On the 26th March 2020 the football association decided that all leagues below The National League North and South be declared null and void. Now it is obvious that this will hugely impact clubs financially as inevitable relegations and promotions are suddenly no more, but what about clubs much further down the league system? We take a look at this situation through the eyes of Sheffield and District Fair play League team Thurgoland Welfare.
The club was established in 2017 by manager Lee Revitt and his assistant Tom Jowitt with a view to playing in the Sheffield and District Fair play league. The club was formed with a vision to be playing at County Senrious level as soon as they could. In their maiden season Welfare stormed to the league title winning all 18 games and scoring over 100 goals, a tremendous start which fully validated Revitt and Jowitt’s decision to form the club.
The following season proved just as successful with another league championship, this time the division 3 title. This was achieved with an impressive 19 wins and just the one defeat. Thurgoland proved themselves to be worthy opponents in the cup competitions too that season with a league cup semi-final appearance and an appearance in the junior cup final, narrowly defeated by HSBC (AET) at the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster.
Onto this season and the good form from the talented group continues. Thurgoland are top of the league in division 2, conceding just 22 goals all season. They are 3 points from their nearest rivals but do have three games in hand. There are just six games left to play for Thurgoland and 3 wins will mean a third successive promotion in that many years. Such success showing that the clubs ambition to make it to the Sheffield and Hallamshire County Senior League is more than achievable.
Then March the 26th came and Thurgoland’s hard work for the season was determined to be ‘null and void’ by the Football Association. Whilst the club admit that they are not affected financially in the same way that non-league clubs further up the pyramid are, they still share the same frustrations about this decision. When you enjoy the success that Thurgoland have over the last few years it is inevitable that players leave to play at a higher level, Thurgoland have managed to rebuild their team each year despite this and remain successful. However having a potential promotion delayed by another year means another rebuilding job is likely for Welfare, as they may need to plan for life in division 2 rather than division 1. It is a bitter pill to swallow, especially as the club only had 6 games of their regular season to play, and at their current level it wouldn’t take a huge amount of work to get these games on when normality returns to society. This decision also feels unfair when professional leagues across the country are insistent upon finishing their own season when the opportunity arises, with FIFA providing special permissions for this to happen.
In further updates on the cancellation of the season, Over 150 non-league clubs have signed a letter to the FA expressing the decision to cancel the league as ‘hasty and needless’ . This petition has caused the cancellation of an FA meeting which was due to take place on Monday 6th April in which they were to ratify the decision to cancel the leagues. Just like everything else right now, it seems nothing is certain, so could Thurgoland be celebrating promotion to division 1 this year or the next? All remains to be seen …
More Information on Thurgoland Welfare can be found on their twitter and facebook accounts:
Facebook - https://t.co/S3P1wKR522?amp=1
Twitter - https://twitter.com/TWFC8