Manager ready for unexpected as Tigers start season

DAVE McGurk admits this football season will be a journey into the unknown as much as going over familiar ground because of Covid-19.

The Hyde United manager will take on the same opponents as last term after 2019-20 was declared null and void.

An FA Cup trip to the north-east after they were paired with Newcastle-based West Allotment Celtic in the first qualifying round was also nothing new after heading to Morpeth.

Dave McGurk

However, the prospect of coronavirus hitting either his camp or ones his side is scheduled to face is definitely a change.

And he admits it will literally be a case of wait and see, while the club cannot afford to have a testing programme in place.

McGurk said: “I don’t prepare for it but it’s going to happen, then it’s just a case of managing the situation.

“I’d be very surprised of it doesn’t happen to us at some point, when I get a phone call on a Friday evening or a Saturday morning.

“It might be two or three players at a time, it might be a case of us or the opposition having to call games off.

“In the back of my mind, I know it will arise and we’ve got a squad with players ready to step in. The problem will be if you have a severe outbreak and you have to look at calling games off.

“You have to do what’s best for people, not just get them on the pitch. There’s a bigger scenario there.

“At this level all you can say to players is, ‘We need to know. We can’t take that chance.’ That’s why there’s going to be some games that will fall by the wayside this season.”

Just getting back on the pitch in competitive action is enough for McGurk after Hyde United showed remarkable resilience during the shutdown.

Since the Northern Premier League finished, Ewen Fields has been transformed by an army of volunteers that have returned the traditional red colours to the stadium.

Having a maximum of 600 fans allowed in at matches will also be a boost to both those on the field and those off it in terms of bringing in some revenue.

A look at the fixture list, though, brought many sighs as home matches with both FC United of Manchester and South Shields – which would have attracted more than 600 – are in the restriction period.

But McGurk, who admitted he was more excited than ever for the first game of the season, added what fans did during the break can boost his side.

He said, after having as many as six of his intended first team ruled out through injury – including new striker Louis Myers for up to two months with a knee injury, forcing him to look for replacements and re-enforcements: “Crowds make a difference, without a doubt. The friendly crowds have been 250, which we didn’t have last season.

Hyde United Football Club

“And I’m looking forward to our league games because for us 600 is a big gate.

“When the players were coming to train, they could see the volunteers actually around the pitch painting and they all commented on it, they couldn’t believe what was going on and the transformation.

“It’s a good group, they all understand how hard people work to get a team on the pitch. I can’t tell you how hard the players worked.

“I even offered them a break during pre-season but they didn’t want it, they just wanted to come in and play football.

“I can’t control injuries. What I can control is trying to recruit another striker and trying to make players within the squad better in that position.

“I can’t sit here moaning about it, there’s no point. We’ve got to make the best of what we’ve got, which could be bringing other players in too.

“There will be movement soon in terms of players coming down from the leagues above as they start a bit later.”

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