As we all look out of the window at the glorious weather, wondering when, (and if), life will return to something like normal, we speculate as to when the love of our life, proper non- league football, will start once again. Time to remember last season.
As we all now know, the 2019/2020 NCEL season is to become the season that never was. There are some that say all records should be expunged. Before that possibility comes to pass we take some time to review the season that never was.
Our season started on the first Tuesday in July with a friendly against our close friends and rivals, Tadcaster Albion, a narrow defeat, in front of a healthy Fairfax Plant Hire Stadium crowd.
Further friendlies followed. Selby Town was still celebrating its Centenary Year, and held a joint celebration with fellow centenarians, Riccall United. The Eric Lawton Cup was retained by beating Goole AFC, at The Victoria Pleasure Ground, by 1-3.
A final friendly saw Town handed a thrashing at the home of Ossett United, but, despite this, all at Selby Town were confident that the Robins were in good shape for the season to come.
The first Saturday in August, and the league program began with a tough home fixture against the fancied Skegness Town. After conceding early The Robins had to work very hard for a point. Four superb league wins followed, before August was wrapped up with an FA Vase win at Avro of The Northwest Counties League Premier Division.
Among the division pace setters already, Town suffered their first league defeat at Nostell Miners Welfare on the first Saturday in September. 0-2 up at half time, but the Robins contrived to lose 3-2. However, September saw two further league victories, and progress in The Vase, and the League Cup.
No-one will ever forget 21st September 2019, as 285 people packed into The Fairfax Plant Hire Stadium to celebrate it being 100 years and a day since the Robin’s first ever match. A very emotional game saw Selby triumph 4-2.
October was a mixed bag. More progress in The Vase, but exit from the West Riding Senior Cup, at the hands of Armthorpe Welfare, and the League Cup, courtesy of Dronfield Town. League aspirations were dented by a home defeat by close rivals, Campion.
If October was a mixed bag, then November was a disaster. The weather played a huge part. The only match that was played was The FA Vase match, which was actually a home tie switched to Bridlington Town because of the weather. Two straight red cards saw The Robins down to ten men. It wasn’t a surprise that a 2-4 defeat saw surrender of their place in The Vase, but Town certainly made their opponents sweat, despite the numerical advantage.
The then leading scorer, Chris Jackson, left the club for Australia, and the lack of playing league games saw Town lose their position near the top of the league.
Perhaps the only highlight was Prime Minister, Boris Johnson giving Selby Town a shout out for their Centenary Year. Many thanks to local MP and sponsor, Nigel Adams, for arranging that.
Cup exploits over, and so to concentrate on the league.
Raring to go for December, and Selby were given a dose of reality as they were thrashed 0-5 at home by fellow promotion contenders, North Ferriby. In a month were fixtures were again ravaged by the vagaries of the weather Town bounced back with a victory at Armthorpe, and a creditable goal-less draw at Skegness Town.
The end of the Centenary season, and Town were one of the fancied sides. Robin’s supporters were daring to dream of a long overdue promotion.
Those dreams were beginning to turn into reality, as a perfect January saw five straight victories with twenty three goals scored. The people of Selby were really coming on board with two home crowds of over 300 fans. Town were racing towards the top of the table.
February arrived, and the sweet smell of success was blown away, almost literally, by a windswept defeat at Hall Road Rangers. Bouncing back, Town managed three more victories despite the weather interfering again. Two of those victories were at The Fairfax Plant Hire Stadium, and were played in front of crowds of 355, and 348 respectively. The last match played in February was an 11-2 demolition of East Hull, a match that finally saw The Robins hit the top of the table.
March arrived with everyone hoping that the weather would permit a busy, but uninterrupted end to the season. Selby fans were hoping that the season would end with promotion success, maybe even with Town as League winners.
The month commenced with a resounding victory over Rossington Main. Liam Flanagan registered a hat-trick and in doing so took his Selby Town total past 100 goals. Joyous scenes.
A huge expectant crowd of 410 fans, the biggest at The Fairfax Plant Hire Stadium for many a year awaited close rivals Winterton Rangers. Level on points with The Robins at the summit, there was a feeling that the match was pivotal. Unfortunately Selby were not at their best and were defeated 0-2.
No opportunity to bounce back, because as we all know the season has been suspended, and now has been declared as null and void.
For the record Town had played 25 games at the time of suspension, so another 13 to play. They had amassed 56 points and had a massive goal difference of +46, the best in the Division. Third in the league, two points behind Skegness Town with a game in hand, and three points behind Winterton Rangers, with two games in hand.
Home: Played 14 Won10 Drawn 1 Lost 3 F51 A26
Away: Played 11 Won 8 Drawn 1 Lost 2 F35 A14
A great position, but we will never know what might have been. However, the season past, will long remain in the memory of Selby Town fans. Goals galore, and then some. Here’s hoping The Robins can go again, and win the promotion that all Town fans have been dreaming of.
Whatever the future holds, whoever of our descendants gets to write the Selby Town Bicentenary book for 2119, has one heck of a first chapter to write!
By Phil Dearnley