Thank you Gresley

 

Where better than Greeley FC to spend Non League Day to see them entertain Rugby Town in the Buildbase FA Vase first round.

The Moat Ground is iconic in its ramshackle appearance tucked into an old housing estate, that belies the enjoyment that is created on this stage. 205 fans turned up and the snack bar and Harry’s bar did a good trade. A large group of fans had a pint or two outside the bar in good humoured fun and banter. Gresley long to move to community facilities and their ground and car park have been zoned for housing in the local plan. In the meantime it’s worth the visit to just take in the sense of belonging created by many fans, officials, volunteers and players of the past.

I saw Greeley last year at Lincoln United in their relegation from the Northern Premier League and remember overhearing officials of both teams debating the rising cost of paying players and how they couldn’t and wouldn’t compete.

Gresley’s fall has continued and they now sit bottom of the Midland Football League, Premier Division with only two points and no wins after 9 games. They hoped that they could add to their two wins in the preliminary rounds and perhaps emulate Gresley Rovers Wembley final of 1992.

I have previously written about Gresleys history so a brief resume of Rugby Town FC. Formed as New Bilton Juniors playing friendlies in 1955 they changed their name to Valley Sports the following year and started playing local Saturday football. they progressed to the United Counties League by 1969 and changed their name again, this time to VS Rugby. They progressed up through the West Midland League to the Southern League and had some memorable F.A. cup runs before folding in 1993. Some of the original founders of the club rescued it and reformed. VS Rugby became Rugby United in 2000 and in 2005 changed to the present Rugby Town. Rugby like Gresley have in recent years been relegated from the Northern Premier League and had a spell in the Midland League before being transferred to the United Counties League in one of the FA’s many reshuffles.

The day was dry but the grey skies and fluffy darker clouds threatened rain. At 13 degrees it was pleasant and the pitch looked lush and in good condition. The pitch slopes down from each end to a sort of plane in the middle and is undulating in many areas.

Gresley try hard to raise money, they had a quiz the previous night and a program for £1.50 was supplemented by a 20p team sheet printed while you waited. Sellers for golden goal, a raffle and a team draw were active as well as the food and drink bars.

 

Gresley FC 0 Rugby Town FC 1

Rugby immediately dominated the start of the game and it looked only a matter of time before they scored. Gresley however hung on and midway through the first half had started to dominate. A string of corners and balls into the goalmouth should have seen them get one good chance but they looked unlikely to put the ball in the net with little direct striking power. Level at half time was a fair reflection of the action.

The second half saw Rugby gain the upperhand and were unlucky not to go ahead after 55 minutes when Jazz Luckie rose to meet a corner and his header crashed against the corner of the upright and crossbar. Rugby’s domination though proved fruitful on 78 minutes when Jazz Luckie hit the ball home from the centre of goal after good work from the left wing provided a cross that beat everyone. Gresley tried to rally and managed to put some pressure on but Extra Time was not needed.

For me my man of the match was Gresleys No 10 Albert Landsdowne who seemed to be everywhere and had abundant passion and commitment.

One thing about the game was that I don’t remember the officials, well done!

Gresleys great experience was further demonstrated by their organisation of a one way system that cleared the full car park and on street parking quickly. The guy directing everyone did extremely well.

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The chips were hot, golden brown and tasty but had a slight burnt taste to them, a score of 68. I will issue an up to date chip League after the next game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non League Day: 12th October 2019

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This Saturday is Non League day when with International Games over the weekend there are few league games being played. With England playing on Friday night there are no TV distractions so please everyone pop down to your local teams game and support the players, fans and most of all the volunteers who keep the community going.

Many clubs have special entrance fees this weekend for different ages, season ticket holders of other clubs and some are donating a portion to charities.

You will find a welcoming atmosphere where in the club house you can have a drink and often some food and watch competitive matches at skill levels you did not expect. Try it you will be surprised.

Trouble at t’Mill

 

 

A trip to Worsborough was to see two teams from former mining communities, Worsborough Bridge Athletic FC v Glasshoughton Welfare FC.

The Worsborough Bridge pitch is seen from the bridge over the river Dove that feeds the lake that in turn feeds the nearby Worsborough Mill. This is a picturesque setting and is next door to the park and shares the clubhouse with the local cricket team.

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The pitch slopes down from one end to the other and rope and some crampons could be of help in tackling the hill. The ground looked claggy as the teams warmed up and two local fans were discussing how the pitch sometimes floods at the lower end of the field and with the recent rain were pleased the game was going ahead.

Unfortunately there was no program as the person who creates it was away and again it falls to a band of amazing volunteers to keep this institution going. Only 79 people had turned up on this grey day and the one lady manning the food area was coping brilliantly on her own despite a steady queue. The F.A. hierarchy should have a clause in their contract that states they should help out at Non-League club once a month to really understand the amazing work that people do to keep these clubs afloat.

Worsborough Bridge Athletic were formed in 1923 as Worsborough Bridge St James changing to the current name in the 1940’s and having an interlude as Worsborough Bridge Miners Welfare Athletic from 1959 to 2006. They played local football in Yorkshire until 1982 when they were founder members of the Northern Counties East League where they still play today.

Glasshoughton’s is a younger club but whose history is similar, playing local Saturday football from 1974 until 1985 when they joined the Northern Counties East League. They have fared better that Worsborough having played in the premier division for some years but have been playing in Division 1 since relegation 2015.

Worsborough 1 Glasshoughton 2

Worsborough played down hill in the first half and there was plenty of passion on show as the two teams could be heard chanting in their dressing rooms before taking to the pitch. This passion boiled over after 12 minutes when the referee booked the Worsborough Manager for swearing at him and the on field chat subsided after this. I was surprised to see that the sloping pitch didn’t affect the play and it was Glasshoughton’s Nathan Perks who on 24 minutes appeared to lose control of the ball but was able to place it past the defender and goalkeeper to score. A lady sat near me had a baby with her that was in some sort of backpack. The baby, only 7 months  was definitely following the players running around on the pitch.

The second half was only 3 minutes old when Worsborough were back in it when Kyle Wordsworth scored from a corner. The home side followed this with a 15 minute period of domination but Wordsworth despite his efforts could not repeat his earlier feat.

 

As the game wore on Glasshoughton gained control and but for heroics from Joseph Thornton between the sticks would have retaken the lead earlier than the 81st minute when substitute Lewis Pickering ran past the fullback to slide the ball under the keeper. One of the local fans said that Joseph was an outfield player who had taken over the gloves due to no goalkeeper being available. Glasshoughton’s win meant they leapfrog Worsborough down at the wrong end of the table and the home team are looking in trouble second from bottom.

The chips were although tasty not hot and a bit soggy. There were plenty of them for their £1.50 price.

 

 

 

 

Sheffield: The Home of Football

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“Developed by Sheffield Libraries and Archives, the walking app tells the story of football’s early days and guides you around the historic sites that played a role in shaping the world’s most popular game.”

https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/homeoffootball

Sheffield’s undoubted influence on the early days of world football is well proved and Sheffield Council have in conjunction with local historians developed an App that you can follow on a 4.7 mile mapped walk by listening or reading about the background of places and people who fashioned football in the early years.

You visit 10 stops and become engrossed in the period when between 1857 and 1889 Sheffield had 95 football clubs and an influence on the game that is still felt today.

There is other information and stops to visit if you wish and having done the walk I would suggest you research by listening or reading the vast information available before undertaking the walk.

It is an amazing resource and truly helps to put Sheffield where it should be at the peak of football history in the country. Hopefully Sheffield FC’s efforts to build a new ground near to where they once started will come to fruition in the next few years and provide a place for a living museum to celebrate the vision of our footballing ancestors.

Even if you don’t live anywhere near Sheffield you can download the app and get an immersive experience of the past.

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N.B. the images and initial quote are taken from the web site I have linked above.

 

 

Nearing the end of my walk back to the start I was seduced by the sausage roll offer at Heeley Bank Antique Centre Tea Room, I was not disappointed.

Football is everywhere, again.

Over the road from Barrow in Furness railway station on Abbey Road is a statue of Emlyn Hughes who I didn’t know had been born in the town in 1947. The statue is in Bronze, sculpted by Chris Kelley and unveiled in mid April 2008.

Known as ‘Crazy Horse due to his on field exploits of being competitive all over the field he was adored by the football community and the public at large because of his big heart, infectious laugh, voice and an incredibly fun character.

He started his career at Blackpool (28 appearances) but played most of his games for Liverpool, 665 appearances  with an incredible record of winning four league trophies, 1 F.A,cup, two European Cups, two UEFA Cups with them and a League Cup trophy with Wolves (58) appearances. He finished his career at Rotherham, Hull, Mansfield and Swansea as player and Manager. Emlyn also played many times for England some as captain and was awarded the OBE in 1988.

On the way back from the Barrow area a quick visit to Bradford Cathedral I came across another memorial but this time to the 56 people who lost their lives in the Bradford City Fire Disaster of 1985. Such tragedy was met with world wide generosity of a donated £4.25 million for the bereaved and injured and new safety and building regulations for sports stadiums.

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Non League Club Directory 2019/2020

9781869833992

Mike Williams publishing. Released on 14th August 2019.
ISBN/EAN:9781869833992

This is an unashamed advertisement for The Non-League Club Directory 2019/2020 which I mentioned last year. Available now from bookshops and on line stores, the following link is to my favourite www.hive.co.uk
This publication is in its 42nd year and has club, league, and team details of many levels of the Non-League game.
It however comes with a health and life warning:
It’s 880 pages make it heavy especially for reading in bed.
You will become delusional and obsessive to research the many unusually named teams.
You may lose a spouse, partner, friends and work colleagues who will become fed up with your incessant enthusiastic reference to facts that you will find utterly interesting and they may find weird.
Sleep deprivation could be caused by not wanting to put the book down.
Work could suffer as you lose motivation due to your brain being overtaken by a mine of detail.

Thank you Tony and Mike Williams for continuing to edit this amazing book.
As every year I have to wait till Christmas for Santa to bring mine.

Where am I ?

Coast to coast, this week in Cleethorpes, last week in Workington. It’s not the journey that confused me but the teams in North East Lincolnshire. It is a pub quiz question, which league football team never plays at home? – answer: Grimsby Town because they play all of their home games away in Cleethorpes, now I find that Cleethorpes Town play in Grimsby. I managed to get a shot of the Grimsby district sign as we sped to the game and this was just before the ground. To be sure I asked a friendly official at the ground and he confirmed we were just over 100 meters within Grimsby.

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The facilities here at Clee Road are excellent. The clubhouse is shared with the cricket team and has a bar, food kiosk and an area as a club shop also selling the program. The club house was lively with away fans good humouredly singing and chanting whilst watching the early televised game.

The pitch is one of the finest I’ve seen for some time, flat with lush close cut grass. There has been a lot of money spent here on new railings, perimeter walkway and stands. There are also up to date advertising hoardings all around the ground. It seems like a club going somewhere.

After sailing to the match along the M180 the weather had broken to sunshine, blue skies, some billowing white clouds and a temperature of 16 degrees.

Cleethorpes Town and Frickley Athletic are both in the Betvictor Northern Premier League South East Division but today it’s the F A Trophy.

Frickley Athletic come from the former mining village of South Elmsall in Yorkshire where  the first mention of a football team was in 1905 with Frickley Colliery Athletic Club formed in 1908. The team played in Yorkshire and Midland Leagues until 1979/80 when they were promoted to the Alliance League (Now the National League) and had their best 7 years at this high level. They have since dropped down the pyramid system but are hoping this season to steady the ship.

Cleethorpes by contrast were only formed in 1998 and played initially under the name of  LSS (Lincolnshire Soccer School) Lucarly’s changing to their current name in 2008. They have risen quickly through the leagues from the Lincolnshire League to the Northern Premier South East Division in the 2016/17 season, a season in which they also reached Wembley for the final of the F A Vase when they lost 4 nil to South Shields.

Cleethorpes Town  1 Frickley Athletic  0

The crowd of 171 were expecting to discuss a somewhat dull first half when just before half time Cleethorpes scored after some neat interplay left  Scott Vernon alone and able to tap home.

Before that the game had been even with Frickley dominating midfield and Cleethorpes sending some accurate long balls  to the forwards along with some strong wing play down the left from their overlapping full back.

The second half again did not spark to life and each team continued to cancel one another out although Frickley became less and less effective upfront. However they nearly came away with a replay as with 5 minutes left Nathan Newell had a great shot across goal that seemed destined for the bottom corner until Theo Richardson managed a full length dive to finger tip the ball behind for a corner.

The final few minutes petered out and the Owls fly into the next round at home to Mossley.

 

Finally the chips, golden, hot, tasty, well priced, good portion a little greasy and a good overall score of 72.

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N.B. There are teams e.g. Coventry who are also playing away every week due to ground disruptions.

 

 

Catch us if you can.

What an amazing late September day in Workington. On 21st September my weather app said a temperature of 23 degrees and it felt like higher as the sun shone in clear blue skies. The pitch was looking lush and well striped on a mainly flat pitch that slopes gently down to each end from a central peak.

I had come to see the Northern Premier League North West Division clash between League leaders Workington Town AFC and Widnes FC. This is the first time these two clubs have met in a league game whilst their Rugby League colleagues are no strangers to each other.

Widnes FC were only formed in 2003 as Dragons FC which was changed to Widnes Dragons and developed a community base for players and teams from 6 years upwards. By July 2012 the club had achieved the FA Charter Standard Community Club award. In the same year they became involved with the Widnes Vikings Rugby League Club and gained new experiences of providing greater community involvement. This was not to last and in 2014 the club decided to forge its own identity and become Widnes Football Club. Along this road they have gained promotions to get them to their current level the same as Workington who have seen a double relegation.

Workington have a long and illustrious past, a team originally being started in 1888 and 30 years after their reforming they were elected to the Football league in 1951 replacing New Brighton. They managed 26 years and one promotion to the then Third Division before a poor run of results saw them being voted out of the league with Wimbledon replacing them. During the league years they had some illustrious managers, Bill Shankly and Ken Furphy to name but two. Their struggles saw them drop down to the North West Counties League and then rise again to the then Conference North. But recent years have seen a steady slide back down the pyramid.

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On my way to the match I couldn’t believe that in a charity shop in Barnard Castle I found an old Workington Program from their League days for just £1, a coincidence and a bargain.

Workintons Borough Park Ground has seen better days but it is a credit to the officials and fans that it is clean, bright and has good facilities. The club house houses, bar/lounge, club shop and refreshment kiosk but it was once the base for a stand built in 1937. Please see the comparison with today and a page from ‘The History of Non-League Football Grounds’ by Kerry Miller published in 1996 by Polar Print Group. The images are from 1937, 1993 and 2019.

A proposal to build a new stadium to house both the Rugby League and Football teams has been put on hold by a newly elected council in May of this year. This would also have provided space for new offices for local businesses and a 3G pitch for community use.

Workington AFC, Workington Town Rugby League ground, proposed ground.

Workington AFC 2 Widnes 0

Workington controlled the first 15 minutes of this game but it was Widnes who came closest to scoring when on 20 minutes Michael Grogan hit the crossbar with a fierce shot which bounced down and was hooked away. Widnes continued to press but a mix up in the Widnes defence on 30 minutes allowed No.6 Brad Carroll the chance to outpace them and drift past Owen Wheeler to slam the ball home when only a touch would have done.

The rest of the half remained competitive but the home team went in ahead.

Workington upped their game to start the second half but were thankful for Dan Wordsworth’s scooped clearance off the line with everyone else beaten by Harry Brazel’s shot.

The sun was taking its toll of the players and the referee called a drinks break nearly 30 minutes into the second half. This seemed to to sap Widnes concentration and a well placed corner soon after from Conor Tinnion from the right of the goal was fumbled over the goal line by Owen Wheeler.

Workington saw out a dull period of the game to win and keep them on top of the league. Despite them having played more games that many of their rivals they have the points in the bag. Can they hold on and regain some league status, most of the 389 supporters in the ground hope so.

 

The Workington Club house was friendly and alive and the chips were what I have been waiting for all season. Hot, thick, tasty, golden and a good portion. Not much more to say but a highly recommended score of 85.

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‘The Bottom Corner.’

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‘The Bottom Corner – A Season with the Dreamers of Non-League Football.’ written by Nige Tassell.

First Published by Yellow Jersey Press in 2016  which is a part of the Penguin Random House Group of Companies,

Nige Tassell writes about a Season from August to May as a true football fan. He explores the teams, characters, venues and stories that make Non-League football fascinating and humbling.

From Bishop Sutton in August to Worthing in May he describes a journey amongst the football teams that hang on and thrive in this world so far away from the mega rich of the Premier League. It makes you think why is a pyramid system that is being administered and dominated by a few leagues the best way to run non-league football when the regional diversity is being ironed out. Why did the Northern League with their historic knowledge of North Eastern Football not be given the running of new League for 2020/21 in their area. Why has the West Midland league been cast aside. Why on FA Cup weekend England kicked off at a time that meant people had to choose between watching them on TV or going to a local game and putting some needed money through the turnstiles. The same weekend the media also concentrated on the first games in the WSL and ensured fantastic attendances at the Premier Clubs as opposed to local teams. The FA needs to really engage with localism, diversity and community football or else the vine will wither away. Sorry for the rant.

How did Nige find some of the characters in this book? His undoubted knowledge picked teams that are making their way or have challenges.

The continual return to Bishop Sutton sees a desperate but determined season end in hope when they are not relegated because of ground grading.

The book is written with such care that it was a joy to read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ravens leave it late to take off.

Having driven down the winding Lees Lane through the chicanes of parked cars you arrive in the South Normanton Athletic FC. Car park.

It’s FA Cup day and South Normanton AFC are at home to Coalville Town FC in the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup.

The first thing that hits you as you pass through the turnstile is the lush green pitch that slopes down from one end to the other. It’s warm in the sun but some dark clouds look ominous as they rush past.  The ground is on the edge of town, with open views from its hilltop position and breezy aspect.

South Normanton are nicknamed the Shiners and Coalville the Ravens. This dates back to the fact that Coalville were first formed in 1926 as Ravenstone Miners Athletic and played in the village successfully in local football. as their progress continued a dispute with the local Parish Council about the erection of floodlights meant a decision was made to move the whole team from the small village to nearby Coalville in 1995. The erection of the floodlights at their new ground meant that they could make further advances up the leagues and today play in the Premier Central Division of the Southern League at Step 3 level.

South Normanton AFC play in the Premier Division of the Midland Football League two levels lower than Coalville. Like Coalville South Normanton were formed in 1926 as South Normanton Miners Welfare which they changed in 1990 to South Normanton Athletic FC. Following a fire, lack of money and an ageing committee they were forced to fold but since a new start they have been able to steady the ship and have settled into their current level.

South Normanton Athletic FC  0 Coalville Town FC  1

The game took some time to establish a pattern where Coalville showed their higher status through some neat interpassing in midfield. Coalville didn’t cause any direct threats in open play but a series of corners caused problems for the home team with the visitors taller defensive players coming forward to attack outswinging balls. Jack Duggan (No5) should have done better when he headed over with a strong header. However he was my man of the match with a command of the defence and a near perfect game. South Normanton were pleased to go in at half time level having played against the wind in the first half.

The Shiners midfield gained the upper hand at the start of the second half but Coalville were still the most dangerous again from corners. With it looking like the tie would go to a replay some neat interpassing between substitute Leandro Browne and Tom McGlinchey in the penalty area gave McGlinchey the chance to roll the ball past Curtis Hall on 87 minutes.

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Jubilation for the few travelling Coalville supporters but some consolation for the home team in that they had held their own against a higher placed club in the football pyramid system.

South Normantons food facilities were good with a friendly club house and a food stall that had outside tables and chairs . the kiosk was being run by one man who was doing a sterling job as his usual helper was working. As the queues lengthened some reinforcements arrived. The chips were deep fried but mine came from a tray in the oven which meant they could have been hotter. Great value and the best so far this season with a score of 60.

N.B.

The nickname ‘Shiners’ derives from the mid-1750s when South Normanton was at the heart of the ribbed stocking industry. The people involved in this craft worked long hours sitting at their windows on wooden stools, so much so that the backsides of their trousers became very shiny making them instantly recognisable as coming from the South Normanton area; since then local people have been referred to as ‘Shiners’.    Taken from

South Normanton Athletic F.C. – Wikipedia


https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › South_Normanton_Athletic_F.C.