St Joseph's Rockware Worksop eager to fly the flag for the town following promotion

St Joseph's Rockware Worksop say they are eager to keep flying the flag for the town following promotion.

By Stephen Thirkill
Monday, 13th April 2020, 1:13 pm
Updated Monday, 13th April 2020, 1:53 pm
SJR Worksop celebrate lifting the Benevolent Cup.
SJR Worksop celebrate lifting the Benevolent Cup.

St Joseph’s Rockware Worksop will ply their trade in the Central Midlands Northern Premier Division next year - just one season after leaving the Worksop Sunday League.

The club, who initially began life as The Innings when they were formed by Gus Guest and the late Les Cane, sealed the memorable promotion with a nucleus of local players.

And it is a tradition that manager Andrew Guest, a son of founder Gus, is more than keen to to keep alive.

Tom Mullen battles for the ball.

“This isn’t a dig at Worksop Town,” said Andrew. “Worksop Town very rarely picked many lads from Worksop, probably they have been right in saying they are not good enough a lot of the time.

“But I always felt that lads from around here have not been given a chance to represent the town.

“We set the team up with a vision to give local players a chance and we will basically pick lads from Worksop.

“That was the idea and we are going to stick to it. We know it will only take us so far.”

Scott Wesley makes himself available for the ball

Guest took over as boss in 2015 and the club has enjoyed a successful spell ever since, winning one league title and four cups in the process.

The transition away from the Worksop Sunday League was one that attracted plenty of criticism amidst claims the club had got ‘too big for their boots.’

But Guest always insisted that the move was necessary to protect the future of the club he holds so dear.

“The Sunday League was declining,” he said. “Going into one of the cup finals, there was talk of Worksop Borough not being able to field a team.

“That set off alarm bells in my head, if you can’t field a team for a cup final, what is there going to be to play for?”

“We were told we would get more funding to improve the ground if we made the switch. I spoke to the lads to see if they wanted to make the switch and they did.

“We took some criticism that we were being a bit big-time, but it wasn’t really done for that reason.

“I have always backed the Sunday League, but my fear was that if we didn’t make the move the Sunday League could collapse and we would have no club.

“My dad started the club so there is a strong family connection and I couldn’t let the club die.

“I could feel my enthusiasm dropping at Sunday League level, we probably had between four and six tough matches a season.

“A lot of what I call proper football people from around the town have since backed us and are really behind the idea.”

SJR finished the voided season undefeated and two wins away from winning the title, before they were invited to be promoted by the football authorities.

They went into the season as clear favourites to take the division.

But Guest was quick to point out that promotion still had to be earned out on the pitch.

“When we first applied to go into the league, we hoped to be placed into that division, but there was a restructure,” he said.

“Initially people thought we would walk it, but there was only one team who got automatically promoted - so there was pressure on us to get straight up.

“Every week has been a learning curve and we were getting caught out with things off the pitch.

“We lost a few lads from the Sunday League side, but then we gained six lads who are good players and have played at a higher level, which helped massively.”

Work is now going on to bring the ground up to step seven level, with Guest confident the facilities will be as good as any in the division.

Planning is now well underway for the step up in class, with the boss keen to add extra depth to his squad.

He said: “The only thing that will catch us out in the level above is not having a reserve team, which we are going to set up but we might be rushing it for next season.

“There will be more midweek games where people are working shifts and it does make it more difficult.

“We have had to play with weakened teams this season in midweek. We have still got a result, but that will obviously be harder at the higher level.

“We are going to try and get more lads signed on and we have had interest since we got promoted.”

The club have now set-up a woman;s team to start next season and are aiming to develop a youth system to feed into the first team in the coming years.

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