Hemsworth Miners Welfare secured a fine fourth place in the Toolstation NCEL Premier Division after their 1-0 win over eighth-placed Handsworth Parramore at the Distant Futures Stadium yesterday afternoon, their best finishing position since their promotion at the end of the 2015/6 season. An 83rd minute penalty from Jason Yates sealed the win in front of the crowd of 83; but despite the three points and the fourth place, it wasn’t ninety minutes which will live long in the memory of Wells Manager Wayne Benn, writes Colin Muncie.
“I’m just happy to win today and secure a fourth-place finish,” Wayne told the Bootiful Game, “but I have to be honest and say that it was an awful game and awful performance from us. I’m tired of talking about our pitch, but it’s killing us and it’s making for really poor-quality games. In fairness to the guys behind the scenes they recognise that I have every faith that it will be back to one of the best pitches in the League next season.
“We seemed flat today; whether that was because Tuesday night took a lot out of them or people subconsciously were saving a bit for Tuesday I don’t know; but we were really poor. As I said it was difficult for either team to play good football; it was a poor-quality game and it looked for long periods like it would be 0-0 with neither ‘keeper tested but one half decent bit of play led to the penalty that got us the win.”
Despite the lofty League position, Wayne looks back on the League campaign believing that it was perhaps an opportunity missed. “In terms of the season I’ve got mixed emotions,” he admitted. “I genuinely don’t think on our budget that we can put together a better squad and genuinely I feel like we should have done better and finished closer to Worksop. I believe that we are the best footballing side in the Division, but we have lacked consistency and ultimately that is why we have finished fourth. We have improved and again made history for our club and we still have an opportunity of winning silverware but my over-riding feeling is one of disappointment. I still feel we could and should have done better; but I’m proud of all the players and my management team. They are a great group and are a pleasure to work alongside.”
Hemsworth host the League Champions in the semi-final of the NCEL League Cup in midweek, and Wayne is fulsome in his praise for Craig Denton’s Tigers. “We know we face a very difficult game on Tuesday against champions Worksop but it’s a game we are definitely capable of winning,” Wayne insisted.
“I would like to congratulate Worksop on winning the League; 20 straight wins is an unbelievable effort; they deserve every credit and are worthy winners. It’s our job to try and stop them winning the double and I just hope my players turn up on Tuesday as in the last encounter between the two teams we didn’t perform at all – and were rightly beaten.
“It would be brilliant to reward our magnificent fans with a night out at the Keepmoat (venue for the Final), but we need an almost flawless performance to get there, ” Wayne warned.
“I’m sure the Worksop fans will be out in force and I just hope the whole of Fitzwilliam and surrounding areas turn out to support our lads and make it a brilliant atmosphere.”
Handsworth Manager Steve Istead offered a similar summary of the ninety minutes before reflecting on his first season in management at Sandy Lane. “The game was a scrappy affair,” he admitted. “The pitch didn’t help either team and the wind ruined it really. The lads put in a good shift; but we were just unlucky to concede a penalty late on really.”
Steve’s assessment of his own side’s season was remarkably similar to Wayne Benn’s. “It’s been a disappointing season, really frustrating for me injury-wise to miss so much of the season, then to get a new lease of life managing was good for me,” he told us.
“But if I’m honest we know as a squad we should be finishing a lot higher in the League. We were inconsistent from the first game onwards, picking up a few good results followed by a couple of bad ones, and that was the theme of the season really. It wasn’t all bad though – we had some great times along the way. I’m not sure what the future holds for myself; I will sit down and have a chat with John Ward and Steve Holmes next week and go from there. Two great blokes and Handsworth through and through!”
“I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank all the lads who I played with and played for me this year,” Steve went on. “To John Froggatt for our time together managing; to all the amazing volunteers at a truly cracking club; Steve, John and Dave for all they do, and to Pete Whitehead, a real top bloke.”
To finish, Steve had kind words for editor Craig Kendall. “Keep up the good work at TBG, Craig,” he said. “An amazing amount of work you guys put in and it’s a great tool for Managers in the Non-League and a great site for the supporters out there. Thank you.”