2007 Latest News
End of 2007 / Start 2008
* The long suffering Nelson supporters finally had something to cheer about as a masterly midfield display by the mercurial Ed O’Neil and the magnificent Dennis Hill helped the Blues to a 5-1 win over fellow strugglers Atherton L.R. The win was easily their best of the season with the previous two victories being by the odd goal. The three points lifted them out of the bottom two and to within three points of L.R.
* Clitheroe travelled east to take on Bridlington Town hopeful of three points against their struggling, managerless opponents, but a 4-0 drubbing meant that the clubs changed positions in the table and now the Blues look to have a real battle on their hands to avoid the drop. Jason Jones’ debut couldn’t have ended much worse despite the inclusion of fellow ex-Robins Neil Zarac and Ryan Fisher. Russ McKenna has been missing from the defence for the last two games in which the Shawbridge side have conceded seven goals. Indeed, Bridlington were the league’s lowest scorers before Saturday.
Liam McManus has certainly helped steady the ship at Ashton United, just a single defeat in their last five games has seen them climb steadily up the Unibond Premier League table.
* The holiday fixtures brought little joy for Nelson despite now having Hill, Denning, O’Neil and Morley amongst their ranks. Dennis had a particularly good game in midfield but the usually excellent keeper Billy Carrington had a day to forget, fumbling two efforts into his own net as the visitors were hammered 4-1 at lowly St. Helens. Paul Mashiter and Martin Parkes helped to steady the ship for Darwen as they played out a 1-1 draw with Padiham before a bumper crowd. Paul Walker and the evergreen Steve Pickup helped the Blues mount a strong second half comeback with the latter heading narrowly over in the final minutes. Jason Jones was snapped up in double quick time as he returned to Clitheroe. The Blues drew over 300 for their New Years Day clash against Rossendale United which must have been a relief for the officials at Shawbridge after they registered a paltry 119 for a league game just a few weeks earlier. When Neil Zarac scored against his former club late on it seemed like the points were secure but despite being down to 10 men, the Stags scored twice in the last few minutes to share the spoils.
* James Dean set Stalybridge Celtic on their way to a 4-0 victory at Solihull with the first goal after just 6 minutes. Simon Garner found himself out of favour at Bower Fold, alerting a host of clubs with Buxton leading the way. The Derbyshire club put in ‘seven days’ notice but Simon decided to stay and fight for his place and not surprisingly was soon back in the starting line up.
* December’s frozen pitches meant little activity for our ex-stars but Paul Mashiter did manage to find the net for Darwen in their 2-0 win at Blackpool Mechanics. Vasilis Theophanous has left Salford City to join Brent Peters at Bacup Borough and his quality will be required as his new team struggle near the foot of the table. They were in fact rock-bottom before their Boxing Day win at Nelson, a game which saw ‘Vaz’ make his debut as a second half substitute and Liam Denning sent off for the hosts. Sadly the bank holiday fixture attracted a paltry 75 spectators.
The Victoria Park club put in ‘7 days’ notice for Dennis Hill and Darwen appeared quite happy for him to go-so he did! Speaking exclusively to the GHT website, he said that he was looking forward to the challenge of helping the Blues remain in the 1st Division and was surprised at Darwen’s apparent apathy to his departure. The Salmoners were also rocked by the decision of Jason Jones to leave the club at around the same time and having lost two of their most experienced players, their outside chance of promotion seems to have all but gone.
* Liam McManus climbed the ‘football ladder’ a couple of rungs when he left Ramsbotom to join struggling Ashton United in the Unibond Premier League. Many Harwood supporters will remember our epic battles with Ashton while both teams were chasing promotion around fifteen years ago. Liam made his debut in the 3-1 defeat at Hednesford Town and by Christmas had yet to be on the winning side.
* Ed O’Neil hit the target for Nelson but couldn’t stop them losing yet again whilst Jason Jones continued his excellent goalscoring this season by hitting one of Darwen’s two without reply against Holker Old Boys. Neil Zarac has turned Clitheroe from a team looking behind them near the bottom to one which is looking to make an impact near the top. He was surprisingly dropped to the bench for the trip to Mossley after the Blues Lancs. Cup exit at Leigh earlier in the week (a game in which Keiran Fletcher scored), but with Clitheroe struggling he came on to score twice late on and clinch all three points.
* James Dean didn’t hang around Gigg Lane for long and was sent out to Conference North outfit Stalybridge Celtic to gain more first team experience. His debut was against Boston United, a game which I took in, and he ran the Pilgrims defence a merry dance throughout. Only bad luck prevented him from hitting a hat-trick but his ‘new’ team still won at a canter 3-0. Deano’s dynamic display helped to end a run of 5 successive defeats for Celtic and while he’s there for the next month, expect them to shoot up the table. His man of the match performance was equalled by Simon Garner at left back who also enjoyed a great game and helped to shore up a defence which had been conceding far too many goals in recent games.
* The beginning of November saw two ex-Robins miss out on huge games. James Dean was recalled to Bury after his loan period and missed Altrincham’s televised FA Cup 1st Round game at home to Millwall, although the Shakers would probably have stopped him from appearing. Things were even worse for Keiran Fletcher at Clitheroe. Although still banned because of a sending off against Lancaster, he played in the FA Trophy draw at Rushall Olympic. The replay was postponed while the FA investigated, but it looks as though the Blues will be expelled from the competition. The suspension also cost Keiran a place in the starting line-up against FC United at Shawbridge but Clitheroe managed without him to record a famous 2-1 victory. After the fun and games at Gigg Lane a couple of years ago, the ex-Harwood stars absence was probably a blessing in disguise!
* Paul Walker has left Ramsbottom to team up once again with ex-Robin John Eastham at Padiham.
* Neil Zarac has left Rossendale United to join Clitheroe but couldn’t find the net on his debut in the FA Trophy game at home to Lancaster. The evergreen Pete Smith came on as a second half substitute but even he found the Dollyblues defence too good as the sides played out a goalless draw.The replay brought better news for Neil as his double saw his new team through to the next round. Next up was the ‘six-pointer’ relegation battle against Chorley and despite missing a couple of gilt-edged chances, the ex-Harwood forward scored again during a man of the match performance. Ryan Fisher also scored during the 5-1 win.
* James Dean left Bury to join Conference club Altrincham on loan and duly scored on his debut as his new team rocketed into a three goal lead at Salisbury. Sadly the struggling Reds leaked three goals in 18 minutes to leave with just a single point. The following game saw the defence concede three goals in just 9 minutes to visiting Ebbsfleet and although Deano was prominent in most of Alty’s best moves, the deficit proved too much. Alty then made it through to the FA Cup 1st round after a single goal victory at Pete Smith’s old club Kendal Town but unfortunately Bury forbid Deano form taking part
* Another player whose potential seems to have no limits is Matt Derbyshire who made it 4 goals in 8 England Under-21 appearances with the only goal of the game against Montenegro. That victory put Stuart Pearce’s side top of the group but even better news was that Matt’s girlfriend is expecting twins-congratulations Dad! The next game saw him once again lead the line and help the under-21s to a 3-0 win against Eire although his game was cut short when he went off with an injury after an hour.
Although on the bench for his next Rovers game, Matt still had a big impact on the game against Reading. With the visitors threatening a come-back, he was on the field for around two minutes before dribbling his way through the defence and being tripped as he was about to slot home his teams fourth goal. The resulting penalty conversion clinched the three points although sadly for Matt it was Benni McCarthy who took it.
* Andy Procter’s season just gets better and better and he scored yet again in the great 3-1 victory at Dagenham. If he continues with his present form, Stanley will do well to hang on to him.
* Yet another former Harwood player to leave the club recently was Paul Mashiter who joined Darwen. It took ‘Mash’ just two games to get off the mark and his goal against Ecclehall helped the Anchor side to a 4-2 victory. Earlier in the week manager Steve Mullen had left the club along with several first-teamers but the youngsters, along with a few senior players made short work of their opponents from Staffordshire. Martin Parkes, Jason Jones, ‘Tricky Dickie’ Fogarty and the afore mentioned Paul Mashiter were all outstanding.
* If losing John Eastham wasn’t bad enough, Whinney Hill suffered a further set back when manager John Hughes departed the club soon afterwards. Hughesy proved himself to be a great manager whilst at the Showground and his phone is sure to be ‘red hot’ with eager chairman vying for his services.
* John Eastham has left Whinney Hill to link up with Steve Pickup at Padiham. Undoubtedly the finest and most consistent forward in the NWCFL since the turn of the century, Easty had been head-hunted by several clubs this season but chose the Storks after boss Steve Wilkes used all his powers of persuasion. Speaking exclusively to www.greatharwoodtown.co.uk John said:
“I trained with Padiham pre season and was very impressed with the whole place.” Despite his presence the Storks have failed to win in the 3 games since he signed but class will always shine through and expect the Blues to go climbing the league in the very near future. Two of Eastie’s ex-team mates helped put an end to his hopes of Lancs. Cup glory when Clitheroe won 3-0 at the Arbories in front of a crowd of 230. Ryan Fisher and Keiran Fletcher starred for the Shawbridge side with Fletch setting up the second goal for the prolific Gary Jackson.
* Andy Procter not only scored to help Stanley to their best Football League result since their promotion, a 3-0 win at Bradford City, he also scooped the PFA fans player of the month award for August/September. He followed that up with a man of the match performance against Wrexham in what was his 200th appearance for the club.
* Away from the pitch, our new web-site has been receiving some great publicity from the local media and plenty of feedback is coming in. Many thanks go to all those involved in making it such a huge success, 12,000 ‘hits’ in the first 6 weeks is phenomenal.
* Lee Sculpher resigned as manager of Ramsbottom United soon after their 2-1 home success over St. Helens, courtesy of Liam McManus’ winner. After a poor run of results Scully felt under too much pressure although the Rams seemed to have turned things round after Saturday’s win followed a 2-0 victory against Bacup Borough.
* Jason Jones turned from hero to villain in Darwen’s 3-2 FA Vase home reverse against Atherton LR. He twice gave his side the lead before getting himself sent off for elbowing an opponent with the Salmoners leading 2-1. With Dennis Hill also leaving the field through injury around the hour mark, the task proved too difficult and Rovers took the tie in extra time.
* Matt Derbyshire was preferred up front to European Cup winner Benni McCarthy as the Rovers took on Sunderland at the Stadium of Light and his inclusion was totally justified as he helped the Blues to a 2-1 win in front of a crowd of more than 41,000.The following week Matt started once again this time in the UEFA Cup against Larrisa of Greece. Matt’s twice taken penalty gave the Rovers a lifeline but the 2-1 win proved to be insufficient to take them through to the group stages. Life is getting better all the time for the Harwood hero as he and his lovely girlfriend are expecting twins in the not too distant future.
* Ryan Fisher scored the final goal for Clitheroe in the amazing 8-2 FA Cup victory over Spennymoor Town and also hit the net in the previous league game against Harrogate Railway Athletic.
* Padiham’s away support can’t match that of Harwood’s if the gate at Blackpool Mechanics is anything to go by. Just 28 turned out for the league game there although Castleton v Bottle ‘attracted’ a paltry 17! We couldn’t make ends do with an average attendance of over 100.
* Many of our old foes were involved in Vase action including two who met at Norton and Stockton Ancients, where visitors Thornaby, Harwood’s last Vase opponents, matched the Robins 4-0 win at the same venue two years ago.
Seaham Red Star thrashed us 7-0 a few seasons ago and Sunderland CA received the same treatment in this year’s competition. Winterton Rangers found Bishop Auckland an easier proposition than the Robins and dispatched the North Easterners 4-2 while Guisborough and Crook Town both lost at home.
* Dennis Hill turned yet another man-of-the-match performance in Darwen’s home FA Vase tie with Penrith and also scored what proved to be the winner in a 2-1 victory. Jason Jones scored once for ‘Darren’ in the 4-0 thrashing of Oldham Town in the Vodcat North West Counties League.
* The end of September saw an avalanche of strikes from our old heroes. Liam McManus scored for Ramsbottom to put them two up in their FA Vase tie at AFC Emley, conquerors of Darwen in the FA Cup, and despite hitting the woodwork twice after that, the home side ran out 4-3 winners. Steve MacDonald scored Rammy’s third in the 68th minute to set up a grandstand finish.
* Another of our ex-players to make it to the Football League is Andy Procter and despite Accrington Stanley’s poor start to the season, he’s turned in several man-of-the-match performances as well as scoring a number of goals from midfield.
* The evergreen Pete Smith and Russ McKenna were early season scorers for Clitheroe as was Keiran Fletcher but the ex-Robins defender hit the back of his own net in the FA Cup tie at Chorley. Luckily Smithy spared his blushes with a 2nd half equaliser. The Harwood legend had already ensured the Shawbridge club’s passage in this round with the winning third goal in a 3-2 victory over St. Helens. Ryan Fisher scored against Wakefield before being injured and his absence from the team won’t help them improve upon their poor start to the League campaign.
Clitheroe hosted their biggest match since the FA Vase semi-final a few years ago when FC United arrived for a Unibond game. They must have been disappointed to draw less than 1,000 to the game and even more disappointed when the floodlights failed just before the hour mark. The game was abandoned with the scores locked at 1-1.
* Despite Steve Pickup starring for Padiham, their early season form has been disappointing with just a single win from their first three games. The Storks were another of our local clubs to make a quick exit from the world’s greatest cup competition when they let leads of 2-0 and 3-1 slip before going down 6-3 at Salford City.
Mind you, the Blues soon made up for it as they hammered Castleton Gabriels 9-0 with Steve amongst the goalscorers.
* Neil Zarac started off this season as he finished the last one-scoring goals. He hit a last gasp penalty at Chorley to give Dale a share of the spoils in their Unibond League game.
*Liam McManus and Steve MacDonald continue to impress at the Riverside and were both quickly off the mark for Ramsbottom this term.
* Liam Denning must be on course for some kind of record for the number of clubs which he’s played for. He’s now at Nelson but despite his excellent contributions, the Blues registered just one point from their opening four games and also exited the FA Cup at home to Hallam.
* Meanwhile, in the 2nd Division of the Vodcat North West Counties League, Dennis Hill and Richard Fogarty combined well to get Darwen’s season going after a heavy opening day defeat against new boys Kirkham and Wesham. Den crossed for ‘tricky Dicky to open the scoring in a 5-1 home win over Ashton Town at the Anchor. Disappointment soon followed as they went down 3-0 at much-fancied AFC Emley in the FA Cup.
*Matt Derbyshire continues to live the dream at the Rovers. Coming on as a substitute in the Inter Totto Cup in Lithuania, he scored from long range to put the Blues two up and all but clinch the tie.
Back on the bench for the opening Premier League fixture at Middlesborough, he once again came on during the second half and took 30 seconds to open his league account. A fantastic piece of control, turn and shot into the top corner had the Boro defence and keeper bamboozled and also gave Rovers the 3 points. Match of the Day pundits were drooling about the strike as was the BBC radio commentator.
Matt was then on the goal trail for England under-21’s at Ashton Gate. He scored the home sides only goal after just 8 minutes but unfortunately Romania hit back with an equaliser.
*James Dean signed on for Clitheroe not long after leaving Harwood and they moved him to centre forward with great results. He earned himself a dream move to Northwich Victoria in the Conference and made his debut on January 20th. By the end of the season he’d made 15 appearances for the first team plus 5 more as a substitute, scoring 4 goals and clocking up 5 yellow cards. A change of manager in the summer saw him released but things soon began to look up as he penned a one year deal at League Two Bury.
Shakers manager Chris Casper said:
“James is an old fashioned centre-forward, he’s good in the air and holds up play well.”
James made the bench for the opening game of the season at fancied MK Dons although he didn’t get on. He made his full League debut in the first home game of the season against Carlisle, keeping local hero Andy Bishop on the bench, and kept his place for following game.
Let’s hope that ‘Deano’ can establish himself in the first team at Gigg Lane.
*During the summer, plans were announced of a plan to build houses on the Showground. AJH associates of Clitheroe submitted a plan to Hyndburn Borough Council to build 32 two-storey houses and 6 bungalows.
The covenant which states that the ground must be made available for the Great Harwood Show appears to be worth nothing and the Show organisers are looking for another site.
*About two months later the Council rejected the plans.
*Meanwhile, local scum continue to cause vandalism in the area and part of the main stand was destroyed by fire. The fire station crew manager put the blame on ‘kids’ messing about. The fire was reported at 4 o’clock in the morning so just how old were these kids?