Stalybridge Celtic opened the 2018/2019 season at Bower Fold, earning a point from a 0-0 home draw with Mickleover Sports.
A new season always brings renewed optimism for the campaign ahead, even when the previous few years have been less than joyous occasions and there's no doubt that a wave of positivity has now swept through the Club, following much documented on and off field problems encountered in recent times.
This is non more so than since the arrival of new manager, Simon Haworth and it was thus a virtually new look side that took the field, and any pre-match fears that good times can't last forever being soon settled as Celtic had perhaps the majority of the encounter and were certainly well worth the point, perhaps even counting themselves unlucky not to nick all three.
There's always a little hangover associated with any opening day, as all come to terms with a change in personnel, assessing the opposition and a small sense of wanting to be slightly conservative, prior to the long slog ahead. Indeed, it is oft said that it is around ten games before any sort of conclusions can be drawn and the league settles into any sort of a pattern.
The game itself is unlikely to ever feature on any trip down memory lane, yet there was no doubting of the effort being put in and which, despite the positive pressure being shown in the early stages amounting to little, it was the midfield battle that was seemingly key, one in which the boys in blue seemed to rather bear the brunt of some rough challenges.
With neither side looking like breaking the deadlock, the best chance of the game fell to Scott Bakkor, who deservedly won the man of the match award for his efforts with a non stop work rate, his snapshot on the turn from an acute angle forcing former Celt Lewis King into a save at the death.
There hasn't been a home 0-0 draw on the opening day since the 1991/1992 season, a year in which Celtic went on to win the Northern Premier League.
Whilst not suggesting this is any sign of an omen, there is a clear new mindset at the Club, akin to years gone by, one in which the team will seemingly not give in and one which with the right mindset and a fair run of results can only add to the smiles that have appeared again.
No external targets have been officially set for the season, save to do the best one can and finish as high as is possible. To play for the shirt, do yourselves and the Club proud and to strive for results and improvements on what has gone before. Success and sustainability, both on and off the pitch, following as a result.
On the evidence of the opening day showing, that shouldn't be much of an issue and hopes remain high for a good season.
Together, we are Stalybridge Celtic FC.
|4||McGrath, John||> 45|
|8||Scott, Jake||> 89|
|10||Doran, Niall||> 75|
|12||Burrows, Curtis||< 75|
|16||Garnett, Evan||< 45|
|17||Warren, Mason||< 89|