Match Details: Athersley Recreation 1 – Armthorpe Welfare 0 (NCEL Premier Division)
Goalscorers: Kai Hancock [Athersley]
Location: Sheerien Park, Ollerton Road, Athersley North, Barnsley, South Yorks, S71 3DP (look for entrance sign/small driveway next to house number 123).
Public transport = easy peasy: Train to Barnsley, then a number 11 bus (which runs every ten minutes and stops right outside the ground).
Off The Pitch: A stone’s thrown north of Barnsley, Athersley is where a lot of Ken Loach’s classic Kes film was shot. My limitless imagination plus limited photoshop skills inspired this:
Athersley Recreation FC began in 1979, when Pete Goodlad set up Athersley North Juniors FC, who later added a senior side. Having progressed through the local Barnsley leagues to the Sheffield Senior League in the mid-90s, and renamed Athersley Recreation along the way, they then set their sights on eventually getting accepted into the NCEL, but first had to do some ground upgrading.
Pete is still a constant fixture at the club in his current role of General Manager and Secretary and deserves a round of virtual applause for having taken the club on the journey he has thus far. After winning the Sheffield Senior League in 2011-12, and with the necessary ground improvements having been done, they joined the NCEL in 2012-13. Here, they finished runners-up in Division One in their first season, and have been in the NCEL Premier Division since then. With around 50 years left on their current 60 year ground lease, the club’s future seems both stable and progressive. They recently had 1,420 people through the gate when they entertained Barnsley in a pre-season friendly (and beat their near neighbours 1-0).
This was the first time I’d been to the ground in daylight, and whereas some grounds have the feel of concrete and bricks and new estate show-house to them, Athersley piles it on thick with bold signage and a variety of timber and outbuildings. A fab maze of fences, huts and non-league plastic. It’s got a vibe of garden centre chic with all the wooden fence bits, and I like how at every turn on the near side there’s always another building to find; spacious luxury has been well used at Sheerien Park. This means there’s separate buildings for a shop, a tea hut, a PA shed, a Matchday Big-Cheese official’s office, changing rooms, bogs, et al, and then there’s the Rec Inn (small bar, big-ish telly, plus a few seats and tables) resplendent with its penguin-in-adidas (wot no Munsingwear polo?) frontage. No need to send the makeover team in, Athersley is already bang on as it is.
On The Pitch: Today’s visitors Armthorpe came into the game bottom of t’league, having lost all their opening four games which led to the resignation a few days ago of manager Brian Johnston. The club currently plays with a very young team, and one of the travelling Wellie old boys who I spoke to reckoned that this lack of experience has been the key reason they’re propping up the table at the moment.
On this showing, they stand a good chance of turning things around. Though it was ultimately an inability to take chances that cost them the points. Rec play some neat football for this level, often opting to pass the ball around at the back rather than go for the more commonly preferred quick hoof upfront tactic. They looked the more comfortable of the two sides when in possession, but Armthorpe pretty much matched them in terms of drive and effort in the first half. And after the break, the difference ultimately boiled down to ‘tekking a chance when it comes to thee’.
Kai Hancock is one of those players that maybe goes under the radar but at the moment always seems to score. When he spun on a sixpence on the right hand edge of the opposition box four minutes into the second period, there were still at least half a dozen defenders in close contention between him and the goal. Next thing you know though, he’s got a shot in and it’s nestled into the bottom far corner of the goal with the keeper looking on helpless. That was ten for the season already though now for Hancock, and stands him currently at the top of the NCEL goalscoring charts.
Athersley 1 Armthorpe 0.
Athersley then pressed further, and looked likely to get a second but it never came. Meanwhile, Armthorpe never gave up, and went go on to get two penalties in the last quarter of the game. The first one by Tom McLaughlin was on target, but close enough to the keeper for him to push it onto the post and wide. The second then came in injury time, and was basically the last kick of the game. This time skipper Craig Aspinall stepped up to the plate. Sadly though, it was a shocker that he will want to erase from his memory as quick as possible, being skied at least six feet over the crossbar. To coin a phrase: When you’re down, your luck’s out. But you need to chuffin’ score from penalties!
And Furthermore: Before the game there was an impeccably observed minute’s silence held in memory of the 150th Anniversary of the Oaks Colliery (later known as Barnsley Main) Disaster, and the 80th Anniversary of an explosion at the local Wharncliffe Woodmoor Colliery. There were fundraising representatives here today from a campaign to build a memorial statue to remember the 383 mineworkers who perished at the former, as despite being the worst coal mining disaster to ever happen in England, there is not currently a memorial to those who died.
For further info or to make a donation, please head to: Remember The Oaks Mining Disaster on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RememberTheOaks
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter n Flickr: A full photo album of ground and match action from today is available on The Dribbling Code’s flickr site at:
We also have a Twitter account, where details of updates and suchlike are twitted about: http://www.twitter.com/dribblingcode