Watnall wonders win league title in debut season

CHAMPIONS -- Watnall Athletic line up for the camera (from left): Back Row, Ashley Cross, Matt Holland, Tony Sheehan, Andrew Sparkes, Dan Butler, Nathan Smith, Joe Brookes, Steff Benbow, Matt Brittle. Front Row, Ben Howarth, Colin Woodward, Martin Ward, Adam Murphy, Andrew Holland, Paul Randle, Dan Charles.

CHAMPIONS -- Watnall Athletic line up for the camera (from left): Back Row, Ashley Cross, Matt Holland, Tony Sheehan, Andrew Sparkes, Dan Butler, Nathan Smith, Joe Brookes, Steff Benbow, Matt Brittle. Front Row, Ben Howarth, Colin Woodward, Martin Ward, Adam Murphy, Andrew Holland, Paul Randle, Dan Charles.

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A Saturday football team on the fringes of the Dispatch district have been crowned champions in their debut season.

Watnall Athletic play their home games at Hucknall Town’s Watnall Road ground, while several of their players hail from the Dispatch district.

When they got together last summer and joined the Midland Amateur Alliance (MAA), they could hardly have dreamed how things would turn out.

But a successful season under the management of Matt Holland has seen them land the MAA’s Second Division title to gain promotion.

They clinched the championship with several games still to play after a thrilling 6-4 victory away to Derbyshire Amateurs.

And they were presented with the league trophy last Saturday at a home match against M.A.FC.

Sadly, Watnall lost the match 6-1. But it was only their second defeat of a campaign in which they have won 17 and drawn three of their 22 league games so far, scoring 93 goals and conceding 30.

As they prepare for their last fixture of the season, they sit a massive 14 points clear of their closest rivals in second place.

Watnall have owed a lot of their success to free-scoring strikers Martin Ward, who has 29 goals, and Joe Brookes, who has netted 22.

But it has been a huge team effort to earn their success -- less than a year after they were cobbled together over a pint in the boozer!

“We were formed by myself last August after a last-minute decision in the pub on a Saturday night,” explained Holland.

“Steff Benbow helped us find a sponsor through his place of work at the YMCA.

“And with the help of Stephen Archer and Dan Butler, we have put together a great side and have dominated the division for most of the season.

“A lot of the team are based in Hucknall and Watnall.

“We went 18 games unbeaten, with only one draw, at one stage. Results have only dropped off since clinching the title.”

As well as Holland, Watnall’s other leading lights are Dan Butler, who is captain, Kathryn Glover, who is secretary, and Mick Holland, who is chairman.

Watnall are now planning an ambitious move up to the Notts Senior League for the 2014/15 campaign.

Added Holland: “We hope to attract three or four more quality additions, so if anyone wants to get in touch, they can e-mail me at gloverholland@gmail.com.”