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Baris Northern Counties East(er) League – Easter Groundhop – April 2012

This Easter’s groundhop brings back memories of Easter 1969 when, good Catholic son that I was, I had the temerity in the teeth of my mother’s strong and heated opposition, to go and watch my  local team, Chorley, playing a Northern Premier League match at home to great rivals Morecambe. It was as much to do with the match starting at 3.00pm, the hour of Christ’s demise as it was to do with going to see a football match on Good Friday! I came home with my tail between my legs after Chorley were soundly thrashed 5-0. My mother without a second’s hesitation called it God’s deserved judgement being meted out to me for my heinous behaviour! What about those Morecambe fans who like me were good Catholics, I wondered, how come their team gets to win 5-0 on Good Friday afternoon at 3.00pm? Before the hop there were a couple of games during the week. On Tuesday evening, I wandered over to Market Deeping after going to watch a quite abysmal film (“Woman in Black”) at Stamford cinema. Deeping Rangers are comparatively new to The UCL and there has been considerable work undertaken to improve facilities at the whole sports complex (I occasionally umpire there during the summer in The Rutland & District Cricket League). This particular evening, the rain lashed down with a determined consistency and despite the inclement weather, there was, by UCL standards, a useful crowd. Maybe opponents Yaxley were close enough to bring support of their own. They were never in the contest, though and their fight for Premier Division survival goes on after this 2-0 defeat. The following evening, two of my sons and I had arranged to go and see the East Midlands Counties League Cup Semi-Final at Bardon Hill between Borrowash Victoria and Barrow Town. By midday, the match had been called off due to the pitch being covered in snow! We made frantic alterations to our plans and my youngest son, Liam agreed to drive us all in his new Suzuki Swift up to Collingham in Nottinghamshire for the Nottinghamshire FA Senior Cup Semi-Final between Newark Town and Clifton. There was neither snow nor rain in this part of Nottinghamshire but seven goals were scored in a thriller that went to extra time! When the dust settled, Clifton were through to the final with a 4-3 victory, the winner arriving in the 119th minute. A much fuller account than I have space for here is available on the Newark Town website or at:-

After all the beautiful weather of the previous couple of weeks, Thursday turned out to be dull and cool. Naturally, on the day before the Easter holiday commenced, the roads were pretty busy, but I made the hundred and twenty-two miles up to Yorkshire along A14 and M1 in under two hours and booked into the four star hotel that Chris had arranged for the hop – The Cedar Court Hotel, just off the M1 motorway at junction 39. The coach took us off to the Bracken Edge home of YorkshireAmateur for the first match of the hop. Yorkshire Amateur were once the tenants at Elland Road, but sold the lease in 1920  for £250 to the newly formed Leeds United who had replaced the defunct Leeds City after the First World War.

Bracken Edge, home of Yorkshire Amateur FC

Their glory days are far behind them. In 1932, they defeated Wimbledon in the quarter final of The FA Amateur Cup in front of 3,569 spectators and the total gate receipts were £160. This evening they had provided real ale and a variety of tasty food, but these days they toil in the lowest reaches of Division 1, their football wasn’t good enough and they capitulated tamely 3-1 to mid table rivals Hemsworth MW. Back at the hotel, the red wine flowed freely, but my kindle gave up the ghost and I hadn’t brought a charger with me which meant that I was reduced to pursuing the sudoku in The Independent “I”. Breakfast the following morning, whilst not having the female attractions of The Mid-Wales Hop Up, was, nonetheless,

The Hoppers' Rest, The Cedar Court Hotel just off junction 39 on The M1

a lavish production with fruit, cereal, fruit juice, and yoghurt all available before piling one’s plate high with the usual full English and rounding it all off with toast and rhubarb and ginger jam all washed down with fine Yorkshire tea! Eccleshill United (The Eagles) have a neat and tidy stadium with a well tended pitch (although one local wag did suggest that he had never seen it looking so good and that maybe the groundsmen had been working all night to get it ready for the visit of the hoppers!). They sit comfortably off in the upper reaches of mid-table in Division 1 having somehow gained two points more than their playing record justifies! Their opponents, Dinnington Town, equally comfortable, but nine points worse off hailed from east of Rotherham, and in a rumbustious tussle, they were the unlikely winners by 3-2. All the while, England’s finest bowlers were having an unsuccessful time of trying to  winkle out the Sri Lankan batsmen in Colombo until Graeme Swann captured two wickets right at the death to leave hopes of test success still alive and kicking!

The Rapid Solicitors Football Ground.......... what will they come cup with next?


Eccleshill United 2 Dinnington Town 3

Eccleshill United

Thackley was my favourite ground. It is not really that far from Eccleshill but it might as well be on a different planet!

Dennyfield, home of Thackley FC

The rustic surroundings are emphasised by the grazing horses and the broken fences in the rolling fields directly opposite the main stand.

Thackley 1 Long Eaton United 1

There is a real feel of  the countryside about the place and yet two miles away, Eccleshill  is set amongst the dark satanic autocraft centres! They really should have won their encounter with lowly Long Eaton United. Indeed on the way to the ground on the coach, Chris, who hails from Long Eaton all but guaranteed that his home town team would lose!

It was a late equaliser that gave Thackley a share of the points against Long Eaton United

Hence, Thackley were lucky to scramble a late equaliser after their opponents had comfortably held them at arms length for eighty-two minutes!













Liversedge nestles in a little kink in the M62 to the south of Bradford and access – especially for coaches – is well nigh impossible. They’d got themselves well organised with pies and peas and were doing a roaring trade all the way through the match.

Liversedge FC

Even right at the end the call of “hot dogs only 50p each and I’ve only got four left” berated the ears of the departing hoppers! This was a match between two teams with not a lot left to play for this season.

Laurence and Chris counting heads at Liversedge!

The away team were Arnold Town, who used to own a stately Victorian edifice of a stadium shared with a cricket team in the centre of town, and who now reside in a tin hut of a ground miles from anywhere, but they were too good for Liversedge and took the game with a single goal at the end of the first half.















There had been good old Yorkshire “mizzle” for most of the day, but by the time our final destination was reached, a more determined precipitation had entered the ‘fray and umbrellas were much in evidence and hoppers huddled in the stands.

A dark wet night at Brighouse Town!

It was probably the best game of the hop as well as being the most fractious. Brighouse Town (where is Rastrick?) were playing hosts to Barton Town Old Boys and the away side had the misfortune to lose a player to a red card indiscretion in the first half and the home side made them pay immediately with two goals, the first from a penalty as a result of the red card, the second a scant two minutes later!

Brighouse Town 5 Barton Town OB 1

In the second half, Danny Nadiole snatched a ten minute hat trick as Brighouse ran riot, before plucky Barton pulled one back twenty minutes from time.


Back in the hotel I  treated myself to a bottle of house red and consequently slept the sleep of the just!


The following morning, there was an earlier start so a queue formed to wait for breakfast to open at 7.30am. I quite liked the little round squares of fried potato with fried leek mixed in – very tasty – but I was considerably more circumspect in my breakfast selection, not least because I didn’t want to miss the coach!



Maltby Miners Welfare ground, Muglet Lane, Maltby


The first match was in Maltby and we arrived in good time and I noticed some hoppers beetling off in the direction of the town centre! Intrigued, I followed them and found them congregating inside the Queens Head Hotel, an imposing edifice erected in 1923 to cater for the Doncaster racing fraternity. Nowadays it is a Wetherspoons concession with two distinct advantages. Firstly it served a full English breakfast at £2.99 (for those poor hoppers not staying at our hotel!) and secondly they had an array of real ales such as “Black Adder” and “Old Growler” and “Pale Rider” from The Keelham Island Breweries and “Abbot” and finally, the one that I always think sounds a little smutty, “Snecklifter”.

The Queens Hotel, Maltby, home of cheap breakfasts and "real" ale!

Graham, who hails from Brighton and who makes pilgrimages to hostelries which purvey real ale, was one of the early imbibers. As for the match, it was played on a bumpy, undulating pitch which could have done with a good mow and the quality of the football was, quite frankly, pretty ordinary, but that too could have been down to a poor pitch. However, the ground itself, whilst a little seedy had a real 1950s feel about it, especially when you could see the full stands and imagine them filled with cloth capped miners! Maltby Main, struggling second from bottom of the Premier Division beat Parkgate, their more successful opponents by 3-1 in what was something of an upset and provided the hoppers with the first home win of the tour.

Maltby Main 3 Parkgate 1

The second match of the day took us to Staveley where a very ambitious club had just the previous week been knocked out of The FA Vase at the semi-final  stage by Dunston UTS.

Staveley MW FC

There aren’t many grounds where they have carpet OUTSIDE the bar and lounge and the owner and chairman, Terry Damms is reputed to have responded to a ground grading inspection with £35,000 worth of concrete terracing being installed within two weeks of the inspection visit! Besides being chairman and owner of the club, he also sponsors the entire league through his company, Baris, which provides services to the building industry for partitions, facades and cladding.

Staveley MW Entrance turnstiles

There is no doubt that he loves this club but it was also very obvious that he is himself both respected and well liked by the people who work with and for him on behalf of the club. Just the previous day, over 300 children between 7 and 15 had used the stadium for a football tournament (the marking lines clearly visible on the pitch) and clearly, the club believes in development from grass roots. It was not their day, however. Pickering Town, their opponents, had already succumbed 0-2 at home in the league and 0-4 at home in The FA Cup, but today was to be their revenge as they caught Staveley jaded after their Vase exploits and won a tad more convincingly than the 1-0 scoreline suggests.

Staveley MW 0 Pickering Town 1

Staveley MW 0 Pickering Town 1











Hallam, in Sheffield, boasts a university and the oldest football ground continuously played upon.

The Oldest Football Ground in The World

Today, Sandygate Road was opening a new clubhouse and bar and the hoppers made good use of both. It was a well kept stadium with a fine stand along one side and a pronounced slope from goal to goal. Each hopper was handed a brochure celebrating 150 years of “The Countrymen” 1860-2010 and Chris received a stack of the same brochures which he was desperately trying to offload after the game! Teversal were their opponents and the less said about the match, the better. It was pretty turgid stuff and Graham from Brighton spent the second half pursuing his other love – real ale – over the road in the local inn. Sure enough he returned just as Craig Getliff scored the only goal of the match for Hallam in the 88th minute.

Hallam v Teversal, Saturday 7th April 2012


Hallam FC


The final match of the hop was down in the Barnsley floodplains of Worsbrough Bridge. We never did find out which river – Dearne, Don or Dove – was responsible for the floods that covered the ground with water some years ago, just as we were perplexed at the connection between former Wolves and Republic of Ireland manager, Mick McCarthy and Worsbrough Bridge Athletic.

Worsbrough Bridge Miners welfare & Athletic FC

There was a pretty pronounced slope on this ground too, with covered stands on both sides of the ground, the side furthest away from the river was seated. There was the usual sale of club badges, programmes and books and I spoilt myself with the purchase of  “Married to a Man of Two Halves” by Agnes Docherty, or more correctly, culled from her diaries after her death by her son, Tom. It was a game of two halves as well! Nothing of note happened in the first half and Worsbrough and their opponents, Rossington Main, went into the interval all square at 0-0. There wasn’t much to choose between them in the league either with eighth placed Worsbrough Bridge only two points and a game in hand behind their seventh placed opponents.

Worsbrough Bridge 4 Rossington Main 0


The game exploded into life in the second half with four goals in a twenty minute spell and all the goals going to the home side! Then, it was all over and another hop had flashed past in the twinkling of an eye. The coach took us back to the hotel, I jumped into my car and ninety minutes and 112 miles later, I was back in the house and I wished the dream could have continued!


On a personal note, the match between Thackley and Long Eaton United, was the 2,500th match I’d been to since my first match on 6th January 1962 when Manchester United defeated Bolton Wanderers 2-1 in an FA Cup 3rd Round tie. There had been a fairly long barren spell in the late seventies and early eighties when my four children had been growing up, but the last game of the hop was my 176th match of this season and the 76th match of this calendar year. Chris once again had arranged, organised and choreographed a splendid, well balanced programme of matches, ably supported by Laurence and the accommodation and travel arrangements couldn’t have been bettered ……………… well, perhaps I did have a jacuzzi in my room on the Welsh Hop Up! The great delight about these well organised hops is the anticipation of the event months in advance. How much they are looked forward to! The great drawback is the speed at which they take place. Game follows game with breathtaking pace and before you can blink, it is all over!

Here’s to the next one!                    ……………………………….Oh, and England won the test match!


Tuesday 3rd April 2012 7.45pm

Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division

Deeping Rangers               2                        Yaxley                       0

Matt Heron, 7, 50

referee::- K. Yezek                                           attendance:- 105


Wednesday 4th April 2012 7.45pm

Nottinghamshire FA Senior Cup – Semi-final

Newark Town                     3                      Clifton                           4              after extra time. Score at 90 mins 2-2

Sam Wilford 72,                                           Michael Evans 11, 45, 102

Joe Parlatt (o.g.) 90+5                                Ryan Bannister 119

Ben Ginelly 107

referee:- Hristo Karaivanov                       attendance:- 116


Baris Northern Counties East League

Division 1 – Thursday 5th April 2012 – 7.45pm

Yorkshire Amateur        1             Hemsworth MW       3

Craig Heard 44                                    Robbie Crapper 12, Ryan Williams 22, 50

referee:- Jane Simms                         attendance:- 179


Division 1 Friday 6th April 2012 -10.45am

Eccleshill United                 2                  Dinnington Town             3

Marcus Edwards (Pen) 27                         Michael Trench 11, 72 Matthew Smith (o.g.) 88                          

Simon Mirfin 50

referee:- David Sullivan                              attendance:- 253


Premier Division Friday 6th April 2012 – 1.45pm

Thackley                   1                            Long Eaton United           1

John Mallinson 82                                 Danny Chambers 26

referee:- Stuart Royston                          attendance:- 327


Premier Division Friday 6th April 2012 – 4.45pm

Liversedge                         0                    Arnold Town                      1

                                                                       James Leggitt 44

referee:- Michael Connell                     attendance:- 318


Premier Division Friday 6th April 2012 – 7.45pm

Brighouse Town                   5                     Barton Town OB                  1

Tom Matthews (pen) 25, 27                        Richard Medcalf  68

Danny Nadiole 49, 54, 59

referee:- Thomas Nield (Norfolk)              attendance:- 288


Premier Division Saturday 7th April 2012 – 10.30am

Maltby Main                     3                               Parkgate                          1

Thomas Foylten-Brown 9                                   Jonathan Wragg (o.g.) 40

Bob Branagan 60 Craig Gladwin 81

referee:- Phillip Booker                                        attendance:- 253


Premier Division Saturday 7th April 2012 – 1.30pm

Staveley MW                       0                             Pickering Town                  1

                                                                                    Russell Parker 73

referee:- M. Hutchinson                                      attendance:- 270


Division 1 Saturday 7th April 2012 – 4.45pm 

Hallam                                     1                               Teversal                                0

Craig Getliff 88

referee:- Nigel Haycock                                           attendance:- 212


Division 1 Saturday 7th April 2012 – 7.45pm

Worsbrough Bridge Athletic                    4                 Rossington Main           0

Spencer Goff 51, Tom Copping 66

Scott Ruthven 72, James Young 76

referee:- Mr. P. Sporne                                                     attendance:- 273

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