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Curtis Woodhouse to take the reins at Great Driffield Town AFC

Less than a week after formation of the new club was confirmed, Great Driffield Town AFC have announced former Premier League and England Under-21 footballer Curtis Woodhouse as manager.

The appointment of Woodhouse, Driffield born and bred, is seen as a signal of intent by Great Driffield Town officials, who hope the former Birmingham City, Sheffield United and Hull City midfielder can bring his experience to his hometown club.

Great Driffield Town will operate three teams from the start of the 2022/23 season, with players from Driffield Evening Institute AFC and Hutton Cranswick SRA joining forces with Driffield Junior Football Club at Allotment Lane.

All it has ever been for years and years is talk. To actually be a part of it happening is exciting.

curtis woodhouse

It’s anticipated that the club will initially ply its trade in Humber Premier League One, with the short-term aim of winning the title and earning promotion to the Premier Division.

Long-term, the goal is to move further up the non-league football pyramid, giving the Capital of the Wolds a team to get behind and perhaps take on the likes of North Ferriby, Bridlington Town and Hall Road Rangers.

The first piece in the Great Driffield Town jigsaw was a manager and Woodhouse, who also enjoyed a successful professional boxing career approached the new club’s trustees, interested in being part of the exciting plans and taking on the role.

And following a successful interview, he will be in the dugout when the season gets underway later this year, alongside assistant manager Andrew Dixon, current manager of Hutton Cranswick SRA, and player/coach Jonny Blakeston, a member of the Driffield EI squad and former Driffield JFC gaffer.

Having watched Driffield North End, the side his father Bernard managed, as a youngster, Woodhouse has heard discussions about one football club in Driffield for decades.

He’s looking forward to being at the helm now it has finally happened.

“I’m delighted to be the first manager of Great Driffield Town,” said Woodhouse. “The project really excites me.

Andrew Dixon

“I remember going to watch Driffield North End when I was five years old.

“My dad was the manager of the team and people were talking about a merger then and discussing what it would be like if Driffield could put one team together.

“All it has ever been for years and years is talk. To actually be a part of it happening is exciting.

“When you think of all the talent that has come out of Driffield and has had to move elsewhere to get a level of football, it’s sad.

“So, to be part of the revival is great. It’s been needed for years and hasn’t happened for various reasons.”

Paul Burkinshaw, one of those behind the formation of Great Driffield Town AFC, told the Wolds Weekly that the club sees the appointment of the ex-Bridlington Town and Gainsborough Trinity manager as a major coup.

“We spoke to Curtis about the manager’s job during the week before the announcement of the club was made and had chats with Andy and Jonny about working alongside him,” said Paul.

“It’s a big deal for us to appoint someone of Curtis’ calibre – a former professional footballer and a non-league manager who sets out to succeed in everything he does.

“He wants to achieve in everything he does and has the highest of standards and that fits in with our plan too.

“Curtis approached us to discuss the role and was really interested and excited about the new club and keen to help it become a success.

“We were equally pleased and it seemed a natural move to appoint Andy and Jonny to work alongside him, who both have been part of the existing clubs and will bring some continuity and their own experience.”

With the ground set to receive an upgrade of its facilities soon, Allotment Lane has been chosen as the base for Great Driffield Town, where its hoped current EI and SRA players will be joined by existing players from the JFC junior set-up in the senior ranks and other local footballers.

Whilst Burkinshaw and his fellow Great Driffield Town officials concede that new players will likely be required for the club to achieve its longer term goals, a major part of Woodhouse’s remit will be to use local lads and talented youngsters coming through the system.

Woodhouse is ready to assess the talent at his disposal in the coming weeks and months and is targeting early success to kick-start the club’s ambition to move higher up the non-league football ladder with the help of his experienced backroom team.

“The town’s football talent now has Great Driffield Town AFC, which can try and push through the leagues with good facilities and a proper structure to allow Driffield to move forward,” he said.

“That’s so important for the young lads coming through, who can aspire to something.

“I’m particularly looking forward to working with some of the young talent and mixing them with the older heads and more experienced players like Tim and Dan Taylor, from EI, and the younger players that Andy (Dixon) has brought through at Hutton Cranswick, and others from the JFC youth teams.

“This club is for Driffield and local players will get a chance. They’ve got the platform to come and prove that they are the ones that can drive us forward.

“Working with young players and watching them develop is always something I’ve enjoyed.

“Andrew and Jonny have a wealth of experience in local football and will know all the players.

“I’ll be leaning on them regarding recruitment and players we can call upon. We’ve had various meetings already and will be having more in the future to put our ideas and a squad together with the aim to win the Humber Premier League One.

“We’re not there just to take part, we’re there to win and want to build a strong squad, with players from this area.

“I’ll be looking to meet up with the players early next week, just to touch base and let them know the plan.

“We want to start training as soon as possible and put everything in place so that by the start of the season, we’re prepared.

“Hopefully, I can pass down a lot of the knowledge I have picked up in my years as being a footballer and a manager.

“I’m looking forward to developing the side, putting some key principles in place and the aim is to go through the leagues.

“Everything is in place for that to happen. My job as first-team manager is to deliver the goods on the pitch and that’s down to the players, who will all be given a fresh start.”

Appointing a manager who has had successful spells manging non-league clubs and been linked with jobs at professional football clubs represents a perfect start for Great Driffield Town AFC, according to Burkinshaw.

“This project is about building a football club that Driffield can be proud of and providing a standard of football and aspiration for talented local footballers, many of whom play for the clubs that have been part of the merger as well as others who want to be part of what we are doing, and the opportunity to play under Curtis will be a big pull” said Paul.

“One of the challenges for Curtis will be balancing what the club wants to achieve on the pitch with as many local players as possible. However, this is about a sustainable evolution, not an overnight revolution.
“In non-league football, he’s had successful spells with Bridlington Town, Gainsborough Trinity and Tadcaster Albion and is very highly regarded.

“He’s also been linked with professional clubs and played under some of the most experienced managers in football.

“Naming Curtis as manager sends out a signal to local footballers about what we are trying to achieve at Great Driffield Town AFC and we want the club to progress onto bigger and better things.

“We couldn’t have wished for a better start, this is a real signal of intent and the club will be working hard to support Curtis and his management team along with its other teams who will all play a big part in what we are aiming to achieve, whilst also developing other aspects associated with the club, including the facilities.

“We will also now be focusing on appointing management teams for our other men’s teams and women’s team over the next few weeks in order that the club can be in the best possible place come the start of next season.”

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