NCEL Division One side Parkgate have really struggled over the past couple of seasons, and in May saw The Steelmen drop down to the NCEL second tier – for the first time in ten years.
Since the start of the season, Parkgate struggled in the League, and ultimately saw Billy Fox depart six weeks ago. The Steelmen were quick to appoint new manager Andy Dawson, Assistant Manager Lee Whitehead and Player-Coach Ben Starosta.
New Parkgate manager Andy feels they are making good progress already, “5 weeks into the job we are seeing a much clearer picture to when we first took over. I don’t like to mention previous regimes as I feel that unless you was part of it and involved in it you don’t know the full story, all I can say is that the morale of the squad when myself, Lee and Ben came in was rock bottom and the atmosphere was nothing we had experienced before.
Reflecting on their first week in the role Andy was unsure what to expect, “We held a training session in our first midweek to see what we had within the squad and learnt a lot from that first session. We made a couple of additions to the squad for the visit of Glasshougton but in all honestly we wasn’t sure from one training session what was our best 11. We ultimately lost that game 2-1 and had a man sent off 15 minutes into the second half.
“We had a very strong training session the midweek after and since then we have won five games on the bounce, a feat which I believe is a great achievement at any level of football but even more pleasing is the fact we now sit on 13 points from 11 games compared to 1 point from 7 games when we came in.
“The whole squad have pulled together and the first thing we looked at changing was the mentality within the dressing room. Creating a good atmosphere within the group we believe is vital to success on the pitch. The other pleasing aspect is that 10 of the 16 lads in the squad who featured against Rossington last weekend are lads who was already at the club when we took over.
“This proves you don’t have to spend big to succeed as suggested by some people at this level and on that point some of the rumours about our budget have given us quite a few laughs and if the figures branded around were remotely true we would be disappointed if we dropped a single point til the end of the current season!
“We have given the existing players the opportunity to progress with us and in the main they have taken that chance and with the addition of a few new faces we see a much brighter atmosphere and future going forward. We are seeing smiles back on the faces of the fans and volunteers who follow the club through thick and thin and that shows we are doing something right.
“Also I’d like to mention the support we have been given since we arrived from club Chairman Albert Dudill and Secretary Bruce Bickerdike has been outstanding and long may the successful start to the new era continue.”
All photographs by Toby Wildgoose.