In the second half of last season I signed for Saturday League Division Three strugglers Ayton Reserves as the club was looking to keep both their sides going after a mass exodus at the turn of the year.
The club managed to limp through the second half of the season, and at the League AGM in June were confident of being able to keep both sides going this season.
Unfortunately just before the start of this season it became clear that Ayton could only raise one side, so they had to pull their reserve side out of the third division leaving a few lads from last season’s reserves plus a few youngsters to play a division higher.
This means that each game is a mismatch and has seen Ayton suffer three heavy defeats against leaders Scalby, defending champions Filey Town Reserves and promotion hopefuls Duchess and Newlands Park Reserves.
As a result of this morale at an all-time low and each week is becoming a struggle to raise a side.
It is a shame that in such a scenario as Ayton found themselves, league rules do not allow the remaining team to play in place of the lower side as it seems forcing them to play a division higher is pushing a well-established village club , with a good pitch and a great clubhouse and an experienced administrative team, closer to extinction.
Maybe the Saturday League could look at bringing in the loan system that has helped a lot of cricket clubs around the region keep going throughout the summer, particularly in the lower reaches of the Derwent Valley League.
This would allow players who are not getting a game to turn out for crisis clubs like Ayton, who are needing help to raise a full team.
Although there were concerns raised last season that this cricket loan system was, on occasions, being used to keep regular players of other teams with a spare weekend in action, rather than giving cricketers who are not getting a game at all a run-out.
I believe this loan system would be worth a try in the local football leagues, despite the fact that some ambitious clubs may be tempted to twist such a system to further their own title pushes or promotion bids.
Unfortunately any such loan system may well be too late for Ayton, unless the team manage to make a few new signings.