CSKA Carnabys were founded and registered within a couple of weeks following the liquidation of Alliance League side FC Knighton. This led to a proposal by former FC Knighton player Chris McCafferty and close friend Luke Williamson to take over the club’s registration in Division 5 and create a new club called FC Carnabys, an idea they planned during their times university.
The following weeks was a race against the calendar to be ready for the beginning of the 2008/09 season. Recruitment was at the forefront of the planning stage, with both McCafferty and Williamson exhausting their contacts lists to devise a squad for the season ahead. McCafferty swooped to transfer the registration of Danny Coulton, Dom Doggett, Henry Crockett and Joe Tuckwood from FC Knighton to Carnabys. Whilst Williamson secured the services of a players he had previously managed during his last managerial campaign at Scrappy Legends FC, Sean Ward. As well has his band-mates Kevin Evans, Sam Weston and Paul Iliffe.
Kieran Williamson, Luke’s brother, signed along with Dave Line, Dan Fenwick, Simon Bumpus, Lee Scaysbrook and Gary Moore following trials. And as the first official pre-season training session began, Kieran Warner, Mick McGuigan, Shaun Dyer, Jay Karsandas, Glenn Clarke and Brett Pickard were now signed with Leicestershire’s youngest club. Shaun Dyer would be the club’s first injury victim, when an innocuous collision with Henry Crockett resulted in knee ligament damage that saw him ruled out for the rest of the season. Player/Manager Luke Williamson also fell victim to ankle ligament damage that would keep him sidelined for the beginning of the campaign.
Behind the scenes, chairman Chris McCafferty sourced kit for his new club, which happened to be the Russia kit from the recent European Championships that saw them progress to the semi-final stage. This resulted in a rebranding of the club name to from FC Carnabys to CSKA Carnabys.
With a rushed pre-season, intense recruitment period, and only one pre-season friendly, and the kit arriving the day before, CSKA begin their Division 5 campaign on a pleasant Friday evening away to FC Komrska at Victoria Park, just a few hundred meters away from CSKA’s home pitch. An eventful start for CSKA in their inaugural match, as a challenge on Dave Line results in an early penalty for CSKA, Danny Coulton cooly slots it in to make it 1-0 to the visitors. 5 minutes later, Henry Crockett doubles the lead on 10 minutes. This would be as good as it gets for CSKA, as a series of defensive and goalkeeping howlers meant that CSKA found themselves 4-2 behind at half-time, the eventual final score. Captain Sean Ward picks up the club’s first Man of the Match award.
The Mods don’t fare any better in their next game on the Sunday against Division 5 favourites, Humberstone Rangers. The club’s first ever home tie ends in a 1-6 defeat, Henry Crockett grabbing the consolation goal.
The following Friday however is a fine evening for CSKA Carnabys, with Lee Scaysbrook able to make his competitive debut following a solid pre-season, and lines up with new signing Frazer Tansley at the back, allowing Chris McCafferty to revert to a more favourable full-back position. Top scorer Henry Crockett fills in for the injured Gary Moore in goal with Kieran Williamson making his first start as the lone striker. Tom Armstrong and Glenn Clarke are the heroes as CSKA edge out opponents The Wheel by 2-0.
A 1-4 defeat at home to Trinderbox follows in the Billy Walton Cup, the infamous “Bullet” header from Paul Iliffe that earns him a nickname for the remainder of his career in football, new signing Steve Maggs comes off the bench for his debut, as well as Kieran Warner in goal, who is finally available having joined the club during pre-season.
Maggs makes his first start the following week as captain at home to LK Old Boys with CSKA losing by 0-3 despite dominating the game throughout. A series of blunders by goalkeeper Gary Moore, who plays his last game for the club.
Kieran Warner takes over in goal after impressing in training and in the Trinderbox cup defeat, and his first game is again at home to Trinderbox, this time in the league. Player/Manager Luke Williamson is finally able to make his debut having recovered from his ankle injury picked up during pre-season training. Williamson pairs up in attack with leading scorer Henry Crockett, both are on the scoresheet as well as a first goal for Lee Scaysbrook, but The Mods come away on the wrong end of a 3-6.
CSKA are easily brushed aside 1-3 at home to Bees Knees in their next game, with Chris McCafferty bagging his first for the club. A debut is also handed to new signing Jon Brice.
The month begins with another home defeat, this time 1-4 to local rivals FC Komrska. So following 7 consecutive home games, CSKA finally end up with an away tie at top of the table Willows. The game has a one-minute silence before kick-off following the death of Willows’s Chairman the following week. CSKA also play in their away kit for the one and only time in 2008/9 season, which is borrowed from Willows.
Chris Fetonby makes his first and only appearance for the club in goal. The game ends 11-2 to the hosts. Jay Karsandas comes off the bench for the 4th time this season already to score an early goal of the season contender. Mick McGuigan is an unused substitute having turned up wearing his dressing gown, whilst Joe Tuckwood refuses to watch the match and is also left unused as a result.
Back to home territory the following week and it’s CSKA’s last attempt at silverware for the season in the Stokes Cup (CSKA weren’t registered in time to secure a place in the County Cup). Unfortunately a 0-4 loss to Bees Knees ensues.
CSKA put October’s form behind them quickly with a comfortable 3-1 win over bottom side FC Kibworth, Jay Karsandas with one and Luke Williamson becomes the first Mod to score more than one goal in a game.
Williamson follows this up the following week with another brace, however CSKA end up losing 2-4 to The Wheel despite a credible performance.
16th November sees CSKA travel to South Wigston to play West End United Reserves. Henry Crockett is unavailable after showing frustrations in the previous game as being named as a substitute, so Williamson tweaks the system, pushing McCafferty into an advanced right-midfield position with Mick McGuigan deputizing at right-back. The strategy pays off instantly, literally, as McCafferty scores in the first minute, CSKA’s fastest ever goal. The game ends 5-1, Karsandas, Ward and Tansley grabbing the others, as well as an own goal.
The 5-1 win is the beginning of an amazing run that sees CSKA march up the table. Henry Crockett leaves the club to focus on his University life in Leeds, and the next match is a convincing 3-1 victory away at LK Old Boys with Karsandas, Williamson and Brice getting the goals.
Next it’s a 1-1 draw with Red Arrow of Lutterworth, Luke Williamson scores a screamer from 30 yards just moments after the visitors take the lead. A goal and a performance that began some serious hatred towards the Player/Manager in all future encounters. New signing Andrew Phipps makes his debut.
CSKA get back to winning ways in their next game away at FC Kibworth. Luke Williamson, Kieran Williamson and Jay Karsandas are all ruled out through injury and illness, so Jon Brice plays as the lone striker. Goalkeeper, Kieran Warner is also ruled out until after the new year, so Joe Tuckwood starts in goal. The game is wrapped up by a Chris McCafferty brace, a Danny Coulton penalty and an own goal. 4-1 the final score as CSKA head into the Christmas break having completed 2/3 of the season already.
2009 gets off to a flying start, the morning after Leicester City dispatch Leyton Orient 3-0 in League One, CSKA stick 4 past West End United Reserves thanks to goals from Brice (2), Maggs and McCafferty. The calmest man in the world, Tom Hoskins, makes his debut for CSKA, the club’s fifth goalkeeper used this season.
The next game is a tricky tie away at Trinderbox, but The Mods earn an early penalty that is tucked away by Kieran Williamson for his first goal for the club, Jay Karsandas adds a second and then Sean Ward scores a Goal of the Season contender to make it a convincing 3-0 victory over a very good opponent. Tom Hoskins now the second CSKA goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet. Matt Whitaker makes his debut from the bench.
But this will be the last victory of the season for CSKA. In the next game away at Evington FC, CSKA squander a 4-1 half-time lead to lose 5-4. McCafferty, Scaysbrook and Williamson (2) with the first half goals.
The next game is a battle against runaway leaders Willows, currently unbeaten in the league up to this point. Willows start convincingly and take the lead early on, but CSKA grow into the game and show an unfamiliar battle-like performance to really take the game to the favourites. And following a couple of goals from Player/Manager Williamson find themselves 2-1 ahead. But deep into injury time, a shot is saved by Warner, but then spilled and the Willows front man pounces to make it 2-2 leading to mass celebrations from the Willow lads who keep up their unbeaten run for another week at least.
Evington are the next opponents, just 2 weeks after the reverse fixture, but a poor showing from CSKA ends in 1-3 defeat, with McCafferty grabbing a late consolation goal in a game that marks the end for CSKA in their temporary home at Victoria Park.
Humberstone Rangers thrash CSKA 5-1 in the next fixture as CSKA are forced to make changes due to injuries to key players. Jay Karsandas grabs the only goal for The Mods.
Andy Pettitt is signed before the transfer deadline and is immediately brought in alongside Williamson for his debut against Red Arrow. Sean Ward is forced to deputize in defence as Scaysbrook is injured, and with Kieran Warner ruled out for the rest of the season, Tom Hoskins returns between the sticks. Karsandas’s strike earns CSKA a point with a 1-1 draw.
CSKA conclude the season with a poor showing away at Bees Knees (which is hosted by CSKA at Victoria Park), Sean Ward plays in goal and earns man of the match despite conceding four. 0-4 the final score.
CSKA took many learnings from their debut season. Large rotation of players particularly in the early months as players found their feet, and for many, adjusted to the 11-a-side game from previous 5-a-side. Player quickly realized that they weren’t all midfielders, players grew and adapted. Many found positions and attributes that they never knew they had. Some had to cope with the realization that in order to play for a team, you need to train, you need to show attitude, and conduct yourself in a good manner on the pitch and fight for everything.
Lee Scaysbrook was awarded Players’ Player of the Season, whilst Kieran Warner won the Manager’s Player of the Season. Jay Karsandas landed the Most improved Player having established himself as a key player following mostly substitute appearances in the early months. Chris McCafferty was awarded Clubman of the Year and was acknowledged by the Committee for getting a club founded and registered in just a couple of weeks. Luke Williamson won the Golden Boot (13) as well as the Goal of the Season award for his strike against Red Arrow.