Match Details: Hemsworth MW 5 – Yorkshire Amateur 0 (NCEL D1)
Pre-match build up: For the uninitiated, Fitzwilliam is a small village which is part of the town of Hemsworth, and was the site of what became known as Hemsworth Colliery. Hence the fact that nowadays, Hemsworth Miners Welfare FC is actually in Fitzwilliam rather than in Hemsworth. Around half a mile down the road is neighbouring Kinsley Boys FC, who currently play one step lower down the non-league ladder than Hemsworth in the Central Midlands League. Fitzwilliam itself was where Yorkshire cricketing legend Sir Geoffrey Boycott grew up. It is also the birthplace of Spurs favourite ‘Nice One’ Cyril Knowles and his footballing brother Peter, and has a railway bridge which was popular with the Fitzy Boys for dangling each other over by the legs in order to write slogans in two foot high white paint when I was a kid. ‘EGGA’ and ‘MODS’ being particular favourites. No one ever thought to nick signalling cable like today’s young uns do. I was overdue a return visit to the home of the Wells, and with it being one of few grounds that I can get to by pubic transport and still not have to set off till 2 O’Clock, the planets were all alligned perfectly for today’s destination being…
Destination: Fitzwilliam Stadium, Wakefield Road, Fitzwilliam, Pontefract, West Yorks, WF9 5AJ.
Competition: Northern Counties East League, Division One
Kick Off: 3 pm
Programme: £1 (excellent value for money – plenty to read and lots of colour pics)
Directions: Hemsworth Miners Welfare is easily reached by public transport. Either by train to Fitzwilliam (then five minutes walk), or by bus from the likes of Wakefield. Any bus that goes through Fitzwilliam will drop you right next to the ground (such as the 496 from Wakey) – get off next to the railway bridge/by the row of shops, and then the football pitch is just behind the cricket ground. There is also a small car park, and plenty of nearby street parking.
Off The Pitch: The current set up here for football is what I think would be termed in modern parlance as ‘well good’. Having benefitted from a sizeable football foundation grant, the centrepiece is a very plush looking bar/clubhouse/changing rooms/offices combined complex. There is also a decent seated stand near the halfway line (shown in the above photo), and as you can also probably see, a nice spaceous dugout with two rows of seats for each team. As well as hard-standing all the way round the pitch, there is also a bit of cover available in front of the clubhouse, which comes in useful if you want to mingle around the bar while watching the match. And on a nice day, there’s also something resembling a patio complete with a few chairs to sit out in the sun. All-in-all, the facilities are something for the club to be rightly proud of in the current climate.
The club itself was founded 30 years ago in 1981, following the disbanding in 1980 of the old Hemsworth Colliery FC. The infant Hemsworth Miners Welfare joined the Doncaster Senior league for the 1981-82 season, soon progressing from Division Three to the Premier Division following three back-to-back promotions in the mid-80s. The 1990s saw them accepted into the West Riding County Amatur League, where they soon progressed from its First Division to the Premier Division. After adding floodlighting to their ground, they were accepted into their current home of the NCEL in 2008. A best finish of 7th in Division One in 2009-10 was followed by 16th last year, though the club will no doubt be hoping to improve on that showing in the current campaign.
On The Pitch: Sadly for Arsene Wenger, Hemsworth Miners Welfare don’t issue matchday DVDs. If they did, then today’s recording would be as fine a lesson in killing off a game as he’s likely to learn from. Going in at the break even (trevor) stevens with their opponents, within a few minutes of the restart it was clear to the home fans that “the half-time bollocking’s done the trick”. When the final whistle eventually blew with five goals registered, you had to feel a bit sorry for Yorkshire Amateur and their goalkeeper in particular. Their side hadn’t played particularly badly, indeed they could easily have scored a couple of goals themselves on another day, and the Ammers keeper (who was pointed out to me before kick-off as apparently being the smallest in the league) had just had absolutely no chance of stopping any of the Hemsworth goals, which rained in like bullets this afternoon. On this form, the Fitzy boys will take some stopping on their own patch this season.
Going into today’s game, Ammers had a 100% record from their one previous league game this campaign, while the Wells had two wins out of three, having just suffered their first defeat of the season in midweek to early leaders Worksop Parramore. With the referee today adopting a policy of blowing his whistle as often as possible but not handing out any bookings early on, this allowed the game to become a bit niggly before too long, and it was no surprise that on the final whistle, a few handbags were raised with a clearly frustrated and disappointed away side looking like they had been ambushed and slapped with a wet fish for an hour. Both sides had roughly equal possession and occasional chances during the first 45 minutes, but nil-nil was a fair reflection of the game, and in no way did it look like we would get anything like the goalfest which then ensued. But Hemsworth grabbed the bit between their teeth after the break, with their off-the-ball movement superb. Using both flanks they were constantly doubling up to provide support to whoever had possession, and in midfield they seemed determined to be first to every ball. This was a game which was won by a collective team performance, rather than one or two occasional sparks of brilliance. But add to this some relentless top-notch shooting-boot action, and the crucial factor was that they took five of the seven or eight decent chances they had in the second half. Goals were registered by Damion Liddle, Jack Wakefield, a brace for Andy Hayward, and finally John Impey (who is shown below lining up the fifth), and I think the sound of the inner stanchion is still pinging in this part of West Yorkshire. Ammers will want to get back on the pitch and put things right as soon as possible, as this game will surely give them nightmares until then.
Post-Match Analysis: Looking at the other NCEL results today, it was obviously one of those afternoons with something in the air that lends itself to high-scoring games. In Division One Ponty Colls and Dinnington also managed to bang in five goals apiece, while the formidable Worksop Parramore scored six at home to lowly Appleby Frodingham. And in the Premier Division, Parkgate were another side notching up five goals, with Tadcaster Albion bettering this and matching Parramore’s tally of six. As far as Hemsworth go, it will be interesting to see if they can keep up anything like the rich form they showed today in their forthcoming league games. I get the feeling that as a place to visit, the club is somewhat off the radar for alot of people, so can only conclude by personally recommending it as a fine place to watch a game of football at, and that the NCEL is often a good bet for an entertaining afternoon too. Aside from the fact that it would’ve been useful to have some team details available somewhere besides the tannoy announcement (even if just a sheet pinned to the wall), Hemsworth gets top marks all-round.