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Match Details: Harworth Colliery Inst 1 Bentley Colliery 1 (CML North Div)
Destination: Scrooby Road, Bircotes, (very north) Nottinghamshire, DN11 8JT
Competition: Central Midlands League, Northern Division
Attendance: 30 (first-half headcount / swelled to 40+ after h/t)
Directions: Big cark park and easy to get to for vehicle owners, bit of a bugger to get to though by public transport. The main bus route is the 21+25 which runs between Worksop and Doncaster every half hour, taking about 35 minutes journey time from each. Once you get to Bircotes the ground is pretty hard to miss though, as it’s a huge complex on Scrooby Road next to the delapidated site of Harworth Colliery – or just look for the big Scooby Doo tribute statue outside (actually don’t, becasue there isn’t one).
Pre-Match Build Up: Prior to today’s game, both Harworth and Bentley found themselves loitering just below mid-table, reasonably safe from relegation but with little chance of troubling the top of the table either. So as such, the main thing both teams would be playing for in the rest of the season would be to achieve as high a finish as possible.
Off The Pitch: Harworth’s ground is located either in very north Nottinghamshire or very South Yorkshire – common consensus seems to be that despite its Doncaster postcode it is in Nottinghamshire, although the club’s own website actually lists it as South Yorkshire instead! Oh, and to further add to the confusion, the club is located next to Harworth Colliery… which is in Bircotes rather than Harworth itself! On arrival today I was greeted by the CML’s number one fanboy, Rob Hornby, who was put on the gate to identify any potential groundhoppers and charge them an extra pound admission – on account of the inevitable inconvenience of them bothering the home secretary for teamsheets, asking a stream of awkward questions about recent ground developments, and pointing out any wonky staples that they may have put in the programme. Luckily though, I was able to recognise and sneak past him, instead paying my standard admission fee to a very helpful chap in a cowboy hat, who I recognised from the Kinsley v Harworth game last year, and who I now know to be called Rob Dawson. I mention his name as he clearly deserves ‘bigging up’ for all the hard work he puts in to keeping the club ticking over. We also had a good natter later on about non-league football in general at this level, what it takes to keep the club going, and he also shared some of his own memories of watching football over the years.
The ground is basic but tidy, with a small amount of roped-off hard standing down one side, and grass round the rest. To say that this is a colliery location, the pitch seems unusually flat, as most grounds which have former mines around and beneath them tend to suffer from subsidence these days. Corner flags with the HCI logo on are a nice touch too.
In the above pic, you can see the colliery winding tower. The red brick building houses the players and match officials quarters, while beyond this is the social club which is used for half-time refreshements for spectators, as well as being used by non-matchgoers.
Moving down towards the far end, by the halfway line are the home and away team dugouts, and some covered standing accommodation for spectators. This is on a raised platform a foot or so above ground level, so provides a nice elevated view of the game.
And then further along behind the far goal is a BMX ramp. This is on a piece of privately owned land (connected to the Welfare club), so in theory can be closed off during games if it ever threatens to turn into a Nest-like way of seeing the game for nowt.
Finally, over on the other side of the pitch is this slightly curious structure above. Once upon a time it housed a gents toilet (no need to provide one for women back in those days, of course!), as well as a covered standing area and a tea bar / serving hatch (which no doubt kept the women too busy to have time for a wee). As this is positioned in a corner of the ground, accordingly it doesn’t get a lot of use these days. The ground also used to have a turnstile, but this was removed along with an adjoining wall when that part of the ground was redeveloped for a 5-A-Side pitch a few years back.
On The Pitch: I’m rapidly running out of excuses for how bobbins my match reports are on here. Today’s excuse was that I spent a good part of the time gabbing to various people, while keeping one eye on the game. Plus I also broke groundhopping law number 3.2, by spending the first few minutes of the second half watching from outside the ground, whilst standing on the BMX ramp behind the fence (hence the ‘airbourne’ photo at the top of the page). Without being too harsh on the players who made a fine effort today, as some of them readily admitted themselves afterwards, it was not one of the best footballing spectacles either. The number of clear cut chances were at least equalled by the number of wayward shots (mostly long distance and over the bar, which never really stood much of a chance of going in). Perhaps one mitigating factor – and one which is worrying given that it’s only February and drought conditions are being reported around the country – was that the pitch was looking very dry in patches with clouds of dust kicking up, something you normally associate with end of season games in April and May rather than three weeks after the last snowfall! Anyway, slightly against the run of play, Bentley took the lead with a deserved penalty after Danny Rhodes was brought down by a slightly late last-ditch challenge. Skipper Matt Brown made no mistake from the spot, slotting the ball low to the keeper’s left, with skill that those involved in the following day’s Cardiff/Liverpool League Cup Final could have learned a thing or two from! Just before half-time, the homesters got their equaliser from fairly close range through Jordan Pickering. As the second half wore on, both sides had a good go at grabbing a winner, with Harworth looking most likely. However, their best effort only got as far as shaving the post, while Bentley themselves had a late breakaway which looked promising, but sadly for them, that amounted to nothing either. Overall, I think Harworth had slightly more possession, but a draw was probably a fair reult as neither team really did enough in front of goal to deserve all three points.
More pics and another report from this game can be found over at Rob Hornby’s site, at: