Das Reboot

Das Reboot -How German Football Reinvented Itself and Conquered the World

Written by – Raphael Honigstein

Published by Yellow Jersey Press (Part of the Penguin Random House Group) 2015

With the impending World Cup it was luck I found this book in an Oxfam Shop in Stratford.

The book is well written and very detailed into how Germany won the 2014 World Cup not just on the field but in their preparation and organisation.

Having had a disastrous Euros in 2004 they turned to Jurgen Klinsmann who swept into the job with his own staff in controversial fasion. At the same time the German FA were reviewing their strategy to youth development and subsequently introduced an academy system that top clubs had to adopt, this was later cascaded down to lower divisions. They also implemented a wide ranging increase in professional coaches and coaching that could reach outlying football areas as well as those dominated by the top teams.

Klinsmann’s Germany out performed expectation in the 2006 World Cup and only went out in the semi final to Italy 2-0 with both Italy’s goals coming in the last few minutes of extra time. Klinsmann unexpectedly stood down and the job was taken up by Joachim Löw.

Low too was his own man and continually drew negativeness from some of the footballing community. His perseverance and benefit from the influx of new players on the scene steeped in the new teaching methods enabled him to lead a world conquering team in 2014.

The book is a great insight into Low’s strategies but also the developing football styles in Germany at the time. For me the description of the emergence of Ralf Rangnick and his pressing ideas is fascinating, I had no idea of the man’s influence on modern football and football managers. A recent spat by a well known European star seemed to query why he was used by Manchester United as an interim manager, Ralf Rangnick who!

I have not given away too much of the book but I would say that you should get past the first chapter and gain an insight in the game today and wander why German club teams do not win more European trophies. Alas I think the answer is money provided by external countries to Europe.

Lions tamed by students.

A trip south on the busy M1 full of commuters hurrying home lead me to Loughborough University, one of the top ten university’s in the UK, to see Loughborough Students play.

I was here last year to see one of their FA Vase matches when they went all the way to the semi-final, this year they were eliminated at their first hurdle.

I had come to meet up with my daughter, to see how they are maintaining an unbeaten league season and enjoy the great facilities they have.

Luckily it was a dry evening considering the recent rain and at 8 degrees was a good night to watch football. The beautifully flat grass surface was beginning to wear on the touch lines and there were marks on the pitch where the teams had warmed up.

Heanor have a long history being formed in 1883 but other teams pre-date this in the town. They missed being elected to the Football League by 3 positions when playing in the Midland League and did well in past FA Cup matches only losing to teams like Aston Villa, Southampton, Bury and Nottingham Forrest. Most of their football has been played in local and midland leagues but spending just over the last decade in the United Counties.

Loughborough students trace their history back to 1919 under the name of Loughborough Technical Institute later to become a Technical College and then a University. They have won many University competitions but it was in 2007 that they moved into the Non-league sphere of today. The University Stadium was opened in 2012 and they were moved into the United Counties League in 2019 with the major league re organisation. For this season they have appointed Rebecca Sawiuk as Director of Football who is maintaining the growth of the men’s and women’s teams.

Loughborough Students FC 5 Heanor Town 1

Tuesday 22nd Novbember 2022 19.45 pm kick off

United Counties League Premier Division North 1st v 4th Students v Lions

Loughborough Students: Shirts with pink shoulders graduating into purple body and shorts.

Heanor: Ready orange shirts and shorts.

Loughborough immediately set the pace of the game but it was a mistake in the Heanor defense that gifted them a goal on 8 minutes giving Anthony Lynn time to draw the goalkeeper and place the ball past him for the lead. The students pace and passing kept up the pressure and they scored their second goal after 22 minutes when two or three rebounds from shots meant the ball fell to Ethan O’Toole who blasted it home from close range.

Ethan had his second 6 minutes later when he found himself wide on the right in the penalty area but was able to hit the ball across the goalkeeper into the left hand corner of the net. The Students maintained their slick play and although Heanor did have some chances they failed to take them.

Immediately at the restart with Loughborough in a commanding three nil lead Heanor pressed forward and secured a corner. The ball was swung in from the right just under the cross bar and although it seemed the keeper had it in his hand the ball was bundled over the line by the Jack Dando of Heanor. Despite protests from the home side the goal stood.

Heanor pressed more in the second half and used the high ball to challenge the keeper from corners and free kick. At the other end chances were kept out by some heroic goalkeeping but he was unable to keep out a missile of a free kick from just outside the penalty area by Matty Bowman for a 4-1 lead at 58 minutes. Both sides now had more chances but it was Matty Bowman again who showed class with a through ball to Dylan Edwards who calmly rounded the keeper to give the students a convincing 5-1 win.

There were numerous chances for both sides in the game and on chances it could have been 12 – 7, many of the home team players shone out on the night in a very competent team performance but my player of the match was the Heanor goalkeeper.

As I knew there would be no no chips so I had a vegan sausage roll and a coffee, pictures tell all.

The ups and downs of football.

A short journey on the A57 to Worksop for an evening game this week. The continual rain of the day has stopped and cleared skies meant the temperature had fallen to 6 degrees with the odd fog swirls to pass through, more typical weather for November. There was no chance that the rain could have caused postponement due to the state of the art all-weather pitch.

I last visited here on 22nd of February 2020 when the fear of the club folding was in the air. The club needed £60 000 to survive of which £30 000 had been promised from Peter Whitehead, owner of the ground, if the other £30 000 could be raised. £24 000 had been raised and the full £30 000 was achieved by the end of that month. This meant that Peter Whitehead would takeover the club. Getting on for two years on and what a change, a new entrance to the ground which incorporates new changing rooms, a covered terraced area behind that goal and a small covered seating area to one side greet you along with the all-weather pitch. The seated stand down one side of the ground seemed to be cleaner with the older terraced shed end still in place along with the open terraced side. What a great impression and the on field performances have gone forward too. A win would have put Worksop only three points behind the League leaders Stockton Town with a further two games in hand. The good news continued in that the crowd of 582 was Worksops highest home league attendance of the season, a fact that was evident in that parking was more difficult than before.

The signage outside the ground, for the 1861 coffee lounge and on the program is also new putting forward their claim to be the fourth oldest football club in England. This is a fact that is disputed by Martin Westbury in his excellent book ‘A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889’. He states on page 155- ‘I will cause further controversy by suggesting Worksop Town FC has an 1873 foundation date’.

I wrote on that previous visit about Worksops history and about their opponents Stocksbridge Park Steels when I visited them so I will not repeat myself.

Worksop Town 4 Stocksbridge Park Steels 1

Northern Premier League – East Tuesday 15th November 2022

The Tigers v The Steels

Worksop, yellow shirts and black shorts: Stocksbridge, red shirts with white short sleeves and red shorts.

With Worksop having been in free flow scoring in their most recent games I was surprised that after only 2 minutes it was ex Worksop player Tomas Poole who put Stocksbridge ahead. A misplaced pass in the Worksop goal area gave Poole the chance to curl the ball with his right foot into the top left hand corner of the net.

The Tigers did not panic and started to play the ball out to the wings and put pressure on Stocksbridge. Within 5 minutes Jay Rollins playing on the right with number 11 on his back put over a pin point cross for Liam Hughes to rise above the defense and head home for 1-1.The pressure on Stocksbridge did not relent and Worksop were ahead on 11 minutes through Jack Broadhead, He headed in another neat chip but collided with the goal post and the keeper which took sometime for both to recover. It was Jay Rollins again causing trouble that put in a cross that seemed to go behind the goal line in the mass of players but it only came out to be hit back along the ground for Jack Broadhead to turn and make sure, 3-1 to Worksop.

Worksop increased their lead four minutes before half time when goalkeeper Sebastian Malkowski’s long kick was headed down to Liam Hardy who hit the ball with his left foot first time past keeper Hampshaw’s diving hand.

Worksops easy half time lead was met by another rain shower which fortunately was short lived.

The Stocksbridge half time team talk must have been good because in the second half they immediately looked to hjave more shape, not leaving gaps for opposing players to run into or onto and their wing backs played further out to the sides of the pitch which although not totally did reduce Jay Rollins, my man of the match, from getting to the byline and delivering pin point crosses. Stocksbridge even hit the bar on 70 minutes but Worksop also made changes presumably to rest players for Saturday that seemed to disrupt their flow.

Worksop were worthy winners and it will be intriguing to see if they can catch Stockton and stay up there for a promotion that will match the off field organisation. There are many downs in football but for Worksop it seems a very positive up.

For all the good news the chips were disappointing in that they were warm, soggy on the inside and left a greasy taste that lingered. Sorry to say a score of only 58, I suppose you can’t win everything.

Pinball Football

On Saturday I visited Sandygate Road S10 Sheffield (The World’s Oldest Ground) to see Hallam FC play Bury AFC in the second round proper of the FA Vase. I missed their clash in the FA cup due to other commitments but fate had it that they had been drawn together in the ‘Vase’ a cup that either side could well go all the way to Wembley. Both these teams play at the same level in the pyramid system with Hallam and Bury both being promoted last season to the Premier divisions of the North East Counties and North West Counties respectively. Their encounter in the FA Cup ended 0.0 at Hallam with Bury winning the replay at home 1.0 so a competitive game was expected.

Hallam have continued to attract good crowds this season despite being in the lower half of the higher Division and like Bury are one of the best supported teams at this level. The Sandygate Road ground in the leafy suburb of the Crosspool area of Sheffield was once on the edge of this green city and you can understand their Countrymen nickname. The ground was opened in 1804 as a cricket ground and like many other clubs started to play football in the off season to keep fit and in 1860 Hallam FC was born. This has been officially confirmed by FIFA as the oldest football ground in the world still in use for football and the first interclub football match was played here against their rivals Sheffield FC on Boxing day 1860.

Sheffield FC although being the oldest have had a nomadic journey and still play just over the border in Derbyshire but their proposed new home at The Sheffield Transport Ground at Meadowhead, Sheffield, looks like it is going forward after a partnership arrangement with The Joe Root Academy. Again it will be cricket and football together, back to Sheffield FC’s roots. (The Sheffield Star 22nd October 2022)

How long can this weather last, clear blue skies and no wind meant perfect conditions for the players to perform on this highly sloped pitch, from end to end, that looked like it had absorbed the recent heavy rain leaving a heavy ground that had cut up in places during the warm up. The ground is homely with the shed end, a covered standing area behind most of one goal, an open end for standing and a side that hosts a good seated stand along with clubhouse and changing facilities. The club house is active locally for use at evenings and weekends. The open cricket square side harps back to the clubs founding and the cricket club remains a local asset as well with many teams of all ages and abilities. There is investment here with some very substantial posts having appeared since my last visit that look like they will be hung with nets to stop those boundaries going into the road or gardens. The cricket ground also has a historical claim to be the oldest club ground in Yorkshire and they now have a second ground further out of he city towards the Peak District on Crimicar Lane, Fullwood.

Hallam’s history which I have documented before has spanned 162 years whereas Bury AFC were only formed in 2019 out of the sad collapse of Bury FC and the loss of their Gigg Lane ground. Different groups looked to save the club which was not achievable and two emerged, one that created Bury AFC and set them on a footballing journey to climb up the footballing ladder and another that wanted to save the Gigg Lane ground for football to be played by a Bury team. Both have succeeded but now have to come together to put all the pieces in place. We hope that this can happen in the near future.

Hallam FC 1 Bury AFC 1

Saturday 12th November 2022 Kick off 15.00pm Sandygate Road, Crosspool, Sheffield.

The Countrymen v The Shakers

Hallam : Blue and black vertical striped shirts with blue shorts. Bury : White shirts with a blue flash across the shoulders with black shorts.

Bury kicked down hill in the first half towards a waning sun that hovered over the cross bar of the goal. Perhaps it was the sun in Bury’s eyes but more likely Julian Lawrence between the sticks that kept them at bay as they created the most and best chances of the first 15 minutes. Hallam came more into the game but it was Bury who should have scored on 36 minutes and the 0.0 draw at half time was down to goalkeeper hero Lawrence.

The second half had no let up in chances as both sides came close. The stalemate was broken though on 60 minutes when the Bury team stopped for a foul on one of their players that they thought the referee had indicated with his arm movement but the linesman had flagged for a throw to Hallam which they took quickly for Brett Agnew to run on unopposed and slide the ball into the net past the goal keeper. The Bury team to a man surrounded the referee and what seemed like an age the referee finally dismissed them and the game could be restarted.

Bury now threw everything into attack and Hallam were resolute in defense until on 70 minutes a ball was swung in from the right at chest height that was met by Connor Comber whose downward header squeezed into the net between the post and the diving Julian Lawrence.

The final minutes were tense for the large 660 crowd but despite chances neither team were able to find the winning goal. Everyone’s heightened emotions were deflated as they realised that at this stage of the Vase competition there is no replay only penalties to decide the game.

The referee organised penalties at the Shed End and it was Bury who came out the winners 4.1 with Jack Atkinson saving two of the spot kicks. What a disappointment for Julian Lawrence who as Hallam’s goalkeeper was my man of the match by a mile although it was Jack Atkinsons penalty saves that made the most impact on the result.

This had been an exhausting ‘Mad Max; game played by two very frantic competitive teams who looked like they both had so much to lose that it reduced the skill level to make me feel I had seen an old fashioned pinball machine in action which had ended on tilt with the penalties. The players must have been exhausted, I was, but I left the ground to walk to the car knowing I had seen the best game of the season so far.

The only disappointment were the chips which at £2 were a small portion of thin, crispy, hot but with little taste with a greasy after feel. A score of only 60.

Football beats the elements in Horbury.

Horbury are based in a town South West of Wakefield and vie for local bragging rights with Wakefield AFC who play at Featherstone North of Wakefield. Horbury joined the Northern Counties East League with Wakefield this year. Whereas Wakefield play in a super stadium Horbury are just developing theirs.

As soon as I came off the M1 the drizzle turned to constant heavy rain but I had read that the game would be definitely on with no pitch inspection needed. I found the ground after not believing Google maps directions to turn right down what seemed a dark drive to a house and driving round again. I recently heard Ben Elton say “I was smarter then my smart phone twenty years ago”, how did I manage to find a football ground back then, but I did!

There was ample parking near the ground and in the overflow car park where I parked and walked down to the ground past an all weather pitch being used for a hokey match and could see that there were other pitches in the distance. Luckily the rain had stopped and you could see that this was a work in progress. A large enclosed field had fencing around the pitch with floodlights added this year to play at this higher level. On going work is in progress to provide paving around the pitch, a small building housed ‘The Reds Café’, no chips here, and a small seated stand was big enough to just meet ground grading for this League. An amazing crowd of 161 had turned up to see the game that was played on a slightly sloping side to side pitch that could have been flatter.

You must congratulate the Officials here considering that they were only formed in 2005 and climbed three Divisions of the West Yorkshire Association League before winning the Premier Division last year and promotion to the Northern Counties East League Division 1. Their achievements are immense

Harrogate Railway Athletic was started and funded in 1935 by the workers at the local Starbeck LNER Depot which survived until closure in 1959. They continued to rise to the Yorkshire League in the 1960’s but fell back to local Leagues by 1973 but by 1982 had bounced back to become inaugural members of the NE Counties League and progressed to be promoted to the northern Premier League Division 1. Their ten year run at this higher level came to an end and retuned to the NECL and were relegated 2 years later to find themselves in Division 1. They have twice reached the second round of the F.A. Cup in 2002/03 and 2007/08 seasons a feat not achieved by many Non-League clubs.

Horbury Town 2 Harrogate Railway Athletic 2

Wednesday 3rd November 2022 19.45 pm kick off.

Northern Counties East League Division 1

Venue: The Slazenger Sports Complex

The Reds v The Railway

Horbury Red Shirts, black shorts : Harrogate Railway White Shirts Red Shorts

Harrogate played down the slight slope with the wind at their backs in the first half and should have made their attacking superiority count when on 15 minutes a save by the home keeper and two clearances off the line. How the ball didn’t go in was a mystery.

As the half came to an end a high ball swung in from the right was parried by the Hornby goal keeper Elliot Lightowler and Oliver Norman nipped in to tap home. The lead though was short lived with Horbury immediately pressing from the restart and they were awarded a free kick on the right. The free kick was curled into the far post and Craig Laight rose to head home to draw level. The referee blew for half time before the teams could restart.

As if on cue the rain started and the wind strengthened and people scurried to hide under the small covered area or in the café. Some unbelievably just toughed it out. The gusty wind rattled the top of the stand and we all looked at each other wondering whether we had made the right decision to huddle there.

The rain and wind just kept coming as the game restarted and the teams battled on against the elements as much as against each other. Huddled together in the only covered area it was hard to keep up with play but eventually 70 minutes into the game the storm stopped as suddenly as it had started.

Back watching it on the railings Horbury were pressing and on 75 minutes the Harrogate keeper took out the advancing Abu Bojang but the referee played on as the ball squirmed out from under their bodies to be taken up by Benjamin Agu who ran on towards goal and just squeezed it into the net between the post and a defender.

Surely Horbury would hold out for the last 15 minutes but this was not to be as with a few minutes left a corner for Harrogate on the right was nodded in at the far post for a 2.2 draw.

Breathless stuff considering the conditions and a score that was fair to each side. It will be great to return in a few years time to see how they have progressed with the ground and who knows Horbury may have moved up anoter level.

A barb in the tail of the bards.

After last week watching Linby Colliery a few miles from the ancestral home of Lord Byron this week I was only a few miles from Shakespear’s home at Stratford Town FC’s ground. I saw Stratford Town a few weeks ago at Ilkeston but I went to see F C Stratford play Shortwood United FC in the Hellenic League.

FC Stratford play their games at Stratford Town’s, Arden Garages Stadium, Knights Lane, Tiddington and have only been in existence for a short time since 2007. It was first started as Stratford Town ‘A’ changing names to FC Stratford four years later. They have quickly risen through the leagues to play in the Hellenic League Division 1 and now take part in the FA Vase. They play under the umbrella of Stratford Town FC.

Their opponents Shortwood FC from Nailsworth, just south of Stroud, by comparison have been around for over 100 years. Their ground is a very short distance from Forest Green Rovers who are in the same village and I’m sure that they hope their neighbours might one day move to their proposed new ground some miles away. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that they climbed out of the local leagues and by 1982 they had reached the Hellenic. They had an up and down era in that league until they won promotion to the Southern League and reached the quarter finals of the F.A. Vase. Two years later they played Port Vale in the first round proper of the F.A Cup losing 4-0 but this success could not be sustained and in 2018 resigned from the Southern League due to the financial demands on the club and the improvement of facilities. they have rejoined the Hellenic League where they play today.

It was a sunny day for the last few days of October with bright blue skies overlaid with a cobweb like white cloud and had dried out after some torrential overnight rain. There was an eeriness to the ground with only 30 supporters in this very clean, tidy and well appointed ground. None of the food bars were open or the bar as far as I could see. The pitch was flat and immaculate and was surrounded on one side by a covered seating stand with open seating down the other side. One end had covered standing and the other was open to the elements. There are other pitches around the ground including an all weather one all of which can be used for training and junior teams.

FC Stratford 3 v Shortwood United FC 2

Saturday 29th October 2022 Kick off 15.00 pm Hellenic Football League Division 1

Arden Garages Stadium, Knights Lane, Tiddington, Near Stratford on Avon.

The Bards v The Woods

Stratford – Dark blue shirts with orange trimming around the color and sleeves and black shorts.

Shortwood – Red shirts with three thick vertical white stripes down the front and black shorts.

In the early exchanges some players kept slipping up following the heavy overnight rain but it was the away team that found their footings first. A mistake of a missed kick by the home goalkeeper found the ball at the feet of Nathy Payne who from 25 yards out on the left hand side of the goal riffled a shot across the goalkeeper to nestle in the corner of the net for a one nil lead. So one goal up after 17 minutes was soon two when four minute later a corner on the right was sent to the far post where it was met it with a bullet header which was sliced into his own goal by a defender. Shortwood continued to have the best of the first half with more trickery and better finishing. Stratford had played some good positional football but final passes and finishing let them down. Shortwood’s first half lead was well deserved.

The half time team talk in the home sides dressing room must have been good because they were a different side that came out. They were much more positive in their approach and started to dominate play hitting the crossbar on 62 minutes but ten minutes later Stratford finally scored when a cleared ball fell to Daniel Chaundy who lashed it along the ground past the goalkeeper. Despite Stratford’s dominance it wasn’t until the final moment when Shortwood’s goalkeeper parried the ball into the path of the on coming Benjamin Cook who made it 2.2.

The referee now seemed to find some unexpected over time and 6 minutes into that a home player made it to the by line and knocked it back for Felix William Miles to tap the ball home for an amazing win. The referee played a further minute and Stratford had certainly won the game right at the end with a barb at the tail end.

At half time a food kiosk was open and I was able to buy a tray of chips which were a nice golden colour, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside with no oily after taste. Unfortunately they were only luke warm gaining a score of 62.

There was a new look program that was given away as part of he entrance price. A very brightly coloured offering with plenty of photos, news and history.

Considering the ground, facilities easy parking, food, covered watching areas and the level of football FC Stratford deserve a crowd of more than 30. Hopefully the efforts the officials are putting in will eventually get a better following.

Fathers of Football

Fathers of Football, Great Britons who took the game to the world.

Written by Keith Baker, First Published in 2015 by Pitch Publications.

I haven’t written a book review for some time as I have read other than football. Sometimes a change is needed.

I came across this book in the White Rose Café in Thirsk which serves good coffee and cake as well as books. I was partly attracted to it by the fact it was only 159 pages long and a short read was all I needed.

The book is a story of Britons who left our shores prior to 1914 and were greatly influential in inspiring the start of football in general or clubs that have gone on to master the game.

These Britons were at the dawn of football in Italy, Spain Brazil, Argentina, Hungary and other countries that have been at the pinnacle of the game in modern times. In the main they went abroad for business and to seek their fortune and took knowledge or a passion about a round leather ball and the new rules being established at home. It is interesting how because of the society they travelled in the game was initially for gentlemen but this was the catalyst for working class dominance that propelled the game to a mass sport.

The book is easy and quick to read and flows, because the chapters are not long it is a book you can easily read in bite size chunks. Thank you Keith for furthering my knowledge of the game.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

As well as a few novels during my football sabbatical I read a book about cricket!

Penguins Stopped Play – eleven village cricketers take on the world.

Written By Harry Thompson Published by ‎ John Murray; 5th Reprint 2007 320 pages long.

I chose this book for its comedy not its cricket but soon found it was both and much more. Written by one of our best comedy show/script writers the comedy was assured and there had to be some cricket but what drew me in was the people interaction of the team and how they evolved and showed their true character. It was also about all of those teams up and down the country, whichever sport, who need that one pivot to cajole, chase, invent players to make sure the game happens and goes on. Some of the antics of the team are childlike but there is a seriousness to their existence and their final achievements.

You must read this book right to the end to fully appreciate it.

Linby Colliery Welfare keep grip on cup.

Keeping up a run of recent visits to ex mining areas I travelled to the former North Notts Coal Field to see Linby Colliery Welfare play Heanor Town Reserves in the Central Midlands Buckingham Insurance League Cup. To some not a very prestigious piece of silverware but to Linby, the current holders, it means a lot.

Turn off the M1 at junction 28 and head for Hucknall and just before you reach it a turning to Linby will bring you to the pretty village of that name and down Church Lane you will find Linby’s home.

It is less than 4 miles from Newstead Abbey the home of Lord Byron one of our greatest poets but also a revolutionary of his time sticking up for the Luddites and taking part in the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman empire for which he is revered in that country. Skip to today and a group of men are discussing the return of Boris Johnson and how he will sort things out. The only thing that I would think they would have in common are their many alleged dalliances.

It was a beautiful day at Linby as some grey cotton wool clouds crept across from the motorway along with the occasional cold burst. This is a picturesque ground with good parking for players officials and the 40 plus fans who came to watch. There were railings round the playing area with concrete hard standing round half the pitch which was a lush green, quite flat with some undulating areas. There is a changing block for the players and a small club house across one corner. No chips here but a welcome coffee and a chat with a referee assessor.

The club house is friendly and the hosts have gone to the trouble of covering the walls with lots of references to the past which I would have read if time had permitted.

Linby Colliery have been going since 1892 and were reformed in 1946 having been dormant since the 1930’s. They were the biggest non-league club in Nottinghamshire until the mid 1950’s. They entertained Gillingham in the FA Cup in 1950 in front of 6585 fans and were watched by 20500 at the city ground in Nottingham when they beat Retford in the Notts Senior Cup Final. After that they spiralled down the pyramid system to a nadir in 2011 when they won only 3 games all season. Since then they have climbed back into the Central Midlands League and have consolidated the clubs foundations and recently extended the playing surface ready for future plans to install new lights and changing area at the Church Lane Ground. They moved into this ground in 1985 taking over the old cricket pitch that had been in use since 1925.

I have written about Heanor before when I visited them right at the start of the year. They too were started in the 19th century (1883) and have been at an even higher level than Linby in the past and had numerous long cup adventures. Their Senior team did not have a game so I wondered whether they may have had a strong team out.

Linby Colliery Welfare 4 Heanor Town Reserves 1

Central Midlands League Buckingham Insurance League Cup 2nd Round

Saturday 22nd October 2022 14.00 pm Church Lane Linby

Linby: Red Shirts with Black shorts Heanor: Black and white vertical stripes on front of shirts with a white back with black shorts.

The first 20 minutes was a competitive battle which the referee controlled with a couple of yellow cards and some harsh words. Linby then took charge and took the lead on 37 minutes when a freekick from the right was curled in and met by Linby’s captain, Gregg Conn whose glancing header beat the goalkeeper for the lead. They maintained their dominance to half time.

Heanor pressed harder in the first 15 minutes of the second half but the home team weathered the storm and on 37 minutes went further ahead when a long kick from the goalkeeper was headed on for number 12, Sam Atkin to run on and place the ball into the net in the middle of the goal.

Worse was to follow for Heanor as only 2 minutes later a defender failed to clear and the ball fell to Tremere Lindo who turned and made it 3 nil. The flurry of activity continued when only 4 minutes later a ball along the ground was turned into the net by a home defender who was under pressure from Heanor players. Heanor now charged forward and somehow one of their players headed wide when scoring was easier and they had a headed goal disallowed. Heanor’s new spirit was extinguished when they had a defender sent off for a reckless trip and the penalty was easily converted by Jamie Thomas.

So Linby went through to the next round and still have a grip on the cup and I would think that Moshin Arshid, the referee, would have had a good assessment.

Linby’s 28 page programme was the best I have seen at this level for a long time.

Community spirit shines through.

Another trip to Junction 37 of the M1 but this week I turned left and was soon in Dodworth (pronounced Dodoth I believe) High Street where a left turn brings you to the Miners Welfare where a plaque on the wall says 1925 when I would deduce these facilities were opened. Dodworth was a mining area with the pit closing in 1987 and the legacy lives on in these community facilities. Near the entrance is a large cosy club house which was full with all ages, chatting, watching the TV’s, using the bar and the food kiosks just inside the door on the left.

Unfortunately there were no chips but like nearby Penistone Church FC they serve warn pork pie with mushy peas that has to be topped off with some mint sauce, it was a good time to serve it as the game I had come to see was to kick off at 13.30 pm

No time for a coffee as the queue at the bar was growing so I left to walk down the hill to the Football pitch. Immediately you are faced with two immaculate bowling greens and behind me was a door to a boxing club. There was a lot of noise coming from behind a wall where I found an all weather pitch being used by what looked like adults v children, all ages all sexes kicking a rugby ball high in the air from end to end. A dad foolishly tried to catch a glorious up and under while talking on his mobile and he dropped the ball with an attempted one hand catch. Cries of derision and laughter and one more point to the children.

Walking on you see the main football pitch in front of you with another and a rugby pitch beyond, this is also the home to Dodworth Miners ARLFC (Rugby League). There may be other sports and activities that go on here including the base for Dodworth Colliery Brass Band. It all adds up to a strong community spirit forged by mining and kept alive by people.

The pitch was flat and well grassed which contrasted with the vivid blue sky. The temperature at 15 degrees belied the cold wind that was swirling about at the unusual kick off time of 13.30 pm. Three sides of the ground are open and one is steeply banked with some covered terracing in the centre and stanchions to stand behind.

The game I was to watch was Dodworth Miners Welfare FC v Wombwell Main FC in the Sheffield and Hallamshire County Senior League. These teams have only 6.5 miles between them and the town of Barnsley.

I have found no mention of Dodworth Miners Welfare FC prior to 1954 but I am sure that there will have been teams in the area prior to this. Up until 2003 they played in Barnsley and Yorkshire Leagues before joining the Sheffield and Hallamshire League and despite one dip they have usually played in the Senior League. By contrast Wombwell have a much longer history with a team being tracked from the first years of the 20th century that played in local Barnsley Leagues until 1973 and returned to them in 1977 after a few nomadic years. They joined the Sheffield & Hallamshire League in 1996 and remain there today. Throughout their earlier history they entered the FA Cup on 10 occaisions.

Dodworth Miners Welfare FC 2 Wombwell Main FC 2

Saturday 15th October 2022 Kick off 13.30 pm

Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League Premier Division.

Dodworth – Red and Black vertical striped shirts with red sleeves and black shorts.

Wombwell – Dark Blue shirts with yellow collars and Yellow shorts.

Two strong teams competed and in the first 15 minutes Wombwell edged the contest but 10 minutes later a well placed out swinging cross from the right wing was expertly met by the home sides number 9 who running in unopposed headed it straight into the centre of the net for the lead. Wombwell hit back on 32 minutes when their number 10 was put through to draw the goalkeeper and coolly slot the ball under him to make it 1-1.

It stayed all square till half time but some black clouds rolled in from the pennines and the few spots soon became a deluge. Everyone moved under cover apart from the teams.

After 7 minutes Dodworth changed three players and this had an immediate impact when Wombwells No.8 brought down the home sides No.9 in the penalty area with what looked like a high rugby tackle. The home sides No.11 made penalty taking look easy by placing the ball straight down the middle.

After 20 minutes it was Dodworth’s turn to change two players but this didn’t seem to change the game until just before the end when their No.7 curled a right foot free kick, from a long way out, round the wall and into the top left hand corner of the net for 2-2.

The second week that the end of a match has seen a spectacular goal from a free kick. Overall a draw was a fair result and the roughly 60/70 watching had seen some good entertainment.

The rain stopped 15 minutes before the end leaving a great sunny view of the nearby Autumn colour.

Dearne are moving on!

If you take the Dearne Valley Expressway off the M1 you will eventually come to a sign that says Thurnscoe which is on the right side of the road and it is Goldthorpe on the left where Dearne & District FC play. You will have had to negotiate the numerous roundabouts and view the many new vast sheds and the infrastructure for more. I often wander what happens to all of the old warehouses, is there a home for old ones.

Dearne and District FC are a very progressive community club in the Central Midlands North Division. Their Facebook page on Friday said it all.

Talking to a local fan whose son is in the under 16’s the club can involve over 650 players competitively over a weekend, an amazing feat. A feat that is replicated in differing numbers all over the country that keep grass roots football alive, amazing.

Dearne  & Districts ground is in Goldthorpe in what was the edge of town but is getting surrounded by a growing large housing estate which is one of the reasons they are preparing to move to the Welfare ground where lights are being installed ready for a move up the non-league pyramid structure.

It was a beautiful sunny day with a few grey fluffy clouds moving over a bright blue sky, my coat I had brought with me stayed on the bench next to me. The pitch was a vivid green with thick grass and a few bare patches which sloped from end to end. There was a small corrugated stand on one side of the ground and some containers in one corner that served as changing rooms, club house and bar/food counter. Small but very homely which reflected the family atmosphere with a crowd that had a good mix of ages as six boys kicked into one goal up to the start of play, /no one seemed to mind, I estimated the crowd of about 70/80.

I was unable to find anything about the history of Dearne and District except that they were formed in 1982 and that this Goldthorpe based club has many teams of all ages, sexes, and abilities but I would suggest that there is a good story to be told here as they progress.

I have written about Staveley Miners Welfare before nut they too only have a short history going back to 1962 starting in Sunday football and have grown in the same way that Dearne must want to emulate.

Dearne & District FC 9 Staveley Miners Welfare Reserves FC 0

Well where do you start, a minute into the game and the home team were already ahead when Nick Guest hit home from a cross in a melee of players. Dearne’s dominance took another 13 minutes before they scored again when a clearance from their goalkeeper found Callum Clarke on the left side of the goal area who riffled it into the right side of the net. Six minutes later and Nick Guest made it 3-0 with a close header and it was soon four as a player cut in from the left and placed the ball across the Staveley keeper to end up just inside the far post. Another went in just before half time when Carlton Carty made no mistake when given a free hit on goal after a clearance.

So leading by five nil Dearne did not let up in the second half when Jimmy Ghaichem was gifted a rebound that he put away with ease. With 63 minutes on the clock it was seven nil when what looked like a cross sailed into the net. Nick Guest made it a hat trick on 72 minutes when he ran past the static Staveley back line to score and to end his happy day he made it four for him and nine for the home side when he tapped in after a ball was headed on to him.

So Dearne & District move up to second in the table behind Retford who are unbeaten in the League. There is hope though as they have beaten Retford in the cup.

Staveley did keep at it to the end and a few substitutes in the second half seemed to make them a little more competitive.

No chips here but there were pies, peas and gravy which I didn’t savor as I try to keep my weight in check, a coffee had to do.

Good luck to Dearne, I admire your enthusiasm and will be back in the future to see your new home.