Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Something to aspire to

CMFL Chairman Frank Harwood’s recent look back at the league’s success stories reinforces the belief that the move was right for Easington…

The following piece appeared on the Central Midlands League Football Mitoo site on 2 January.  Edited extracts from it are posted here by kind permission of the League:
The lack of matches to report on gave me the chance to reminisce, so I delved into the records to see where ex-CMFL clubs, who have been promoted, are playing in now and this shows a remarkable record….
Without doubt being a member of the CMFL has been a good move for a lot of clubs, the league can be proud of the great influence it has played, in the shaping of non-league football in the Midlands and North.
43 clubs have been promoted to higher football since the formation of the league in 1971, most during the past twenty years.
38 still play at level 6 or above, with 2 (Hinckley and Ilkeston Town) now at level 3, only two steps from the Football League.
One level below sees 8 ex-CMFL clubs. In the Unibond League Premier Division are leaders Retford United, third-placed Bradford Park Avenue and Hucknall Town.
In Unibond Division One South Mickleover Sports, Glapwell, Carlton Town, Goole and Lincoln United all graced the CMFL.
The Northern Counties East League have seen the biggest number of ex-CMFL clubs progress into their league, in fact the league would certainly have not reached its position in the Pyramid of Football without ex-CMFL clubs;
6 clubs play in their Premier Division (Step 5) and 8 in Division One (Step 6).
Ex-CMFL clubs now monopolise the East Midlands Counties Football League, with 12 clubs being former members of the Central Midlands Football League.
In the South 2 other ex CMFL clubs play in higher football, Boston and Loughborough.
Some clubs who joined the league from local football have made remarkable strides. Hucknall Town had just a field with a wooden pavilion when they joined the CMFL and the same could be said for Mickleover Sports. Sports’ record is remarkable, because just ten years ago they were members of the Supreme Division.
Lincoln Moorlands, who are now at Step 5, were members of the CMFL Premier Division in 1998/1999. That season they achieved promotion to the Supreme Division, the following season they won the Supreme Division and were promoted to the NCEL.
Perhaps the most remarkable achievement is the record of Retford United. In just five years, from being the Champions of the Supreme Division in 2003/4, they have moved up to Step 4, just three rungs from the Football League. If they retain their present position they could be at Step 3 next season.
What areas have most benefited from their clubs being part of the CMFL? Nottinghamshire leads the way with twelve, eleven Derbyshire clubs have progressed, Yorkshire & Humberside (how I hate that term – Ed) boost seven clubs, five from Lincolnshire and three from Leicestershire, making-up the total of thirty eight.

Reading the above has helped convince me that the decision to "jump ship" last summer was the right one.  It would appear that we have joined a competition with a real pedigree of success in moving clubs onwards and upwards.
On his first visit to Low Farm CMFL President Tony Goodacre told me that the League’s main aim would be to get us in at one end and out at the other as quickly as possible; in the same way that 43 others before us have gone. A success rate of over a club a year is good going by any standards – it certainly stands up well against the HPL!
Joking aside, such figures also remind us of the reasons why we first considered following Westella and Hutton Cranswick’s decision to move competitions a year earlier. You can have all the talk you like about the HPL gaining Step 7 status by next season, bringing it into line with the CMFL Supreme Division and effectively making our current status a “demotion” but come on, would anybody associated with our club swap a trip to Lees Lane for a game at, say, Malet Lambert School?
However, my point in this piece is not so much to have a pop at the Humber Premier League. The thinking behind that competition’s launch in 2000 was admirable – to bring grassroots football in the East Riding into the 21st Century and give progressive clubs a bridge over which they could eventually cross to the Northern Counties East League.
We took up the offer to become founder members without hesitation (unlike some who, ironically, are now among our most vociferous critics following our latest move) and for the most part we thoroughly enjoyed our time therein.
But as Easington United Association Football Club enters its 63rd year, I think membership of the CMFL has opened up a whole new range of possibilities for the future. Although size is against our making the same sort of leaps as some of the clubs mentioned above, the area of Holderness is plenty big enough to support a team playing at Step 6. And ‘The Eastenders’ are currently the best placed to aim for it.
Anyway, what’s life without a dream or two?

Finally, having mentioned Westella earlier in the piece I must admit to being somewhat taken aback when reading on Sporthull of manager Dave Anderson’s recent departure, along with assistant and one-time Hutton Cranswick boss Mally Parker. Therein it cites the “taken the club as far as they can” cliché but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more to come out.
Rumour has it Dave is taking over at Barton Town Old Boys. Although I often had disagreements with him during HPL matches (not to mention getting wound-up about past approaches to our players!) he was always good for a chat before and after games. And along with Denis Cox at Hutton Cranswick, he proved a real help during our switch from HPL to CMFL.  I genuinely wish him all the best on his new career...erm...whatever that may be!

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