THE most successful football team in Hucknall last season is no more — after a dramatic summer of internal turbulence.
Boots Athletic, who are based at the Rolls-Royce Leisure Club off Watnall Road, have taken drastic action to dismantle their main side.
The Chemists won the double last term in the Notts Senior League (NSL), storming to the Senior Division title by eight points and beating groundshare rivals, Rolls-Royce Leisure, 3-1 in the league cup final.
But they have been left reeling by the decision of several players to quit the club and seek pastures new where they will be paid.
So now Boots have removed their first team from the top flight. Instead they will run just one side in the NSL (in Division One where the reserves finished third in 2010/11), plus a new second team in the Notts Amateur League. Both will play their home games at Rolls.
“It was a tough decision to make,” said general manager Dick Durrant. “But if we hadn’t gone down this route, the club would have folded.
“We have been hit hard by a massive player-exodus after such a great season last term. It’s very disappointing.
“Their heads have been turned by the money on offer at clubs in the Central Midlands League (CML) and we are not a paying club.”
Among the star players to have left are the quintet of captain Gaz Willows, top scorer Kev Walker, classy centre-half Ben Moore, midfielder Martin Holt and winger Tommy Kemp. They have all defected to Basford United, who have left the NSL to join the CML.
“Players are fully entitled to look at their options during the off-season and many have moved on,” Durrant continued.
“But coupled to this, our costs have increased massively for the new season, so we’ve restructured to operate within our budget and not beyond it.
“With prudent financial management, our plan is to rebuild over the next couple of seasons. We’ve seen many clubs go to the wall as a result of over-spending and we won’t be one of them.”
Another key factor in Boots’ shock decision has been the reaction of management trio Alan Perks, Mark Whysall and Steve Tasker to the player exodus.
They now feel less inclined to go out and recruit replacements, having seen the fickle nature of those who did so well under the Boots banner last term.
“To be honest, we feel a little let down,” commented Perks. “It’s a real shame.
“Mark and Steve will remain on the club committee, while Simon Payne, who has done such a great job with the reserves, will run the new first team, with me assisting him.
“Carl Murphy and Colin Trussler will continue to run the other team, and it will be great to have two teams of proper Boots people both playing at the same venue and socialising together after the games.
“We could have muddled through but decided this action was right for the long-term future of the club.
“Out initial playing strength will be reduced but there is enough collective fight to put this setback behind us and turn it into a long-term positive.
“Brian Willows, at Rolls, has been a great supporter of ours and we thank him for his patience in what have been a tricky few weeks.”
Durrant was full of praise for the players and officials who have promised to stay on and keep the club going.
“It’s been very disappointing to see the way the excellent efforts of last season have been rewarded but you live, learn and move on,” he added.
“They say there’s no loyalty in the local game and what has happened this summer demonstrates that.
“But here’s looking forward to a proper Boots season, surrounded by folks who care about Boots rather than just looking after themselves.”