On the Trail of the Scottish Holy Grail

My first book 'On the Trail of the Scottish Holy Grail'  AKA "From the Toon to the Joons" is now available to purchase via Amazon in both paperback and kindle editions. 

How would you celebrate a significant birthday? Host a massive party? Travel abroad on a luxurious holiday? Cross something off your bucket list? Well how about something a bit different, like marking your 50th birthday by incorporating your favourite hobby with a common thread over the previous five decades. In 2015 Shaun Smith set upon his first of many trips from Tyneside to Scotland, visiting the clubs which have won the prestigious Scottish Junior Cup during his lifetime, a trophy which has been contested for since 1887 and is affectionately known as “The Holy Grail of Scottish football” The author reviews the history of each club, exploring the old pit villages, satellite towns and industrial areas from where they are based. The book look at his matchday ritual, OCD collecting, his musical passion and is semi-autobiographical, with links to his past as a long suffering Newcastle United fan. So follow Shaun’s progress of visiting 22 grounds in 22 months as he heads north of the border from the Toon to the Joons on the trail of the Scottish Holy Grail.

✔557 Hull & East Riding Sports Ground

Sculcoates Amateurs 8-1 Goole United
Humber Premier League 
Saturday 18th February 2017

Sculcoates Amateurs AFC was founded in 1947.
The club were founder members of the Humber Premier League in 2000-01, winning the title in 2006-07, 2007-08, 2010-11 and are the current champions, with a fourth league win last term.
The club are based at the Hull & East Riding Sports Club. The football ground is at the far side of the cricket pitch, roped off with wooden dugouts at one side with the changing rooms within the pavilion. 
Humber Premier League Matchday 19/22
2pm ko

This was my first match in the Humber League and I found it a decent standard, with some talented players on show. I was impressed with the Goole United number nine Ryan Whitlam, who made a lively start to the game before opened the scoring after 20 minutes, with a superb turn and curled shot from a tight angle. 
That goal gave the league leaders an alarm call, quickly turning the game around with two goals from Andy Finnerty, who ventured forward from left back to get on the end of two right wing crosses. 
Seconds before the half time whistle Siben Sani danced through the defence to make it 3-1 and from this point the result was never in doubt.
Scully spent the entire second period camped in the Gooley half, quickly extending their lead with a neat turn and shot from Eleazer Ezekiel. The Sculcoates players were queuing up to test the visiting ‘keeper with Michael Leng, Tom Bowman, Sam Tucker and another for Ezekeil adding to the score line before they finally declaring on eight. 

Matchday Stats
SAAFC 8(Finnerty 26,40 Sani 45 Ezekiel 48,82 Leng 61 Bowman 67 Tucker 77)
GUFC 1(Whitlam 21)
Admission & programme:none
The 2017 European City of Culture was the latest destination in our regular weekends away visiting the GBG pubs of Yorkshire. We arrived in Hull at 1.30pm, so nicely timed for my match at 2 o’clock, while the breadknife ventured  into the city centre to get the lay of the land. The early kick off meant we were out on the lash early, with our pub crawl starting at the Admiral of the Humber, before calling into The Mission, Head of Steam, Minerva Hotel  Ye Olde Black Boy, The Three John Scotts, Ye Olde White Harte, George Hotel and the Hope & Vine. Afterwards we staggered back to the guest house, which we finally managed to locate after losing our way due to consuming far too much ale.

Bevvy Almanac
Best pub - Ye Olde White Harte, 
Best bevvy - Head of Steam;
Sleeping Brew Tea ‘Pale Ale’ (4.4%)****

✔556 Eastbourne Sports Complex 4G

Darlington 1883 Reserves 4-1 South Shields Reserves
Wearside League
Saturday 28th January 2017

Horden Colliery Welfare were giving a lifeline in the summer from Darlington 1883 FC. The club which formed back in 1908 were forced out of Welfare Park by Horden Parish Council, playing last season’s remaining home fixtures at Grayfields in Hartlepool.  The 30 mile relocation allows the club to continue as well as developing young talent at Darlington, which provides a stepping stone to the first team.

 I featured the Eastbourne Sports Complex in Wearside League Wanderings - part five, when I saw Darlington Cleveland Bridge play on the main pitch in August 2010. (This was the day when I met one half of the #NECelebrityGroundhoppingCouple for the first time)
In October 2016 a new state-of-the-art £512,580 4G grass pitch was opened, financed by a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. The pitch has floodlights with spectator standing down on side and runs parallel with the main ground. 

Darlo Ressies were up against South Shields, another new reserve side in the Wearside League this season. The hosts took a two goal lead when Joseph Smith poked in a left wing cross after a quarter of an hour, followed by Derek Cooper-Wade touching in a free kick five minutes later. A cracking right foot volley by Ryan Bolam halved the arrears on 26 minutes, then when the home side were reduced to ten men it was looking good for Shields to pick up at least a point.
Kurt Matthews restored the two goal cushion just 26 seconds after the restart, before Nathan Stevenson was on hand to fire in a fourth just after the hour mark. The match turned out to be a convincing win for the ten men and a miserable afternoon for the visitors, which was summed up on 64 minutes when a penalty kick was easily saved by the Darlo ‘keeper. 

Matchday Stats
Kick off 2pm Admission £3
D1883RFC 4(Smith 15 Cooper-Wade 20 Matthews 46  Stevenson 62)
SSRFC 1(Bolam 26)

✔555 Shaw Lane Sports Club

Shaw Lane AFC 1-0 Stocksbridge Park Steels
Evo-Stick Division One South
Saturday 21st January 2017
Barnsley based Shaw Lane were first established in 1991 as a U-11 team at the Shaw Lane Community Sports Complex. The club expanded to senior level in 2007, merging with Worsbrough Common F.C.  to form Aquaforce Barnsley F.C. In 2011 they merged with Barugh F.C becoming Shaw Lane Aquaforce.

2012-13 Sheffield and Hallamshire County Senior League Premier Division Champions
2013-14 Northern Counties East League Division One Runners-Up
2014-15 NCEL Premier Division Champions
2015-16 Evo-Stick Division One South Runners-Up (Lost in play-off final to Coalville Town)

In 2016 the club changed its name to fall in line with FA advertising regulations which prohibits the use of sponsored names from level 4 of the Non-League pyramid. The club were going to rebrand themselves as Barnsley Town from the start of this season before deciding to change to Shaw Lane AFC.

The Ducks currently sit top of the Evo-Stick Division One South, looking to achieve a fourth promotion in five seasons.
Shaw Lane Sports Club
Shaw Lane
S70 6HZ

Capacity 2,000
Current Evo-Stick Grounds visited 28/68

The football ground sits in between the cricket pitch at the entrance and the rugby ground at the top of the complex. 
The clubhouse and changing room building is on the turnstile entrance side. The Main Stand is opposite with four rows of red seats with a section of terrace steps at the side. The ground is three sides with a new stand behind the goal filled with four rows of blue and white flip seats. The stand is named in honour of Dan Wilkinson who tragically collapsed and died on the pitch in September 2016.
Shaw Lane (1st) v Stocksbridge Park Steels (11th)
Evo-Stick D1 South Matchday 23
Kick off 3pm
Weather: spitting

A late goal from Jon Wafula maintained The Ducks six point lead at the top of the league. Both sides carved out and squandered several good chances, until the decisive moment five minutes from time, when a good right wing cross from Harris was fired in at the near post by Wafula. 

Matchday Stats
SLAFC 1(Wafula 85)
Top Bloke - Gary Burnett (Shaw Lane)
Entertainment 6/10

Admission £6
Programme £1.50
Pin badge £3
The breadknife and I have spent our spare weekends touring the ale houses of Yorkshire. Following on from nights away in Wakefield, Leeds and Huddersfield, Barnsley became our latest destination. It was after booking our hotel that I realised Barnsley were at home to Yorkshire rivals Leeds United, so I expected a lively evening. The 3-2 win for the Reds meant it was quite boisterous, but this didn't spoil our night out socialising with the locals. The definite highlight was meeting a woman who has drank 27,000 ales over the last 30 years and she proudly showed me her ledger, which lists every ale she has supped. 

Bevvy Almanac
Started at the Dodworth Valley followed by The Commercial Inn, The Joseph Bramah, The Old no.7, Arcade Alehouse and The Silkstone Inn.
Best jar - Cottage 'Duchess’ (4.2%)***** in Arcade Alehouse.
Matchday Web Album (19 pictures from Shaw Lane)

✔554 Blackwell Meadows

Darlington 1883 1-2 Nuneaton Town
National League North
Saturday 7th January 2017
After playing 13 miles away at Heritage Park in Bishop Auckland, Darlington ended their four year exile from the town on Boxing Day with their first match at Blackwell Meadows, as an all-ticket capacity crowd saw a winning start for the Quakers with a 3-2 victory over FC Halifax Town.
The groundshare with Darlington Rugby FC was announced in December 2013, with the original plan to expand the existing ground to a 3,000 capacity. The cost has been shared between both clubs, with improvements to the clubhouse, a covered terrace (known as the “Tin Shed”) new dugouts and a stand at the far side. Future developments will see further terracing at the top goal and the stand eventually extended pitch length.   
Following the club’s administration, reformation as Darlington 1883, community ownership and leaving the costly white elephant Darlington Arena in 2012, the new dawn has saw them go from strength to strength.  
The new club were placed four divisions from the Conference and now they are just one step away from a return. - 
2012-13  Northern League Division One Champions (122 points 145 goals)
2013-14  Evo-Stick Division One North runners-up (lost play-off semi final to Ramsbottom United)
2014-15 Evo-Stick League Division One North runner-up (won play-offs)
2015-16 Evo-Stick Premier League Champions
The Quakers are currently amongst the play-off positions in the National North as they look for a fourth promotion in five seasons. 
Darlington 1883(4th) v Nuneaton Town(14th)
Nation League North Matchday 24
3pm ko

Darlington were caught with an injury time sucker punch as they suffered a first defeat at their new home. Nuneaton took the lead just before the hour mark when Gateshead loanee Reece Styche was tripped by Brown in the box, with Joe Ironside easily slotting home the spot kick. 
Darlo looked to have salvaged a point in the last minute when substitute Luke Syers nodded in a Gillies cross, but they were undone as they pushed for the winner. The referee added an extra 6 minutes to proceedings largely due to time wasting by the Nuneaton ‘keeper Christian Dibble. In the second extra minute a long ball found Jordan Nicholson who outran the home defence before firing in with a powerful left foot shot. 
A disappointing performance from Darlington but Nuneaton go from strength to strength, this victory being their seventh win on the bounce. 
Matchday Stats and Spondoolicks
D1883FC 1(Syers 90)
NTFC 2(Ironside 58pen Nicholson 90+4)
Entertainment 6/10
Top Bloke - Terry Galbraith (Darlington) *biased award :-) *
Admission £12
Programme £2.50

Amongst the 2313 in attendance I bumped into 100FgC#64 Squad member Richard Panter who had travelled up from Leicester with Notts based Sad Hopper(aka Neil) I also spoke to Facebook legend John McClure sporting his 100FgC hat, plus Squad#4 Jack Warner and John Main were also among the crowd. 

Matchday Web Album (20 pictures from Blackwell Meadows)

✔553 Oxford Street

Rossington Main 2-1 Shirebrook Town
Northern Counties East League Division One
Monday 2nd January 2017
Not a great Groundhopping start to 2017. I set off early on this brisk Bank Holiday Monday to drive 137 miles to Brigg in North Lincolnshire for their noon kick off fixture with Winterton Rangers. As I approached the ground through the housing estate which leads to The Hawthorns, I knew the match would be postponed.  I lost control of the car twice as I drove along the back streets of black ice, my fears confirmed when I was told the referee had just called it off when I arrived at 11.30. 
Thankfully there was no fears of my second game of the day not going ahead, as unlike Brigg Town, fellow NCEL club Rossington Main use social media to notify the world that their game was on and there was no need for a pitch inspection. 
I killed time by called to Gainsborough on route to visit the only uncharted JDW in this part of Lincolnshire, before arriving at Rosso Main in South Yorkshire at half past one. 

Rossington is a former mining village in Doncaster (Population over 13,000)
Nowadays the Rossington area is made up of a number of villages and hamlets, such as New Rossington, Rossington Bridge, Shooters Hill, Hesley and Littleworth.
Rossington Main pit was sunk between 1912 and 1915. The colliery was one of the last to close, still producing coal up until 2007.

Rossington Colliery FC formed in 1919, became Rossington Miners Welfare in 1948.
The club changed their name to Rossington Main in 1983 and in 1998 merged with Rossington F.C.(formed as Station F.C. in the 1970s)

Played in the Doncaster Senior League
(Champions and League Cup winners in 1944/45, Premier Cup winners 1973/74)
Yorkshire League, Sheffield County Senior League, Central Midlands League as founder members in 1983 (Premier Division champions 1984/85, Cup holders 1983/84 1984/85 and DDSAL Shield winners in 1990/91)
Joined Northern Counties East League Division One in 1991, best finish is 7th in 2011-12.

Welfare Ground, 
Oxford Street, 
DN11 0TE

Current NCEL Grounds 30/44

Capacity 2,000 
Record Attendance: 1,243 v Doncaster Rovers (PSF) - 9th July 2013

The club originally played behind the colliery offices in New Rossington before moving to Oxford Street in 1921. The ground has a main stand with changing rooms, covered enclosure, club offices and an impressive clubhouse all found on the same side as the ground entrance. On the opposite side is the Gerry Murden Stand which sits half way with two rows of seats which takes the ground seating capacity to 250. There’s open standing behind both goals and the team dugouts are on the main side. 
Rossington Main (19th) v Shirebrook Town (15th)
NCEL Division One Matchday 28/26
3pm ko

Rosso came from behind to gain a well earned three points against Shirebrook Town. After a goalless opening half the visitors took the lead just after the break, when Glynn Cotton picked up the ball 25 yards from goal, before creating an angle for the shot and firing in from the edge of the box. 
The home side grabbed an equaliser with fifteen minutes remaining when a peach of a cross from the left was headed in at the far post by Lee Holmes. The Main were giving a boost on 79 minutes when a second yellow card for Ryan Smyth saw him dismissed. Then within a minute a long range effort smacked the crossbar quickly followed by the winner - a ball was swept into the box which fell to Jason Stokes who rounded the ‘keeper and tucked it away to make it 2-1. 

Admission £4
Programme £1.50
Pin badge £3.50
Tea 80p
Steak pie & gravy £2

Matchday Stats
RMFC 2(Holmes 75 Stokes 81)
STFC 1(Cotton 48)
Entertainment 7/10
Top Bloke - Lee Holmes (Rossington Main)
As is usually the case at a match I bumped into someone I know, spotting the large camera of 100FgC Squad#53 Rob Campion who along with his mate, managed to escape from their families for the afternoon.(Rob's photos) Rossington is close to the M18, so I was quickly on the A1 after the match and back home before seven bells. The day turned out ok considering how pissed off I was earlier in the day after the Brigg postponement. 

Oxford Street Matchday Web Album 
(20 pictures)