Wakefield AFC – by Simon Boyle

Simon Boyle, pundit on the ‘All Wakey Aren’t We‘ podcast, provides his analysis of tomorrow evening’s opponent Wakefield AFC’s season so far.

[Photo by Steve Biltcliffe Photography]

Boyle: Wakefield has long been heralded as the biggest city in the country without a professional football club. Fans of Wakefield AFC are hoping that the long wait will finally come to an end after previous failed attempts to launch and maintain a club in the city.

Wakefield AFC were formed in 2019 but did not actually complete a league season until 2022 after two seasons were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If anything, those two cancelled seasons allowed the club to learn from its mistakes and come into the 2021/22 season with promotion from the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior Premier Division firmly on the cards.

It was not until current manager Gabe Mozzini replaced Adam Lockwood (now Sporting Director) in January 2022 that the team achieved its true potential, however. From fifth place in the table, Gabe took his young team on an unbeaten run of seventeen games, of which only two were draws.

Wakefield AFC clinched the title on the final day of the season at home to Dodworth Miners Welfare with a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Danny Youel and Owen Kirnan. Mozzini benefitted from being able to put out a largely settled side every week and as well as the likes of Youel and Kirman, there were other stand-out players across the season. Jake Morrison was the top scorer in the side with twenty-eight goals in twenty-five games and he is a definite fan favourite (although Kirman did win the Fans’ Player of the Season on the fans’ Facebook group for his electrifying performances on the wing). Billy Mole is another player that the fans have taken to their hearts as the attacking midfielder gives his all every game and also had a good goal tally with twenty goals in twenty-four games.

The 2020/21 season wasn’t just about the title win giving promotion to Step 6 of the non-league pyramid however. The club was bought out by new investors from the US (Guilherme Decca and Andre Ikeda) which has seen a great deal of change at the club. After the previous owners’ lofty (perhaps over-zealous) ambitions of becoming a bonafide Football League club with promotion every other season, we now have more grounded intentions from the owners, of making Wakefield AFC a self-sustainable football club, a valuable asset to the community and a club the fans can be proud to support.

So far in the 2022/23 season, things have not gone as smoothly as last season, much as you’d expect with a big step up in the quality of the opposition. A fantastic start to the season saw Wakefield AFC take ten points from their first four games before a string of injuries to crucial players hit the side. Centre-back and club captain Jimmy Morris was injured at the end of the previous season and will be out for the remainder of this campaign. Brad Swain suffered a horrible ankle injury in the opening game and is still some time away from returning. Injuries to Youel, Mole, Morrison and midfielder Jock Curran have forced Mozzini to play a different starting eleven in every game this season. Some players are back from injury while others are recovering and the new summer signings have had to adapt quickly. As a result, the team has won only two of its last seven games in league and cup competition but the squad is working hard in training to put things right and restore confidence.

In my opinion, Wednesday’s game between Wakefield AFC and Yorkshire Amateur AFC is a chance for both sides to put their current form behind them and enjoy a great game of football away from the pressures that come with a league campaign. It’s two teams from different divisions, both with a great deal of change and upheaval in the last twelve months. For ninety minutes on Wednesday, the two teams will be on a level playing field (literally as the Featherstone Rovers pitch is usually very good) and whoever wins will hopefully be a deserved victor after a great game of football.