Football Classified – An Anthology of Soccer

Football Classified – An Anthology of Soccer  –  Edited by Michael Parkinson & Willis Hall

Published by William Luscombe Publisher Limited 1973


This easy to read 50p bargain from a Charity Shop is only 187 pages long and is interspersed with the odd cartoon.

The short stories and articles are a bit dated but some are relevant today and show where the game has come from. It also reminds you that ‘Football Books’ did not start with ‘Fever Pitch’ in 1992.

My favourites were two articles by Derek Dougan the loved Northern Ireland player and Manager and the idolised Wolves player. In a few pages he weaves a great story of how he became established in Northern Irish Football and the interesting religious mixtures. The other is about how to choose a football club as a youngster with a view that tradition of a club my hold you back.

Another article by Tony Pawson talks about Managers, partly about Danny Blanchflower’s   relationship with them. He wanted to be captain but have the authority on the field and change tactics as he seemed fit for the way a game was heading and be involved in team selection. This would not sit well in todays game but perhaps should be reviewed especially in view of the success he had at Tottenham.

There are chapters by many well known writers, J.B. Priestly, ian Wooldridge, Brian Glanville, Willis Hall and many more. The book satisfied my curiosity for the game.


Andrew Watson – ‘The World’s First Black Football Superstar’


Andrew Watson – ‘The world’s First Black Football Superstar’                                      Written by Tony Talburt – First Published in 2017 by Hansib Publications Limited.

This book I found in a nearby Library and turned out to be fascinating. Only 115 pages long it is a quick and easy read and is well referenced for anyone wishing to make further studies.

Tony Talburt sets the historical and environmental outlook in Guyana and Glasgow very well. He also paints the picture of developing battles between Amateurs and Professionals, between Scottish and English tactics and styles of play and the Working Class and the Elite for the future of football.

The time is the mid to end of the nineteenth century and Andrew Watson a blackman from Guyana plays for the two premier teams in the world, Queens Park and the Corinthians as well as the best national team in the world, Scotland. Watson played for Scotland in their 6-1 trouncing of England at the Oval in 1881 and although only appearing on three occasions he was made captain of the national team.

Watson was also an administrator of clubs he played for and helped influence some of the rules of the game.

The book certainly makes a strong case for Andrew Watson’s elevation to the rank of the worlds first black football superstar but Robert Walker of Queens Park (the first black player),  Arthur Wharton (believed to be the first black professional) and Walter Tull (an outstanding  club player for Clapton, Tottenham and Northampton) might all have had a view.

No need to say much more than suggest you get a copy of this book and enjoy.



Rain Rain Go Away


It’s rained for days and there is major local flooding.

With the River Derwents banks burst in Derby and the A52 and A61 shut it looks like an ‘Emergency’ to me, but it’s great that the game is on. The sky is grey and overcast, the wind is getting up and at only 3 degrees it’s feeling cold.

The pitch is flat but the grass cover looks a bit yellow considering the rain of the last 6 weeks and the touchlines in places are just boggy. With the road conditions, the weather and Derby away to local rivals Nottingham Forest on the Television as the early kick off it was not surprising that fans stayed away and there was only a disappointing attendance of 162.

There has been a team called Witton Albion based in the Cheshire town of Northwich since 1887 but no real match records before 1890. They played in Cheshire Leagues until promotion to the Northern Premier League in 1979. The sale of their old central town site to Sainsburys and the move to a new stadium at Wincham Park, 1989  sparked a resurgence in the club and promotion to the then ‘Football Conference’. This did not prove a happy time as they struggled for a few seasons in the bottom half of the league and eventually found themselves in the Northern Premier League Division South in 2008. They have since yo yoed in the league, up and down and sideways but find themselves now firmly embedded in the Northern Premier League.

 Mickleover Sports F.C. was founded in 1948 as Mickleover Old Boys and played for 44 years in the Derby & District Senior League. In 1982 the Sports Club decided on a more ambitious regime joining the Central Midland League and planning the move to Station Road which they achieved in 1992.Their rise through the Central Midlands League, Northern Counties East and eventually to the Northern Premier league for the 2010/11 season has been spectacular. But in 2011/12 they suffered their first ever relegation only to bounce back by 2015. They have maintained this level for a few years and built an impressive youth policy.


Mickleover Sports FC 1 Witton Albion 4

A what appeared to be a punt upfield by James Short in the fourth minute hit a Mickleover defender’s back and cannoned into the net for an early Witton goal.

Witton continued to dominate with Danny McKenna continually causing havoc down the right through the mud. Mickleover should have been on level terms though when on 36 minutes some slipping and sliding by the away defence left Lee Hughes with a great chance that he ballooned over the bar off a Witton defender.

Four minutes later Witton went further ahead when Billy Smart (No 8) headed in at the far post following a freekick.

Incredibly straight from the kick off Will Jones immediately intercepted the ball and from just in the Mickleover half lobbed goalkeeper Nathan Brown for an amazing goal and a three nil lead at half time.

The rain was now heavier, continual and making conditions worse as the teams came out for the second half.  Within 3 minutes Mickleover had a slim lifeline when Mason Warren converted a penalty. Witton continued their. Domination though and Danny McKenna  capped a fine performance on 85 minutes when he drove home a gifted opportunity following a corner.

Witton were deserved winners with their mid back three of  Wardle, Ansel and Goulding dominating the game.

No Chips here today and the food cabin is away from the bar exposed to the elements. To get a better experience a nearer location for the food and hot drinks to the bar for shelter and warmth would be better.


Clay Cross Town FC Rocket to the Stars

Clay Cross Town had reached the Buildbase FA Vase Second Round and had planned and hoped for a record crowd, instead the torrential rain of the last few weeks caused the game to be postponed and it was subsequently played on Bonfire Night. With the many other family attractions  going on and the fact that the game had only been sanctioned as on just over 3 hours earlier the crowd of 188 was a great achievement for this small but hungry for success club.

Their rise in the competition has been a credit to them and they were the last remaining Step 7 club in the competition.


Reproduced from the match day Program.

Their opponents Sherwood Colliery FC based in Mansfield were one step higher and being only 12 miles away a local Derby. Clay Cross are currently top of the Central Midlands Football League – South Division and are unbeaten as are the second team Sherwood Colliery FC Reserves.

Recent information that is being further investigated suggests that there has been a football team in Clay Cross since 1881 with the current clubs inspiration taken from the team of 1909. It existed on in local football in different guises until in 2012 a new ‘Town’ club was reinvigorated. Disappointment in missing out in recent years on promotion has doubled everyone’s efforts to make this season one to remember.

Similarly Sherwood Colliery were reformed in 2008 in Mansfield Woodhouse and by 2012 they were successfully elected to the Central Midlands League. they too have had some ups and downs but are currently top of the East Midlands League – Premier Division.

Sherwood Colliery FC were put in the spotlight by the BBC website article, 21st August 2019 which although previewing their up an coming first round proper tie with Loughborough Dynamo made much of their Chairmans involvement . As a local lad Gareth Bull has put much of his energy, passion, and some of his lottery winnings into  the club.

The rain had only stopped two hours earlier as the teams took to the field Mid to a fanfare of rockets. Not for them though just local revellers on this cold bonfire night.

The pitch slopes slightly from one goal to the other and is a bit undulating with good grass cover. It all looked very wet but there was no standing water.

Clay Cross Town FC 3 Sherwood Colliery FC 1

Clay Cross chose to play with the slope and took charge of the midfield with No.10 putting in some good creative work. Both sides could have scored in the first 20 minutes but for good saves by the goalkeepers. The deadlock was broken when on 25 minutes when a well worked corner saw the Clay Cross No 8 Josh Scully hit a cross goal ball that evaded everyone but the Sherwood player on the far post who steered it into his own goal. Josh Scully ran to the crowd to claim the goal.

Within 5 minutes Sherwood hit back when from a freekick on the left, the ball fell to Sam Dockwray who made no mistake in drilling home. Level at half time it seemed anyone’s game.

What was impressive was the way that both teams played out of defence rather than the long ball. Despite some chances it looked as if the game was heading for extra time until with 2 minutes left after a bad clearance and some great work from the right the resulting cross found Josh Parfitt unmarked to simply nod in for Clay Cross to lead.

Clay Cross seemed happy to try to play out time but in added time again a strong run from the right, following two corners, found Sam Dockwray to smack the ball home for a 3-1 win to Clay Cross. The whistle blew just after to jubilation from the home team and crowd and a next round game against either South Normanton or Rothwell Corinthians both step 5 teams and two levels above Clay Cross.



The Chips were the best of the season so far, golden, hot, thick, tasty and plenty of them. A high score of 76 for these.

The Romance of Football

This Saturday, 2nd November, is the Second Round Proper of the FA Vase and one stand out game is  Bishop Aukland v West Aukland Town, kick off 3pm.

This very local derby sets the most successful Ameteur Cup side against the first World Cup Winners.

It is all about romance, passion, rivalry, community and much more, its is also the essence of Non – League Football.

Keeping up to date on the other day I found this ‘Our Cup of Tea’ documentary.

It’s well worth the 16 minutes of anyone’s time. and


Harrogate ease through to next round.

I had the opportunity to visit the Shay in Halifax to see the F.A. Cup 4th Qualifying Round, Halifax Town v Harrogate Town. I had not visited the Shay for ages and it has changed out of all recognition partly due to the sharing arrangement with the local Rugby League Club

It is now a very modern ground, not a concrete jungle, with great facilities that now graces the National League.

The day was very Autumnal with grey skies, little wind, but a chill in the air. The pitch looked perfect but had cut up badley where the practice goals had been placed.

Halifax Town AFC have had their ups and downs. Formed in 1911 they worked their way up to the Football League in 1921 where they stayed until relegation to the Conference in 1993. A promotion in 1998 saw them back in the League but for only 4 years and life back in the Conference was hard and financial difficulties lead to administration in 2007. A further demotion due to financial difficulties found the newly reformed club in The Northern Premier League One North in the 2008/09 season. They have since fought their way back and now sit top of the National League but recent results have been disappointing.

Harrogate Town were formed in 1914 and played in local football until the 1980’s when they were founder members of the Northern Counties East League. Progress has been steady and in 2016 layed a state of the art 3G pitch and started operating as a full time professional club in the 2017/18 season. They were rewarded for this move gaining promotion to the National League that season. They are now well established as a major force in this 5th tier of English Football.

Halifax Town 1 Harrogate Town 2

Harrogate started the best in front of the disappointing crowd of 1246. Their attacking play down the right was causing problems with Brendan Kiernan putting in some good crosses which were causing angst for the Halifax defence. One of these crosses on nine minutes was headed onto the crossbar by a back peddling Josh Staunton who unfortunately saw Mark Beck score from the rebound.

The diminutive figure of Josh Faulkingham bossed the midfield seeming to be everywhere. Despite this Halifax should have gone in level when on 30 minutes Jerome Binnom-Williams should have done better with his header with an open goal beckoning.

Harrogate ended the half on top but within a few seconds  of the second half Niall Maher tapped in at the back post to level the score. Halifax should have pushed on from this but again Harrogate dominated midfield and they retook the lead on 54 minutes with some neat interpassing on the right for Jack Muldoon to cut the ball back across goal for Beck to get his second.

Halifax tried with little success to regain the momentum and even using all of their substitutes could not create an effective threat.

Harrogate ran out deserved winners.

The food facilities were very good but the chips at £2 were only warm and a bit soggy, disappointing, only scoring 56.

Pennine Lancashire Football Culture


The British Textile Biennial this year is being hosted in the Pennine Lancashire Area this year with events being held between 3rd October and 3rd November.

This area produced 85% of the world’s cotton goods by the end of the 19th Century and some lives on today through manufacture, design and sales. The British Textile Biennial promotes the industry and encourages people of all ages to embrace the history and promotes the creation of new pathways in this exciting field.

On a recent visit to the area I found two of the events with Football relevance. At the former Burnley Mechanics Institute, now a venue for meetings, leisure and the arts Jacqui McCassey has presented an exhibition ‘Girl Fans’ a photo-zine of female football fans fashion. She has observed and recorded how female fans of Burnley F.C. and Burnley Womens F.C. express their identity. Jacqui’s images and and some ephemera are displayed on the walls of the lounge/bar and restaurant. A small free brochure is available to look at the images and some others at your leisure. Worth a tea/coffee and some time to take a look.


Also as part of the British Textile Biennial was an exhibition at the old Cotton Exchange in Blackburn between October 4th and 20th of Adidas trainers. The trainer has been synonymous with fashion, football and practicality for the last 50 years.


The Adidas Spezial Exhibition showcased over 1200 pairs of their trainers with many rare examples.

Gary Aspen the designer of the Spezial Range  is from nearby Darwen, a son of a Mill Worker, was presenting many of his own collection and many more. Gary is a passionate Blackburn Rovers fan and was showcasing the latest limited edition the ‘Blackburn Nightsafe’. All proceeds from the sale of 200 pairs of the £100 trainers will go to the homeless charity ‘Nightsafe’ based in Darwen. Donations for attending the display were also being collected.

“I’m absolutely over the moon about it. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me,” he said, his Lancastrian accent intact despite years spent working in London. “This is one of the top 10 poorest towns in Europe and I feel strongly that places like Blackburn, which have been hit badly by austerity, can be regenerated with the help of culture.”

Quote by Gary Aspen for an article by  North of England editor. The Guardian 



At the same time there is an exhibition at Townley Hall in Burnley, ‘Bob Lord, Burnley Born and Bred’ which runs until February 29, 2020.

Born in 1908 Bob Lord left school at 14 and built a meat empire employing hundreds of people. as a devoted Burnley fan he eventually became Club Chairman and had high influential positions in the game. His controversial comments did not endear him to everyone and you either loved or hated him.

In Burnley he is best remembered for their successful years in the 1960’s and the setting up of one of the best youth schemes and training grounds in the country, perhaps the forerunner of the modern academy.

The exhibition has some great photographs of his era at Burnley that came to an end just before his death in 1981. A short video has also been produced that is well worth watching.

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.


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


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.


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 score 62.