As I’ve touched on before, this blog was never meant to be a permanent thing. It only started by accident, as my technophobia got the better of me, and my own site was born – more through luck than management – into what you’re reading today. Due to popular demand ( thanks Ian ) it’s back for one last appearance of the 15/16 season ( to use a football analogy ! )
So what’s happened since my last piece ? well, we’ve only got PROMOTION ! The “We” in question is North Ferriby United. Promoted to the National League for the first time in the clubs history, thanks to a victory over Fylde in the Play Off Final. In truth the game itself was far from a classic, it was certainly a case of the result being more important than the performance. I think the over-riding factor was the previous weeks exertions against Boston. Mentally and physically the players were shattered, and this seemed to apply to the crowd too. Although only a couple of hundred down on the Boston attendance, it was a quiet and nervous crowd that awaited the players. The talk pre match amongst the people I spoke to was one of confidence, presumably from our two victories over them during the course of the season. That was shattered early on as Fylde took the lead, but apart from that early setback they rarely troubled the host’s goal. Goals from Wayne Brooksby and Danny Hone sealed the victory, which in all fairness was deserved, both on the day and over the course of the season. Cue pitch invasion, trophy presentation, and more champagne sprayed than on a Formula 1 podium. It must be said, all richly deserved. I can genuinely count on one hand the number of poor performances put in by the players all season, and every time one did happen, they regrouped and won the following week. Much of the credit for this must go to manager Billy Heath. His tactics may sometimes have been questioned, even the odd selection, but to get that level of performance from a squad of 19 players shows excellent man management, and an understanding of his players needs and welfare, a vital contribution at this level.
Which brings us nicely to the here and now. Less than a fortnight after that momentous day, much has changed, and yet nothing has changed ( pardon the contradiction ). Let me explain. At the back end of last season, just weeks after winning the FA Trophy, the club was put up for sale. However, by the start of the 15/16 season, an about turn saw the owners agree to carry on, but the playing budget was reduced by 25%. Despite all the turmoil, the team won promotion 12 months later. As touched on above, with much credit to Billy Heath and the dedication of the players. And now here we are today, no better off financially, but a level higher in the football pyramid. Should Ferriby fans be worried ? Look up “batting above their average” in the dictionary and you’ll see a picture of North Ferriby United. A club with a hardcore support of around 300, operating a part-time squad in a division containing roughly 12 full-time or former Football League clubs. Add to this equation the geography of the National League, and you’ll see that trips down South will become the norm, rather than the occasional trip to say, Lowestoft. Another loss will be that of Billy Heath ( and assistant Mark Carroll ) to Halifax. A strange decision by the manager, to take a step back to National North, all be it with a bigger club. Perhaps another sign that all isn’t quite right behind the scenes at Church Road. Against all this is the question of the ownership. Rumours abound that the club is once again up for sale. It’s perhaps not official, but I get the feeling it wouldn’t take much of an offer for the current owners, the Forster’s, to step aside. Much was made of how much they ploughed into the club this season, and I can only imagine it will have to increase considerably for next year. Whether that is in their plans or their budget remains to be seen.
An overwhelming sense of Deja Vu has engulfed the Church Road faithful. Success followed by immediate uncertainty. It’ll be an interesting Summer in East Yorkshire. New manager, new players, perhaps even new owners. One thing will stay the same though, little North Ferriby United batting above their average, once again.