Brighouse Town started the New Year in third position in the Baris Northern Counties East league Premier Division and were looking forward to an away tie against Newport Isle of Wight in the last 32 of the FA Vase.
Fundraising efforts and donations from local businesses and fellow sporting clubs in the district allowed Town the chance to prepare properly for the tie; including training at St.Georges Park at Burton-on-Trent and staying overnight in Southampton the night before the game.
The meticulous planning and preparation by manager Paul Quinn certainly showed in the team’s performance on the day, where Town were extremely unlucky to lose 2-1 despite dominating for the majority of the match.
To the coaches and players’ credit, they didn’t let the Vase defeat affect their league form. After arriving back in Brighouse on the Sunday evening, Town had a long midweek trip to Long Eaton in Derbyshire followed by another away game at Winterton in Lincolnshire the following Saturday. Both games ended in victories despite clocking up nearly 1,000 miles of travelling in a week, not to mention the players also having to find time to earn a living with their jobs.
Town’s excellent form continued as they registered an unbeaten 18 match record that stretched from mid-September to mid-February before they finally succumbed to defeat through an injury time winner from last season’s champions Retford.
The achievement of going unbeaten for 18 matches cannot be underestimated, but the reaction to the Retford defeat was equally impressive as the players then went on a seven game winning run that took Town above Bridlington into second place and make it a two horse race for the title with leaders Scarborough.
The big showdown with Scarborough came in mid-April and an amazing crowd of 1,059 turned up at the Dual Seal Stadium to witness a 2-0 victory for the visitors. Scarborough went on to clinch the title, but again Town showed great character to hold off the challenge of Bridlington in the remaining games to take the runners-up spot.
To finish second in only the third season in the Premier Division, and only their fifth at this level, is a magnificent achievement, and manager Quinn, coaches Mark Booth and Rob Mitchell and a fantastic squad of players can be rightly proud of what they have accomplished.
Town ended the season on an amazing 97 points, just two points behind ‘Boro and with a points total that in any other season would have seen them crowned champions.
Tom Matthews was the league’s top scorer with an incredible 45 goals in his first full season at this level, and the team itself scored over 100 goals and claimed the best defensive record throughout the season.
With major ground improvements having taken place at the Dual Seal Stadium during the season, a young and ambitious manager in Quinn, and a very talented group of players, the challenge for everyone is to go that one step further next season.
Brighouse Town Reserves, under the guidance of Charlie Tolley and Barrie Thomas, have had a very good first season in the Lancashire League occupying one of the top three positions throughout the campaign, with a third place finish looking likely as the season draws to a close.
Everyone involved with the Reserves deserves a lot of credit as they compete against clubs from higher levels such as Hyde and Stalybridge, but they are always competitive, and the experience this predominately young side is gaining should hold them in good stead for their future development.
Town’s U18 side, despite playing in a division a year above their age group, have had another very good season under Simon Ward and Wally Hemmingway.
The second half of the season saw the players rise to the challenge of playing against opponents older and physically stronger, but they battled away to win through to the Huddersfield U18 Cup Final at Emley’s Welfare Ground.
Unfortunately, a sending off early in the game meant Town had to play 75 minutes with only 10 men which was an impossible task against a strong Bay Athletic side who ran out 4-0 winners.
The 2012-13 season has again seen Brighouse Town make improvements both on and off the field.
The committee will follow the same trusted path of assessing the season and the club as a whole before deciding the best structure and plan for next season to keep the club progressing.