There was a long period last season when we understood Sports would take voluntary relegation because of their under-capacity ground. New owner Timothy Woodward took over in March and funded the necessary improvements. He wasn’t exactly out of his comfort zone – he is a director of a construction company.
Woodward is now the sole director of Sports, the previous six-man board having all resigned. The club had significantly over reached their finances to gain promotion in 21/22 and then boldly bought in a hard core of experienced Step 2 players, presumably at no little expense. The takeover was probably essential for financial reasons.
Early reports suggest the ground is much improved with cover on all 4 sides, though the attendances aren’t. The turnout was 385 on the opening day of which the majority were thought to be visitors. Peterborough beat Scarborough 1-0 by putting away one of their only two shots on goals and using up a season’s luck at the other end.
A week later, they held Scunthorpe to a 1-1 draw, an impressive achievement though they rode their luck and the Iron missed a penalty. Their luck ran out at threshing machine Alfreton going down 2-1 to a late Reds winner in front of 352 people. This was quickly followed by another loss – 0-2 at home to Spennymoor watched by 305 diehards. So overall 4 points from 4 games.
Sports do things a bit differently. There is no supporter group, no club shop until now and again up to now no team coach for away matches. The website goes whole months without updates as the club bar facebook page is more often used.
But there are bi-monthly fan forums as a comms route which are attended by owner and management. At the last one, the new owner declared his keenness to increase the capacity to 4,000 so they are eligible for Step One.
I imagine that is because Woodward is a builder who like building rather than any serious promotion ambition. Equally the owner insists that the club “must be sustainable.” I think that’s a proper full-on challenge. “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”
Don’t expect a large following at the Street. Sports advertised plural supporter coaches for the attractive visit to Scunthorpe but the bodies in the away end numbered exactly 52.
Sports lost 5 players in the summer, 3 of them senior men and replaced them with 5 more. Two are raw young loanees. Of the others, right back Matt Tootle (32) has indeed tootled around rather a lot with 300 EFL games behind him though thus far has only tootled around the bench, The Turbines hope they have signed a genuine goal scorer, bringing in Ben Fowkes from step 3 Leiston. Fowkes was explosive with Leiston last season scoring 20 goals in 42 games. Sports top scorer last season managed 8 which as we know ourselves isn’t enough. Despite Fowkes plotting, he is yet to ignite at Sports
We really shouldn’t underestimate the Turbines. At full strength, they have a hard core of credible Step 2 players (albeit some elderly ones) as we discovered during the home match last season. A Street defeat very much to be forgotten, one where all video should be locked away in a strong box with the key missing. We should focus more on our last meeting where the Bulls won 2-0 fairly comfortably at their place. Timing is often important as we encountered a weary-looking home side barely able to field 11 fit players. Some of them were turning out in unfamiliar places. Hereford took full advantage.
Joint manager and striker Michael Gash is probably their best-known player. He is 36 now and no longer the menace he used to be in his younger days with Kings Lynn and Kidderminster. He didn’t do a lot of menacing against our back line in April. Gash is joint manager with retired goalkeeper Luke Steele who played 200 games for Barnsley and was briefly third keeper at Old Trafford. Another familiar name is ex-Bull Jordan Nicholson is a reasonably consistent scorer for Sports when the poor sod is fit. He’s had two broken legs in the last two years. Nicholson scored in the Turbines’ 2-1 defeat at Alfreton.
As ever, football is better live.