After 14 years as manager, groundsman, chief cook and bottle washer, Steve Toyne just couldn’t carry on at Dinnington Town.
He and others at the club took the decision to call it a day, after the financial and logistical burden became too great.
The club ceased to operate after finishing 18th in the NCEL Division One table, following Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at home to Knaresborough.
Toyne told the Guardian that recent vandalism at the Phoenix Park ground helped make up his mind.
“It became aparent a month ago that we’d had our last chance to get funds in, and if it hadn’t been for Royal Elephant, The Venus and Tradebe coming through with their sponsorship money we wouldn’t have finished the season,” he said.
“It was a very traumatic decision to make, after 14 years and building the ground, but the cost both financial and physical has been huge.”
“There are thousands of receipts that won’t get paid, and I can’t lose my house.”
“The latest lot of vandalism was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s a sad day.”
Toyne was always open about the fact that Dinnington didn’t have the funds to pay players, and would spend long hours on the phone convincing players to pull on the black and yellow jerseys.
This season’s crop of players were shocked and upset by the news that the club was to fold, none more so than stalwarts Andy Sykes and Liam Cartledge, who had played 457 and 456 games for Dinnington respectively – the latter adding 279 goals.
Toyne, who was never short of a tongue in cheek quip about the duo, paid tribute to their loyalty.
“They were people you knew would be there every Saturday afternoon,” he said.
“They were with us through thick and thin.”
“Sykesy was the best captain and best bloke you could meet. And Liam was a legend in his own lunchtime.”
With no money on offer, not everyone could offer the same commitment.
Toyne revealed: “When a lot of people realised we didn’t pay players it became difficult to hang on to them, because clubs started offering expenses and wages, and appealing to their wallets.”
“For a recent game we had 16 players who couldn’t play – that meant hours on the phone to get a team together.”
In their 14 years Dinnington Town made quite an impression on the non league scene, including a fantastic run in the 2007/08 FA Cup.
Town hosted the tournament’s first fixture that year, in front of Sky television cameras, beating local rivals Maltby before going on to reach the third qualifying round.
Toyne counts it in his highlights: “Winning leagues and cups were highlights obviously,” he said.
“The great cup run we went on when we beat three UniBond League teams away from home was tremendous.”
“And four years ago when we won the NCEL League Cup 5-2.”
While the Dinnington story has come to an end, Toyne this week began a new chapter in his, taking over at Hallam with Mark Ramsden.
“I can see the floodlights from my house.”
“I’m looking forward to it, I can manage without having to repair the tractor, cut the grass, arrange all the transport.”
“It will be nice to have a break after the last few weeks, it’s been mayhem.”