By August 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic had swept the globe.
The virus had affected all aspects of normal life with the UK slowly beginning to ease harsh lockdown restrictions.
Sport across the country had been at a complete standstill for most of the year, and this put many clubs under serious financial stress.
Grassroots and lower league football were among the hardest hit, and whilst some teams were able to survive and get by, others weren’t as lucky.
Among those were Manchester based side Droylsden FC, who were forced to withdraw from the Northern Premier League in August 2020 due to the club’s dire financial situation.
Almost three years on and the club are on the up again.
With 131 years of history and playing in England’s fifth tier, then known as the Conference League Premier as recently as 2008, owner and manager Dave Pace has refused to let the club die.
On Sunday the club held a second meeting to discuss plans to get their club back – and Pace was overwhelmed by the support he had received.
“The response I’ve had here has been fantastic,” said Pace.
“It’s overwhelming to be honest and it makes me know that that this is a club worth saving.”
The Bloods’ owner didn’t hold back throughout the meeting and was very open about what had happened to the club.
He said: “I found myself in a situation that when Covid hit I was just cut off at the knees basically, I had no revenue coming in from the club.
“We could have gone into administration but didn’t, whether that was the right thing to do or not I don’t know.
“I was in a lose lose situation.”
Droylsden’s fortunes seem to be turning around though, and Pace outlined a short-term goal of raising £10,000 in order for the Butchers’ Arms ground to gain a safety certificate, with a total of £415 being raised at the meeting on Sunday alone.
Pace also stated that the club would need to raise a total of £80,000 to carry the club through their first season, a target which could be achieved through the Bloods’ GoFundMe campaign, which is in the process of being set up.
The club have applied to the North West Counties Football League to re-enter the competition in the 2023/24 season.
Pace said: “The NWCFL have been fantastic with us so far.
“If we get the go ahead from them then we would start next season in July.
“It’s out of my hands now though, we’ve done everything we possibly can given the timescale, we have to wait for the outcome of that application.”
The meeting was attended by well over 150 supporters of the club old and new, as well as other local people who turned up to show their support.
Fran Morgan, a Droylsden supporter of 23 years, said: “I’ve supported Droylsden since I moved here in 2000.
“I used to do match reports for the Tameside Advertiser.
“I came a fortnight ago [to the first meeting] and we thought it could go either way.
“Either he [Pace] was going to sell up, or the club was going to fully collapse, or it was going to start up again.
“I’m really pleased to hear that he’s going to give it a go and I think that we’re all behind him.”
Another long-term supporter of the club spoke about how he was affected when the club resigned from the Northern Premier League.
He said: “It’s left a massive void on a Saturday afternoon.
“There used to be quite a few of us go home and away, and we used to really enjoy it.
“It’s just a great place and we had a really good meeting today.”
It seems almost inevitable that with the fans’ backing and if they can generate the funding, the historic non-league side Droylsden FC will grace the Butchers’ Arms pitch once again.