Cottesmore AFC will play in Beacon Hill League Cup final at the start of next season
Cottesmore boss Rich Giblin feels being given the chance to play in their first-ever League Cup final has brought a ‘buzz’ back to the Rutland club.
The Westray Park side had looked set to miss out on their maiden cup final appearance when the coronavirus pandemic brought their campaign to an early end.
However, despite still having the disappointment of their Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division season being declared ‘null and void’ by the Football Association with Cottesmore pushing for promotion, they are expected to keep their cup final date against Hathern.
Leicestershire Senior League officials have said that guidelines from the Football Association do give more room for manoeuvre in regards to cup competitions and a greater range of options based on the circumstances of the relevant competition.
And, because the finalists were already known, they have decided that the Beacon Hill League Cup final will be played at a date to be confirmed at the start of next season.
Giblin said: “It’s obviously all a bit woolly at the moment about when the match will be played, but it’s good to be able to salvage something from a season that never was.
“We definitely deserved to get something out of the season. We need to feel like we’ve got something out of the hard work of being second in the league and reaching a cup final.
“It’s good for the players. We had a decent win in the semi-final and we deserve to be there and it will be interesting to play Hathern because they are the holders. They’re obviously not going to roll over and give us it easily.
“The decision has definitely brought a bit of a buzz back because we were in the same boat as a lot of sides in that we were all deflated after the season was stopped.
“We were like all a lot of sides in leagues all across the country in that we had put a lot in until what happened.
“There are more important things than football at the end of the day, but to hear that we’re going to get our cup final has really made people start to look forward to the season again which is nice.”
Cottesmore had been in second spot when the season was suspended having earlier enjoyed a record-breaking run in the FA Vase.
They were hoping their successful season on the pitch would have earned them promotion to the United Counties League having done a lot of work behind the scenes to get their Westray Park ground ready for a step six grading.
Giblin added: “It would have been hard just to accept that everything we did last year in the league, cup and the FA Vase would have been for nothing.
“We appreciate that the league has taken the stance that, because we qualified, we still get the chance to play the final.
“It’s another good thing for the club because we had never reached the final before. We seem to be doing a lot of firsts at the moment with the FA Vase and what would have been a finish near the top of the league. To do that and reach a cup final is fantastic.
“We’ve now shown our cards that we mean business in terms of what we’ve done to the ground.
“We’re in a much stronger position than we were this time last year and we intend to continue that.
“We’ve got no intention of just staying we are. We’re going to keep pushing and pushing and see where that brings us to.
“The committee and chairman deserve credit because we set out at the start of last season to have a real go at things and get things moving.
“We had been talking about doing things to the ground for several years to get us where we needed to be but we have now pushed through and done it.
“There is still stuff that needs doing, but we achieved a lot last season both on and off the pitch.
“The ground looks totally different to what it did this time in the off season last year. We’ve pushed really hard to get things done and the chairman and committee have backed the vision to try and get us up to step six whenever that may be.”
Cottesmore are now awaiting a decision on what will happen next season with the current Government guidelines on the coronavirus outbreak.
They have started making plans for pre-season friendlies and Giblin has been in talks with his squad about keeping his successful side together for another campaign.
He added: “We’re talking to other clubs already about pre-season friendlies and we’re just trying to plan as best we can really without knowing what it’s going to look like.
“It’s all up in the air at the moment for every club.
“We started pre-season quite early last year and ideally we’ll be a in position to be allowed to do the same, especially as the boys have had an elongated time on the sidelines.
“As soon as we’re given the green light then we’ll be getting back together and getting some ball-work done.
“We’ll keep moving forward with what we do as and when we’re allowed to.
“We’re staying close with interactive quiz nights, etc, which we’re doing every week and trying to stick together.
“We know a lot of the players are going to have offers from other clubs, but it’s my job to keep them altogether this summer which is what I’m going to try and do.
“It’s not going to be easy and it’s another consequence of what has happened, but the early conversations have gone well so we’re hopeful.
“They feel there’s a bit of unfinished business. We’ve got a good group and, if we can keep everyone together, then that’s my job done for the summer. We have also been contacted by a couple of players from good levels who are interested in coming over.”