2011 has been an outstanding year even by Whaley Bridge Football Club First Team's standards.
Whaley were Hope Valley Premier League winners for the second year running. After losing the opening game of the 2010-2011 season, Whaley went on to win 19 of the following 21 games, conceding only 13 goals. The most memorable performances were back to back wins against title hopefuls Dronfield Woodhouse and home and away wins over arch rivals Buxton Town.
2010-2011 Hope Valley Premier League Record
P22 W19 D1 L2 F86 A13 GD73 Pts58
In addition, Whaley won the Dore Shield with a resounding 5-0 win over Buxton Town in the final and, 3 days later, the Lawrence Cup with a 6-2 scoreline also against Buxton Town.
For me, the most enjoyable achievement was winning the Derbyshire Divisional Cup for the third year running with a particularly route to the final. Wins over Dove Holes, Cromford, Chapel, Wirksworth (for the second year running) set up a cracking final against Glossop NE Reserves. What a tense match that was and a fantastic team effort with everyone playing their part. In particular, James Tattersall pulled off the most incredible save at 1-1 and then Bill Sutton stepped up calmly to win the game from the penalty spot.
Chris Wood, Scott Dignan and Bill Sutton have played in every Derbyshire Cup match since October 2009.
2010-2011 Derbyshire Cup Record
P5 W5 F22 A5
The last time we lost a Derbyshire Cup match was 24/11/2007!
This season's campaign is going well and we are due to meet Dove Holes in the 3rd round.
A significant milestone was reached on 23 April 2011 when the club became an FA Charter Standard Community Club and hundreds gathered at the sun-drenched pitch to see FA Chairman David Bertstein present the award.
So now, Whaley advanced to the Cheshire Football League Division 2. The decision was made to move from the Hope Valley League and test the lads at a higher level. Whaley started with 4 wins in a row before losing to Whitchurch and Sandbach – defeats that have since been avenged. Our recent form has been excellent and Whaley need fear no team in this league. Wherever we go, people are amazed at the support we bring and a gate of 100 is not uncommon at home.
2011-2012 Cheshire Football League Division 2 Record
P12 W8 D1 L3 F37 A21 GD16 Pts25
Two good away wins have seen Whaley progress to the semi-final of the Division 2 Challenge Cup.
The last few weeks have been frustrating with no match since the 26th of November and the team performing brilliantly.
Although I'm moving to Derby in January, I expect to keep supporting Whaley as I have done for the last 20+ years.
On a sad note, we lost Arthur Jackson in 2011 and he will be missed – he would have reached 100 in 2012!
I'd like to thank the players, management team and fellow supporters for a superb 12 months and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Here is my personal view of the players:
James Tattersall – fantastic reflexes; pulls off some incredible saves.
Chris Wood – superb tackler; recent illness has limited his appearances.
Scott Dignan – captain who leads by example; highly respected in local football.
Rob Newton – playing the best football of his career.
Charlie Watts – a box full of tricks.
Geo Langford – has matured with regular first team appearances.
Craig Fleury – never rushed; his experience has made him so influential.
Jack Gregory – a welcome returner and a joy to watch; effortlessly glides past opponents.
Matt Brown – the best left foot in the league; free-kick specialist and superb dribbler.
Bill Sutton – another free-kick specialist and great crosser of the ball; prolific goal-scorer.
Ray Dwolitka – leading goal scorer and the scourge of defences; expect the unexpected.
Paul Walker – playing as well as ever; one of the best headers of a ball in the league.
Rick Forder – a buzzing mid-fielder that every team needs.
Mike Ward – tremendously fit and versatile.
Matt Baldwin – super sub!
Joe Williamson – great defender but away at university.
Dan Whelan – last year's find at centre-back and utterly reliable; another uni departure.
Dan Christie – shows great promise; sadly injured on the first day of the season.
Mick Ryan – very experienced player and a great foil for Ray.