You are here: Home > Non-League > The Vicar of Wakefield

The Vicar of Wakefield

They ran and shouted, ran and shot
(At passing they were not so hot)
Pulled a sock up, rolled a sleeve
And scored more goals than you’d believe.


Slid and tackled, leapt and fell
Dodged and dribbled, dived as well
Headed, shouldered, elbowed, kneed
And half-time in the bushes peed.


Yet there was talent, don’t forget
Grace and courage too, you bet
Boys like Briggs or Tommy Gray
Who were, quite simply, born to play

from “The Match (c1950)” by Allan Ahlberg (1938 – )




Thursday 2nd April 2015  k.o.:- 7.45pm

Northern Counties East League Premier Division


Nostell Miners Welfare                         2

Rob Bordman 30, 90,

Retford United                                       0

Matthew Thornton s/o 90

Referee:-  Alan Hull      Attendance:- 265


The ‘Hop’ Circus trundled on and this time, The Hopping Army descended on Wakefield (was the vicar in residence?), to The Cedar Hotel, to be precise, just off junction 39 of The M1. This was the third time in the last four years that we had been able to use this popular venue and increasing numbers of football enthusiasts filled the foyer as the afternoon lengthened into early evening.

The first match was a visit to The Crofton Community Centre, from which Titus Salt emerged at the beginning of the nineteenth century to build the mill and the town – Saltaire, in West Yorkshire – that bears his name.



In the bar, before the match, Simon and Dave make inroads into the club victuals 


In some ways, The Welfare Ground at Middle Lane in New Crofton, resembles the ground of Brimscombe & Thrupp, in The Uhlsports Hellenic League (or should that be the other way round?). Both have a high level seated area overlooking a fairly steep descent to the playing area.


Neither of these two teams was enjoying playing success this season. Indeed, both were firmly ensconced in the bottom four of the Premier Division league table. The visitors were in most danger, only one place off the bottom and some nine points from safety.

The match itself was largely forgettable with Nostell securing a regulation victory with a goal in each half and Retford having a man dismissed at the death, which won’t help their fight against relegation.


Friday 3rd April 2015  k.o.:- 11.30am

Northern Counties East League  Premier Division

Barton Town OB                                    0

Cleethorpes Town                                 3

Brody Robertson 35, 90+3,

Louis Grant 85,

Referee:- Robert Atkin (South Humberside)   Attendance:- 517



After a good night’s sleep and a fine morning repast in the newly appointed hotel dining room,we travelled into Barton-on-Humber via the Humber Bridge which was bathed in mist. As we approached the ground, we noticed the street sign (see below), little knowing at the time, the reason for it being there.


Frederick Hopper was a manufacturer of bicycles and at the beginning of the last century, his plant in Barton-on-Humber employed over 400 people and his bicycles were sold across the empire. All that is now left is the street name and the company name chiseled into a row of cottages on the site of the former factory. How could he have realised his close affiliation with the modern day football aficionado and how his name could be associated with theirs?


The coach had been making complaining noises all during the journey from the vicarage in Wakefield and when at last it reached the very entrance gates of the Marsh Lane home of Barton Town OB, it simply refused to move despite the coaxing and cajoling of Godfrey, our driver. Apparently, it was a clutch failure. The coach not only could not move, any cars in the car park would be unable to leave with the coach blocking the entrance! More importantly, would there be transport for the hoppers party to the next match at Winterton Rangers?


Barton’s ground was functional, a seated stand down one side and cover behind the goal, but it was never going to win a beauty contest! the welcome was warm and the options for both food and drink were extensive. I particularly enjoyed the local brew and managed to put away a couple of bottles!


This was a real heavyweight contest in The Premier Division. The visitors, Cleethorpes Town, lay in second place in the division, whilst the hosts were in fifth place, some six points adrift and anxious to make up the ground between themselves and their opponents!.


There was, however, a chasm between second and fifth. After early Barton pressure, the visitors took a half-time lead and rarely looked in any danger. Two late goals sealed the victory and gave the scoreline a more convincing look.


 The view from behind the goal with the covered terracing, shows the Humber Bridge rising out of the mist

After the match, the coach was still stuck in the jaws of the entrance to the ground. However, a new vehicle had appeared and it was this ‘bus that the hoppers boarded for their trip to match three!

In the meantime, a car had somehow managed to squeeze past the coach at the jaws to the ground, but we never did hear how long the coach stood there for, nor if the rest of the cars were able to escape!



Dave and Simon in the seated stand, keeping a close eye on the contest!

Friday 3rd April 2015 k.o.:- 2.30pm

Northern Counties East League Division 1

Winterton Rangers                                1

Jack Start 41,

Yorkshire Amateur                               1

Joel Hughes 14,

Referee:- Paul Tomes         Attendance:-  303


Winterton Rangers was another of those Meccano stadiums where the ground is levelled, a fence is put round and a couple of purpose built stands are wheeled in to get the stadium up to standard. Having said that, it had stood up well since my last visit for an FA Cup 1Q match in 2008.


Added to that was another warm welcome and another splendid choice of menu, although, boringly, I opted for a couple of cheese rolls and a real ale.


After the previous match, which had been a top of the table, Premier Division clash, this mid-table Division 1  contest barely burst out of second gear! Both goals were scored in the first half and, thereafter there seemed little chance of either goalkeeper being seriously stretched.


Mind you, the away team goalkeeper, Suwara Bojang was somewhat eccentric in his interpretation of the custodial arts. His agility kept his side in the contest, but several of his saves  and his positioning, whilst effective, were off the cuff interpretations of the goalkeeping mantra!


Suwara Bojeng, Yorkshire Amateur goalkeeper

A draw was probably a fair result. Two evenly matched sides and the match petered out into a tame tie.


Friday 3rd April 2015  k.o.:- 6.30pm

Northern Counties East League Division 1

Grimsby Borough                                 3

Peter Fuller 21, 70,

Matthew Hall 80,

Hall Road Rangers                              1

Danny Walker 5,

Referee:- David Jones           Attendance:-  284

Onwards to Grimsby Borough who share a stadium with Cleethorpes Town in The small village of Bradley. However, whilst Cleethorpes are second in The Premier Division, their co-tenants are rock bottom of Division 1. They have only seven points (a massive nineteen points from safety) and have not won a home game all season.


Once again, the stadium has little to commend it aesthetically. There is a full sized 3G pitch adjacent to the main stadium, but inside the arena, there are the usual Meccano stands – one along the far side and one behind the goal. A light drizzle is falling and perhaps the cover is appreciated.


Borough’s opponents today are Hall Road Rangers who are drifting in mid table mediocrity and probably looking forward to a change of venue next season. You might think that they had nothing to play for, but they came with a steely determination and, after opening the scoring on five minutes, they seemed destined to add to Borough’s woes.


Not a bit of it. The hosts replied with a goal of their own, some fifteen minutes later and held their own up to the half-time whistle.


In the second half, the diminutive, but highly effective Pete Fuller doubled his strike rate and co-striker Matthew Hall struck a third to earn a well deserved first home win of the campaign for the hosts.


It was wholly unexpected. Most of the large crowd had come, expecting to see another depressing defeat for the home team. However, they played with verve and panache and did not look like a team in distress.


In his match notes, the manager stated (and I quote): “We need to ……. be careful not to start losing touch with those above us …………… we desperately need to be in the mix as the season starts to come into its final few weeks.” Before today’s match, there were fourteen points between them and the second bottom team. Either the manager knows something we don’t know, or he is supremely confident that his team can win All of its seven remaining games to give themselves a slim chance of scraping away from the bottom of the barrel!


 John Higgins in good humour in the clubhouse at half-time!


After the match, it was a lengthy journey of some one and a half hours back to the vicarage in Wakefield!


Ian sitting in the stand during the second half of the match 


 Mike, Lord of Edgbaston, with a fairly enquiring expression at The Bradley Football Development Centre.


On the bus on the way back to Wakefield, Kojak impersonator and Our Dear Leader, Kim Il Berezai wings the match result around the football community!

Saturday 4th April 2015  k.o.:- 10.30am

Northern Counties East League  Division 1

AFC Emley                                        0

Ruben Jerome s/o 56

Hemsworth Miners Welfare            3

Nash Connolly 44,

Dominique Blair 51,

Nicholas Guest 60,

Referee:- Ben Tomlinson     Attendance:- 463


We left in good time for Emley, enough time, in fact, for a visit to The Arqiva Tower just outside the village. At first there was concern that the mist might spoil our view, but the weather relented and the view of the tower was unrestricted. At 330 metres, it is the tallest free standing structure in The UK and at 272 metres, there is a viewing platform that can be accessed by the public. Believe it or not, it is a grade two listed building!


 The Arqiva Tower


 The narrow entrance to The Welfare ground at Emley, certainly much too narrow for the coach to negotiate!


There was a warm welcome at the ground and a large clientele. I lashed out some of my hard earned pensioner’s shekels on a selection of football books and then enjoyed a pint of Black Sheep in the bar.


Harold Galley in pensive mood!

I met up with Harold Galley who lives around five miles away. Now retired but still working for The English Schools Cricket Association, he recalled many matches where he had officiated as a referee at Emley and, in addition, the times when he had played cricket on the adjacent cricket pitch, separated by only a wooden fence during the football season.


This was a clash of The Division 1 titans and it did not go as expected! In second place, the home team were attempting to reinforce their hold on an automatic promotion spot. Their visitors, meanwhile, were some nine points adrift in fifth place.


 The view of The Arqiva Tower behind The Welfare Ground


The first half went almost according to plan. The home side dominated and put increasing pressure on their opponents without ever really threatening to score. Hemsworth defended stoutly, but then, on 44 minutes, they stunned the home crowd with a goal which seemed to knock the stuffing out of the hosts.

The second half was a different story. Hemsworth, with their cyan blue shirts, suddenly found themselves with acres of space. In fact, when the second goal arrived shortly after half-time, there was no-one within ten yards of the scorer!

Ten minutes later it was 3-0 and a fourth was only averted by a penalty save from the home keeper. Emley were reduced to ten men with a tackle that rightly earned a red card and in reality, they should have been down to nine after a horrific assault by the corner flag on the near side!

The home side were finally offered the opportunity to put themselves on the score-sheet with a ninetieth minute penalty. Up stepped the home striker, looking to impress with a fancy drop shot down the centre of the goal. In reality, he looked a complete fool as the ball looped up and the goalkeeper gratefully fielded it under the bar!



Saturday 4th April 2015  k.o.:- 1.45pm

Northern Counties East League Premier Division

Parkgate                                         1

Adam Stapleford Jones 46,

Staveley Miners Welfare               2

Chris Butt 62,

Jahmal Smith 87,

Referee:- Mark Dwyer        Attendance:- 301


Parkgate play in Rotherham, indeed, their ground at The Roundwood Sports Complex is adjoined by the Rotherham United Training facilities.


Their ground is tight, with viewing realistically restricted to three sides. A good view can be obtained up on the high terraced embankment along the side of the pitch, but the seats behind the goal are real knee tremblers!

There was a good stock of provisions in the clubhouse outside the ground, where League One football was showing on the TV in the bar.


Today’s visitors, Staveley MW had nearly twice as many points as the hosts, but in reality, neither club had much to play for.


It wasn’t a classic encounter and a draw seemed on the cards. There was no score at half-time and there seemed little prospect of the deadlock being broken! However, shortly after half-time, the hosts did score and the impasse was broken. On the hour mark, however, an increasingly confident Staveley side equalised and then with little more than three minutes remaining, the pulled a winner out of the bag like a marauding magician. They were, however, good value for their victory!


 Martin taking a well  earned rest from directing operations for South East Trains!


Saturday 4th April 2015   k.o.:- 4.45pm

Northern Counties East League  Premier Division

Shaw Lane Aquaforce                  1

Sam Denton 38,

Heanor Town                                0

Referee:- Ian Johnston      Attendance:- 344


Shaw Lane aqua force share their ground with Barnsley RFC and, as a consequence, the pitch suffers and they have more than their fair share of postponements. Added to that, there was no real cover at the ground. The stand roof (see below) would hardly keep the rain out and the narrow ledge on the far side would be almost useless against a determined precipitation!


Aquaforce lie in third place, a couple of points outside the automatic promotion places, but they have games in hand. Their opponents, Heanor Town have enjoyed a solid, respectable season and arrived determined not to be cowed by their illustrious hosts.


It was a closely contested match with rather too much petulance from both sets of players, but the arrogance of some of the home players was quite breathtaking. “Don’t you know who I am?” one is reported to have challenged the referee when that official had dared to impose a penalty for a rule infraction!

There was only one goal in the match and that came to the home team, just before half-time. In truth a draw would have been a fairer result, especially after I saw a blatant and deliberate hand ball on the line by a home defender in the second half! The referee’s view, however, was obstructed!


 Martin, up from Somerset, and with a nine goal thriller of a match in The Cotswold Church League on the way over.


 Jack, camera at the ready, but what is the scarf he is wearing?


Saturday 4th April 2015  k.o.:- 7.30pm

Northern Counties East League Division 1

Penistone Church                       0

Danny Howes s/o 68,

Pontefract Collieries                  7

Luke Danville 15,

Liam Radford 32,

Aaron Moxam 33, 55,

Andrew Catton 73,

Phil Lindley 88,

Mark Whitehouse 90,

Referee:- Danny Jarvis (South Yorkshire)  Attendance:- 511


The last match of the hop took place at the quaintly nomenclatured Penistone Church. They were rewarded for their endeavours with the second highest attendance of the hop!


Their ground was quite tiny with a small seated and covered area down half the lengthy of the pitch on the near side. Fortunately it did not rain, for apart from this covered area, the rest of the arena was open to the elements!


The home team were up against current league leaders in Division 1 of The Northern Counties East League, Pontefract Collieries. Earlier in the day, Pontefract had seen their closest rivals humbled at home and now they had the chance to put some clear space between themselves and the chasing pack.


Penistone have not enjoyed a bad season and have achieved a very creditable tenth position in this, their first season in the league.


They were blown away this evening, however, by a whirlwind of titanic proportions. Three first half goals and four in the second half (two of which came in the last two minutes of normal time), gave poor old Church a giant sized headache and a hugely frustrating night for the home crowd.


Then it was all over! The coach decanted us all back at The Vicarage and I jumped into my old banger and completed the one hundred and ten mile journey in ninety five minutes and was home just after 11.30pm.

This was the third of The Northern Counties East ‘hops’ and another is planned for the Easter after next. Once again, the planning and the organisation was spot on. I do like staying at The Cedar Court Hotel (aka The Vicarage). The rooms are ideal and the breakfasts are brilliant. Godfrey, our driver, was a man of immense patience who handled the coach impeccably. The break-down was an unforeseen occurrence which was fortunate from the point of view that it happened at the ground, rather than half-way between two matches! However, when we emerged, there was Godfrey – with another coach!

I am not going to swell the heads of the organisers. They will know how well the event was managed. I think it is to their credit that so many hoppers return each year and that we all enjoy the events without realising the immense amount of work which goes into planning and preparing for each hop. Whilst one hop is taking place, planning is still going on for another further down the line!

I’m always sad that it passes in a flash, but already, I am looking forward to The Nottinghamshire League hop in three weeks time. I hope I’ll see you there!

This season:   Matches:- 191     New Grounds:-  111

Total                Matches:-  3,162   grounds:-   1,065

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS