The Battle for Fifth – A 2022/23 Review
Following the promotion to the top tier of amateur football the 2022/23 season will also go down as another exciting chapter in the club’s history.
The Club were vying for promotion to the National League System (or step 6 of the Non-league pyramid) being the main target. With this, improvements needed to be made off the pitch, while a top five finish was required in the league!
Aside from the first team the club now included a reserves team, its returning U21 side, a Sunday side and more than a dozen junior sides. The reserves competed two divisions below the first team and finished mid-table, despite a string of injuries, while the U21 squad (comprised of mainly the same players) improved on their first season, despite still finishing bottom.
While the first team found their feet in the County Senior League Premier Division the brand new clubhouse extension saw its foundations put down with the walls going up as quickly as the team were winning matches.
Karl Rose was lucky enough to keep the majority of his squad from the title winning season and added new blood in the likes of Alf Thompson and Luke Micklethwaite who would become vital members.
Eddie Agnew became the new club captain with former skipper Luke Exley moving to Dubai for work with Gareth McDermott taking up the vice-captaincy role.
The season started with the League Cup and it proved to be good preparation for what to expect in the league campaign. A late equaliser and then a win on penalties against North Gawber kicked off the season followed by a narrow home win against Stocksbridge PS Reserves. A comfortable 5-1 win over Kinsley Boys put the side into the quarter finals, which were played later in the season, where the side beat South Kirkby Colliery with another 5-1 win, but lost to Hepworth United 2-0 in the semi-final.
The all-important league campaign started in a fashion that would set the tone for the season. A win at title hopefuls Dodworth MW by a single Jordan Cooper goal. This was followed by a 6-1 win against Ecclesfield Red Rose at the Recreation Ground.
Away from the league, it was the first time the club was able to compete in the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Challenge Cup and progressed to the Quarter Finals. As well as being the final amateur side left in the competition at this stage, the Wellers put up a good fight at Nostell MW where they came from 2-0 down to take the lead, only to be pegged back to 3-3 late on and going out on penalties.
Defeat against Nostell MW was quickly forgotten though as Dodworth MW came to the Recreation Ground looking for revenge for the opening day. Unfortunately for them, a 1-0 score line was repeated with Connor Peace scoring his 7th goal in his first six appearances since re-joining the club.
With 13 league matches remaining the battle to reach the top five was definitely on. After a 4-1 home win over Houghton Main the club secured ground grading for step 6, with the extension housing brand new changing facilities to envy many clubs, that left the small matter of sitting in the top five before the 6th May cut off.
Matches were re-arranged so games were completed in time and a point at eventual league winners Swinton Athletic proved vital, although the season would end with a 1-0 home defeat against the same side – where a point would have guaranteed 5th spot.
Thankfully a 10-0 club record win at Ecclesfield Red Rose on the 22nd April eased most doubts with Handsworth FC Reserves needing a 17 goal swing in their final game to overtake the Wellers on goal difference, but thankfully the task was impossible.
All the club had to do then was wait…
Moments before noon on Monday 15th May 2023 the club received word that Wombwell Town were to be promoted to the Northern Counties East League Division One and celebrations of the achievement soon went up amongst the players, officials, volunteers and supporters of the club.
Step 6 was achieved after a long season.