Brodsworth Welfare to become ‘AFC Bentley’

Action from Brodsworth Welfare v Dronfield Town Reserves at The Welfare Ground.
Action from Brodsworth Welfare v Dronfield Town Reserves at The Welfare Ground.

Central Midlands League football returned to The Avenue last Saturday – just three months after the demise of Bentley Colliery due to financial problems.

Brodsworth Welfare, who will change their name to AFC Bentley at the end of their North Division campaign, have set up home at the ground and have ambitious plans for the future.

Welfare officials had been in contact with their Bentley counterparts, several of whom have joined the committee, for several months prior to last weekend.

The move, which will also see the club’s second string – which plays in the Doncaster Rovers Senior League – also playing home games at the venue – has the support of all the relevant football authorities.

Welfare’s first team celebrated their first home game at The Avenue, with a 7-2 win over Dinnington Town and chairman Barrie Abbott told the Free Press that the team were hoping to finish what has been a fraught campaign on a high note.

Welfare have not been allowed to train on the pitch, or play home games there, since well before Christmas as once-cordial relations between them and members of the Brodsworth Welfare Trustees deteriorated.

“The initial dispute involved our management team and members of the trustees,” said chairman Barrie Abbott, who says he tried in vain to find a solution.

He claims that both he and president Barry Barnes were turned away when they tried to attend a trustees’ meeting after the club received a letter in November in which they were informed that they wouldn’t be allowed to use the facilities next season.

The letter claimed the club had failed to address ‘various issues’ previously raised by the trustees.

Abbott admitted that there had been a problem with consumption of alcohol on the premises earlier in the season and some ‘personality clashes’ between the two parties.

“It’s difficult to put my finger on the main reason why relationships deteriorated the way they did,” he said.

“The decision – put forward by the trustees and which we admittedly supported at the time - to split the club into a junior and senior section probably didn’t help.”

He added: “The CML understood our situation and allowed us to postpone games until later in the season. These games will now be played at Bentley.

Although there are still issues to be resolved with the trustees, Abbott says the club are now looking forward.

“We want to try and get back into the Northern Counties East League, and to do that you have to be successful at this level, but with the team we’ve got we feel we’ve got a chance of doing that,” he said.

Abbott, who has been chairman for five years, took over at a time when the club was on its knees after repeated vandalism.

The club, who also put in a lot of work in themselves, particularly former manager James Irwin, worked with the trustees to win various grants to improve the facilities.

Abbott admits the facilities at The Avenue don’t match up, but says the new Bentley club plan to seek out grants.

The club, who have a good reputation over the years in bringing through young players, are also hoping to run an under-18s team next season.

The Brodsworth Welfare name is expected to live on in senior football with reports that the current under-16 team could apply for membership of the Doncaster Rovers Senior League next season.