AFTER three successive relegations, Hyde United find themselves in the Evo-Stik Division One North for the first time in over a decade. Jake Smalley looks at whether there will be a marked improvement, or whether a fourth relegation in as many seasons is the more likely scenario…
After ending their five year association with Manchester City last year, the club was restored to its former name as Hyde United, but this did little to buck the trend of struggle at Ewen Fields.
Returning manager Gary Lowe was fired in March with the side just three points above the drop zone and in came Northern Irishman Darren Kelly to replace him.
However, United failed to win a single one of the remaining six games under Kelly and a 4-0 humbling at home to Nantwich all but secured the club’s relegation in late April.
Kelly resigned following the confirmation of the club’s relegation via a 1-0 defeat to Halesowen Town, only to be reinstated a month later.
With Kelly getting a second chance, the club have backed him by heavily rebuilding the playing squad in the hope of trying to bounce back to the Premier Division at the first time of asking.
First five games:
- Tadcaster Albion (H): Saturday August 13
- Colwyn Bay (A): Tuesday August 16
- Goole AFC (H): Saturday August 27
- Glossop North End (A): Monday August 29
- Lancaster City (H) – Saturday September 10
Chris Amadi (from Nantwich Town, free): After a successful trial in pre-season, Hyde moved quickly to bring in the former FC United of Manchester and Nantwich Town man. Three goals in as many games in pre-season has given fans a glimpse that Amadi can get himself amongst the goals for United this season.
Jake Pollard (from Stockport Town, free): The man known as ‘pocket rocket’ in Hyde circles has returned to the club following a two-year spell away. The midfielder was snapped up after impressing against Hyde for Stockport Town in pre-season.
Jack McCarthy (from Garforth Town, free): Former Rotherham United trainee McCarthy has joined the Tigers following a successful spell at Garforth Town. The 6’3’’ centre-back has previously had spells with Salford City and Harrogate Railway.
Thomas Beaurepaire (from Ossett Town, free): The French-born keeper has been described as a bright prospect by the club and at just 22, his best years are surely ahead of him.
Curtly Martin-Wyatt (from Garforth Town, free): Another signing plucked from Garforth Town after an impressive season. A return of 21 goals from 41 appearances last season caught the attention of Darren Kelly, who moved quickly to bring the striker to the club.
Phil Dean (from Warrington Town, free): The speedy left-winger joins after tasting promotion from Division One North last year with Warrington Town. A man with three promotions from this level on his CV brings flair to the squad and will no doubt be a man who can get the fans off their seats.
Kyle Brownhill (from AFC Telford United, free): Following a short spell at the club last season, former AFC Telford United left-back Brownhill has signed on a one-year contract. The former Stockport County and Workington full-back will compliment left winger Phil Dean on what promises to be a solid partnership on the left hand side for Hyde.
Matt Dempsey (from Farsley Celtic, free): A versatile defender who can play anywhere across the defence joins the club on a one-year contract following fruitful spells at Bradford Park Avenue and Farsley.
Dave McGurk (from Harrogate Town, free): A man who boss Darren Kelly knows very well from their spell together at York City. The experienced centre-back will combine playing duties with a place among the coaching staff.
Kieran Harrison: Shot stopper Harrison has left the club to pursue other footballing interests in the United States.
Pavels Surnins: Experienced right-back Surnins has left the club in order to return to his native Latvia.
Andreas Bianga: Former Burnley youth player Bianga made 14 appearances for the Tigers last year and was on the winning side just twice in that period. The French-born midfielder was not offered a return by the club following the expiration of his deal.
Ben Holmes: After returning for a second spell on loan at the club last term, Huddersfield midfielder Ben Holmes made 20 appearances scoring once before returning to his parent club.
Alex Head: After four brief cameos in the first team, Head was let go at the end of his contract.
Will Reeves: Midfielder Reeves played in all six of Darren Kelly’s games in charge last season but was on the losing side each time. Reeves left the club after 13 appearances last season.
Sam Vince: Ex-Boston stopper Vince made 17 appearances between the sticks last season in his only season at the club. Vince has since joined First Division South side Spalding United.
Grant Spencer: Former Ramsbottom United man Spencer joined Hyde half way through last season for a second spell at the club. After seven appearances, four of which came from the bench, the fiery centre midfielder left the club.
Scott Spencer: Brother of Grant, talismanic striker and cult hero Scott Spencer was one of the few shining lights for the struggling side last term. With 20 league goals in 35 games for a relegated side, Spencer earned admirers from further up the pyramid. He has spent the pre-season with Vanarama National League North side Stockport County with the hope of signing on for them ahead of the new term.
Phil Dean: One of Hyde’s new faces truly catches the eye given his outstanding record at this level. The left winger – nicknamed Whiz – has built up quite a reputation for himself at former clubs Ramsbottom United and Salford City.
Dean played over 200 games for Ramsbottom, under the managerial stewardship of Anthony ‘Jonno’ Johnson and Bernard Morley and tasted promotion with the club after helping his side defeat Bamber Bridge in the Division One play-off final in 2014.
Johnson and Morley took Dean with them to Salford City and the trio’s success continued.
Dean bagged one of the five goals in Salford’s 5-0 thrashing of Ossett Town which sealed the Ammies promotion to the Evo-Stik Premier Division 12 months ago.
After making it three in three seasons by helping Warrington Town to promotion in May, Dean joined the Tigers with the aim of making it four in four.
With the strike force of Curtly Martin-Wyatt, Ayrton Bevins and Chris Amadi to aim for, expect Dean to top the assist charts this coming season.
Ayrton Bevins: One of Darren Kelly’s best pieces of business this summer was to secure the services of striker Ayrton Bevins.
The ex-Cambridge United forward bagged 18 goals last season for the U’s and turned down interest from higher up to remain with Hyde.
At just 21, Bevins can only get better and with aspirations to get back into the professional game at the front of his mind, Bevins could be one to watch this year.
Dave McGurk: Every club wants a solid and dependable centre-back who can help organise a defence. In the mould of experienced former York skipper Dave McGurk, Hyde may have found just the man to match that description.
A veteran of nearly 500 career games, mostly at Vanarama National League and League Two level, McGurk boasts an impressive CV.
At just 33, the Scotsman still has a couple more years in the tank and will provide a valuable addition to the coaching team alongside former team mate Darren Kelly.
With a number of new recruits it will be interesting to see how the side will gel under Darren Kelly in their first season back at this level.
Arguably, the team on paper looks in better shape than it did on the final day of last season.
Losing talismanic striker Scott Spencer is tough on the side but new signings Curtly Martin-Wyatt and Chris Amadi will be hoping to fill the void of goals.
A more solid back line is in place with the potential centre-back pairing of Adam Jones and Dave McGurk looking stronger than most in this league and is sure to provide solid protection for highly-rated new stopper Thomas Beaurepaire.
This year is a big year for highly-rated midfielder Big Khamsuk who has plenty of admirers amongst the supporters.
After breaking into the squad last year, Khamsuk will be expected to kick on and play a key role in the middle of the park this season.
Perhaps the biggest question that needs to be answered is if manager Darren Kelly can cut it at the club second time around.
With a zero per cent win ratio in competitive matches and less than stellar spells at Oldham Athletic and FC Halifax Town on his resume, Kelly has a second chance with the Tigers to prove he is the man for the job and he needs to hit the ground running or he risks finding himself on the managerial scrapheap.
Are the days of relegation behind them in 2016-17? On the evidence so far this year is likely to be a significant improvement…
By Jake Smalley
NB: *All information is correct as of August 3*