Season 2011-12 Latest News


May

Halifax Town supporters outnumbered the home support in their final league game at Solihull and that looked to be replicated in the 1 st leg of the play-off semi-final at Gainsborough where a crowd of 2,380 (four time the average Trinity attendance) saw Town fight back from 2-0 down to force a draw.

James Dean helped them get back into the game when he crossed for Gregory to reduce the deficit with a headed goal.

Town went into the 2 nd leg full of confidence after their two-goal comeback but the game ended in heartache for ex-Robins’ Deano and Simon Garner as the Lincs. side ran out 1-0 winners at the Shay.

Very surprisingly, boss Neil Aspin left out the irrepressible Ross Hannah and the supremely consistent Simon from the starting line-up, naming both players as substitutes.

After a cagey opening half hour, Deano produced the first real effort on goal but his header went straight at the visiting keeper.

Early in the 2 nd half the same player swivelled on the edge of the box before hitting a left foot shot against the foot of the post and he was inches away from scoring during a goalmouth scramble shortly afterwards.

After 65 minutes Trinity scored what proved to be the deciding goal, much to the delight of a vociferous following amongst the excellent turn-out of just under 3,500.

The Blues best chance for the remaining half hour fell to Deano on 80 minutes but while off-balance, he shot tamely towards goal.

In the NWCFL, Bacup Borough, as they do every season, needed to catch up with a huge backlog of fixtures, with the dreadful weather at the end of April causing even more disruption with many games called off due to waterlogged pitches.

The League really need to look at the problem because the number of games that both Bacup and Norton had to complete by the Saturday deadline was nothing short of ridiculous and now Brent Peters’ club appear to be in serious trouble after refusing to fulfil their home fixture with Colne, already postponed from the previous week.

Bacup’s fixture list for the final week was:

Tuesday- Stone Dominoes, home (won 1-0, attendance 20)

Wednesday-Colne, home (refused to play)

Thursday-Maine Road, League Challenge Cup Final at Curzon Ashton (won 5-0, attendance 398)

Friday-AFC Liverpool, away (lost 1-0, attendance 91)

Saturday-Winsford United, home (lost 6-3, attendance )

That final game was much closer than the scoreline suggests with United’s last two goals coming in the 89 th and 90 th minutes.

Meanwhile, in the 1 st Division, Norton United must have set a record for the most number of games in the final two/three weeks.

The last week in April saw two games in two days postponed putting more pressure on them during the last week of the season but they performed admirably to finish 2 nd, just one point behind Champions Wigan Robin Park and with a superior goal difference.

On Wednesday, they won 6-0 at Ashton Town while on Thursday they travelled again, to Nelson and trailed 1-0 at the break, much to the delight of the majority of the crowd-12!!!! The Staffs, side roared back after the break to win 3-1 and 24 hours later they were back on the road again, and completed a magnificent season by winning 1-0 at neighbours Eccleshall.

Barnoldswick Town finished another great season by coming from behind to defeat Glossop North End 2-1 at the Silentnight Stadium to finish in 3 rd place.

Colne finished in 11 th place, three above Bacup while two places further down were Padiham. Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate ended just behind the Storks in 17 th position.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen ended the campaign in 13 th, two places above Nelson.

Dave Eastwood’s Mill Hill side won the LFA Sunday Trophy after a nail biting penalty shoot-out against Preston side New Farrington House. Both sides scored a penalty during the game but Farrington missed two in the shoot-out allowing Mill Hill to win 4-1.

The Blackburn side also made it through to the final of the Blue & White Rosebowl Cup by beating Intack 2-0 and they’ll play New Gardeners who beat John Eastham’s former side Station, 7-0 in the other semi-final.

The team isn’t just successful in the Cup competitions as they won the Blackburn Sunday League, finishing ahead of their final opponents by just a few points, but warmed up for Anchor show-down by thrashing New Gardeners 6-0 in the last league game of the season.

Our entry for the Non League Paper’s Fantasy League, Gt. Harwood Town, failed miserably this season and with a week to go lay in 955 th place from 1,535 entries. Not quite sure how we ended up so low down as we had 3 League winners and two runners up, and 15 teams that finished in the top 8 of their respective Leagues.

Sad news for Darlington as they must leave their magnificent 25,000 capacity Stadium, the Northern Echo Arena, and ground share with Shildon of the Northern League, whose ground is around 10 miles away.

Darlo have played at the ground for nine years and I saw Boston play there several years ago, and for anyone who’s been to a game there will know, the atmosphere is weird, like watching a reserve game in front of around 1,500 fans leaving huge areas of empty seats. The future of this superb ground is now unsure but it’s highly unlikely that Darlington will ever play there again.

Thankfully the Quakers won their last ever game at the venue, beating Kettering, themselves flirting with disaster this season, 3-1 in front of 1,792.

Our ex-landlords Accrington Stanley waved goodbye to a brilliant Chairman in Ilyias Khan, a man, much like previous legend Eric Whalley, who had the club’s best interest at heart. Khan relinquished his position at the Crown and gave away his shares to people at the club who had showed their loyalty.

Just five miles away, supporters of Blackburn Rovers, including many ex-Harwood players and supporters, could only dream of such an owner, as the Venky’s, ably supported by the lyingcheatinguselessbackstabbingcrookedwasteofspace, AKA Steve Kean (OUT), continued with their destruction of a once proud football club.

Nelson have new joint managers in place, Roger Grimes and Michael Morrison have arrived from Ramsbottom United so good luck to the pair for next season.

The promotion and relegation places have finally been sorted out in the NWCFL, West Didsbury & Chorlton have moved up from the Manchester League and Wigan Robin Park and Norton United have been promoted to the Premier Division.

In the 1 st Division, Atherton Collieries drew the highest average attendance, just 58 with a best of only 93. If we were still around today, then we’d surely be the best supported club in the Division.

Compare that with the attendances during our final year.

The lowest average attendance was recorded by Daisy Hill with a whopping 122 whilst the highest was FC United who averaged an astonishing 3,058. United’s best crowd of 6,023-against Harwood-was more than the total season’s attendances of any other club and their lowest home gate was a shade under 2,000. The lowest crowd that United recorded during the campaign was 1,028 at the Crown against us and that was the main reason for a disappointing average of 128. Mind you, that figure would have put us 6 th in the top Division.

This season’s FA Vase saw two North Eastern sides do battle at Wembley and Dunston UTS took the honours by beating West Auckland 2-0 in front of over 5,000 fans, thanks to a brace from Andrew Bulford who scored in every round.

Steve Wilkes is back in the area after being appointed joint manager, alongside Steve Cunningham, at Padiham.

Late April

After some below-par performances and a bit of ‘stick’ from some sections of the PNE crowd, Andy Procter was demoted to the subs. Bench for the Lilywhites final home game of the season against Champions Charlton Athletic.

The ex-Harwood star didn’t make an appearance in what turned out to be the Graham Alexander show. North End trailed 2-0 but pulled a goal back before the 40 year-old came on for the final 6 minutes of his 20+ year, 1000+ appearance career.

When North End were awarded a free kick just outside of the corner of the penalty area, Alexander was about to cross into the middle before being told by a team-mate(in no uncertain terms!) to have a shot-he did, and the ball flew into the net for a fairy tale ending to a great career. That kick was his last in the game but there was time for the referee to book him for his wild celebration with the North End fans-totally ridiculous as he was pushed into the Town End by ecstatic team-mates-Ref. get a life!!

Hopefully, Andy and PNE will enjoy a better campaign next season.

John Coleman’s Rochdale required a three-goal win at home to MK Dons to move above Exeter City at the foot of League One but they went down 2-1 to finish bottom.

In League Two, Coley’s former side Stanley played their final away game at Bristol City with the Robins needing a two-goal win to go above their visitors but they found little resistance, winning 5-1.

After 30 games without defeat, Fleetwood Town followed up their loss at Cambridge with another, 2-0 at home to play-off challengers Luton Town. Another fantastic crowd, 4,446, witnessed the end of the campaign in which the Cod Army amassed a tremendous total of 103 points.

Just five points behind them were Wrexham, who beat Braintree 5-1 at the Racecourse to end the campaign with 98 points and a goal difference of +52, surely a title-winning total in almost any other season.

In the play-offs, Kidderminster Harriers were in pole position before the final game, needing to defeat Mansfield Town at Aggborough while relying on Fleetwood to beat Luton.

A 3-0 home defeat made the Luton result irrelevant.

Southport ended the campaign on a high with a superb 1-0 win at Blundell Park against Grimsby Town.

James Dean and Simon Garner both completed the 90 minutes as Halifax Town won 2-1 at Solihull Moors.

Simon set up the first chance for Gregory but he ran the ball out of play when rounding the keeper. Deano then set up Toulson who shot narrowly wide before another cross was sliced over the bar by a defender.

Playing out wide on the right, as he did against Boston, he ran riot and his next cross was converted by the enigmatic Ross Hannah but the ‘goal’ was chalked out for offside.

Nevertheless, the Blues won the 3 points and now take on Gainsborough Trinity in a two-legged play-off semi-final.

If Gainsborough had lost at Altrincham, then both clubs would have made the play-offs but they came from behind to win 3-2 and condemn the Robins to another season in the Blue Square North.

An incredible nine clubs started the day in danger of relegation but eight of them would be safe unless Hinckley won at Stalybridge, themselves needing to win to stand a chance of making the play-offs.

Despite a sterling effort, the Leicestershire side went down 4-2, much to the relief of their relegation rivals.

Celtic, meanwhile, were also left disappointed as Nuneaton won 3-2 at Blyth to clinch their play-off place.

In Blue Square South, the relegation dog-fight was just as exciting, if not more so, with the final placings going right down to the final minute of the season. With one game to go, Havant and Waterlooville had 41points, Maidenhead had 40.

With a minute of the season remaining, both sides were level in their respective games.

Maidenhead led 2-0 against visitors Eastleigh but found themselves trailing before hitting back to take the lead in the last minute, and saving themselves from the drop-or so they thought.

Meanwhile, Havant twice came from behind before also scoring a last minute winner against Staines.

In the Southern League, Central Division, former Conference side Slough entertained Leighton Town needing a 41 goal swing with St. Neots Town who hosted North Greenford. The Saints 8-0 victory meant that Slough would have needed to win 50-0 and unsurprisingly they didn’t make it, losing 3-0.

In the Welsh Premier League, the climax to the season couldn’t have been stage managed any better with 1 st placed TNS entertaining 2 nd placed Bangor City with the winners taking the title. A draw would have been enough for TNS but a draw was the last thing on their minds as they ripped through the City defence at will. A 1,468 saw them build up a 3-0 half-time lead before eventually winning 5-0 to take the Championship in style.

The Evo-stik League semi-finals are contested over a single game and two potential ‘giants’ Chorley, and FC United of Manchester met at Victory Park before a sell-out crowd of almost 3,000. United made the most of their fortunate inclusion in the play-offs by winning 2-0, courtesy of two second half goals and now face Bradford Park Avenue in an all-ticket game at the Horsfall Stadium.

Bradford eased past Hednesford 5-0 before a very disappointing crowd of just over 600.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, our old adversaries Ramsbottom United finally clinched the title on a fantastic day at the Riverside.

Before a mind-blowing attendance of 546, the Rams tore into visitors Winsford United and had built up a 4-1 lead by the break before ending up 5-2 winners. The Blues won the title by 3 points from 2 nd placed Runcorn Town, who themselves enjoyed a second successive fabulous season.

Below them, Barnoldswick Town drew a fine 146 as they entertained Runcorn Linnets who won 2-1, before travelling to Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate and winning 4-1.

Before that defeat, Russ’s boys had taken on Atherton LR at the same venue and trailed 2-0 at the break before pulling it back to 2-1. Enter the ex-Robin who notched an 89 th minute equaliser to earn a point for the Seasiders.

Just 38 hardy souls saw that game and a similar number turned to see Bacup Borough take on Gate’s big rivals AFC Blackpool at West View and the visitors triumphed 2-0.

Borough’s next game saw an increase in the attendance-of just one-but the 39 saw a better result, a 2-1 win against Bootle.

Colne earned a good point with a 1-1 draw at Glossop North End while local rivals Padiham also drew by the same score against Flixton at the Arbories.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen thrashed Eccleshall 5-2 at the Anchor in front of only 24 paying spectators while three more people saw Nelson draw 1-1 at Northwich Villa.

Even that ‘crowd’ was five more than Villa’s previous one against Daisy Hill when they lost 4-1.

Norton United continued with their ridiculous fixture pile up but at least the atrocious weather gave them a little respite.

Monday saw them travel to Abbey Hey and hammer the hosts 4-0 before a trip to Formby 24 hours later resulted in a 1-0 defeat.

Wednesday’s fixture at Eccleshall and Thursday’s at Ashton Town were postponed due to the wet weather but Saturday’s home fixture against Irlam soon had them back in the old routine with a 3-0 win.

Mid April

Only one place to begin and that’s with the magnificent achievement of Fleetwood Town in reaching the Football League-who’d have believed it when we last entertained them just a few years ago at the Crown Ground.

On that evening we gave them ‘a bit of a hiding’ despite their victory. The club was actually only founded in 1997 and eight years later they won the North West Counties League. Their rise since then has been incredible, especially for the last two seasons when one thinks about the calibre of opposition in non-league’s top flight.

They had the chance to clinch the title when hosting relegation threatened Lincoln City at Highbury on Friday evening but the Imps spoiled the party by building up a two goal lead within 20 minutes and although the Reds levelled before the 50 minute mark, a 2-2 draw left them waiting to celebrate.

They did that just a few hours later when Wrexham, despite taking the lead twice, were held to a 2-2 draw by Grimsby Town.

Good luck to Fleetwood for next season.

Southport have enjoyed a great season but ultimately came up short after they let a two-goal lead at Tamworth slip to draw and then conceded a late leveller at home to Ebbsfleet United to once again share the spoils.

Andy Procter’s PNE gained a rare win after beating Huddersfield Town 1-0 at Deepdale but he had a great chance to make it two just a minute after the goal when he headed over from 10 yards.

The Lilywhites were then involved in a mind-blowingly boring 1-1 draw at Oldham Athletic and Andy was substituted just a couple of minutes after conceding the free kick which led to Oldham’s opener.

Poor John Coleman saw his Rochdale side relegated after they surrendered the lead at Chesterfield who scored twice in the final 10 minutes to keep their own survival hopes alive.

In the Blue Square North, Halifax Town drew 1-1 at Altrincham but it could and maybe should have been three points.

James Dean was fouled in the box but Clancy’s spot kick was saved before Alty took the lead after 19 minutes. Simon Garner then saw his 25-yard screamer fly just wide on 30 minutes before Deano’s scrambled effort just before the break sent the sides in level.

In the 2 nd half he had a great chance to put the Tykes in front but hit the bar from just 6 yards.

Altrincham’s McGivern was sent off in the 80 th minute, just six minutes after coming on as a substitute but the Robins hung on for a point.

Town then entertained Droylsden who warmed up for the clash with an extraordinary midweek game at Histon. The Stutes raced into a two-goal lead but the Bloods hit back with three goals in the final ten minutes of the half to go in 3-2 up. The fireworks continued after the break and within a minute Histon were level but just 5 minutes later Droylsden went back in front. Just two minutes after that it was 4-4 and that’s how it stayed until the 90 th minute when Histon scored was would surely give them the three points but in the 91 st minute, the visitors scored yet again to secure a 5-5 draw.

The game at the Shay was lit up by a tremendous 25 yard shot by Droylsden’s Johnson after 15 minutes but by half time Town had levelled.

James Dean was twice denied in the opening period by the Bloods’ keeper but on 38 minutes he set up Clancy for the equaliser.

After the break, Hannah (set up by Deano) once, and Clancy twice, hit the woodwork but Gregory scored what proved to be the winner.

Deano was brought down in the box but Baker missed the target from the spot, Town’s 7 th penalty miss of the season.

In between those incidents he set up a great chance for Ross Hannah whose shot was cleared off the line.

Simon Garner also set up the Bradford City but his effort flew just over the bar. Simon (49 minutes) and Deano (81 minutes) were both shown yellow cards as the tackles flew in during the second half.

Not too far behind are Altricham who won 6-1 at Eastwood Town with McGivern, sent off against Halifax seven days earlier, made amends with a hat-trick courtesy of goals in the 45 th, 79 th, and 91 st minutes.

Hyde United clinched the Championship, in a game which I saw, beating Boston United 4-1 whilst their only challengers, Guiseley, were surprisingly beaten 1-0 at home to Bishops Stortford.

In the Evo-stik Premier, FC United and Hednesford Town swapped places in the final play-off spot as the Reds lost 3-1 at Matlock while Town won 2-1 at 2 nd placed Northwich Victoria.

A few days later United had to beat ‘demoted’ Northwich Victoria, which they did 4-1 at Gigg Lane in front of over 2,500 fans while Hednesford would have to lose at home to Worksop to let the Reds in but they held on for a goalless draw.

Despite the 7 th place finish, FC will compete in the play-offs if 2 nd placed Northwich fail in their appeal.

Chester won the title with a magnificent 100 points with two more wins in the final week. Victory Park was packed with over 2,200 fans to see the Champions defeat Chorley 2-0 and then over 3,500 filled the Deva Stadium to see a fitting 4-0 thrashing of Marine.

Chorley attracted another four-figure crowd as they finished with a 3-1 win against Bradford Park Avenue. That result meant that the two sides will meet in the play-off semi-final at the same venue whereas a draw would have given Avenue home advantage.

Our old friends at Burscough finished bottom, 16 points adrift of their nearest rivals but they ended the season well, drawing 1-1 at FCUM in midweek before entertaining Chasetown on the final day. Considering they had little to play for, they battled all the way to 4-4 and relegate their opponents. The visitors came from two down to lead 3-2 before Burscough stormed back to lead 4-3. Chasetown threw men forward and equalised with still 17 minutes to find the winner and salvation but victory eluded them.

In Division One, AFC Fylde won 1-0 at Warrington Town while Curzon Ashton beat Lancaster City 3-1 to keep the title race open and two days later the Mancunians kept the pressure on with a 4-0 home win against OssettTown.

Undeterred, Fylde had the chance to win the League 24 hours later when they hosted Salford City and they did just that with a 1-0 win in front of just over 400 fans.

Clitheroe lost again, 2-1 at home to Woodley Sports, but avoid the drop thanks to the inefficiencies of Wakefield and Harrogate RA. and their final game saw them travel to the Champs where they lost 2-0 in front of 506 (minus Blues fans) celebrating home supporters.

Sad news for the Evo-stik League this week as Durham City handed in their resignation and applied to join the Northern League. With the size of support in the City and the huge travelling costs incurred in the NPL, the move is surely a sensible one for the long term future of the club.

In the North West Counties League, Ramsbottom United went four points clear of Runcorn Town after a 5-0 home win against St.Helens with four of those strikes coming in the 1 st half.

They followed that up with a 4-1 win at Ashton Athletic and judging from the crowd of 130, they must have taken quite a few supporters.

If Runcorn lose at Barnoldswick on Tuesday or Rammy beat Winsford at the Riverside on Saturday, the title, and Northern Premier League football will be theirs.

Barnoldswick Town lost 2-0 at home to Bacup Borough, defeated Winsford United 1-0, lost 1-0 at Runcorn Linnets before overcoming Alsager by the same score, while Colne drew 1-1 at AFC Liverpool before just 79 fans, and lost 2-0 at home to Bootle.

Brent Peters’ boys followed up their excellent win with a 2-2 draw at Alsager Town but they will have been disappointed to let a two-goal lead slip away. They then won 3-2 against St. Helens at West View before only 41 fans.

Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate lost 3-0 at Congleton but there was better news for Keiran Fletcher’s Padiham as they defeated Runcorn Linnets 3-0 at the Arbories with Fletch hitting the second goal on 41 minutes.

The Storks then lost 1-0 at Bootle but Russ’s boys completed a quick-fire league double over Flixton. They won away in midweek in front of just 16 spectators, then at home on the Saturday, 3-2 on both occasions.

Game of the week was at the Barton Stadium where the home side won a thriller.

Visitors Silsden led 3-2 at the interval but Winsford led 4-3 with a minute left on the clock. Gaughn then looked to have secured a point for the Yorkies with a penalty but Steve Warburton popped up with a late, late winner to make it 5-4.

In the 1 st Division, Nelson drew 2-2 at Daisy Hill but were then hammered 5-0 by Oldham Borough at Victoria Park before only 23 spectators. That attendance dropped to just 20 for their next game against Holker Old Boys but the few loyal fans were rewarded with a 2-1 victory. Another home win followed, this time 1-0 against Leek CSOB. who were fresh from a 4-0 midweek win at Northwich Villa in front of yet another shocking crowd-21.

Staying on that theme, neighbours Oldham Borough and Rochdale both had midweek games and managed 50 spectators between them. Both sides won 3-2, 30 saw Dale beat Formby and 20 saw Borough win against Daisy Hill.

Poor Oldham then saw only 18 people pass through the turnstiles for the ‘Mancs.’ derby against Cheadle Town, who won 2-0.

Darwen looked to have earned three points at home to Atherton Collieries but the visitors equalised just three minutes from time.

Ashton Town entertained Northwich Villa in what could possibly be described as a ‘derby’ game but a paltry attendance of just 18 saw the visitors win 3-1.

Wigan Robin Park seem set to take the title as Norton United’s final schedule looks to be too much for any side.

As Arsene Wenger moans about the Gunners playing twice a week, Norton must play, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, with all the midweek games away from home-and the players will be working all day before the games!!

Poor Arsenal!

After Norton’s recent first defeat, they then lost the Staffs. FA Vase Final at Stafford Rangers Marston Road ground before 200 fans.

United led 2-1 at the break before going down 3-2.

They were soon back in action and beat visitors Atherton Collieries 3-2 before losing 2-0 at Maine Road in the League Challenge Cup semi-final 2 nd leg, a result which knocked them out.

Meanwhile, Wigan moved 13 points clear at the top after a fantastic 11-0 home success against shell-shocked Ashton Town in front of 76 lucky spectators.

A disappointed Great Harwood Town and Buckland Athletic Nick Hancock saw his Devon boys hand over their title as they lost 4-2 while leaders Bodmin clinched it in style with a 6-0 win at Penzance.

Another great game was in the Southern League Premier Division as visiting AFC Totton came from 4-1 down with barely 10 minutes to play, to draw with Bashley, a result which kept them in a play-off spot and they followed that with another goal-fest when they thrashed Arlesey Town 6-0.

Early April

We’ve managed to track down another of our ex-players and he’s doing very well on the management front.

Dave Eastwood , who attended Billinge School with yours truly, was an outstanding left winger and possessed a magical left foot which led to him being signed on by Blackburn Rovers. Dave made many appearances for the Reserves but never quite made it into the first team.

Harwood signed him from Rossendale United and he made his debut on November 22 nd 1986, helping the Robins to a 1-1 home draw with Ashton United in the North West Counties League Division Two.

His next game was against Accrington Stanley in the Floodlit Cup, also at the Showground, where we lost 1-0 with Dave coming closest to scoring when his terrific long range shot crashed against the bar.

He didn’t have to wait too long for his first goal which came on the 5 th of December against Formby. His 30 yard strike gave Harwood the lead at the Showground but the visitors hit back to win 2-1.

Nevertheless, Dave’s arrival coincided with an upturn in results and he made many sparkling appearances for the side.

He was recently in the spotlight when receiving the Blackburn Sunday League manager of the month award for Mill Hill FC.

Not only are his side pushing for the Division One title, they’ve also reached the final of the LFA Sunday Trophy, a remarkable feat when the number of entrants is considered. His boys will take on New Farrington House at the County Ground, Leyland on Wednesday 25 th of April. Good luck goes to Dave and his side from the GHTFC website.

Andy Procter’s PNE continue to struggle and they needed a 90 th minute goal to salvage a point at home to MK Dons in front of a tremendous crowd of 14,000.

In their next game the boot was on the other foot as the Lilywhites looked to have secured all three points when they scored in the 85 th minute at Graham Wesley’s old club Stevenage, but ‘Boro’ hit back with a 93 rd minute equaliser.

That makes it no wins in six games and just one in 13.

John Coleman will almost certainly be back at Accrington Stanley next season but he’ll be in the away dug out. Rochdale went down 5-2 to Sheffield United at Spotland and that’s five defeats and a draw in their last six games leaving them 11 points from safety.

Old foes Fleetwood Town are about to secure promotion to the Football League after Wrexham stuttered and the Codmen won 1-0 at York City with around 500 of their fans in attendance. The title could have been clinched with a home win against the Red Dragons but they had to be content with a point after a 1-1 draw in front of nearly 5,000 fans at Highbury.

Halifax Town are hanging on to a play-off place, losing 2-1 at Stalybridge but coming back to beat the mighty Boston United three days later at the Shay.

James Dean played wide on the right and was given the freedom of the borough by the Pilgrims defenders.

In a game which I saw, Deano put cross after cross into the Boston box as well as threatening the goal and he headed just wide after 4 minutes.

The irrepressible Ross Hannah put the Tykes ahead a minute later before Deano’s headed ‘goal’ was cancelled out for offside after 18 minutes.

Simon Garner pulled the strings in midfield and sprayed the ball around the pitch throughout the 90 minutes and had the visitors chasing shadows.

On 39 minutes, Deano’s shot was blocked but Hannah acrobatically turned in the rebound to make it 2-0.

He then crossed for Gregory who hit the post, and shortly afterwards, he cut inside and lashed an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net for his 10 th goal of the season.

With the game seemingly over, the Pilgrims were given a lifeline with a 1 st half stoppage time strike to put life back into the clash.

The 2 nd half was end to end and the tackles flew in with Deano, not surprisingly, in the thick of things! He received a yellow card on 66 minutes and as the match reached its climax Boston scored again to leave the home supporters biting their nails. Town held out though for a valuable three points and both Deano and Simon completed the 90 minutes with the latter being awarded man of the match.

A nice touch at the final whistle was Deano coming over to the large and vociferous Pilgrims’ following to applaud their magnificent support.

In the Evo-stik Premier League, Chester are almost there, after the Easter fixtures. They won 2-1 at Stocksbridge Park Steels with the four-figure attendance made up almost entirely of Blues supporters.

Two days later they entertained 2 nd placed Northwich Victoria and drew 1-1 in front of an incredible 5,000+ crowd.

Chorley stay 3 rd after two wins, 3-2 at home to Chasetown and 2-1 at Kendal Town. Foster hit another two goals in the home game and Kilheeney scored in each of the games.

FCUM are in the final play-off position despite an Easter to forget. They lost to relegation threatened Buxton, 2-1 at Gigg Lane even though they took the lead after only 6 minutes in front of 2,279, and then lost 1-0 in the derby game at Ashton United with over 800 in attendance.

In the 1 st Division North, Clitheroe led 1-0 at the break at Garforth but eventually went down 2-1, they then came back from a goal down at home to Lancaster City to win 2-1 in front a much better than average 300 at Shawbridge. Those three points saw the Blues all but mathematically safe from the drop.

At the top of the division, AFC Fylde went four points clear of Curzon Ashton after they won 1-0 at Wakefield and 2-0 at home to Bamber Bridge. Curzon meanwhile needed a last minute equaliser to rescue a point in a 3-3 draw at lowly Harrogate RA before winning 2-0 at home to Trafford.

The two leaders can’t have much of an away following as just 102 saw Fylde’s game and 112 attended the Harrogate-Curzon fixture.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Padiham lost 3-0 at Maine Road while Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate lost at home to Runcorn Linnets 1-0.

The Storks then lost 2-1 at Congleton Town while Gate were held 2-2 by Bacup Borough.

Russ’s boys then hosted AFC Blackpool who led 1-0 at the break but Gate hit back to 2-1 in front of a very disappointing 67 spectators.

Another derby game in the same division drew an incredible 602. That was the game between 5 th placed Runcorn Linnets and 2 nd placed Runcorn Town. The former non-league giants edged home 2-1.

Bacup Borough travelled to high-flying Runcorn Town and realised that it wasn’t to be their day when they found themselves 5-0 down after only 30 minutes but thankfully they shut up shop and conceded just two more before the final whistle.

Two days later they visited Glossop North End where the home supporters must have been hoping for another avalanche of goals but Brent Peters’ side showed plenty of character to bounce back and win 1-0.

They then entertained neighbours Ramsbottom United who won 1-0.

Barnoldswick Town are hanging on to their slight hopes of winning the title and they won 2-0 at bottom side Atherton L.R. before just 30 spectators so their away following can’t be anything like the one we enjoyed in the few years before our demise. Those three points left Barlick 13 points behind the leaders although they do have three games in hand.

Next up they enjoyed a fine 3-0 win at home to Runcorn Linnets but then went down 1-0 at Padiham. The Storks goal was scored by ex-Robin Keiran Fletcher in front of an impressive 159 at the Arbories.

Ramsbottom United remained top despite being held 1-1 by 3 rd placed Bootle at the Riverside but then went nap against Stone Dominoes, winning 5-0.

An excellent crowd of 167 saw the derby between Bacup Borough and Rammy and the visitors continued their quest for the title, winning 1-0.

Colne came storming back at lowly St. Helens after trailing 2-0 just after the break. The Reds hit five without reply in the final 30 minutes. They then travelled to nearby Ashton Athletic and once again came back from behind. They trailed 3-2 with just 15 minutes to go but two goals from Jimmy Crorken made it a memorable away double.

Another three points were registered as they defeated Silsden 1-0 at Holt House.

In the 1 st Division, Nelson had to play Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and in the 2 nd of those games, they led 1-0 at Oldham Borough before an own goal robbed them of two points.

They then hosted top of the table Wigan Robin Park and were comfortably beaten 3-0.

A visit to free-scoring Norton United looked daunting and the 5-0 defeat was hardly surprising.

A trip to Daisy Hill looked more promising but it looked like the same old story as the home side surged into a 2-0 lead after only 17 minutes but the Admirals hit back to level by the break and that’s how it stayed.

Darwen, like Nelson, were hit for five at the same venue but they at least scored a goal, from substitute Hessian.

They then looked on course for a point at Ashton Town but five goals in the final 20 minutes made it another miserable journey home.

The goals continued to fly in as they then hosted Irlam but this time six of the seven strikes ended up the ‘right’ net. The Salmoners actually led 4-0 at the break with Bobby Langford hitting a first half treble.

Norton United were involved in a cracker at Rochdale Town, AKA Castleton Gabriels, winning 2-0 at the break before ‘dale fought back to lead and looked on course to inflict the first League defeat on United but an 84 th minute goal ensured that their fantastic record remained intact.

It had to end one day and it did as they lost to three late goals at Atherton Collieries, the last two in the final five minutes as United pushed forward.

Down in Devon, Champions Buckland Athletic have enjoyed three away wins and a home draw in April but they still trail leaders Bodmin by 13 points with eight games to go.

Late March

Just the mention of Matt Derbyshire back in training appears to have had an amazing effect on the mis-firing Nottingham Forest forwards. They produced what was probably the most amazing score of the season in the Championship when they won 7-3 at Leeds United.

It was back to normal for the following two games as they relied on a last minute equaliser at the City Ground to draw 1-1 with Brighton & Hove Albion before a goalless draw at Leicester City.

A tough-looking game at Crystal Palace followed that but the Reds breezed past the Eagles thanks to a second half hat-trick from Majewski to leave them almost safe from the drop.

Things are going from bad to worse for Andy Procter at PNE as they were booed off the park after losing 3-1 to Brentford at Deepdale. The inept display continued throughout the next game at Sheffield Wednesday where they were beaten 2-0 and failed to trouble the Owls keeper for the whole 90 minutes. The nearest North End came was when Andy saw his shot deflected for a corner after half an hour.

The Lilywhites are now in real danger of joining the relegation scrap after manager Graham Westley’s first 15 games have yielded just two wins.

It seemed that things couldn’t get any worse but after the Wednesday defeat, Westley came out with some highly controversial comments about some of his players and it was difficult to see how he could continue in his role at the club. Despite almost universal criticism from the North End fans, Westley was given the whole-hearted backing of his Chairman Peter Ridsdale leaving the club’s officials and supporters at loggerheads.

Our old foes Fleetwood Town are now clear favourites to make it to the Football League after opening up a 6 point gap over Wrexham.

Mansfield arrived in town on the back of two great wins, the first, a 7-0 thrashing of Barrow at Field Mill. The second was the derby game at Alfreton which was played before an astonishing 3,106 fans, four or five times the usual attendance. The Stags led 4-3 at the break and held on until two goals in the final two minutes made the final score 6-3.

Despite that good form, they proved no match for Micky Melon’s boys who cruised to a 2-0 win in front of over 3,000 noisy fans at Highbury.

Next up for the Reds was a trip to bottom of the table Bath City and everything went according to form as Fleetwood built up a four-goal lead before a City consolation on 81 minutes. Those 3 points made it 98 for the season, unbeaten in 26 games, 8 clear of Wrexham, one win away from equalling the record of 31 wins in a season, and seven points short of the points record set by Crawley last season.

Wrexham, meanwhile, led 1-0 against Forest Green Rovers at the break but the visitors hit back to steal all three points after a 94 th minute winner. The Red Dragons were struggling again in the next game at Darlington but two goals in the final 5 minutes gave them a 4-2 victory.

A tough trip to Cambridge United followed and another defeat looked on the cards before a 94 th minute equaliser rescued a point.

Just below the leaders, although ‘miles’ behind in terms of points, are Southport who moved up into 4 th place after a great 2-1 win at play-off rivals York City.

The Sandgrounders then gained a point from a 0-0 draw at Braintree before a disastrous result at home to 4 th from bottom Hayes & Yeading. They remain 5 th but the relegation-threatened southerners took all three points after hitting the winner after 90 minutes sealing a 2-1 win.

In the Blue Square North, Halifax Town’s hopes of automatic promotion look to be all but over as they suffered a set back at home to West Yorkshire rivals Guiseley. James Dean, missing from the 3-1 win at Bishop’s Stortford the week before, returned to partner goal-scoring wizard Ross Hannah up front but despite taking the lead, the visitors hit back to win 2-1.

Lowly Histon were then hammered 4-0 at the Shay with Deano and Simon Garner both coming on from the bench in the second half.

With the top seven teams all winning, there was no change at the top.

In the Evo-stik Premier, Chorley hosted Championship rivals Hednesford, with both clubs on the same points and goal difference so the final score of 5-1 to the Magpies must have been a surprise to most of the near 1,000 crowd. Two of the most prolific scorers in non-league football, Foster and Kilheeney, both scored as Chorley raced into a 4-0 lead by the break.

So tight is it at top, Hednesford slipped to 6 th place after the defeat.

A tremendous 3-0 at North Ferriby United followed that win but with Chester beating Whitby Town in front of over 3,000 fans at the Deva to take them 11 points clear with only 6 games remaining, the Championship looks a foregone conclusion.

FC United moved above them after they beat Worksop 3-1 at Gigg Lane before almost 3,000 fans while Chester seem unstoppable at the top after yet another win, 1-0 at Matlock in front of yet another fantastic turn-out of 1,036.

In the 1 st Division, AFC Fylde and Curzon Ashton continue to fight it out for the title and both won midweek games before winning away on the Saturday.

Fylde then travelled to bottom side Cammell Laird and won 2-0 before just 76 supporters so despite their lofty ambitions, their away support must be someway short of the Robins’ following before our demise.

They then entertained Radcliffe Borough and despatched the Mancunians 3-0.

Curzon then entertained relegation-threatened Wakefield in what looked like a home banker but a 1-1 result left Fylde in the box-seat.

Disappointingly for Wakefield, that tremendous point saw them drop into the bottom two after Harrogate R.A. won 4-1 at Salford City.

Towards the bottom, Clitheroe FC have had to overcome huge problems over the past few weeks after Carl Garner walked away from the club. They dropped to 5 th from bottom after a 4-1 defeat at lowly Prescott Cables and Lee Sculpher’s remit must be keep the Blues in this division.

Things looked be going well in the next game at home to Ossett Albion where they surged into a two-goal lead within the first five minutes but the Yorkshire side levelled to earn a point.

Luckily for them, the bottom two sides, Cammell Laird and Harrogate Railway Athletic are showing few signs of picking up with the latter enduring a particularly torrid time lately. They lost home games 6-1to Witton Albion and 4-0 to Woodley Sports within a matter of days.

In the middle of the table, Durham City thrashed Warrington Town 7-1 yet, despite the 12 goal swing, City still trail Town on goal difference.

In the North West Counties League Premier Division, Ramsbottom United beat Silsden 3-0 at the Riverside before losing 3-2 at the same venue to 1 st Division Norton United in the League Challenge Cup quarter-final.

They then travelled to title rivals Barnoldswick Town and won 2-0 in front of a magnificent attendance of 316.

That defeat for Barlick followed a 4-2 reverse at St. Helens and they need to get back on the winning trail very soon.

Rammy then won by the only goal at Congelton to make it seven wins in a row.

Runcorn Town won 3-1 at Stone Dominoes to keep the pressure on at the top.

Bacup Borough’s lack of consistency this season continued as they lost 2-1 at Bootle despite taking the lead, before being held 1-1 by Flixton at West View. They hosted Runcorn Linnets and lost 1-0 before winning 2-1 at Atherton Laburnum Rovers.

Colne needed a last minute equaliser to earn a point from a 1-1 draw at home to AFC Blackpool before losing 1-0 to Stone Dominoes at the same venue. Things got even worse for the Reds in their third home game in a row as they were hammered 6-1 by Winsford United in front of only 47 fans.

Padiham defeated St. Helens 3-1 at the Arbories with Ed O’Neil setting up one of the goals.

The two East Lancs. clubs then met at Padiham with the visitors cruising to a 5-1 win.

Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate lost 1-0 at home to Glossop North End before they travelled to Maine Road and built up a 3-1 lead. Sadly for Russ, the Mancs. side hit back to level before the end. They then lost 2-1 at Alsager.

In the 1 st Division Trophy semi-final 2 nd leg, Nelson, trailing 1-0 from the first game against Norton United, travelled more in hope than expectation but they were on course for a shock win, leading 2-1 in front of a shocking crowd of 27, but the free-scoring Staffordshire side scored twice more to win 4-2 on aggregate.

The Blues remained 2 nd from bottom after losing 1-0 at home to Cheadle Town.

Darwen trailed 1-0 after 45 minutes of the game at Irlam but a Ryan Steele hat-trick gave the Salmoners all three points. They then entertained Cheadle Town but couldn’t replicate that fine display, losing 3-0.

A daunting trip to leaders Wigan Robin Park followed but they looked on course for a shock result after taking the lead. After Wigan had equalised, Darwen had a ‘cast-iron’ penalty turned down by the referee before a highly-contentious decision cost the visitors the game. The official appeared to whistle and stop the game after an injury to a Darwen player but the home side played on and put the ball into the net and amazingly the goal was given!

The 1 st Division Trophy final took place and the seemingly unstoppable Norton United came from a goal down against Wigan Robin Park to win 3-1 after extra time at Ramsbottom’s Riverside Ground.

Down South in deepest Devon, the record books were being examined as a Torbay Sunday League game enjoyed a goal-fest. Wheel Power FC thrashed NOVA 2010 FC 58-0 with two brothers notching 28 goals between them!

Harwood supporter Nick Hancock is enjoying the title race in Devon although his team Buckland Athletic are playing catch up with leaders Bodmin Town who’ve amassed 27 wins from 29 games, 106 goals and a lead of 14 points over current champions Buckland who have a game in hand.

Congratulations go to Guernsey of the Combined Counties League who are showing similarities with AFC Wimbledon who also began in that division. They secured the title before over 2,000 fans and their fantastic support hasn’t dropped below 1,000 all season.

Mid-march

Matt Derbyshire will surely be in the Nottingham Forest starting eleven once he’s back to full fitness. The Reds’ forwards once again failed to find the net as they were beaten by a 94 th minute goal at Derby in front of a massive 33,000+ crowd.

Andy Procter was at the heart of everything good about Preston North End’s performance at Exeter City where the ex-Harwood star enjoyed his first away victory with the Lilywhites.

He started the move which led to Hume’s opening goal and played a superb through ball to leave Cummins in the clear which almost led to a second just before the break.

Shortly after the re-start he set up a golden chance for Hume to make it 2-0 but the striker shot wide.

Minutes later he embarked on a magnificent run which began when he won the ball back in his own half, galloped forward leaving several Grecians’ defenders in his wake, before dragging the ball back on the edge of the area and curling a great shot towards the top corner before a deflection took it wide.

City hit back to equalise but Hume notched his second to make the long journey home a happy one.

Our old adversaries Fleetwood Town are showing no signs of nerves as they press on relentlessly towards the Football League despite dropping points at 4 th placed Mansfield Town. The Fylde side led until the last minute at Field Mill until they were pegged back but then won 4-1 at Telford with two goals apiece for ex-Stanley star Andy Mangan and the much sought after Jamie Vardy.

Wrexham, meanwhile, won 5-0 at Ebbsfleet and it seems highly likely that one of two high flyers will hit the 100 point mark and still miss out on automatic promotion.

Southport moved up into the final play-off place with a cracking 5-0 win against Stockport County at Haig Avenue. The visitors were backed by over 700 loyal fans but they’re now in real danger of dropping into the second tier of non-league football, just as the Sandgrounders did not long after their own Football League exit many years ago.

Although there are plenty of games left this season, it looks as like Halifax Town will have to lower their sights to a play-off place after their latest defeat at home to struggling Bishop Stortford. The visitors started like a house on fire and could have had the game sewn up after just 15 minutes despite failing to score during that dominant opening. They did take the lead in the 2 nd half and were good value for the three points. Town would have gone joint second with a win and James Dean looked to be main threat but neither he nor Simon Garner could find a way through.

Next up for the Tykes was another home game, against mid-table Gloucester City but despite a much improved performance, and the loan-signing of prolific scorer Ross Hannah from Bradford City, they drew a blank again and had to settle for a point after a goalless draw. James Dean had a great chance to open the scoring after only 4 minutes but his header went straight at the keeper after he was set up by Hannah. The ex-Matlock goal-machine then set up Baker whose shot from the edge of the box cannoned back off the post.

The woodwork then came to Gloucester’s rescue yet again as Deano’s header hit the post and with only 14 minutes gone the game could have been all over. The Blues continued to press with Hannah twice, and Baker going close but they created little after the break and despite having a ‘goal’ ruled out they once again failed to score to bring an end to a miserable week. Simon Garner was an unused sub. for that game.

In the race to join the Blue Square North, Chester look to have the one promotion place sewn up lying 8 points clear of second-placed Northwich Victoria. They led 5 th placed Bradford Park Avenue 3-0 after 45 minutes at the Deva but the Yorkies hit back to make it 3-2 with 10 minutes left to set up a nervy finale for the huge 2,700+ crowd.

FC United took full advantage to move within a point of Bradford as they beat 3 rd placed Hednesford United 2-1 away from home.

Chorley moved into 3 rd place after a great 5-1 win at Worksop Town with Walwyn hitting a hat-trick. The other two goals were scored by Kilheeney, Droylsden’s leading scorer who joined the Magpies recently, a real coup for Garry Flitcroft’s side.

The Bloods were involved in an extraordinary game during the week as they led bottom side Blyth Spartans 3-0 with barely 15 minutes remaining but the strugglers hit back to earn a point although they still look odds-on for the drop.

Going down another League, ex-Harwood player/manager Lee Sculpher has taken the reins at Clitheroe after Carl Garner left and he had an immediate impact as they looked to have banished any relegation fears with a 2-0 home win against play-off chasing Warrington Town.

At the top of the table, leaders Curzon Ashton and AFC Fylde both won again and it’s neck and between them with Witton Albion hanging on in 3 rd place ready for any slip ups.

In the NWCFL, Ramsbottom United travelled to Alsager Town and thrashed the hosts 5-0 before beating Flixton away 3-0 to stay 3 points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Runcorn Town remain 2 nd after a 1-0 win at Colne as they look for their second successive promotion.

That defeat for the Holt House side followed an excellent 2-1 win against the other Runcorn side, Linnets.

Padiham earned a decent point with a 1-1 draw at improving AFC Liverpool.

Barnoldswick Town, with games in hand are still in with a great shout and their latest victory was a comfortable 3-0 success against Stone Dominoes.

Bacup Borough had a mixed week, winning 3-2 at Ashton Athletic before losing 4-2 to Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate at West View. Gate should have been celebrating a week of maximum points as their midweek game saw them leading 2-0 at home to Silsden but the Yorkies hit back to earn a share of the spoils.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen looked to on course for a good away win at Oldham Borough but the evergreen James Curley, who starred many times against Harwood, scored an 83 rd minute equaliser to make the score 2-2.

Another away game followed, this time to bottom of the table Leek CSOB and the Salmoners put in a disappointing performance to lose 2-0. Nelson drew 2-2 with Formby at Victoria Park to stay 2 nd from bottom although they’re only three points behind Ashton Town with nine games in hand.

Further afield, long distance Harwood fan, Nick Hancock is hoping that his team Buckland Athletic can retain their crown as champions of the South West Peninsula League. Lying in 3 rd place, their latest game was at 4 th placed Falmouth Town and the honours were shared after an exciting 3-3 draw. They now lie 6 points adrift of leaders Bodmin Town who’ve won 24 of their 26 league games so far.

Early March

Glen Cotterill must have had a nosebleed as he saw his Nottingham Forest side score 3 (three) times in just one game at home Millwall. The 3-1 win edged his team further towards safety but had Matt Derbyshire been a regular in the first team, maybe the Reds would have been pushing for a play-off spot, not just survival. Forest rode their luck throughout the game and the woodwork came to their rescue on more than one occasion.

Thanks go to another ex-Robin, Andy McNally who got in touch to tell us that Matt’s ‘disappearance’ was due to an injury but he’s now back in training.

Preston North End supporters had to endure their third goalless home draw in a row as they were held by Scunthorpe United, much to their disappointment and they made their feelings known at the final whistle-again!

The Lilywhites best chance fell to ex-Harwood star Andy Procter but he headed over from just 6 yards when completely unmarked.

In the Blue Square Premier, both Fleetwood Town and Wrexham won twice in the week to maintain an insurmountable 18 point gap between them and the chasing pack.

Town lead the Dragons by 5 points although they’ve played a game more and their latest win, 2-0 at Kidderminster Harriers made it an astonishing 15 wins from 18 away games this term. That followed a 2-1 home victory against Grimsby Town when the Codmen had to come from behind. Wrexham defeated ex-Football League clubs Luton Town and Barrow, both at home and both 2-0.

Just as impressive is 5 th placed Southport’s 11 wins from 18 away fixtures, the latest being a 1-0 win at Telford.

Ex-Robin James Dean played a starring role against another of his former sides, Harrogate Town at the Shay. The home side found themselves a goal down midway through the 1 st half despite Deano’s best efforts but he helped the Blues hit back to lead before the break and it could have been even better as he set up Holland whose shot was well saved.

In the 2 nd half he set up Simon Garner who hit a screamer which flashed just over the bar. He then hit a tame header straight at the keeper before trying his luck with an overhead kick which went agonisingly past the post. Rainford was next to benefit from Deano’s great work but his blockbuster was brilliantly pushed round the post by Harrogate’s keeper. A fine flowing move ended with a cross into the box which was smashed past the overworked goalie to make it 3-1. Another cross saw Deano’s header arrowing towards the top corner but once again a brilliant save thwarted him.

The Tykes then travelled to League leaders Hyde and earned a creditable point in a 1-1 draw. Deano opened the scoring when he controlled a cross and swivelled past his marker before hitting a powerful shot which went in off the post.

Simon Garner then set up Baker who could have increased the lead but shot just wide.

He was then lucky to stay on the pitch after a late, wild lunge on an opponent in the 19 th minute, a challenge that had the home fans in a massive crowd of 1,364 (almost half from Halifax) baying for the ex-Robins’ blood. Simon was relieved to see the yellow card brandished and surprisingly lasted the whole 90 minutes.

The next time he received the ball, Hyde’s Birch dived in and aimed a swipe at him but once again, the aggressor only saw yellow.

In the 2 nd half, it was all Hyde but in a rare breakaway, Deano shot just wide before having a header well saved. A constant threat throughout, he then set up a sitter for Crooks who shot over when it seemed easier to score.

Simon’s dad Carl surprisingly quit as Clitheroe’s boss and was replaced by another ex-Harwood star, Lee Sculpher and he brought about an immediate change in the Blues fortunes. They won their first game in ten after a 1-0 success at Salford City.

League leaders AFC Fylde were surprisingly held 0-0 at Ossett Town while Bamber Bridge suffered a humiliating defeat, 6-0 at home to 3 rd placed Witton Albion.

In the Premier Division, FC United remain just outside the play-off positions despite a 3-0 win at home to Stocksbridge Park Steels in front of 2,000 noisy fans at Gigg Lane.

Ramsbottom United strengthened their position at the top of the NWCFL Premier Division with a convincing 4-2 victory over Runcorn Linnets at the Riverside while two of the other title contenders, Barnoldswick Town and Bootle were playing out an entertaining 1-1 draw at the Silentnight Stadium, a result which allowed Runcorn Town to move into 2 nd spot. Two excellent crowds at those games, 214 at Rammy and 211 at Barlick.

United then hit three without reply at home to Congleton Town before a 2-0 victory at Winsford United saw them make it through to the League Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

In the same competition, Barnoldswick Town’s home tie with AFC Blackpool was switched to the seaside but it made little difference to the outcome as the East Lancs. side made it through to the semi-finals after a 1-0 win.

Bacup Borough recovered from a 1 st minute goal to make it through to the last 4 after a fine 2-1 win at Runcorn Linnets with the evergreen Tommy Turner hitting the equaliser.

Just 24 witnessed Flixton’s 2-1 win against Colne. Soon after the home side re-took the lead on 52 minutes, Steve Pickup was brought on from the bench but despite his best efforts, he couldn’t help his side earn a point.

Another defeat followed for the Reds but the loyal few in a crowd of just 61 certainly got their moneys worth. After a goalless first half, no one could have envisaged the drama of the second period as Runcorn took the lead only to be pegged back after 77 minutes. The visitors then surged into a 4-1 lead but Colne hit back in injury time with two of their own to set up a grandstand finish but just failed to salvage a point.

Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate remain towards the bottom of the table but still have enough points so as not to get involved in a relegation battle, and they were held 1-1 by visitors Winsford United. Russ’s boys then made short work of Stone Dominoes winning 3-0 with all the goals coming in the first half.

Bacup Borough also gained a point after a 0-0 draw at St. Helens but the Saints have now dropped into the bottom two after another AFC Liverpool victory moved the Reds up a notch.

After a run of three defeats, Padiham gained their best away of the season, 3-0 at Stone Dominoes with Sam Heap on target for the 5 th consecutive game. Elsewhere it was a weekend of hat-tricks. Rutter hit a treble for free-scoring Norton United as they despatched visitors Ashton Town 5-1 but amazingly, they were then held to a 0-0 draw by visiting Oldham Borough. Ironically, the gate of 51 was a little up on normal.

The Storks couldn’t build on that victory and went down 1-0 at home to Glossop North End in their next game. despite playing virtually the whole game against ten men after the visitors had a player sent off after only two minutes.

In the 1 st Division Trophy quarter-final, Nelson travelled to Winsford’s Barton Stadium to take on Northwich Villa and a Mathews hat-trick helped them to a 3-1 win.

They looked to build on that victory at Eccleshall in the next League game and took the lead after only 2 minutes, which they held until after the break but the home hit back with two unanswered strikes in the final 18 minutes to take all three points

Abbey Hey’s Harney also scored three as they beat Daisy Hill 5-3 at St. James St. That defeat was soon forgotten as the Westhoughton side then thrashed Ashton Town 6-2 at Edge Green St. bringing the total of goals conceded by Town this season to 66 including 11 in the last two games,

A great comeback for Darwen as they found themselves 2-0 down just after the break at Formby but fought back to win 3-2.

That comeback was almost replicated at Rochdale Town where the Salmoners trailed 2-0 with just 7 minutes left on the clock but once again, their never-say-die attitude served them well and they scored twice to earn a pointing front of a measly 23 spectators.

Of the seven 1 st Division attendances, not one managed to break the 50 mark.


Late February

Finally some good news for Nottingham Forest. They won their first home game since November, even if it was against struggling Coventry City. Still no signs of Matt Derbyshire though which goes some way to explain why the Reds have been on such a long winless streak. Portsmouth’s 10 point deduction for going into administration saw Forest move out of the drop-zone.

A 1-0 win at Birmingham followed to take the pressure off Steve Cotterill.

Andy Procter must have been hoping that his new side Preston North End had turned the corner after their 1-0 midweek victory over Hartlepool but they were back to losing ways at Sheffield United. The Whites took the lead at Bramhall Lane but two Evans goals, one each side of the break, saw the Blades continue with their promotion push.

They then entertained Walsall but were held to a 0-0 draw despite Andy going close with two second half efforts.

Despite a strong performance in his last game at Colwyn Bay, when he set up the only goal of the game, James Dean was relegated to the bench for Halifax Town’s next game at lowly Eastwood Town and he wasn’t missed early on as the Tykes led 2-0 after just 8 minutes. Simon Garner’s corner set up the first on 5 minutes and shortly afterwards it looked like game over at 2-0.

Town’s Darkwah was sent off a few minutes before the break and ex-Boston United star Francis Green brought the Badgers back in it in the 3 rd minute of injury with a penalty. Eastwood took full advantage of their extra man to equalise in the second half prompting Neil Aspin to send in the cavalry-aka James Dean. As the game entered it’s final few minutes, the home side’s Shaw was sent off after a scuffle with Simon and the ex-Robin almost set up the winner when his brilliant cross whistled along the six-yard box without any Halifax attacker able to apply the finishing touch.

Two games in a week against promotion rivals Nuneaton left them pointless with Boro coasting to a 3-0 win at the Shay before winning the return 1-0. In the home game James Dean was denied by a great save with the score at 1-0 and at the death Simon Garner’s flick put him in the clear only for the ex-Harwood star to shoot straight at the keeper.

In the away game a cracking volley from Simon almost gave the Shaymen the lead but his effort flew narrowly wide.

For the third game in a row, Town had a player sent off.

In the North West Counties League, AFC Liverpool’s home tie with AFC Blackpool in the League Challenge Cup was switched to Blackpool and the home side took advantage by winning 1-0 in front of just 50 spectators.

In the Challenge Cup, Barnoldswick Town were cruising at Chadderton, leading 2-0 with only 4 minutes left but Chaddy stormed back to force extra time before Town hit the winner in the 110 th minute.

Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate hosted free-scoring Norton United and the paying public weren’t disappointed as the nets were rattled on five occasions. Unfortunately for the locals, in a ‘crowd’ of 14 (fourteen), four of those strikes ended in Gate’s net.

Things got no better in their next outing at Bootle where they lost 3-0. Another trip to Merseyside, this time to take on AFC Liverpool, saw them fight back from a two goal deficit to level, only to lose out to a last minute home winner,

In the Premier Division, Colne moved into the top half of the table after a comfortable 2-0 win at Stone Dominoes.

They then entertained near neighbours Barnoldswick Town who would have gone second with a win but the points were shared after a 0-0 draw in front of 180 fans at Holt House.

They made up for those dropped points by winning at the weekend, 2-1 at Maine Road while Colne saw a one goal lead overturned at Runcorn Linnets to leave them empty handed. They then lost 2-0 at home to Maine Road.

Ramsbottom United dropped to 2 nd after losing 2-1 at home to Runcorn Town but looked to be heading back to the summit in their top-of-the-table clash at Bootle. They built up a two goal lead inside 12 minutes only for the home side to hit two of their own in the final 12 minutes.

Things got even worse on their next visit to Merseyside a few days later as they went down 2-1 at 2 nd bottom AFC Liverpool

Runcorn Town won their second game in the area in quick succession, 4-2 at Padiham while Bacup Borough beat Atherton LR 2-0 at West View. Brent Peters’ side then progressed in the League Challenge Cup after a 3-1 win at Ashton Athletic.

Nelson lost 3-2 at lowly Formby to leave them near the foot of the table. The Squirrels previous home game had seen visitors Rochdale come from a goal behind to win 2-1 and move up into 5 th place.

Of the eight 1 st Division games at the weekend, only Atherton Collieries crowd topped 50.

The midweek promotion 6 pointer between 4 th placed Irlam and 3 rd placed Norton United didn’t disappoint, with the visitors overturning a two goal deficit to win 3-2.

The free-scoring Staffs side then entertained Walsall Wood in the County Vase and entertain they did, winning 7-1 before beating Chadderton 3-0 in the League in front of 26 supporters.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen continued with their improved form, drawing 2-2 at Northwich Victoria but it could have been much better as the Salmoners scored twice just before the break to lead 2-0. The home side hit back to draw level in the second period before a miserly attendance of only 20 fans.

The reverse fixture 7 days later saw a similar pattern of scoring with the away side building up a 2-0 lead only for the home side to level in the 2 nd half.

The big local derby between Nelson and Darwen ended with a 1-0 home victory for the Blues.

In the Blue Square Premier League, Fleetwood Town stayed two points clear of Wrexham after both sides recorded home victories. An early Andy Mangan goal was enough to see off visitors Cambridge United at Highbury before another 2000+ crowd.

The final week of February saw Town firmly in pole position after a six point swing in their favour. Firstly they thrashed visitors Ebbsfleet United 6-2 with all their goals coming in the first hour, before Alfreton Town were hammered 4-0 at the same venue.

Wrexham, meanwhile, enjoyed a great win, 1-0 at play-off hopefuls Kidderminster, but surprisingly went down 1-0 at relegation threatened Stockport County in front of over 4,500 at Edgeley Park.

Those results left Fleetwood five points ahead of their rivals although the Welsh side do have a game in hand.

Southport remain in the play-off positions despite surrendering the lead to lose 2-1 at home to Grimsby Town in front of almost 2,000 supporters at Haig Avenue.

Two penalties at Ebbsfleet got them back on track with a 2-1 win.

In the Evo-stik League, Chorley won 1-0 courtesy of a late penalty while leaders Chester could only draw 1-1 at Chasetown.

The Magpies then went down 3-1 at Ashton United allowing Hednesford Town to move up into 2 nd place.

Chester thrashed lowly Buxton 4-0 to move into a commanding 8 point lead at the top.

Our old friends FC United faced strugglers Frickley Athletic twice in the space of four days but failed to win either game. Athletic dumped the Reds out of the Doodson Cup 3-1 before forcing a 2-2 draw at Gigg Lane in the league and it could have been worse as the Rebels trailed 2-0 after an hour and only forced the equaliser on 90 minutes.

They then came from behind at Marine to win 2-1 in front of a massive 1,111 at College Road.

In their last game of the month they defeated Matlock Town 2-1 at Gigg Lane to stay just outside the play-off positions.

In the 1 st Division North, Clitheroe had the chance to overtake their opponents Ossett Town but lost 2-0 before a poor crowd of 66 in West Yorkshire. The bottom 8 teams are now well adrift of the rest although the Blues remain 8 points clear of the drop zone.

Early February

Matt Derbyshire where are you? No sign anywhere and with no Nottingham Forest reserve games for months he must be desperately short of match practice.

The struggling Reds scored their first ‘home’ goal since November but it was only good enough to earn a point against Watford. The goals continued to rain in as they scored yet again in their next game at the Riverside against Middlesbrough but Boro hit two to claim the points. Those two Forest strikes made it just 6 goals in their last 15 games thanks to some pathetic finishing against Watford and two forwards replaced at half time against Boro-and Matt can’t do better!!!

If anyone knows where the ex-Harwood legend is, could you please get in touch with the web-site.

Better news for Andy Procter who was made captain for PNE’s home game with Hartlepool United. A huge 14,000+ crowd turned out at Deepdale to see Andy’s boys claim their first victory since his arrival a few weeks ago.

Pools arrived on the back of a five game unbeaten run and gave North End a real run for their money and in the final few minutes had an effort cleared off the line and also hit the bar.

The non-league world saw hardly any football in the opening two weeks of the month but three members of the famous Blackburn & Darwen Robins found a rare ‘survivor’ at Colwyn Bay in North Wales. The boys set off on a freezing Tuesday evening to support the once mighty Boston United and were treated to a superb game of football with five fantastic goals thrown in for good measure.

Despite the Pilgrims leading twice, the Seagulls hit back and a late 30-yard strike saw them take all three points to leave an incredible following of 40-50 Boston supporters shell-shocked and facing a miserable 5 hour journey back to Lincolnshire.

More Great Harwood connections, in the shape of James Dean and Simon Garner , made the trip just four days later but this time they came out on top. In a game which was completely different from the exciting mid-week affair, chances were at a premium and the only goal of the game was scored by Halifax Town on 42 minutes. Deano set up the chance with some great wing play with his cross being converted by Holland’s looping header to send the majority of the massive 634 fans home happy.

The only North West Counties game to go ahead in the first two weeks was Congleton Town’s visit to Runcorn Town and it was the Cheshire side who came out on top 3-2, with the points taking them up into 4 th place.

Into the third week we finally saw a thaw and a few games took place. Barnoldswick surprisingly lost at home to Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate despite leading 1-0 until the 87 th minute. They remain 3 rd, still with games in hand and were helped by 2 nd placed Bootle dropping two points after being held 3-3 by visitors Ashton Athletic. It could have been even better for Barlick and leaders Ramsbottom United as the Merseysiders only equalised in the 90 th minute.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen played out a 0-0 draw with Rochdale Town at the Anchor.

Near neighbours Nelson were in 1 st Division Trophy action and their ‘home’ tie was switched to Formby but the Blues still triumphed 2-1 in front of 29 freezing fans.

In the same competition, Norton United continued with their goal scoring exploits but could only manage three against visiting Oldham Borough who hit two of their own before a meagre 23 supporters.

Late January

Andy Procter made his debut just a day after signing for Preston North End but he couldn’t inspire his new team to victory as they lost again, this time 2-0 to Leyton Orient at Deepdale. A midweek trip to Notts County followed that defeat and Andy completed his second 90 minutes as the Lilywhites forced a 0-0 draw. A trip to relegation threatened Yeovil Town looked like the perfect opportunity for Andy’s first win in a white shirt but going down to 10 men after three minutes didn’t help his cause and another defeat, 2-1, followed.

Andy left Harwood as an 18 year-old and became a Stanley legend over the next ten years making over 400 appearances.

His ex-boss John Coleman didn’t take long to get rock-bottom Rochdale up and running and they moved off the foot of the League One table with a magnificent 3-0 win against neighbours Bury at Spotland before over 5,000 fans.

Both Andy and Coley must have been pleased to see Stanley win without them although the victory against Gillingham at the Crown was a little too close for comfort. The Reds stormed into a 4-1 half time lead but the Gills fought back and made it 4-3 still with five minutes to go and Stanley were left hanging on at the final whistle. That win took them into a play-off position but only for 24 hours.

In the Championship, Nottingham Forest lost at home, again, this time to Burnley, failed to score, again, and Matt Derbyshire wasn’t in the squad, again!!

With Reserve games few and far between, last one at the beginning of December and the next one early February, Matt can hardly be match fit and one can only wonder why he wasn’t allowed to go or at least go on loan in the January transfer window.

His last 90 minutes

In the Blue Square Premier, Southport won 2-0 at lowly Hayes & Yeading to stay in touch with the play-off contenders.

Fleetwood held on to top spot (just) as a 94 th minute Atkinson goal gave them a 2-1 win at Forest Green Rovers who did the Codmen a bug favour in the previous midweek by beating title rivals Wrexham.

Even at this early stage the Championship looks destined for one of the two leaders with a 9 point gap to third placed Luton.

In the Blue Square North, James Walshaw repeated his heroics of the previous week when his Guiseley team trailed 2-0 at Histon. 15 minutes after coming on from the bench, Walshaw made it 2-1 and just 9 minutes later scored the equaliser.

James Dean was at the heart of all Halifax Town’s attacking moves but his side could only draw 2-2 at Gainsborough Trinity. Both he and Simon Garner were instrumental in the Tykes opening goal as a ball out of defence was taken down the flank by Deano who set up Simon. His shot was blocked but Gregory tucked home the loose ball.

In the 2 nd half, Deano just failed to get on the end of a couple of dangerous crosses and Trinity took full advantage to surge into the lead.

Simon then salvaged a point by scoring in the 72 nd minute.

Next up was a West Riding Cup game at Guiseley and although Neil Aspin put out a ‘weakened’ team, Simon starred at left back.

In the Evo-stik Premier League, Chester look unstoppable and another 2,000+ crowd saw them win 2-1 while Chorley twice lost the lead against Stafford Rangers at Victory Park before an equally impressive attendance of over 1,000. 2 nd placed Hednesford Town also lost ground after losing 2-0 at FC United before almost 2,000 fans at Gigg Lane.

Northwich Victoria could have gone second with a win against Marine at the Victoria Stadium but they went down 2-1 as chaos reigned in that part of Cheshire. Highly-rated manager Andy Preece walked out to join Airbus UK and the club were told that they’d played their last game at the ground after it was sold to a Chemical Company based next door who want to knock it down to expand their business. The ground was only built in 2005 !! Hopefully Vics will be able to sort out a ground-share during the next few months as they’ve been dealt some shocking bad luck over the last few years.

In the Evo-stik Division One North, Bamber Bridge had an opportunity to move towards the play-off places as they hosted two of the bottom three sides in four days. Ossett Albion were despatched 4-0 at Irongate before bottom side Cammell Laird were hammered 7-0.

In the same Division, Lancaster City halted their recent slump by beating 5 th placed Farsley 4-1 at the Giant Axe.

Top two AFC Fylde and Curzon Ashton are neck and neck after both recorded away victories.

Clitheroe came from two down at second bottom Wakefield but fought back to lead only to concede in the final minute and present the home side with their first point since mid-November.

In Division One South, bottom hosted top and how many times is the form book turned on its head in these clashes? Not this time though as Carlton Town thrashed Quorn 8-0.

Not too long ago Aylesbury were one of the leading non-league sides in the country but they now lie near the foot of the Southern League Division One Central. Their most recent game saw them beaten 9-2 at St Neots Town and are now just 4 points above the drop zone.

In the NWCFL, leaders Bootle were without a game and second-placed Ramsbottom United took full advantage to move above them after a 3-1 win against AFC Liverpool at the Riverside.

Barnoldswick Town moved level with Bootle after a fine 2-1 win at Winsford United.

Padiham lost 2-1 at home to Ashton Athletic after a last minute winner from Steve Wilkes’ side, while the wet, and then freezing weather, saw many local fixtures postponed.

Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate also left it late with an 89 th minute equaliser giving them a share of the spoils in a 3-3 home draw with Maine Road.

They scored another three goals at School Road in their final fixture of the month and this time it proved to be enough as Padiham were beaten 3-2.

Darwen were back in action at Chadderton and came from behind to win 2-1 before just 35 fans.

In the same Division, Norton United continue to impress but still can’t attract a crowd to reflect their magnificent season. Just 39 turning up to see yet another convincing victory, 3-1 against Daisy Hill.

In the FA Vase, our league’s last representatives, Runcorn Town went out after losing 2-1 at home to Billingham Synthonia.

Mid January

Another Nottingham Forest home game and another blank scoresheet helped by the continued absence of the enigmatic ex-Harwood hero Matt Derbyshire . The Reds were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by leaders Southampton and stay in the relegation zone.

Forest did find the net in their next game at West Ham United but a last minute strike brought them no reward as they lost 2-1.

A very surprising result at the Crown Ground where Accrington Stanley not only lost the game, 3-0 to lowly Barnet, but also their long unbeaten run. Maybe captain Andy Procter should have been ‘ear-bashing’ some of his colleagues who thought that the Reds just needed to turn up to take the points.

That proved to be the final game in a Stanley shirt for Captain Fantastic as he made the short move to Deepdale after P.N.E.’s transfer bid was accepted. Andy was reportedly already on the team bus ready to leave for Aldershot when he was told that the Reds had accepted the Lilywhites offer.

As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Stanley Faithful, just a couple of days later John Coleman agreed terms with Rochdale to become their new manager and his successor will really have his work cut out to keep the Reds in their current lofty position.

In the Conference North, Halifax Town looked set for a home defeat, trailing 1-0 to Worcester City in the 90 th minute but a late equaliser set up a grandstand finish where James Dean set up Gregory for a 93 rd minute clincher.

Deano didn’t enjoy one of his better days, missing a good headed chance on just 7 minutes, then greedily firing wide from an acute angle instead of passing and in the second half he missed two ‘sitters’ before his late face-saving assist.

Simon Garner left the field injured with 20 minutes left.

Next up for the Tykes was a trip to Vauxhall Motors and quite a game it was for the two ex-Robins in their ranks.

Simon Garner looked to be a man on a mission and was flying into the tackles from the off. He was booked very early on and soon afterwards was very lucky to stay on the field after a two-footed lunge on a former team-mate. The Blues boss had seen enough and substituted after just 17 minutes before he got himself sent off. James Dean set up Ashworth in the opening exchanges but he scuffed his shot wide and then Deano himself saw an effort deflected just wide.

Halifax took the lead midway through the half and then Deano set up the second goal for Holland just before the break.

The Town striker then completed his hat-trick in 1 st half stoppage time to seal the points. Surprisingly he was then substituted at the break as Neil Aspin sought to protect the big lead.

Motors pulled a goal back but any hopes of a recovery ended when home striker McGivern was shown a red card. Deano then swivelled inside the box before shooting just wide and was booked five minutes from time.

In the same league there were two amazing games which the supporters of Guiseley and Hinckley are unlikely to see again this season.

Guiseley found themselves 3-0 down at home to Droylsden at the break and that score remained until just 13 minutes from time.

The excellent, recently returned James Walshaw, for some strange reason, was warming the bench for the opening 68 minutes but his arrival brought a remarkable turnaround. After Senior looked to have scored a consolation goal, Walshaw cracked in the home side’s 2 nd with over 10 minutes left. 3 minutes later and he’d brought the sides level and then looked to have hit the winner only for a lineman’s flag to halt the celebrations. Not to be denied, he then hit a fantastic left foot shot in the 86 th minute to complete his hat-trick and secure a remarkable victory.

Just as incredible, if not more so, was the game that took place between relegation threatened Hinckley United and 2 nd in the table Stalybridge Celtic. The visitors showed their class from the kick-off and took the lead on just 2 minutes. 4 minutes later an own goal made it 2-0 and probably ‘game-over’. Two goals from Hobson made it 4-0 and even though the home side pulled one back right on half-time, the game was all over bar the shouting.

Just 12 minutes later and the scores were level as goals in the 47 th, 50 th, and 57 th minutes had the 400 supporters blinking their eyes in disbelief!

10 minutes on and Hinckley made it 5-4 but the fairytale ending was dashed as Celtic equalised 11 minutes from the end.

In the Blue Square Premier, Southport stormed into a two-goal lead against fancied Luton Town but three goals in 9 minutes either side of half time saw the Hatters lead but an own goal by Luton keeper Kevin Pilkington just before the hour saw an end to the afternoon’s scoring.

Darlington looked to have played their last game but a late intervention saved them, at least for the next three games and the first of those saw fans from around the country swell the attendance for their home game with Fleetwood Town to over 5,500. Many of the players, and the caretaker manager Craig Liddle, who have been so shabbily treated by the club, turned out for the game in which the visitors won 1-0.

The Evo-stik League’s Doodson Cup has failed to capture the imagination of the public but one tie that bucked the trend was between Chorley and FC United which drew a terrific crowd of 830 to Victory Park. The Reds led 2-0 at the break and kept their noses in front throughout to win 3-2.

In the same competition, the local derby between Lancaster City and Kendal Town produced a thriller which finished 3-3. The Dollyblues took the lead after 12 minutes but Kendal stormed back with three goals in just 8 minutes and looked to have the tie in the bag at half time. City restored parity within 15 minutes of the break thanks to two goals from Hattersley before a crowd of 194 at the Giant Axe.

In the League, AFC Fylde look to be unstoppable with their team of highly experienced ex-pro’s and they breezed past visitors Harrogate Railway 7-0 to go to the top of the table after main rivals Curzon Ashton saw their game postponed.

They then consolidated their position with a comfortable 3-0 success at home to Ossett Albion.

The other side from Ossett, Town, heaped more misery on the fading promotion ambitions of Lancaster City. The Dollyblues were leading the table not too long ago but their latest defeat left them in 7 th place and 12 points behind the leaders.

FC United won 3-0 at Chasetown to stay just outside the play-off spots.

At the top of the table, leading pair Chester and Hednesford Town met at the Deva in front of another fantastic crowd of over 3,300 and it was the visitors who took the honours after a 2-1 victory that took them level on points with their rivals.

Clitheroe entertained fellow mid-table side Bamber Bridge but were well beaten 3-1 in front of over 250 supporters at Shawbridge. They then entertained a Mossley side who’d won just 5 of their opening 28 games but the Blues could only manage a 1-1 draw

As far as entertainment goes, those two games paled into insignificance compared with Durham City’s home clash with Garforth Town. The visitors took the lead before City equalised, but a minute later Town scored again. One minute after that Durham equalised for the second time but soon afterwards Garforth re-took the lead which they held until five minutes after the break. With just 17 minutes left the home side took the lead for the first time and looked to have secured the three points until the 88 th minute when Brown completed his hat-trick. With the sides level at 4-4 there was still time for Walton to hit the winner for Garforth and move the Yorkies up into the play-off places above Skelmersdale United who surprisingly lost at home to lowly Ossett Albion who themselves moved out of the relegation places.

In the NWCFL, Ramsbottom United kept up their title challenge with an excellent 3-1 win at rivals Runcorn Town. The three points weren’t enough to take them to top spot as leaders Bootle also won on the road, 3-2 at Congleton Town.

The leaders both saw their following games postponed leaving third-placed Barnoldswick Town to make up ground and they did just that by winning 1-0 at AFC Liverpool.

Padiham will have been disappointed not to have taken maximum points from their trip to bottom of the table Atherton L.R. Ed O’Neil set up the Storks goal for Andy Haworth and even at this early stage of the campaign, they have little to play for with no chance of promotion or relegation.

Next up they entertained Congleton Town and Martin Parkes came very close to scoring during a 2-0 win.

Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate won a thriller at the seaside, beating mid-table Ashton Athletic 4-3. Gate led 2-0 just before the break but two goals in three minutes sent the sides in level. Russ’s boys restored their two-goal advantage in the second half and held out for the three points that sees them well away from the drop zone.

It was a feeling of deja-vu in their next game at Runcorn Linnets as once again Russ’s boys led 2-0 at the interval but the ex-Conference side are a tougher proposition than Ashton and they hit back to win 3-2 in a bad tempered second half.

Colne won 3-0 at Maine Road who were reduced to 9 men as their discipline deserted them.

Bacup Borough continue to struggle and they lost 1-0 at Stone Dominoes.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen couldn’t continue the good form that saw them thrash Holker Old Boys last time out and they were soundly beaten, 3-0 at Eccleshall.

Also in that Division, a thriller at Rochdale (Castleton Gabriels) in their local derby against Oldham Borough (Town). A poor attendance of only 42 saw the away side score on 7 minutes before Rochdale came back to lead 2-1, all within quarter of an hour. On 33 minutes ‘Dale made it 3-1 but just before the break Oldham reduced the arrears and completed the comeback 20 minutes from the end.

The third weekend of the month saw both Darwen and Nelson’s games postponed because of waterlogged pitches. Of the 6 games that did take place, just one attracted a crowd of 50+ with Leek CSOB drawing in just 20 for their game with Wigan Robin Park, which the visitors won 4-0.

A felling of ‘deja-vu’ at Rossendale United’s Dark Lane Ground where, just like at our own Showground, the Main Stand was severely damaged by fire, almost certainly started by local young scum who’ve been frequenting the derelict premises since the club’s demise last year.

The actions of those morons mean that there is even less chance of Rossy making a comeback in the foreseeable future.

Early January

Matt Derbyshire was given just 8 minutes to impress as his struggling Nottingham Forest side finally scored a goal. They won 3-1 at Ipswich Town. Next up was an FA Cup game at home to a Leicester side containing former Rovers players Neil Danns and Paul Gallagher, and the Reds were back in the old routine and having to settle for a 0-0 draw. Amazingly Matt was an unused sub. despite the powder-puff Forest attack and the home supporters appear to getting a little brassed off with little more than 10,000 turning up in a gate of 18,477 at the City Ground.

No scoring problems for Accrington Stanley though as they hit four without reply against visitors Macclesfield Town. Andy Procter almost opened the scoring and missed a good chance just after the break with the Reds leading 2-0 but he eventually scored the final goal, converting Lindfield’s corner. Despite a very small Macclesfield following, the attendance of just over 1700 was a marked improvement.

A trip to Burton Albion then provided John Coleman’s side with ‘yet another!’ away win, this time 2-0, and that makes it 10 games without defeat.

Next up was a Lancashire Senior Cup tie at home to an Oldham Athletic who proved no match for a young Stanley side with Andy and most of the 1 st team rested-no matter as another victory, 3-0, was chalked up in front of just 239 fans.

In the Evo-stik League, Clitheroe recovered from their 1-0 defeat at Durham to beat Harrogate Railway Institute 3-1 at Shawbridge. Despite being on top for most of the game, the Blues trailed for over an hour before goals in the 75 th, 86 th and 90 th minutes gave them the win they deserved.

In the Premier Division, Chester enjoyed a record crowd of 3,560 as they drew 1-1 with Nantwich Town at the Deva.

A four-figure crowd turned up at Bradford Park Avenue to see visitors FCUM win 5-2 and move to within one point of the hosts and a play-off position. Park Avenue had led 1-0 before United stormed back to delight the majority of the 1,288 supporters.

At the top of the table just a few points cover the top four but with games in hand, the leading two of Curzon Ashton and AFC Fylde look like fighting it out for the one automatic promotion spot. Fylde beat fading Lancaster City 1-0 in front of a bumper Bank Holiday crowd of 414.

In the Blue Square North, Halifax Town came from behind to win 4-2 at Corby with James Dean missing a good chance early on. Simon Garner produced a series of too-hot-to-handle corners that had the home side panicking and Deano scored to make it 3-1 with 15 minutes left.

In the Premier Division, Fleetwood Town are continuing their meteoric rise from NWCFL to Football League and also found time to enjoy some FA Cup glory.

Their tie with neighbours Blackpool -that’s FC not Mechanics- drew a full house of over 5,000 to Highbury and despite the 5-1 scoreline, they played some excellent football on the superb playing surface.

They then beat Barrow 4-1 at the same venue, this time in front of over 2,000 fans, to go top of the table.

In the same League, yet more clubs are facing ruin with Kettering Town and Darlington seemingly in turmoil. Darlington have entered administration for the third time in ten years which is utterly ridiculous as lessons clearly haven’t been learned and as usual it’s the loyal fans who’ll suffer most. Darlo took an amazing following of over 1,000 for their game at Barrow which many feared could be their last for some time.

Several NWCFL sides played for the first time in weeks and some sides looked decidedly rusty. None more so than Padiham who were thrashed 4-0 by Silsden at the Arbories.

They then got back on track at Ashton Athletic, winning 3-1 with all the goals coming in the second half. Ed O’Neil scored the second of the Storks goals.

Ramsbottom United would have gone top after Bootle were held 0-0 by Runcorn Town but they went down by the only goal at 4 th from bottom Squires Gate. Russ McKenna’s side thoroughly deserved the win with the ex-Harwood midfielder content to spend the whole 90 minutes on the sub’s bench.

The Rams were then back in the old routine beating Maine Road 3-1 at the Riverside with all three Blues goals coming before the break. Those three points looked to be finally taking them to top but a late winner for Bootle at Stone Dominoes kept them in second.

Just behind the Rams are Barnoldswick Town and they comfortably beat visitors Congleton Town at the Silentnight 2-0. With games in hand on the leading pair, Barlick must now be slight favourites for the title although there are plenty of games for that to change.

Bacup Borough finally got back in action but they lost narrowly, 2-1, at Runcorn Linnets.

Colne entertained struggling AFC Liverpool and were soon in the lead but the visitors fought back to win 2-1 and boost their survival hopes before less than 100 at Holt House.

Norton United continue their fantastic goal-scoring exploits with Leek CSOB the latest side to feel the full force of their attack. The 6-1 scoreline made it 57 goals in just 14 League games.

The biggest surprise for a long time came at Holker where the Old Boys were hammered 7-0 by bottom side AFC Darwen. Anyone who’s visited the Barrow side’s ground will know that a gale-force wind blowing from one end of the pitch to the other is the norm and although Darwen led 3-0 after a wind-assisted first half, the home side would have held hopes of a revival. That never looked like happening and after the 4 th goal sealed the win, a tiring home side were hit with three final goals in the last 7 minutes.

The three points moved Darwen up four places after the other ‘Old Boys’ Leek County School, were deducted seven points and it’s now they who occupy last spot.

Down in sunny Devon, long distance Great Harwood Town supporter Nick Hancock is enjoying his side’s excellent season to date. Buckland Athletic are riding high towards the top of the League and have applied for promotion to the Western League Premier Division. They’re currently averaging three-figure crowds and also have a decent away following.

They also look to have strength in depth as Nick will readily testify. He attended a recent reserve game against Riviera United and Buckland sneaked home….22-1! Things could hardly have got worse for the visiting keeper, well yes they could, he had his car windscreen smashed by a clearance!

Late December

The wet weather decimated the non-league world throughout the latter part of the month with just a handful of games being played before Christmas.

Halifax Town thrashed Hinckley United 6-1 at the Shay with Simon Garner pulling the strings in midfield while James Dean set up the second goal for Walshaw and the final one for Gregory.

The Boxing Day clash at Gainsborough saw Deano playing a deeper role but he still managed to score the only goal of the game, a great header, in the final minute.

FC United managed three games during the period, they won 2-0 at Burscough in the Doodson Cup, watched by just 147, lost 2-1 in a thriller at Northwich Victoria, before beating fellow Mancunians Ashton Unite 2-1 at Gigg Lane in front of just short of 2,000 fans.

Clitheroe were trounced 6-2 by ambitious AFC Fylde at Shawbridge before travelling to the Giant Axe to take on 5 th place Lancaster City. Despite the Blues struggling in 15 th place, they enjoyed a very convincing 2-0 victory and will be hoping for a little more consistency in the New Year.

Barnoldswick Town suffered a rare defeat, losing 2-1 at Glossop North End but they quickly bounced back to beat neighbours Padiham 3-1 at the Silentnight Stadium before a fine crowd of 194.

Ramsbottom United defeated Bacup Borough 3-2 at the Riverside in front of another terrific crowd of 326 while over 200 fans saw Colne win 2-0 at Silsden, both goals coming in the second half. Rammy remain second on goal difference behind Bootle while Barlick are third going into the New Year.

Those great turn-outs were surpassed by the Runcorn derby which drew a staggering 547 who witnessed an historic 3-2 win for Town over their illustrious rivals Linnets.

Also registering big crowds, Congleton Town, 136, and Glossop North End, 201.

At the other end of the scale, Ashton Town hosted Formby and the Bank Holiday attendance of just 23 must have been devastating for the home officials who also saw their side lose 2-0.

Cheadle Town took the lead after just 3 minutes against high-flying visitors Wigan Robin Park and they held on for 80 minutes before conceding three times in the final 7 minutes in front of only 39 spectators.

The Staffordshire derby between Leek CSOB and Eccleshall also failed to capture the imagination of the locals with a paltry 30 turning up to see the 0-0 draw.

Norton United officials must also be pulling their hair out as despite the team’s fantastic performances and goal-scoring exploits, just 33 turned up to see the latest ‘goal-fest’, a 6-1 thrashing of visitors Northwich Villa.

Terrible news from our neighbours Nelson that one of their best young players, 20 year-old Jason Powrie, was found dead on Christmas Eve. Jason had the potential to go much further up the Football Pyramid and our sincere condolences go out to all his friends, team-mates and especially his family at this tragic time.

Another NWCFL side lost a great man recently, Joe Riley, who founded (Atherton) Laburnum Rovers in 1956. Joe will never be forgotten at the club and from a personal point of view, I always received a very warm welcome whenever I visited Crilly Park.

As the year ended, Darwen find themselves rooted to the foot of the NWCFL 1 st Division while Nelson are 3 rd bottom but both sides have several games in hand of their closest rivals due the recent postponements.

Accrington Stanley breezed past Torquay United at the Crown with the 3-1 scoreline flattering the visitors. Andy Procter was a thorn in the side of the Seagulls throughout the 90 minutes.

The Reds followed up those three points with another three at Morecambe on Boxing Day. It’s now 6 years since the Shrimps beat Stanley and a crowd of just under 3,000 saw Andy Procter lead his side to a 2-1 victory, with the skipper shooting narrowly wide from outside the box just before half time. Later in the game a brilliant save from Roche in the Morecambe goal prevented the ex-Harwood star from making it 3-1.

Boxing Day also saw Matt Derbyshire re-appear after his long absence. He came on from the bench with 20 minutes remaining of Forest’s home game with Peterborough United and he came closest to ending the six-game scoreless run when he hit the bar in the 90 th minute. The brilliant George Boyd scored the only goal of the game which sees the Reds still in the bottom three. Despite that, and all Forest’s problems, the game was watched by a magnificent 24,500 crowd.

Still with Boxing Day, Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate made what’s possibly the shortest journey for an away game in World football. Just a matter of yards as they took on AFC Blackpool. Sadly for Russ there was little Christmas cheer as ‘pool won 2-0 before a disappointing attendance of 75.

Early December

Matt Derbyshire where are you? If anyone knows where he is please let us know here at the web-site. As Nottingham Forest sink further into the relegation dog-fight with more defeats and hardly any goals, Matt is needed more than ever and surely ex-Dingle Steve Cotterill would play him if available.

In League Two, Accrington Stanley finally won an away game-the first since February-but it’s a pity that it had to come at AFC Wimbledon which left GHTFC fan Don Fitzgerald ‘sick as a parrot’. Andy Procter gave a dominant midfield display as the Reds won 2-0 to move into mid-table. The turn out of over 4,000 was magnificent for this time of the year.

The month began badly for Halifax Town with a 4-2 home defeat by Altrincham. Alty led 2-0 before the Tykes levelled thanks to a ‘screamer’ from Simon Garner but James Dean missed a sitter in his first game after a long suspension.

Next up was a midweek trip to Borough Park Workington and if any of you’ve been there, you’ll know that it’s always blowing a gale, always freezing cold and usually pouring down, and this night was no different-worse than normal if anything!

Simon set up the opening goal for Gregory and after the home side had levelled, Deano hit the winner in the 78 th minute.

The Blues carried on the good form as they entertained Blyth Spartans in their next game, winning 3-0. With Town one up, Deano hit a cracker which the keeper could only parry to Walshaw who made it two. Simon then set up the on-loan Darlington striker who shot straight at the keeper.

The final goal had a touch of ‘deja-vu’ about it as Deano once again saw his shot saved by the over-worked Blyth custodian and St. Juste finished off the scoring.

The bad weather put paid to a number of local non-league games in the area but all four remaining NWCFL sides managed to play their FA Vase ties. Russ McKenna was disappointed to see his Squires Gate side crash out 4-0 at home to Staveley Miners Welfare thanks to two goals in each half and the crowd of just 70 was also a let down.

Norton United, enjoying their best season for some time drew 2-2 after extra time at Holbrook Sports before winning the replay 2-0.

The remaining two sides met in Derbyshire where Runcorn Town beat Glossop North End 2-1 in front of a tremendous attendance of 322.

In the League, goals in the 76 th and 77 th minutes saw Barnoldswick Town overturn a 1-0 deficit at Alsager Town to take all three points.

Bacup Borough also secured maximum points with a 1-0 win at Flixton while Ramsbottom United won a thriller against Ashton Athletic, 5-3 at the Riverside.

Ex-Robin Keiran Fletcher saw red as his Padiham side went down 2-0 at Alsager Town with the home side also seeing two of their players sent for an early bath.

Colne came back strongly after conceding the opening goal at Congleton Town, they eventually won 3-1, while Squires Gate found themselves trailing 3-0 after only 28 minutes at Stone Dominoes. Russ McKenna brought himself on and stopped the rot, scoring the seasiders solitary reply in the 71 st minute.

In the 1 st Division, the month started with a host of postponed games for our local sides but further afield Abbey Hey produced a stunning fight-back at Eccleshall. Trailing 3-1 with just 5 minutes left, they stunned the home side with three unanswered goals to take the three points.

Elsewhere, a player who caused us plenty of problems in the past, is still doing the business for Oldham Borough(Town). James Curley scored both goals in Oldham’s 2-2 home draw with Northwich Villa, watched by just 18 supporters.

Darwen remain bottom of the table and also exited the League Challenge Cup after losing 2-0 at free-scoring Norton United.

Late November

Still no sign of Matt Derbyshire at Nottingham Forest, I assume that he’s injured as the Reds need him desperately. They lost 1-0 at Cardiff City before being taught a footballing lesson by Leeds United at the City Ground, 4-0 the score.

In League Two, another masterful performance by ex-Robin Andy Procter helped Accrington Stanley to a comfortable 3-0 win against struggling Dagenham & Redbridge at the Crown Ground. That followed a 1-1 at Macclesfield Town so hopefully Andy and the boys can now put together a decent unbeaten run going into the new year.

With James Dean suspended for the next few weeks, it’s left to Simon Garner to fly the flag for ex-Harwood players in the Blue Square League. His brilliant dead ball executions set up numerous chances for his team-mates at Histon as the Tykes ran out easy 4-1 winners. A draw at Colwyn Bay in the FA Trophy and t a subsequent 2-1 defeat in the replay at least meant that Deano had got two more games knocked off his latest 6 match ban. Town had only themselves to blame for the loss after missing a penalty and scoring a bizarre own goal.

Also in the Trophy, FCUM hosted local rivals Altrincham and almost 2,000 fans saw the home side progress after a 2-1 win against a side from a higher League.

In the Evo-stik League, Clitheroe are struggling in 19 th place after losing 4-0 at home to Curzon Ashton and 2-0 at Farsley. They did though earn a good point at fancied Skelmersdale United after twice taking the lead against the second-placed side.

In 3 rd spot are Lancaster, who’ve had a few poor results lately, the latest, a 1-0 home defeat to Bamber Bridge.

In the Evo-stik South, many Great Harwood supporters will remember a game at Sandy Lane Worksop, when a bomb scare caused the game to be called off leaving many supporters angry at having made a long journey for nothing. The game was given the go-ahead to kick-off at 5-00pm, but the Harwood players refused. Worksop, after years playing ‘home’ games at ‘away’ venues, have moved back home for this season and their crowds have been excellent. 807 saw the latest thriller, a 5-4 win over Mickleover Sports with the decisive 9 th goal coming in the 90 th minute.

A great pity then, that just 71 hardy souls witnessed an incredible performance by Radcliffe Borough at Harrogate Railway Athletic. Borough recently lost 4-0 at lowly Clitheroe but they were more than up for it as they took on strugglers Athletic. By half time they’d built up a 7-2 lead and must have looking to break a few records but the home side scored just after the break and kept it tight at the back, conceding just one more goal until 7 minutes from the end when Borough added two more to win 10-3.

The next game for Harrogate was a home tie in the West Riding Cup against Guiseley and it was another thriller with the Conference North side winning 4-3. On a dreadful pitch, and in front of an ‘improved’ crowd of 82, Railway surged into a 2-0 lead before Guiseley pulled one back before the break. The home side led 3-2 going into the final couple of minutes with Guiseley also down to ten men because of injury, but the visitors equalised, then regained possession right after the re-start and scored with a shot from the half-way line.

In the NWCFL, Barnoldswick Town continue to look like future champions, winning 2-0 at home to Colne before an impressive 190, and then breezed past Bacup Borough at West View 3-1. That home defeat was preceded by a 4-1 loss to Ashton Athletic at the same venue.

Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate, going well in the FA Vase, won a thriller at St. Helens, 5-3, and might have expected a decent crowd as they entertained the free-scoring Runcorn Town but a measly 25 turned up to see a 2-2 draw.

They weren’t the only ones disappointed by an attendance, just 27 saw Stone Dominoes beat Atherton LR 2-1 but if the experience of Great Harwood Town supporters is anything to go by, there were probably another 27 driving round Staffordshire looking for the ground!!

Ramsbottom United also finished the month in great form, winning 3-0 at Blackpool, all the goals before the break, and then came from a 1-0 half time deficit at Glossop North End to win 4-1. Another cracking turn out saw the thrashing with around a quarter of the 218 making the trip from Rammy.

The wet weather put paid to several fixtures in the last days of November with Padiham playing just once and earning a fine point in a 1-1 draw at Runcorn Linnets.

Mid November

Halifax Town, minus James Dean , put up a creditable show against League One leaders Charlton Athletic in the FA Cup at the Shay before the professionals scored three late goals to give the scoreline a very unfair look. Deano did manage to get on TV though with a pre-match interview while Simon Garner gave a cultured midfield performance which drew praises from the commentators. He was booked for a late challenge which must have had some bearing on the decision to substitute him late on with the score still at 1-0.

Fleetwood Town made it through to the 2 nd Round after a cracking win against Wycombe Wanderers.

The absence of star player Andy Procter proved too much for Accrington Stanley as they not only went down 3-1 at Notts. County, but also had yet another player sent off.

In the NWCFL, Barnoldswick Town had little difficulty in disposing of visitors Atherton LR, 4-0 the score.

Tommy Turner scored yet again for Bacup Borough, giving them the lead at Maine Road but the hosts hit back with a 90 th minute strike to win 3-2.

Colne also went down, 2-0 at Bootle, while the other local clubs all registered victories.

A crowd of 148 saw Padiham beat AFC Liverpool 2-1 at the Arbories, while a superb attendance of 346 witnessed another Ramsbottom United win, 2-1 at Runcorn Linnets.

Russ McKenna opened the scoring for Squires Gate just before half time as they beat visitors Alsager Town 2-0.

No less than five Premier Division games drew three-figure crowds thanks to the lack of Football League and Premier League games due to the International break.

The local derby between Oldham Borough and Rochdale Town failed to capture the imagination of the Greater Manchester football supporters though a miserable 21 turned out to see visiting Rochdale win 5-2.

In the same division, a last minute penalty gave Darwen a share of the spoils at home to Chadderton while Nelson enjoyed a rare win, 3-2 at home to Ashton Town, the home side hanging on after leading 3-0 in the first half.

Norton United continued their scoring streak, hitting four unanswered goals against Wolverhampton Casuals in the Staffordshire FA Vase. Surprisingly, after going goal-crazy in the first half of recent matches, all the goals this time came after the break.

Another of our ‘old boys’ Yak Khan, has surfaced, and has signed for Nelson, so expect their results to pick up.

AFC Liverpool, without a win all season, finally broke their duck and how! They beat Winsford United 7-0 but still remain rooted to the bottom of the NWCFL Premier Division. The Blues cause wasn’t helped when they had a player sent off midway through the 1 st half with the score at 1-0.

Just like the buses, you wait ages for one and then two come along together, as the Reds defeated Flixton 2-1 to move off the bottom of the table.

The mini-run then ended at Maine Road where the home side ran out 3-0 winners.

Clitheroe are still struggling towards the foot of the Evo-stik League after a home loss to fellow relegation candidates Ossett Town, and a 1-1 draw at Warrington Town.

They then enjoyed a great 4-0 home win over Radcliffe Borough.

In the same division, Lancaster City are 3 rd after a great week. They thrashed Bamber Bridge 6-2 at Irongate before beating leaders Skelmersdale United 2-1 at the Giant Axe and then won 2-1 at Garforth Town

FC United needed extra time to beat Durham in the FA Trophy at Gigg Lane before they were back in League action at Mickleover Sports where a 2-0 win took them to 7 th place. They then moved up to 6 th with a 3-2 win at Worksop Town before an 800+ crowd.

In the FA Cup, the Carshalton Branch of the Great Harwood Town supporters club must travel to Scunthorpe for a replay after the sides played out a 0-0 draw before just under 3,000 at Kingsmeadow.

Meanwhile, the Aldershot Branch must also wait to see if they made it to the 2 nd round after drawing 1-1 at non-league Maidenhead.

Southport were beaten by a last gasp goal from Barnet at Haig Avenue, 2-1 the final score.

Bradford Park Avenue played at the Showground not long after they were elected to the NWCFL and brought a large following despite it being an evening game, and they took another superb following to AFC Totton for their FA Cup clash. Sadly for the Tykes they were beaten out of sight 8-1 by the Southern League Premier Division side and they didn’t help themselves by having two men sent off. The game was watched by a record crowd of 2,315 at Totton’s Testwood Stadium.

Our two clubs have met on many occasions over the years and we were Bradford’s final opponents at their Park Avenue ground, winning the game 2-0 in 1973 and co-incidentally, we were also their final opponents at Valley Parade where they ground-shared the following year before being wound-up. A crowd of 698 saw Harwood beaten 1-0 in the Northern Premier League and Bradford were then liquidated on 3 rd May 1974 with debts of £57,652.

No chance of glory for Gt Harwood Town in the Non-League Paper’s Fantasy League-we’re lying in 778 th place-a shambolic performance from our ‘virtual’ team!

The FA Vase saw most of our local clubs exit the competition with only Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate making it through to the 3 rd round. They beat fellow NWCFL side Winsford United 3-1 after extra time following a goalless 90 minutes.

The North East, as often happened with Great Harwood Town, proved to be the downfall for most of our other clubs.

Ramsbottom United travelled to Consett and fought back to level after going in at the break 2-0 down but eventually lost out 4-2.

Another of our leading sides, Barnoldswick Town, entertained Spennymoor Town but it was the visitors who did most of the entertaining as they breezed through 5-0 before an excellent 334.

Padiham were also hit for five although they did score a couple themselves against Askern Villa at the Arbories. The Storks were in fact leading 2-1 at the break.

Bacup Borough looked on course for a good result at West Auckland Town, drawing 1-1 at the break but the Geordies scored twice more without reply after the re-start.

Apart from Squires Gate, the other three league sides to make it through were, Norton United who won 2-1 at home to Ellesmere Rangers after extra time, Runcorn Town, 2-0 winners at our ex-Vase opponents Glasshoughton Welfare, and Glossop North End who had a great 4-2 win at Billingham Town.

Two more of our old foes went out, Norton & Stockton Ancients, who lost 1-0 at Ashington, and Crook Town, who went down 2-0 at Billingham Synthonia.

In the league, Colne won 2-0 at Alsager Town while in the 1 st Division Nelson moved further up the table after a fine 3-2 win at Cheadle Town before a paltry attendance of 25.

Mind you, that was quite good compared with the ‘derby’ crowd of 15 who saw Atherton Collieries win 1-0 at Oldham Borough.

Colls then travelled to the Anchor two days later and won again, this time 3-1 against struggling Darwen.

Early November

Matt Derbyshire must have been hoping that the change of manager at Nottingham Forest might mean a change of fortune for him-namely more starts in the first team-but new Boss Steve Cotterill made him an unused substitute for the home game with Reading and then dropped him from squad altogether for the trip to Portsmouth where they lost 3-0. Matt’s proved himself at that level and the sooner he’s given a run of games up front, the sooner Forest will begin to move up the table.

Andy Procter was missing from the Accrington Stanley line-up as they hosted Bristol Rovers and surprisingly wasn’t missed as a couple of loan signing impressed in the 2-1 win.

James Dean returned from suspension to spearhead Halifax Town’s West Riding Cup game at Barnoldswick and he netted the Tykes’ second in a 2-1 win before over 200 fans at the Silentnight Stadium.

The Blues then travelled to Gloucester City, or to be precise, Cheltenham, where City play their home games, and won 3-1 thanks to two strikes from Deano. He scored the first from the edge of the box then knocked in a close range effort after the hosts had equalised. Some fierce tackling from the away side didn’t endear them to the home supporters with Simon Garner receiving plenty of stick after several crunching tackles.

Deano was ready to lead the Halifax attack in their home FA Cup tie against Charlton Athletic, to be televised on ITV on Sunday, but the Referee’s report for the sending off at Guiseley stated that he’d ‘manhandled’ the official and has been hit with a NINE game ban.

Clitheroe, still without any ex-Robins in their ranks, find themselves too close to the bottom of the Evo-stik North and they lost 4-1 at home to Trafford. With the visitors leading 1-0 and only three minutes left, one or two fans might have left for the exits but they missed out on all the early-evening fireworks on November 5 th. The Blues thought that they’d rescued a point after a late equaliser but with 90 minutes on the clock, Trafford scored three more goals to leave the Shawbridge outfit in shock.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Barnoldswick Town recovered from their defeat against Halifax to beat Steve Wilkes’ Ashton Athletic 3-1. Like Clitheroe, anyone leaving early missed a great finish. Town led 1-0 until the 88 th minute when a second seemed to have sealed the victory but Ashton hit back straight away before Town scored in the final minute to end hopes of an away come-back.

A 0-0 draw at AFC Blackpool followed that win to leave Barlick in 6 th spot.

Colne cruised past Squires Gate 3-0 at Holt House before taking on Flixton at the same venue a few days later. Once again Colne were having it all their own way and led 2-0 at the break, but the Mancunians hit back to level before an 86 th minute winner made it a great week for the Reds.

Ramsbottom United came from behind at Atherton LR to win 3-1 and then made it a miserable week for Russ McKenna by thrashing Squires Gate 4-0 at the Riverside. Russ’s boys then lost 3-0 at Silsden with all the goals coming in the first half, a result that leaves the Seasiders third from bottom.

Rammy, meanwhile, had the chance to go top of the table when they entertained lowly neighbours Padiham and looked well on course just after the break as they went two up but the Storks hit back with three unanswered goals to chalk up their best result of the season.

Tommy Turner continues to score for fun and his latest strike was the only goal of the game as Bacup beat Padiham 1-0 at West View. With the heavy rain on Friday evening, it was of little surprise that Borough’s next fixture against Runcorn Linnets was postponed.

Padiham then drew another blank in their home game with Stone Dominoes who took all the points on offer after a 1-0 win.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen lost 3-2 at home to Wigan Robin Park before they too suffered a home postponement at the weekend.

They then travelled the short distance to Daisy Hill who’ve been enjoying their best season in many years and it looked like another defeat as the home side built up a two goal lead but Darwen hit back to earn a 2-2 draw.

Nelson earned a fine draw, 1-1 at Chadderton, after an injury time equaliser but they still find themselves bottom of the table.

Norton United are the team to watch and their manager was named ‘manager of the month’ for the third time in a row but unlike his professional counterparts, it wasn’t a jinx. After the Staffordshire sides amazing goalscoring exploits recently, 0-0 looked on the cards as they hosted Formby but once again they went goal-crazy. Two early strikes were cancelled out by the visitors but a quick-fire four goal salvo made it 6-2 at the break. Soon afterwards it was seven and double figures looked inevitable but the Squirrels hit back to make the final score 7-4. Once again the fantastic spectacle was watched by a terrible attendance-just 37.

Here’s a list of their results over the past 6 weeks and how they appear to run out of steam in the second half.

Home – won 3-2 (last goal scored in 45 th minute)

Away - 3-3

Home – won 6-3 (last goal in 70 th minute)

Home – won 4-0 FA Vase (last goal in 63 rd minute)

Home – won 8-0 (last goal in 69 th minute)

Home – won 7-4 (last goal in 49 th minute)

Fleetwood Town made light work of Mansfield Town in their FA Cup replay, winning 5-0 at Highbury to set up a home tie with Wycombe Wanderers.

As the bulldozers smash down the famous ‘Pop-Side’ at the Showground this week, another club who don’t own their own ground, Cambridge City, are being turfed out of their Milton Road ground at the end of next season when their lease it up. Planning permission for housing has already been applied for although the Football Club is objecting-good luck City!

The Pop-Side has joined a list of famous terraces that no longer exist including The North Bank, Highbury, Cow Shed, Huddersfield and Lever End, Bolton, to name just a few.

Mid & Late October

Sorry for the lack of updates- I have been on holiday.

Matt Derbyshire is still having a problem holding down a regular place in the Nottingham Forest starting eleven and inconsistency seems to be the name of the game at the City Ground.

A 1-0 defeat at Coventry City saw the Reds sink to next to bottom of the Championship. Matt could have earned a penalty early in the second half but was eventually substituted after 76 minutes.

The visit of unbeaten Middlesbrough must have been daunting but surprisingly Forest won 2-0, their first home success of the campaign with Matt coming on for the final 6 minutes.

A trip to Bloomfield Road brought them their second win of the week and Matt certainly made an eventful 20 minute appearance. He entered the fray after an hour with the scores level but was booked within 4 minutes. They then took the lead but had a man sent off and with Matt walking a tightrope, he was substituted with 6 minutes to go.

The inconsistency returned for their next game at the City Ground where visitors Hull City secured a 1-0 win with Matt only appearing for the final few minutes.

A poor month ended on a high for Andy Procter and Accrington Stanley. A trip to bottom of the table Plymouth Argyle brought home the reality of what Stanley are competing against. Despite their position, Argyle drew a massive 8,000+ crowd to Home Park, a figure that the Reds can only dream of. Things looked bleak for John Coleman’s men as they not only trailed 2-0 by the break, they’d only seen Hessey sent off after only 26 minutes but they fought back brilliantly to be all square after 66 minutes. Andy then had a chance to put his side ahead just a couple of minutes later but headed over and he also missed a decent chance 5 minutes from the end.

That scoreless last half an hour was the beginning of a goal drought that lasted over 7 hours.

Tranmere Rovers knocked Stanley out of the Johnstones Paint Trophy courtesy of a 1-0 win at the Crown before Swindon Town won 2-0 at the same venue.

Cheltenham Town also made light work of their long trip North, winning 1-0 and rather more comfortably than the score suggests.

A trip to Shrewsbury Town brought no joy with another 1-0 defeat.

Finally they managed to score in what was their toughest game of the month, a trip to face title favourites Crawley Town. Stanley took a first half lead and then defended brilliantly before conceding just 10 minutes from time. Nevertheless, 1-1 was a great result and should give them the confidence to start climbing the table. Andy was as usual a rock in midfield and despite an early booking he gave another swashbuckling display.

James Dean was suspended for much of the month including the 2-1 home win against Eastwood Town but Simon Garner now appears to be a regular in midfield.

An FA Cup at Lancaster followed but the game will be remembered for fighting in the crowd which caused the referee to take the players off the field for 20 minutes. Town ran out comfortable 3-0 winners with Simon Garner supporting the lone front man. He set up the final goal as the Shaymen scored from all of their shots on-target.

A tough League game at Droylsden saw them go down 2-0 before they got back on track against Hyde. The visitors had started the season in devastating form winning their opening ten games but their 3-2 defeat at the Shay made it four defeats on the spin.

Town raced into a 3-0 half time lead before the Mancunians pulled two back in the second period. Deano was back from suspension and led the line while Simon scored the second goal with a rasping shot from the edge of the box that flew into the bottom corner.

A 1-0 win at Solihull saw the Blues progress into the FA Cup 1 st Round, Simon and Deano both completing the 90 minutes.

In the Vodcat League, Barnoldswick Town twice came from behind to win 3-2 at Bootle before surprisingly going down 1-0 at home to Silsden before a good crowd of 169.

They then racked up three wins on the bounce, thrashing St. Helens 4-0 at the Silentnight Stadium, enjoying a great 3-2 win at Runcorn Linnets in the FA Vase, before progressing in the League Challenge Cup after a 4-1 demolition job at home to Irlam.

Padiham saw a fantastic end to their home game with Maine Road. With the score at 0-0 and only three minutes to play, some supporters probably left for the exits but they missed some early fireworks as the visitors looked to have stolen the points after scoring in the 88 th minute but the Storks stormed back with two goals in two minutes, both from Lee Morris to take the spoils.

They then won 3-1 at Oldham Borough in the FA Vase before exiting the League Challenge Cup, 2-1 at Chadderton.

Colne lost 1-0 at home to neighbours Ramsbottom United before travelling to Atherton LR and finding themselves 5-0 up not long after the break before the hosts rallied with two goals of their own.

Unfortunately they had to face Rammy again and again they lost, this time 4-0 in the FA Vase at the Riverside.

They looked to get back on track against SteveWilkes’ Ashton Athletic in the Challenge Cup but they went down 3-2 infront of a very disappointing Holt House attendance of just 38.

Ramsbottom are going well again in the Premier Division, as well as the two victories over Colne, they won 2-0 at Maine Road, drew 2-2 at home to Flixton before ending the month with a 3-2 Challenge Cup win at Oldham Borough, twice having to come from behind.

Bacup Borough had a great end to the month, winning three games in three different competitions. They defeated AFC Liverpool 3-2 at West View in the Premier Division, beat Cheadle Town 2-0 away in the FA Vase, and a similar score in the Challenge Cup at Atherton Collieries.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen enjoyed a great 4-1 win against Formby at the Anchor before losing 4-2 to Leek CSOB at the same venue. Squires Gate ended their interest in the FA Vase with a 3-0 win at the seaside before Abbey Hey made it three defeats in a row winning 2-1 at Darwen.

Nelson endured a poor month, losing 3-2 at Irlam and 5-1 at Abbey Hey. Sandwiched between those defeats was a 2-1 loss at home to Eccleshall but things got much much worse by the end of October. They travelled to Norton United for a Challenge Cup tie and found them selves 6-0 down at the break before eventually steadying the ship to lose 8-0 with the defence holding firm for the final 20 minutes. The home fans obviously don’t rate the competition as only 12 of them turned up to watch with the’ stop-at-homes’ cursing their decision not to bother. The turnout was even stranger to understand after United won their previous home game 6-3 against Holker Old Boys.

That nine-goal thriller wasn’t the highest scoring game on that particular Saturday and it wasn’t even the highest in Staffordshire as Stone Dominoes and Runcorn Linnets served up a thirteen goal extravaganza. Linnets started like a house on fire bursting into a three-goal lead inside four minutes with Towey scoring them all! By the break it was only 4-1 but within 10 minutes of the re-start it was 6-1. Incredibly Stone hit back to make it 6-5 with Spence hitting a hat-trick before two goals in the final three minutes made it 8-5 for Runcorn with White completing his own treble.

Elsewhere, it was nice to see Durham City on the up and they produced a fabulous come-back at Mossley. 3-0 down just after half time, they scored four times without reply to take the three points that moved them into 3 rd place in the Evo-stik Division One North.

In the Premier Division of that competition, Chorley also produced a fine come-back, trailing 3-1 at the break at Mickleover but hitting back to win 4-3. FC United are still not showing enough consistency to trouble the leading pack, their latest result, a 2-2 draw at Stocksbridge in front a huge attendance of 676, almost entirely made up of Reds supporters.

Further afield, Truro City escaped closure when they were given until mid-January to pay off their outstanding tax bill.

Early October

Long-distance Robins fan Paul Clark had a disappointing start to the month as he travelled the long distance from Hampshire to Accrington to see his ‘other’ favourite team Aldershot.

Paul was dancing on the terraces with his Shots buddies as they twice took the lead only for Stanley to steal all three points at the death. Even Reds boss John Coleman admitted that his boys were very fortunate to win and that the Shots camp must have been gutted to leave with nothing. Andy Procter almost scored midway through the first half with a rasping shot that fizzed just wide and he was unanimously named man-of-the-match on his 400 th appearance for the club. Yet another of our players to reach great heights after leaving the Showground. At least the Aldershot fans went home with a suntan instead of the usual soaking.

Matt Derbyshire’s Nottingham Forest slumped to yet another home defeat and that prompted manager Steve McClaren to quit the club. Matt set up the opener for Miller and was also booked halfway through the first period but once again they shipped in 3 second half goals against Birmingham to leave the Reds faithful less than happy with their mis-firing team.

Another player who left our League to reach the Premier League is Anthony Pilkington and he scored his first goal there for Norwich City near his old stomping ground at the Reebok Bolton. He of course made a name for himself at Atherton Collieries before moving on to Stockport County and then Huddersfield before his £2m. move to Carrow Road. He’s excelled this season and recently ran the Manchester United defence a merry dance at Old Trafford, hitting the post and coming close to scoring on another couple of occasions.

James Dean came on after an hour of Halifax Town’s FA Cup game with minnows Tadcaster of the Northern Counties East leading 1-0 and his presence saw a marked improvement. He hit the equaliser after 82 minutes before almost scoring the winner but that eventually came when McManus scored in the dying seconds.

Clitheroe exited the competition despite taking a 1 st half lead against visitors Radcliffe Borough, 3-1 the final score.

In the NWCFL, Darwen came from behind to win 2-1 at Cheadle Town while Nelson were held 1-1 at Victoria Park by Norton United.

In the Premier Division, Steve Pickup starred for Colne but they went down 1-0 at Blackpool.

Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate also went out after losing 3-2 at Atherton LR. A major disappointment and big surprise for Russ after his boys rushed into a 2-0 lead after just 3 minutes.

Padiham and Ramsbottom United both went down to home defeats, the Storks 4-1 to Bootle and Rammy 1-0 to Alsager despite the backing of a tremendous crowd of 241.

The Storks then drew 2-2 in the Lancashire Challenge Trophy at Atherton Collieries before going through 4-1 on penalties.

Barnoldswick Town overcame fellow high-flyers Flixton 2-1 at home while Bacup also beat one of the leading sides, Winsford United, 2-1 at the Barton Stadium. United will be glad to see the back of our local sides as both Padiham and Rammy have won recently at their ground.

Dennis Hill looks to have played his last game for Nelson as he concentrates on his sun tan, sorry coaching work with Everton.

In the Lancashire Challenge Trophy, Jepson Way witnessed a cracking local derby with Russ McKenna’s visiting Squires Gate coming back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to win 3-2.

Colne edged past Holker Old Boys 1-0 at Holt House while Darwen produced the highlight of the round, beating ex-winners Marine 3-2 at the Anchor.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, almost 200 fans witnessed a thriller at the Riverside where Ramsbottom United led 1-0 before Barnoldswick headed into the final 10 minutes 2-1 up but a penalty brought the sides level before Rammy clinched all three points 4 minutes from time.

Latest club to be hit with financial problems are Truro City who’ve enjoyed several promotions in the last few years. Their owner had ambitions are making the club Cornwall’s first Football League club but it appears that they’ve now run into difficulties. Although the owner has ‘bankrolled’ the club through their rise, it seems all it not rosy been him and some supporters who are now questioning his motives.

Late September

Maidstone United look determined to break an FA Cup goalscoring record after they hit 9 goals for the second tie in a row, not only that but both games were away from home. They followed up their 9-0 win at Corinthian with a 9-1 thrashing of Banstead Athletic and amazingly, in the latest win, they failed to add to the score during the final 25 minutes.

Spare a thought for Mangotfield United who were thrown out of the competition and lost the £1500 winners prize money for the victory over Hallen AFC. One of the United players owed £16 for an unpaid Sunday League fine, unbeknown to the club, and when Hallen got wind of it they put in a complaint which resulted in their re-instatement. That seemed to be a pretty underhand thing to do even if Hallen needed the money desperately-they were beaten fair and square during the game and no doubt relations between the two clubs will be very strained. Even more ridiculous was that the fine was given in the first place after the Sunday League side disbanded and the debt was shared out between all of their players.

Matt Derbyshire started up front for Nottingham Forest as they sought to reach the last 16 in the League Cup. Premier League Newcastle United were the visitors to the City Ground and Forest came from behind three times before a 132 nd minute winner won the day for the Magpies. Matt scored a superb goal to make it 2-2 in the 67 th minute, latching on to a through ball before rounding the keeper and sliding in from an angle. He was substituted five minutes from the end of normal time after suffering a foot injury.

That kept him out of the starting line-up for the next game at Watford but he did appear as a 74 th minute substitute to help the Reds seal a 1-0 win and take the pressure of under-fire boss Steve McClaren.

He then started the game at Burnley, desperate to put one over the ‘old enemy’ but things couldn’t have gone much worse with Forest already four down at the break before eventually losing 5-1 and Matt being replaced 15 minutes from time.

In League Two, Andy Procter helped Accrington Stanley to a fine point after a 1-1 draw at Oxford before a crowd of 6,500.

Halifax Town played two Yorkshire derbies in a week, both away from home and remained unbeaten, although James Dean was far from happy. The first game saw Town come back from a 3-1 half time deficit to score three times in 15 minutes to secure the points but Deano, who only came on in the 83 rd minute, was sent off for an off-the-ball incident in a throw-back to his earlier undisciplined days.

A huge crowd of just under 900 were present and even more, over 1100 turned up for the next game at Harrogate Town where it ended up 0-0 with Deano an unused sub.

Clitheroe breezed past Bursough in their FA Cup replay despite going behind at Shawbridge. The Blues stormed back after conceding in the 6 th minute to win 5-2 and they followed that up with a 2-1 win against Farsley at the same venue.

After Ramsbottom United were refused permission to switch their FA Cup tie with Nantwich Town, the postponement at Darwen’s Anchor Ground meant that the tie did in fact eventually take place at the Riverside and with just a couple of minutes remaining things looked rosy for the Blues but two late strikes put Nantwich into the next round. A superb turn-out of 217 witnessed the late drama.

Next up was a League game at lowly Silsden and it was role-reversal as the Rams let a 1-0 half time lead slip to lose 2-1.

Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate put up a valiant display in front of a crowd of 325 in their FA Cup replay at Runcorn Linnets before going down 1-0 but they won their next league game by the same score at home to St. Helens.

AFC Fylde gained a famous victory, beating Chorley in the replay at Victory Park, while FC United also won their away replay, 4-1 at Woodley Sports.

They then travelled to bottom of the table Burscough and were cruising at 4-0 before three goals in 6 minutes around the hour mark put the Linnets back in it before United scored a clinching fifth.

Bacup Borough lost 2-1 in the NWCFL Premier Division to leaders AFC Blackpool but then progressed in the FA Vase after beating visitors Ashton Athletic 3-1. They then came from a one goal half-time deficit to defeat Silsden 2-1, Tommy Turner scoring the winner.

In the same competition, Barnoldswick Town were trailing 2-0 to visiting Abbey Hey but pulled a gaol back just before the break and then cut loose in the second half to win 5-2 with Liam Garbutt scoring a hat-trick.

Colne were held by Holker Old Boys but triumphed in the replay 2-0 before a pitiful attendance of 28 in Barrow.

A fine effort from 1 st Division Darwen saw them hold AFC Liverpool to a 2-2 draw at the Anchor and it was almost a famous victory with the Scousers equalising just 6 minutes from the end to take the tie into extra time in front a healthy attendance of 90.

The replay also went into extra time after another late equaliser from Liverpool but this time Darwen were victorious, winning 3-1.

No cup fever a Formby as just 24 turned out to see them defeat Chadderton 4-2. Much better for the Atherton derby in the same competition where a much better than average 90 saw hosts LR defeat Collieries 3-2.

If like me, you’ve never heard of Kinsley Boys then I’ll enlighten you. They are based in Pontefract, Yorkshire and play in the Central Midlands League. Just one defeat in 9 games gave them hope for the trip to Armthorpe Welfare in the FA Vase and they held their own for 20 minutes before going behind.

Sadly it all went wrong from then on and they ended up losing 10-0 before just 52 fans. Ringwood Town fared slightly better, losing 9-1 at Downton. Town lie at the bottom of the Wessex League having lost all four games but like Kinsley, held their Wiltshire neighbours for 20 minutes and were only two down at the break before the floodgates opened in the second half. Leading scorer Nic Turpin (possibly a highwayman) helped himself to a six-minute hat-trick and as Downton are nicknamed the Robins, they’re our team of the round.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Padiham recorded their best result of the season, winning 2-1 at leaders Winsford and the same could be said of 1 st Division Nelson as they eased past Northwich Villa 3-0 at Victoria Park.

The Storks then lost 2-0 at AFC Blackpool.

Leek CSOB attracted just 20 spectators for their League game with Northwich Villa which ended 2-2 while the Cheshire Senior Cup tie between Woodley Sports and Runcorn Town fared just as badly with just 22 people witnessing Sports 4-1 extra-time victory.

No such problems at the Deva Stadium where Chester beat League leaders Chorley 3-0 before a phenomenal 3,310.

It’s still difficult to believe that our opponents of not-so-long-ago Fleetwood Town are pitting their wits against so many ex-Football League clubs and the latest, Stockport County, in the Championship just a few years ago, felt the full force of the Cod-Army as Town won 4-2 at Edgeley Park.

Best comeback of the season and unlikely to be bettered was Wimborne Town’s 5-4 victory over Halesowen Town in the Southern League. The visitors led 4-0 after an hour but then had a player sent off and almost immediately the home side pulled one back. 15 minutes later it was 4-3 but Halesowen looked to have hung on to all three points before an equaliser two minutes from time. The comeback was completed in the final minute to send the majority of the 254 lucky spectators home happy.

Mid September

Matt Derbyshire not surprisingly kept his place in the Nottingham Forest team that took on fierce rivals Derby County at the City Ground and he made a telling contribution after just a minute’s play. He set up a chance that saw a team-mate flattened by Rams keeper Frank Fielding which resulted in a penalty, converted, and a red card for the ex-Rover stopper.

Despite the odds being stacked in favour of Matt’s boys, the visitors fought back to take all three points after a 2-1 win in front of just under 27,500 fans. Matt had a great chance to make it 2-2 in the 2 nd half but headed straight at the keeper and then just failed to get on the end of a cross deep into injury time.

Accrington Stanley gained a fine point after a 1-1 draw with Rotherham United but then slipped to a 2-0 home defeat against Crewe Alexandra, both goals coming in the opening minutes. Andy Procter gave his usual consistent performance but missed a good chance to put the Reds back in the game when he shot wide.

Clitheroe slipped to a 2-1 home defeat against Skelmersdale United but then forced a 2-2 draw at Skem’s neighbours Burscough in the FA Cup. The Blues twice led so will be desperate to get to the next round.

Also in Cup action were several of our local clubs, with Ramsbottom United unable to play their home tie with Nantwich Town at the Riverside because of a music festival next door at the cricket ground. The Rams asked the FA if they could play before or after the weekend but the boys in suits refused to be flexible. That meant that the tie would take place at Darwen’s Anchor ground but heavy rain put paid to the game so Rammy will be able to play at ‘home’ after all.

Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate warmed up for the tough game with FA Cup ‘giant-killers’ Runcorn Linnets with a 6-1 trouncing of their local rivals St. Helens and held ‘corn to a 0-0 draw before a large crowd of 179 at the sea-side.

Lancaster City made short work of Maine Road, winning 5-1 at the Giant Axe while last season’s heroes FC United were held 1-1 by Woodley Sports at Gigg Lane.

Free-scoring Runcorn Town put up a good fight at Ashton United, taking an early lead before the NPL side hit back with five unanswered goals.

James Dean and Simon Garner were left in shock as Halifax Town were blown away 5-1 by Vauxhall Motors at the Shay. The visitors were just a goal up when they were reduced to ten men but it made little difference as they surged into a 3-0 half-time lead. Simon was replaced at the interval and Deano then pulled a goal back but the fight-back never materialised as Neil Aspin saw his side lose two successive league games for the first time in a couple of years.

In the NWCFL, Barnoldswick Town would have gone top of the Premier Division had they won at Ashton Athletic but had to settle for a point after a 0-0 draw. Ashton’s keeper is Ross Baxter, famous for his four-letter rant at Harwood supporters a few years ago. He and manager Steve Wilkes would have to fork out a small fortune if a ‘swear box’ was installed at the ground!

Bacup Borough led 2-0 at home to Congleton Town but went down 4-3 while Colne had a week to forget as well. They lost 2-1 at home to local rivals Padiham before a disappointing crowd of 86 then lost 3-0 at the same venue to Glossop North End. Padiham followed up that win with a 1-1 draw against Alsager Town at the Arbories.

Two winless sides met at AFC Liverpool and visitors Atherton LR left with all three points after a 2-1 success leaving the Reds stranded at the bottom with just a single point from eight games.

In the 1 st Division it was three defeats from three games for our two local sides. Nelson made the long midweek trip to Holker Old Boys and came back empty-handed after a 2-0 defeat and then lost 2-1 at leaders Wigan Robin Park.

Darwen led 1-0 at home to Daisy Hill in midweek but lost 2-1, a result that saw Darren slip to 6 th from bottom.

Early September

A meeting was held with Hyndburn Council to discuss the possibility of renting a piece of land with a view to develop it over several years, preferably within Great Harwood.

The upshot was that we could only do this if we already had a team, committee, chairman etc and had been playing at local level for a number of years. We would also need a plan for the future. For a team with NWCFL aspirations, a clubhouse (with a liquor licence) would be essential for income and floodlights would need to be installed.

The amount of money needed to get to that level would suggest that the idea of resurrecting GHTFC is unfortunately a non-starter.

To all Harwood supporters-keep filling in those lottery tickets!

Sad news arrived at the web-site announcing the death of former Great Harwood FC secretary Bernard Phelan. He died peacefully in hospital on August 31 st aged 87. Bernard held the role of secretary during the 1970’s when Derrick Keighley was Chairman and much of the information from his extensive board meeting minutes can be found elsewhere on this site, mostly under the ‘documents’ section.

Many of our local clubs were involved in the FA Cup at the beginning of the month and Ramsbottom United were the first ones to kick-off with a Friday evening game at home to Salford City. The game attracted plenty of attention due to the fact that the actual FA Cup Trophy was on display at the Riverside and a huge crowd of 345 turned out. Things looked bleak for the Rams as City took the lead after just 34 seconds but they fought back to triumph 2-1.

A few hours later Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate also made it through courtesy of a 1-0 home win over Atherton Collieries.

Next door AFC Blackpool entertained AFC Fylde with honours even after a 1-1 draw in front of a magnificent 283.

In the replay Blackpool led their illustrious neighbours 2-0 at the break but ended up losing 3-2 thanks to a 91 st minute winner

Runcorn Town, last season’s unstoppable goalscorers, are back in the old groove, scoring 6 without reply at Congleton Town and two days later they smashed in another 4 against St. Helens.

Strange to see a club as big as Lancaster City in the competition at this stage and they made it safely through, winning 4-1 at Formby before yet another excellent crowd, 142.

Elsewhere, old cup foes Guisborough Town and Brigg Town went out of the competition, while Glasshoughton Welfare and Hall Road Rangers both forced replays from away ties. Glasshoughton’s draw was against Ossett Town, from two leagues above, and that gap showed in the replay which Town won 3-1. Hall Road came through after a fine 2-0 win.

One of our long-distance supporters, Nick Hancock from Devon, will have been delighted to see his team Buckland Athletic force a replay at ‘big’guns’ Taunton Town but it ended disappointingly as the Somerset side gave their best performance of the season to make it through 2-0 in the replay.

Clitheroe produced one of the results of the round, not just defeating fancied Skelmersdale United but thrashing them 4-0 at Shawbridge.

Some huge scores included Maldon & Tiptree’s 9-0 home win over Ipswich Wanderers, ex-League club Maidstone United’s win by the same score at Corinthian and Yate’s 10-1 demolition of Melksham Town.

In the NWCFL, Bacup Borough were another side to benefit from the Premier League and Championship games being absent from the fixture list and they drew a very respectable 107 to West View to see them beat Glossop North End 3-0.

Barnoldswick Town beat AFC Liverpool 3-1 before 158, Colne lost 2-1 at home to Alsager Town with both goals coming in the final 10 minutes, and Padiham lost by the same score at Flixton.

In the 1 st Division, Dennis Hill’s Nelson travelled the few miles to the Anchor to take on Darwen and he must have been desperate to ‘put one over’ on the club who treated him so shabbily when he was dismissed as their manager a couple of years ago. A better than average attendance of 69 saw the visitors take a 26 th minute lead and they looked like taking all three points but in the end took none after an 86 th minute penalty and a last gasp winner saw Darwen victorious.

Both local clubs then won their next games 4-3. Nelson beat Atherton Collieries rather more comfortably than the scoreline suggested and Darwen progressed in the FA Vase thanks to a fantastic win at AFC Blackpool. The Salmoners were in control for much of the game against opponents from a higher league and only a ‘Pool equaliser in the 88 th minute took the game into the extra half hour.

In the Premier League Colne beat neighbours Bacup Borough 1-0 before a very poor crowd of 56 and Ramsbottom United triumphed 2-1 at Padiham in the other derby before 161 fans at the Arbories. The Storks then drew 1-1 at St. Helens despite the early dismissal of keeper Sean Davis, while Rammy enjoyed a 2-0 success at Winsford United to go top of the table with Barnoldswick Town.

It was then onto Vase action for Bacup and they edged past Rochdale 1-0. Barnoldswick meanwhile continue to impress, making it through to the next round courtesy of a 3-1 home win against Irlam.

Elsewhere, two of our recent cup opponents clashed in the North East and home side Crook Town went through after beating Seaham Red Star 4-2.

Winterton Rangers won 4-1 at Brighouse Town, Thornaby lost 5-1 at Hebburn Town and Guisborough Town beat West Allotment 2-1.

Plenty of goals elsewhere with Plymouth Parkway hitting 11(eleven) without reply at Chard Town, and much-fancied Beddlington Terriers crushing visitors Stokesley SC 9-1. Stokesley will be glad that they only have to play the Terriers once more this season-two weeks ago they lost 15(fifteen)-0 to them.

Another side that fared better than a few weeks ago were Stafford Town. They lost 3-1 at Goodrich in a League game but more than made up for that with a fantastic 7-6 win at the same venue.

Russ McKenna’s Squire Gate let a 1-0 half time lead slip in their league game at Ashton Athletic, going down 2-1.

A great game at Cheadle Town saw visitors Formby surge into a 3-0 lead only for the Mancunians to level, before the Squirrels re-established that lead to win 6-3.

In the Blue Square North, James Dean and Simon Garner both had to be content with a place on the bench and it seems that neither of them is on the pitch for the whole game. Simon came on after 62 minutes and soon made a great chance that was squandered, before his corner resulted in the final goal of the game as Halifax Town defeated Workington Town 3-1 at the Shay, the Tykes first home win of the campaign. Deano came into the fray after 70 minutes.

Low and behold the following game at Hinckley United saw both of our old boys complete the entire game but they still left the field disappointed. Halifax were cruising well into the second half, Simon’s shot being parried to Winter who made it 2-0 but the home side, hardly in the game till then, stormed back to win 3-2.

In the Northern Premier League, FC United had a bad week suffering two away defeats and both games had plenty of talking points.

Their 3-1 reverse at Kendal Town saw the home keeper with a famous name, Tommy Lawton, making his first appearance of the season, score a wind-assisted 90 yard goal and then later save a penalty.

Clitheroe edged away from the drop zone after a fine 1-0 win at high-flying Witton Albion.

Lancaster City went top after a comfortable 3-0 home win over Prescott Cables while Curzon Ashton dropped their first points of the season after being held 1-1 by visiting Salford City.

United’s next fixture at Chorley was boycotted by their fans who objected to the early kick-off and the crowd of less than 1100 was a long way short of what would have been expected for a 3-00 start. Chorley won 2-0 with both sides being reduced to ten men as tempers flared towards the end of the game.

With Nottingham Forest struggling, Steve McClaren put his trust in Matt Derbyshire to lead the attack at Southampton and what an impact he had. He set up the first goal, scored the second, and was then brought down for a certain penalty but was booked for diving !!

Late August

After Matt Derbyshire’s less than spectacular debut for Nottingham Forest, he was omitted from the squad which made light of a League Cup trip to Wycombe Wanderers which the Reds won 4-1 but he was back on the bench for home game with West Ham. The visitors tore Forest apart and were 3-0 up before Matt’s introduction after 64 minutes gave them more impetus, pulling a goal back before losing 4-1.

Two leagues below, Andy Procter gave yet another man-of-the-match performance as Stanley came from behind to defeat Burton Albion 2-1 at the Crown.

Halifax Town entertained Colwyn Bay with both ex-Robins having to be satisfied with places on the bench. With the Blues struggling, James Dean was brought on midway through the second half and from then on the home side looked far more dangerous going forward. Simon Garner appeared near the end of the game which finished 1-1.

The sale of star forward Jamie Vardy to our old rivals Fleetwood Town, should give Deano more opportunities up front in the coming weeks.

Next up for the Yorkshire side were much-fancied Stalybridge Celtic, again at the Shay, and once again the teams settled for a share of the spoils in a 2-2 draw. Both of our ex-stars were back in the starting line-up and both made telling contributions. Deano set up the first equaliser with a great ball to Gregory who made no mistake. He then missed a glorious opportunity before being replaced on 66 minutes. Simon was also substituted after 81 minutes.

Another tough game two days later saw them travel to York Street to meet the mighty Pilgrims and although Deano kept his place, Simon was once again back on the bench.

After an uneventful 1 st half, Deano missed a great opportunity just after the break when he fired straight at the keeper before Simon’s introduction on 69 minutes really helped to drive Town forward. Two minutes after entering the fray, he set up Lowe whose shot was well saved and on 90 minutes, his corner was met by Hardy who somehow headed wide when it seemed easier to score and for the third time in 7 days, the Tykes had to be content with a single point.

Clitheroe also played three games in that 7 day period, and for the first time since Harwood folded, none of our ex-players were involved. After last season’s fine finish, it’s been more difficult for the Shawbridge side this time round and they lost 2-1 at home to Prescott Cables before edging past Garforth Town 3-2. A trip to Harrogate Railway Athletic saw them slump to a 1-0 defeat.

In the NWCFL, Barnoldswick Town lead the way in the Premier Division, after two more wins. An early FA Cup exit at the hands of neighbours Ramsbottom United was followed by victories against Blackpool, 2-0 at home, and Runcorn Town, 2-1 away.

Rammy themselves are on a roll, following up the cup win with a 4-0 thrashing of Atherton LR at the Riverside and a 2-0 victory at Stone Dominoes.

Padiham surprisingly lost 2-1 at home to Ashton Athletic, Martin Parkes scoring a late consolation, before beating Bacup Borough 3-1, and drawing 0-0 at Glossop North End.

Colne missed out on a money-spinning FA Cup run, losing 1-0 at Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate. Ashton Athletic were then beaten 4-2 at Holt House. Gate then lost 5-0 at Winsford United.

Bacup Borough also exited the cup at the first stage, letting a 2-1 lead against Blackpool slip at West View. Two goals in 3 minutes towards the end of the game saw Brent Peters’ boys end their quest for glory in this year’s competition.

Next up saw Alsager Town arrive in the valley and once again Brent’s boys lost a lead. They looked to be cruising at 3-1 but allowed the visitors to snatch an unlikely point.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen let a half time lead slip at home to Oldham Borough, losing 3-1 in front of just 25 spectators but came back strong in their next two fixtures, beating Holker Old Boys 3-0 and Cheadle Town 4-2 away from home. The latter victory was all the more creditable as Town had recently won 8-2 at Chadderton and must have been brimming with confidence.

Nelson must also have been confident as they took the field against a shell-shocked Chaddy at Victoria Park but our old adversary James Curley (of Oldham Town fame) took just 12 seconds to score the opening goal. Dennis Hill’s side looked to have secured a point as injury time was reached with the score at 2-2 but a highly debatable penalty, very similar to Everton’s at the Rovers, gave Chaddy the chance to take the points. Justice appeared to have been done as the home keeper pulled off a great save but the referee ordered a re-take which was put away.

The most intriguing tie of the FA Cup saw former giant-killers Runcorn travel to AFC Liverpool and the home side came back from a 2-0 half time deficit to draw 2-2 in front of 299 fans.

The replay saw 320 witness a 3-1 Linnets victory and the start of another possible headline-breaking cup run.

In the Evo-Stik Premier League, Chester entertained FC United and a massive 3,219 fans saw the home side hang on for a 2-1 win. The Blues then attracted another 2,000+ crowd to the Deva as they thrashed Stocksbridge 5-1. FC’s fantastic away support saw Buxton register a crowd of over 900 and the majority went home happy as the visitors won 4-0.

Another side who we played regularly in our Unibond days, Lancaster City, have enjoyed a great start to the campaign with five wins from five games, the latest 4-0 at previously unbeaten Witton Albion. They then entertained AFC Fylde in front of 500 fans at the Giant Axe (more than double their previous home gate) and had to settle for a point after a 1-1 draw.

Early August 2011

Matt Derbyshire is back in England for the foreseeable future after signing a three-year contract with Nottingham Forest. The Reds drew a blank at home to Barnsley before edging past neighbours County on penalties and then lost 2-0 at Millwall with Matt failing to appear in any of the games. The sooner he’s in the starting line-up then the sooner Forest will start climbing the table.

Andy Procter’s Accrington Stanley have also started the season poorly, like Forest, drawing their opening-day fixture 0-0, before home defeats against Scunthorpe United in the Carling Cup and then against Southend United. In the latest of those games, man of the match Andy missed the target from around one yard in the first half before equalising in the second. He then saw a long-range blockbuster crash against the bar as the Reds fought for a late leveller.

James Dean’s Halifax Town began life in the Blue Square North with a game against Corby Town at the Shay and were unlucky to go down 3-1. Deano saw a first half headed ‘goal’ ruled out for offside and also shot into the side netting when well placed, while in the second half a great bullet header produced a fantastic save form the visiting keeper. Simon Garner was an unused substitute.

In the NWCL, Barnoldswick lead the way in the Premier Division with three wins from three. They came from behind to register a 2-1 home victory against Maine Road, hammered Silsden 4-0 away from home before winning 2-1 at Stone Dominoes. Those wins followed 6 pre-season friendlies, all won with a goal difference of 23 for and just 2 against, with our old friend Billy Carrington as reliable as ever between the ‘sticks’.

Ramsbottom United suffered an opening day set-back, losing 3-2 at St. Helens despite taking the lead, but they came back to record two home wins, coming from behind to beat Glossop North End 3-1 before a terrific crowd of 189, and twice coming from behind to beat Blackpool 3-2.

Padiham also came from behind twice in their first game at free-scoring Runcorn Town but had to settle for a point but then let a 2-0 lead slip against Blackpool at the Arbories, once again the game ending 2-2. Next saw them comprehensibly beaten 3-0 at home to fancied Winsford United.

Steve Pickup , amazingly is still starring in the NWCL for Colne. He saw his shot cleared off the line in an opening day 3-1 defeat at Winsford before a magnificent defensive performance by the ex-Harwood star helped the Reds to a 2-1 win at Squires Gate. St. Helens then won 2-1 at Holt House.

Bacup Borough got off to a good start with a 2-1 win at Congleton Town and followed that with a 2-0 home success against Maine Road. Sadly for Brent Peters’ boys, the good run was abruptly halted by Runcorn Town who cantered to a 6-1 win at West View.

Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate lost their opening two fixtures before a 5-1 home victory over Congleton Town got them back on track.

In the 1 st Division, re-formed Nelson, despite the midfield promptings of Dennis Hill , endured a nightmare start to the season, losing 9-1 at home to Irlam. The Blues only trailed 2-0 at the break but heads dropped in the second period as the Mancunians cut loose.

Next up was a trip to Rochdale Town and when Dennis gave them the lead after 5 minutes, things looked good. Town equalised just before the break but Nelson re-gained the lead after 54 minutes but once again stamina was sadly missing as the hosts banged in another 4 goals without reply.

A trip to Ashton Town followed that and it appeared that the Admirals would register their first point of the campaign with the scores locked at 1- in the dying minutes but an 88 th minute winner for Ashton means that Dennis and his new team-mates will have to wait a little longer.

Another of Den’s former clubs, Darwen have also suffered three defeats in a row. They held visiting Ashton Town 0-0 in the first half of the opening day game at the Anchor but saw the visitors score four unanswered goals after the break. Just 32 hardy souls turned up to see their next game at Abbey Hey but they were well entertained as the home side thrashed Darwen 6-1.

Things got no better as Norton United left the Anchor with an easy 5-0 win before a very poor attendance of 26.

Further afield, Mansfield Town’s ‘friendly’ game at Ilkeston was abandoned two thirds through after no less than three Stag’s players needed hospital treatment in separate incidents with Ilkeston’s player Rickets. The Town manager called his players off after the third incident as his squad became more depleted by the minute! The Mansfield defender John Thompson needed 40 stitches for a facial wound caused by Rickets and the Nottinghamshire club are to take legal proceedings against the Robins.

The once mighty Wrexham were within hours of being wound up when supporters rallied round to raise enough money to enable the Dragons to embark on this season’s Conference campaign.

Late July

Apologies for the lack of updates lately but there’s not too much news this month.

The pre-season friendlies have been under way for a couple of weeks and Darwen has been in excellent form beating AFC Bury, Ramsbottom United and Colne, all by the same 2-1 scoreline as well as a 1-1 draw against Padiham.

Our old favourite Dennis Hill has been turning out for the newly re-formed Nelson and his first game saw a 3-0 victory over neighbours Colne at Victoria Park. Barnoldswick were the next visitors and despite a fine performance from the Nelson side, Barlick won 3-0.

Ramsbottom went goal-crazy after there defeat at Darwen, winning 6-4 at Conwy United before thrashing an Accrington Stanley XI 4-0 at the Riverside.

Pre-season has certainly seen a goal-fest with no fewer than 15 in the Castletown (IOM)-Abbey Hey game where the visitors won 10-5.

Atherton Collieries could be one of the teams to watch this season, they won 10-0 at Llay and followed that up a few days later with a 9-3 win against Westhoughton CMB.

Rossendale United supporters had a meeting and it was decided that they would re-form the club in the not-too-distant future. They’ve stated that they won’t be playing at Dark Lane but the chances are that Brent Peters will allow them to use West View as he’s made it quite clear in the past that he has a great affection for the Blues. The NWCFL are also ready to welcome them back into the league at the earliest opportunity.

FC United look likely to sell over 1,000 season tickets which is truly remarkable and their supporters swelled the gate at pre-season game at Chester to an amazing 1,927.

The last couple of months of the season saw James Dean disappear from the radar leading us to believe that he’s left Halifax Town as their web-site gave no information of any injuries or suspension but he is listed in their playing staff for the coming season.

Still no signs of GHTFC getting up and running again as we search for a ground. No doubt we could put a team together and play in the Accrington League but that would give us little chance of building up to NWCFL level.

I’ll be hoping to meet Hyndburn Council in the next couple of weeks and will keep everyone informed of any developments.

Early July

Nice to see the football authorities showing a bit of common sense with regards to Bishop’s Stortford inclusion in the Blue Square North Division next season. They’ve been handed £12,000 from the League to help with travel costs and overnight stays, although the payment has only been made to the club’s late inclusion in that division after Rushden’s demise.

Always good to see clubs coming back from the dead and the latest one is Ilkeston FC who played their first game at home to Notts County before a terrific four-figure crowd.

Many of the clubs that have re-formed such as Nuneaton, Telford, Halifax, Chester etc. all had a solid fan base of over a thousand, a luxury that we unfortunately haven’t got.

Late June

With Accrington Stanley struggling to retain many of last season’s successful side-and some not even informing manager John Coleman of their departures-the club were given a great boost when one of their best players ,ex-Robin Andy Procter, put pen to paper on a new two-year deal. Andy has been coveted by many clubs far bigger then Stanley so the news is great for the Reds loyal supporters.

Our ex-skipper Ryan Fisher scooped two awards for 2010-11 at Clitheroe. Just as he did in Harwood’s final season, he won the supporters player of the year, and also took the George Slinger Trophy.

Still no news on the ground-share hunt so we may now have to start looking at a new beginning lower than we’d hoped.


Early June

* Not surprisingly, the news is pretty thin on the ground at the moment though the ‘big’ news is that there is no news on our search for a playing venue.

* Without that, there appears to be little or no prospect of the Robins re-forming in the near future. Most of the local sides that have replied to our requests have been unable to help us although a few have yet to reply. Any news will be posted on this web-site.

A side who we’ve played many times over the years, in both its Horwich RMI and Leigh RMI guises, now Leigh Genesis, have decided to call time on its first team and semi-pro football is now a thing of the past in the town. Wigan council really must share much of the blame and appear to have done little to help the club survive during their difficult and turbulent last few years when they had to move from Hilton Park to the Leigh Sports Village.

The club also has no less than 30 other sides playing under the name and it’s hoped that those junior teams will continue for the foreseeable future. Maybe one day a new club will be set up back in Horwich.

One of the biggest clubs in non-league football also look to have played their last game for some time as Rushden and Diamonds were expelled from the Conference after they were unable to convince the other members that they’d be able to complete next season’s fixtures. That was good news for our Lancashire neighbours Southport who have been reprieved from relegation to the Blue Square North.

I was fortunate enough to visit Nene Park around ten years ago when Diamonds were on the way up to the Football League and it looked to be a blue print for non league clubs. It had recently been completely re-built to a 6,000 capacity stadium with three great stands and terracing behind one goal, and after visiting hundreds of non-league grounds over the years, it still rates as the best I’ve seen. Let’s hope that the 2,000 or so supporters can get the club up and running again soon.

Nearer to home, three more NWCFL clubs have decided to follow Great Harwood Town and play their midweek games on Monday evenings. Maine Road, Runcorn Town and Chadderton have taken the decision as the day has less competition with football elsewhere.

Accrington Stanley have withdrawn their second team from the Reserve League, almost certainly to save money.

Ex-Harwood boss and radio pundit Ian McGarry has become the assistant manager to Stuart Parker at AFC Blackpool.

Plenty of activity at the NWCFL AGM and the big news was the exclusion from the league of Rossendale United. This how the story unfolded:

No club was relegated into the league from the Evo Stik, meaning that Rossy were saved from relegation to the 1 st Division. Their partners for the drop, Ashton Athletic, were also reprieved after Formby were found to have breached league rules and were relegated in their place.

Rossendale were then excluded from the NWCFL completely after showing no indication that they’d be taking up their place in the league next season, and no officials were present at the AGM to offer an explanation.

A few days later owner Andrew Connolly, who’s spent vast amounts of time and money on the Stags over the past few years, said that the club would fold-another very sad day for local non-league football.

Holker Old Boys, who finished 3 rd in the 1 st Division were then invited to take up the available space in the Premier Division but they declined the offer so 4 th placed AFC Liverpool were asked and they accepted to gain the first promotion in their short history-maybe the Reds can use this good fortune as a springboard to kick on up the Pyramid.

Two new clubs, Nelson, and Northwich Villa will take their places in the 1 st Division in August.

Season 2010-11 Latest News

Late May

With just a week to go before the final table of the non-league fantasy league table, our two teams have had another excellent campaign. From the 1,623 entrants, Great Harwood Town currently lie in 215 th position while GT Harwood Town are just behind in 265 th.

Another of our ‘fairly’ local teams are on the brink of splitting up. Burscough FC are moving 5 miles to play their home games at Skelmersdale but the supporters are unhappy and are making plans to form a breakaway club.

Ironically, Skelmersdale used Burscough’s Victoria Park ground while their own new stadium was under construction a few years ago.

Our last visit to the ground saw us take a point from a 2-2 draw with the then unstoppable, free-scoring ‘Skem’ in a game which saw Nev Nelson score one of the best goals ever seen for the Robins-a 25 yard volley into the roof of the net.

No luck so far with our attempts to find a local club to ground-share with. Whinney Hill, Haslingden St Marys, Colne, Darwen and Padiham have been unable to help us but our thanks go out to officials of all five clubs for taking the trouble to inform us of the bad news.

Ashton Athletic joined the Vodcat League at the same time as we exited it and last season was a disaster for them. They finished bottom of the Premier Division with the least wins, most defeats, least goals scored, most conceded and the worst goal difference. They were also a massive 18 points from safety and just when they thought things couldn’t get any worse, our old adversary Steve Wilkes has been appointed their new manager!!

The final non-league fantasy league table has been published and our two teams have done pretty well. Great Harwood Town rose to 198 th in the final week while GT Harwood Town dropped away to 294 th.

Meanwhile, friend of the web-site and long-distance Harwood fan Don Fitzgerald entered another side, Jo’s Oxhey Jets, and they finished in 3 rd place to give ‘Fitz’ a cash prize of £300. I’ll forward any ‘begging letters’ you may care to send!

Matt Derbyshire’s Olypiakos have won the Greek League yet again, this year with some ease by 13 points.

Nice to see some clubs being re-formed and hopefully it’ll be our turn in the not too distant future.

Kent side Ashford Town resigned from the Isthmian League last year but will compete in the Kent League next term under the name of Ashford United.

Windsor & Eton had their Zamaretto League record wiped from the records after they were wound up because of an unpaid tax bill 3 months ago but supporters have formed a new club, Windsor FC, and they’ll compete in the Combined Counties League next season.

Another side who bit the dust due to non-payment of a tax bill was Ilkeston Town and fans have taken less than a year to re-form, as Ilkeston FC, and they’ll compete in the Evo Stik 1 st Division South next season.

Good luck to all those clubs.

Accrington Staley’s play-off conquerors Stevenage made it two promotions in consecutive years after they defeated Dennis Hill’s former side Torquay United at Old Trafford before a paltry attendance of less than 11,500.

Early May

Plenty of cup action in the Vodcat League with both AFC Blackpool and AFC Liverpool having to play three games in five days! On the Saturday, the two clashed in the League where visiting Blackpool won 1-0. The Champions then hosted Irlam in the Vodcat League Cup quarter-final on the Monday when they scored two very late goals to take the tie 2-1. Just two days later the ‘pools’ met again, this time at Jepson Way in the 1 st Division Trophy semi-final and the Merseysiders exacted revenge, winning 2-1.

The Reds also made it through to the League Cup semi-finals on Monday after beating Norton United on penalties after extra time, with their equalising goal coming in the 120 th minute.

The semi-finals also produced some late drama as Winsford United defeated AFC Blackpool 2-1 thanks to a last minute goal, while in the other game, New Mills edged past Runcorn Town 3-2 but not before the visitors fought back from a 3-0 half time deficit to leave the Millers hanging on.

The final took place at the excellent home of Curzon Ashton where 365 supporters saw Winsford take the honours thanks to a 1-0 win.

In the final of the 1 st Division Trophy, Atherton Collieries gave their loyal supporters something to cheer about as they beat AFC Liverpool 3-2 after extra time. The Reds took the lead but then needed a 90 th minute equaliser to take the game into the extra 30 minutes in front of 209 fans at Flixton.

Glossop North End have moved forward since we last played them and the end of the season saw them begin construction on a new clubhouse and changing rooms at Surrey Road. Best of luck for a bright future from all at GHTFC.

Commiserations to Fleetwood Town as they were thrashed in the Blue Square Premier League play-offs. After a 2-0 home defeat in the 1 st leg, it was imperative that the Fishermen opened the scoring at Kings Meadow but instead it was AFC Wimbledon who struck with an early goal to virtually seal the tie, The Dons went on to win 6-1 (8-1 on aggregate) to set up a final tie with Luton Town, much to the delight of the Carshalton Branch of the Great Harwood Town supporters club. The whole country will be backing them to get into the Football League after the club was ‘stolen’ just about ten years ago. AFC Wimbledon are the REAL Wimbledon unlike MK Dons who are a completely new club and should not have been allowed to carry on in the League under the pretence of being Wimbledon FC.

Many thanks to local clubs AFC Darwen and Whinney Hill FC who replied to our request for a ground-share within a day of being asked. Both clubs have commitments to more than just their first teams and were unable to grant us permission to use their grounds but the swift replies from Derek Slater and David Keeley were very much appreciated.

We now move on and await replies from several other local clubs.

Accrington Stanley will have their work cut out at the weekend if they’re to overcome a two-goal deficit from their away game at Stevenage. Local boy and ex-Stanley and Rovers player Joel Byrom hit the second just before the break in what turned out to be a very comfortable victory for the Football League new boys.

The Reds will need inspirational captain Andy Procter to be on top form if they’re to breach the Division’s tightest defence at least twice in the second leg.

On the same day, Matt Derbyshire made a very rare start for Birmingham City as they went in search of the win that would almost certainly ensure their Premier League survival. Matt completed the whole 90 minutes but in truth, he and strike partner Kevin Phillips had very few opportunities as the Blues were totally outplayed by a Fulham side who should have scored many more than the two from Hangeland. With a tough final day appointment at White Hart Lane, relegation is looming large for ex-Harwood hero.

The fans of AFC Wimbledon and Luton Town are up in arms about the £41 price tag for their play-off final encounter at Manchester City. With booking fees and travel taken into account, one set of fans will be leaving the stadium very upset (and broke!).

I’ve always had a soft spot for Braintree Town as about 30 years ago my car broke down whilst travelling to watch the Rovers at Colchester United. A kind chap stopped, showed us to a local garage and gave the three of us a lift to the ground. He also waited for us after the game to take us back to the garage to pick up the repaired car (despite the Rovers winning!). I never found out his name but he came from Braintree and looked a little like Fred Gee, the ex-cellar man on Coronation Street.

Anyway back to the present. Braintree Town have recently won the Blue Square South League to move up into non-league’s top division which one would think means happy days for all concerned, but the team manager Rod Stringer has sensationally walked out after refusing to accept a ‘Kia’ as his club car. He reckons that the vehicle isn’t good enough for him to do his job properly and an ironic twist is that the local Kia garage have pumped plenty of money into the club as they’ve been sponsors for the last seven seasons.

If the club had relented and bought Mr. Stringer a different type of car, I’m sure that the local Kia dealers would have been reviewing their relationship with the club after his comments. Chairman Lee Harding stated that he’s not going to put the long-term future of the club in jeopardy by over-spending so well said Mr. Harding.

Our ex-boss John Hughes wasn’t even offered a moped for a club vehicle!

Ex-landlords Accrington Stanley failed to make the play-off final after losing 1-0 at home to Stevenage and 3-0 on aggregate. The Reds were in a sorry state by the end of the game, down to nine men after two sending offs and frustrated by the time-wasting tactics of the visitors who took every opportunity to go down ‘injured’.

Nevertheless, it’s been a tremendous effort by Stanley and our former player Andy Procter who ran himself into the ground during the final 90 minutes.

The following day saw AFC Wimbledon make it to the Football League after a dramatic penalty shoot-out at the City of Manchester Stadium. The high ticket prices kept the crowd down to just 18,000 with very few neutrals in attendance.

The result will give all supporters of re-formed or fans clubs hope for the future with the Dons taking less than 10 years from formation to Football League.

Birmingham City were relegated after defeat at Spurs and maybe if Matt Derbyshire had been given more starts, the Blues would have scored more than the miserable total of 37 goals in 38 league games.

Ironically it was Matt’s first love the Rovers who caused Birmingham many of their final day problems. Leading 3-0 at Wolves, the Rovers conceded two late goals which meant that the 1-1 scoreline at White Hart Lane wouldn’t be enough to save them. They were in fact trailing before Matt left the bench and helped them level within five minutes. That Gardener strike put City on course for safety before the Wolves late show but even so, with the sides locked at 1-1 deep into injury time, another goal would have saved them but they were hit on the counter-attack to devastate the big Brummy following. The ex-Harwood legend was then booked for diving 4 minutes from the end.

Matt’s immediate future is in doubt as his loan move to St. Andrews expires. He’s already proved that he can cut it at Championship level so a permanent transfer may still be on the cards.

 

Late April 2011

Ramsbottom United were the first club to finish their fixtures and the season ended with a three game unbeaten run in the final week. A 3-3 draw at the Riverside preceded an incredible local derby at already doomed Rossendale United. By half time the Rams had racked up a 4-1 lead which turned into 5-1 just five minutes after the break.

Cue the fireworks!

Just over 20 minutes later it was 5-5 as Rossy threw caution to the wind but the visitors hit back with two more to seal a memorable win in front of 133 thoroughly entertained paying customers. Rammy’s seventh was their 100 th League goal of the campaign. They finished their fixtures three days ahead of the rest with a 1-1 draw at Congleton Town.

Rossendale went into that game after losing 4-2 at Runcorn Linnets.

Bacup Borough were another one of our local sides to be held 1-1 by Congleton but they then suffered back to back away defeats, 3-2 at Atherton LR, despite leading at the break, and then 5-1 at Formby, once again surrendering the lead.

Barnoldswick Town have had another great season and they despatched Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate 4-1 before 1-1 draws at Colne and champions New Mills. Live Champions League action on the telly certainly affected the crowd at that game with a paltry 120 turning up, almost 400 down on their Easter Monday fixture with Glossop North End.

Padiham’s second goal in the 2-0 home win over Silsden was a real GHTFC affair with Ed O’Neil crossing for Martin Parkes to score with a great header. The Storks then went to Ashton Athletic and recorded a 1-0 win.

Colne have had an excellent season and after home draws with Bootle, 2-2, and the 1-1 draw with Barnoldswick, they won 2-1 at Glossop North End.

In the 1 st Division, another disappointing home defeat for Darwen, 2-0 to Cheadle, and another disappointing attendance of only 22.

Gordon Watson has had an instant impact at Daisy Hill and more good results have seen them move well away from the foot of the table. They drew 3-3 at home to Irlam before defeating Eccleshall 1-0 at the New Sirs and their third home game in a week saw them remain unbeaten, drawing 0-0 against Norton United.

Runcorn Town have been the top entertainers in that division and they hit five more in a demolition of Wigan Robin Park, making it 111 league goals.

In the Evo-Stik Premier, Halifax Town went into their final game of the season at already relegated Ossett Town knowing that a victory would see them top the 100 points mark for the second season in a row. Still no sign or news of James Dean although Simon Garner started the game in midfield but despite his best efforts, the game surprisingly ended goalless. Ossett regained some pride with the draw but not only does that make it successive relegations, their neighbours Ossett Albion have also suffered the same fate in the last two years.

What a run Clitheroe are having since Pete Smith left the club, after their great draw at Curzon Ashton, they also held Chorley at Victory Park in front of over 800 fans before defeating Lancaster City 2-0 at Shawbridge to leave them 8 th. Ryan Fisher came back into the side for that victory and that’s now four wins and four draws in the last eight games.

In the Premier League, Matt Derbyshire kept his place on the bench for Birmingham City for their trip to Chelsea and entered the fray with the Blues down and out at 3-0 after 70 minutes. Undeterred, Matt caused the home side plenty of problems and just seven minutes after coming on he won a penalty to give them a little hope. He then squandered a great chance to make it 3-2 when he fired wide with just the keeper to beat.

He was an unused sub for the following game, a 5-0 defeat at Anfield.

And so onto the final week of the season. Starting in the Blue Square Premier, with the Champions already crowned, the focus was on the relegation places and the finale couldn’t have been more dramatic.

Altricham, who we enjoyed some epic battles with in the ‘70’s, needed to win at home to already relegated Eastbourne but the game appeared to be over by the break with the visitors leading 3-0. Amazingly Alty fought back to level and needed one more goal in the last eight minutes. Sadly for them Eastbourne scored again in the 90 th minute to consign them to the drop.

Southport, who many will remember were involved in a many times postponed Lancs. Cup game a few years ago, only needed a draw at Kettering and with three minutes left had it, but then the home side hit two late goals to send the Sandgrounders down on goal difference-theirs being just two worse than Forest Green Rovers.

In the Evo-Stik Premier, our old friends from Gigg Lane, FCUM, travelled to Colwyn Bay for the play-off final but a second half goal was enough to send the Welshmen up before a capacity 2,000 crowd and hundreds locked out. The Reds hit the post towards the end but nevertheless, it’s been a great season for them.

In the 1 st Division North, congratulations to our neighbours Clitheroe who achieved their highest-ever league placing, 6 th, after another great result at Shawbridge. It took them half an hour to get the first against bottom side Leigh but they then hit five more to round off a terrific end of season unbeaten run. Even better news was that ex-Harwood player of the year, Ryan Fisher was elevated to captain.

In the same division, it was a thrilling end to the promotion race with Skelmersdale United needing a seven goal swing over rivals Chester to take the Championship. A record crowd at Garforth Town saw Chester beaten 2-1, despite leading at the break meaning Skem needed a seven goal victory over relegated Ossett Albion. With 15 minutes left, Tuck completed his hat-trick to make it 7-1 and just one more goal would do it. It duly came but surprisingly to the down and out visitors making it one of the most dramatic finishes in the League’s history.

In the Vodcat League, it was smiles all round for almost all of our local sides. Ramsbottom United had already secured second spot and Padiham scored a 90 th minute winner against Runcorn Linnets to move above Colne into 4 th.

The Holt House side must have been very disappointed with that late goal as they thrashed St. Helens 6-1 to finish 5 th.

Barnoldswick Town faded a little towards the end of the campaign and they went down 2-0 at Stone Dominoes but 7 th place in their first season at this level has been a brilliant effort.

Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate must also be applauded for their 9 th place spot after drawing 2-2 with Glossop North End in front of a much bigger than usual 125.

Bacup Borough finished in mid-table and their season ended well, a last minute own goal clinching the points at Congleton Town.

Rossendale United ended a turbulent season on a high, beating Maine Road 1-0 at Dark Lane.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen finished 13 th from 18 after a 3-0 defeat at Eccleshall.

Gordon Watson’s Daisy Hill ended well clear of the bottom and their long unbeaten run continued with a fine 0-0 derby draw with Wigan Robin Park.

There could be some exciting news concerning Great Harwood Town FC over the close season so keep logging on to this site.

Mid April 2011

Down to the last few weeks of the season and Accrington Stanley are still in the mix for a play-off place despite dropping two more points in a 0-0 draw with Oxford United at the Crown. The Reds felt that they should have been awarded a penalty when Andy Procter burst into the penalty area before being brought down but the referee and assistant must have been the only two people from the 2,000 present to have missed it.

Simon Garner gave a masterly midfield display as Halifax Town came from behind To beat Frickley Athletic 3-1 at the Shay. Simon’s brilliant through ball set up Town’s second and the Blues never looked in any danger from then on.

In the Vodcat League Premier, Ramsbottom United went goal-crazy against two of our local sides. They came from a 2-1 half time deficit to beat Colne 5-2 and two days later thrashed Rossendale United 5-1 in front of an excellent 162 derby crowd. Just two days after that they played their third home game of the week and had to settle for a 2-0 success against lowly Alsager Town, but nevertheless, nine points in five days takes some doing-well done Rams.

Showing no signs of tiredness, their next mid-week game saw them record a terrific 4-0 win at Atherton LR.

Rossendale looked to hit back against Flixton at Dark Lane but despite holding a 2-1 half time lead, they slipped to a 4-2 defeat. Next up were highly-placed Congleton Town and Rossy pulled off a magnificent result, winning by five goals to one. If as expected, the bottom two go down, they still look odds-on for their second relegation in two seasons.

Barnoldswick Town seem to have run out of steam as they lost 2-1 at home to Bootle before going down 1-0 at Atherton LR.

Colne recovered from their mauling at Rammy to win 2-1 against Maine Road but were then surprisingly held 1-1 at Alsager.

Bacup Borough are another one of our local sides to be suffering from the huge backlog of games and they went down 1-0 against Glossop North End at West View before losing 2-0 at promotion-seeking Winsford United.

Ed O’Neil opened the scoring for Padiham at St. Helens but the home side fought back to take the lead in the second half. The Storks rescued a point with a 90 th minute equaliser.

They were then held to a 1-1 draw with Formby at the Arbories.

Another ex-Robin, Gordon Watson was on the mark, scoring to put Daisy Hill 3-1 up at Eccleshall, a lead which they held until just eight minutes from the end. Sadly, the Staffordshire side hit three unanswered goals to take the points.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen beat 3-1 at the Anchor, coming from behind after trailing at the interval but the attendance of just 21 must have been a worry for club officials.

Irlam were then despatched 2-1, again after trailing at the break, but they then lost 5-0 at Wigan Robin Park.

In the Evo-Stik, Clitheroe are going from strength to strength, winning 1-0 at AFC Fylde, 3-1 at home to Witton Albion before earning an excellent point in a goalless draw at high-flying Curzon Ashton. Ryan Fisher came on from the bench in the last two of those games but captain Jason Jones has left the club.

In the Premier League, Matt Derbyshire came on as a late substitute for Birmingham City with the Blues already two up and the ex-Showground hero almost hit a third but scuffed his shot wide with just the keeper to beat.

Early April 2011

If promotion and relegation issues are the same as when we were in the NWCFL, then they’ll be as clear as mud and sides at the top and bottom will have to fight till the last minute of the last game.

In the Premier League, Ramsbottom United beat strugglers Ashton Athletic 4-1 to rise to 2 nd and also did neighbours Rossendale United a favour in the process. They followed that up with another convincing home victory, this time 3-0 against Stone Dominoes.

Barnoldswick Town started the month with two away games and gained four valuable points. They won 2-1 at Formby before drawing 3-3 at Congleton Town with all six goals coming in a thrilling second half.

Colne also had two away game sin the week and entertainment was at the top of the agenda. Firstly they were soundly beaten 4-1 at Maine Road before playing St. Helens in one of the most astonishing games in recent history. The Reds went goal-crazy in the 1 st half and led 6-0 at the break, and within minutes of the re-start it was seven. The Saints hit back late on but it was purely academic and the final score was 8-4.

Padiham beat Congleton 2-0 at the Arbories with ex-Robin Martin Parkes hitting the vital second goal.

Bacup Borough led at leaders New Mills at the break thanks to the excellent Tommy Turner but the Millers fought back to earn a 3-1 win and now sit 17 points clear at the top.

Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate exited the League Cup, losing 2-0 at Irlam but then had an excellent 3-1 win at much-improved Atherton LR

In the 1 st Division, Darwen drew 1-1 with Eccleshall at the Anchor before being overwhelmed 4-0 at Liverpool.

Life after Pete Smith began for Clitheroe and it looked bad for them after half an hour of their home game with Warrington Town as the visitors outplayed the Blues and surged into a two-goal lead but a great fight-back brought a point from a 2-2 draw. Ryan Fisher and Jason Jones both starred throughout.

In the Evo-stik League Premier, Simon Garner revelled in a more attacking midfield role and came close to scoring more than once as Halifax Town could have clinched the title against Matlock Town. A better result than Buxton(at Ossett) would have been enough but the Bucks won and the Tykes were denied three points by a late penalty in a 2-2 draw watched by over 2,000. Next week’s opponents are whipping boys Retford and the title will be won then.

Accrington Stanley just can’t stop winning at home and two successive 3-1 wins moved them up into a play-off position. The Reds totally dominated both games with Andy Procter particularly impressive, and if they continue their current great form, even an automatic promotion place isn’t beyond their reach.

Their next away game gave them a chance to move into the top three with a win at Macclesfield but the Silkmen surprisingly took the lead in the first half. Cometh the hour cometh the man and Andy Procter drew the Reds level with a fantastic 25 yard blockbuster into the top right hand corner of the net. They looked to be well on their way when a penalty put them in front and especially when the Macc defender responsible was booked for the foul, then booked again for abusing the lineman after the spot kick.

Sadly for Andy and the big away following, the home side struck the equaliser in stoppage time.

Bacup Borough are finishing the season strongly despite their annual fixture pile-up. They beat local rivals Rossendale United 2-1 before thrashing sorry St. Helens 7-1 at West View with Bellamy and the mercurial Tommy Turner both notching hat-tricks. That’s 15 goals conceded for the Saints in their last two games.

No holding Ramsbottom United at the moment and they made short work of Stone Dominoes, winning 2-0 in Staffordshire to cement their second place.

Rossendale United have been improving lately and they followed up their narrow defeat at Bacup by earning a point in a 1-1 draw at Glossop North End.

Barnoldswick Town took an early lead against ‘champions-elect’ New Mills but the visitors fought back strongly, winning 4-1.

Colne travelled to lowly Formby hoping for more of the same after their extraordinary 8-4 midweek win at St. Helens but they came unstuck, losing 2-1.

Padiham gained their second 2-0 home win of the week, the latest against Bootle.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen lost 2-0 at home to Norton United and missed a penalty and had two players sent off in the process. The game was played in an eerie atmosphere with just 21 hardy souls turning up. Oldham Borough and Atherton Collieries also recorded sub-30 crowds in the same division. A few more, 50, saw one of the surprise results of the season when Rochdale Town, aka Castleton Gabriels, defeated AFC Liverpool 3-2 to record their FIRST win of the campaign!

Further up the ‘pyramid’ Clitheroe finally got back to winning ways with a 1-0 success at Garforth Town.

Simon Garner and his Halifax Town team-mates were celebrating after winning 2-0 at Retford to clinch the Unibond North title.

Down in the West Lancs. League, 1 st Division Mill Hill St. Peters lie just below half way winning their opening game of the month, 3-2 against Millom at Queen Victoria Street. Lee Sculpher’s boys then lost by the same score at Croston before crashing 5-1 at home to Longridge Town.

In the 2 nd Division, Dennis Hill’s Whinney Hill lie 5 th but a long way from making a promotion push. Despite only losing two home games this season, they were annihilated 9-0 by Ambleside. A 1-0 defeat at Bolton County followed that before they got back on track, winning 3-1 at Milnthorpe Corinthians.

Dennis failed to inspire his works team, Royal Mail Blackburn, as they lost on penalties in the Orphanage Cup.

New Clitheroe manager, Carl Garner (Simon’s Dad) dropped ex-Harwood boys Ryan Fisher and Jason Jones completely from the squad for their game at Garforth Town and worryingly for those two, the Blues won 1-0.



Late March 2011

Andy Procter helped Accrington Stanley maintain their good run with a 0-0 draw at Crewe and it could have been even better as the Reds were certain that they’d scored but the referee ruled that the ball hadn’t crossed the line.

Jonathan Smith is finding it difficult to break into the first team at Chorley and has managed to make the bench only once over the last couple of weeks-that was against one his many former clubs Leigh, and alongside him was ex-Rovers star Matt Janson,

Simon Garner was at the heart of most of Halifax Town’s best moves as they were involved in a thriller at the Shay against Chasetown. He set up Holland who missed early on and then almost broke the deadlock with a stunning free kick but with just 6 minutes remaining, the Blues trailed to the only goal. They scored twice in the following five minutes before the visitors looked to have earned a point with a late equaliser. Back came Town and Jamie Vardy who scored a wonder goal on 93 minutes to complete his hat-trick.

In the Vodcat League, Russ McKenna was delighted to see his Squires Gate side earn a fine 1-0 win against Formby and Colne twice came from behind to earn a point at Flixton but our other local sides didn’t fare too well.

Bacup Borough were surprisingly beaten 3-0 at West View by Runcorn Linnets and Barnoldswick Town were also on the wrong end of a surprise result, losing 2-1 at Maine Road after having led.

Rossendale United more than held their own against league leaders New Mills at Dark Lane but sadly the Millers sneaked home 2-1.

In the 1 st Division Runcorn Town continue to hammer in the goals, this time five against visiting Eccleshall who themselves managed four.

Nelson will have a new town team next season, if not two! Ex Nelson FC boss Jon Westhall is forming Nelson Town and has applied to join the West Lancs. League but the new club will not be playing at Victoria Park. Instead they’ll play their home games at the nearby athletics track. At the moment an application to join the league hasn’t been made but the ground has been inspected for suitability by a WLFL official.

Meanwhile the ‘jungle drums’ are saying that Nelson FC have plans to re-form and an application has been made to join the Vodcat League.

As the month came to a close, Accrington Stanley continued to defy the odds with their play-off quest. An away draw at Aldershot was followed by a convincing 4-0 home romp against struggling Hereford United at the Crown.

Harwood legend Eric Whalley finally severed his links with Stanley after selling his shares in the club so how about resurrecting Great Harwood Town Eric??

The big news around these parts was the resignation of Pete Smith at Clitheroe. One of the greatest players to have donned the red of Great Harwood Town felt that he’d gone as far as he could with the Shawbridge outfit but he can be proud of the job that he’d done, leading the Blues to their best ever finish in the football pyramid last season.

In the Vodcat Premier League, Barnoldswick Town fell to their third defeat in four as they went down 3-0 at Padiham. Ex-Harwood star Ed O’Neil set up the decisive 2 nd goal for the Storks in a game watched by a terrific crowd of 210.

Bacup Borough looked unstoppable a few weeks ago but they exited the League Cup after a 3-1 home defeat by Winsford United despite leading at the break and were then surprisingly beaten 1-0 at the same venue against Silsden.

Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate enjoyed a great end to the month. Winning 4-0 at Alsager Town before goals in the 85 th and 90 th minutes gave them a 3-1 win at St. Helens.

Colne won 2-1 at Congleton but then lost by the same score at home to leaders New Mills.

Rossendale United looked to be on the way to a comfortable win at Ashton Athletic when they surged into a 2-0 lead after only 12 minutes at bottom side Ashton Athletic but had to settle for a point after a 1-1 draw.

Next up was a winnable-looking game against struggling Alsager Town at Dark Lane but a paltry crowd of 57 witnessed a shocking 4-2 defeat.

Ramsbottom United kept up their promotion challenge after beating Flixton 2-1 at the Riverside-visitors reduced to ten men (surprise surprise!) but then went down 2-1 to Glossop North End.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen found themselves a goal down at the break at Abbey Hey but fought back to win 2-1.

 

Mid March

The scene was set for some Cup glory-Birmingham City had just equalised against Bolton Wanderers and with ten minutes remaining, Matt Derbyshire was brought on to score the winner and send the Blues to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final. Sadly that scenario failed to materialise and it was the Trotters who scored the late winner-oh well, maybe next year Matt!

Accrington Stanley’s play-off hopes suffered a setback as they were beaten 3-1 at Gillingham. After going behind as early as the second minute, the Reds hit back and were awarded a penalty after Captain Marvel Andy Procter was felled in the box five minutes later. Sadly the kick was saved but Stanley equalised not long after and should have been in front at the break. The Gills stormed back after half time to take all three points.

The Reds then won by the same score against lowly Burton Albion at the Crown in a game that was never as close as the scoreline may suggest and Andy hit the third goal after 66 minutes.

James Dean was missing from Halifax Town’s two games, the first a rare defeat, 2-1 at Buxton. Simon Garner set up a great chance for the Tykes in the first half and was then kicked in the face a few minutes later as the tackles started to fly. They eventually took the lead with a penalty 20 minutes from time and another win looked odds-on. The home side fought back with two goals in the last 15 minutes to take the spoils but Town were soon back to their winning ways, thrashing Stocksbridge Park Steels 5-1 at the Shay and amassing a mind-blowing 33 shots during the game of which 23 were on target.

Not too many games for Pete Smith’s Clitheroe during the first couple of weeks of this month and they must have been confident of reversing their slump in form of late when they travelled to rock-bottom Ossett Albion. Jason Jones returned to captain the side and Ryan Fisher also played but despite taking the lead, the Blues had to settle for a single point after a 1-1 draw.

In the Vodcat League, Ramsbottom United lead the way for our local sides and although they were held 0-0 by Bacup Borough, they then thrashed St. Helens 5-1 away from home, that coming just a few days after the Saints lost 9-0 at New Mills.

Bacup were then involved in another scoreless draw, this time at home to Maine Road.

Just behind Rammy are Barnoldswick Town who hammered a sorry looking Alsager Town 5-0 at the Silentnight Stadium before hosting Atherton LR. Rovers are one of the form teams in the Premier Division, despite lying in mid-table but they hammered Barlick 4-0 before a three-figure crowd.

Atherton must like this part of the county as they also won 3-1 at Padiham four days earlier. The Storks drew 3-3 at Flixton in their next game.

Colne had beaten the Mancunians 4-2 on the Saturday while troubled Rossendale United enjoyed a great win, 2-1 at Stone Dominoes to move within a point of Formby. Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate then put a spanner in the works by beating the Stags 2-1 at the seaside.

The midweek game between Derbyshire rivals Glossop North End and New Mills drew a fantastic attendance of 374 and they saw the home side take local bragging rights after a narrow 2-1 victory.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen’s home game against free-scoring Runcorn Town was called off because of a waterlogged pitch and during the week they were held 1-1 at the Anchor by Abbey Hey.

Spare a thought for fallen giants Stafford Rangers who were with us in our Northern Premier League days. They were involved in one of the best ever games at the Showground when they won 7-5 (after leading 7-1-report of the ‘dated reports’ section) and their supporters-what’s left of them-have been ‘treated’ to more high-scoring games lately. They were hammered 5-0 at home second bottom Hyde before taking on the mighty Boston United at Marston Road and after a goal in 34 seconds they feared the worse. Three more goals followed before the break but after being sent out early for the second half, they played some decent stuff and kept a clean sheet in a game watched by three of the famous Blackburn & Darwen Robins. The gate of 260, with about 50 from Boston, was the club’s lowest League attendance for over 45 years and if the fans thought that things couldn’t any worse, they thought wrong. The club’s playing budget was immediately cut by 40% leading to fears of a player exodus. Nevertheless, the next game saw a huge improvement and they came from behind to beat play-off hopefuls Blyth Spartans 2-1.

Gordon Watson won’t be getting a testimonial game at Ramsbottom United. He’s only just been given his own peg in the dressing room after moving from Whinney Hill and now he’s off again, this time to Daisy Hill.

Matt Derbyshire was once again omitted from the Birmingham City squad for the vital six-pointer at Wigan Athletic and how the Blues missed him after they let a one goal lead slip to lose 2-1.

Accrington Stanley enjoyed yet another convincing home victory, this time 3-0 against a fading Port Vale with the third goal coming from ex-Robin Andy Procter who pounced on a fumble by the Vale keeper.

In the Evo-Stik League, there was still no sign or news of James Dean at Halifax Town as they won 2-1 at Hucknall Town but Simon Garner was prominent throughout as the Blues marched on towards the title.

Pete Smith must be looking forward to the end of the season as his Clitheroe side continue to slide down the table. Jason Jones and Ryan Fisher were unable to inspire the Blues as they fell to yet another home defeat, this time 3-2 to Trafford with the Mancunians leading 3-0 at the break and hitting the post twice towards the end of the game. That makes it just one win in the last eight games for the Shawbridge side.

In the Vodcat League it was a weekend of comebacks for our local clubs and Ramsbottom United were surprisingly made to struggle at Alsager Town. They trailed 2-1 at the break before triumphing 3-2.

In the same division, Barnoldswick Town trailed 1-0 at half time to Glossop North End but came through in the end 2-1.

Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate looked to be on course for a win after leading 1-0 at half time in the game at Bootle but the home side came back to take the spoils after a 90 th minute winner.

Yet another comeback at Colne where the Reds trailed 2-1 to Runcorn Linnets before hitting back to win 3-2.

Their closest neighbours Padihan were one goal down at Maine Road, but, you guessed it, fought back to win 2-1.

Rossendale United led 1-0 against Formby at Dark Lane but eventually went down 3-2.

Bacup Borough’s recent good run was halted as they lost 1-0 to leaders New Mills at West View while in the 1 st Division, Darwen drew 2-2 at home to Chadderton.

Early March

In the Vodcat Premier League, Bacup Borough continue to march up the table and overtook local rivals Padiham into 6 th place after a 3-2 win at the Arbories. The result was not as close as the score suggests with the Storks hitting their goals in the final 5 minutes.

The West View side followed up that win with a 1-1 draw at St. Helens, remarkable for the fact that after they were awarded a second half penalty, but taker Cocks was made to wait for around 30 minutes to take it after an injury to a Saints player. Brent Peters’ side has been given a further boost with the signing of ex-hero Tommy Turner and he took no time at all to get back in the old routine. He scored in the 3-0 home win against Russ McKenna’s fading Squires Gate but the ‘crowd’ was a measly 24.

Close neighbours Colne also hit two goals in the final 5 minutes but this time they were worth all three points as visiting Glossop North End saw a 2-1 lead wiped out. The Reds then lost 2-0 at in-form Atherton LR before handing out another thrashing to Silsden, 4-0 on their own patch. That followed on from the Yorkshire side’s 7-1 defeat at Glossop North End, who, despite struggling at the wrong end of the table, hit Ashton Athletic for 8, five days later.

Ramsbottom United won, 3-1 at Bootle with Mark Drew scoring a hat-trick. The Rams did it the hard way after having a man sent off after just 12 minutes. Discipline was again lacking in their next game at New Mills and this time it proved more costly as they lost 1-0.

Barnoldswick Town dropped a couple of points after being held by Silsden but were soon back to winning ways with a 3-0 victory over Runcorn Linnets.

Padiham looked to be getting back on the winning trail when they forged ahead 2-0 at Bootle but the home side hit two late goals to earn a point.

Rossendale United looked odds on to follow Ourselves and Nelson into oblivion but their Chairman rode back form abroad to save the day and ensure that the home game with Winsford United took place. With the visitors going well at the top of the table there appeared to be only one outcome to the game but the 100 loyal supporters witnessed a thriller. The Stags trailed 4-2 with less than 5 minutes remaining but incredibly hit back to force a 4-4 draw thanks to an injury time equaliser.

They next entertained Padiham and once again showed great spirit, holding the Storks at 2-2 three quarters way through but three goals in just 5 minutes settled the game for the visitors.

In the 1 st Division there were goals galore in the mid-week games with 7 going in at the Anchor. Unfortunately for Darwen, 6 of them ended up in their net as joint-leaders Blackpool ran amok in front of a shocking attendance of 26.

They steadied the ship at Cheadle Town and earned a point after a 1-1 draw and then defeated Rochdale in mid-week 3-1. Only 23 turned up on a poor night for attendances, the highest of four 1 st Division games drawing only 26!

The other leaders, Runcorn Town have been goal-crazy for most of the season and visiting Atherton Collieries were thrashed 6-0. Town could soon be overtaking their illustrious neighbours Linnets and their quest for promotion was given a further boost with another big win, 5-0 at home to Ashton Town. That meant they’d scored an astonishing 81 goals in just 21 League games this term and show no signs of easing up as Cheadle Town found to their cost, losing 5-1 at home with all the goals coming in the first hour.

Game of the week saw next to bottom Daisy Hill race into a three goal lead inside half an hour at the New Sirs against promotion-chasing Liverpool, but the Reds hit back to win 4-3 with the decisive goal coming in injury time.

It was a pity that only 34 fans saw the comeback and of the seven 1 st Division games, five attracted less than 35.

In the Evo Stik League, James Dean was missing from the Halifax Town squad for the home game with Worksop although Simon Garner was once again on top form. The Blues were surprisingly held to a goal-less draw but are still 12 points clear at the top of the table after a great run of 8 wins and 2 draws-both against the Tigers.

Not too far behind are FC United who travelled to Nantwich Town and won 4-1 which heaped more misery on the Dabbers who last week shipped in 6 at home to Halifax. That win made it five in a row and if United can keep up the good form, the play-offs will be a certainty.

One game in the Conference North worth mentioning was the one at Vauxhall Motors where the home side hit the opening goal just a minute from the end of normal time for the winner-or so it appeared! Just as Workington fans were looking forward to a long, miserable, midweek drive home, they scored twice to take the spoils-let’s hope that no Reds fans left after Motors’ opener!

Accrington Stanley continue to impress but they dropped two points at Lincoln City thanks to a goal-less draw with Andy Procter hitting a good chance wide. The Reds got back to winning winnings by beating Conference-bound Stockport County 3-0 at the Crown with all the goals coming in the first half. A much better attendance of 1800 witnessed the easy win.

Halifax Town badly missed James Dean as they needed a late, late winner to beat Ashton United 1-0 at the Shay. Simon Garner started but was replaced at the break.

Pete Smith must be looking forward to the end of the season after he saw his side well beaten, 5-0 at home to Chester in midweek. Ryan Fisher , who captained the side, was the only ex-Robin to appear for the Blues as they shipped in all the goals inside an hour. The crowd of 527 was considerably less than if the game had taken place on a Saturday.

Late February 2011

*Matt Derbyshire lost his place in the first team squad just at the wrong time and failed to make the bench for Birmingham City’s League Cup Final against Arsenal, nevertheless, millions saw him celebrating with his team-mates as the Blues pulled off a fantastic 2-1 win against their illustrious opponents.

*For the third weekend in a row, the weather was horrendous on the Friday night/Saturday morning and most of the non-league programme ‘bit the dust’.

*I travelled down to Stafford Rangers to see the mighty Boston United in action but as I arrived at the ground at 2-20, I was surprised to see only two hardy souls present. It soon became apparent that the game was called off which was a big disappointment to myself and ground-hopper Roger who’d travelled all the way from South Wales to add Marston Road to his list of ‘grounds visited’.

*The Colne-Stone Dominoes game survived but the home side wished it hadn’t as they followed up their mid-week 4-2 defeat at Barnoldswick with a surprise 2-0 home loss to struggling Stone. Ex-Robin Steve Pickup making the mistake which led to the decisive 2 nd goal. The derby game at Barlick was a typical full-blooded affair with six bookings and one sending off, or two if you include Colne manager Nigel Coates. A tremendous crowd of 222 witnessed the excitement.

*Padiham’s ex-Robin Keiran Fletcher was another player to see red and his disciplinary record leaves a lot to be desired.

*Bacup Borough, a team that always seems to have a huge backlog of fixtures managed to get two games in during the week and came away with maximum points. They won convincingly 3-0 at bottom side Ashton Athletic before dispatching struggling Alsager Town by the same score at West View.

*Ramsbottom United entertained New Mills in a 3 rd v 2 nd game at the Riverside and the visitors went home with the points after overturning a half-time deficit with goals in the 46 th and 48 th minutes.

*Rossendale United look to be on the brink of following Great Harwood Town and Nelson into oblivion as their game against Runcorn Linnets was postponed because the water had been cut off. Threats to cut off the other utilities saw the resignation of the manager and the secretary and with the owner abroad, the future looks decidedly bleak. Rossy have been given two weeks to sort their problems out but if they can’t fullfill the fixture against Winsford United on March 5 th, the club will be expelled from the League.

*Cambridge United, Wrexham, Kidderminster Harriers and Darlington are four ex-Football League sides who are also struggling to survive.

*Clitheroe supporters finally had something to cheer about but it didn’t look that way for 72 minutes at Radcliffe Borough. By that stage the home side were leading 2-0 but goals in the 72 nd, 73 rd, and 84 th minutes, made it a memorable day for manager Pete Smith and Ryan Fisher , the only ex-Robin to be involved.

*Accrington Stanley continued their excellent form with a 1-0 home win against Torquay United.

Mid February

*An embarrassing start to the middle part of the month for our ex-landlords Accrington Stanley. Their game against Southend was called off after one o’clock which wasn’t too handy for the Shrimpers supporters who’d travelled, Stanley decided against asking a local referee for an early inspection which could have saved the fans from travelling and instead, the match referee turned up at lunchtime to give the game the thumbs down. Not only was it the only Football League game to be called off, but an amateur game on a pitch next to the Crown took place at the same time! The Reds will now probably have to pay out compensation. The next game saw them go down 2-0 to Rotherham United at the Don Valley despite one of their best performances of the season. The Tykes’ keeper produced a string of good saves to leave John Coleman frustrated but not down-hearted. Stanley took that performance into the next game at another of the leading teams Wycombe Wanderers and this time they got their rewards with a fine 2-1 win.

*In the Evo-Stik Premier League, James Dean wasn’t firing on all cylinders, which is quite unusual, and was substituted after 56 minutes of Halifax Town’s 1-1 draw at Worksop Town. It was however Simon Garner’s and he was outstanding throughout. He cleared an early Worksop effort off the line before setting up Vardy who missed from 5 yards. He also set up a great chance for Gregory who blasted over the bar then almost scored a late winner.

*The Blues were soon back to winning ways as Kendal Town were despatched 3-0 at the Shay although the game was much tighter than the scoreline suggests. James Dean was booked in the first half for throwing the ball down when he wasn’t awarded a penalty but shortly afterwards, he won the spot-kick that was converted to give his side the lead. A great one-two involving Simon Garner set up the second and shortly after the break, Deano was substituted, probably because of his earlier caution.

*Pete Smith’s Clitheroe were left shell-shocked as Chester went nap at the Deva. Ryan Fisher dropped out of the starting line-up but Jason Jones returned and they held firm for an hour before the home side ran in all five goals in a devastating 15 minute spell.

*Things didn’t look to be getting better in the next game as visitors Harrogate R.A. make a mockery of their lowly League position by bursting into a two-goal lead inside 7 minutes at Shawbridge. Smithy must have feared the worst when Railway made it three before the break but the Blues pulled one back to go in at 1-3. Much huffing and puffing brought no reward until two goals in the last seven minutes earned them an unlikely point. Fish and Jones both remained in the starting line-up.

*Chorley meanwhile, once again without Jonathan Smith , were involved in the game of the season when they entertained leaders Chester. Over 3,200 packed Victory Park with the kick-off delayed because of crowd congestion-hardly surprising with just one gate open for the hundreds of visiting supporters! Chester came out on top with a 1-0 win to move 9 points clear at the top.

*A couple of excellent crowds for our local Vodcat League sides. Padiham attracted 144 for their 1-1 draw with Maine Road at the Arbories with Ed O’Neil missing a sitter just after half time, while Ramsbottom United saw 151 pass through the turnstiles to see their 1-0 win over Congleton Town. Colne won 2-1 at Stone Dominoes and Barnoldswick Town continue to impress, beating St. Helens 3-0 at home .Bacup Borough led 1-0 at the break against visiting Mancs. bad boys Flixton but eventually went down 3-1 conceding all the goals in the final 20 minutes.

*Rossendale United finally moved off the foot of the table with a 1-1 draw at Bootle, and Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate let a two goal lead slip against visitors Runcorn Linnets before running out 4-2 winners in front of a massive crowd of 190.

*The other Runcorn side, 1 st Division Town, enjoyed a fantastic 9-1 win against visitors Daisy Hill but amazingly, that wasn’t the highest score of the day. Atherton L.R. beat Formby 10-4 but it wasn’t such a massacre for most of the 90 minutes. The Squirrels took the lead three times in the first half but Rovers equalised each time and then went in front just before the break. Another six went in before Formby finished off the scoring near the end. In fact, it could have been worse (or better) as Atherton’s tenth came with 10 minutes still to play. Great pity that only 35 saw the game of a lifetime. Runcorn continued on the goal trail hitting two in an away game then six more against Oldham.

*Darwen came from 2-0 down at Leek CSOB to earn a point from a 3-3 draw.

*The following round of games saw two wins in four days for Padiham, helped enormously by having three ex-Harwood players in their ranks. In midweek, the Storks were involved in a stormy match at Silsden. The home side twice led in the first half, then had a player sent off before a Martin Parkes shot levelled just before the break. A dominant second half saw chances come and go for the Blues, including a Parkes header cleared off the line, before Keiran Fletcher hit the winner with a great individual effort after 86 minutes. Padiham then had Ridehalgh, who’d been substituted after 80 minutes, sent off after 93 minutes for abusing a linesman from the touchline. Two minutes later keeper Davis joined him in the dressing room as he was dismissed for time wasting, but the visitors hung on for a deserved win. They then beat Stone Dominoes 2-1 at the Arbories and now lie in 5 th position in the Premier League. Just above them are Squires Gate although Russ McKenna’s boys let a two goal half time lead slip to Atherton L.R. who recorded their second great comeback in 8 days to win 3-2.

*In 4 th spot are Barnoldswick Town who won1-0 at Glossop North End who knocked Darwen out of the League Cup three days earlier. Ramsbottom United are 3 rd after a 3-1 win over Winsford United at the Riverside in front of a crowd of 200+. Just behind that leading pack are Colne in 7 th and Bacup Borough in 10 th. Brent Peters side won 2-1 at Maine Road and have plenty of games in hand on most of the teams above them.

 

Early February

*The opening mid-week saw fixtures resume after the freezing weather over the weekend.

* In the Evo-stik League, Clitheroe comfortably beat visiting Durham City 4-1 with Ryan Fisher and Jason Jones both playing their part before a very disappointing attendance of 123.

* Plenty of goals around with nine at Kendal where struggling Ossett Town twice fought back to level before taking the lead. Kendal then hit three more before an 85 th minute goal pulled it back to 5-4 but Kendal held on for the three points.

* In the Vodcat League, Rossendale United remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier Division after their latest defeat, 4-2 to Barnoldswick at Dark Lane, despite taking an early lead.

* Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate, lying in 4 th spot were well beaten 4-1 at home to Brent Peters’ Bacup Borough.

* Another high-scoring game in the 1 st Division, Daisy Hill 4 Cheadle Town 5. This game saw Town open the scoring but Hill hit back to lead 2-1 before the visitors scored another three to make it 2-4, but once again Daisy Hill fought back to level in the 88 th minute before Cheadle secured the points with a last minute penalty.

* After the previous two weekends where frost played havoc with the local non-league fixtures, this weekend's games were almost completely washed out by two days of persistent rain.

*Clitheroe were the only side to play and Pete Smith must have wished their game was another victim. Lowly Wakefield won 3-2 at Shawbridge with all the goals coming in the 2 nd half. The Blues have played many more games than their rivals near the top of the Evo-Stik North and look set to miss out on the play-offs.

*The following midweek saw Darwen play their first home game for months but they went down 2-1 to Atherton Collieries despite leading at the break. The Salmoners had the chance to earn a point but missed a second half penalty.

*Jonathan Smith had an eventful game for Chorley as they lost a League Cup tie at Premier League high-flyers Colwyn Bay. The Magpies looked to be on their way out before an 85 th minute goal saw the game go into extra-time. Bay re-took the lead only for Chorley to equalise again, this time in the 121 st minute. Penalties followed and Bay’s first went flying over the bar but parity was restored when Chorley’s second spot kick was saved. Bay then sent their 5 th kick over the bar again but Chorley’s 5 th was saved to leave the score at 3-3. Bay scored four more and Chorley three in the ‘sudden death’ whereupon up stepped Jonathan to see his effort saved.

*One other game worth mentioning was the Cheshire Cup semi-final which saw Altrincham beat our old friends Alsager12-1. The Bullets recently lost their manager, secretary and many players which might explain the score. Alty were only eight up when injury reduced them to ten players with about 20 minutes left or it could have been even more. Their 11 th goal was a 50 yard effort and 12 th was from 40 yards so maybe the first choice keeper was one of the players to leave. Alsager did have the last word though scoring their consolation in the 89 th minute.

*One of the comebacks of the season at Stevenage where Accrington Stanley found themselves 2-0 down with 88 minutes on the clock-someone from Accy must have said ‘Let’s go home and miss the traffic’-but pity them if they did because the Reds pulled a goal back and then captain Andy Procter equalised in the last minute

Late January

*Once again the sub-zero temperatures returned to decimate the non-league fixtures. Of the few games to take place during the fourth week of the month, two of them were played in Runcorn. Town, the Vodcat’s last FA Vase survivors, lost 3-1 at home to Dunston UTS before almost 200 fans and Linnets attracted just over 200 for their Premier League clash with Bacup Borough, which they won 2-0.

*Russ McKenna’s Squires Gate moved up into 4 th spot with a 1-0 win at 2 nd placed Winsford United, Gate’s 3 rd win in a row.

*In the West Lancs. League, Andy McNally has resigned as Boss of Whinney Hill, a real blow to the club as they’ve received plenty of financial aid from Andy’s good pal Matt Derbyshire.

*Matt meanwhile, once again started for Birmingham City at Old Trafford, where the Harwood legend once scored for the Rovers, but this time he and his team-mates endured a torrid afternoon, losing 5-0. The only worthwhile chance that the Blues had was created by Matt who crossed for Fahey who managed to miss an open goal from about 2 yards!

*Halifax Town went 12 points clear at the top of the Evostick Premier League when they won 3-1 at neighbours Bradford P.A. James Dean and Simon Garner were in the thick of the action for the whole 90 minutes and both were recipients of some heavy challenges. The game saw 6 yellow-one for Simon- and 2 red cards as things threatened to get out of hand. Deano scored a scrappy goal for Town in front of a massive 1300+ crowd.

*Jason Jones returned from injury to captain Clitheroe for the league game at Lancaster. The Blues came from behind to win 2-1 thanks to a late goal from ex-Harwood star Ryan Fisher , and the three points moved them back up into 4 th place.

*Once again, the freezing weather returned at the end of the week to decimate the non-league programme but James Dean and Simon garner still saw action as their Halifax Town side won yet again to lengthen the gap between them and the also-rans of the Evostick Premier League. Despite what looked to be a tricky game against one of their main rivals near the top, it took Town just 23 seconds to take the lead against North Ferriby United and it was Deano who set up scorer Vardy. Yet another of his crosses shortly afterwards gave Gregory a chance but he missed a sitter, and just a few minutes later, another cross was almost headed in for an own goal. Deano then headed just over the bar after half an hour before setting up Gregory again who shot just wide. Despite the near misses, Halifax cruised to a 3-0 win with Simon and his midfield team-mates controlling the game from start to finish.

*In the Vodcat League just one game of note survived the frost and Padiham eased past neighbours Rossendale United 2-0 at the Arbories in front of an impressive 200+ crowd. Ed O’Neil set the Storks on the way with the opener after 12 minutes in a game that would have seen the Stags move off the bottom with a point.

*In the FA Cup. Matt Derbyshire’s dreams of a final at Wembley are still alive although he was an unused substitute for Birmingham City’s dramatic 3-2 win over Coventry City.

*Meanwhile, ex-Boston United manager, the legendary Steve Evans, has guided non-league Crawley to the 5 th round where they’ll take on Manchester United at Old Trafford and if United play their second string, as expected, then Crawley are in with a shout.

Mid January 2011

* Another non-league club looks to have played their last game as Ryman North side Leyton FC resigned from the league.
* Plenty of exciting games took place up and down the country, not least amongst some of our recent opponents. The Evostick League Challenge Cup saw Bradford Park Avenue, who brought a terrific following to the Showground soon after their resurrection about 20 years ago, go down 3-0 at home to neighbours Halifax Town. Soon afterwards though, Town were thrown out of the competition for fielding a player who’d previously appeared in the competition for Woodley Sports. We suffered a similar fate after Dennis Hill appeared for Darwen before turning out for us in the NWCFL League Cup five years ago.
* The Tykes must have been one of the favourites to lift the Trophy but now they can ‘concentrate on the more important matters of the League and visiting Ossett Town received both barrels! The Blues completed their biggest ever League win, 8-1 though the score flattered them greatly, Ossett more than held their own before James Dean opened the scoring after 27 minutes but they were level just two minutes later and should have been leading after the opening third of the game. Deano then put Halifax back in front five minutes later and two more goals just before the break clinched the match. There was no let up on the visiting defence who conceded the 8th with 15 minutes still to play! To put the game into perspective, the home side had managed just 6 shots on target with the score at 6-1!
* Another club who’ve gone onwards and upwards since we last met just a few years ago, Fleetwood Town, travelled to ex-League club Mansfield Town and thrashed the hosts 5-2. They fought back to equalise in the final minute of the first half then hit four more in the opening 20 minutes of the second with Viera hitting a hat-trick. The Fishermen surely couldn’t have dreamed about such a rapid climb up the ‘Pyramid’ as they were outplayed for much of our last encounter at the Crown Ground.
* Leigh Genesis, under their former name Horwich RMI, were frequent opponents for us over the past 30 years but they look to heading back to the lower reaches of the Vodcat League as they sit bottom of the Evostick North and their latest defeat, 8-0 at home to mid-table local neighbours Witton Albion was witnessed by a miserable attendance of just 59.
* Another of our more recent opponents, Nantwich Town were involved in a fantastic Challenge Cup game against local rivals Northwich Victoria. They led 2-0 before an own goal by Whittaker, who opened the scoring, and a last minute goal from Ryan took the game into extra-time. Whittaker then looked to have made amends by putting the hosts back in front but Ryan completed a hat-trick and three further goals from Vics gave the visitors a 7-3 win.
* As we were on the way down, AFC Fylde (Kirkham & Wesham) were on the way up and they took on Chester at the Deva Stadium in front of almost 2,000 fans and fought out a creditable 2-2 draw. They then game from behind, once again, to win 3-2 at Harrogate Railway Athletic to consolidate third place, behind Chester and Chorley.
* Behind them in 4th spot are Pete Smith’s Clitheroe and they too came from behind to win 2-1 at Skelmersdale United. Those three points saw the Blues move up three places and once again into the play-ff positions. Next up was a trip to next to bottom Wakefield and although the Blues ran the show from start to finish, they failed to convert several chances and went down 1-0.
* FC United have used their great FA Cup run as a confidence-booster and are moving well away from the relegation area in the Evostick Premier League. Their latest win, 4-0 at bottom side Retford United, saw keeper Sam Ashton open the scoring after three minutes thanks to a huge 80 yard punt upfield which bounced over the Retford goalie.
* In the Evostick South, two middle of the table sides produced a classic at Loughborough where the Dynamos three times took the lead against Belper Town before going behind 4-3 in the 55th minute. The hosts then hit back to finally triumph 5-4.
* Andy Procter has been putting in some great performances recently and he helped the Reds to a fine 2-1 win at Cheltenham but just when they started to look towards to play-off spots, they surprisingly lost 3-1 at home to Shrewsbury despite dominating the majority of the game.
* Just as Matt Derbyshire helps Birmingham go goal-crazy, he’s then dropped for the League Cup semi-final 1st leg when the Blues totally dominated the second half but couldn’t convert the chances and ended up losing 2-1. He was brought back into the starting line-up for the massive derby versus Aston Villa and although he missed a good chance in the first half, he was named man of the match-just before being substituted!
* In the Vodcat League, Russ McKenna scored the winner for Squires Gate as they won 2-1 at Maine Road and then beat Bootle by the same score to move up amongst the pace-setters in the Premier League.
* Barnoldswick led 1-0 at leaders Winsford United with just a minute left on the clock but conceded at the death. They then lost 1-0 in the derby game at Bacup Borough in front of a very disappointing 63 spectators.
* Padiham earned a point at Congleton thanks to a late penalty while poor old Rossendale United had victory snatched from their grasp at St. Helens. Rossy led 3-1 with only 6 minutes left and the 3 points would have seen them move off the foot of the table but the Saints scored two late goals to leave the visitors deflated.

Early January 2011

* One game of note that actually took place at the end of December was in the Zamaretto Central and it’s certainly worth a mention. High-flying Slough Town hosted lowly Beaconsfield and were left shell-shocked after just 20 minutes as the visitors raced into an unlikely 3-0 lead but by half time Slough had drawn level. They then hit three more after the break before a last minute consolation made the score 6-4.
* The weather at the start of this month eased a little but many of our local sides still suffered from frozen pitches. A record Northern Premier League crowd of over 4,000 saw ‘giants’ Halifax Town take on FC United at the Shay and after United, now next to bottom, took a shock lead, Town hit back four times and move 9 points clear at the top.
* A Division lower down saw leaders Chester consolidate their top of the table position by beating Prescot Cables with a last minute winner in front of another huge four-figure attendance, despite the Merseysiders poor home support.
* Pete Smith’s Clitheroe were involved in a terrific game at Shawbridge but defeat saw them drop to 3rd place as Chorley moved up with a 2-1 win at Radcliffe Borough. The prolific Foster gave Salford an early lead but Ryan Fisher equalised and a minute later, the Blues were in front. Two minute later Foster hit his second before City re-took the lead with still less than 25 minutes on the clock. On 36 minutes Foster hit his hat-trick goal and worse was to come as just four minutes on, the Mancunians made it 5-2. Two second half goals gave Clitheroe hope of an equaliser but the visitors held on for the final five minutes.
* Another ‘Mancs.’ team was up next for the Blues but once again defensive frailties let them down. Once again they found themselves three down at the break and once again, two second half goals left them just short. If those games were disappointing for Smithy, he must have been pulling his hair out after the next match. The Blues cruised into a three goal lead against Cammell Laird at Shawbridge and with only 10 minutes left, the points were in the bag-or so it seemed. Laird threw caution to the wind and had the Clitheroe defence panicking as they scored three times to earn the most unlikely of points. Ryan Fisher returned to the side and Jason Jones was elevated to captain and also scored the Blues’ third goal.
* Two other high scoring games took place on the opening day of the month, our old foes Newcastle Town, made up for lost time by hitting 8 at struggling Market Drayton. Town led 5-0 at half time and although the Shropshire side pulled one back in the first minute of the second half, the visitors continued to press with their final two goals ensuring that they overtook neighbours Kidsgrove Athletic into 3rd place.
* The other high-scoring game took place in the Ryman South and what a thriller it was. Leaders Whitehawk travelled to mid-table Eastbourne Town and found themselves two down at half time. They hit back to equalise mid-way through the second period but Eastbourne soon got their noses back in front. Whitehawk looked to have earned a point with their 3rd goal in the 84th minute but went all out for maximum points and secured them with two further goals and leave the final score at 3-5.
* In the Evostick Premier Division, the top two met in North Wales and Colwyn Bay came out on top against Halifax Town. Simon Garner almost gave the Shaymen the lead but his brilliant long range shot flew narrowly wide and he then hit the post in the second half. With the score at 1-1 James Dean missed a sitter from 6 yards when he shot straight at the keeper. Both of our old boys were substituted with the score still at 1-1. A tricky game followed that at Northwich Victoria but the Blues brushed past Vics with the minimum of fuss. Deano hit the opening goal and set up the second against one of his many former clubs and the visitors won 3-0 with Simon also prominent throughout.
* In the Vodcat League, Padiham are on a roll since signing Martin Parkes and they enjoyed two great wins. Firstly they beat local rivals Colne 3-0 at Holt House before an excellent crowd of 165 and then defeated top of the table New Mills at the Arbories. Martin scored the second goal in a 3-1 win
* Russ McKenna scored an 87th minute winner for Squires Gate at Maine Road and Bacup Borough raced into a 3-0 half time lead at Alsager Town before eventually winning 4-2. Very sad to see the attendances haven’t improved for Town with a meagre 19 turning up for their latest game. At the wrong end of the table, Rossendale United slump further and further into the mire and their shocking season hit a new low at the weekend. They were hoping to build on a 1-1 draw against Silsden when they hosted bottom side Ashton Athletic but a last minute goal saw the visitors triumph and sent Rossy to the foot of the league.
* In the Second Division Darwen won 2-0 at Oldham Town while in the FA Vase, a crowd of 738 witnessed a strong Whitley Bay side thrash AFC Liverpool 7-1. Quite a collapse by the Reds who only trailed 1-0 at the break.
* Andy Procter has been in great form recently as have Accrington Stanley, and a 2-1 win at Morecambe, 2-2 draw at home to Chesterfield and a 1-0 home win against Bury have seen them climb the League Two table. The Reds hit an 83rd minute winner in the first game and were cruising at 2-0 in the second with only 6 minutes left but a 94th minute equaliser for the League leaders left the Stanley faithful disappointed. Still no sign of the Accrington public getting behind the team with each of the two attractive home games seeing little more than 2,000 turning up.
* Matt Derbyshire was finally given a starting place for Birmingham City as they travelled to Blackpool and he made the most of his chance as he teamed up with Cameron Jerome to run the ‘Pool defence ragged. In the opening minutes he missed a good chance from just a few yards out and on 6 minutes he set up strike partner Jerome who also missed from close range. He won a corner on 20 minutes when the Blues once again just failed to take the lead but they eventually did before the break. Matt made way after 76 minutes and City scored a last minute winner so two goals in one game saw a marked improvement for the struggling midlanders. Matt kept his place for the FA Cup 3rd round game at Millwall and once again, he showed that he should be starting more games. He tore the home defence to shreds and opened the scoring with a fabulous chip on 17 minutes. He was then fouled on the edge of the box which resulted in the second goal, almost scored a third but was denied by a terrific save from the home keeper, and then all but sealed the win a minute before the break when he mesmerised the Lions defence to score the third. He was substituted after 69 minutes to save the Championship from further embarrassment. That makes 6 FA Cup goals in just 6 appearances since leaving the Robins where he made just one appearance, and lasted about half an hour before being sent off! At this stage of his career, he really should be a regular first-teamer, whether it be in the Premier League or Championship and someone should get the cheque book out soon!

   
Go to the Harwood Home Page Go to the Harwood Home Page Contacts Page Take a look at our souvenirs
©2009 J Fenton