Money, managers and moans... what can does 2015 hold for local football?

Stocksbridge's star striker Lee Garside
Stocksbridge's star striker Lee Garside
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As I predicted last Christmas 2014 was always going to be a difficult year for our clubs and sadly that is how it turned out.

Finances was the main cause for concern by all our clubs and in turn the shortage of cash hit home, with players leaving their clubs for more money - which, in turn, hit our clubs’ fortunes.

One was relegated for the first time in its history, while another dropped down two divisions in the pyramid due to cashflow problems. But saddest of all was the news that Dinnington Town folded as a club after years of turmoil, and our sympathy lies with Steve Toyne who worked so hard to keep his club afloat.

Sadly it proved beyond all doubt that the loyalty of yesteryear, between clubs, managers and players, is completely non-existent in today’s game and four or five clubs are chasing promotion with huge wage bills, that some can hardly afford, whilst the rest are just making up the numbers.

It is spoiling our game but there is little, if anything, that we can do about it. Our players’ disciplinary records get worse, too, and that in turn is killing off the supply of referees. I know I paint a bleak picture but we must face up to facts,, or our game as we know it will surely die.

On the playing front, the Sheffield and Hallamshire Senior Cup was a big success at Hillsborough, where Athersley Recreation won the trophy for the first time in their history after beating favorites Frickley Athletic 1-0.

In the Evo-Stik League Premier Division, it was sad to see Stocksbridge Park relegated for the first time in their history to Division One South, where Sheffield FC were lucky to finish in mid-table.

In the Toolstation NCEL a lot was expected of Handsworth Parramore but they only finished in fourth place whilst our other three teams all finished in the bottom nine.

In Division One it was a similar story with two of our clubs finishing in the bottom five - although to their credit, Worsbrough Bridge went all season without losing a home game and they do not pay out a penny in wages.

Because of the clubs’ finances making for poor results, our managers have had a tough season - with six of our eight managers being shown the door.

Chris Hilton moved up from Worsbrough Bridge to Stocksbridge Park, where the shortage of money is seeing Chris struggle to get going.

The County Senior League boosted the grass roots level by becoming one of the first leagues in the country to boast a solely Under 21s League, playing exclusively on Saturdays.

Even at this level, though, money is a major factor. Park football on Saturdays and Sundays is dying, and much of it is due to the players’ apathy for our game.

Behaviour of players and managers, at all levels of our game, is another major source of concern for the Sheffield and Hallamshire CFA and again they have lost referees this season due to that fact that their enjoyment of the game is being quickly ebbed away by thugs and hooligans.

Once again from the fans and players point of view, the weather was really contrasting. The talk early in the year was that our leagues may finish early, but a combination of rain, wind and cup fixture congestion has left many in a state of shock, asking: will we complete our season now?

It is now that time of the season I believe to take time to sit back and remember our friends who have served football so well for many years, but are no longer with us. A great friend of mine - Maurice Matthews, the president of Sheffield and Hallamshire CFA - lost his wife Maureen who was one of the great ladies of football and she will be sadly missed by everyone within the game.

Looking forward to the new year, 2015 is indeed a big worry and like this year my main concern surrounds finances. Our clubs simply do not have the resources to compete with four or five clubs that each division have.

I predict at least two local managers will have left their post, but youth football will continue to prosper. It is not all bleak; we will continue with a smile on our faces and, after all, that is what non-league football is all about. Happy new year!