ROYTON Town could be forgiven for thinking if their reserve side will ever be promoted after it was denied for a second straight season.Sitting second in Manchester League Division Four, Paul Gidley’s men were ideally placed to have a crack at going up at the second time of asking.
But the league’s decision to null and void the season because of the Covid-19 crisis, with no-one going up or down, ended those hopes.
That comes after they were denied last term after finishing in a promotion place, only to be kept down because of a league restructure adding a new division.
Despite that, Paul is philosophical and encouraged by the standard of player coming through to push for a first team place.
He said: “It’s taken a league restructure and a pandemic to stop us going up but it’s one of those things.
“In the bigger picture, it’s not that important. It’s frustrating but there are bigger things going on.
“In football terms, it’s like the season never happened and we were in a good place with games in hand after winning our last four with three clean sheets.”
In the reserves’ final game before the shutdown and eventual voiding of the season, they defeated Elton Vale Reserves – who were second in the division above – 5-0 in the first round of the Open Trophy.
That made it doubly frustrating for Paul as they fancied a crack at winning the trophy.
Now he faces starting next season with a number of players likely to step up to the senior side, whose Premier Division relegation worries were eased.
“We’ve had six or seven play in the first team to varying degrees,” Paul added. “Some only had one game whereas others made several appearances.
“It’s a frustrating end to the season from a football point of view but as a club we’ve plenty of good young talent coming through.
“So some will step up but we haven’t actually got a youth team with players that are ready to step up at the moment.
“We took the decision to leave a gap, so it’s going to be another year before the youth team will be in a position to send players to the reserves.
“However, we were lucky in a way as we finished the season with quite a big squad – we had people coming to training and not making the matchday squad.
“We had reason to not pick them as the reserve team was being so successful.”
Now the Manchester League, along with other leagues at that level, is over, thoughts are already turning towards next season.
Paul admits the plan is currently to resume training towards the end of June but he admitted: “Football seems a long way off at the moment.
“Under normal circumstances we would have gone up in both years and we were in the quarter-finals of a cup competition.
“We were in a great position in the league but what can you do? It’s disappointing, though, not to be able to see the season through.
“The lads will be all right, they’re just more disappointed at not being able to play football, rather than trying to win promotion and a cup.”