This time last year I said the Club was in transition and that we were rebuilding on and off the pitch . Well what a difference a year makes! Whilst we are not getting carried away, and we know that no one ever gets promoted at Christmas, we are certainly in the mix and that’s down to our Management Team of Dan, Mark and Matty, our players obviously, our sponsors and also down to a lot of people who go unnoticed at the Club but without them I know we wouldn’t be in this position
We’ve invested heavily into our First Team and we are prepared to strengthen the squad after Christmas but only if someone comes along who we believe can improve it. Some hard decisions have had to be made along the way but they were made in the best interests of the Club and team and I think we are now realising the benefits. What’s really pleasing is still seeing young players like Brandon Mallaburn, Matty Bateman, Jack Naylor being part of the squad and getting game time. We forget that Jack Vaulks, Aidan Heywood, Dom Curl and Aaron Duell are still only young but what careers they have in front of them and hopefully progressing through the Leagues with Shildon AFC. Ben Reay, came through Shildon Development Centre and has been selected for England Schoolboys which is a fantastic achievement and we look forward to playing our part in his future development as does David Trotter, Manager of Witton Park who Ben plays for on a Sunday.
Our Manager, Dan Moore deserves a special mention. I was in agreement with him when he decided to retire this season allowing him to concentrate on developing as a Manager. On reflection I should have encouraged him to keep playing because he has been a revelation since he put back on his boots and it’s like signing the best Centre Half in the League who’s a leader on the pitch as well. He’s also found the time to do some more FA badges as well which will hold him and the team in good stead
I’ve said previously that an Academy is important to the Club moving forward, you can see the introduction of young players into the First Team, our Development Centre is moving forward under Andrew Finch and I will have some exciting news for you in the New Year about a partnership we have signed up to which gives the First Team a training base but more importantly access to a post 16 Academy and a Junior set up with 200 players attached to it which when combined with our Development Centre gives us over 350 kids associated with the Club. This I believe is the future of our Club moving forward
The community remains massive to me as does our partnership with Livin who not only are Club sponsors but help give us greater reach into the community.
We’ve held two hugely successful Holiday courses which are free for the kids and we plan to continue to do this. We’ve also as a whole Club made a donation recently to Shildon Alive to their Food Bank and I would like to thank our supporters and Players who have all contributed to this.
We are now partnering with Hays Travel and Livin in providing opportunities to go and gain a career in the Travel industry. Anyone who applies through the Club will be guaranteed an interview which is absolutely fantastic
We want to take this Club onto to play at a level that it’s never played at in over 125 years. That will mean investment in our facilities, our whole Club structure and our playing squad. I will speak more about this at a later date other than to promote our 12th man appeal where supporters can give as much or as little as they want and I will ringfence the monies for our Manager to go and improve our squad for this season and next season. Should anyone be interested in this please contact me directly. It’s really important and gives you the chance to directly help. It is after all your Club and I’m just running things for you
Being Chairman of Shildon AFC is never dull, there are lots of challenges but I think we are getting there, lots of positives have come out of this year such as a memorable night at the Stadium of Light when we won the Durham Challenge Cup. I now want us to create some history and get this Club promoted. I hope we can achieve this in 2020!
Have a lovely Christmas everyone and here’s to a successful New Year