BLOG: Lack of Blades and Owls in pre-season is reason number 328 why Worksop Town need their own ground
The benefits of owning the football ground you play on are seemingly endless.
And the Worksop Town pre-season fixture list shows yet another reason why the world’s fourth oldest club need a place of their own.
It’s not actually a bad schedule, there are a number of games that will stand them in good stead for the 2015/16 season.
Games against local clubs from other divisions, clubs who will be playing at a similar level, will provide that physicality the NCEL Premier so often boasts.
Fixtures against the Lincolnshire Conference North pairing of Gainsborough Trinity and Boston United will be a nice reminder of the Tigers glory days, and also render Mark Shaw’s men the underdogs for a nice change.
I’m not a huge fan of the idea of playing a side from the same division, but I can understand why the Handsworth Parramore friendly has become an annual affair. It’s a nice gesture between two clubs that have to share a facility.
But there’s a distinct lack of glamour this summer.
Fans of Mansfield Town will cry foul at that statement – they are a big club after all, they’re local enough to bring a few through the gates and they ply their trade at a level far above Worksop Town’s place in the pyramid.
That game against Stags will indeed be the one most people look forward to, it’s the one that caught my eye straight away.
It should be only one of three or four big name attractions however.
Cast an glance at Gainsborough’s summer, as they welcome both of Sheffield’s big two, Scunthorpe and Hull City.
In fact look at almost all of the well run non league clubs in this region and they’ll have crowd pleasers in the diary, games that will swell or sustain the playing budget.
This blog piece isn’t to point fingers or lay blame, because there isn’t really any blame to apportion.
It’s a known and understandable fact that Worksop can only have Sandy Lane for a limited number of days or evenings in pre-season.
Parramore have to get their home friendlies in too, they’re the landlords after all, and the pitch – by far and away the best in the NCEL – needs to be looked after.
The maintenance of that playing surface is painstaking, and has to be, if two clubs are going to thunder about on it for eight or nine months a year.
It’s not any fault of Mark Shaw’s that there’s only one league club on the agenda, he can only work with the select dates he has.
Sadly, it’s just another drawback of not having a ground of their own, where they could throw open the gates and say to the Blades, the Owls, the Spireites, Donny Rovers and Barnsley: “Come one, come all, pick a date and bring your hordes.”
Many a non league outfit will have turned a jealous eye towards Lancashire last week, when FC United of Manchester celebrated the opening of their spanking new stadium with a game against Benfica.
That shows what is possible, with a bit of imagination, a free calendar and a decent facilitiy.
Imagine a Tottenham Hotspur side coming up the M1 to play the match that the town of Worksop were so cruelly denied in 1923.
There’s little word on Tigers getting together the financial means to begin purchasing the lease for Sandy Lane.
That in itself would be enough to get the two Sheffield giants involved in the summer festivities once more for Worksop.
And the Bassetlaw MP John Mann, albeit recently up to his neck in an election, has said little publicly on what I liked to call the Mann Siro, his vision for a brand new stadium in the town.
So all the supporters of Worksop Town can do is get themselves along to the pre-season games, get involved in the Team500 scheme once again, and continue to back the club the way they did last summer, when they saved it from extinction.
The long term future is undeniably wrapped up in a ground they control, but there’s plenty to do to ensure the short term future remains positive.
Before you know it, 11th July will be upon us, when it all kicks off again at beautiful downtown Sandy Lane, with the Worksop derby.
And who knows? Anything can and usually does happen in the life of the Tigers.
A year is a long time in football, and July 2016 could see us anticipating the arrival of Nigel Adkins’s red and white wizards, and Stuart Gray’s blue and white army.