6 July 2011

AFTER almost a decade the name Denaby United will appear on fixture lists next season following an ambitious effort to revive the club. And those behind the rebirth are not holding back in forming their aspirations.

Committee members are targeting a return to the heights of the previous club as soon as possible. Discussions over a revival began last year when Community First were looking for football clubs to take the facilities at Old Road in Conisbrough as their base.

Paul Neilson – head coach of Tom Hill Amateur Boxing Club who are currently using the facilities at Old Road – pushed for a club to move there in order to create a sporting hub for Conisbrough and Denaby. But with the initial response rather weak, it was left to the group to look back rather than forward.

“It was Paul who suggested bringing back Denaby United,” said Steve Pugh, who attended the Community First meeting. “I didn’t know if he was entirely serious but the idea sounded a good one so we explored it.”

Pugh has become secretary of the newly re-formed Denaby United Football Club with Neilson taking the role of chairman. The move brings to an end a period of more than nine years when Denaby United ceased to exist.

A dispute with Denaby and Cadeby Miners Welfare, who operate the club’s former home Tickhill Square, ended with United having no suitable ground to ply their trade.

Rather than move out of the area, the decision was made to close the club after 107 years in existence. It was a loss felt hard by the community, something which has driven the effort to revive it. Pugh said: “It’s something we really wanted to do because these villages deserve to have a team the size that Denaby United was. “Though a lot of work has gone into bringing it back, it’s been quite simple. Because Denaby United didn’t go under with any debts and just closed itself, we can still use the name. “We’ve added 2011 to the name but we’ll be looking to quietly drop that after one season.  “We’re very enthusiastic about this project and are excited about what’s ahead. “We spoke to Barrie Dalby who was secretary of the club before it closed and we have his blessing which is really positive. “We’ve got our fingers crossed but we’re really hopeful we can make a success of this.”

Denaby will start next season in Division One of the Doncaster and District Senior League, just two rungs from the bottom of the English football pyramid. To return to the level where Denaby were when they folded, the Northern Counties East League Premier Division, the club will have to achieve five promotions and Pugh is aiming for them to do it as quickly as possible.

He said: “We know it’s not going to be easy but we’re confident we can get back up their quickly. “There are a lot of good footballers in Denaby and Conisbrough who will want to wear the United colours at some point. This club should never have closed in the first place so that’s where the determination comes from to get them back up to the Northern Counties League. ‘

Three teams will carry the name Denaby United next season. Pugh ran two sides in the Wragg Over 35s League under the Conisbrough Alma name last season and both will come under the United banner next term.

The former Maltby Colliery miner said: “Conisbrough Alma have won promotion to the Premier League so we’re determined to see that through. It’s a really competitive league and Sheffield FC and Hallam both have sides in there. Keeping the Over 35s will really help develop the club as a whole because it will keep people together even after they’re a bit too old to play in the first team. Part of developing the club will involve the creation of a youth set-up, to farm future talent for the first team. We’re very keen to have a youth system.

The point in resurrecting the club was part of creating that hub and having a youth team is vital for that. It’s something that will take time and we’re looking at getting our foundations down first before we start with that.”

One of the first pieces of business for the club’s committee is to form the Conisbrough and Denaby Community Sports Association which will be based at Old Road. And funding organisations such as the Football Foundation and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust have been contacted with a view to redeveloping the existing facilities. Members of the club’s seven-strong committee are hopeful one day Denaby United will run out at their former home Tickhill Square.

Much has changed at the Denaby ground since then with the demolition of the old stand.
And Pugh is not eager to take the team back there unless the ground can be restored to its former glory. The 45-year-old said: “We’d love to return to Tickhill Square at some point because that’s the home of this football club. “But we won’t be doing it until there is a stand there. We want to take the club back to somewhere we can build from and achieve success without having to worry about ground regulations. There’s very little in the way of facilities there at the moment, not enough for what we’d need over the next few years.”

The club started their pre-season preparations this week but are still looking for players to run out for the first team who will be managed by John Holdsworth.

 Pugh said: “We’d love to take in players from Conisbrough and Denaby and make this a truly local club. “John has got a lot of experience of Sunday football and it’ll be valuable for us as we grow over the next couple of years. “These are going to be exciting times.”

Anyone interested in playing for Denaby United in the Doncaster Senior League, joining the club’s committee or offering services should contact Steve Pugh.