It’s what we’ve all been waiting for, tomorrow sees the Hillmen kick off a new era as joint managers Paul Phillips and Steve Halford take charge of their first competitive game as GNE travel to Goole to open up 2017-18.
It has been 112 days since that last game of the season, when Lancaster City came to Surrey Street and clinched the title, and there has been a major changing of the guard both on and off the pitch.
First, Chris Willcock stepped down as manager, having more than met the wise footballing maxim that says if you leave a club in better shape than you found it then you’ve done a good job. The club will always be grateful to Chris for the results he gave us. It wasn’t a rollercoaster, as there was very little heading down.
There have also been changes off the pitch, with Paul Eccles, Neil Rimmer and Pete Hammond stepping down as Directors. Like Chris, Both Paul and Neil have worked extremely hard and played a vital role in lifting the club from the North West Counties league to where we find ourselves today, and the club whole-heartedly thank them for it. Peter, meanwhile, ended 35 years as secretary, earning himself ‘club legend’ status.
With all the change afoot, Paul and Steve certainly began the year with a blank sheet of paper and have carefully gone about building a squad that they hope, actually they probably expect, will be in the upper echelons of the Evo-Stik North this season. With only two players currently signed up who ended last season at Surrey Street it will take a little time for players and fans to get to know each other, but there is real belief that they have the credentials and motivation, and the players have quality, to provide a team that you’ll enjoy watching and win more than its fair share of games.
Here’s to 3pm Saturdays. They are back, and we love it