Stocksbridge Park Steels have suffered the first relegation in their 28-year history.
Their fate was confirmed with seven games still to play when their former player Shelton Payne hit all three goals in Trafford’s 3-1 win at Bracken Moor last weekend.
The club have only known success since being formed in 1986 following a merger of Stocksbridge Works FC and Oxley Park Sports Club .
They started out in the old NCEL Division Two where they finished seventh in the first season.
They gained promotion to the Premier Division at the end of the 1991/92 campaign at the first attempt following restructuring that saw the NCE switch to two larger divisions, in what was the start of a successful period under Mick Horne and Trevor Gough.
Promotion was gained to the then UniBond League at the end of the 1995/96 season when they finished runners-up behind Hatfield Main having being denied promotion two seasons earlier after winning the NCE Premier Division title due to ground grading.
Under Gary Marrow Stocksbridge won promotion to the now Evo-Stik Premier Division in 2008/09 via the play-offs but after flirting with relegation for the past three seasons now find themselves back in Division One.
Manager Darren Schofield has taken some responsibly for Steels’ plight: “If the players we have brought in haven’t been good enough then I hold my hands up to that,” he said.
But the Steels boss, who took over from Chris Willcock 18 months ago and guided the club to safety last term, would like to be given the opportunity of trying to guide Stocksbridge back to the top flight.
The club however, have remained tight-lipped over the manager’s position other than to say no decision will be taken until the end of the season.
Stocksbridge will be keen to hold onto leading scorer Nathan Joynes who signed a new contract in December until the end of the season with Steels having the option of a further year.
Jamie Smith, who scored in the defeat against Trafford on what was his belated debut due to work commitments, put in an excellent shift and could be someone to lead the attack should Jones leave in the summer.