By any yardstick, it was a fine third season in the NCEL Premier Division for Hemsworth Miners Welfare. A fourth place finish in the table, and a place in the semi-final of the NCEL League Cup represents another year of progress for the Fitzwilliam club; so, we put TBG Editor Craig Kendall on his pushbike to head for the Distant Futures Stadium and a catch up with Wells’ popular and highly-respected Manager Wayne Benn. In the course of the conversation, Wayne reflected on Hemsworth’s campaign, looks forward to next term, and had some great news for Hemsworth’s devoted supporters, writes Colin Muncie.
TBG: Wayne, were you happy with your season overall?
I genuinely have mixed feelings over our season. In one respect it’s great to have made history again in achieving the club’s highest ever position but I can’t help but feel frustrated that we didn’t sustain our promotion challenge for longer and get a bit closer to Champions Worksop, and also that we didn’t manage to finish the season with a Cup Final despite a very good performance.
That semi-final (a 2-0 loss to Worksop Town) kind of summed up our season; missed chances, individual errors and yet again being on the wrong side of a big decision cost us in that game – and in others – but it’s all part of the learning curve for our young squad and hopefully the frustration pushes us onto even greater heights next season.
TBG: Rumours have been rife that you might have been leaving…
I’m not sure where those rumours have come from, but I can’t deny that there has been a series of discussions and as a management team we have considered that the time might be right to move on. That stems from feeling we might just have taken the club as far as we can, some unavoidable things happening in and around the club that made life even more difficult than it normally is ; and just a general feeling that the club were lacking direction and for the first time not matching our ambitions for the future. After a really positive meeting last night, most of those fears have been allayed and I saw real determination from the people in attendance that they do want to continue to push the club forwards.
That’s really what we were looking for, and then the decision became very easy because myself, Chick (Andy Hayward, Assistant Manager) and Harty (Coach Andy Hart) absolutely love the bones of the club and everyone connected to it. I must thank Chick and Harty immensely; we are very much a team and any success we have is as much down to those two lads as it is to me. Their support means the world to me; we’ve been together a long time and will continue to be together for a long time to come.
TBG: Life must have been made more difficult when respected Chairman Richard Norman left the club.
It was difficult; all of a sudden, we lost leadership on the football side and the burden of what Richard did around the place fell on mine and the other Committee Members shoulders. Richard was a huge loss, but what I must say is that lots of people stepped up to the plate to fill the void and that must continue even when the Chairmanship issue gets resolved. I can’t say too much on that score, but we are pretty close to an announcement on that, which will be more good news for the club.
TBG: Promotion must be the target for next season. What do you need to change or do to achieve that?
Our aim at the start of every season is to improve and we have done that year in year out, but we got ourselves right in the mix this season and for a long period of time felt we were in the race for promotion. Obviously, we fell away a bit, but Worksop’s winning run would have probably made anything we had done differently irrelevant anyway. On the basis that we look to improve every year, yes, we hope to be in the mix for promotion, the change in how many teams win promotion opens things up, but we are under no illusion that the task gets any easier.
Even more teams will feel they have a realistic chance and it all adds up to being even more competitive. It’s a challenge we are looking forward to! For now, although I could do with a rest, there is no time. The yearly battle of keeping as many players as we can, losing as few players as we can and adding quality to an already very talented squad begins.
The Bootiful Game would like to thank Wayne and everyone at Hemsworth Miners Welfare for their fantastic contributions during the season.