The curtain falls on another thrilling Toolstation NCEL season tonight night at Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium (note that it’s a 7.30 pm kick off) when the Bootiful Game covers the NCEL League Cup Final between Liversedge and League Champions Worksop Town. No-one can deny that both sides deserve to be in the Final; Jonathan Rimmington’s men have seen off Armthorpe Welfare, Penistone Church, Hallam and Swallownest en route to the Keepmoat; but Craig Denton’s Tigers have had an equally difficult line of passage to Donny, beating Winterton, Maltby Main, Staveley Miners Welfare and Hemsworth Miners Welfare, the last three ties away from home, writes Colin Muncie.
TBG Editor Craig Kendall – just back from watching impoverished Salford City clinch a place in EFL League Two at Wembley yesterday in front of an epic eight thousand crowd – caught up with Worksop Manager Craig Denton, always a brilliant supporter of the Bootiful Game ahead of the final, and in an interview brilliantly transcribed by our own Ellie Dalglish, started by asking Craig if he wanted to end a fabulous season by going out with a bang against Liversedge.
CD: Yep! Sure do! We’ve been preparing this week. The lads were training Saturday, looking nice and sharp. We’re coming up against a good Liversedge side that are going to make it extremely difficult for us; they’ll certainly want some silverware. It’ll be a really nice, tasty game. We’ll have some fantastic support there in terms of our travelling Worksop Town supporters and hopefully we’ll be able to put a performance in where we can lift the trophy at the end of the day.
TBG: You’ve won 24 games on the bounce in all competitions. It’s going to be a walkover for you, isn’t it?
CD: No, certainly not! The pressure keeps on mounting every single game and people are probably thinking that we’re out and out favourites but that’s certainly not the case. We know Liversedge have got bags of ability. They’ll be well-organised; be a well-drilled side and they’ll be making it really difficult for us.
But we know what quality we’ve got. We know that we’ve got determination and we go into the game full of confidence. We know a game of football can change so we need to make sure we’re doing our things right: that we’re playing at our maximum and playing to our best ability. If we do that, we’ll obviously make it extremely difficult for Liversedge.
It’s going to be a fixture, a League Cup Final against two sides where it’s going to be excellent for the neutral to pop down, pay at the gate at the Keepmoat and watch two teams slug it out to win the League Cup.
TBG: You’re going to leave the Northern Counties on one massive high because you’re going to break the record for the highest attendance for sure tomorrow. The record’s only 583 and you almost reach that at a home game! It’s not far for the fans to travel either, should they want to celebrate with a trophy win in the final.
CD: Exactly and it’ll be a great occasion for our players and the Liversedge players and supporters from either side. It’s dug out and it’ll be great. It’s great for the Northern Counties. Worksop Town: we know that we’ve got a fantastic travelling support but Liversedge will have supporters, families and friends of the players etc. who’ll also come out tomorrow evening and it will be a great occasion for both sets of supporters, friends and players.
It’ll be a great end of season finale for ourselves because we’re really desperate to win the game but we know that Liversedge will be as well.
TBG: Jonathan Rimmington’s quite a livewire, especially on the touchline. How do you perceive him and do you actually get on with him?
CD: There are Managers in and around that League whom I speak to on a weekly basis. Rimmo’s not one of them, but I’ve got the utmost respect for him, for what he’s done at Liversedge and that he’s been there for quite a while. He’s a bubbly character and a character that football needs. You’ll certainly not see me getting involved in how others conduct themselves. Rimmo’s a hard-working Manager and you can see, with his longevity at Liversedge and what he’s done, he fully deserves that team getting to the League Cup Final.
For us, we just need to concentrate on ourselves. I’ll concentrate on what we’re doing in the dugout and we’ll be fully focused on what’s happening on the pitch. We’ll do whatever we can in order to win the game. Looking forward to it!
TBG: You’re about seven weeks off pre-season. Are you going to take a couple of weeks rest, or are you going to go straight into the planning and just go full on?
CD: If anybody’s been around in non-league management, coaching or even players, it doesn’t really end. We’ve already started planning for next season. If we don’t, we’ll end up falling short. Its okay people saying that we’ve still got a League Cup Final to play – and our full concentration will be on that – but we know that it’s extremely important that we get going in terms of preparations for next season. Going into the Evo-Stik we need to be prepared – for me – on the pitch.
What I can say is, next season what I want to be doing is fully concentrating on what’s happening on the pitch.Denton makes it clear he will be utilising his backroom staff.
That’s going to be my role next season. I’ve got a full-time job, yet I’ve got to fully concentrate on what’s happening on the pitch so, in terms of player recruitment, how we play… everything else will be left down to the football club. They’ll get that right but it’s all down to me for what I do on the pitch. Preparations have to be started now.
TBG: Will that be a difficult transition for you to handle, handing over some of your responsibilities, or do you think you’ve got the backroom staff to be able to live up to your high expectations?
CD: I’ve got fantastic backroom staff. I’ve got people in there – the Assistant Manager and others – who’ll be out watching games. The focus for me next season will be getting a strong changing room, getting a League focus on the task, organising our training and making sure we’re ready for those league games. Everything else, the club will – like they have done this season – continue what they’re doing. There are people in the club, who have been volunteers for quite a long time and they’ve been there and done it, so that will get left to them and I’ll just concentrate on what’s going to be going on out on the field and playing a game of football for Worksop Town.
The Bootiful Game will be at the Keepmoat for tomorrow night’s Final, but would like to thank Craig Denton and all at Worksop Town for their fantastic contributions throughout the season.