Reece Webb-Foster from Droylsden to Colne
Joseph Coveney from Colne to Droylsden
Cavan Holford from Stockport County to Droylsden
Lloyd Bannister from Darwen to Glossop North End
Kiarno Samms from Avro to Glossop North End
Kazim Waite-Jackson from Winsford United to Glossop North End
Kielen Adams from Oldham Athletic to Hyde United (loan)
Connor Hughes from Ashton United to Radcliffe (loan)
Alfons Fosu-Mensah from Llandudno to Stalybridge Celtic
Non-league Football Preview
HYDE UNITED’s first home match in a month means that at least one game should survive the seemingly unending rain that washed away so much non-league football over the previous two weekends.
The Tigers take to their 3G pitch against promotion hopefuls Lancaster City tomorrow (Saturday) with a new striking option. Manager Dave McGurk has signed Kielen Adams on loan from Oldham Athletic and will probably put him on the bench. The 18-year-old, who has also featured for Bradford City, has recently been with National League Chorley.
As would be expected after three weeks without a league match, most of Hyde’s injuries have cleared up. Long-term ankle victim Harry Benns is the only absentee.
Both clubs go into the match with patchy form. In January it looked like Lancaster might have had a chance of catching BetVictor NPL premier division leaders South Shields but failed to find consistency. A goalless draw with Nantwich last weekend was followed by a 3-1 home defeat by Whitby on Tuesday.
STALYBRIDGE CELTIC are likely to unveil a new strike force when they travel to struggling — and managerless — Grantham.
Chris Holroyd, signed from Chorley, and Alfons Fosu-Mensah (Llandudno), but perhaps better known for his time at Marine, Southport and Ashton United, are both poised to make their debuts as Simon Haworth’s men go in search of the win required to keep their fading play-off hopes alive.
Haworth has a fully-fit squad to choose from but will be without the suspended Craig Hobson who serves the first instalment of a three-game ban.
Grantham’s management team of Paul Rawden, Russell Cousins and Adam Smith, quit earlier this week. Former Hyde and Curzon midfielder Danny Racchi has been put in caretaker charge.
Liam Tomsett, who is still suspended, is the only absentee for ASHTON UNITED who are away to Whitby. Striker Nialle Rodney has moved on to Ramsbottom after less than two months at Hurst Cross.
In National League North, CURZON ASHTON head to Bootham Crescent hoping to complete the double over top of the table York. But if they do, it will be without Danny Shaw and Nicky Wroe who are unavailable.
Midfielder Kazim Waite-Jackson and right-back Lloyd Bannister go straight into the GLOSSOP NORTH END squad for the BetVictor NPL first division south-east clash with Frickley at Surrey Street.
Waite-Jackson, who has spent time at Alsager and 1874 Northwich, comes in on dual-registration from Winsford. Bannister joins from Darwen. He also enjoyed a short spell at Patro Eisden in Belgium.
Scott Kay and Jack O’Leary are both available after suspension and illness but Bevan Burey and Will Hartshorne are injured and could be out for at least two weeks.
Midfielder Papis Touray is unlikely to play again until the autumn after a heavy challenge at Loughborough left him with a dislocated knee last week.
There’s no let-up in terms of injuries for DROYLSDEN, who are away to Marine in the first division north west. Keano Deacon, Jamie Frost, Kane Hickman and Shaq Clarke are all ruled out.
Dieter Downey has recovered from illness and is able to play for MOSSLEY at Pontefract Collieries. Goalkeeper Theo Roberts is back in training and nearing a return but Jes Uchegbulam is unavailable.
IF you’ve ever been inside the Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza you’ll know what an anti-climax it is.
You enter a wonder of the ancient world expecting to see something spectacular. But after making hot, slow progress down long, claustrophobic tunnels, you end up in a sterile chamber, not unlike an empty garage.
Recently, I’ve found myself wondering if the non-league football pyramid isn’t the same. We all set out with such high hopes in 1982, but where has the journey taken us? A select few clubs may have prospered, but others have been destroyed. Most, I suspect, have just ended up in that sterile chamber.
Is it time for a rethink? Might semi-professional clubs have a better chance of survival if they played in a competition that was more local to them rather than dreaming the impossible dream of Football League or National League membership?
Could there be an argument for going back to self-contained structures like the old Cheshire League and Lancashire Combination? Do supporters genuinely want a club that’s bleeding itself white to compete at the highest — and most expensive — level? Or would they prefer to see a successful team in familiar surroundings?
The pyramid came into existence because the Football League was a closed shop. The only way in was to be elected, and in general turkeys didn’t vote for Christmas. Whether they won the Southern League, the Northern Premier or even the Alliance, ambitious non-league clubs regularly found the door slammed in their face. Wigan Athletic got so frustrated that they applied to join the Scottish League in 1972.
But that was almost half a century ago. Football is a very different game nowadays and the National League is much tougher than it was even in the 1990s, when Stalybridge survived for six seasons. Unless a club has the backing of some generous millionaires it’s hard to see how it could survive, let alone be competitive, at the highest levels.
There’s a lot of evidence to show that unless you’re wealthy, the Conference sucks the life out of you. The road down from Everest is littered with the corpses of “normal” non-league outfits that couldn’t afford to compete. Even Droylsden chairman Dave Pace, who was well-known for his free-spending ways, admitted defeat during the Bloods’ one season in the National League in 2007-08. And of course relegation brings no parachute payments.
Hyde United, Stalybridge Celtic, Witton Albion, Leek Town, Farsley Celtic — the list goes on. Chorley may be going through the traumas a second time. All these clubs paid a heavy price for chancing their arm in the top tier of semi-professional football. Was it worth it? Was it even enjoyable? Crowd sizes suggest the fans weren’t exactly motivated by the thought of watching Conference football once the initial thrill of promotion quickly wore off.
Ever since I started reporting on non-league football in 1980, one of the complaints I’ve heard most often has been about the high cost of travel. Something like 20 years ago I recall Radcliffe manager Kevin Glendon telling the old Pink how much his club was struggling and calling for a north west league with realistic distances between members.
Yet whenever league structures are changed it inevitably results in more travelling. The NPL expanded in 1986. The Conference followed suit in 2004. Initially, clubs tend to dismiss new divisions as far too expensive, then crumble and the follow the herd. North Ferriby originally said National League North was beyond them as a village club, then went on to join it. They won promotion to the national division in 2016, were relegated in 2017, and went bump in 2019.
Current membership of National League North stretches from Blyth in the north to Brackley in the south, and Hereford in the west to Kings Lynn in the east. When Hyde United played at Lowestoft a few years ago they left at 8am and didn’t get back till about 1am the following day.
There will always be “ambitious” clubs that gamble on success. There will always be rich people who are willing to bankroll a club. But as a rule they eventually get fed up of throwing their money down a black hole.
Anyone remember Gretna who left the NPL to join the Scottish League in 2002? With the backing of Brooks Mileson they went right up to the Scottish Premier League and played in the 2006 Scottish Cup final. Two years later they went bust and the successor club is now in the East of Scotland League.
Most semi-professional outfits don’t get big crowds (the six Tameside clubs draw a combined attendance of less than 2,000 from a borough population of almost 250,000). Travel is a nightmare and it’s hard to bring in money. The vast majority of sides walk a financial tightrope.
Is this what we really want? Has the time come to take a bite of the reality sandwich and restructure the non-league game in a more prudent way? Or is the thought of distant if improbable glory what attracts us?
Harvey Macadam from Nelson to Ashton United
Alex O'Neill from Accrington Stanley to Droylsden (youth loan)
Paul Phillips from Buxton to Matlock Town
Aleksandrs Starcenko from Guiseley to Pontefract Collieries (youth loan)
Louis White from Hyde United to Radcliffe
Christopher Holroyd from Chorley to Stalybridge Celtic
Non-league Football Preview
THE weather looks like being the only winner this weekend. The much-anticipated Friday night derby between ASHTON UNITED and HYDE UNITED was called off this afternoon, the Stalybridge game is in severe doubt and Droylsden and Curzon have arranged 9am pitch inspections tomorrow (Saturday).
Had the BetVictor NPL premier division match been played, the suspended Liam Tomsett would have been the only absentee for the Robins who signed young midfielder Harvey Macadam from NWCL first division north club Nelson on Wednesday.
The Tigers would have also been at virtual full strength with Harry Benns the only injury. Goalkeeper James Hodges has resumed training.
Advance tickets will be valid for the rearranged fixture whenever it takes place.
Deluges permitting, STALYBRIDGE CELTIC will have everyone available for their home clash with Witton Albion. They are hoping to build on last week’s impressive display at Gainsborough which was their first victory of 2020 and ended a run of eight games without a win.
In National League North, victory over Gloucester City at the Tameside Stadium would be a huge boost to CURZON ASHTON’s hopes of climbing away from the relegation places. Both clubs have 19 points, but although the Nash, in 19th place, have a better goal difference they have played two games more.
If the match goes ahead, Curzon will be without Danny Shaw, Nicky Wroe and James Baillie. Manager Mark Bradshaw is negotiating to make a signing overnight.
Gary Gee returns for MOSSLEY who travel to Clitheroe in the BetVictor NPL first division north west. Dieter Downey is ill and unable to play. Goalkeeper Theo Roberts has had the plaster removed from his broken wrist and is ready to start training.
The tale of woe continues for DROYLSDEN who have conceded 14 goals in their last three games.
Injuries mean they may have to entertain Runcorn Linnets without Keano Deacon, Jamie Frost, Kane Hickman and Shaq Clarke. Andy Langford has left the club by mutual consent and Tom Moore has moved to Inverness.
Midfielder Jackson Hulme has joined the Bloods from Kendal with striker Alex O’Neill coming in on loan from Accrington.
Scott Kay, who has one game left of his three-match ban, is the only absentee for GLOSSOP NORTH END who travel to Loughborough Town in the first division south east. Stalybridge defender Jack O’Leary has extended his stay at Surrey Street.
Jamal Crawford from Curzon Ashton to Atherton Collieries
Stephen Rigby from Ashton United to City of Liverpool
Jackson Hulme from Kendal Town to Droylsden
Mamudu Touray Touray from Rochdale to Glossop North End
Ross Killock from Stalybridge Celtic to Ramsbottom United
Luke Porritt from Hyde United to Scarborough Athletic
Non-league Football Preview
THERE’S been no shortage of applications for the vacant managerial job at MOSSLEY but the club are in no hurry to fill the post.
It could be two weeks before a shortlist is compiled and interviews will follow.
Vice-chairman Callum Irving says the board are taking their time as they want to make sure they find the right person rather than making an appointment for the sake of it.
He explained: “We’ve had the top end of 30 applications and had a board meeting yesterday (Thursday) to sift through them. Now I’m going to get back to the people who’ve been in touch to update them.
“We’re not going to rush. We’re comfortable with Andy Keogh in temporary charge and we’re going to take our time. We want to do this right and not just appoint someone because they’re available. But that doesn’t mean we’re sitting on our hands.”
No clues are being given as to who the applicants might be. Speculation has surrounded John Flanagan and Steve Halford, and this week there has been talk about former central defender Adam Jones who is in charge at Stockport Town. However, Mossley are revealing nothing.
Mr Irving said: “There’s a real spectrum. Some applicants have a strong pedigree and their names are well known in non-league. Some are up-and-coming, and there are people working in other areas of the game who want to coach.
“It’s a really interesting group and it’s making the process that bit harder. But because we’re not rushing we’ve got time to go through the applications properly.”
Tomorrow (Saturday) — Storm Dennis permitting — the Lilywhites visit Workington. Although the Cumbrian side are second in the BetVictor NPL first division north west, Mossley should be in confident mood. They are unbeaten in their last five games having kept clean sheets in three.
Midfielder Gary Gee misses the long journey because of a back injury, but defender Jack Grundy’s loan from Oldham Athletic has been extended for a further month. Keeper Theo Roberts is still recovering from a broken bone in his hand.
Central defender Keil O’Brien has returned to Trafford having completed his loan spell.
At DROYLSDEN, manager Dave Pace must be wondering what he did to deserve his appalling luck with injuries as he struggles to put memories of last week’s 7-0 home defeat by Marine behind him.
Kane Hickman, Andrew Langford, Jamie Frost and Keano Deacon are all definitely unavailable for the visit to Pontefract. Danny Wilkins is ill and Adam Rooney faces a fitness test. It’s also believed some players have requested their release.
Left-back Sam OIiver, a work-experience signing from Sheffield Wednesday, should feature again.
Bakari Moussa and Jeremy Seosolo come back into the reckon for GLOSSOP NORTH END’s home encounter with Kidsgrove in the first division south east having recovered from illness and injury Scott Kay serves the final instalment of his three-match ban.
In the premier division, ASHTON UNITED will be looking to move further away from the bottom three when they face sixth-placed Warrington at Hurst Cross.
Liam Tomsett remains suspended. There could be a signing later tonight or tomorrow morning. A pitch inspection has been arranged for 10.30am.
Lloyd Allinson should take over in goal for HYDE UNITED at Morpeth after missing the midweek Integro Cup win at Widnes with strained ligaments. Fellow keeper James Hodges is nearing fitness after a long lay-off.
Unfortunately, midfielder Harry Benns has suffered a setback in his bid to shake off an ankle injury.
STALYBRIDGE CELTIC, who have yet to taste victory in eight games in 2020, will rack up their longest run without a win in five years if they fail to beat Gainsborough Trinity.
Manager Simon Haworth at least has an injury-free squad for the journey to Lincolnshire.
In National League North, CURZON ASHTON will face Telford United if the New Bucks Head pitch passes an inspection tomorrow morning.
Isaac Sinclair and Tunde Bayode will both be back in the squad. Former Hyde United wide man Jamal Crawford has gone to Atherton Collieries on a dual registration.