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.

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.

It takes time to settle into a new home.

I visited Kiveton Miners Welfare ground to watch a Saturday match between Sheffield Town and South Kirkby Colliery in the Sheffield and Hallamshire County Premier Division. The interest was that Sheffield Town FC were playing their first game as the home team at Kiveton after agreeing a ground share with the local club. The pitch looked immaculate and shone a bright green in the early autumn sun that was occasionally snuffed out with rolling wispy white clouds.

It was also a game in the Sheffield and Hallamshire League Premier Division having seen a Division 1 game the previous week at Denaby. That game also had a Sheffield named team, Sheffield Union and I had just read an article in the Guardian about a University of Sheffield study that ‘has demonstrated once and for all that Sheffield is the home of the beautiful game – sporting the oldest clubs, grounds, trophies and even many of the rules that shaped the way football is played today.’

Sheffield Town are not at the level of United or Wednesday and even have some way to go to match Sheffield F.C. Hallam, Dronfield, Handsworth or Swallownest but they are on the journey. With teams such as Sutton United and Harrogate having made it to the Football League and the National League made up of almost all previous League members it seems dream’s can come true. Perhaps it will be a new first for Sheffield.

I have tried in vain to find some history to Sheffield Town but failed miserably whereas South Kirkby Colliery look as if they have been playing football in the area since 1894. South Kirkby is situated North East of Barnsley and South East of Wakefield where the local pit closed in 1988. Up until the end of the 1930’s the club played in senior non-league football but after the Second World War there has been a spiralling decline that finds them in the Sheffield and Hallamshire League although they did gain a recent promotion.

Sheffield Town 4 South Kirkby Colliery 1

Sheffield and Hallamshire County League Premier Division. Kick Off 15.00 pm

Sheffield Town: Yellow tops with green shoulders and blue shorts. South Kirkby Blue shirts and Blue shorts,

Sheffield dominated the first half with some very intricate play and made it difficult for South Kirkby to clear their lines and mount any forward counter attacks. Sheffield seemed to be trying to create the perfect goal, perhaps it was their Brazil look a like kit, with some great inter passing, running and ball skills but they failed with the final pass and a phobia about shooting at the goal. The half’s excitement was the size of the crowd, to start with there were 3 of us but every couple of minute a few more turned up until at one time there were 21.

The same pattern carried on in the second half with Sheffield Town playing uphill, but 15 minutes in after some more intricate passing Robert Seck found himself one on one with the South Kirkby keeper and coolly slid it into the net. Minutes later though the away side had a great chance to equalise when their number 9 was fouled by the Town keeper, Aaron Stockton and a penalty was awarded. Luckily for the keeper he was not sent off and dived to the right of the No9’s spot kick for it to hit him and balloon onto the bar and over.

A more open game was now unfolding and Robert Seck again produced some fancy footwork and a run to the goal line to cut it back for Jamal to tap home. Ten minutes later Robert Seck again after more skilful play slid the ball back for Jamal to again score. This pattern of play just kept coming and Town made it 4 nil on 38 minutes with another tapped in goal this time from Ahmed.

It wasn’t until 41 minutes that South Kirkby scored their consolation goal when No4 hit a beautiful powerful shot from a free kick 30 yards out into the top left hand corner of the net.

Sheffield Town won easily on their home debut and as they become more accustomed to the surroundings could see many more victories, especially if they shoot more often. Looking back a week at the lower division game I would think any of the two teams I saw would have given either side a strong contest.

I had hoped that the Kivo cafe would have been open to give them a chance to retain the Chip League Trophy but obviously only for their home games. I will have to visit again. I was impressed with the food huts new colours.

A few minutes mayhem and it’s all over.

Unusually I will start with chips.

I decided to revisit all previous winners of the chip league this season so noticing that Ilkeston were at home I was off to see a previous winner. Firstly the chips, unfortunately I must have been given that last portion, before new ones are fried, that we have all experienced and found them to be hot, golden, crispy on the outside but lacking any depth and made up of lots of little pieces along with a few bigger ones. The chips were also greasy and so a poor score of 58 won’t see them being winners again. Pity really because Ilkeston have three food/drinks kiosks which offer a good range and a very comfortable and large club house.

Parking at Ilkeston is good with their own carpark and plenty of spaces on the nearby roads. As I have said before there is always a good buzz as you enter a stadium at night with the lights penetrating the gloom to light up the arena. When entering this ground you are met with the unusual stand in the far corner and the roman numeral clock, to the locals it must be like coming home.

Immediately I was struck by two changes, a perfectly flat all weather pitch has been installed and the programme has gone on line but otherwise nothing else had changed in this very tidy and clean ground. There were some high dark clouds in the sky and with the start of Autumn in the air some gloves and a warmer coat wouldn’t have gone a miss. The lowest home attendance of the season of 522 may have reflected Ilkeston’s average start to the campaign or may be heralds a reduction in fans as the economic crisis deepens.

lkeston Town F.C. have only been in existence since 2017 taking up the local mantle from Ilkeston F.C. who had only been reformed in 2010. The current team having been elected to the Midland Football League won back to back promotions before results were expunged due to covid. The Non League reorganisation found them in the Northern Premier League – Division One Midlands Division which they won last season gaining the team automatic promotion but were reallocated for the 2022/23 to the Southern Football League Premier Division Central.

Stratford Town (from Stratford on Avon) were formed in 1941 taking on their current name in 1949. They played in local Birmingham and Midlands Leagues until reaching the Southern League in 2015 where they have consolidated their place.

Ilkeston Town 2 Stratford Town 1

Tuesday 27th September 2022 Southern League Premier Division Central

The New Manor Ground Ilkeston The Robins v The Bards

Ilkeston, Red and white vertical striped shirts white shorts: Stratford, Blue shirts with one withe vertical stripe down one side and matching blue shorts.

Ollie Battersby was making his debut for Ilkeston in goal, I had been impressed by him at Belper last season and believe that he will go further in his career.

The first half could be summed up as plenty of endeavour but no sparkle As it came to an end Stratford’s No16, who was on as a substitute, on the right wing who had injected some ingenuity into the Stratford attack was hit by a home player when controlling the ball in the air. The coming together was on the side line and Jack Storer was forced off the pitch down a small gully into the fencing. The medical teams from both clubs attended to him and the referee blew for half time leaving them to deal with the injury. Jack was eventually stretchered off with a neck injury and was later transferred to hospital,

The second half started brighter and it needed to as the evening got colder.

A fast break away by Stratford on 63 minutes led to a sweeping pass from the right that was met by Adam Rooney for the away team to take the lead. It needed the goal to wake Ilkeston and the piled on the pressure to get the equaliser four minutes later when a cross along the ground was turned into his own net by Jack Turner as he tried to clear the ball away from the nearby Ilkeston player.

Further chaos reined four minutes later when Jack Turner made a horrible back pass to Stratfords goalkeeper, Leon Phillips and his hurried clearance with little space hit Stratford’s Arlott-John and ballooned over his head and despite a despairing run back it was in the net and Ilkeston had turned it around. So within 8 minutes the game has burst to life and was all over. Leon Phillips did redeem himself near the end with an amazing reflex save to his right to thwart the marauding Ilkeston forward.

Ilkeston will have been pleased with their second half performance but Stratford will have been well miffed with their luck on the night after some crazy mix ups.

Research, check, check,check

I decided a trip back into the Sheffield and Hallamshire County Senior League Premier Diovision would be my Saturday afternoon football. A trip to Swinton to see the last years runners up, to progressive Wakefield, was planned. I had really enjoyed watching football at this level last season when I spent a balmy spring evening at North Gawber Colliery FC.

I delayed my journey to the last minute because of a morning commitment and arrived at the ground with 8 minutes in hand. There was however no sign of football, you can see Swinton’s pitch from the road. Surely they would be warming up by now I thought. I checked the Leagues Website which still listed a game but on checking Swinton’s twitter feed it told me that they had no game this weekend. The ground itself looks definitely worth a visit in the future. Some of the games listed took place so I didn’t beat my self up.

So sat in the car I was reminded of a phrase that is written in the front of our address/phone number/email address book, ‘Failure isn’t fatal but hesitation can be’. In researching this league I had noticed that nearby Denaby were at home to Sheffield Union in Division 1. So with Google maps engaged I didn’t hesitate and I was off to arrive 8 minutes after the start.

Denaby’s ground is next door to Denaby & Cadeby Miners Welfare Social Club and I walked through the entrance and didn’t have to pay or donate anything. There were a crowd of about 50 watching the game and what struck me was the mix of ages and sexes, infact one of the youngest attendance I have seen for sometime. It is set on the side of a hill with a newish brick built club house which had changing facilities an area for reception after the game and a food bar and tables. The food bar had all sorts of delights with one person eating a bacon sandwich and another waiting for a burger. There are two small stands on either side and a perimeter fence around the ground with a paved walk way. Siting in one stand I could see fields and wind turbines on the distant hills. The playing surface looked a lush green but there were some patches where the dry summer has taken its toll and a few undulations were evident.

Denaby were making use of the small slope from end to end and a steady breeze from behind their goal which gave an autumn feeling. Some fluffy grey clouds were fighting off some blue skies and the clouds became darker and more fierce as the game went on.

I have failed to find out anything about Sheffield Union only that they joined the League in 2019.

Denaby is a different matter, the current club being reformed in 2011 but football goes back locally to a team called Denaby Parish Church in 1895. Becoming Denaby United within a few years they competed at the highest non-league level for some time. They notably made it to the first round of the F.A. Cup on three occasions losing to then football league opposition in Southport, Carlisle United and Oldham Athletic. Their senior Non-league days were cut short in 2001 when the Miners Welfare told them they could no longer play at their Tickhill Square home from 2002. The current club was reformed in 2011 playing in the local Doncaster leagues and in 2015 moved on to their current league status, inexplicably at the Tickhill Square ground.

Denaby Main JFC (Adult) First 3 Sheffield Union FC 0

Saturday 23rd September kick off 15.00 pm. Tickhill Square Ground

Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League Division One

Denaby, red and black vertical striped shirts, black shorts – Sheffield Union, black and white vertical striped shirts and black shorts,

The first half was an end to end affair with both sides having chances and on 22 minutes a Union forward went down, what looked to me easily, in the box but the player who stepped up to take the penalty blasted the ball onto the cross bar and over. Sheffield Union looked the more composed side playing some good team football but it was Denaby who ended the first half on top. It may have been playing against the slope and the wind that seemed to tire the away team.

The second half was a different game with the home side taking control and going ahead after 9 minutes when a Sheffield defender made a mistake that gifted the ball to Pilling who lifted the ball over the goalkeeper into the net, With no time to settle Sheffield found themselves two down a minute later when Hancock received a through ball and he ran some way to slide the ball past the goalkeeper.

Main were out of sight after 23 minutes when a shot was parried by the keeper but Pilling swept in to head the ball home. It was all over at 3 nil and with a Union player sin binned they didn’t look like coming back. However they showed some good resilience and play in the final 20 minutes to show that they will do better as the season goes on.

Denaby are now top after just two games and look strong contenders for promotion. Their diminutive number 7 impressed either on the right or left supplying some effortless crosses from either feet.

The food was great and the chips were cooked separately for me, they were hot, golden, fluffy on the inside, tasty and with no greasy after taste. the portion was also smaller than some and did not over face me. A great score of 79.