2020/21 was another frustrating season for the non-league game!
However, despite the curtailment, improvements have been put in place both on and off the field. As well as the summer signings, there is now additional seating, enhanced covered area for wheelchair users, a tea bar and a new merchandise cabin at the Myenergi Stadium.
Looking back to the “null & void” 2019/20 season, the Owls swooped to a memorable triumph in the Lincolnshire Senior Cup, beating Boston United 1-0 at Lincoln City FC. This secured back-to-back wins in the competition, a significant achievement for a step 4 side.
Cleethorpes Town has certainly come a long way in its relatively short history.
Initially formed in 1998 as Lincolnshire Soccer School, it was the brainchild of former Grimsby Town player Tommy Watson. The team was an immediate success, with both boys and girls across every age group ensuring that the club began to grow quickly.
Less than two decades ago (in 2003), a flagship senior team was established. In the Owls’ first season in the Lincolnshire League, a creditable fourth place finish was secured.
After being rebranded as Cleethorpes Town, the club has developed into an important community asset. Over 35 teams, competing at every level of local and regional football, represent Clee, making the Owls one of the largest providers of sport in the area.
The excellent array of teams and high-quality coaching saw the club awarded the Football Association Charter Standard Community Club status, which underlines the commitment to provide an exceptional product, alongside all-important exercise & enjoyment for youngsters.
This development and evolution have, of course, been spearheaded by the first team. With the arrival of a new manager, the club finished third in Lincolnshire League in 2011. Silverware was secured as well, by defeating Heckington United in the Supplementary Cup final at Sincil Bank.
New heights were scaled the following year, with Clee securing a “double”, becoming Champions of the Lincolnshire League and holding aloft the Challenge Cup. This success saw the club accepted into the Northern Counties East League (NCEL).
Our first season in the NCEL saw us finish fourth in Division One table, with some impressive victories along the way, and was generally a period of consolidation.
2013/14 began with a change of management and Marcus Newell appointed. This proved to be the catalyst for a great period in our history.
A long unbeaten streak meant the Owls were top of the league at Christmas.
However, a slow start to the New Year left a difficult task. Nevertheless, with the pressure at its highest, Clee surged through the pack to clinch the title with a game to spare.
Life in the NCEL Premier Division saw a significant rise in the level of opposition teams. However, after a fine run in FA Cup (defeating Gresley and Carlton Town), Clee adapted well to their elevation – finishing 4th and reaching the final of the League Cup.
The campaign concluded with a trophy in July 2015! Representing the Northern Counties East League in the Toolstation Cup in Bristol, where the team encountered Willand Rovers. A nine-goal thriller ensued, with the Owls edging it 5-4.
After a slow start, season 2015/16 then prompted a tremendous vein of form. The Owls finished third, reached the last 16 of the FA Vase and won an exhilarating League Cup final at Garforth Town FC – defeating rivals Tadcaster Albion 3-2.
Hopes were high amongst the faithful in August 2016, not many though could have predicted the scale of success that unfolded!
The field in the NCEL Premier Division was left trailing in Clee’s wake. A brand of exciting, attacking football was served up week after week. The title was secured at Athersley Recreation and the Owls smashed records – 108 points, +99 goal difference and a staggering 144 goals. As well as this, Deeping Rangers were beaten 1-0 in the final of the Lincolnshire Senior Trophy at Sincil Bank to snaffle another trophy.
Perhaps the real story of 2016/17 (and certainly the icing on the cake!) was a trip to Wembley! Trailing 1-0 at Emley in the opening tie with less than 10 minutes remaining, the “arch” seemed a remote prospect. However, in a typical never-say-die performance, two strikes turned it round in Clee’s favour.
Bootle, Billingham Town and Atherton Collieries were all beaten, and a quarter-final in the capital awaited. A carnival atmosphere amongst the travelling Owls ensured the team rose to the occasion, an emphatic 5-2 win over Southall followed – the dream was very much alive!
A two-legged semi-final against Bromsgrove Sporting came out the hat. The first-leg in Worcestershire was watched by over 3,300 spectators. Cheered on by a partisan support, Sporting opened the scoring and the Owls had to dig deep in the second period to grab a priceless equaliser.
The return at Bradley Community Stadium had just under 1,200 people packed inside to see Clee gain a first minute lead. As time wore on, and with excitement at fever-pitch, the Owls defended resolutely to win 2-1 on aggregate. Wild scenes of celebration followed, as the enormity of reaching a national final sank in.
The showpiece at Wembley, with around 5,000 or so travelling from NE Lincolnshire, resulted in a 4-0 verdict for South Shields. That is the bare facts – however, everyone connected with the Owls still had a great time! A culmination of a lot of hard work had borne fruit.
The honeymoon from Wembley continued in the Northern Premier League. Seven straight wins seemed to make back-to-back promotions a distinct possibility. However, an administrative error meant a hefty points deduction and this, coupled with a dip in form, saw the Owls finish an honourable tenth in the 2017/18 campaign.
Despite a best ever run in the FA Cup, the Owls languished at the bottom of the table in October 2018. This led to a change in the hotseat, and incoming Dave Smith oversaw an upsurge in fortunes. A consistent set of results almost secured a play-off, which was frustratingly denied in April.
The last two seasons have both fallen foul to COVID restrictions. Clee sat third, and certain of a real tilt at promotion, when stumps were drawn by the authorities in March 2020. A delayed 2020/21 never really got into full flow, before the “second-wave” of Coronavirus swamped the Trident Leagues.
Now fully respected as a regular Northern Premier League outfit, Clee approach the future full of confidence and gunning for more glory. As well as this aim, the club will never lose sight of its foundations. The Board intends to continue to plot a course that benefits the whole community