End to end at Burnley

I finally visited Turf Moor to see Burnley play after a 60 year wait. Back in 1961 Burnley were the Liverpool or Man City of the day and were playing in the European Cup having won the League the previous season. They had received a bye in the first round, beaten Reims in the next and now faced Hamburg in the quarter finals having won 3.1 at home the second leg was on TV in the afternoon. Getting home from school in time for the match I unfortunately saw them lose 1.4 and and were elimimated on agregate. The tears just rolled down my face, the first of many football disappointments that you learn to endure that is all part of the football experience.

So my son and I travelled north to Burnley on a dull day and it felt colder as we walked to the ground with the first spots of rain falling on us as we went through the turnstile. Inside a coffee and a Hollands meat and potato pie was welcomed (no chips here) as we chatted about the game and our last visit to a Premier League ground which had been to Everton nearly two years since, where today’s opponents Crystal Palace had been the visitors then. We hoped that the dull draw we saw then would not be repeated and noted Palace’s better results this term under new manager Patrick Vieira. We made our way to our seats 30 minutes before the game but decided to return to the concourse as the rain was now in full force and where we were to sit, although under cover, was getting soaked. We left it till near the start and found that everyone in the area of our allocated seats stood. This was a blessing as the seats were wet through. The supporters in this area of the ground were a noisy bunch which added to a good atmosphere. Although the supporters around us shouted, sang, chanted and chided the referee and third official, for what I have to say were some bemuseing decisions, it was all good hearted with very little swearing.

Burnley have a proud history having been formed in 1882 and have won the top English League twice and the FA Cup once. Their last top League win was just over 60 years ago and after a period in the doldrums have recently been constant members of the Premier League under no nonsense manager Sean Dyche.

This is an old ground that has been developed with individual stands on each side that has a good atmosphere and is adequate for their supporter base. The pitch was beautiful but the constant rain made the pitch slippery and the light wind blew the rain onto the first rows of supporters.

Burnley 3 Crystal Palace 3

Saturday 20th November 2021. 3.00pm kick off.

Crystal Palace have thrown off their dull play mantel dominating the play from the start to the delight of their large contingent of travelling fans who were matched and bettered by the Turf Moor locals.

The rejuvinated Christian Benteke latched onto a ball in the box in the box, turned, and hit an unstoppable left foot shot that seemed to take a deflection that ended up in the corner of the net having grazed the left hand post on 8 minutes. Palace kept up the pressure but unexpectedly from a corner on the left a static defence let Ben Mee rise above everyone to head home the equaliser at 19 minutes. Only 8 minutes later the same disconnect in the away teams defence allowed Chris Wood to head home when some confusion after a free-kick left Wood to score with a perfectly placed header past the leaping goalkeeper.

Benteke should have done better and drew Palace level when he had an open goal but headed wide.

Although ahead, Burnley couldn’t stem the away teams dominance and it was no surprise they were level when Benteke easily scored after receiving a great measured pass from the impressive Conor Gallagher. The move had been started by the Palace goalkeeper and passed through the field with no Burnley player getting anywhere near the ball.

It was now anyone’s game but it was Palace who went in ahead at half time when Guehi’s shot was deflected in after some frantic play following a corner.

Expecting another all action half the play calmed down with Burnley getting on top and back in the game when James Tarkowski’s run and high cross was met by Maxwell Cornet who hit a goal of the season by volleying the cross into the top left hand corner. Turf Moor erupted and Burnley stayed in charge and players and fans were incensed by some strange decisions from the officials.

Wilfried Zaha had a shot tipped onto the bar by Nick Pope but Burnley should have taken all three points at the death when substitute Hydra should have scored when put through with only the keeper to beat. Vincente Guaita bravely saved and the breathtaking game came to an end. Both Managers will have felt that they should have taken all three points.

I have had Holland’s pies before and would say that they are one of my favourites but this meat and potato pie was a disapointing mush.

Staveley’s bright future postponed.

I decided to revisit a club, something I haven’t done for a while, partly because it was near to me and this would mean using little fuel in the current crisis and because the ground had been totally changed due to grants and locally raised money.

Staveley Miners Welfare have installed a 3G pitch that can be used by the community, they have enhanced the mobility around the ground and the spectator experience.

Arriving at the ground there is still a large car park which has now been tarmaced and lined out meaning you no longer risk damp feet in the puddles. The changes do not end there with new money for a revamp of the car park oposite the junior pitches (which were awarded a grant to redrain them) which will also be available for people to park to visit Poolsbrook Country Park and access to the Trans Pennine Trail.

The clubhouse at Staveley is always welcoming and busy and looked as if it too had seen some redecoration. The five large TV screens shone out on what was a very dark day. The weather put me to shame having complained about the unusual warm weather for September at my prevous matches. The heavy rain came out of very grey skies but luckilly the light breeze did not reduce the temperature.

The beautifully flat 3G pitch was already in use with children taking penalties in the main goal area not cutting up the surface as with a grass pitch, their accuracy was amazing.

Silsden AFC were formed in 1904 with a few ups and downs along the way, with the current incarnation started only 25 years ago. Their rise up the local Craven Leagues and West Riding Leagues meant they were invited to join The North West Counties League in 2004. Like Staveley grants enabled them to transform their ground and by 2010 and they were promoted, relegated and promoted again to the Premier Division before being moved laterally to the Northern Counties East League in 2021 due to the FA’s reorganisation.

Staveley Miners Welfare 2 Silsden 3

Trojans v Cobbydalers

The rain just kept coming as the two teams kicked off and it was Staveley who took early control of the game perhaps being more used to the playing surface. They were strongest attacking down the right and it was no surprise that they scored from that sector but unexpectedly via the right back Charlie Bell who recieved the ball 25 yards out to the right of centre of the goal and hit it true after one touch to the right hand corner of the net. Staveley kept control and still led at half time. Silsden’s sometimes over copmplicated passing movements continually breaking down.

Ten minutes into the second half the rain finally stopped and Staveley were still on top but not converting their chances. Silsden made two substitutions and changed to a more direct style and out of the blue Mohamid Quasim stumbled, swerved and jinked past three Staveley defenders to equalise on 81 minutes.

But within 6 minutes Staveley were back ahead when a corner by Charlie Bell was met with a majestic header by Samuel Kay which ripped into the net.

I thought that would be it but Silsden semed to have found new legs and desire and equalised with 1 minute left on the clock when Bradley Riley recieved the ball on the left of the penalty area and placed it beyond the diving goalkeeper to make it all square.

The breathless end had a further sting in the tail as Silsden wrapped up the game with a third just before the final whistle when Joseph Mitchel scored a long range effort. His delight and the teams was very evident as they celebrated in the corner.

A big reminder that a game is 90 minutes long and if you don’t convert your many early chances you run the risk of paying the price later.

Staveley have certainly now put together an impressive ground and set up that will give them an assured future but the day was certainly not theirs.

The chips at only £1.50 were a great quantity, tasted good, hot, not greassy but were soggy so a disapointing score of 62.

5th time lucky at Tow Law

Snow, ice, a waterlogged pitch and Covid have beaten me before so this time a visit in September to the Iron Works ground to see Tow Law Town play seemed sensible.

I wanted to go for different reasons, I had heard it to be one of the most picturesque grounds in the country, which I knew through driving along the A68 in the past, some say it is the second highest ground to Buxton in the UK and I enjoy the competitiveness of Northern League games.

Whether this competitive spirit is because there is still fierce rivalry between what is often very local ex pit villages/town’s, that the Northern League is cocooned in a distinct area, the fan base is pasionate, the players are local and not mercenaries looking for the highest payment, I’m not sure, but I know that there is a difference.

Tow Law set up high in the Durham hills is named from the Old English ‘tot hlaw’ which was the name of a house meaning ‘lookout mound’ and you can soon get the reasoning behind this by taking in the view. The clubs Ironworks Road ground is named after the the works that was important in the area until the mid 1800’s which was replaced as the main employer by coal with the mine finally closing in the 1960’s. Today the population is about 2000 but the club took double that to Wembley in1995 for their unsuccessful appearance in the final of the FA Vase.

Tow Law Town FC were founded in 1890 and played in local football until joining the Northern League in 1920. Their most famous ex player is Chris Waddle who played as a teenager before being prized away to the professional game. The club has gone through ups and downs in its history with miners originally fashioning the club and then again during a Miners strike in 1923 were instrumental in creating the grounds contours that we know today. There have also been some financial problems and the generosity of Sir Bobby Robson (born in a near by village) was needed at one point to keep the club afloat. More recently in April 2020 the club was threatened with folding due to a large sink hole appearing on the side of the pitch and terracing along which an old railway line used to run. A football foundation grant , donations and the help of a YouTuber in the south of England all meant that they were able to raise the money for repairs.

There has been a team in Birtley since a year before the formation of Tow Law but a few reformings in the early years has led to the current team that was established in the early 1990’s. They progressed to the Northern League in 2007 were relegated back to the Northern Alliance in 2016 and were promoted back to the Northern League in 2018.

The day itself was dry, the sky was grey and the car said 20 degrees as I was dropped off. As you walk through the turnstile the lush green grass hits you and there is the whirring sound of a small wind turbine sited in the car park. The pitch unusually slopes end to end and side to side and you soon spot the view over the hills.

Tow Law Town 3 Birtley Town 1

The lawyers v The Hoops

This was a battle between two mid table teams and Birtley chose to play down hill which immediately proved a good move scoring in the first minute when Ben Garrity made space on the right and crossed for James Norton to tap home at the far post.

This was soon countered 4 minutes later when Drew Lake made room to squeeze a strong shot past everyone to go in off the left post. The Tow Law pressure continued and they were ahead a few minutes later, this time through Lewis Teasdale.

The game continued at a competitive furious pace and Tow Law were awarded a penalty for what seemed a very soft challenge and it seemed justice that Birtley’s goalkeeper Isaac Robinson saved it diving to his left. Birtley continued to be in the game particularly due to crosses from the right but a fight back grew harder as a second penalty was awarded to the home side. This time there was no dispute to the penalty awarded for a reckless tackle with the resulting spot kick dispatched to the centre of the goal by Lewis Teasdale for his second of the game.

The first half ended with Tow Law well on top and after such a breathless first 45 minutes it was anyone’s guess how many goals would be added in the next. But there were no more goals from either side despite Tow Laws continual pressure. Birtley did hit the apex of the crossbar and upright but they were well out fought by a stronger more committed team.

A great advert for the League that was spoilt in the first half by some obscure decisions by the referee who was influential in the result. The crowd of only 80 should have been higher considering the skill and value for money of the game.

A really good day out and well worth the wait. The whole set up was much better than expected with the stand and terracing in fine condition. The club house was spacious and comfortable with a large TV at one end showing the Liverpool v Crystal Palace game and another at the other end showing the horse racing. The only disappointment was the chips, at £1.50 they were only warm, squashy and a bit greasy, a score of only 50, I’m sorry to say.

Dinnington Town keep 100% record.

It’s a Tuesday night in mid September and at 7pm but it feels like November with dark skies and constant drizzle. Manchester United are on TV with Chelsea to follow in the Champions League and Sheffield United at home nearby so it’s not surprising that with ten minutes to go to kick off there are only 10 brave souls in the ground. Perhaps there will be a late rush.

The pitch is pretty level but very wet and greasy as recently installed new floodlights light up the gloom. There is a pristine bowling green behind one goal and where you enter the ground there is a Sports Hall and good car park. However I shouldn’t be surprised at the turn in the weather as the Autumn equinox is only a week away and a slide into winter beckons. Mid week winter games under the lights do seem more exciting with a crackle in the air and by my reckoning the crowd has swelled to 35 by the start.

This is a good chance to see the ground before the builders move in to install a new all weather pitch for community use. I overheard a conversation in the seats in front of me that fund raising is on going for a new small stand and a club house.

Dinnington are unbeaten in the league and are playing against St Joseph’s Rockware of Worksop who are mid table in the Black Dragon Premier Division North (Central Midlands League).

St Joseph’s Rockware of Worksop were established in 1984 and the following is taken from the Dinnington programme.

St Joseph’s Rockware of Worksop were a Worksop Sunday League team for 35 years enjoying many succesful seasons. In 2019 it was decided to move to Saturday football and join the Central Midlands League with the aim to provide local Worksop players an opportunity to play football at this level. We won the Central Midlands Division 1 in our first season and were promoted to the Premier Division.

Dinnington town have been going in different guises since 1908, the name progression being Dinnington Main. Dinnington Colliery, Dinnington Main Colliery, Dinnington Colliery and Dinninton Town since 2000. There have been a few reformings on the way and the highest they have reached is the top Division of The Northern Counties East League. With their current developments it looks like better times are ahead.

Dinnington Town 3 St Joseph’s Rockware of Worksop 0

Play was even for the first half but neither goalkeeper looked troubled. Dinnington’s keeper had a strong kick that put them firmly in their opponents half. St Joseph’s number 2 was a throw in specialist and put the home team under pressure from some distance. Half time came and although the play had been busy and competitive neither side was on top.

The second half took on a new urgency and after hitting the cross bar and drawing a great low diving one handed save to the goalkeepers right Dinnington went ahead. 14 minutes after the break Jordan Turner took down a through ball with his foot, ran on and hit it from left to right across the keeper to nestle in the right hand corner of the net.

Worksop did not give up and at the other end a glancing header nearly drew them level but 8 minutes later it was 2 nil after Liam Bryan had stretched the defence to be able to knock back a ball from the by line which in the melee deflected into the net.

It was now all over and there was no surprise that athird was added before the end when number 7 ran down the left side to make a perfect cross which was tapped in by Danny Cain for his first touch of the game after just coming on as a substitute. After this Dinnington dominated the last 10 minutes as momentum, superior strength and fitness took over. Dinnington still undefeated but this is going to be a very competitive League this year with a long way to go.

Where were the officials? They were in comand the whole game with instant direct decisions, well done.

I look forward to visiting here again in a couple of years when the changes have all been made. No chips at the moment but perhaps with the new facilities in the future.

FA Cup disappoints

Lancster City 1 1874 Northwich 0

I would not usually start with the match but I decided to get this one out of the way. The match was an FA Cup First Rouind qualifier between Lancaster City of the Northern Premier League, Premier Division and 1874 Northwich one level below playing in the Northern Premier league, Division One West. My expectation of a very competitive, pasionate game did not materialise and the noisy Northwhich travelling fans felt so too.

Some games just do not get going and there was little to enthuse as the two defences blunted any attacks. Lancaster slightly edged the first half with some wide play that gave them more option.

The day was warm, 18 degrees, with a light breeze that helped to move the cloud revealing some sunny patches. The pitch is pretty level and the grass very thick but yellowing where it has been cut in stripes.

Lancaster put on more pressure in the second half through three long throws into the penalty area and their pressure paid off after 20 minutes when Paul Dawson picked up the ball on the halfway line and ran straight through the middle of the Northwhich defence to shoot. The goalkeper could only parry the shot and it fell to Tom Kilifin to tap home.

Lancaster made a half time change bringing on Christian Sloane who tidied up midfield and made some good probing balls. I was also impressed by Liam Brockbank at left back who overlapped on numerous occaisions and seemed to be marauding all over the pitch at the end.

After the goal there seemed little interest and it was not necessary for Lancaster to take the ball into the corner flag area to waste time three times in the last ten minutes, I’m sure if they would have pressed harder they would have added to their one goal..

The real enjoyment

Lancaster is a great club if the volunteers are anything to go by. I arrived from Scotland on my way home with very little cash. This was a problem to the gateman but he sent me to the office for help. Unfortunately they coudn’t get through on their phones to take a payment. Why is it that you just can’t get mobile telephone service in so many places in the UK including major motorways, some levelling up here would be a help. However help was at hand and Jan said no problem if you come round to the bar they have access there. So Jan saved the day and then spent the whole of the first half walking round the ground selling raffle tickets and having banter with home and away fans. Every club has or needs a Jan.

1874 Northwhich have done amazingly well since their first game in July 2013 having been formed following the demise of Northwhich Victoria. Not being able to use the old name, which has also since been restarted, they chose to add the date of the formation of the original team to ‘Northwhich’. They have progressed from the North West Counties League despited the Covid disruptions in such a short time.

Lancaster City in contrast have been in existance since 1911 although there were teams in the city before that. THEY played their football in the Lancashire Combination for 60 years and were unsucessful in applying for Football League status. Lancaster City now joined the Northern Premier League but ten years later were relegated to the North West Counties League but bounced back in 1987 and rose to playing in the Conference North. A return to the Northern Premier mainly due to financial problems has seen them consolidate life at that level.

Their ground the Giant Axe is just behind the railway station and you can train spot comings and goings in the station. It is a large ground with good terraced covering behind both goals and a large seated stand down one side. There is an ample carpark just outside the ground.

Lancaster City and Jan deserve success for the future but an away draw in the next round at Morpeth Town will be a hard game to win. Although the crowd of 347 must not have thought the game was a cracker I’m sure like me they enjoyed themselves.

The Chips

Jan explained to me that there were new caterers at the ground this year and when I asked for chips before the game I was disappointed to be told they had none. Meat pie, mushy peas and gravy had to sufice but at half time I noticed people with trays of chips. They had now managed to get some and were frying, so I had to try them and although they were hot, golden. a good quantity, they had little taste and a greasy after taste. I apologise to Dollys Diner for only being able to award 55 points. It also makes the diet harder having eaten the pie.

The A38 football mysterey resolved

The last day of the football season on June 5th !! and I had the opportunity to watch one of the last Abacus Central Midland Football League Division One Central games of the season, either the home game at Holbrook St Michael or Kilburn. Both of these villages are just off and straddling the A38 in Derbyshire within 6 miles of each other. I chose Holbrook St Michael as it sounded the most interesting.

I set off following Google maps and eventually arrived in the pretty village of Holbrook St Michael but could not see the ground. Parked up looking at a phone screen with prescription sun glasses is not easy but I saw a playing field on the map about a mile away at Holbrook and set off again. Sure enough I arrived at a football ground with a few minutes left to kick off. The car park looked quite full but I could see no activity on the pitch through a small opening in a wire fence. Walking round the perimeter I passed the bowling green where at least 50 people were playing or watching and then found an entrance to the deserted football ground.

My thoughts were that this could be another game that had been cancelled because one club couldn’t get a team together in the current climate in the same way that a Glapwell game against Newark was cancelled by their opposition a few weeks ago.

However not to be beaten I thought I would go to Kilburn and headed off to soon find the village. But now I drove round that village three times until I finally found a small hidden drive next to the Jade Garden Chinese takeaway.

Darting down there I was confronted by a very full carpark and had to go back out into the main street where there were no parking spaces but eventually found one on a newish housing estate a brisk walk away. I finally walked into the ground 25 minutes after the start where someone was standing with a program. I tried to buy one off him but was soon told that the program was his and I needed to go to the kiosk where I bought the last program for £1 and a coffee for the same price. As the coffee was being made I watched the game and saw Kilburn take the lead at the far end.

The gound is compact with a children’s play area at one end. The playing area is fenced off but surrounded by Hawthorn bushes that were in full bloom with the rolling countryside beyond. The day had beautiful blue skies with some rolling cotton wool clouds that were motionless in the still wind.

The pitch sloped from side to side away from what looked like a good sized club house and was bumpy with good long grass cover. There looked like a crowd of about 40 who were dressed to enjoy the sun.

Kilburn 3 Woodhouse Colts 4

This was a mid table end of the season game that Kilburn needed to beat Woodhouse by 17 goals to pass them on goal difference in the league table.

As I said earlier I just caught the first goal when a Kilburn player found some space to smash a ball to the right of the goalkeeper to take the lead. This was doubled shortly after when a game of pin ball in the goal was greeted by shouts of goal by the Kilburn players and the linesman, provided by Woodhouse corageously signalled it had crossed the line.

So two nil at half time and 15 more to score to overtake Woodhouse.

A headed goal at the re-start for Woodhouse put paid to any silly results but Kilburn scored again quickly when their lively and most dangerous forward, No,9 ran on to a through ball and ckeekily chiped it over the diving goalkeeper. It was then the Woodhouse number nine’s turn to get in on the act with an audacious lob over the keeper. The Woodhouse defence now seemed to take an iron grip on the game and hit long balls to each wing, especially the left, for their forwards to run onto and cause havoc. It was no surprise that they equalised through number 12 who powered a shot along the floor to see it bounce over the diving keeper and into the net. Woodhouse were now fully in charge and had a goal disallowed for a foul on the goalkeeper in amongst a group of players.

The drinks break midway through the half was welcomed by all but it did not stop the pattern of play and Woodhouse were ahead through their No.14 and never looked like relinquishing the lead until the end of play.

An exciting game to end the season a little spoilt by the grumbles of some players towards the referee who was doing his best on a very hot, tiring, end of season day. Thank you Kilburn for you hospitality I would like to visit again when the clubhouse is fully open and a game in normal seasonal football weather.

When I sat down later at home I looked up the results and found that Holbrook St Michael Development did play at home and lost one nil to Cromford and Wirksworth and that the ground I visited, only just over a mile away was Holbrook Sports. Amazing to find two such teams so close together and surviving. It also showed that I must do more planning before I set off but at the end of the day I think I was fortunate to see A SEVEN GOAL THRILLER. It also proved that I should have researched my journey more carefully before starting. The plus point is that I now have two new teams to watch in the coming seasons and I know where their grounds are,

The end of a very unusual season.

I was wrong.

I didn’t think I would be watching any more football this season but some leagues lower than step 7 have restarted to complete their season and spectators are able to attend if it is a public park.

So I was all set to visit Glapwell and checked their Twitter feed an hour before kick off to find that their opponents had cried off because they couldn’t raise a full team. A frantic look at other games within my now constrained travelling time to find Ripley Town F.C were at home to Clifton All Whites Development Team only 30 minutes away.

The ground at Greenwich Park was easy to find alongside the A610 and was an open area next to a skate board park. Being the first of May a cricket match was in progress just beyond an adjacent football pitch.

The weather was disappointing for May in that although dry it was overcast with heavy dark clouds and a cold chill was in the air. The pitch was very undulating and reminded me of past Sunday League pitches I have known and loved. The goal mouths were bare of grass but a nice strip of dandelions and daisies ran down one side.

Ripley Town FC

There has been a football team named Ripley in the town for over 130 years although there have been many restarts, mergers and reorganisation. Ripley Town F.C. currently play in the Central Midlands League Division 1 South.

Clifton All Whites Development Team

Clifton All Whites have been going 1963 starting as a youth team in Nottingham, originally named Thistledown Rovers and in 1973 formed a senior team. They have played their football in and around Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. The club is a community club with men’s and women’s teams of varying ages.

Ripley Town 2 Clifton All Whites Development 2

Ripley started the game most promisingly but a dull game was brought to life 7 minutes before half time when The All Whitles number 7, James Itokun, who had mafe some mazy runs which ran into cul de sacs, stooped to head home a great right wing cross.

The second half quickly started with just a quick 5 minute turn round. The dullness of the first half disapeared as Ripley pressed to equalise, which they did through Jason Whitehead. The All Whites now came back into the game strongly to go ahead through Ben Cooke. During this period of play they had a goal disalowed and a penalty saved by Ripley’s keeper diving to his left. However it ended all square with Alex Crossley getting the equalising goal. It was an enjoyable second half only dampened by some unnecessary swearing at the referee by an All Whites defender.

Soup instead of chips

With no food available at Ripley I could not have any ‘chips’ so I took a flask of soup instead. It must be because I have been used to non organic tomato soup all of my life that this just did not have the flavour I expected. At least it was hot on a cold day.

Gladiators show their metal.

With the new Covid lockdown coming in just over 24 hours, which will close down most of Non-League football for at least a month, I headed to Coalville where they were entertaining Matlock in a very interesting third qualifying round F.A. Trophy match. It was also mid way for myself Daughter and Son to meet to see one another.

Coalville is in the East Midlands not too far South of East Midlands Airport and as the name suggests was an ex mining town and was right in the centre of the North Leicestershire coal mining district.

The ground is just off the centre of town through an area of older terraced houses and where a new housing estate starts there is a turn into the carparks. The ground is a good standard considering that they have only been in Coalville since 1995 and further building is on going behind one goal.

The evening was clear with a large moon in the sky and a very slight drizzle in the air which felt cold to the bone. The football was soon to warm the spectators. The pitch looked wet with long grass cover and was overall flat but with some undulating areas.

Coalville moved from Ravenstone, where they were formed in 1926 as Ravenstone Miners Athletic, because they could not develop the ground and have since moved up the football pyramid from local football to now being members of the Southern Premier Division Central of which they are currently top. They were moved into this League in 2018 during one of the many restructurings. Although Matlock is only 30 miles North of Coalville they play in the Northern Premier League, Premier Division. So both teams were of the same level but North v South.

In Coalville’s history since relocating they have been losers in an F.A. Vase final at Wembley and reached the first round proper of the F,A, Cup in the 2004/5 season when they lost away to Wycombe Wanderers, all in all a good cup tradition. Matlock in contrast won the F.A. Trophy back in 1975 but have since not managed to regain those high standards. I have written previously about Matlock’s history (formed in 1878) in a previous post as they are my go to game on Boxing Day.

Coalville Town FC 3 Matlock Town FC 3

Coalville Town FC 2 Matlock Town FC 4 Decided on Penalties

Coalville immediately took control of the match which was played at a fast pace and it was no surprise that a brilliant through ball found Tim Berridge who didn’t hesitate to smash it into the net for the lead. Although Matlock had chances it fell to Berridge again on 37 minutes to run onto another fine pass and outsprint the Matlock defence to calmly place the ball past the advancing Matlock goalkeeper, Shaun Rowley. Half time soon came and Coalville looked comfortable with their two goal advantage. 

There was an amazing start to the second half when within a minute Matlock had one back as Reece Kendal evaded a group of defenders to head in a bouncing ball that should have been cleared. The momentum seemed to change immediately and Matlock gained the upper hand and equalised 7 minutes later when a pin point left foot free kick was met by Spencer Harris to head home. 

Matlock continued to have chances but Coalville hit the woodwork and the pace continued with chances for both sides. With only 15 minutes to go another great cross from the left was again met with the head, this time Declan Walker, and the ball flew just under the bar to give the Gladiators the lead for the first time in the match. There was no relaxing and Berridge the scorer of Coalvilles first two goals turned provider when he was able to place the ball to the back post where it was met by Luke Shaw for the equaliser, Wow.  There were plenty more thrills but no further goals and although the crowd of 362 would have relished extra time being played this year all ties are decided by penalties if the scores are equal at 90 minutes.

The penalties were taken at the end with the most Coalville fans and social distancing went out of the window as they encouraged their hero’s. Shaun Rowley made two excellent saves and Matlock didn’t miss any of their spot kicks to run out 4-2 winners.

What a great competitive game that showcased some very good football although the defensive coaches of both sides will have some things to say when next the player meet. Unfortunately we have no idea when football at this level will be able to continue and Matlock await a date to play away at Coleshill in the next round.


The chips looked good for just £1.50 and crinkle chips too. However although hot they were greasy and I could still taste what they they were cooked in at half time. A disappointment and a low score of 58.

Cobras football entrances Vics.

Having misheard the Google maps directions I was up against the clock and I could see in the distance the lights of Clipstone FC but it was the eerie menacing dark enormous shadows of the mining headstocks in Clipstone that take your breath away. The giant mining towers built in 1953, the largest in Europe at the time, were closed in 2003 and now are grade two listed buildings. Locals have been campaigning to keep and develop the site, which is part of the local Welbeck Estate, for some years.

Entering the ground with just 10 minutes to kick off I went straight to the Cobra Cafe door where strict Covid procedures followed those at the entrance gate. I joined the queue as each portion of chips were fried. They were just ready for eating as the teams ran out. They were very hot, tasty, crispy but with a soft inside and did not taste of the oil that they had been cooked in, overall for £1.80 a treat and a score of 77 for my chip league.

After yet another wet October day, looks like the wettest October on record, the evening had become still and you could see stars in the sky on the drive to the match. But being clear it was getting colder and a feel of winter was in the air.

This is a very compact friendly ground with other sporting activities adjacent to the main road that runs through the village. The surface of the pitch is basically flat with a few undulations, as with all pitches this season the grass cover was immaculate.

Clipstone were known as Clipstone Welfare until 2013 a name they had chosen in 1955 having previously been Clipstone Combine. They have been a successful local Nottinghamshire side and reached the Nothern Counties East League only to have dropped back to the East Midlands Counties premier Division in recent times.

Borrowash Victoria can trace their history back to 1911 and their current football level is the highest they have achieved.

Clipstone FC 4 Borrowash Victoria AFC 0

The game was soon competitive with the home side having most of the attacking play although Monty Parkes in goal for Clipstone made a great diving save to tip the ball over the bar.

Just two minutes later Charlie Dawes received the ball on the left with plenty of time to attack the Borrowash goal and score high into the net. He was on hand again 8 minutes later when from the left touchline he cut in field to make it two nil placing his shot into the corner of the net to the goalkeepers right.

Although Monty Parkes made another great save similar to his first, Borrowash did not threaten further and it was the home side who went in two goals up at half time.

Borrowash Victoria came out early for the second half and after a team chat and a huddle looked set to take the game to their opponents. However this resolve soon gave way as a ball to Josh Pickering allowed him to rush past the defender and hit an inch perfect pass from the right for Jack Warwick to stab into the net.

Clipstone dominated play and a corner from the left with 10 minutes left was met by Lewis Warwick who headed an unopposed ball into the net for a comprehensive victory.

The 106 who attended went home having seen good value for their money

A new era for Football in Handsworth

I have seen Handsworth F.C. play at home before when they played at Sandy Lane in Worksop and I wrote before about their journey under the blog ‘Metamorphosis of a Football club ‘., August 2019

Now they have returned home to Oliver’s Mount where they have installed a new artificial pitch, new changing rooms and other facilities that are nearly finished. The newly revamped ground is top quality with a tarmac path around the perimeter. A new entrance will finish the works.

You reach the ground by turning off the Sheffield Parkway (the link road between Sheffield Centre and the M1) and taking the Darnnal turning off the roundabout. A right hand turn roughly half a mile down the road and a further right brings you to Oliver’s Mount a steep suburban road which you have to climb to the end to find the ground and the football complex. You have driven in a huge U from leaving the Parkway and now the traffic of the evening thunders past one side of the pitch. There are large car parks for use for the senior club and also the many children’s and youth teams that play here. This is one of the best football development set ups in Yorkshire.


Although the very catchy sign says Handsworth ‘Real Football Made in Sheffield’ this is right on the Rotherham Sheffield border. Rotherham centre is one side of the M1 and Sheffield the other but Rotherham’s boundary stretches half the way down the 8.9 km Sheffield Parkway and you will see the Handsworth ground behind the trees where the boundary signs are. It’s also noticeable that the road here is Rotherham Council and needs re-surfacing whereas the Sheffield end is tidy and reflects their welcome to their city.

It was great to go to my first evening match of the season which I always find more atmospheric and exciting. The rain of the day had stopped leaving a cloudy but still evening and the new surface glistened with water droplets. The new era of artificial pitches looks like being the new standard. The teams warmed up in the goal area not needing to move away from that area so that the pitch doesn’t cut up and there were numerous mobile goals and nets on the pitch perimeter so that training and youth games can be played on the surface all week 24/7 if needed.

Both teams were playing in yellow tops which was confusing but the officials obviously felt that they could cope. Handsworth were at home to Bottesford Town who are based on the southern edges of Scunthorpe with the game being a Northern Counties East Premier Division league fixture. Bottesford Town were started in 1974 and have steadily progressed through various leagues reaching the Northern Counties East Division One in 2006 and gained promotion to the Premier Division only 4 years ago.

Handsworth F C 5 Bottesford Town F C 1 

Handsworth were off to a flying start and within 2 minutes  Hobson was clear through and should have done better but for the outstretched boot of the goalkeeper which resulted in a corner. From the short corner it was swung in and headed back across goal for Parkin to easily tap in to give the home side the lead. The flood gates did not open for Handsworth and there were chances for both sides and it was Bottesford who went in at half time with the forward momentum, having been on top for the last ten minutes of the half.  

As with the first half within  two minutes there was a goal, this time for Bottesford when a low pass into the box was met by the diminutive number eleven, Hutson, who calmly guided it home, this was due reward for the away teams best player. 

Another two minutes and Handsworth re-took the lead when what appeared to be a speculative cross found Smith who was able to squeeze it into the net by the post  from a deflection. Bottesford did not give up and continued to make chances but Handsworth were out of sight 5 minutes later when Radford received the ball outside the penalty area, alluded three away defenders and hit a stunning shot high into the Bottesford goal net. At 3-1 it was all over and made worse by a questionable penalty decision when Mackie and a defender collided going for a high ball and a penalty was awarded which Howarth tucked away. 

Still Bottesford made chances and two were created by substitute Cross who could not make his efforts decisive. This seemed to sap the Poachers and they were pressed back and not surprisingly with 2 minutes left Handsworth made it 5 when Howarth found himself with acres of space and fairly cracked the ball into the net.

A great win and display from Handsworth but Bottesford lying second from bottom in the league table look to have enough skill the climb higher.

The chips from a well presented club house were fried, very hot, tasty and only £1.80, There actually seemed too many but that may have been because I had eaten some ‘tea’ a few hours earlier. A score of 75.

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