Gary Forster’s 2019/20 Season Review

Guisborough Manager’s review of the season cruelly cut short by the Coronavirus crisis.

Gary Forster and David Onions

Guisborough Town Manager Gary Forster (pictured above left with right hand man David Onions) has written an ‘end of season’ review summarising the ups and downs of a uniquely unusual football season.

Gary said that despite the uncertainty which still exists he will endeavour to prepare for next season as best he can under difficult circumstances.

He thanked his players and everyone associated with the club – in particular the army of KGV volunteers – for all their hard work over the shortened season, a real highlight of which was the 71 per cent increase in attendances at the matches.

One of the highlights of the season saw attedances increase by 71%

This is Gary’s full review and thoughts both looking back and forwards on an unprecedented season:

“Hi everyone – firstly (which is a bit strange for a review of the season) I must start at the end. I have been asked a few times on my thoughts of how the season has come to an end. Unfortunately, I do feel the FA were put in an impossible position.

“We must remember that football is an entertainment and hobby for most. We must realise that this was a life and death situation for far too many. There was an argument for lots of different scenarios to be played out by many in our division. Most clubs were in an unknown situation with regards to how or where they would finish.

“That said, I do have sympathy for our neighbours Stockton Town. They were clearly going to get a well-earned promotion and for this to happen is extremely unfortunate. For Guisborough, the Stockton games are always entertaining and one of the more exciting fixtures of the season. I look forward to coming up against them in the future.

“We started our preparations for the season looking at getting the club back in the top half of the division. We had a couple of years of stabilisation after the relegation battle from when I was appointed, it was important that we moved into the top half this year. This was reflected in our summer additions, Ste Snaith, Lewis Hawkins, Josh Rowbotham and Sonni Coleman who were much sought after by other clubs.

“We were delighted to bring them all into the club. With these, plus the two very valuable additions on loan from our good friends at Hartlepool United in Ryan Catterick and Brooklyn Miller (who were fantastic, and we wish them all the best in their future careers) we really fancied our chances of achieving our goals. And maybe a little more! Although we missed Snaith in pre-season due to injury, our pre-season form backed up our beliefs. We had good performances and results in our three memorial games against Whitby, Marske and Thornaby respectfully.

Ryan Catterick was superb for Guisborough, and surely has a big future ahead of him

“The first official game of the season was a tough trip away to Seaham Red Star, who had made some good signings and we knew we would do well to come away with anything. We were excellent on the day coming away with a deserved and impressive 2-0 win Northallerton and Penrith as well as beating West Auckland at home. This tremendous start saw us surge to the top of the division.

Gary was delighted with his teams performance on the opening day of the season

“Not long after this, we beat a very good footballing side at the KGV in Whitley Bay. Unfortunately, this game led to a season-ending injury to the influential Snaith (who has now moved to Australia to continue his football career) and our midfield General Lewis Hawkins moved on after receiving a much better financial offer from Blyth Spartans. A move upwards which no one could criticise. This obviously rocked us a little and it took some time for us to find replacements in Paul Young and Harry Thompson to get us going again.

Steven Snaith was hugely impressive for the Priorymen in his albeit short second stint at the Club

“During this unsettled period, we were disappointed to lose against an underrated Newcastle Benfield side in the F.A Vase. We had achieved some good results in the competition prior to this in beating Penrith, Albion Sports and Chadderton all away from home. The Benfield defeat, along with the season low-point of going out of the County cup in a poor display at Thornaby, have to go down as big disappointments; In the dressing room, we felt that these were two competitions where we could have achieved more.

FANTASTIC RUN!

“Having said that, once the side settled down again, we went on a fantastic run which propelled us up the league table once again. In this run, we went eight games unbeaten, only conceding in one game in the 2-2 draw vs Hebburn, winning all other 7 games.

Josh Rowbotham was a rock at the back all season

“We continued this excellent form – just not quite as emphatically until the point where the season prematurely ended, with us in joint 6th position. I think we would have all taken that last summer. I don’t feel the teams above us would have dropped enough points for us to get promoted, but we would have ensured that they wouldn’t have been allowed too many slip ups – that’s for certain!

“Moving forward, I will endeavour to prepare for the season ahead as best I can given the current uncertain climate. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Club is in a precarious position; we need the town to back us more than ever. The current squad and staff have a lot invested in this football club. I can genuinely say that we are all proud to pull the team shirt on and represent this club every Saturday. Long may that continue.

“The 71 per cent increase in attendances this season hasn’t gone unnoticed: we really appreciate the support we have received; it has made match days even more of a pleasure than what they were before. “From the playing staff I would like to add my thanks to all the volunteers that for me are the heartbeat of our superb club. From the ground staff to the kitchen and bar staff, you have been our ‘players of the year’. Brilliant performances every week! “I look forward to seeing you all in the near future, either on the pitch or at the bar!! Cheers from me, Gaz!”

Meanwhile, Guisborough Town recently launched a new-look weekly 50FIFTY draw which is brining desperately needed income into the club. It has been supported superbly so far with just over 200 people joining in, meaning the prize money has reached £100 per draw.

There is still time to join in if you wish so please just follow the joining instructions below, or e-mail 50Fifty@guisboroughtown.co.uk for more details:

Despite the tough times Guisborough Town are facing, the club has still nevertheless continued to demonstrate its support for the local community and only last week the club donated 200 Easter eggs (see picture overleaf) to deserving youngsters via its community partner organisation Guisborough Bridge Association. Well done to well-known club volunteer Chris Wood for organising this.

Eggstra-special community donation from GTFC in  partnership with the Guisborough Bridge Association