With the Midland Football League Under 21 season starting on Saturday, Gary Hazlehurst had a chat with manager, Neil Beasley to get his thoughts on the new campaign.
It must feel strange preparing for league football after such a long lay off?
It’s been an incredibly long and frustrating time for everyone involved with the team. Our goalkeeper and the only player we’ve ever transferred, Joe Newey, has been with us since October 2020 and has never represented the club competitively. It’s the same for the U21s coach Maria Birkett, she’s part of the furniture here now but has yet to be part of a competitive game. We now look totally different to the last time we played both in terms of the playing staff but also the coaching. We’re all looking forward to some routine and seeing where we are as a squad.
How have preparations gone for the start of the season?
Preparations for the start of the season have gone really well. We’ve brought back ex Brocton player and highly qualified and experienced coach Aran Hickey from Lichfield. Aran joined with Sam Bent and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. A coach of Aran's experience is more than we could have hope for. We’ve recruited really well and have some very exciting players. We’ve also got our younger, talented players from last season who are now 8 months older and more experienced. It’s an exciting time for the young Badgers. We needed to sort out our goal scored from previous years and I’m confident we have done that. We’ve Max Turner who’s had experience playing for Paget Rangers first team and we’ve recently welcomed back last years top goal scorer Ryan Chilton from Stafford Town. Throw into the mix Joe Bancroft who scores from midfield and it’s an exciting time. We’ve given time to young defenders Lewis Hughes, Matt Kilkenny and Ben Richardson and all have done incredibly well and looked comfortable. We’ve played seven preseason games and whilst the results have been mixed we’ve used a lot of players and more importantly learnt a lot. It’s certainly helped with our fitness!
There must have been a huge amount of pride in seeing a number of your young players performing well for the first team in preseason and in the NWCFL?
Seeing so many players who have been with the u21s playing in the NWCFL makes me extremely proud. I speak to the lads regularly and it’s great to hear how they’re progressing. I genuinely enjoy seeing these guys progress and do well. It shows that the clubs u21s is flourishing and Brocton’s u21s enjoy a good reputation locally. It also satisfying to see them playing for other first teams even though I hoped it would be with Brocton. The future of the club looks promising if we can keep hold of these players.
With 1030 kick offs, it’s a great chance for fans to some quality football. What can we expect on our Saturday mornings?
In many ways the early kick offs we enjoy are beneficial, historically it’s meant that players who weren’t quite getting enough minutes for the first team to maintain fitness could drop down and gain playing time. It also means we don’t spend the day waiting around to play football. We’ve enjoyed a decent amount of support throughout preseason and this is sure to continue taking into account the amount of exciting u18s players we have. One thing I can almost guarantee is goals and plenty of them. We’ve never had a 0-0 and the league rarely gets one. You’ll get to see some very exciting players, Tim Khayat and Charlie Greensill are very exciting with their pace and creativity. Come and have a look, you might be surprised at the entertainment on show. Plus it’s free
The Under 21s begin with a home game against Dream Chasers Youth. Kick off at Silkmore Lane is 1030