Eccleshill United boss Lee Duxbury is immensely proud of his squad and what they have achieved for the club this term – but he admits to having regrets.
Former Bantams midfielder Duxbury is head coach at the Eagles, working under director of football Mark Ellis.
In his first season in charge of the first team, he steered the Eagles to fourth place in the Toolstation Northern Counties East League Premier Division – which sees them qualify for next season’s FA Cup – and lift the West Riding County Cup at his old haunt of Valley Parade.
Eccleshill are looking forward to another big day at Bradford City’s stadium tomorrow as they take on Knaresborough Town in the NCE League Cup final.
Ahead of that game, Duxbury said: “We have done very well and there is no doubt about that.
“It has been a difficult and testing season with injuries, suspensions and the American lads from RIASA (Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy) missing for a long period in December and January, although I think it has made us all stronger.
“But I’m very disappointed that I didn’t lead the club to promotion. We got the top four and qualification for the FA Cup, while we also qualified for the FA Vase and we won a cup that no-one gave us a chance in.
“They are all big achievements, of which everyone here is proud – and rightly so. We could win another cup tomorrow but I still feel there is something missing.
“Every manager and coach wants to see their club progress and it was so close for us this season. If circumstances had been different, I believe we would have done it.”
No matter what the result at Valley Parade this weekend it has still been an unprecedented season for Eccleshill and their players.
The overseas and local lads will have two medals to show for it and will be able to look forward to next season with great anticipation.
Duxbury may miss the NCE League’s showpiece final following an operation today but he is determined to get there if he can.
The former Oldham Athletic player, reserve-team manager and first-team assistant boss went under the surgeon’s knife at the Yorkshire Clinic to replace cartilage in both hips, a legacy of his long career in the game.
Duxbury said: “The operation has been planned for a long while and it was scheduled for after the season. The cup final is a bonus we didn’t expect.
“I am going to try to get to the game. Our physio is looking after me but I won’t be too mobile. If I can’t make it I have left instructions with Chris (Reape) regarding formations, tactics and what to change and when if we are in front or losing at any particular time in the game.
“We have been through it so many times – but I hope I’m there. I’m like the players in that I don’t want to miss this one.”