New Halifax-Huddersfield Union boss Andy Shaw’s diplomacy skills are likely to be put to the test in the build-up to this summer’s Yorkshire Inter-District League campaign.
Bradley Hall’s Shaw, given joint charge of last year’s runners-up alongside Woodsome Hall’s Steve Selbie following Chris Mear’s resignation, has spoken of his desire for the team to take the extra step and become champions.
However, it appears that scratch player Shaw, who will take care of the playing side of the operation while Selbie deals with the administration, may face a battle to get the support of all of last year’s players through no fault of his own.
Frank Greaves, a former Union junior team boss who has deputised for Mear, was favourite to get the job ahead of Shaw and Adam Walker. However, Shaw was elected by a Union executive vote.
One-handicapper Greaves this week made clear his disgust at not being appointed and claimed in-coming Union president Dave Pullen had backed his bid.
When asked if he would continue to play for the team he said: “I doubt it. I think that decision has been made for me. There are some faces I do not want to see.”
Greaves has switched clubs from West End to Todmorden, where his Union foursomes partner Dave Stafford plays.
A member at the Norton Tower club since 1997 and captain in 2002, Greaves said he needed a new challenge.
Greaves and Stafford teamed up in last Tuesday’s Alliance at Crosland Heath, scoring 39 points, and Stafford claimed after the event that Greaves had been the choice of the players for the job.
“Anybody in the know would have known that Frank was the man for the job - and that is nothing against Andy Shaw. But it appears the hierarchy of the Union did not want Frank to do it.”
Current Union president J Philip Thompson, himself from West End, said there had been a thorough selection process and the candidates had been approached.
“Unfortunately Frank thought he had been offered the job and he hadn’t.”
Thompson said he had abstained from the eventual vote because he thought that was the right thing to do as a member of Greaves’s club. He would only have voted had a casting vote been required.
He added: “If Frank had the support of everyone he would have got the job.
“It is important now that we put this matter to bed and let Andy get on with it.”
Shaw, meanwhile, met Selbie and John Cocking, a former team boss, last Sunday to finalise their roles in a new two-man leadership set-up.
The 32-year-old Shaw, speaking at the start of last week, admitted he had been surprised by Mear’s sudden departure last autumn and that he had got the job.
The long-serving team member said: “We are keen to carry on Chris’s good work. A couple of players have gone to the pro ranks - Adam Cryer and Adam Walker - but we have a lot of strength in depth.”
Shaw, who represented the Union at senior level as a 15-year-old, is hoping for a better year on the fitness front after suffering a knee injury playing football at the end of June and missing the last four Union matches.
Crucially, Shaw said Mear had developed a different mind set among the players.
“We used to go into matches trying to compete. Now we expect to win.”
Whether that team spirit will be evident from the opening match against Harrogate at Crosland Heath on May 18 remains to be seen.