Sunday success can lead Hodnet back to Saturdays

Hodnet Football Club are preparing to secure their future and a possible return to Saturday league football after going from strength to strength on the Sunday circuit.

Hodnet FC captain Levi Hunter with players James Billington and Nathan Brayford (Photo: Aaron Evans Photography)
Hodnet FC captain Levi Hunter with players James Billington and Nathan Brayford (Photo: Aaron Evans Photography)

The village club folded in 2017, 10 years after forming, due to several players moving on.

They played Saturday football at the time and when former player Matt Allen revived the club in 2018, he became manager as they moved into Sunday league football.

After success at the bottom of the Shrewsbury Sunday League, Hodnet have now started their new season in Division One – after being awarded the Division Two title on points per game, having won all eight of their fixtures.

Although the club have a desire to play in the Premier Division on Sundays, they are targetting a first return to Saturday football within the next two years as they strive to get the facilities up to scratch.

"We're doing a lot of work behind the scenes to get up to the step seven regulations and we have a bit more work to do on the changing rooms, in terms of making them bigger," Allen said.

"We're also looking to get some investment from the football foundation for an officials changing room, which we're going through the application at the moment.

"A lot of work has been done on the pitch over the summer, re-seeding it and getting it in good condition. Work has also been done on the goalposts – the bits that go unnoticed.

"It's not our pitch, it's owned by the Parish Council, so everything we try and do has to be not just for us but for the community as well.

"We've always wanted to get into the top division of Sunday league, so if we win the league this year we'll go up to that top division.

"It very much depends on how things go this year. We wouldn't want to jump to Saturday football if we have the chance to play in the top division on Sunday's.

"We want to give that a good go, I think we could challenge there. But definitely within the next two years the plan is to go back to Saturday football. It may take that long to tick all the boxes with the facilities too.

"Everybody is quite excited to go back to Saturday football as that is how it all started in Hodnet.

"We had a very competitive, good team back in the day and I think we have that level of team again, now."

In meeting those regulations, comes work at the club and facilities and Allen is appealing for any local businesses that can help with sponsorship as they estimate £10,000 worth of work will need to be done.

"There's not a lot of support for small clubs, it's quite difficult to get the interest of support," he added.

"We don't charge for spectators coming in so we haven't got that revenue stream.

"Any business support is essential and one or two have been really helpful from the beginning. It's really beneficial.

"The officials changing rooms will set us back around £6,000, some more money will be spent on home changing rooms, we spend around £500 on the pitch.

"So any support that we get is really appreciated. One or two companies have been a god-send and really helpful.

"Not just in money to invest but helping behind the scenes. Particularly Drayton Plastics & Glass because they've helped us fix the roof on the changing rooms, replaced a window – all for free.

"That kind of help takes a massive weight off everyone at the club."

In the meantime, Hodnet have been playing their own part during lockdown, as they raised £500 to be split between the NHS and Royal British Legion.

As well as helping support worthy causes, Allen insists it was a good way for the players to keep in touch.

"We looked at what we could do for charity, doing our bit," he added.

"The NHS and Royal British Legion are close to our hearts in Hodnet so we wanted to raise £500. I know it's not much but we're only a small club, so it goes a long way.

"We did sponsored runs, bike rides, some in-house sweepstakes on the Bundesliga when that returned.

"Loads of local people contributed and helped us, so for a little village I thought it was quite a good achievement.

"It was important to keep everyone engaged and busy during a difficult time."

At the end of August, a further £200 was raised for a bone cancer charity in memory of former player Nick Pollard who passed away a decade ago.

The current team played the former Hodnet side in a charity game that Allen's side won 10-1. The game is played every year to raise money.

"When we got back to training in groups of six, eight and then back to normal, we organised a charity game against the old team – the guys still help out at the club now and again," Allen said.

"It was for a young man called Nick Pollard who passed away about 10 days ago, and we do that annual game for his charity the Bone Cancer Research Trust.

"We raised another £200 that weekend and it was a great weekend."

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