A Status Update on the End of the Season

I have avoided this article for quite some time. For Liverpool fans second place in the league just holds a certain amount of pain, some Bootle fans will feel no different this summer. Despite a goal difference of 77 and 30 wins on the season the Bucks failed to catch the Atherton Collies for the sole promotion spot in The Hallmark Security League Premier Division.

There is obvious reason to bemoan the English Football Association for only having one promotion spot in a league of 22 teams. However, the Bucks did themselves credit and did not embrace excuses, even though plenty were available. Beyond the sole promotion spot, Bootle was playing their best football in the early days of 2017 before a rash of English weather led to them playing only twice in a six week span. While the fans were pissed about a lack of decent football to watch, few blame the second place finish on the heavens.

The retirement of perennial Buck Jamie Hay brought a celebratory feel to the last match of the season. He will be missed sorely by the Buck’s faithful, but his departure allowed the Dodge Kop to reflect on everything the team had accomplished, rather than wallow in self-pity. There was plenty the Bucks accomplished in the 2016-2017 season, and missing out on promotion may not be the worst thing to happen.

Attacking Football

The Bucks scored a whopping 134 goals in league play for an average of 3.19 goals a game. From a fan’s perspective that is cracking football. Attendance and support is difficult to encourage in the lower tiers of football. Playing boring football does nothing to help attendance, but that was not a problem for the Bootle Bucks.

Joe Doran and his team played attacking football that was sensationally entertaining, and effective. The team finished with three double digit goal-scorers, Steven Jones, Carl Peers, and Ryan Cox. Ryan Cox, a player sponsored by Offside Football, broke the club record with an astounding 44 goals from open play.

 

Highest League Finish and Defeating Tranmere Rovers

While second place feels like there was a job not done, it is the highest finish for Bootle in the Hallmark Security League Premier Division. Fans will be hoping that the club can build upon the high finish next year. Joe Doran’s attacking style will once again be key in packing the stands, however away form and defense are two areas in which the Bucks can improve.

A highlight of the season, especially for me, was watching the Bucks defeat the Tranmere Rovers in the Liverpool Senior Cup. It was absolute scenes as Bootle’s keeper, Ryan Jones, made a spectacular save in the penalty shoot only to step up and bang home the winning penalty. The victory was a light bulb for those outside of Bootle, causing the realization that there was something special happening in Liverpool’s most resilient district.

Promotion Does Not Equate Long-Term Success

Promotion from the Hallmark Security League Premier Division to the Evostik League is obviously a goal for Bootle. However, it is a goal that must be achieved at the right time. Promotion means stadium upgrades and an increase in travel costs.

Without appropriate financial resources a promoted club could quickly plummet down the pyramid, buried by poor financial decisions or debt. English fans have even witnessed it happen at the highest level with clubs like Leeds and Portsmouth. Another year of building the bank balance will do the Bucks some good. As my wife always tells me, patience is a virtue.

What Now? Talent Retention

With the start of the new season a mere six weeks away the Bucks the focus has turned towards retaining the talent that brought them so close to a division title. It has been a bit of a mixed bag with two significant departures and two significant players retained.

Carl Peers scored 27 goals for the Bucks from midfield last year. He has signed with Radcliff Borough FC of the Evostik League. Starting goalkeeper Ryan Jones has also signed with Radcliff. Their departure means two out of the starting eleven will need immediate replacement. Both Peers and Jones are popular figures among the Bootle faithful, due to their dedication and ability. Replacing them with quality will be no small task.

However, the Bucks have managed to secure two of their best players for another season. Ryan Cox, the record goal-scorer, will be back for at least one more year after signing a contract extension. The extension ensures that, at a minimum, Bootle is compensated should any higher-tiered clubs come sniffing around the prolific striker. It is more likely though that Cox will suit up for the Bucks next year.

Left wing back and Bootle Supporter’s Player of the Year Mikey Ordish is also set to return. While no contract extension has been announced, no departure has been announced either.

 

Conclusion

The past year was a wild one for the Bucks. Second place should do nothing to diminish that. Bootle, as a community, is a special place. For a long time it has deserved a special team. I am glad they have one. I’m proud to witness their success. #UptheBucks.