Cobras keen to show progress on and off the pitch in 90th year

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A new badge to commemorate a notable milestone is a symbol of fresh optimism at Clipstone FC.

The Cobras had endured a turbulent 2017 after then chairman Dave Paling walked away from the club due to business and personal commitments.

Manager and players followed out the exit door as the club struggled to get a team out before their luck hit a new low when vandals damaged the clubhouse.

A pre-season friendly with Mansfield Town, arranged to help boost club coffers, was cut short when a floodlight failure brought proceedings to a half time halt.

With the club on the verge of going under, a group of local supporters pulled together to keep their passion alive, led by vice chairman Andy Sumner.

A team full of young and hungry local players has been assembled, a managerial team with links to the professional game installed and hope of a brighter future evident.

The club are keen celebrate its heritage while strengthening ties with the local community in now its 90th year - and have begun by creating a new crest.

“We want to bring back some of the heritage to the club,” said Sumner, who grew up next door to the club on Church Lane and first watched a game in 1978.

“The badge clearly shows the year the club was born, 1928, and it also shows the pit headstocks as well as the club’s name, Clipstone Football Club.

“We’ve had a good response to it. Everyone seems to love it which is great from our point of view. We want people to feel connected to the club they support.”

“Every other week there is a club that is struggling when the benefactor pulls out. We’re trying to make it sustainable so the club’s here for another 90 years.

“The reason why we put the headstocks on the badge is because we want to make sure people recognise it was a club built around the mining community. We don’t want to lose that.”

The badge is likely to appear on a new first team kit next season and Sumner said it could remain in the years that follow to remind the community of the club’s history.

“We’re looking at buying a new kit for next season and put that badge on there. The local community is the most challenging but we’re trying to keep everyone engaged.

“We’re delighted with the response from the fans. Our programme editor designed it on his laptop, took some people’s views then we felt confident to go with it.

“We’ve got all the ingredients on there; the date, the headstocks, the black and white, the football, the shield and kept the colours so we were confident in it.

“We were confident in it because we stuck to our heritage. We’re embracing our history and I think that will stand us in good stead for the future,” he said.

On the pitch, Clipstone are having a difficult time of it in the Toolstations Northern Counties East League Premier Division and are staring relegation in the face.

Bottom of the pile, with just one point to their name, it has been a learning curve for the young players but one which Sumner believes will benefit them next season.

“We are struggling,” he said. “It’s been a baptism of fire but we’re actually in a stronger position off the field than we were before. It’s just getting the results on the field now as well.

“We’re stronger now. We want to be a community club, we want to give local footballers a chance and now we want to celebrate its 90th year to reflect on our club.

“We’ve got a lot of sponsors on board, lots of people volunteering help at the ground and we’re in a good place in spite of when you look at the league table.

“We’re putting things in place for next year, Jamie Hardwick (former manager, now part of the managerial team under new boss Alan Widdowson) has got some young lads who are struggling a bit but they’re learning and developing all the time.

“We’re not paying a wage because at the moment we’re looking to build a sustainable community club. We’re striving to play at the highest level possible.”

Cobras have also been keen to reconnect with the town’s junior team, Clipstone Colts, as it looks to establish a pathway for younger players to progress through the ranks.

“We’ve started building links back up with the Colts who have teams from under-6s. The kids are now using our ground and we’re doing some joint ventures,” said Sumner, who is appealing for past players, managers, volunteers and officials to get in touch with their memories of the club. There’s also talk of a reunion match being arranged in the summer.

“What we’ve been trying to do is get past players, past managers to get in touch with us to share their stories and memories of what is an incredible local club.

“We want to bring the club back into the community.

“We’re thinking of having a reunion night or a reunion game where we can invite ex players, managers, officials and volunteers back to the club for the night or for a game to say ‘thank you’. We want to celebrate the club’s heritage.”

l Share your memories of Clipstone in its 90th year by emailing Andy Sumner on andy@sumner.mobi