A message from the chair Steve Eckersley

I hope you are all keeping safe and well during these very difficult and challenging times. Our thoughts are with those families who have been directly affected by illness and those facing financial difficulties. Our thanks go to our incredible NHS staff, carers, emergency services, support services, charities and retail sector staff and other essential services who are doing a fantastic and unbelievable job to help keep us all safe and well.

It has been really heart-warming to witness the direct and random acts of kindness. Brilliant also to witness the endeavours and achievements of people like Capt Tom Moore. One of the many positives emerging from this pandemic crisis will surely be stronger communities. We are proud of our community links and we will continue to strengthen these. Hopefully, the social distancing restrictions will be eased in May and we can all get back to some state of normality, albeit that is likely to look quite different for a while.

Away from the COVID-19 crisis, Rob McKay has resigned his position on the WDCFC Committee. Rob has undertaken a number of roles at West including Club Secretary. He was also joint-Chair for a short period in 2019. Rob was instrumental in building our incredible fan base after we gained promotion to the NWCFL. He helped deliver the vision of WDCFC Committee and introduced Women’s football at West and he was joint Manager and Coach for the Women’s 1st team. I would like to thank Rob for all his hard work and support over the years. We wish him well in his future plans.

Behind the scenes we have been working hard to plan and prepare for a number of contingencies aimed at making our recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and the resumption of adult and junior football as effective and as smooth as possible. Staying in touch is important to us in normal circumstances and it is even more important now. Thankfully, advances in technology have brought relief and has made domestic, social and business contact easier for us all. Last week we were able to hold the first ever virtual WDCFC Committee meeting. It went remarkably well and it was great to be able to see and speak to committee colleagues and progress the ongoing and planned work programmes that keep our club running.

One of the decisions we made during the committee meeting was that despite a substantial financial loss in revenue caused by the termination of the football season and us not benefiting from the Furloughing scheme we would retain a small number of staff to complete essential maintenance work to the club house, main pitch and Hardy Farm pitches. Whilst we still have no idea when grass roots football will resume, we felt it important to position our club ready to meet any football resumption deadlines we are faced with. Lancashire FA announced this week that they will in due course communicate a recovery package for all member Leagues/clubs. We look forward to receiving more information and how this may help us financially.

We are still progressing our ambitious ground development plans. Prior to the impact of COVID -19 we held a series of meetings with local residents regarding our planning applications and ambitions – to increase the number of floodlight uses, improvements to the car parking area at the entrance to the Step Places Stadium and extension to our club house. The meetings have been productive and we will continue to meet with the local residents representatives over the next few weeks.

Back to social media, it has been great to see images of some of our junior players testing their football skills and techniques via social media during the lock down period. I have also seen one of our 1st team players taking on the loo-roll ‘keepy-up’ challenge. Whilst I have seen trending of people re-enacting famous world cup goals, I haven’t yet seen any images of anyone – adults or juniors, trying to re-enact their favourite West goal in their front room or garden!

Together with Vice Chairs; Rob Madden and James Doxford, I held a virtual meeting with our men’s 1st team manager; Chris Rowley this week to discuss our ambitions and plans for the new season. At present we are working under a reasonable assumption that as in season 2019/20 there will be 4 promotion places for us to compete for in the NWCFL season 2020/21. We are expecting the FA to confirm the step 5 and 6 competition arrangements and the FA Cup and FA Vase competitions soon. Our ambitions remain unchanged and we are aiming for a swift return to the NWCFL Premier Division. However, we will all need to work much harder next season and make the improvements necessary to increase our chances of promotion.

Planning ahead for the new season we have made a couple of managerial changes within our Woman’s teams. Nathan Soulby and Rory Drysdale will move from their roles in the Woman’s Development Team to take up managerial positions immediately in the Women’s 1st team to work alongside Paul Caddick.

I have already mentioned some of the important work undertaken by our committee. In addition to our match-day operations and general running of the club we have lots of different work programmes to complete. We really do need your help please across a range of workstreams, which are overseen and completed by our various sub-groups we introduced in 2019. We are seeking volunteers to help support the work undertaken by our sub-groups. If you have professional or practical expertise or experience in health and safety, finance, fund-raising, events management and community engagement or you are able to provide support more generally and you think you can help us – we would like to hear from you. Whilst we cannot afford to pay for these areas of work, for example compiling a strategy, policy or procedure we can offer some remuneration in kind. If you think you can help then please get in touch.

I look forward to seeing you all back at the Step Places Stadium soon.

Stay strong and stay safe.

Stay at home|Protect the NHS|Save Lives.

Steve Eckersley
Chair – WDCFC

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