Youngsters leading the transformation as Crows plan for new season

Jess Walklin of WGC FC and Ryan Towner of Royston Town

Ryan Towner holds off Jess Walklin during Royston Town's pre-season friendly with Welwyn Garden City. - Credit: NEIL METCALFE

Royston Town will still be competitive this season despite the departure of players to the higher level.

The Crows were on the verge of promotion from the Southern League Premier Division Central, a move that would have placed just two divisions below the Football League, when COVID-19 first struck.

Another abortive season after that has seen some players make the step up themselves but while there will be a measure of re-building, manager Steve Castle believes there will be plenty of chances for the club's talented youngsters to shine.

He said: "I won’t say we won’t compete. Yes, we lost two or three to higher clubs and yes, it is a shame but that’s football. 

But we’ve kept a group of lads that we feel are good enough and we also have the opportunity to bring youngsters in. They haven’t done themselves any harm."

That was especially true of their latest pre-season friendly, a 1-1 draw away to Welwyn Garden City from the step below.

Jonny Edwards cancelled out a Harrison Cage penalty in a match that saw the Crows field a number of young players in an injury-hit team.

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"We have quite a few out with isolation or COVID itself so it was a little bit difficult for us and we had an awful lot of young lads," said the boss.

"Getting a group of lads to train Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday has been impossible but the youngsters applied themselves very well.

"It has been good that they have been able to come in and everybody has been showing what they are all about. This was another positive step in the right direction.

"We had a few chances and if you are missing them in the second week in August, it's a little bit of a problem. 

"At the moment they are forgivable but the general attitude and the ability to take information on board was the most pleasing thing for me."

And away from the nitty-gritty of a pre-season campaign, Castle is just delighted to see football returning to non-league clubs.

He said: "It’s been far too long and it is good to meet good people. 

Welwyn Garden City have a great set-up, like we do, and it was exactly the same at Biggleswade and Haringey. They are people who just want to do the right thing. 

It isn’t always about the Premier League and hopefully we can get the added benefit of disillusioned fans coming into non-league football."