The end of the season?

With the pandemic Covid-19 shutting down much of the world I decided to take a trip to see Shirebrook Town. This was to give last years Chip League Winners a chance to defend their trophy (more of that later).

Arriving at the ground the car park was full and there was a large number of cars parked on the grass in front of the stadium. I thought that many of the local supporters who had been denied their EFL and Premier League games had gone to Shirebrook instead. I was wrong although the 178 who did turn up (a good proportion from Eastwood) was a great crowd and some needed revenue for the home club. One of the reasons for the cars and vans was that the field is used for whippet racing in the summer and the organisers had turned up to have a trials/practice/test before their next meeting on Mothers Day.

The game I went to see was Shirebrook Town V Eastwood Community in the East Midland Counties Football League. Eastwood third and hoping for promotion while Shirebrook sit second from bottom, having played more games than rivals, with the prospect of another demotion having been relegated from the Toolstation Northern Counties East League Division One last Year. Where either team ends up is open to conjecture with both the Northern Counties East league and the West Midlands League subject to major change at the end of the season.

I have written about Shirebrooks history before but Eastwoods is short only being in existence for six years. However they are developing a very good community club at their 3G stadium and their aspirations can be summed up by this quote from their Chairman – Jamie Bennett “We’re a club like any other that want to progress through the Leagues but we also pride ourselves on our rapidly expanding football development plan where we aim to bring the community together at all ages and abilities.We hope you will join us in our exciting football adventure.”

Shirebrook Town 1 Eastwood Community 3

The teams came on to “The boys are back in town” to a backdrop of grey skies and a biting wind. The grey was diminished by Eastwoods dayglow yellow kit and they chose to kick with the slope in the first half on the well worn pitch. They were competing with two other impromptu games of under tens at the back of a goal.

Both teams started competitively and it was Shirebrook who took the lead on 11 minutes when Kurtis Morley harried the Eastwood defence and controlled the ball to run past the goalkeepers right and squeeze the ball at an acute angle past two scrabbling defenders.

Eastwood came storming back and on 28 minutes Carl Westcarr was left on his own and he hit a ball from 10 yards that squirmed under the goalkeepers bending body.

So at half time at 1-1 honours were all square but within a minute of the restart  Eastwood were in front when Ben Gowring leapt above the defence at the far post following a curled corner.

Eastwoods dominance was rewarded when they doubled their lead on 57 minutes through Kieren Watson who ran on to a great through ball to sweep it in the net.

It should then have been all over but Shirebrook seemed to find their best play for the last third of the game and were denied by goalkeeper Jack Andrews who made two blank range saves in quick succession and at the death Shirebrooks man of the match number 2 hit the crossbar with a long range dipping shot.

An enjoyable game that belied the difference in league positions.


Finally the chips, they were served by a mother and daughter combo, with the mother having taken over the food hut at the ground, that also serves the Whippet Racing, after the death of her husband last year. I have to say they were as good, infact better than last year and their score was one point (86) better than last year and now top the league. They were hot, fresh, cooked right through, golden, crispy on the ends and delicious. The ladies even promised me home cooked chips from real potatoes for next season, I can’t wait. With all games now postponed until further notice and the chances of finishing the football season fading with every day it looks likely that Shirebrook will again be crowned champions.

Payonthegate 2019/20 Chip League
Teams Points
Shirebrook Town 86
Workington Town 85
Matlock Town 80
Clay Cross town 76
Staveley Miners Welfare 75
Ollerton Town 74
Cleethorpes Town 72
Aston Villa 68
Athersley Recreation 68
Gresley 68
Worksop Town 68
Worsborough Mill 62
South Normanton 60
Halifax Town 56
Handsworth 50
Bakewell 0
Darlington 0
Everton 0
Hellas Verona 0
Mickleover Sports 0
Northampton ON Chenecks 0
Scunthorpe United 0
Swallownest 0
Walthamstow 0

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