Saturday 20th April 2003
Nottingham is a city in the East Midlands with origins tracing back to Anglo-Saxon times. The city is renowned for its links with the legend of Robin Hood and was recognised for its lace-making, bicycle and tobacco industries during the Industrial Revolution. Nottingham was granted its city charter as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria in 1897 and has subsequently been formally titled as the City of Nottingham.
The Nottinghamshire Senior League sits at step 7 of the non-league pyramid, made up of former clubs from the Nottinghamshire Football Alliance and is a feeder to the Northern Counties East League Division One. The league was founded for the 2004-05 season and currently has a total of 47 clubs split between three leagues of Senior Division and leagues One and Two.
I had a busy matchday even before entering the first ground, seeing the opening goal or supping my first pint. My pre-match timetable was as follows;
0357 Staggered out of bed
0415-0435 Left home, drove to Gateshead town centre, left car and walked over to Central Station.
0445-0620 Newcastle – Doncaster train
0630-0700 Doncaster – Sheffield train
0732-0822 Sheffield – Nottingham train
0830 Boarded the coach and finally departed at 0855 (25 minutes later as planned due to waiting for the non arrival of 2 missing groundhoppers)
345. The Parish Hall Ground
Selston 2v2 Wollaton
Precision Nottinghamshire Senior League Senior Division
The first game of the day was at the hilltop village of Selston in the District of Ashfield, which is part of Nottinghamshire's Hidden Valleys area. The village is a good 14 miles from Nottingham rail station so we arrived at the Parish Hall Ground at around 925am. The ground was already a hive of activity when we arrived with stalls from Terry the badge, some programme sellers and a marquee with club souvenirs and a choice of real ales from the Naked Brewery, which I resisted trying until half-time.
Selston FC formed in 1968 as founder members of Alfreton & District Sunday League, before playing in the Nottinghamshire Sunday football league from 1977. They turned their attention to Saturday football in the mid-80s, joining the Central Midlands Football League and won the C.M.L Division One Cup in 1991.
The club left the league in 1992 and played in the Midlands Regional Alliance, winning the Division One title in 1993-94. Selston returned to the Central Midlands Football League in the 1997-98 season, winning promotion to the Supreme Division the following season, before again leaving the league in 2004.
Around this time the club decided to disbanded the senior side and concentrate on the development of youth football and it wasn't until the 2006-07 season that adult football returned with a Saturday side originally competing in the Belfield Midlands Regional Alliance and a Sunday team in the Mansfield League.
Season 2005-06 saw Selston Football Club move back into their rightful home at the Parish Ground. At the entrance there’s the car park and the main building which houses the changing rooms with a refreshment bar at the side. The football ground is at the bottom end, which forms part of the cricket field, hence the roped off side of the pitch. At the far end are the dugouts and a standing shelter named after club secretary George Elliott. The best viewpoint is behind the right hand goal which is a raised bank with hard standing.
The first game of the day nearly got off to the perfect start with a goal within the first 10 seconds. From the kick off Wollaton broke down the left hand side and a shot from Cooper cannoned back off the crossbar. However we didn’t have to wait long to see the ball hit the back of the net as Farnsworth broke down the right wing and laid the ball on a plate to Barnes to tap in from close range with only four minutes gone.
The home side looked comfortable with their single goal advantage but the visitors turned the game on its head in the second half, equalising just after the restart with a Rawson effort from the edge of the box, and pressed for a winner as they dominated the second half. The points looked in the bag with just under ten minutes remaining after good built up play concluded with Page firing in an accurate low drive past the keeper. Selston rallied in the dying embers of the game and deep into stoppage time a corner kick resulted in a goalmouth scramble and an unlikely equaliser. In the mad foray the ball fell to Curran and with his back to goal had no option but the back-heel the ball, which kindly evaded the rear guard defence before nestling in the back of the net. That cheeky back heel turned out to be the very last kick of an entertaining opening game of today’s groundhop, so as the players celebrated the referee blew his whistle which indicates it’s time to head off to the next match.
SFC 2(Barnes 4 Curran 90+3) WFC 2(Rawson 47 Page 81)
Underwood Villa 2v2 West Bridgford
Precision Nottinghamshire Senior League Division One
Underwood is within the civil parish of Selston, so it was just a short two mile journey for the second game of the day at Bracken Park. Underwood Villa Football Club was officially formed around 1948, but changed their name to Bracken FC for two decades until reverting to their original name in 2003. The club played in a variety of local Sunday leagues until switching to Saturday’s in 1999 when they joined the Notts Amateur League. The club were league champions in their first season and continued to progress winning more honours before joining the Nottinghamshire Senior League in 2006-07.
The club have played at Bracken Park on the Chaworth-Muster estate for over 60 years. In 2006 the ground complex was expanded from 2 acres to over 5 acres as the club increased its junior section. The development resulted in three additional pitches, expanded car parking, spectator cover, refreshment and public toilet facilities. The expansion gained Kimberley MW an array of FA Charter awards at regional and national levels. Currently there’s more expansion work taking place with a new pavilion nearing completion. The football pitch is fully fenced off with a pair of brick dugouts at the Mansfield Road side. The pitch has a slight slope which runs across towards the woods at the far side. There is also another pitch behind the current surface which Underwood are planning on using next season as ground improvements continue.
Underwood Villa were up against West Bridgford who took an early lead with two tidy finishes in the first ten minutes. With just five minutes on the clock Jamie Prince produced a neat volley from the left edge of the box before Charlesworth doubled their advantage with a well-placed half-volley loping the ‘keeper and finding the roof of the net.
The visitors pressed to extend their early advantage but the hosts improved as the game progressed. Just before half time Villa skipper Townsend unleashed a cracking 30 yard drive which flew into the net, which was an early contender for goal of the day. From the restart Villa regained possession and the big number 4 nearly grabbed a brace on the stroke of half time, receiving the ball wide on the left he rounded the keeper and fired towards goal, but Sam Tring was on hand to steer the ball home. The second half failed to match the opening period. Both teams battled to grab a winner but neither goalkeeper was seriously tested and overall the draw was a fair result.
Similar to the first game at Selston, the host club were very friendly and made us all very welcome. The announcer on the PA though must be a frustrated DJ though, because he used any excuse to grab the mic and make an announcement, which wouldn’t be too bad if we weren’t standing next to the speaker with the amp turned up to 11.
UVFC 2(Hayes 45,Tring 45+1) WBFC 2(Prince 5 Charlesworth 10)
Ground no.346 Bracken Park - Matchday Web album (16 pictures)
347. The Shilo
Awsworth Villa 3v0 Cotgrave
Precision Nottinghamshire Senior League Senior Division
The next stop on the bus was 6 miles due south to the village of Awsworth, in the Broxtowe district of Nottinghamshire. The football club formed in 1965 as Awsworth & Cossall United originally as a youth team. They began playing competitively in the Notts Amateur League before joining the Spartan League as Awsworth Villa in 1974.
Awsworth Villa played in the Notts Alliance from 1985, twice winning promotion from Division One to the Senior Division in 1995-96 and 2001-02, before become one of the founder members of the Nottinghamshire Senior League.
The club originally played at the Recreation Ground before The Shilo opened in 1982. The ground has a picturesque setting with views of the Erewash Valley and has a perfect playing surface, looking more like a pitch prior to a pre-season friendly, not the end of a long winter. There’s two entrances to the ground with the main entrance at the top of the hill, the car park and changing rooms are on this road behind the east side goal. The best feature of the ground is the banking on one side which is the pathway between the entrance and the children’s park behind the far goal. Along the top of the banking are seven bench seats. Opposite are a pair of brick dugouts which have been mark H and A to avoid any confusion for team management and subs.
After witnessing two closely fought contests the third game of the day was a routine win for the home side. The Villa broke the deadlock in the 20th minute when Saxton fired in a low shot from the edge of the box after some good wing play by Cooke. Due to the sporadic hot weather on the day, the game was played at a relaxed pace with the hosts doubling their lead when Board fired home from inside the box on 56 minutes. The gloss was put an easy Villa victory when Saxton grabbed his second with a minute left, his shot from the edge of the box taking a slight deflection off the defender to give the ’keeper no chance.
Out of the four grounds visited today this was my favourite and I’ll remember Awsworth as the place where my face was sun kissed for the first time this year. If I lived in this exquisite village it would be a pleasure to take a walk along to The Shilo on a Saturday afternoon, have some stew & dumplings and cheer on the Villa, even though they wear that awful combination of red and white striped vertical shirts!!!
AVFC 3(Saxton 20,89 Board 56) CFC 0
Ground no.347 The Shilo - Matchday Web album (20 pictures)
Kimberley Miners Welfare 7v0 Keyworth United
Nottinghamshire Senior League Senior Division
For today’s final game we took a short five minute drive to the other side of the A610 to the former mining town of Kimberley. The town was the former home of The Hardys & Hansons Kimberley Brewery, which was sold along with their chain of pubs to Greene King in 2006.
Kimberley MWFC was formed in 1926, following the opening of the Miners Welfare the previous year. The club have played at Digby Street in all but one of the last 81 years. The ground is adjacent to where the Digby Colliery once stood and the players used various facilities as changing rooms close to the ground until purchasing a building from Calverton Cricket Club in 1995. The new changing rooms were transported and rebuilt with the aid of a National Lottery grant and a donation from club chairman Neil Johnson.
The ground is found along a lane off Digby Street, where there’s a small car park, the changing room pavilion and between the nearside corner flag and 18 yard box; a cabin selling refreshments with a small lounge area. The stone team dugouts are on the nearside, painted gleaming white at the front with the rest of the ground open apart from behind one of the goals where there’s no access. Also noticeable was the slope from corner-to-corner across the pitch. Furthermore for this special occasion there was a gazebo with a barbecue on the go, for all us hungry hoppers.
The club’s recent history saw them join the Notts Alliance Division Two in 1995-96, winning promotion via the league title the following season. Promotion to the Senior Division was achieved in 1999-00 as Division One Champions, before become another of the founder members of the NSL.
And so to our last ground of the day and another type of game, this one classified as a “good hiding” as Kimberley gubbed Keyworth United by seven goals without reply and if they had their shooting boots on they could have easily doubled the tally. The onslaught began in the 14 minute with Danny Chaplin firing home from close range before Jake Fisher took over proceedings. The number nine scored with two opportunist efforts in a five minute period mid-way through the first half and completed his hat-trick with a header four minutes after the restart.
From a corner-kick Liam Baker was left unmarked to nod home on 54 minutes, before the best goal of the game on the hour mark – Karl Beecham picked up the ball and curled a lovely 20 yard shot inside the ‘keepers’ right hand post. Surprisingly there was a lull in the goal scoring until Wilmott got in on the act, completing the rout in the last minute.
This could well be the last season at Digby Street for the first team following the club’s recent arrangement of a 15 year tenure on The Stag Ground, the former home of the recently defunct Kimberley Town. The new ground is part of ambitious plans to progress to the East Midland Counties League. According to the Secretary’s notes in the match programme they believe they have the infrastructure in place to achieve this within the next 3 years. Kimberley MW seem a smashing little club so I wish them all the best with their future plans.
KMWFC 7(Chaplin 14 Fisher 21,26,49 Baker 54 Beecham 61 Wilmott 90) KUFC 0
Ground no.348 Digby Street - Matchday Web album (20 pictures)
I arrived back at Nottingham Station 4 matches, 18 goals and exactly 12 hours since I arrived earlier in the day. I caught the 2051 Boston train, as I was spending the night in Grantham, staying at Auntie Ann and Uncle Malc’s. When I arrived at the best guesthouse in Lincolnshire, I had a quick bite to eat before heading to the pub. It was nearly 1am before I finally hit the sack so I had been up and on the go for almost 21 hours (Jack Bauer would be proud of you…Eddy)
The whole day was well organised, hosted by very friendly club’s that made us most welcome. I spent the day socialising with lots of likeminded football fanatics - from the 100FgC Dan Gooch and Sam (with baby Katie) plus Graeme Holmes, as well as familiar acquaintances from the 100FgC Facebook Group who I met in person for the first time, namely Rob Waite, John McClure, Laurence Reade, Peter Miles and of course the main man - Rob Hornby, who made the whole day possible, so many thanks Rob for organising should a great day, a big well done on picking the hottest day so far this year and hopefully I’ll be back again next year. Cheers!