Manager sees much progress after Middleton-in-Teesdale's first season
THE coronavirus lockdown couldn’t have come at a worse time for one of the dale’s football clubs.
After a sticky start, Middleton-in-Teesdale FC had shown steady improvement in recent weeks in the Darlington Sunday Morning Invitation League.
As well as an upturn in league form, the side had also performed well in the cup competitions, reaching the semi final in one before the plug was pulled as a result of the spread of Covid-19.
The team was formed last summer and it saw the return of football to Middleton-in-Teesdale for the first time in 14 years.
Manager Dave Short said there was much to be positive about from the side’s truncated return to league action.
“At the start of the season we got a good battering, but we gradually improved,” he said.
“The scores came down and we started challenging the other teams. We recorded our first win in the league and got through to the semi final in one of the cups when we were not favourites to do so.
“We had the teams in the bottom half of the table to play in the remaining fixtures, so I think we could have moved up a place or two.”
Mr Short said he had been most impressed by the progress his young side had made throughout the season.
“A young side coming up against experienced players was always going to be hard,” he said.
“I was really proud of them. They went from 16-year-olds to men. It is good to win, but it’s not all about winning and it was good to see young lads step up.”
The club received a boost midway through the season one or two more experienced players from Staindrop headed up the dale after their team pulled out of the Wear Valley Sunday League.
“That bit of experience got the youngsters playing a lot better,” said Mr Short.
If and when the new season starts, Staindrop are planning to field at team in the Darlington league.
As a result, Mr Short is looking to recruit one or two other experienced players to replace those returning Staindrop for the new campaign.
“We are looking forward to a couple of local derbies next season,” he said.
“It's been a tricky season and it's had its ups and downs but there are some good signs for next year.
“Playing up at Middleton has been brilliant – I can’t thank the village enough for helping us out, especially Sue Bainbridge and Dave Garth.
“Dave looks after the field for us.
“He is such an amazing man, a real unsung hero. And we've had people turning out to support us.”
For more details about Middleton-in-Teesdale FC, or if anyone is interested in joining the squad, contact Mr Short on 07539 798871.