It’s the end of an era at Stocksbridge Park Steels after the club announced that Allen Bethel is stepping down as Chairman a role he has served for over three decades.
Mr Bethel, 77 in September, had planned to step down at the end of the 2018/19 season but has now decided to step aside now taking in to account his age and in his own words “becoming a little forgetful,” but will stay on as the Club’s Treasurer.
“It all started in 1982 when I had about six local kids and formed Stocksbridge Juniors.
“It was then I met Michael Grimmer (Stocksbridge’s current Secretary) and things developed from there. In 1986 saw the merger of Stocksbridge Works and Oxley Park to form what is now Stocksbridge Park Steels.”
Since then Stocksbridge have moved forward under Mr Bethel’s leadership to become one of the most stable and highly respected clubs in the area with 13 squads ranging from the thriving junior section up to the semi-professional senior team competing in the Evo Stik League Division One.
And also the club can boast one of the best pitches and training facilities in the area, alongside acknowledged credibility of paying its players and creditors on time.
Mr Bethel has too many highlights during his chairmanship to mention during his tenure but says that there are some that will always stand out.
“It’s seeing players develop and go on to make a career in full-time football,” said the outgoing Chairman.
“We sold Lee Mills to Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1991/92 and Simon Marples who went on to have a successful career with Doncaster Rovers.
“But it was the arrival of a skinny lad called Jamie Vardy following his release from Sheffield Wednesday that I shall always look back upon with immense pride, and of course the rest is history. “
Taking over as Chairman is Graham Furness whom has been involved with the club for 20 years having filled various roles.
The 58-year-old is currently part of the reserve management team and has also been involved with the U18s. He is also been the clubs Development Officer and Vice-Chairman.
Mr Furness is looking forward to taking on the fresh challenges, and is hoping to build on the work done by Mr Bethel, said: “Although the club very stable, its important that we try and bring in more revenue.
“We would also like to see match attendances improve.
“Under our manager Chris Hilton the team play attractive football so I feel we need to become more proactive in the media and community to try and get people through the turnstiles to see what’s on offer at a very reasonable price, particularly with prices going through the roof to watch a professional football.”
Steels return for pre-season training on Saturday June 23 manager Chris Hilton expects to have several new signings wrapped up.