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 warch 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.

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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.

20201021_194315_resized

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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Dynamo’s football charged right to the end.

Loughborough Dynamo are located just outside the town just near junction 23 of the M1 which is being totally remodelled to prepare for the building of approximately 3500 new homes. They were at home to Bury Town F.C. in the second round qualifying of the F.A. Trophy on Saturday 17th October.

The ground is in a very pretty leafy suburb, within a whole sporting complex which from what I could see includes other football pitches, an outside basketball court,tennis courts and a bowls club. The skies remained grey and overcast with the drizzle of early morning long gone. The pitch looked beautiful with an immaculate playing surface and the Covid restrictions were well organised and I felt relaxed. A microlight flew over the ground to provide unscripted pre match entertainment.

Both sides were evenly matched, Bury play in the Isthmiam League North Division winning both of their League games and Loughborough in the Northern Premier League Division One South East only losing one of their 6 starts.

Loughborough Dynamo were formed in 1955 by pupils at the local grammar school who wanted to play football rather than rugby and took the Dynamo name from Moscow Dynamo who were playing a series of friendlies at that time. The club played in many local Leagues and broke through into the Northern Premier League in 2008 where they still play.

Bury Town, formaly Bury St Edmunds, by contrast, are one of the oldest teams in the country having been formed in 1870 with one of their players being in the first ever F.A. Cup final playing for the Wanderers and he also played for England against Scotland in the first International. They changed their name to the current one in 1885 and have had an up and down journey twice spending some time in the Southern League but relegation and finnancial difficulty saw them drop down the pyramid system. A climb back to the Southern League resulted in them being moved to the Isthmian League Premier Division in 2010 but five years later they were relegated to their current level.

Loughborough Dynamo 1 Bury Town 0

Loughborough took control of the match from the start and within 20 minutes the Bury goalkeeper Joe Rose had made three amazing saves but despite being in control the teams were still level at half time.

The same pattern ensued in the second half but continual forays down the right started to become predictable and the Bury defence were able to counter these without gaining any real attacking momentum. Considering the score remained 0-0 the game was absorbing and the time seemed to fly by with Curtis Burrows effort for Loughborough hitting the post with 5 minutes left.

After another right wing play on 89 minutes Dynamo gained a throw in near the Bury corner flag. For the first time Danny Gordon tried a long throw into the Bury penalty area and after some different efforts to score and defend, like a pinball machine richocheting around, and another Joe Rose save, Alex Steadman hit home the winner. Despair for Bury, jubilation for Loughborough and on the pattern of play a deserved win.

The chips were very hot, tasty, a good colour and cooked in a fryer. They were served in a comfortable club house with a view of another game on an adjoining pitch. A score of 80 was very good.

Local Welfare Derby

I looked at the F.A. Vase Cup draw and was drawn towards two Miners Welfare teams playing each other. Hemsworth Miners Welfare F.C. v. Nostell Miners Welfare F.C. but Hemsworths pitch had been dug up to lay a new artificial one which meant Nostell were playing at home away. The home advantage may help to even up the fact that Nostell play in the First Division of the Toolstation Northern Counties East whereas Hemsworth are in the division above, the Premier Division. There was also the added ingredient that these two teams play only 4.3 miles apart, a true local derby.

To get to the Nostell ground you have to drive through some housing off the main road at New Crofton.  There was plenty of parking in the leafy surroundings of the Crofton Community Centre which appeared to have more than one ground a bowling green and a very good club house. Teams of all ages play here and everywhere was tidy and spotless. Covid restrictions still in play and a one way system led me into the ground and I decided to give the club house a miss but found a quieter food and drinks counter. 

The pitch must be one of the most secluded in the country one side bounded by a bank with a small seating area and  other three sides by mature trees which were swaying in the strong breeze. At one end of the flat pitch leaves were falling changing the green long grass into a mottled green and yellow patchwork. 

Most of the small 108 crowd were huddled under the covered seating area as the rain turned to bright sunshine and back to rain throughout the game. 

Hemsworth Miners Welfare F.C. was formed in 1981 after Hemsworth Coliery F.C. had folded but they soon gained promotions within the local leagues to be elected to the Northern Counties East League in 2008 and four years ago were elevated to the Premier league after being Champions of League 1.

Hemsworth have become a truly community club and their current laying of an artificial pitch will give greater access to everyone to play and in all weather’s. It should also generate an extra income stream.

Please if you have time watch this video made about Hemsworth by Barnsley F.C. It epitomises what a Non League club does within it’s community. One quote from the video says “Non League is honest “.         https://twitter.com/i/status/1182611803798245376

Nostel Miners football can be traced back to the 1890’s and the Miners Welfare formed in 1928 when the current land that is used today was bought. The club have played for most of their history in local leagues and in 2006 were promoted to their current League. Since the demise of the local pit the club has become  a community club.

Hemsworth M.W. 3 Nostel M.W. 0

Hemsworth took control of the game from the start and hit the bar and missed simple chances before they took the lead on 23 minutes when the ball was whipped in from the right after a corner on the left and Josh Wright nodded the ball unopposed for them to take the lead. 

Five minutes later the game was held up for some time as a Hemsworth player, Josh Wright, went down after a clash with what looked like a knee injury. After shouts of pain and treatment a stretcher was called and he was carried off the pitch. 

Hemsworth’s midfield continued to dominate the play and they finished comfortably ahead at half time.

Within 2 minutes of the restart Nostells no20 was sent off for a very strong tackle which left them with a mountain to climb and 5 minutes later Hemsworth doubled their lead when no.7

Valladolid Collins was able to tap the ball home following a good pass from the left.

The game was put beyond Nostells reach on 66 minutes when Hughes with his first touch, having just been brought on ,cut inside, steadied himself, and from 5 metres out curled the ball along the ground inside the post for an unassailable 3 goal lead.

That’s how it stayed at the end of 90 minutes so the away home team were unable to create a giantkilling upset and Hemsworth gained local bragging rites.

The snack bar was very reasonably priced and the chips were cooked separately and were mega hot, crispy, golden, good quantity and above all tasty. Only slightly below last week’s Ilkeston standard with a score of 83. Either the chips are getting better or I need to get out more.

Rain fails to wash out F.A. Cup.

With storm Alex sweeping across the country it was a case of sailing on the motorway until junction 26 and the heavy traffic on the A610 towards Ilkeston turned out to be for IKEA rather than turning left at the roundabout to Ilkeston like me.

The ground is reached over a one way traffic light controlled bridge over the Erewash 0canal leading to a large car park.

The river Erewash runs down the other side of the ground but the playing surface looked to have coped with the downpour. The pitch was flat and like other pitches I have seen this year has great grass cover.

Ilkeston FC’s badge shows the past coal mining tradition in the town but iron and steel production along with textiles were all important in it’s growth but all have almost now disappeared. For the second week in a row the home team are called the Robins.

The ground is very tidy and has good cover with a stand in one corner of the ground. There are two snack bars and a big bar/function building all of which were very busy.

The game was an F.A. Cup Second Qualifying Round between Ilkeston Town F.C. v Hanley Town F.C. Ilkeston play in the Northern Premier League Division One South East, one level above Hanley who play in the North West Countries League Premier Division.

Ilkeston Town F.C. have only been in existance 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 last season’s results were expunged and their support and ground could see them progress further over the next few years.

Hanley Town, one of the town’s that make up the Potteries has had a team since 1882 but this club hails from Sunday League football in the 1960’s and played most of their football in the Cheshire Leagues and after being denied entry into the North West Counties League in 1988 dropped back to regain momentum in the the last 10 years and reach Division One and the Premier Division of their current league.

Ilkeston Town 4 Hanley Town 1

Ilkeston started the game with intent and looked strong for the first 10 minutes with penetrating runs down the right wing. However as Hanley came more into the game they took a shock lead when number 9 for Hanley nodded the ball down to Nial Cope who buried it in the net under the goalkeeper after 20 minutes.. Hanley were now more adventurous but we’re undone 14 minutes later by Zak Goodson who received a ball on the right side of goal, beat an advancing defender and placed the ball home inside the post. Only 3 minutes later Zak Goodson again cut back a ball for Nat Watson to shoot the home team into the lead. Hanley upped their game but Ilkeston went in ahead at the break.

Hanley continued to push forward in the second half and had a shot cleared off the line but this left them exposed at the back and Ikeston came close as well. On 70 minutes Hanley bought on the ex Premiership player Richardo Fuller and within two minutes he had made an impact being brought down in the penalty area after some clever footwork. He stepped up to take the penalty and after a shimmy he struck the ball towards the right corner but Ross Currant in the Ilkeston goal made an amazing dive to his left to save the spot kick.

This seemed to sap Hanleys energy and resolve and Ilkeston pushed more and more on goal and were rewarded on 83 minutes when it was Zak Goodson again who controlled a pass and curled his drive into the centre of the Hanley goal to increase their lead. Then with minutes to go Nial Cope of Hanley was sent off for upending an opponent in the penalty area and Alex Troke put it away to make it 4 – 1 for Ilkeston who were into the next round. Hanley looked good despite the score line but their resolve waned after the penalty miss and heavy legs caught up with them.

On such a miserably wet day I was thankful for the £2 portion of chips which were amazing. They were hot, golden, tasty and I had to resist a second portion. A great score of 85 that will take some beating this season.

Swallows swiftly fly past Robins.

A trip to Selby to see Selby Town play Swallownest in a Northern Counties East League Division One fixture had the background of rapidly increasing Coronavirus infections but the game was on with Social Distancing and Track and Trace regulations.

Selby is an historic market town with a beautiful cathedral but as you drive in from the East you pass the gigantic Drax Power Station that dominates the sky line. The cooling towers will however be demolished in the future with the move towards more environmental energy generation.

Selby Town have been in existence since 1919 although a team of the same name and nickname had been dissolved nearly 10 years before. They were once in the Northern Counties East LeaguePremier Division but have spent most of their time at their current level.

Swallownest started life as Aston F.C. only 14 years ago changing their name to Swallownest Miners Welfare F.C. and in 2016 to Swallownest F.C. They have progressively moved up to their current level. Swallownest is on the outskirts of Sheffield in the middle of an ex mining area.

This is a compact ground tucked away down a street of pretty terraced houses and entry through the gate reveals a pretty flat surface with amazing thick grass cover. The only disappointment is the weather with its grey skies and blustery cold North wind. But a coffee and Kit Kat, no chips, from the newly built wooden refreshments hut and a seat out of the wind behind the goal soon makes the world OK. There are no prawn sandwiches on offer here, pork pies, sausage rolls, scratchings, Bovril and more. The 177 stalwarts in the ground used this and the bar to good advantage all afternoon helping the coffers of this community club. It was good to see the good mix of ages in the ground with perhaps 25% below 20 years old.

The Robins are in their all red and the Swallows in all blue with white shoulder flashes.

Selby Town F.C. 2 Swallownest F.C 3

It only took Swallowness 8 minutes playing against the wind to take the lead when Nathan Morritt was put through to slide the ball between the legs of the exposed goalkeeper. Swallownest kept control of the game and were worth their second goal when Matt Morton headed home a good cross from Alex Nightingale after a short corner. With the half coming to the end Charlie Clamp of Selby was put through for him to easily score to the right of the goalkeeper to make it 1-2 at half time.

Within a few minutes of the restart a revitalised Selby released Flanagan on the right edge of the penalty area and he curled the ball into the top right of the goal. After a period of Selby pressure a high ball into their penalty box was taken down well by Thomas Cropper who smashed it into the net for Swallownest to take the lead again.

Swallownest took strong advantage of the wind behind their backs and their dominance led to a penalty for them which was blasted over after 84 minutes. Despite some pressure from Selby they didn’t create any further chances and the away team were worthy winners.

It was the Selby keeper who impressed me with his distribution and none of the goals could be put down to him. I would expect to see him playing at a higher level in the not too distant future.

Football at grass roots keeps going.

The chance of another live game could not be missed as the pandemic swirls around us with no short tem respite.

I made the trip to see Northampton Sileby Rangers F.C. play Bedfont and Feltham F.C. in the F.A. Vase first qualifying round. Sileby play at Fernie Fields in Northern Northampton perhaps the best kept ground I have ever visited at this level of Football. The pitch was lush, thick , flat grass that looked vivid green against the clear blue sky. The hedges on two sides of the ground are immaculately clipped and a spirit level must have been used to get them so perfect. The club house and catering facilities were spotless and even the fact that they didn’t do chips couldn’t spoilt it. The gateman and the catering staff couldn’t have been friendlier or more helpful. Only a breeze kept the temperature down as we drifed towards autumn.

I was also at Fernie Fields to go with my son and grandson to his first paying football match at 4 years old. I’m sure he most probably will remember most beating his Grandad 8-6 at half time on a small patch of grass at one end of the ground.

His Dad went to his first game at three, a Luton home defeat on Boxing Day to Watford. He only lasted the first half and we left his Grandad to watch the second half while we walked back to the car in a multi storey car park. We drove to the top floor and while we listened to the end of the game on the radio he steered the car round and round sat on my knee. I think he enjoyed that more than the game. My own experience at my first match with my father when five was documented in an earlier blog when my attempt at pyrotechnics didn’t end well.

Sileby play in the United Counties League Division One and were formed as a works team in 1968 playing in a local Sunday League. They switched to Saturday football in the late 1980’s when they changed names to Vanaid due to a sponsorship deal. The name Northampton Sileby Rangers was adopted in 2000 having joined the United Counties League in 1993. They have reached as high as the Premier League but now play in the lower division.

Bedfont and Feltham F.C. have only been in existence for 8 years since the merger of Bedfont and Feltham and have spent their time in the Combined Counties League having taken over Feltham’s place. They too have been in their Premier Division only to drop back to League Division One.

Northampton Sileby Rangers F.C.4 Bedfont and Feltham F.C. 3

Both teams looked evenly matched considering their level in the Non League pyramid system but it was Sileby who took the lead on 10 minutes when Watkinson did well to get to the line and cross back for Mann to score. Bedfont came back into the game and deserved their equaliser when Collins found space to score. 

End to end play meant Sileby scored again on 34 minutes this time from a well directed header by Mann from a corner and this was how it stayed until half time.

The second half came to life when Nathan Smith hit a shot from near 30 yards that bounced and went under the bewildered goalkeeper. With the game level Sileby were awarded a penalty for an unforced handball which the goalkeeper made a great save to his right. More excitement led to a harshly deflected shot that beat the unfortunate Bedfont keeper to put Sileby 3-2 ahead. The mayhem continued when Pearce took a long throw into the goal area which the stretching goalkeeper palmed into his own net. Now at 3-3 it was anyones game but with 7 minutes remaining Vaughan crossed for Koriya to calmly hit the back of the net. 

Sileby played out the remaining minutes with Alex Marius who had been introduced in the second half stamping some confidence in the team.

The only disappointment was the meagre crowd, I understand many people’s reluctance to go out at the moment but the social distancing was well run. Come on Northampton, support this progressive local club.