Winter finally comes to football in Swinton.

Saturday 3rd December, Swinton Community Sports Ground, Barton Road Swinton, Dearne Valley, South Yorkshire

I finally made it back to Swinton after my abortive visit in September. We were then experiencing beautiful Autumn sunshine but this dull grey day seemed an age away. The ground is situated on the edge of a housing estate on the side of a hill and the 6 degrees seemed colder as the wind blew up the valley from the school down below.40 brave people had turned up despite Christmas events and shopping and the draw of the world cup on the television.

The pitch slopes slightly from end to end and is mainly flat with the surface showing some mud after the constant rain and previous games.Next to the pitch are training pitches that can be used by the seniors as well as a good junior set up for this community involved club.

The senor team this year have returned from exile after playing at the Mexborough ground and a new stand is being constructed to meet the grading standards of the league.

Swinton was one of the many coal mining towns in the area which I have been visiting recently, the area goes back at least as far as Roman times and was famous for its pottery industry in the 1800’s when Rockingham Pottery was world famous. The factory ceased production in 1842 but gave the world the style, Rococo after the factory name. Now light industry, warehousing and call centres have become staple industries of the whole area.

There is little about Swinton Athletic F.C.’s history with football having been played in the town in the 19th century. They joined the Sheffield and Hallamshire County Senior League about 1990 where they have played since, often in either division . They have been active locally and have won the local Montagu Cup on 8 occasions starting in 1964.

Their opponents Hepworth United come from a village near Holmfirth and joined the Sheffield and Hallamshire County Senior League in 2016 having previously played in the Huddersfield League. The club has been going for over 100 years in this farming village with locals also formerly employed in nearby textile mills.

I sat down on the girders that are part of the ground improvements as the teams came out and today at this level 10 league wins away from the Premiership there was only a referee to take charge of the game with no line officials.

Swinton Athletic 2 Hepworth United 0

Sheffield and Hallamshire County Senior League – Premier Division.

Swinton all blue kit that had some subtle vertical darker stripes on the front. Hepworth black shorts with vertical black and white striped shirts.

The chat amongst the fans was that both sides are without a few regulars with work and family Christmas commitments taking precedence.

Hepworth were first to put pressure on their opponents particularly down the left side but poor finishing let them down. Often if you don’t take your chances you will be punished and on 19 minutes the ball bobbled through to Swinton’s number 9 who placed it onto the right hand corner of the net between the keeper and the post.

Just 2 minutes later and a high ball in from the right was miss headed by a Hepworth defender and it fell again to number 9 who made no mistake with the gift to make it 2.0.
For the remainder of the half Swinton were the better side but couldn’t add to their tally by half time.

With a cold bum from sitting on the girder for the first 45 minutes I decided to have a walk round and watch the second half standing up. It was then the chill wind blowing up the hill hit me and I decided that winter was finally with us, late this year.

Hepworth were again fastest off the blocks and were awarded a penalty on 63 minutes for a blatant hand ball. However after what seemed an age the keeper dived the right way to save a weekly hit attempt. Hepworth shyness near goal continued, even the woodwork wasn’t helping when they hit the crossbar in the dying minutes.

Swinton deserved their win because they had taken their chances, surely Hepworth won’t miss so many this season.

There were no chips or catering facilities at the Swinton ground but next door is Park View Bar where you can get a drink and I believe some food before or after the match. For me this time it was a coffee and a packet of crisps. Swinton also entertain their team and the visitors there afterwards. Swinton have a long way to go but they are making some steps along the road at this community ground.

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