Some twenty years have elapsed since Blidworth Welfare re-joined the Central Midlands League, following a season in the Northern Counties East League (1994-95), where they stayed just a couple of season; they’re hoping for a much longer spell this time around following promotion to the United Counties Division One this past week.
That promotion comes after they claimed the Central Midlands League South championship, and sees them join fellow CML promoted side, Newark Town, in moving up a level, and for Club Secretary, Scott Ward, they couldn’t be happier, even if he’s been preparing for the 2022-23 campaign for some time now.
Some might say he was jumping the gun, but, in this game, behind the scenes, you have to be prepared for every eventuality, and, after all, what harm is a few phone-calls, just in case.
“As a secretary, we always have to be a good few months ahead of the game,” explained Blidworth’s Scott Ward.
“I’d already spoken to a few other secretaries whilst the application for promotion was going through, and it’s good that we’re actually able to bounce off each other.
“Our main aim was to win the league, and gain promotion, this season, we just knew we’d have to finish above Mickleover Reserves, whilst keeping check on clubs like Linby CW, Pixton, and Long Eaton United Community.”
In winning the league, by four points, from Mickleover Reserves, and six clear of third place Mickleover RBL, Blidworth have had a somewhat enjoyable league campaign.
Well, except for a few, minor blips, and that autumnal spell, occasions Scott feels could have derailed manager, Richard Hannigan, and his players’ season.
Scott though, although a pandemic all but shelved the previous two seasons, feels that, the games in which were played in 2020-21, saw momentum carried over, and helped to push the club onto the next level.
“We’d played twelve the previous season, winning eleven, and drawing one,” explained the Blidworth secretary.
“Because of that, we’d managed to sign on all but one of those players, so continuity was there.
“The season just finished, a few injuries, and the handful defeats, they came close to derailing us, and we actually had no Plan B in place either.”
Fortunately, Plan B wasn’t needed, just the goal-scoring process of the recently retired, Aiden Harris, who bagged thirty, alongside ten apiece from Triston Burrell (in twelve games) and Lee Townsend, they being three of some nineteen, differing scorers, throughout the campaign.
Unbeaten streak-wise, Blidworth’s campaign can be split into three, pretty equal part, beginning the campaign with nine unbeaten, then adding a ten match unbeaten streak at the turn of the year, before concluding with another, nine-match streak.
Those goals though, they most certainly helped, Scott adding of the importance on the season: “Aiden, he actually began the campaign in midfield, but we had to change shape, system, early in the season, and that really helped him.
“Up until the back end of the season, most of the goals we scored were actually netted in the last half hour or so, but Aiden, he’s decided now is the time for him to retire, especially as he ended the campaign with a broken leg.”
Now though, it’s all eyes on next season, in that United Counties Division One which has a rather good mix of Nottinghamshire sides included, making for what should be an exciting time ahead for Blidworth, Nottingham, and the county as a whole.
“It’s like the old, East Midlands Counties League,” continued Scott.
“We’re really pleased there, and it’s a good step up for us, and the lads are all looking forward to it.
“Our aim has to be to stay in the division, and do so whilst keeping this team together, so, mid-table would be an ideal scenario for us, and maybe a good run in the Vase as well, now that would be good.”
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @BlidworthFC the side celebrating their Central Midlands title win earlier this month.