Not only have we seen an almost complete introduction of new players at first team level we have at the U21 level had to start from a completely blank sheet in every sense.
If you have read my earlier piece, which explained why we and Clitheroe FC came to the decision in the first place, you will understand the reasoning behind why David Mason and I got involved on this journey .
We both have worked for many years at grassroots level of football. I started in 1982 in Grays, Essex coaching U15 in the Thurrock League, David claims to be younger and to have started much later than this. We both have boys ourselves who have played football since they were tiny and have continued right up to the present day. David’s eldest son Sam will represent Clitheroe U21 this season and my son Tom I hope will go on to follow the family tradition and represent his University. I mentioned in my earlier piece that we had successfully coached at Clitheroe Wolves U18 and at the end of last season 17/18 we came within a penalty of lifting the E.L.F.A. cup for the second time with many of the same players from the previous season. We then asked ourselves the question “where are these players going to play next?"
We now find ourselves building from the ground up and that is difficult at the best of times.
Having said that, both Anne Barker and Andrew Jackson have been so supportive from the outset and I cannot speak highly enough of these two dedicated people who have yet to refuse anything we have asked for. We have held our trials at Shawbridge and put together a group of players from the surrounding district and it is that we have made that a cornerstone of what we do.
We have looked for players with what we believe to be the right attitude and a willingness to listen, work hard and above all want to play for this club. We will always need to add to the squad and will look at anyone who feels they are right for this club and at this level of football.
The team will play in the Lancashire County U21 League this season and will play the likes of AFC Fylde, Bacup Borough FC and Barrow. The league is designed to be a development one and be flexible in the way it is operated.
The team can include three over aged players to allow first team managers the opportunity to try out players or give players coming back to fitness a competitive game and will have roll on roll off subs. We are under no illusions about what we have taken on and we know we will not get anywhere without support from lots of people on the journey.
We have applied and been given some funding through the FA retain the game scheme and we have received some clothing sponsorship from Menswear@Amelias wedding hire on Moor Lane, Clitheroe but again we will need more help as the season progresses.
As winter approaches and we need to play our fixtures on 3g, which as everyone knows are ridiculously expensive, we will need funding if we are to fulfil our league programme.
Training facilities, thankfully, have been provided by DACA. on their 3g pitch on Thursday evenings and that has given us continuity of training venue over the winter. So, so far so good then.
I am a teacher by trade I have a Degree in teaching and Learning, a Head of Faculty for 20 years. I have worked with young people most of my working life and football is no different than any other subject. There are those who will come to the table thinking they know everything and learn nothing. Others will come knowing there is room for improvement, listen and work hard to be the best they can be.
I hope we have chosen the latter.
Our role is not to win cups or leagues but hopefully to put Ribble Valley youngsters on to the Shawbridge pitch, because that is where I would like them to play next.
The U21s first fixture is the Friday against AFC Fylde U21s, away at Mill Farm Sports Village in Kirkham. Kick off 8:00pm.