Their first season in the NWCFL ended with a 12th placed finish for First Division North side Shelley - a whole world away from where they were when manager Ash Berry took over.
"This will be my eleventh season as Manager. When I took over, they were in the Huddersfield District League Fifth Division on a park’s pitch! I left the Unibond to come to that! The last club before I came here was Salford. They weren’t quite what they are now when I was there!"
The Huddersfield based side was promoted into the NWCFL when the new Step 6 league was introduced in 2018, "It’s funny but I’ve been asked that more than anything this year and I’d say, hand on heart, yes and no. Yes, before a ball was kicked and yes, looking at it, I suppose I ought to be but no, because a long part of the season was running about sixth or seventh and we dipped alarmingly from Christmas.
"A lot of lads haven’t played this level before and we haven’t the biggest of squads or the biggest of budgets. I just think that the enthusiasm, youthfulness and that first time experience started wearing a bit thin by Christmas. They were getting a bit bogged down with it. I don’t think it was the games or the physicality of playing so many games; I think it’s mind over matter. It’s a long season and they’re used to the 26 /28 games rather than 50 games and I think we just run out of legs a little bit.
"This year we’re conscious of that and we’re looking at running with a bigger squad and trying to bring some better players in as well. Up the quality and up the numbers.
"That’s the aim, yes [top ten]. The top ten is our aim and the golden one is sixth, chasing for the FA Cup."
The club played in the Buildbase FA Vase for the first time ever last season, losing out to Cammell Laid 1907 in the Second Qualifying Round, and Berry is hoping for a better run, "I think our naivety cost us at Cammell Laird. At that point [sending off] we were absolutely battering them, 1-0 up and there looked like no other winner; only us. I was gutted that day. I thought we were robbed.
"Top ten and a Cup run. We had a great Cup run in our own County Cup because we play under Sheffield & Hallamshire, although we’re nearer Huddersfield. We got through to the fourth round of that. We drew Frickley. We were in front four times and we were in front on penalties as well and still managed to lose. It was a pretty fair effort really because they were the highest-ranked team in it. Had we put them out, you’d have fancied us against anybody. We did really well in that as well so we had two good cup runs.
With two local derbies to look forward to Berry is relishing the fixtures being released, "We’ve Emley and Golcar as well. They’re both are Huddersfield clubs but Emley’s the bigger name and will probably attract bigger crowds. I have a bit of an affinity with Emley as well because I’d a brief spell there as Assistant Manager to Ian Banks. I only did five weeks and I quit but my dad played there in the fifties and sixties and my son played there as well. We’ve got a bit of a history with Emley anyway.
"Hopefully we’ll get them Boxing Day! I think everybody in this area would like to see that on Boxing Day. We got Bacup last year but it was one of the more local ones if you like. I think they should look at Bank Holidays – both Easter and Christmas – and they really want to be local derbies because they’re great paydays then for everybody."
A big thank you to Ellie Dalglish for transcribing.
I’m looking forward to it. I wish everybody else all the best. Locally I think everybody’s been brilliant. We’ve enjoyed so we’ll kick on and hope we can do a bit better from here.