Whitby Fishermen under-12s are celebrating after their debut season in the Teesside Junior Football Alliance ended with a league and cup double.
Having won the Scarborough & District Minor League as under-11s in 2014/15 under former manager Phil Stabler, the young Fishermen opted to try their hand in the Teesside set-up as they sought a new challenge.
Chris Barkas and Martin Cairns’ charges hit the ground running, snapping up the Division Five title at the first time of asking, in addition to winning the Scarborough & District FA under-12s Cup.
“The lads have done brilliantly. Myself and Martin are both unbelievably proud of them all,” joint-boss Barkas said.
“After winning the Scarborough League we wanted to try something different and although it was a bit of a step into the unknown, it’s worked out perfectly.
“We were 1-0 down at half-time in our first game of the season at Newton Aycliffe but ended up winning 3-1 and it just went from there.
“We didn’t lose a league match until January, and that was our first fixture back after 12 consecutive weeks without a game due to postponements for bad weather.”
The Fishermen finished their league campaign having won 19 and drawn two of their 22 games, losing just once.
They wrapped up the double with a 2-1 cup success over Scarborough side Cayton Corinthians, and also made the quarter-finals of the TJFA League Cup, beating several teams from higher divisions in the process.
“The team spirit the lads have showed has been amazing,” Barkas added.
“A few players left at the end of last season so we had to bring a few new guys in, some of whom had never played football before, but they’ve all played their part.
“By the back end of this season we were playing three or four times a week due to a fixture pile-up after so many games were lost to the weather over winter.
“It didn’t faze them though, they just kept going out there and winning, and deservedly ended up taking the title.”
Striker George Barkas led the way for the Fishermen, scoring 45 goals over the course of the season, while skipper Matthew Wignall was named player of the year after an impressive campaign at the heart of the side’s midfield.
And after such a stellar season, Barkas is predicting more of the same in 2016/17.
“We didn’t expect to win the league in our first year, but we did, so next season I reckon we will be up there challenging for promotion from Division Four,” he continued.