Doomed Hucknall Town hit by relegation U-turn

Coaching staff on the Eastwood bench'Hucknall v Eastwood
Coaching staff on the Eastwood bench'Hucknall v Eastwood

Hucknall Town fans didn’t know whether to laugh or cry this week after their relegation reprieve was dramatically rescinded.

Hucknall thought they had escaped the drop, despite finishing stranded at the foot of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South.

This was because divisional rivals Rainworth Miners Welfare quit the league and requested demotion because of financial pressures.

But now Rainworth are to stay put after sudden promises of a substantial cash-injection.

And that brings down the axe on The Yellows, who will sink into the Northern Counties East League for the first time since 1998.

Fans are now sentenced to football outside the top four tiers of non-league football for the first time in 15 years.

But at the same time, they are relieved that the club’s third relegation in five seasons might halt a horrific sequence of results.

Last Saturday’s 4-0 defeat against promotion play-off chasing Halesowen Town in their final home match of the season meant The Yellows have now failed to win in 19 league attempts.

Since Darren Kelk took over in January as the fourth Watnall Road manager of the season, Hucknall have gained just one point from 15 matches and leaked 75 goals.

And the club made the decision this week NOT to offer Kelk the job on a permanent basis for next term.

Instead he has been invited to submit his CV as part of a formal application process.

Anyone interested in becoming manager is invited to e-mail caretaker chief executive Liz Morley (liz.morley@hucknalltownfc.com) before the deadline date of Tuesday May 7.

In an official statement released by the club after hearing of their relegation, Hucknall were at pains to “thank Kelk and his players who have continued to give their all for the cause under difficult circumstances”.

They also thanked “the supporters, helpers and volunteers for continuing to support the club and Liz Morley for stepping into the fold once more. It has been a difficult season, both on and off the pitch, which has culminated with the team being relegated but the club surviving.”

Hucknall have just two more Evo-Stik games to negotiate -- away to Sutton Coldfield Town on Saturday and then to Kidsgrove Athletic the following Saturday.

But the climax of the season can’t come soon enough after the Halesowen game ended in farce with two own goals in injury-time.

First, goalkeeper Michael Yates punched a Ricky Baker corner into his own net and then defender Josh Stolworthy was pressured into conceding by Gavin Winsper.

Halesowen had gone ahead back in the 23rd minute when the prolific Ben Haseley scored the first of two goals -- the second coming 13 minutes later.

To their credit, Hucknall’s motley crew of unpaid youngsters at least battled gamely for the rest of the match, forcing the frustrated visitors into three early substitutions.