Hucknall Town insist: we WILL survive

Hucknall Town FC, Watnall Road, Hucknall.'Worksop Town FC vs Nantwich Town.'Picture: Worksop supporters.
Hucknall Town FC, Watnall Road, Hucknall.'Worksop Town FC vs Nantwich Town.'Picture: Worksop supporters.
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Officials at Hucknall Town have refuted claims that the cash-strapped club might struggle to survive next season.

But they insist the club had no option other than drop down the leagues after “the town turned its back on us”.

And they are pleading with fans to return for what is being branded as the “rebirth” of the once-proud Yellows.

The disbandment fears arose when managers Duncan Russell and Paul Hall quit last week before they had even taken charge of a single match.

Ex-Blackburn Rovers coach Russell took a swipe at the way Town had been run in recent seasons and said: “I can’t flog a dead horse. I don’t how they are going to carry on.”

However, acting chief executive Liz Morley reassured supporters this week that survival will be achieved -- even though The Yellows remain crippled by debt and they have slid to their lowest level of football for more than 20 years in the Central Midlands League (CML).

“We are back at the bottom of the stairs, but we will eventually get back up,” said Morley.

“This is the horrible, harsh reality for us. The level of support from the town at the moment does not warrant playing at a higher level.

“From attracting gates of 500 to 600, we are now down to under 100. If the town turns its back on you, you cannot physically sustain what you are doing.

“This is now about fans forgiving and forgetting what happened in the past -- and yes, mistakes were made -- and coming back to support their local side again.”

Morley accepts that the fans have walked away primarily because results have been so poor. Last season’s relegation was the third in five seasons.

But she adds this is another reason why Town have decided to drop to the CML to give them a more realistic chance of success.

And she is confident that the club will attract as much revenue -- and incur fewer costs -- than if they had remained in the Northern Counties East League (NCEL).

Because they are in no position to pay wages, they should also find it easier to attract players.

“My heart says we should have stayed in the NCEL, but my head says it would have been impossible,” said Morley.

“This is a re-birth. It might take some time, but we were fighting a losing battle.

“Even fans who love this club were beginning to say they couldn’t take much more of losing heavily every week.”

To replace Russell and Hall, Town have made an internal appointment by turning to Andy Graves, who has been at the club since 2004, helping to run youth teams and the reserves.

“Because of all the work he has put into the club, Andy was the natural option,” said Morley.

“He already has a healthy squad from last season’s AFC reserve-side in the CML and a team of people behind him.”

Morley admits she is saddened by the departure of secretary Tony Knowles, who has resigned after “years of the stresses and strains” of the job.

But Graves’s assistant, Phil Henry, will cover for Knowles, and Town have been encouraged by the arrival of three new committee members, plus a handful of general volunteers after their latest appeal for public help.

Long-term supporter Pete Lee and husband-and-wife team Tom and Paula McDonald join Geoff Gospel, Dawn and Bob Scotney, Emma Holmes-Parker and Nicky Goodall on the eight-strong committee, although the club still does not have a chairman.

Meanwhile Town’s latest fundraising initiative is a raffle aimed at businesses, with the prize being shirt sponsorship for the season. Tickets cost £25 each.