Frickley Athletic manager Spencer Fearn has vowed that his team will come out stronger for the start of next season after narrowly failing to win promotion in 2017-18.
The Blues finished as far and away the top scorers in the Evo-Stik South and would have won automatic promotion but for a three-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player.
They were then defeated in an unlucky play-off semi-final, but the progress they made following relegation the previous season has filled Fearn with hope for the next campaign.
He said: “It’s been a big learning curve for us and we know what we’ve got to do as a coaching team.
“We’ve strengthened the team throughout the season and I think most fans will agree it’s been one hell of a team since Christmas when we’ve been the best side in the division when you look at the points we’ve gained.
“But when you get into the play-offs it’s a bit of a lottery.
“I’m very proud of what the players have achieved this season.
“Hopefully most with be with us next season and we go again.”
Fearn is confident his team can progress again.
He added: “We’ll come back stronger and we’ve got stronger all the way throughout the season. Every week people have been added and we’ve improved how we’ve played.
“We’ve played some nice football and it is an entertainment industry. We’ve scored 138 goals, which is fantastic.
“All the players deeply care about the club and that’s the culture we have in the dressing room and off the field.”
Frickley’s vastly improved campaign was reflected in an enjoyable end of season awards evening when star striker Jacob Hazel was the big winner.
Hazel, who finished the season with an incredible 47 goals, won the supporters’ player of the year and players’ player of the year award while Tom Dugdale won the goal of the season award for his spectacular overhead bicycle kick against Belper.
Plans for next season are already under way with the signing of 18-year-old, six foot, three goalkeeper Callum Fielding from Worksop Town.
Fearn described him as highly rated and said: “Callum is a very good goalkeeper. He has great feet, commands his area and is a very good shot stopper.
“We became aware of him at the start of the season and our scout Dan Mills has watched him on several occasions and, of course, Craig Spink knows him very well as he played a big part in his development from the Worksop Town U19s to the first team. He will be a great addition to our team.”
Callum follows in the footsteps of his brother, Reece, a central defender, who played for Frickley while on loan from Doncaster Rovers during the 2016-17 season.
Frickley’s first pre-season game ahead of the next campaign has been announced when they will play a Doncaster Rovers side on Tuesday, July 10, with a 7.30pm kick-off. Ticket prices will be revealed shortly.