The year 2016 might have been marked by the political turmoil caused by Brexit and Donald Trump, and by the plethora of celebrity deaths. But for Ollerton Town Football Club, it was actually a year that will live long in the memory for all the right reasons.
For 2016 was the year ambitious Ollerton achieved a long-held ambition of gaining promotion to the Northern Counties East League (NCEL) where, after a sticky start of seven straight defeats, they are currently holding their own in the First Division.
Town opened the 12-month period sitting only seventh in the Central Midlands League’s North Division. But some terrific form, including a run of eight successive wins to end the season, saw Dave Winter’s side finish second and, therefore, claim promotion to step six of the national non-league pyramid.
That run of eight games at the end of last season was such a good time for everyone at the club, with a highlight being a win away to promotion rivals Harworth, where Ben Bowring’s late winner was an unforgettable moment, as were the celebrations that followed.
The close season brought a period of uncertainty with Ollerton having to wait for promotion to be confirmed, but the committee worked tirelessly to get the ground ready.
Winter and his assistant, Stephen Bodle, managed to keep most of the squad and made some quality additions, including Brandon Shaw, Mark Carter, Josh Dodd and Josh Bowkett. The poor start to life in the NCEL was a wake-up call to everyone at the club, but the players kept the good team spirit and have steadied the ship well.
At the time of writing, Ollerton sit 17th in the table and although the drop zone is not far away, everyone at the club is determined to add as many points as possible in the New Year to avoid a relegation battle.
The year 2016 also marked the fifth anniversary of Winter and Bodle taking over at the club, and the pair celebrated the occasion in style with a fantastic 4-0 home win over Selby Town. Another stand-out result of life in the NCEL so far has to be the 3-2 victory at Hallam. To go to one of the promotion favourites, missing some key players, and battle to a win like that was an admirable achievement.
One asset that was consistent through 2016 was Ollerton’s terrific support. Home and away, the team were followed in numbers, and such backing played a crucial role in the club’s success. Attracting more than 180 against Teversal was some effort.
The year 2016 was also a good one for Ollerton’s ladies’ team, even though they could not achieve promotion after a six-point deduction because of an administrative error dropped them from second to third in their first-ever season in the East Midlands Women’s League.
Neil Hamilton’s side are determined to make amends this time round and as we move into 2017, they look on course. They currently sit top of the leeague’s
Division One North, four points clear of second with a game in hand and all set to emulate the men’s team by going up in style.