Hurst Green Football Club
Hurst Green FC has made a fine start to the new season with both their first and reserve teams going well. Football Focus Magazine recently caught up with their Chairman Elliott Taylforth and Secretary Sam Hayes to find out more.
FF: How long have you been involved and what first attracted you to the club?
SH: I played for the club a few years ago to help out for half a season and we ended up winning the Lancashire Cup and the club really got a hold of me. A couple of years later, thanks to the manager at the time, convinced me to step down a few levels and play for the ‘Green Army’.
It was the first season that this little, great club had taken a step up to the West Lancashire League – and a journey we’ve been on together ever since. We won the league at the first time of asking and were promoted to the 1st Division – this was a massive achievement at the time and we are proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past four seasons.
I knew this was the club where I would end up finishing my playing career and now this season taking over the Club Secretary role, means I’ll be staying on to do what I can, to help the next generation at San Smithy Row.
ET: My Father reformed the club in the 60’s, after a brief hiatus. He was club secretary from then until he died (when I was 18). I’ve been involved since I was born and I am now carrying the torch, previously as secretary and now as chairman.
FF: What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your role?
SH: For me at present, it is balancing both on field and off field activities. Being the Club Secretary is still new to me, but with a great committee – everyone ‘chips in’ to help each other out. My other focus is still playing at my age and leading by example on the pitch! I’m loving the football at the moment, as we have a great management team for both our first team and reserves, and the players really give everything to the cause.
ET: Dealing with bureaucracy! The higher up the football ladder you climb, the more red tape there seems to be! As for rewarding aspects – seeing a small club punching well above its weight, and how much pleasure that gives to the small but supportive community. And hearing a big name like Will Greenwood name drop us in the National media!
FF: How’s the general mood down at the club at the moment?
SH: Top Notch! The mood throughout the club is great – from top to bottom. The players get to play on the best surface in the league, coupled with the great coaching and training sessions put on by our 1st Team Manager (Tom Bartlett) and a fantastic atmosphere off the pitch; it really does make it all worthwhile. There is still noting better at 5pm on a Saturday and getting those 3 points, all that week’s work by everyone behind the scenes makes you realise what it’s all about!
ET: The mood is good. Both first and reserve teams have had a good start to the season. We have had some issues regarding Step 7 compliance, but these appear to have now resolved positively, so we are looking forward to a successful campaign, and keep our fingers crossed that we will be in the mix for promotion come April.
FF: How would you say the start to the season has gone for the club?
SH: So far so good! Saying that, we’re doing the best we’ve ever done at this level. This is a complete credit to the Managers and players; their drive and determination really shows through.
ET: As well as could be expected. Apart from a disappointing loss in the County Cup, our league form has been great. The first team were divisional team of the month for September – of course, it’s Sod’s Law that we then lose the next game!
FF: What do you think has been behind your successful start to the campaign?
SH: The new management team have been great, all lads that know the club and know the history, so they have been tremendous in their efforts. Alongside some fresh faces, there has also been a couple of old heads that are helping out the younger players in the teams.
ET: We have had a complete overhaul of the management team. The previous managers did great jobs but every now and then it helps to bring in “new” blood and new ideas. Though when I say new, all those involved have been involved with the club for a number of years. We prefer to keep things as in-house as much as we can!
FF: What are your plans for the rest of the campaign?
SH: We have to keep the momentum going now, and fingers crossed the weather won’t impact us too much. When you’re on a run of form, you just want to keep playing. Our ultimate aim is promotion, but it would be nice to get a cheeky cup under our belts. Both teams are doing really well and all the players know that we are one club here and not two separate teams.
ET: To keep winning, and for both teams to finish as high in their respective divisions as possible. Ideally, we would like to see the first team promoted to the Premier Division of the West Lancs League.
FF: Would you consider yours to be a community club?
SH: Very much so. This is a tiny village but a very supportive one. In my youth, and when I played, both first and reserve teams were predominantly made up of lads from the village. However, as we have got older, and the village demographic has changed, we have had to spread our net wider. However, every single player is not just a part of the football club, but a part of the village too.
FF: What do you believe could be some of the biggest challenges the club may face in the next five years?
SH: I guess the same with any non-professional clubs from Grassroots upwards. Player retention and recruitment, particularly for a small club such as ours, is always a cause for a headache. It seems to me that kids lose interest when they hit their late teens and prefer other hobbies to playing football.
We lived for football at the weekend, and nothing would be allowed to interfere. Now there are other more interesting things to do, it seems! One awful excuse we heard once, was from a young lad who ‘had to take his girlfriend to the Trafford Centre’!
FF: What are the clubs ambitions for the next five years?
SH: Promotion! Followed by consolidation. Thereafter to use Premier division status to help improve the club infrastructure. As a committee, we would also like to look at introducing junior and perhaps women’s football, to increase the reach of the club and ensure its future.