Back to Business – A 2021/22 Review
Brand new Junior teams. A new Under 19 squad. A new Under 21 squad. A recovering First Team following the disruption from the Covid-19 Pandemic and big plans for the Club meant Wombwell Town were back to business from the summer of 2022.
The majority of the squad from the previous season returned with a few first team additions, including Eddie Agnew who played for the Wellers in their first two seasons and highly rated striker Matthew Thornton, who was tipped to score goals.
Young manager Jack Butterley joined the club as U21 manager while an older head in Kev Moreton joined late in pre-season with his U19 squad. 12 new junior sides were also set up to give youngsters the chance to play under the Wombwell Town banner.
The first team were hoping for the season to be a completed one for the first time since their opening season back in 18/19 with promotion the first target after denied promotion due to the pandemic.
The start of the season gave the team surprise after surprise. While an opening day draw at Kiveton Park wasn’t a surprise an abandoned opening home game against rivals Denaby Main due to floodlight failure was and this was followed by another home abandonment when a Caribbean Sports player badly broke his ankle just seven days later.
In-between the two abandoned league games a cup tie against Central Midland League Premier Division Club Phoenix AFC proved tricky with manager Karl Rose forced to play 85 minutes of the game due to a lack of players.
With reinforcements required Brad Kerr was a welcome re-signing as an injury to Matthew Thornton forced him onto the side lines. Arguably the biggest surprise came when the Club announced that Denaby Main manager Dean Cooper was joining the Wellers, along with sons, midfielder Brodie and striker Jordan. Defenders James Copley and Declan Cocking also joined in a quadruple swoop from Dean Cooper’s old team.
It caused quite a stir, but had the required effect at Wombwell Town as they beat fellow promotion rivals Handsworth FC Reserves in their first game with the club.
For the first team only one side beat them in the league with South Kirkby Colliery taking victories in both games. Winning at the Recreation Ground following a deflected goal from 30 yards, and keeping a clean sheet in the reverse fixture in February with the keeper making a dozen or more saves. A penalty miss by Thornton proving costly just before half time.
It was to be the last appearance for Thornton who decided to move to Central Midland Mid-Table side Dearne & District after making just ten appearances for the Wellers. Coach Sam Leigh also left the club shortly after to concentrate on life away from football.
The second league defeat was a turning point for the team, who found new grit and determination and the final eleven games of the season proved to be some of the most exciting in the club’s short history.
A massive 8-1 win at Wombwell Main Reserves raised morale to an all-time high and with matches running out back-to-back wins over fellow top four sides Handsworth FC Reserves and Denaby Main guaranteed promotion by the end of April.
With target one achieved the team had three matches remaining to lift the league title. 6-0 and 4-0 victories over South Elmsall United Services and Sheffield Union meant a draw on the final day at Sheffield Medics would be enough.
Trophy taken and hidden from view, fans witnessed an emphatic victory to win the league as a 7-0 score line, and a run of 11 straight victories complete, ended the season in style.
Despite a poor league and cup season for the U21 side, several of the team made appearances in the senior side, but it was the U19 who fared better out of the development sides. Finishing second in their division, the U19s won the group stage of their league cup and progressed to the Semi-Final, finally falling to U21 side Millmoor Juniors.
With the football finished for another season there was great sadness when, on the 8th June, U19 coach and respected gentleman and friend Steve Thawley lost his 18-month battle with cancer.
The end of season presentation saw a large crowd celebrate Steve, and the Club’s achievements over the previous twelve months. Luke Exley, Club Captain since 2018, also announced he was leaving the club after accepting a job abroad.
A league title and promotion for the first team secured. Progression off the pitch is moving forward with the start of the build to the new clubhouse extension after more than a year of planning and fund building. Further plans have also been put into place and after some turbulent years at the start of their history – Wombwell Town are finally settling into the Club they want to be.