Stalybridge Celtic looking for improvement in 2018
Monday 18th December 2017 @ 16:38 by Mark Phillip
Football Stalybridge

It is undisputable that 2017 has been a disappointing year for Stalybridge Celtic  with poor results and a poor position in the table clear for all to see.

The return of manager Steve Burr led many to believe that Celtic would make an instant return to the National League North. However, after an awful opening to the season, and not much improvement, Celtic seem likely to be ending 2017 sat second from bottom in the relegation zone, and it seems they have a fight on their hands to stay up during the second half of the season. With just six wins so far this campaign – and not one away from home – the slow start in the league may well cost Celtic a second relegation in succession.

Stalybridge have made a number of high profile signings this year too, with ex Hyde, Halifax and Oldham winger, Connor Hughes coming into the ranks to hopefully add some added flair to the team, but unfortunately there has been no immediate impact in terms of progressing in the league table. Hughes’ efforts have, however, been rewarded with the player of the month award for November.

If Celtic’s woes seem bad this season, they could have been even worse had Liam Dickinson not returned to the club.

Having initially been left out of Burr’s plans over summer, the striker was re-called by the club and has since scored 11 goals in 21 appearances, making the 32-year-old the top scorer at Bower Fold.

As well as Hughes, Celtic have also recruited two new goalkeepers in James Coates from Droylsden and Jake Turner on a loan deal from Bolton. The signings were after the original number 1, Joe Slinn was recalled back from his loan by his parent club, Port Vale.

While matters on the pitch appear bleak, the club has – and continues – to make progress off it. As well as completing another contract with their sponsorship partners Brother UK and Layfreight, the club has secured charitable status and continues to flourish within the community.

The aims and objectives of the charity are to provide and assist in the provision of community activities, projects and initiatives, by working with clubs, schools and organisations in the interests of social welfare for recreation or other leisure time occupation of individuals who have need of such facilities.

Factors include youth, age infirmity or disability, financial hardship or social circumstances, with the objective being to improve their life.

Following the launch, which took place at the beginning of December, Celtic’s community development officer, Mike Smith, said he was delighted with the accolade. “It’s fantastic; it’s the end of a long, hard road, and it’s taken us a while, but we got over the finishing line in the end, so there’s good things ahead.

“Within football, from the Manchester United Foundation right down to Plymouth and all across the country, most clubs’ community work is governed by a charity, so it enables us to access funding outside of the football family, and work with external partners and external funders to do more for our local communities.”

In February, Celtic also released plans to move to a new ground, leaving their current one that has been home for over a century. However, despite ongoing discussions with Tameside Council, Chairman Rob Gorski stated in  October that the plans to relocate are ‘effectively dead’ due to health and safety reasons.

Although a new ground is out of the equation, Gorski did suggest that the Bower Fold club house will be revamped with financial input from Tameside Council. Whether this will materialise or not remains to be seen, with Gorski responding to a question on the fans forum with the following statement: “We are a million miles away from discussing all of that. It’s not easy trying to get all of the important people involved in this, to have free dates. I’ve still only ever met Kieran Quinn once.”

If Celtic are to survive this season, they’ll need an upturn in fortunes and rapidly. If things don’t go to plan, they could exchange places with local rivals Hyde United, who seem primed for promotion this season.

 

By Jack Lynch and Mark Philip.