Hyde & Seek (Help) – The Story of Footballing Minnows
Whilst Europe’s top teams battle it out in the Champions League tonight, I urge you to spare a thought for Hyde FC – the Skrill Premier club who have been relegated before the clocks even go forward.
March 12th, 2014
To those who follow non-league football, it’s probably no surprise that Hyde FC have suffered the fate of relegation, in what is only their second season in the Skrill Premier League. A far cry from the Barclays Premier League, the Tameside club who, unfortunately for them sit between Manchester’s giants, have found themselves languishing at the bottom of the league formerly known as the Conference all season after losing 30 games.
It’s been a tough road for manager Scott McNiven, who was always going to have a job on his hands to keep the part-timers, who have one of the lowest budgets in the league, in contention to stay up. Ultimately, he couldn’t prevent the inevitable and Hyde have slumped to only one victory in 37 games – a 2-0 win against Welling – conceding 99 goals along the way. Relegation loomed, and defeat to Alfreton yesterday sealed their fate.
It could have been a lot worse for the Manchester-based club though. In 2010 The Tigers nearly went out of business completely, only before announcing a partnership with tonight’s Champions League juggernauts Manchester City – a sponsorship and ground-sharing deal for the reserves, under-21 and academy players to use Hyde’s Ewen Fields ground, a far cry from Barcelona and the Camp Nou. This not only saved Hyde from going under, but also provided some important money to improve their facilities.
Many fans accused Hyde of ‘selling their soul’ to Manchester City, as they renamed themselves to Hyde FC, started to wear blue and had to repaint their ground a distinct shade of sky blue, but what choice did they have? Rather than simply going under and restarting as many clubs do, Hyde sought a solution that would not only keep their club’s heritage alive, but keep it financially stable. As City’s move to their new multi-million pound training complex nears completion, Hyde will take back control of Ewen Fields and can start afresh.
This only strengthens my admiration for Manchester City. Yes they may have a lot of money, and yes they may have ‘bought’ trophies, but their work off the pitch is frankly unparalleled in this country. It is gestures such as the one with Hyde, along with the building of top-class facilities to help nurture a new generation of players that really set them apart from other clubs with vast sums of money – they seem to use it for good off the pitch, as well as success on it.
Whilst Hyde may have had many a trouncing this season, you can’t fault their enthusiasm and humour throughout it all. Never defeated, they have continued in the face of adversity, a lesson that many players could learn from. They have also shot to fame thanks to their frankly hilarious Twitter account @hydefclive. Tweets such as: ‘14th January 2014. Remember the date. History was made. Welling 0-2 Hyde. The Great Escape starts now. WE ARE STAYING UP! #believe’ and ‘It’s boring when you are winning’ show that even in defeat, the people of Hyde still keep their chin up. I for one wish them all the luck for next season, and hope to see them back in the Skrill Premier sooner rather than later.