As a Fan, Ex-player, Manager and current Vice Chairman of St. Martin’s FC I take pride whilst reflecting on the conclusion of the club’s first season in the North West Counties League Division One South, playing at level six in the Football Leagues pyramid system, the highest level in the club’s long and illustrious history’. All those associated with the club were cautiously predicting at the beginning of the season, that we would have deemed to have succeeded by maintaining a place in the League. It was with great surprise and delight therefore, that we were able to view the club’s name sitting proudly at the top of the League on the 9thOctober 2018 having accrued 25 points after playing 13 games and already having beaten some of the anticipated high flyers of the league.
Up until Christmas of 2018, St. Martins FC maintained a place in the top six of a league that included big clubs such as Rylans, Vauxhall Motors, Sandbach United, Abbey HaltonUnited, Stockport, Wythenshawe Town and FC OswestryTown. The club was more than holding its own, and were playing their most attractive football often away from home, the players appearing to relish the challenge that they hadclearly risen to.
Player number 9, Karl Bailey celebrates the goal he scoredthat took his team into a two goal lead v Bridgnorth Town in the Simi-final of the TJ Vickers Shropshire Premier Cup. Credit: Ben Cuerden
This high-flying start to the season was even more remarkable as the club had suffered some serious injuries to several players in the pre-season friendly games however this plague of injuries returned pre-Christmas, alongside several player suspensions but the club wasn’t able to respond to this dilemma as well as they had at the beginning of the seasonresulting in a difficult period where they lost more games than they won, however they rallied against all the odds and were proud of their progression to the semi-final of the ‘TJ Vickers Shropshire Premier Cup’ with impressive performances defeating Wem Town, Wellington and Shawbury in their pathway to the semi-final. They came desperately close to clinching a place in the TJ Vickers Shropshire County Premier Cup final but lost in a sudden death penalty shoot-out to AFC Bridgnorth following an extra time that they had to play with ten men after keeper George Austin left the pitch injured leaving centre forward Tom Ash as the emergency keeper, the club having used the allocated number of substitutes.
This season has been exciting and the challenge of playing at a higher level has been more than achieved as the players have excelled at times. The dip in form that we experienced was influenced massively by the loss of certain influential players though injury. In retrospect we can reflect with considerable pride upon the progress that St. Martins FC has achieved this season as we anticipate a mid-table finish in the North West Counties League in our first season playing at this level, whilst applying for the opportunity to play in the FA Cup next season and looking forward to the creation of a Under 18 Youth Team.
Personally I have been motivated by the challenges that playing in the North West Counties League has presented and delighted by the fascination of visiting new stadiums and meeting new people whilst sharing our pre-occupation with this wonderful thing that is called football.
As we approach the conclusion of season 2018-19, I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to all our fans and sponsors without who’s support the club would not be able function. The committee members and support staff have proven their worth yet again through good times and bad but I would like to thank all the players who have performed so well again this season, playing some very attractive football, against some very good teams so finally I would like to thank our Manager, Dan Stevens, who is to be commended for taking the club to this level of football.
Vice Chairman of St. Martins FC