In the first of a two part interview Colwyn Bay manager Craig Hogg shares his thoughts on what has been a difficult and frustrating year.
Reflections on the last few months
On the football side we are disappointed we didn’t get going. We had been hanging on and clinging for hope for the best part of eight months.
We did three months of pre-season when we reported back in July with no start date given to us for the season and then we got the information the Cymru Premier would start after having elite athlete status.
But the information we were getting was limited and it wasn’t quite clear where we were at. Those early months, the communication was really poor.
That in itself caused it’s own problems because I haven’t got the answers to give to my players and to our fan base.
Then you are second guessing the planning you are making yourself in terms of what do you plan for getting players back out on the pitch and playing and we didn’t get any direction on that really.
When we got to October players were asking questions about what was going on.
The transfer window was closing at the end of October so if lads wanted to go an play in the Cymru Premier or go and play in England they had to move before the end of October.
We had a conversation with our players and said to them ‘We don’t know anything about the start date. If you want to move clubs do so now.’
We were straight and honest with the players because at the end of the day I’m responsible for them and I’ve got to do what’s right by them and what’s right by the football club and the people that I work with.
We saw a movement of players in October and lo and behold three weeks later we got an update on the potential start of the Nathaniel MG Cup in December.
We reported back for training towards the end of November with a quick turnaround of about two to three weeks of training.
Back in action at Buckley
We went straight into the game at Buckley having not played a friendly match.
We’d had a handful of training sessions prior to it and a couple of 11v11 in house games of mixed teams with our Under-19s.
That first competitive game came after 281 days without kicking a ball in anger.
To win that game on penalties and having been leading 2-0 in that game with around 10 minutes to go, I was so proud of our players for the way they went about and played that game, played the conditions and played the opposition.
I think it was fitting that we went through even though the competition got pulled in the end. That win at Buckley was deserved.
The season that never was
We were given a little bit of hope that if the country moved back into level three we would automatically have our elite status reinstated.
We weren’t training in January and we weren’t training in February and we haven’t trained in March either so to get an 111th hour decision finally made was really quite hard to take in the end.
I may sound a little bit contradictory because we’d done our part and hung on, we wanted to play and wanted to get the season started.
But when the final schedule of games was tabled to us really struck a chord with me in terms of do the ends justify the means here?
I really felt it was a massive ask for players who have been inactive for so long and who aren’t elite athletes but are part time footballers to go and play 15 games in nine weeks and in the first nine days we’d have had four games.
For me to was really, really risky for the players and I wasn’t comfortable with it at all.
We asked if the season could be extended beyond May 31st but no information was fed back to us on that so as far as we were concerned we’d have to play with the timescales given.
It would have been 15 games in nine weeks which would have been a hell of an ask for the players.
When the decision was finally made it was closure because we can then put what was last season, if you like, to bed and start looking forward to next season and what we intend to do.
Regardless of the limited of extended period we’d hoped to have had to prepare for the reduced format of games, I felt we’d have been quite well placed to go an compete at the top end of the table.
We would certainly looked to have kicked on from last season, when I thought we did well in our maiden season back in Welsh football.
Our plan was to kick on and finish in a higher position than what we did last year.
We had a lot of numbers for obvious reasons – the frequency of games in a short period of time – but we had quality throughout the squad as well which I was really pleased with.
I think we’d have been really well placed to challenge at the top end of the table and that’s what Colwyn Bay should be doing.
We had our year of learning last season. I thought we adapted really, really well as a club and as a group of players to Welsh football and that’s something I’m really proud of.
It took us a little bit of time to get going but when we did we started to hit the notes at the right time and I think if the season had not been curtailed when it was then I think we’d have been odds on to finish third.
And I think we may have had a really good shout of finishing second – I really fancied us to push for second place we had with the games coming up and the form that we were in.
A lot of good was learnt last year but the important thing is that we take that and move forward with it because at the end of the day a club the size of Colwyn Bay demands to be in the highest level of football in the country and to be successful.
Part two coming soon