HUMBLE BEGINNINGS - A 2018/19 REVIEW
In the summer of 2018 plans came together to start a new club in the town of Wombwell on the outskirts of Barnsley.
It was agreed the club would play at the Recreation Ground on Station Road where a team had played until the turn of the millennium before folding.
The new team, just like the previous one, was to be called Wombwell Town Football Club.
Former Barnsley professionals Karl Rose and Doug O’Connor were the brains behind the idea that would hopefully see a new club for the community provide quality men’s football in the English pyramid and establish various teams at junior and youth levels to bring new affordable, sustainable sport to the area.
In a matter of weeks a small group of volunteers came on board to help behind the scenes and all the little elements that make a club – including a crest, club colours and nickname – were put in place.
The side were accepted into the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League and would start life in Division Two of the amateur league.
A call for players was put out on social media and via posters around the town and local areas and trials began in July.
Just four potential players came to the opening night’s training, but the squad grew quickly before the fledgling team took to the field in their first friendly at Dodworth MW – a side who have a long history and played two divisions higher.
While the game saw a lot of positives and gave Chairman/Manager Karl Rose food for thought the result was a comprehensive win to the home side with Wombwell barely threatening the opposition goal.
More players were added before the start of the season where the newly formed Wellers would travel to another new team to the league in United Worksop.
Made up of all Polish born players the first competitive game on September 1st 2018 was played in glorious conditions which slowed the tempo of the game considerably.
Luke Exley, who later became the only player ever present for the season, missed the chance to become the club’s first goal scorer when he blazed a first half penalty over the crossbar.
With the game still goal-less with four minutes remaining it was the Wellers’ own Polish player, Greg Laszczyk, who took the ball into the box, foxed the keeper into making his move first, before passing the ball squarely to Joe Oliver.
The former Grimethorpe Sports striker made no mistake from close range and took the credit for not only scoring the first goal, but also securing the club’s first win.
Two more victories would follow with 2-1 results before the team really began to show what it could do on the pitch.
On the 18th September the club turned its attention to the Association Cup. Teams between levels 7-9 can compete and it covers clubs affiliated with the Sheffield FA.
On this particular Tuesday evening it was AFC Bentley Development from nearby Doncaster who fell victim of a stunning display from the home team.
A seven goals to one margin saw the group of teenagers comprehensively beaten with cries from their officials that Wombwell Town must have fielded ringers or must be paying players – neither was true.
The wins kept coming all the way until 5th January when a 1-1 draw at Stocksbridge Park Steels Development finally saw the club drop points.
Despite losing their next game in the League Cup against Sheffield Bankers of Division One league form kept up the pace an eight nil result against Thurcroft Miners Institute equalled their best ever results, which came against the same club in the home game back in October.
Striker Luke Norbury bagged a hat trick in both games as he soared to the top of scoring charts for club and division.
Suddenly, all the work put in over the previous six months started to unravel on and off the field.
As well as Wombwell Town playing on the pitch a local junior outfit, and a Sunday side were also sharing the pitch and it was starting to take its toll on the grass surface.
Despite the trustees of the Recreation Ground making their best efforts to reduce the usage over the winter period it became clear that matches should not be played on the pitch when a week of bad weather made it unplayable in late January.
As a result the final game Wombwell Town played at their new home that season came on 19th January, although the game was not concluded.
An altercation with roughly 20 minutes to go saw punches thrown in the heat of the moment and the match referee abandoned the game with Ardsley Athletico winning the game 1-0, and later being awarded the points in what became Wombwell Town’s only ‘defeat’ of the season.
The final four ‘home’ matches were played at three different venues, however winning results still came and points continued to tot up.
With a league title pending the club had the chance to reach its first cup final as they travelled to Denaby Main of Division One for the Semi-Final of the Association Cup.
Despite Luke Exley, now captain, giving the visitors the lead in the first half it was the battling home side which made life difficult as the game continued.
2-2 at full time and then after extra time as well the game had to be decided on penalties. Missed shots by Joe Oliver and keeper Sam Leigh denied the side a final at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground.
Plans for the club were made off the field between the committee which now comprised of 13 hardworking volunteers, but no matter what the outcome with the trustees at Recreation Ground with regards to using the pitch, the club would continue somehow, somewhere.
With worries kept behind closed doors it was time to celebrate on the pitch as a 5-2 victory at New Bohemians on 6th April saw Wombwell Town Champions of Division Two with a game to spare.
That final game never took place with Dodworth MW Reserves failing to field a team and forfeiting the points, but having dropped just seven points from 20 league fixtures it was a statement of intent by the debut club.
The inaugural End of Season Awards in May saw trophies presented to the three Luke’s (Exley, Needham and Norbury) who claimed Manager’s Player and Fan’s Player, President’s Player and Top Scorer Awards (in club and division) respectively. George Westwood picked up the coveted Player’s Player of the Season.
At that point no one knew what the next twelve months would have in store for them, but it would be one that would not be forgotten quickly!