Steeton manager Roy Mason says he is happy with the way in which the club have adjusted to life in our league this season, on and off the field.
The West Yorkshire side moved up last summer from the West Yorkshire Amateur League, and like neighbours Silsden did for a number of years when they joined our league, Steeton have begun by playing their home games at Keighley Cougars Rugby League Club.
It’s been a busy and testing time for all involved at the club, but Roy believes the decision to step up has been proved correct.
“When we decided that we were going to apply for promotion to the North West Counties it was a big decision for all at the club, and one that would mean us leaving our home of Summerhill Lane - our ground since 1969”, said Roy.
“The move to Cougar Park was a decision that wasn't taken lightly, and meant the biggest change in the club’s history was about to take place as we were going to take our first steps on the semi-professional ladder.
“Having three different sets of owners at Cougar Park in twelve months has been a little bit unsettling at times for us, and we have faced a few challenges.
“But the new owners led by Mick O'Neil - the original pioneer of Cougarmania in the 90's - have made us feel very welcome and are very supportive of what we are doing.
“We have seen our crowds more than double from what we were getting in the County Amateur League and we have engaged with the people of Keighley as well.
“We hope that we can continue to attract more new supporters down next season as we work more closely with Cougars”.
As ever, the committee members working hard behind the scenes at any football are crucial to the club’s progression.
Roy is quick to pay tribute to the work that has been undertaken by his colleagues, who he describes as “unsung heroes”, as well as being grateful for the support they have had from around the league.
“Our groundstaff of Rob Tosney and James Yeadon have done an incredible job of turning a rugby field into a football pitch and have put in many unseen hours”, said Roy.
“Our treasurer, Mick Ferguson has worked tirelessly in sorting the financial side out, and my biggest thanks go to Phil Briggs our secretary, who only joined the club at the start of the 2017/18 season.
“He has been instrumental in ensuring that we have got all our paper work in order and we couldn't have done it without all his hard work.
“I would also like to thank everyone on the League committee for helping us with our application process and making our transition into this new league so smooth, and also all the other clubs in the league, both old ones and new ones.
“Everyone has made us feel very welcome this season and we hope that the hospitality has been reciprocated at Cougar Park”.
On the field, Steeton have found life a bit tougher lately, and are currently on a run without a win in 13 games.
Recent form is a far cry from earlier in the season when they began well, but Roy believes a change in fortunes is long overdue.
“Lately we have hit a bit of a brick wall and we just don't seem to be getting the rub of the green that we were earlier in the season”, he said.
“That said, our aim this season was always to just consolidate and be competitive in every game and I think in the main we have.
“The one exception is probably our away game at Lower Breck, where we just didn't get going and left ourselves a mountain to climb after ten minutes.
“Pre-season for us was a bit mixed, as I think a lot of people thought that we had bitten off more than we could chew and it could prove to be a step too much for us.
“However I knew 100% that the move was the right decision for the club and that long term it would be the best thing that could happen to us and I think as we sit here in March we have been proved correct.
“The season got off to a great start with us winning 2-1 away at Holker in our opening game, and what really struck a chord with us was how friendly Holker were, and how they helped us with ensuring that we got the basics, like all the paperwork done correctly.
“The next game saw us scramble a 1-0 win at Avro in a game that we really did have our backs to the wall in, but the win gave the young squad confidence.
“We then won our opening game at Cougar Park 1-0 against AFC Blackpool, which was a nice bit of history for the club”.
Looking ahead to next season, Roy says that strengthening the squad is a priority.
“We have been asking players who are used to playing 22 league games in a season to play 38 and the small squad we have has been pushed to the limits”, he said.
“We have also had the added fact that we have lost leading scorer, Andy Briggs to an injury that will keep him out for the season and we lost our skipper, Tim Hird for three months with an injury.
“We have had a young squad in the main, but the one thing that has made me very proud is the fact that 10 players that we have used this season started with us at 16 years of age, or younger.
“These lads have come through our junior and reserve teams and hopefully this will act as a spur to attract more young talented players to the club as it's important that we tap into local players who have a real feel for the club.
“We aim to finish the season strongly and we are already looking at areas of the squad that we wish to strengthen next season”.