STEETON manager Roy Mason admits much of the damage felt done for his side less than 90 minutes into the new season, but he feels confident there will be no repeat performance in 2024/25.

The Chevrons have finished 14th in the 18-team North West Counties Football League First Division North, only avoiding relegation with a couple of weeks of the season to spare.

It was a disappointing drop-off after a strong 2022-23 campaign that saw Mason’s men finish seventh, just six points off the play-offs.

Speaking to the Keighley News this week, he reflected: “There are a number of reasons we’ve gone backwards, one of the main ones being us losing Andy Briggs before the start of the season to Bury FC.

“Replacing him proved very difficult, as it would with any 35-goal striker, and it left a very big hole.

“I’d hope we could share the goals around instead this season, but that didn’t happen and it killed us.

“We were also 4-0 down at half-time to Atherton LR on the opening day, so that got the season off to a bad start and we never seemed to really recover from there.”

Keighley News: Steeton's season started with a heavy defeat and ended with one, Jack Doherty (10) scoring twice for Nelson against Roy Mason's side on the final day.Steeton's season started with a heavy defeat and ended with one, Jack Doherty (10) scoring twice for Nelson against Roy Mason's side on the final day. (Image: Ian Meachin.)

The loss of key players for Steeton was the obvious reason for this year’s fall off, with Briggs’ exit followed by those of Raeece Ellington and Mo Farhan Subhani.

Mason has talked about needing an overhaul for 2024/25 and asked what that entails, he said: “We’re hoping to bring more people in behind the scenes and we need more volunteers, which is one of the hardest things to get at this level, doing the jobs no-one else sees.

“We also need to engage more sponsors, and if you look at football at any level, those with more money and better budgets tend to finish higher up the table, like has been the case in our division.

“I’d like to bring in some more experienced players too.

“That’s difficult, as they cost money, but we have a lot of first-team players that are only 18 or 19, so they’re going to be inconsistent at that age, while also only getting their first taste of senior football.

“As I’ve said before, I’d like more of a nucleus of local lads too.

“But that’s easier said than done because I don’t think football in Keighley is in the healthiest position ever, with less lads playing than they used to.”

Long-serving Steeton chairman Pete Jeffrey has stepped down this week, but Mason insists he is not tempted to follow suit, despite casting doubts on his own future earlier this season.

He said: “One good season doesn’t mean another one will follow or vice versa.

“This season has been tough for everyone connected with the club but I don’t feel it will be as bad next time around.

“We’ll all learn from what’s gone wrong or what we’ve done wrong, including myself, as I’ve made mistakes this season.

“But the work has already started for next season and I’m in the middle of emailing a sponsor about renewing while I’m on this phone call.

“I know of other managers who’ve already arranged some of their summer friendlies too.”

Mason is looking even further ahead than that too, saying: “I want us to progress, even if the easy thing sometimes would be to just walk away.

“If you stand still in football, you’ll go backwards and while I never thought we’d be at this level given where we were as an amateur club when I joined 20 years ago, I’m always thinking about that next step.

“I look at the likes of our neighbours like Thackley and Silsden, well-established sides at the level above us, and I want to get there and be playing those teams in league games on a regular basis.”