SPARE a thought for Guisborough Town manager Steve Bell and his assistant Paul Crager – with the start of the season proper only a fortnight away the management duo admit the pre-season programme hasn’t exactly gone to plan.

“Our pre-season so far hasn’t been what we had hoped and planned for," said Steve.

"It’s been very difficult so far to manoeuvre our way through our friendly games with having to field different players because of a number of issues like Covid isolations, injuries and some players not being available.

“However, it looks like we will have three or four of our main squad back this week which will help us no end.

“I know I keep saying it but for us it’s all about the lead up to our first league game at home to Bishop Auckland on Saturday, July 31.”

The pre-season disruption has continued with the news that Tuesday’s scheduled annual Micky Skinner Memorial match against Whitby had to be called off due to a combination of injuries and players having to self-isolate in the Whitby camp. That was a huge disappointment to Guisborough and their supporters, as this annual fixture is always keenly anticipated. The Priorymen now look ahead to this weekend and the inaugural Mo Mowlam Memorial Cup Tournament in Redcar.

Meanwhile, Guisborough’s latest friendly match took place at Thornaby last Saturday when the Priorymen took on Thornaby in the annual Peter Morris Memorial Trophy. It was an extremely tough test for both sets of players with the match being played in near-tropical conditions, and both sides deserve huge credit for putting on a very competitive spectacle. Thornaby edged the game 2-0 with a goal in either half from Elliott Beddow (ninth minute and 54th minute) sealing the cup for the home team.

In the previous midweek, Guisborough also played their annual John Butterfield Memorial Trophy match against neighbouring Marske United. The scoreline of 5-0 to Marske was almost immaterial as the main purpose was to remember and celebrate a great servant and volunteer at the club for many years, John Butterfield, who sadly died four years ago following a brave battle against brain cancer.

John’s daughter Leanne, who for many years travelled the North-East and further afield watching the Priorymen with her beloved dad, presented the trophy to the winning Marske captain.