It has been an eventful season on and off the pitch with enough material to write a small novel. Here's a more digestible version of events....
23 Goals - Not Bad For An Old Man
Where would we have been without Nathan Neequaye’s goals? For the record I’ve worked it out: 12 points worse off and in 16th spot. If that’s the effect that an “old man” (as he once referred to himself on social media) can have then I’m all for an ageing squad!
He’s had a rare season. 23 goals in all competitions and, at one point, managing to score in six consecutive matches with his final tally aided and abetted by 10 from James Horan, 7 from the midfield engine of Ashley Smallwood and a notable 6 from centre-back Joe Armstrong.
Last season we had 26 different goalscorers. This season - largely thanks to Nathan’s contribution - we’ve trimmed that down to 16!
Play-offs, on, then off again
Play-offs. Not for the faint-hearted. Always good to watch from a neutral point-of-view but always better to be actually part of them if there’s a chance of being promoted.
A new introduction for the NWCFL Division One 2014-15 term, those teams in third to sixth place would have their seasons extended. To the victor, the spoils of joining the top two in next season’s Premier Division.
In campaigns past the promotees from Division One have been pretty well done and dusted before the Easter eggs have been dished out, leaving a swathe of dead rubbers in the fixture list.
Not this time. It’s safe to say that the introduction of the play-offs has had the desired effect in giving an increased number of teams something to aim for towards the season’s end. The four play-off spots weren’t decided until the final whistle on the final day of the regular season; our best wishes go to AFC Darwen, Hanley Town, Holker Old Boys and Chadderton who will be preparing for the first part of the wringer by the time this went to press.
At one point it looked as though we had a chance of being in that list. A rotten start gave way to a fairly decent mid-season run in which we lost only 3 league matches out of 14.
Lurking with menace in 7th spot, strange twist in fixture fate then took hold as March turned into April.
Of the six games that remained, four of them were against fellow play-off hopefuls and the other two against champions-elect, we-never-do-well-against-them Atherton Collieries. Add to that fact the other teams around us had games in-hand and the run-in looked even more vital. We knew what we had to do.
The worst-timed return of bad form meant that we couldn’t. Home defeats to Barnton and Hanley Town dented the play-off hopes with Atherton Collieries finishing them altogether when they came to Park Road and collected the Division One title to boot.
I have absolutely no doubt that the play-offs will be our prime target next season. Our squad are more than capable of achieving it.
Cheadle Town FC - A Registered Charity
It would be inaccurate to blame those final six matches for our final position. With the greatest of respect to those teams I am about to mention, there has been some reckless acts of philanthropy from us this season.
Within that decent mid-season run were two home defeats to Ashton Town and Eccleshall, granting them both their first away victories of the season.
Hanley Town away - 2-0 up and coasting, only to lose 2-3 at the death. Another 2-0 lead was squandered at Irlam (which ended 2-2).
It is the opinion of the author that we have one of the best squads to have graced the Park Road baize for quite a while. We just need to iron out the “daft results” and the moments of “typical Cheadle”….
Our efforts to improve Park Road stadium certainly made their mark this season, but not necessarily in a positive way.
The first nine league matches were all away as the Main Stand work was finished. That said, we didn’t do too bad; despite the constant travelling the squad had the character to win four out of those nine games - it could have been a lot worse.
The knock-on effect of dismantling the clubhouse in December and repairing unfinished work on the Main Stand then played havoc with our fixtures and is mainly the reason why we ended up with the tough run-in that we had.
The stadium even did its best to sabotage a home win at one point. 4-1 up and cruising against Atherton LR, one of the floodlights failed resulting in the match being abandoned. It was comforting to see us give Sod’s Law a firm poke in the eye by winning the rescheduled match 2-1.
With the Main Stand now 99.9% done and a new clubhouse in the offing (before we all get too attached to that caravan serving as our refreshment hut and boardroom) the problems off the pitch will have been ironed out and we can enjoy a less stressful season off the pitch.
The Patience Of Saints Terry, Truc, Woodsy et al
With all that has been going on re the redevelopment of the ground and all the hassle it caused, the final word has to be one of thanks to all of the coaching and management staff - far too many to mention here - of all of our respective teams who have displayed an incredible level of patience and understanding.
Roll on 2015-16.....