)
One to Watch
The midfielder has been a popular addition since joining the Chevrons and he’s a player with potential to do well in the Non League game.
Steeton are looking forward with a positive outlook rather than looking back, according to Roy Mason.
Marley Stadium is up and running and the off-field turmoil of early 2020 is firmly behind them and Mason reckons his squad is in a much stronger state than two years ago.
“This is the first time in a couple of years where we haven’t had uncertainty off-the-pitch,” Mason told Non League Yorkshire.
“Two years ago we didn’t know where we would be playing because of (Keighley) Cougars terminating the (ground-share) agreement which was their prerogative.
“Last summer was all about getting Marley ready.
“Now we can fully concentrate on the team and for us it is full steam ahead.
“Our expectations this year are obviously to improve on last year.
“One goes up automatically and there’s four places for the play-offs so we want to be in a position where we are challenging for them.
“We’re not going to make any bold predictions because we’re not that kind of a club, but it is important that now we have the base at Marley that we start establishing ourselves here and make this place a fortress first and foremost.
“It is a new pitch and it suits the players we have got because we have smaller, faster type of players.
“For us it is also about establishing ourselves in this league and looking to progress.
“What we don’t want to be doing is scrambling around the bottom of the table like we were (during the curtailed 2019/20 season).
“We have a settled squad now which we didn’t then.
“It is over a year ago since we started recruiting for the new season because when the previous season was curtailed we were second to bottom.
“The squad then just wasn’t just good enough.
“Whereas now I think we have a decent squad.
“I wouldn’t say it is 100 times better because there’s areas we would like to improve, but certainly we have a lot more movement and more energy.”
Steeton have to wait until next Tuesday to kick off their NWCL Division One North campaign as there is an odd number of teams in the Division.
That is a trip to Nelson, the first of many exciting fixtures.
The most mouth-watering are the clashes with Golcar United, Ilkley Town and Campion and Mason agrees it is a fantastic for the local game to have four Yorkshire in the league.
“From our point of view having the likes of Ilkley, Campion and Golcar makes it a lot more competitive locally,” he said.
“When we first joined the league there wasn’t any local Yorkshire derbies. Now we have three derbies coming up.
“I think it provides a bit of excitement for us and possibly local bragging rights.
“Golcar and Campion are two teams we have known for a lot of years through coming the County Amateur League together.
“We have good relationships with Ilkley and we usually play them in pre-season.
“I think it is good for the area to have a few more teams in and around the North West Counties.”
The four Yorkshire sides are part of a league that contains Bury AFC, the club created out of the ashes of Bury FC and Mason admits the Division is tough.
“I think it is a good league,” he said.
“Everyone is going to be looking at Bury as a pay-day because they’re going to bring big crowds with them.
“There is a lot of good teams in the league.
“The new teams like South Liverpool, we don’t how strong they will be, but teams from Liverpool are usually pretty strong.
“I think it will be a wide open league.
“From the outside Bury are going to start the season as favourites, but it is a competitive league and anyone can beat anyone.”
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