Team of the week - Townville Allstars: Plans are fluid despite tricky start

Townville Allstars FC of Castleford: Back row (left to right) Alex Bryan, John Cutting, John Thomas Massey, Ollie Bichard, Keaton Sellars, Ellis Brighmore, and Danny Armstrong. Front row (left to right) Landing Jallow,  Kieran Parkinson, David Rudge, Shaun Riley, Symon Harness, and Mark Ellam.
Townville Allstars FC of Castleford: Back row (left to right) Alex Bryan, John Cutting, John Thomas Massey, Ollie Bichard, Keaton Sellars, Ellis Brighmore, and Danny Armstrong. Front row (left to right) Landing Jallow, Kieran Parkinson, David Rudge, Shaun Riley, Symon Harness, and Mark Ellam.
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It would be the understatement of the millennium to suggest managerial changes in West Yorkshire are hardly the most uncommon of events.

In Uwe Rosler, Leeds United are onto their fifth manager in only 17 months since controversial Italian Massimo Cellino took over the club, whilst Huddersfield Town are on a rate of one a year over the last three seasons.

However, what is much more likely to be lesser known is that one club in Castleford has had its own fair share of managerial upheaval.

Townville Allstars have had three managers for their open age side, despite only forming in the autumn of last year.

The parallels with Leeds United don’t end there, as current gaffer Andy Clark has been forced to turn to youthful exuberance as he attempts to stabilise and develop his fledgling team.

Neil Redfearn should be able to sympathise more than most.

While Clark may not be able to throw the likes of Alex Mowatt, Lewis Cook, Sam Byram or Charlie Taylor into his side, he nevertheless has a breeding ground of emerging talent at his disposal, with the club running teams from under-sevens upwards.

“We were initially founded in July 2014 as a junior club with five teams,” says club secretary Simone King.

“But in October of that year we were approached by a few lads about starting an open age team.

“It was something we planned to do eventually and as they wouldn’t be able to get into a league until this September we agreed, giving what we thought to be plenty of time to get things settled and in place.

“How wrong were we!

“As a club we are very lucky to have fantastic facilities and a group of fundraisers who work tirelessly to raise funds for the club.

“So we were able to fund the initial set-up of the open age team quite easily and a sponsor for the home kit, Emma’s Sandwich Bar in Glasshoughton, was soon found alongside an away kit sponsor, WA Cook Castleford.

“Despite having this support, things have been very up and down for the squad.

“The biggest issue has been getting a manager and coaching team.

“Over the year the team has had three managers who for whatever reason have had to move on.

“However Andy Clark has now taken on that role and is doing a brilliant job in providing stability and continuity. The lads are responding well.”

The fact that the club was able to raise the money with such ease should not be taken lightly, although in truth it should come as no surprise.

Many teams struggle to find sponsors, and often have to get by without such help for years after their formation, instead having to constantly struggle to scrape together the money required to run a club on a week-by-week basis.

However, King and committee member Louise Sellars have proved their fundraising credentials on numerous occasions, and at one point in circumstances which were so poignant they highlighted that a football club, no matter whether professional or amateur, should be about so much more than what happens on the pitch.

In February the club managed to raise almost £1,000 for the British Heart Foundation with an event which included the coaches taking part in a sponsored leg wax, in addition to a horse racing competition, tombola and performances from singers Dan Jacobs and Shirley Scott. Sellars triumphantly concluded that the day was a “great success”.

Such a charity was chosen as it was a year after club chairman, and Simone King’s husband, Brian, had remarkably cheated death. Having suffered a cardiac arrest while at work, his heart actually stopped beating for 40 minutes, until paramedics revived him and he underwent a life-saving double heart bypass in hospital.

As well as coaching the under-14 side, Brian now pertinently runs a walking football team at the club. With no running allowed, not even a gentle jog, the sport is rapidly becoming increasingly popular among the elderly as a form of exercise, whilst it also allows the participants to roll back the years and play a sport which may otherwise have been too physically intense.

With the club thriving off the pitch, attention has now been able to be turned towards the happenings on it. Not helped by the changes to the manager, the team has understandably started slow as the players gradually get used to competing in Division One of the Castleford and District Sunday League.

Playing their home matches at the Townville Recreation and Sports club, on Poplar Avenue in Castleford, the Allstars are still searching for their maiden points of the season.

It is plain for all to see where Clark’s first priority will be – the side have conceded 70 goals in six matches this campaign, although this statistic has been somewhat skewed by a 19-0 defeat to White Swan FC in 
only their second competitive match.

Meanwhile there are promising signs going forward, where they have a healthy return of eight goals from the six games.

Furthermore, more players are now joining, meaning Clark, who scored in a defeat at George V AFC, should be able to field a full starting eleven without have to select himself.

Simone King refuses to be downbeat and is adamant the club have plenty cause for optimism.

“The team is now in the early stages of getting a settled squad,” she adds.

“Going forward our aim is to build a successful team but everyone knows this doesn’t happen overnight.

“This season will be a huge learning curve so we are ready for next season.

“Our junior side already has charter standard status and we are now working to get the adult side charter standard.

“Then as a club we can go for community charter standard status.

“We are a rapidly growing club with eight junior sides and now our open age side, which seems to be attracting an ever-growing number of players, so much so that we are considering having a reserves team that play on Saturdays.

“The lads are a fantastic set of local lads, many of whom have never played in open age before so they are a new, young, inexperienced squad playing in a league against experienced sides.”

“But they are determined and dedicated to the cause and are working really hard to make the team a success.”