Season 2014-15 Archived


Early August

Matt Derbyshire played the first 70 minutes of Rotherham United’s final pre-season friendly against Leicester City at the New York Stadium where the Millers went down 2-1. It could have been different had the ex-Harwood legend been awarded a penalty just into the 2 nd half but inexplicably, the referee gave a freekick outside of the box. Matt made way on 71 minutes.

The following week saw them host newly promoted MK Dons and it took the ex-Harwood star just 13 minutes to get off the mark. He headed in from a corner but the visitors had already taken the lead on 5 minutes.

On 21 minutes his right-footed shot looked destined for the top corner but was saved and just 40 seconds later his left-footed effort was pushed away for a corner.

From that set piece he set up Ward who’s shot was blocked.

A minute later Matt’s header went just over the bar.

Against the run of play, Dons took the lead on 28 minutes after some comical defending and 7 minutes later they made it 3-1.

Another goal for the away side sealed a great victory with Matt’s only second half chance, a 94 th minute header, drifting over the bar.

A League Cup tie at home to Cambridge United followed and Rotherham made it through thanks to a 1-0 win.

Matt was in the thick of the action seeing his 15 th minute shot blocked, a 24 th minute header over the bar, and a 26 th minute shot again blocked.

The Millers took the lead just before half time and Matt continued with his energetic performance after the re-start.

He saw his 51 st minute header go just wide and 10 minutes later his shot was saved in the bottom corner of the goal. In the 72 nd minute his shot was again saved and the final action of the evening saw his right footed effort fly just past the post.

A tough game at Nottingham Forest resulted in a 2-1 defeat, this despite taking a 13 th minute lead. Matt had seen his 12 th minute header well saved but picked up a yellow card in the 27 th minute.

After Forest equalised in 1 st half stoppage time, he set up a chance for Bowery 30 seconds into the 2 nd period but the attempt was blocked. 10 minutes later his 25-yard right footed shot went just wide.

The Millers then entertained P.N.E. and gained their first league point thanks to a goalless draw, Matt going close with a 1 st half shot and a 2 nd half header.

Don Fitzgearld’s AFC Wimbledon ended their warm-up campaign with a very impressive 3-1 home win against newly relegated Cheltenham Town.

The league campaign started with a tasty home game against Plymouth Argyle and almost 5,000 packed the stadium to see the Dons dominate the early exchanges but they couldn’t make their superiority count with Argyle taking advantage to win 2-0.

The league Cup saw an early exit, the Dons losing 1-0 at Cardiff City without registering a single shot on target.

Andy Procter was named on the bench for Accrington Stanley’s home game against Luton Town.

The Reds looked to be heading for the three points before the Hatters equalised on 92 minutes much to the delight of the majority of the 2,359 fans. Ironically the scorer had the familiar name of Jonathan Smith, not the same one who starred for Harwood and Stanley a few years ago.

The Reds then put up a great show in the League Cup, holding Hull City to a goalless draw at the Crown Ground and 2-2 after extra-time before losing 4-3 on penalties.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot Town fought out a creditable 1-1 home draw with fancied Wycombe Wanderers at the Recreation Ground.

Paul then saw the Shots take control against fancied Gateshead and deservedly lead 1-0 at the break but the Geordies stormed back to win 2-1 in front of over 1,700 fans but even the Gateshead manager admitted that his side were a little fortunate to take all three points.

He then made the trip to Cheltenham where an excellent game ended goalless, mainly thanks to the poor finishing, both sides mustering just one on-target shot apiece.

He was then on the road again, this time to North Wales where the Shots were well beaten 3-0, leaving Paul and his fellow loyal supporters with another long rotten journey back to Hampshire.

Paul Salt saw his Altrincham favourites go down to a narrow 2-1 home defeat against Port Vale and when the serious stuff started, they lost again, 1-0 to Forest Green Rovers with John ‘the beast’ Parkin scoring the goal.

The Robins were then well beaten at Guiseley despite the 1-0 scoreline although they did hit the bar.

A 2-0 defeat at Woking left them bttom of the league.

Southport couldn’t have got off to a worse start in the Conference National, losing 4-0 at home to Eastleigh. They were on top for much of the 1 st half but the Spitfires took the lead before half time and their cause was helped on 48 minutes when ‘port had a player sent off.

The Sandgrounders should then have taken all three points from their trip to Macclesfield Town.

Jones saw his 33 rd minute penalty brilliantly saved and on 60 minutes the Silkmen were reduced to 10 men. Jones then saw his shot beat the keeper but hit both posts as ‘port piled on the pressure in the 2 nd half.

A 2-0 defeat at Cheltenham Town saw them slump to 3 rd bottom.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough led Maidenhead but the visitors hit back to win 2-1 and a trip to Dartford ended with another defeat, 1-0.

A 1-0 win at Wealdstone got them up and running.

Boston United lost 3-1 at home to Conference 2 nd title favourites Grimsby Town at York Street.

Their league campaign saw them travel to a Stockport County side who fielded just the goalkeeper from last season’s squad but the new players gelled quickley to win 2-1 in front of a huge crowd of 3,396.

The Pilgrims then entertained Solihull Moors hoping to get some points on the board but were thrashed 4-1 much to the dismay of the 1,100+ crowd.

Things then improved as two Southwell penalties saw off Curzon Ashton at York Street and they then won 3-1 at Brackley.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United drew 1-1 at home to fellow ‘fans club’ Wrexham before travelling to Gloucester City for their first game of the Conference North where a single goal gave the Tigers the points. United looked to have salvaged a point when the ball struck the back of the net 6 minutes into added time but the ‘goal’ was ruled out for offside.

A second league defeat follwed as they lost 2-1 at home to Stockport County.

Over 3,500 fans saw them pick up their first point, 1-1 at home to Tamworth but they then lost 3-0 at Chorley.

AFC Fylde, one of the pre-season favourites for promotion looked anything like title challengers as they were well beaten 3-0 at Solihull Moors. Ex-Nelson star Richie Allen seeing red for stopping a goal-bound shot on 19 minutes.

The Coasters then recorded their first win by beating Hednesford Town 2-0 at Kellemergh Park.

Another home victory looked on the cards as they led Gainsborough Trinity 2-0 but the Lincs side hit back toforce a draw.

James Dean’s Chorley got off to a poor start, losing 3-2 at home to Nuneaton. The visitors took a two-goal lead before Deano helped set up a Magpies reply only for the visitors to restore their advantage.

Another tough game followed, a trip to North Ferriby United, and they returned to Lancashire shell-shocked after a 4-0 defeat.

They then earned their first point with a 2-2 draw at Corby Town.

Almost 2,000 fans then saw them hammer FC United 3-0 at Victory Park.

Locally, Darwen found Lancaster City in top form as the Dolly Blues won 5-2 at the Anchor while just up the M65 Colne enjoyed a fine friendly win against visitors Glossop North End, 2-1 the score.

Local rivals Padiham enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win at Litherland.

Bamber Bridge proved far too strong for Longridge Town where the visitors ran out 8-0 winners.

Simon Garner and Ryan Parr’s Clitheroe boosted their squad with the signings of former players Lloyd Dean and Scott Bakkor, as well as Brandon Barski from Colne. Their final warm-up game saw them win 3-0 at Yorkshire side Shelly.

The Blues came from behind to beat Prescott Cables 3-1 at Shawbridge in the opening league game and then recorded a fantastic 5-1 win at Droylsden, once again coming from behind.

Also in the Evo-stik, Ramsbottom United started with two defeats, 2-0 at Rushall Olympic and 1-0 at home to Buxton.

Skelmerdale United and AFC Fylde drew 1-1 and Southport lost 3-0 at home to a Bolton Wanderers XI.

In the NWCFL, Atherton LR were suspended from the competition after failing to meet their financial obligations by the August 1 st deadline but the criteria was met shortly afterwards and the League Committee overturned the earlier ruling, allowing Rovers to compete in the coming season which was good news for everyone.

On the field, an 86 th minute penalty was enough to see off newly promoted Darwen lose at Ashton Athletic but the Salmoners won their first point with a 2-2 draw against Silsden at the Anchor in front of a terrific turn-out of 199.

Also in the Prmeier Division, Nelson made short work of their trip to Runcorn Town, not only stopping the free-scoring Cheshire side from registering a goal, but also hitting four of their own before losing 3-2 at home to Abbey Hey. After 54 minutes the visitors went 3-0 up but just four minutes later it was 2-3 and despite the Admirals best efforts, they couldn’t find the equaliser.

A superb crowd of 269 saw Colne hammer Winsford United 6-2 at Holt House with the newly re-signed Jason Hart hitting four and the prolific Boyle also on the scoresheet. Both players were on target again as a 3-1 win at Maine Road took them to the top of the table.

A cracking 5-0 win at Barnoldswick Town saw them go through to the next round of the FA Cup and the goals continued to flow in the next league game where they came from behind to thrash Darwen 6-1 at Holt House, Boyle and Hart both on target again.

Atherton Collieries enjoyed a fantastic season last term and they started the new campaign with a win at West Didsbury & Chorlton. Things didn’t look too rosy as they trailed 1-0 with only two minutes left but the irrepressible Battersby hit a quick-fire double to earn the points.

Barnoldswick Town lost 4-3 at Congleton Town but then came from behind to beat AFC Blackpool 4-1 at the Silentnight.

Padiham drew 1-1 at home to Bootle and then travelled to all conquering Atherton Collieries for a really tough test but after trailing 2-0 on just 11 minutes, the Storks hit back to record a magnificent 4-2 victory.

Another excellent away performance saw them win 2-1 at Whickham to progess in the FA Cup.

They were then surprisingly beaten 2-0 at home by Barnlodswick Town.

Bacup Borough started off the season in style, leading 3-0 at home to Cheadle Town after only 38 minutes and 4-1 at the break. Just after the hour mark the points appeared to be safe with Brent Peters’ boys winning 5-2 but Town hit back and gained an unlikely point with a 90 th minute penalty.

The defence then went AWOL again at Holker Old Boys, the home side winning 5-2. It was a case of deja-vu as Borough led 2-0 until just before the break but the second half saw one-way traffic.

They went out of the FA Cup at the 1 st hurdle, losing 3-0 at Runcorn Town.

The next home game saw a bit of ‘deja-vu’ as Borough led 2-0 against Atherton L.R. only for three goals in the final 20 minutes give the visitors an unlikely victory.

Biggest crowd of the opening day was at AFC Blackpool where 341 fans saw visitors Runcorn Linnets triumph 2-0.

In the FA Cup so far, here’s how some of our recent opponents and local sides got on:

Guisborough Town beat Sunderland RCA 3-2 at home after a 4-4 draw.

Crook Town went down 6-0 at home to Dunston UTS.

Seaham Red Start held Marske United to a 2-2 home draw but went down 3-1 in the replay.

Norton & Stockton Ancients lost 3-2 at Heaton Stan.

Glasshougton Welfare lost 6-1 at Runcorn Linnets after a 2-2 draw, with Sherlock hitting five for the ‘corn.

Darwen lost 2-1 at home to Washington.

Nelson were beaten 4-0 by Newton Aycliffe at Victoria Park.

Result of the round went to AFC Liverpool who won 9-2 at Chadderton, the evergreen Ronnie Moore making it 7-0 just after half time.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic got off to the best possible start with a 6-1 thrashing of newly promoted Cribbs at Homer’s Heath in the Western League Premier Division, in front of a healthy 141 attendance, but then went down 1-0 at Bridport.

The FA Cup saw Nick’s boys go through after a 3-0 home win against Clevedon Town.

The next home game resulted in a 1-0 victory over Barnstaple Town in front of 112 fans, and those three points saw them go to the top of the table.

Over 4,000 fans, a Midland League record attendance, saw the newly re-formed Hereford win 4-1 at home to Dunkirk.

In the Northern League, things look decidedly bleak for Bedlington Terriers, even after just one game-they lost 8-0 at home to Dunston UTS.

Elsewhere, Winchester City thrashed Bridgwater Town 7-2 with Bentley hitting all five of their 1 st half goals. Three days later he hit four in City’s 6-5 win at Wimborne Town.

The next result was almost inevitable, 0-0!

The goals were still flying in elsewhere in the League, Wantage Town hammered Bashley 9-0 but only 54 fans saw the demolition job.

Winchester then got back on track with a 6-1 win ay home to Marlow with Bentley unable to add to his nine goals.

In the South Midlands League, things don’t look too rosy for Winslow United who opened the season with a 12-3 defeat at Edgeware Town.

 

July

Rotherham United started their pre-season friendlies with a 6-0 win at Parkgate and a 3-0 success at Stocksbridge Park Steels before a 3-2 reverse at Alfreton Town in front of 452 fans. Matt Derbyshire didn’t feature in any of those games but did start in the Millers’ opening game of their annual Scottish tour.

He set up the opening goal against Greenock Morton with a right wing cross for Halford and saw his effort well saved just after the break before making way just before the hour mark. An excellent attendance of 543 saw the game.

The next game saw them take on Dundee and Matt was thwarted by the keeper early on in a one-on-one situation.

He brilliantly set up Green for the only goal of the game before being subbed on 68 minutes.

Matt’s headed goal then gave the Millers a goal advantage against Partick Thistle but thehome side hit back to level.

Chorley were rocked by the resignation of manager Garry Flitcroft although the appointment of assistant Matt Jansen should ensure a trouble-free transition.

James Dean played the 1 st half of their opening game against P.N.E. at Victory Park where it ended goalless.

A home game against a Bolton Wanderers XI followed and Deano headed wide early on before seting up Hine for a chance which went begging-Wanderers eventually winning 1-0.

The Magpies then won 2-0 at local rivals Bamber Bridge.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United were in demand for friendly matches due to their phenomenal support and they began with a 1-0 defeat at Hereford in front of an eye-watering crowd of 4,257.

Next up was a trip to local ambitious rivals Salford City where the game at Moor Lane ended all square at 3-3.

A goalless draw at Sheffield followed that and another 3-3 draw, this time at Leigh Genesis came next.

The Reds finally got a win in their next outing at Buxton, 2-1 the score.

Barnoldswick Town were then beaten 4-2 at the Silentnight Stadium and another away success came at Whitby Town, 1-0.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham are finding the net hard to find in their pre-season games, they managed one at Bamber Bridge, which won them the game, then drew 0-0 at Abbey Hey before drawing 1-1 at home to Wigan Athletic.

Another single goal victory came at Stalybridge Celtic but they then lost 1-0 at Witton Albion and 3-0 at home to Crewe Alexandria.

Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough drew 2-2 at Worthing before crashing to a 5-0 defeat at Dover before recovering to beat Hendon 3-1 at home.

Simon Garner and assistant Ryan Parr could be in for a long season if their friendly results are anything to go by. They lost their opener 3-0 at home to Stockport County and to make matters worse, signed up star player Sefton Gonzalez afterwards.

Two more home defeats followed, against Curzon Ashton and Ramsbottom United.

Andy Procter is still on the road to recovery after injury and he played no part in Accrington Stanley’s opening few games. The Reds lost at home to the Rovers before going down 4-3 at Colne. A 3-0 success at Darwen was then followed by a terrific 4-2 win at home to Burnley who had all their first team playing at some stage of the game.

The wins continued, 2-0 at Scarborough Athletic and 4-0 at Marine.

Boston United enjoyed a 6-1 win at neighbours Boston Town but were then held 2-2 at Rossington Main and 1-1 at York Street by Kings Lynn.

The Pilgrims then exited the Lincs. Senior Cup, losing to Lincoln City on penaties after a goalless game at the Jakeman’s Stadium.

Padiham won 2-1 at Garstang but then lost 3-1 at Longridge Town.

AFC Fylde defeated Rochdale 1-0 at Kellamergh Park but then went down 3-0 at the powerful Airbus UK before drawing 1-1 at Nantwich Town.

Southport lost 2-1 at Bootle, and 2-0 at home to Wigan Athletic although in between defeated Marine 3-0 away from home.

The attractive home fixtures continued with visiting P.N.E. winning 4-0 and Everton edging home 3-2.

Darwen lost 3-0 at home to Stanley but then thrashed Colne 4-1, also at the Anchor.

Down in Devon, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic started out with a 4-0 success at Brixham but then went down 2-1 at Plymouth Parkway.

Bacup Borough have signed the experienced former Oldham Athletic player Kelvin Trippier.

The NWCFL players will have to be on their best behaviour next season as the FA have increased fines for misbehaving clubs.

They relate specifically to ‘Respect’ offences, bad language, agruing with decisions etc. and after 10 such incidents, the Premier League clubs will be fined £150 and 1 st Division clubs £75. If that number rises to 15, then the fines will be doubled.

Always great to see clubs coming back and Stone Dominoes are the latest and they’ll be playing in the Staffs. County Senior League next season.

Not such good news from South Western side Clevedon Town who could fold before the start of the season unless an ownership battle is settled.

New Mills appointed a new manager, Keith Briggs at the beginning of the month and before the end of July, he’d gone, to Sheffield United. His place has been taken by former Fleetwood Town player, Andy Fearn so let’s hope that he’s still there by the start of the League campaign.

 

June

AFC Fylde have already strengthened their side for next season with the signing of Fleetwood Town forward Matty Hughes.

Striker Michael Barnes has left the club after 6 years with travelling being cited as the main reason.

Injuries and the form of the other forwards have also led to his departure. He scored two goals and was named man of the match in last in the 2014 Lancs. Challenge Cup Final against Chorley at the Reebok as well as some important goals last season.

Work on the Coaster’s new stadium is set to get under way before the end of the month.

Chorley have had a new CCTV system installed after several break-ins and vandal attacks. In the first week some youths were spotted trespassing in Victory Park and the police were called.

The Magpies have made a couple of good signings in centre half Kieran Charnock from Chester, and midfielder Sam Sheridan who helped Barrow to the title last season.

Simon Garner’s Clitheroe have received a boost of £31,296 from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund.

The Blues have put Gonzalez, Lynch and Brady on contract and have also signed Gregg Anderson, Jimmy Heywood, Tom Murphy and Scott Harris.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United have been boosted by all but one of their Championship winning side re-signing for the coming Conference North campaign.

Darwen have undertaken work on their Anchor Ground pitch to level the surface and provide better drainage.

Ex-Football League player Wayne Goodison has joined the coaching staff at Ramsbottom United.

Boston United scoring legend Mark Newsham has left York Street to sign a one-year deal with local rivals Gainsborough Trinity-and was shown holding up a Trinity scarf, spelt incorrectly!!! GAINSBORUGH TRINITY.

The NWCFL have lost two more teams who’ve resigned, Wigan Robin Park and Oldham Borough. The latter were founder members of the League in 1982 as Oldham Dew and changed their name to Town before adopting ‘Borough’ last year.

Wigan joined in 2008 and enjoyed a fair bit of success, especially in 2011/12 when they won the 1 st Division, Reserve Division, Division One Trophy runners-up and Lancs. Challenge Trophy semi-finalists.

The Chairman stated that lost sponsorship gave the club little option but to resign.

Both clubs have had to survive on mediocre attendances.

Meanwhile, Whitchurch Alport, refused entry to the competition recently, have won their appeal and will take their place in the NWCFL 1 st Division next season.

Ex-Accrington Stanley keeper Jon Kennedy has dropped two divisions by leaving Matlock Town for Worksop Town.

The draw for the Reusch Cup has given Bacup Borough a trip to Chadderton while the Men United Cup will also see them travel, to either Hanley or St. Helens Town.

That competition will see AFC Darwen host AFC Blackpool, Nelson entertain Congleton Town and Padiham visit AFC Liverpool.

Yet another change of name for Northwich/Villa/Flixton! They’ll now be known as Northwich Manchester Villa.

Also with a change of name is Padiham’s ground the Arbories. Now known as The Arbories Memorial Sports Ground YESSS Electrical Arena but I think I’ll just refer to it as the Arbories!

An addition to the website this month is a fantastic, comprehensive revue of the Great Harwood FC 1968-69 season and some more Neil (Mr. Great Harwood Town) Kennedy memories.

 

Late May

A disappointing season for defending Champions Great Harwood Town in the Accrington & District Combination. They finished 4 th out of six clubs with a record of:

Home Away Total

P W D L F A W D L F A W D L F A PTS

15 6 1 1 30 17 2 0 5 24 23 8 1 6 54 40 25

Leading scorer was Martin Hathaway with an excellent 23 goals from just 18 appearances in all competitions.

Clitheroe manager Simon Garner will be disappointed to see his capatain, left back Danny Morton, leave to join Stockport County although for the player himself, it’s a great move up the Pyramid.

Also leaving for the Conference North is Ramsbottom United’s Alex Frost who’s left to join Curzon Ashton.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United have finally moved into their new Broadhurst Park Stadium and 3,241 fans helped christen it with the Reds taking on a team of old boys. FC stalwart Tom Greaves had the honour of scoring the first goal as the current side won 3-2.

Portugeese giants Benfica then sent a team to officially open the ground and this time 4,232 turned out to see the visitors win 1-0.

Scott Dundas, who led Norton United United to the Evo-stik against all the odds has taken over at newly relegated Witton Albion, and nearer to home, Ramsbottom United’s caretaker boss Jon Robinson has been given the job on a permanant basis.

Two ‘new’ clubs have been placed into Leagues for next season. Salisbury FC will start life out in the Wessex League and Hereford will begin the new campaign in the Midland League which is great news not only for the supporters of both clubs but also for all clubs in those two leagues.

Stockport Town, refused entry to the MWCFL last season, have been accepted this time round and they’ll be playing home games at Stockport Sports Village, previously headquarters of Stockport Sports.

Shropshire side Whitchurch Alport applied to join the comptition and the NWCFL were keen to have them but the F.A. ruled against the move stating that the Mercian League wasn’t part of the Pyramid so Whitchurch, who spent money upgrading their ground, couldn’t move.

It appears to be the case that if the club folded and then re-formed as a ‘new’ club, they would be able to move.

Over in the East of the country, Boston District League side Mareham United had a season to forget, losing all 24 games, scoring just 14 and conceding a whopping 187.

The penultimate game resulted in their ‘best’ effort of the season, a 2-0 defeat at Billinghay Athletic but they ended with an eye-watering 9-0 home loss to Swineshead Institute. Even that was a great improvement as they’d lost the reverse fixture 19-0!!

The previous away game had seen them lose 12-0 and the one before that was another 19-0 defeat at Wyberton Reserves-good job the fixture wasn’t against the 1 st team!

50 goals in three consecutive away games must surely be a record.

In the Non-League Paper’s Fantasy Football League, Great Harwood Town stormed into the top half of the table into 822 nd spot after some inspired mid-season substitutions. They were trailing at around 1000 th position earlier in the season so it’s been a decent recovery. Sadly the final week saw them drop down to a 905 th place finish, mirroring last season’s inexplainable late slump.

Ten Years Ago

The NWCFL Fair Play Awards were won by Nantwich Town in the 1 st Division and Eccleshall in the 2 nd.

Manager of the Year went to Tony Greenwood of Fleetwood Town in Division One and Cammell Laird’s Ian Doran in Division Two.

Ex-Robin Paul Mashiter was the 1 st Division’s player of the year, and had he stayed with us, then safety would surely have been achieved.

James Agoo of Oldham Town won the 2 nd Division award, quite an achivement bearing in mind their 13 th final League position and the fantastic season that rivals Cammell Laird enjoyed.

Skelmersdale United’s Reserve side won their Division and were also runners-up in the Reserves Cup, which was won by Colne.

The Holt House side also defeated Squires Gate to lift the Reserves Division Trophy.

Curzon Ashton won the programme of the year.

 

Early May

Boston United and Chorley met at the Jakeman’s Stadium and a huge 3,174 fans (319 from Chorley) were in carnival mood as the teams kicked off and served up a thriller despite the gale-force winds.

James Dean struggled to make much impact, as with the 1 st leg, apart from a series of fouls which culminated in a 2 nd half booking. Pilgrims Boss Dennis Green was non-too pleased that Deano completed the game, along with Carl Piergianni who was left with a bloody forehead courtesy of a flailing elbow.

Boston broke the deadlock a minute before the break and double their advantage four minutes after it but Chorley quickly hit back to set the nerves jangling. Chances came at both ends but the home side looked the more likely scorers, created good opportunites on the break.

In the 5 th minute of four added, a last final ball into the box saw a spectacular overhead kick nestle in the back of the Boston net to force extra-time.

Despite Roscoe, the scorer of that goal, being sent off, the Magpies held on to take the game to penalties.

CHORLEY BOSTON

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The sudden death 5 th and 7 th Boston spot-kicks were both puched onto the underside of the bar by the Chorley keeper witht the 5 th being greeted by huge home cheers and a joyous pitch invasion as most of the ground thought that the ball had gone in!

The other 2 nd leg saw AFC Fylde, who finished 13 points clear of 3 rd placed Boston, lose 2-1 at home to Guiseley and go out 3-1 on aggregate.

Things had looked good for the Whites after ex-Nelson star Richie Allen had put them ahead after barely a minute but the majority of the 950 crowd left disappointed.

That left Chorley as favourites with a home game against Guiseley but despite leading 2-0 at the break, the Yorkshire side stormed back to win 3-2 in front of the Magpies biggest crowd for almost 40 years, 3,418. The away following of 921 certainly raised a few eyebrows as that was a bigger than any of their home games, taking into account the visiting support at Nethermoor.

Chorley’s task was undoubtedly effected by them losing three players to injury within 20 minutes of the second half giving Guiseley the upper hand.

It all started so well with Teague giving them a 5 th minute lead and Jarvis doubling their advantage 18 minutes later.

The prolific Adam Boyes pulled one back on 51 minutes after Teague had gone off injured and after the other scorer Jarvis, and goalkeeper Ashton had also been replaced, Guiseley substitute Dickinson hit the equaliser on 73. Five minutes later the turnaround was complete as Boshell hit the winner. Chorley almost took the game into extra-time but the crossbar saved the visitors.

After the final whistle, the home side’s Winter was sent off for either the 4 th or 5 th time this season, and having seen the one at Boston, it’s difficult to see why Garry Flitcroft continues to back him.

Colwyn Bay must have been hopeful of a reprieve from relegation after it was reported that North Ferriby United would ask to be demoted but the Villagers have stated their intention to carry on at this level.

In the Conference South, Whitehawk are continuing with their meteoric rise up the leagues. Five years ago they were competing in the Sussex County League but they made it through to the play-off final after beating Basingstoke 2-1 on aggregate in the semi-final.

Bamber Bridge’s efforts to clainch promotion fell just short after they were beaten 2-0 at Darlington in front of almost 2,000 fans.

They’d made the final after a 2-1 extra-time home win against Northwich Victoria in front of 550 fans at Irongate.

Darwen made it to the NWCFL Premier Division after an exciting 5-3 home victory over Hanley in front of an amazing attendance of almost 1,000, helped by the Rovers early kick-off on the same day.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Atheltic ended a fabulous campaign as runners-up in the Western League but suffered a rare defeat as they lost 1-0 at home to Slimbridge.

The final game saw them host Bradford Town who they’d beaten 4-0 away from home recently and they completed an emphatic ‘double’ by winning 5-0.

NWCFL side Glossop North End couldn’t quite put the gloss on a fantastic season as they were beaten 2-1 after extra-time at Wembley, in front of 9,674, by North Shields, despite taking the lead.

Around the leagues, good to see AFC Rushden & Diamonds on the way up, winning the United Counties East Premier Division with a massive haul of 99 points from their 40 games.

Salisbury FC should be starting a new era after a year out with the new club playing their first game in a friendly against AFC Totton in front of a hugely encouraging 800 fans.

Not so good for our ex-Cup opponents, Glasshoughton Welfare of the Northern Counties East Premier Division, they ended up bottom after 32 defeats in their 40 games and conceding 160 goals. The final day saw them visit Champions Shaw Lane Aquaforce, and true to form, Welfare lost 9-0.

In the Notts Senior League, bottom side Kiton Brickworks conceded 147 goals in just 30 league games, not helped by their final day 10-3 defeat.

Littlehampton, Vase opponents of ourselves a few years ago, won the Sussex League but just a few days later, the management duo walked out on the club after a dispute with the Chairman and to everyone’s surprise, 24 year-old striker George Gaskin was given the job.

Over in Wales, Cymru Alliance side Rhydymwyn managed one win and 29 defeats in the 30 games, conceding 132 in the process, and their three points were wiped out for a breech of league rules!

Welsh Alliance side Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch FC conceded 134 goals in 26 games and lost the lot!

Harlow Town of the Ryman North can count themselves pretty unlucky not to have gained promotion after amassing 103 points and scoring 108 goals. They finished 2 nd to Needham Market and then lost 4-3 after extra-time to Thurrock.

Ten Years Ago

On Tuesday the 3 rd, Atherton Collieries were relegated after they could only manage a 2-2 draw at 3 rd placed St. Helens and a day later we travelled to Bower Fold knowing that a win against Curzon Ashton would save us.

A crowd of 127, with surprisingly few Harwood supporters-no more than 10-saw the home side triumph 1-0 and relegate us to the 2 nd Division.

Atherton Colls then won 2-0 at Bacup Borough, a result which saw us end in last place.

Small consolation that we weren’t the lowest scorers or highest conceders but the haul of just 48 goals in 42 games told its own story with the loss of John Eastham and Paul Mashiter undoubtedly the difference between last or a mid-table position.

Formby had saved themselves with two crucial results, a 1-0 home win against high-flying and free-scoring Skelmersdale United and the 2-0 win against ourselves, also at Altcar Road.

Robert Bailey of Padiham won groundsman of the year for the whole of Lancashire for clubs at our level.

In our Division, Fleetwood Town ended the season with a 7-0 thrashing of Maine Road in front of over 700 fans at Highbury.

Second Division champions Cammell Laird also signed off in style, winning 6-0 at Flixton, losing 2-1 at Silsden and beating Darwen 4-0 at home with Ronnie Moore, still hitting the back of the net 10 years later, notching a hat-trick to make it 52 for the season.

Not surprisingly he was the NWCFL top scorer, a huge 12 ahead of Glossop North End’s Gary Kharas from the 1 st Division.

The only ‘Great Harwood’ name on the list of top scorers was Paul Mashiter and he’d left for Fleetwood Town a few months earlier. He struggled to make an impact at Highbury and failed to add to his 14 Harwood goals.

Thanks to their huge last day crowd, Fleetwood Town’s average gate was 205 and tooped the charts with Newcastle Town’s 674 against Fleetwood swelling their average to 171.

Despite the poor season and having to ground-share for half of it, we were the 10 th best supported club with a smallest attendance of 48, maximum 189 and an average of 91.

Abbey Hey attracted the fewest supporters, averaging just 53, and the smallest gate was just 16 who turned up for an Atherton LR game.

 

Late April

Matt Derbyshire endured a real ‘up-and-down’ end to the season with his Rotherham United side.

Promotion-chasing Norwich City were the visitors to the New York Stadium and despite going down to ten men they looked like sealing the points when they took the lead.

The Millers stormed back in the second half with Matt at the heart of most of their attacking moves.

He saw his 75 th minute shot flash wide of the left hand post before he had a great chance to equalise on 81 minutes but pulled his shot wide despite having an open goal and being just six yards out-described on TV as one of the misses of the season.

He then headed against the bar in the next attack attack less than a minute later.

The equaliser appeared inevitable and it did come after 86 minutes when Bowery headed in.

As Rotherham went for the winner they came close to scoring on three occasions in four minutes before Matt headed yet another chance wide at the death.

The Reds were then rocked by a three point deduction for playing an on-loan Derby County player earlier in the season, a day after that loan expired.

Nevertheless, a win at home to Reading would see them safe and relegate rivals Wigan Athletic and Millwall.

Matt had to wait until the 39 th minute to make an impression on the game when his left footed shot went over the bar and four minutes later he set up Frecklington whose shot was saved.

Right on half time he shot high and wide.

Six minutes after the re-start the deadlock was broken when Matt turned in a cross from 6 yards, his 10 th goal of the season and making him the Millers leading scorer.

Six minutes later Frecklington made it two to ease the tension.

10 minutes from time Matt was booked and was then immediately substituted to prevent any further damage.

Four minutes from time Reading pulled a goal back but despite five minutes of added time, Rotherham held on to send the crowd into raptures.

In League One, our old adversaries Fleetwood Town suffered a surprise 3-2 home defeat against second bottom Colchester United to finally extinguish their outside play-off hopes, while in League Two, Accrington Stanley earned a fine point at home to promotion-chasing Stevenage Borough.

They found themselves down to ten men after only two minutes but looked like pulling off a great win until Graham Westley’s men equalised on 88 minutes to draw 2-2.

The next game saw them ‘on their holiday’s’ as they were beaten 4-0 at Dagenham & Redbridge.

Don Fitzgerald’s Wimbledon held fading Wycombe Wanderers to a goalless draw although the visitors had a player sent off.

They then went down 2-0 at Bury.

In the Conference Premier, Paul Clark’s Aldershot lost 1-0 at home to Chester thanks to a 14 th minute penalty but then came from a goal down to draw 1-1 against Wrexham, also at the Rec.

Paul and his fellow loyal Shots fans then travelled North for a tea-time kick-off at Grimsby but it was a familiar miserable trip back down to Hampshire as the Mainers won 3-1.

Southport won 1-0 at Welling leaving Alfreton needing a point at Bristol Rovers to survive the drop but an astonishing crowd of over 11,000 cheered the Pirates on to a 7-0 win, although that wasn’t enough for them to win the League after Barnet defeated Gateshead 2-0 to take the title.

Port’s previous game had seen them draw 2-2 at home to promotion-chasing Grimsby Town, who’s fans had swelled the gate to almost 2,000. Ex-Boston star Pearson netted the Mariners 85 th minute equaliser.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham lost 2-1 at home to relegated Telford and ended the campaign with another defeat, 4-2 at Braintree.

In the Vanarama North, the title race went down to the last minute. Fylde came from behind to beat Harrogate Town 4-1 away from home with all the goals coming in 10 minutes aither side of half-time.

On the final day, a win at home to Gloucester City coupled with Barrow not winning at Lowestoft Town would see them Champions but with less than half an hour of the season remaining, it was all over bar the shouting with Barrow three up and Fylde 4-3 down. Fast forward 25 minutes and Barrow were hanging on to a 3-2 lead while Fylde led 6-4, just one more goal for the Trawlermen giving the title to the Coasters, but the scores stayed the same leaving Fylde to take part in the play-offs where they took on Guiseley.

The 1 st leg took place at Nethermoor where, despite a decent showing, the Whites went down 1-0.

The other play-off semi-final saw Chorley take on Boston United.

The Pilgrims had finished in 3 rd place after a Southwell hat-trick helped them to a 4-1 win at Solihull Moors and a weakened side had been held to a goalless draw at home to relegated Leamington.

Chorley finished 4 th after losing at Guiseley and being held 0-0 at home to Solihull, their 3 rd game without a goal. The Guiseley game saw the Lions take the lead before Magpies leading scorer James Dean levelled with a header. The home side re-took the lead and that’s how it stayed although Deano forced a great save from Drench in the home goal. Both Guiseley’s goals were scored by ex-Boston striker Adam Boyes.

The semi-final kick-off was delayed as Boston fans were delayed by traffic problems on the M62. Those fans numbered around 400 which was an astounding turn-out for a mid-week 1 st leg game and swelled the crowd to over 2,000.

I was amongst those supporters who sang thoughout the game and gave it a tremendous atmosphere despite a rather cagey game.

Deano had an early chance as the visiting keeper mis-timed his clearance but the few good chances fell mostly to the Pilgrims who had to settle for a goalless draw.

In the Vanarama South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough finished the season in mid-table after drawing 0-0 at home to already relegated Farnborough and 0-0 at Hemel Hemstead.

In the Evo-stik Premier, Phil O’Dell’s FC United were cheered onto a 3-1 win at home to Stamford by 2,899 fans and that crowd swelled to 3,588 for the next game against Stourbridge where a 1-0 win saw them win the league. That evening their were three other games in the Division, and the attendances combined were 587.

They ended their Championship-winning season with a 1-0 defeat at runners-up Workington in front of a huge 2,603 crowd at Borough Park, just their 6 th defeat of the campaign.

Ramsbottom United endured a hectic end to the season. Two days after their defeat to Ashton United, they travelled to another play-off chasing team, Curzon Ashton and the result was the same, a 1-0 defeat. Two days on and they drew 0-0 at home to Frickley before losing 2-1 at home to Trafford, two days later! That was on the Thursday and on the Saturday thay headed to Barwell where they took the lead four times, eventually winning 4-3 and finished the campaign with a 1-0 home defeat against Matlock Town in front of 200 fans to finish in 17 th spot but, after the upheaval at the Riverside this season, that must count as a great success.

The real excitement occurred at the bottom where four clubs were fighting to avoid two places. Frickley Athletic hosted 4 th placed Curzon Ashton who needed a win to be certain of making the play-offs but in the event, a 1-1 draw satisfied both teams.

Marine travelled to high-flyers Blyth Spartans knowing only a win could save them and despite doing that, 2-1, they went down by a single point. A win for Blyth would have seen them take the final play-off position but the entire 831 crowd, both home and away supporters, left dejected.

The final relegation spot would go to Stamford or Witton Albion who met in Lincolshire. The home side had to win and the visitors needed a point. A huge attendance of 752 saw Albion take a 2-0 lead into the break with safety almost in the bag but Stamfrod stormed back with an 82 nd minute goal seeing them win 3-2 and survive, relegating Witton in the process.

In the 1 st Division North, Simon Garner’s Clitheroe were hammered 4-1 at Mossley and were then compelled to sack forward Jason Hart after he was filmed in a compromising situation with a woman in the dug-out after the game! They finished the season on a high with an excellent 2-1 win against Warrington Town in front of 269 fans at Shawbridge.

Bamber Bridge finished the normal season with their 24 th and 25 th wins, 4-1 at New Mills and 3-1 at home to Farsley, which saw them end in 3 rd place.

Padiham conceded their 112 th goal of the season thanks to a 6-1 defeat at Scarborough Atheltic but left the best till last, thrashing Prescot Cables 4-0 at the Arbories with Daley Woods notching a hat-trick.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Nelson ended the campaign in disappointing fashion, losing 4-1 at home to 1874 Northwich in front of 145, mainly away fans at Victoria Park.

The previous two games had seen them pick up just a single point, from a 2-2 draw at Runcorn Town. The home side had led 2-0 after only 15 minutes but goals from Ed O’Neil’s brother, Matt and Joe, ensured a share of the spoils. Matt was missing through injury.

Two days earlier, 914 fans had seen Glossop North End win the league with a 3-0 victory at Surrey Street. Just less than half that number turned up for the next game, a 2-0 defeat to 1874 Northwich.

Colne finished the season in 4 th place although they let a two-goal half-timelead slip at home to Alsager Town.

Runcorn Linnets then won 3-0, also at Holt House before they finished the campaign with a 4-2 win at Bootle with Danny Boyle notching a hat-trick to end as the Division’s leading scorer.

Barnoldswick Town finished the season early with a 1-0 defeat at Runcorn Town leaving Bacup with a chance of making a remarkable escape, needing to win their final three games to stay up.

The first of those saw them defeat Winsford United 3-2 in front of a paltry 24 spectators at West View before 43 hardy souls saw them win 4-2 against Bootle. That left them with a trip to highly-placed Ashton Athletic who sent Brent Peters’ boys down after a 2-0 win.

They were joined in the 1 st Divison by St. Helens who went down after visiting Silsden equalised in the 90 th minute.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen went into the play-offs as the ‘form team’. They won 2-0 at home to Atherton Collieries, who’d lost just one league game all season, and drew 1-1 at Cheadle Town a day later on the Saturday. They then defeated Holker Old Boys 2-0 at the Anchor on the Monday. Three days later 307 fans saw them lift the 1 st Division Cup by beating Atherton Collieries again, 3-1 at Bootle. A Ryan Steele hat-trick then gave them a 3-2 home win against Eccleshall, his third coming in the last minute.

The play-off semi-final saw them entertain Chadderton and they came from a half-time deficit to win 2-1 in front of a tremendous turn-out of 359.

Oldham Borough attracted just 21 supporters for their 1-0 home defeat to Holker Old Boys.

Sad news from couple of our old opponents especially from Norton United who’ve made great strides on the pitch in recent years but they’re to fold at the end of the current campaign.

Former Cup opponents Brigg Town finished bottom of their Evo-stik Division but it was reported that they’d already decided to drop down the leagues. That statement from the Ev-stik League was strenuously denied by the club. They lost their final away game of the season in familiar fashion, losing 6-0 at Sutton Coldfield Town to make it 153 goals conceded and 14 defeats in a row.

Their final game at that level finished on a high note though as they held Carlton Town to 0-0 draw. Despite the point, it was the 9 th game without a goal.

They’ve been hit for six on four occasions, had seven put past them six times and a 9-0 and 10-0 defeat for good measure. They won two home and one away games during the campaign so things can only get better.

In the Accrington Combination, Great Harwood Town lost 5-2 against Newchurch before beating 2 nd placed Hapton 1-0. They then faced leaders Newchurch who were fresh from a 10-1 win against Bay Horse and who boasted a league record of 11 wins, 2 draws and no defeats but the 3 rd placed Robins held them to a 1-1 draw.

In the Western League, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic kept up their title challenge with a 4-0 win at Bradfrod Town before 2 nd met top as they hosted Melksham at Homers Heath.

The game was a disappointing affair finishing 0-0 in front of a whopping 235 fans, many travelling down from Wiltshire, and suiting the leaders who’ll take the title if they win their final game.

In the Blackburn Sunday League, Dave Eastwood’s Mill Hill lost 1-0 against Intack in the Cup.

Ten Years Ago

As the season came to an exciting climax, the Robins were scheduled to play no less than nine games during April.

The improved form had given us a glimmer of hope when all had seemed lost towards the end of March. After four wins in six games, we travelled to Burscough to take on 6 th placed Skelmersdale United (9-0 winners over Colne seven days earlier) and were desperately unlucky not to take all three points after a superb display. In the event we got just one after an exciting 2-2 draw which included a wonder goal from Neville Nelson, a 30-yard volley into the roof of the net. Neil Smith hit our other goal, another spectacular long range volley.

That was on Tuesday and on the Friday, goals from Smith, Lee Sculpher and Darren Rogers gave us a 3-1 win over Abbey Hey at the Crown Ground.

That was followed the THE big one, a trip to relgation rivals Formby. A victory would see us safe and even a draw would make us ‘almost’ safe but a tense encounter saw the Squirrels triumph 2-0.

That meant that we had to beat Curzon Ashton at Woodley Sports’ Lambeth Grove Ground, it was originally set for Stalybridge Celtic’s Bower Fold, and Alsager Town had to defeat Formby. The Bullets did us a favour by winning but our game was a late postponement and would have to be played a few days later, into May and once again scheduled for Bower Fold!

At the foot of the table, Atherton Collieries were two points behind us with a game in hand and an identical goal difference.

Despite both having played only around half of the Robins’ games, John Eastham and Paul Mashiter were still way out in front of our leading scorers chart.

Liam McManus was leading the chasing pack with five.

Fleetwood Town won the title with 99 points and 107 goals for, the best in the League, and 42 conceded, also the best. Newcastle Town amasssed 92 points and were runners-up. When the two sides met in Staffordshire, the game was watched by a massive 674 fans who saw goals from Pond and Beech clinch a 2-1 win.

In the 2 nd Division, Cammell Laird had sewn up the title by the end of the month even though they still had three games to play.

2 nd placed Winsford United could still be caught by Silsden who needed to win their final two games to pip them.

Early April

Matt Derbyshire’s Rotherham United were cheered on by more than a thousand fans at St Andrews and despite a second half comeback, they went down to their 4 th consecutive defeat.

The Blues were in complete control in the opening period and led 2-0 but soon after the re-start, Matt tapped in after the home keeper Randolph had parried a shot into his path.

The Millers then looked to be on course to earn a valuable point with a fine display but their luck was out especially when Matt looked to be brought down by the last defender when bearing down on goal but the referee waved play-on much to the disgust of manager Steve Evans who described the decision as the worst he’d ever seen!

With Millwall winning, Rotherham’s ‘cushion’ was just four points and the fingernails were getting shorter at the New York Stadium.

Brighton were the next visitors and a superb individual display by the Harwood legend helped his side to a valuable three points with a 1-0 win.

Matt not only scored the goal with an 8 th minute volley, he ran the Seagulls’ defence ragged seeing several shots well saved and setting up opportunities for his team mates.

A really tough game at the Riverside followed that win and Matt found it difficult to make an impact with Boro monopolising the possession. The Millers held on till the break but were beaten by two unanswered goals with Matt’s first meaningful contribution coming 14 seconds into the second period when his long-range shot flew wide and he was substituted on the hour mark.

A huge ‘six-pointer’ at Fulham was next with Rotherham knowing that a win won take them above the Cottagers.

Matt took just 21 seconds to make an impact but his shot flew just wide of the upright but just three minutes later he poked in the opener following a corner.

He had a one-on-one with the keeper after that but the home stopper made a fine block and on 27 minutes he saw his great left foot shot well saved.

On 36 minutes he set up Ward but his shot flew over the bar and at half-time they were only one up when the game should have been done and dusted.

The second half was much more even although Matt nearly doubled the lead when his 15-yard effort on 66 minutes skimmed past the post.

With all the missed chances it was almost inevitable that Fulham would draw level and that’s what happened just a minute later.

The final Millers chance saw Matt’s 85 th minute header fly just wide but there was still time for the home side’s Turner to be booked for a crude foul on the ex-Harwood star.

There could be trouble in store for the Reds as they were accused of playing a loan player from Derby earlier in the season when there were doubts about the legality of it.

In League One, Fleetwood Town remained in contention for a play-off spot after an excellent 1-0 win at Gillingham and a 4-0 home trouncing of relegated Yeovil Town but their hopes took a nosedive after a 1-0 loss at Walsall. That defeat left the Cod Army 5 points outside the top six.

That gap rose to 8 points with just three games remaining after MK Dons won 3-0 at Highbury to all but end their promotion aspirations.

The Cod Army’s ex-Boss, Micky Mellon, who was ridiculously given the chop by Andy Pilley, will almost certainly be returning to Highbury next season with his all-conquering Shrewsbury Town side.

In League Two, Accrington Stanley’s Indian sign over Morecambe was still intact after a 1-1 draw at the Globe Arena.

Andy Procter was again missing through injury as the Reds made it 17 games without defeat against the Shrimps, every game in the Football League, despite playing more than half the game with ten men after Gornell’s sending off, and he was joined in the stands by manager John Coleman, red-carded along with Morecambe goalkeeping coach Jones for a touchline scrap.

They then defeated relegation-threatened Carlisle United 3-1 at the Crown before picking up a point in a 2-2 draw at Cambridge United courtesy of a 91 st minute equaliser, a result which kept them in 17 th spot.

Another point was won after a tough game at relegation-threatened Hartlepool, 1-1 the score.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon were well on their way to three points after two goals in three minutes on the hour mark put them in command at home to Northampton Town but the Cobblers hit back to level within ten minutes and that’s how it stayed.

A 4-0 thrashing at Dagenham & Redbridge all but ended their play-off hopes and a 0-0 home draw with Oxford United left the fans with little to cheer.

An improved performance then saw them pick up a good point after a 1-1 draw at play-off chasing Plymouth Argyle.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham continued their fine form with a 2-0 home victory over Southport to consolidate their mid-table position and Paul Clark’s Aldershot enjoyed a brilliant result at play-off contenders Forest Green Rovers.

Paul, as usual, was amongst the excellent shots following in Gloucestershire and things looked bleak after Rovers went in front after only 9 minutes but they scored three goals in ten minutes during the second half which they dominated and could have scored even more. Paul described it as the best performance for months.

The Robins then lost 1-0 at Gateshead and 2-0 at Torquay United where both goals came in the second half.

The Shots, meanwhile, beat Torquay United 2-0 at the Rec in front of over 2,000 fans to secure their league status and then earned a point after a 1-1 draw at Braintree where the home side levelled after the break.

Southport remained six points above the drop zone despite defeats against the bottom and top sides in the Premier Division. Already relegated AFC Telford hammered the Sandgrounders 3-0 at Haig Avenue with all the goals coming in a 15 minute spell either side of the break. Despite the visitors having little to play for and ‘port seemingly safe, the match was feisty to say the least with eight bookings and a sending off. Leaders Bristol Rovers then eased to a 2-0 home win in front of well over 8,000 joyous home fans.

A home game against Braintree saw the trend continue with the visitors winning 2-0.

In the Vanarama North, despite top scorer James Dean missing for the third game in a row through injury, Chorley completed a hat-trick of wins against leading sides, coming out on top after a seven goal thriller at FA Trophy winners North Ferriby United.

They had to come from behind twice and the victory more or less ended the Villagers slim play-off hopes.

A crowd of over 2,000 then saw them hold leaders Barrow to a goalless draw at Victory Park but a surprise 2-1 defeat at lowly Gloucester City halted their progress.

Deano put the Magpies in front via the penalty spot before the Tigers roared back to gain their best result of the season.

Nerves certainly looked to have affected the leading pack as Barrow then lost 1-0 at 2 nd bottom Brackley and Fylde could only draw at home to Solihull Moors although the previous game had seen them hammer hapless Colwyn Bay 6-2, also at Kellemergh Park.

Guiseley lost 2-0 at home to lowly Stalybrideg Celtic before being held to a 0-0 draw at neighbours Bradford P.A.

Fylde were next to visit Bradford and fared rather better, winning 1-0 and with Barrow also winning, the title race looks to be going to the wire.

I travelled south to see Boston United take on Oxford City but the Pilgrims had to settle for a point after a hard-fought 0-0 draw in front of a crowd of just under 500, around double the usual attendance thanks to a vociferous away following.

A massive ‘six-pointer’ at York Street followed two days later and Boston triumphed 2-0 in front of over 1700 fans.

I once again was able to make an away game, this time at relegation-threatened Stalybridge Celtic and things looked rosy as the visitors took a 58 second lead and dominated the 1 st half, coming close on many occasions, on a superb playing surface. After the break, Liam Watson’s revived Celtic came back strongly and salvaged a point in front of a much higher than average crowd of 601, with around 150 from Lincolnshire.

In the Vanarama South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough won yet again, 1-0 at home to Concord Rangers but came unstuck at St. Albans City where they lost 3-0.

Bromley then defeated the Sports 2-1 to go top of the table.

In the Evo-stik Premier, Phil O’Dell’s FC United strolled to a 4-0 win at Whitby Town before attracting a record crowd of 2,104 at the Riverside where Ramsbottom United were also swept aside with ease, 2-0 the score. The top four clubs all won so United moved one game nearer to securing the title.

A home game against landlords Curzon Ashton proved to be rather more difficult and the Reds had to settle for a point after a 1-1 draw in front of over 3,000 fans and another 1-1 draw followed at Witton Albion.

It was then three games without a win as 1,133 fans, just 38 short of the ground record at Skelmersdale United, saw the home side complete a surprise ‘double’ over the Reds by winning 1-0.

That defeat left them just 2 points ahead of Workington although they do still have a game in hand. The final game of the season see United travel to……Workington!

Rammy, meanwhile, faced another tough test at play-off chasing Ashton United and it was the Mancunians who edged home 1-0. Halesowen were then held to a 1-1 draw at the Riverside.

Another Manchester side chasing promotion were the next visitors and they left with a comfortable 3-0 win.

In Division One North, Padiham were relegated after a 3-1 home defeat against Warrington Town then travelled to Shawbridge for the local derby against Simon Garner’s Clitheroe on Easter Monday.

With any pressure now off, the Storks gave one of their best performances of the season to win 4-1 and the season can’t end quick enough for both of our local sides.

Another purely accademic win came in he next game, 1-0 at home to Ossett Albion thanks to a 90 th minute strike by Woods.

Surprisingly, the weekend after Easter saw the bottom four clubs all win.

Clitheroe then lost again, 2-1 at leaders Salford City in front of a fantastic turn out of 726.

A home game then saw another poor result anthough at least they picked up a point with a 1-1 draw against Farsley.

Bamber Bridge all but secured their play-off place, fighting back from a half-time deficit to 2-1 win at Irongate against near rivals Spennymoor Town and the victory took them 9 points clear of 6 th placed Mossley.

In the NWCFL, Colne made a rare draw, 0-0 at home to the side directly below them, Ashton Athletic while neighbours Nelson lost 3-0 at home to Abbey Hey with all the goals coming after the break. On Easter Monday, the Admirals travelled the short distance to Barnoldswick and it was Town who secured three valuable points with a 1-0 win in front of an excellent turn out of 261.

Congleton Town then inflicted the 4 th defeat in a row to Ed O’Neil’s side, 2-1 the score at Booth St.

The Blues then drew 0-0 at home to Maine Road.

Colne soon got back to winning ways with a 3-0 victory at West View against Brent Peters’ Bacup and moved up to 4 th with a 1-0 home win against Abbey Hey.

A trip to 14 th placed Maine Road must surely have been expected to yield another three points but the Reds lost 2-0.

Yet another clean sheet was achieved in the next home game, a 1-0 win against Winsfrod United and with the season coming to an end, striker Danny Boyle is the division’s leading scorer with 29 league goals and 36 in all competitions.

Bacup played just the one game over the holiday period, losing 6-2 at 1874 Northwich.

The above mentioned defeat against Colne was followed by a 1-1 draw at home to Maine Road, their cause hardly helped by two red cards during the game.

The point left them 6 points from safety but they looked to be on course to reducing that as they led Alsager Town 2-1 at West View with just 15 minutes remaining but the visitors hit back to win 3-2 and leave Bacup almost certain to down. They ended the evening 9 points from safety with three games to play.

Barnoldswick Town remained just two points above the drop-line despite 2-0 defeats at Winsford United and at home to Glossop North End but they looked to have secured their Premier League status after a great 3-2 win Bootle after trailing 2-0 at the break.

There were some eye-watering crowds on Easter Monday, Bootle drew 182 for the game with AFC Liverpool where two Ronnie Morgan goals gave the Reds a 2-1 win.

Thanks to a big away following, Abbey Hey had 238 spectators through the turnstiles for their 3-2 defeat to Glossop North End and the Runcorn ‘derby’ attracted a whopping 672 who saw the sides draw 1-1.

As in all the Premier Division games, the usual attendance for both sides was surpassed, even if all of the away sides took the whole of their support.

AFC Blackpool could maybe draw around 70 for an average game with Squires Gate a liilte less but 380 saw their goalless draw and 80 Winsford United fans and 300 1874 Northwich fans swelled to 523 at the Barton Stadium where the majority went home happy after a 3-1 away win.

Two days earlier, on Easter Saturday, four of the six fixtures attracted crowds of less than 80.

Glossop North End attracted a crowd of 258 for their game at Silsden and a 1-0 win means that the title is almost theirs.

In the 1 st Division 250 saw Atherton Collieries clinch promtion with a 3-0 win at Laburnum Rovers and they’ll join already promoted Cammell Laird in the Premier Division next term.

Just 38 witnessed Darwen’s 3-1 win at Rochdale Town where the Salmoners came back from a 1-0 half-time deficit.

Five of the eight games in the Division failed to draw attendances of more than 50 on the Saturday.

Daisy Hill are enjoying their best season for some time, lying in 8 th spot, but their crowd of just 16 for the 1-0 home win against Holker Old Boys must have been a real kick in the teeth for everyone at the club.

Their next game at Oldham Borough drew just 20 who saw a 2-2 draw.

Darwen then gave their fans some great excitement in the next two home games, beating Rochdale Town 4-3, thanks to a last minute winner, and a 5-4 success against Northwich Flixton Villa.

With lots of games to fit in, they then played on the Monday and Wednesday but showed few signs of fatigue. A trip to Wigan Robin Park saw them win 7-1 and they then defeated Northwich Flixton Villa 1-0, also away from home to move up to 4 th.

The Salmoners have two of the Division’s leading scorers in Ryan Steele and Paul Coote who’ve scored 50 league goals this term and 60 in all competitions while Atherton Collieries Mark Battersby has notched an incredible 43 league goals and 60 in all comps.

In the South West, Harwood and Buckland Athletic supporter Nick Hancock must be in dreamland as the Bucks continue with their amazing season. A 2-0 win at home to Willand Rovers took them up into 2 nd spot in the Western League and they cemented that place with a 5-0 thrashing of Odd Down, also at Homers Heath in front of an excellent holiday crowd of 196.

Surpringly, only around half that number returned for the next game, another 5-0 home win against Shepton Mallet.

A trip to Bristol side Brislington halted their progress as they were held to their first draw of the season, 1-1, with the home side netting a late equaliser.

In the Accrington Combination, Great Harwood Town were beaten 4-2 by Water FC but then defeated Hapton 2-1 in the Cup.

A League game against the same opposition saw them lose 2-1 and remain in 3 rd place.

Ten Years Ago

Harwood were still languishing in bottom place of the NWCFL 1 st Division but a great recent run had put them in with a real chance of avoiding the drop, something that had seemed highly unlikely just a few weeks ago. Since the 8-0 hammering we received at Salford City, we’d won three, drawn one and lost two, with both those defeats being unlucky 2-1 reverses.

Two goals from Darren Rogers and a Lee Sculpher strike, gave us our second consecutive 3-1 win, this time against Congleton Town at the Anchor, but defeats at home (the Crown) to Squires Gate, and at Stone Dominoes left us still in a perilous position.

Salford City at the Crown was next up and manager John Hughes and the team were in determined mood to gain revenge for the Moor Lane embarrassment three weeks earlier.

Sure enough, the Robins triumphed thanks to a Steve McDonald header with the only surprise being the 1-0 scoreline as we ominated the game throughout.

The Friday evening saw us play our 5 th game in 14 days as Trafford came to the Crown and goals from McDonald and Ed O’Neil gave us a 2-0 win.

The team included captain Jim Thompson, keeper Bobby Harris, Liam McManus, Darren Rogers and Mark Young.

At the top, Newcastle Town led the way, a point above Fleetwood Town although the latter had a game in hand and a far superior goal difference.

St. Helens were 3 rd, 16 points adrift with Ramsbottom United a further two behind.

Some things never change and Bacup’s lack of public support was as big a problem as it is to this day. They entertained leaders Newcastle Town in front of just 35 spectators, some of whom must have been away fans.

Our ‘landlords’ Accrington Stanley were battling for a Conference play-off place alongside the likes of Morecambe, Carlisle United and Hereford United.

One young player from Lincolnshire broke the individual world scoring record. Ryan Smith hit 16 of his side’s 20 goals, and that was in the afternoon after he’d already played a game in the morning!

 

Late March

Matt Derbyshire’s Rotherham United are back in a relegation battle after defeats against Nottingham Forest and Sheffiled Wednesday. Two goals just before the break proved to be enough for Forest at the City Ground although the Millers had plenty of chances to get something from the game. The problem was easy to see as of 17 shots for Steve Evans’ side, only one was on target. Matt faile dto make an impact and his only effort of note was a second hald shot which went wide and he was substituted 15 minutes from time.

There was an extraordinary end to their home game with local rivals Sheffield Wednesday which was delayed because of crowd conjestion.

Matt fired in the first effort on goal in 5 th minute but the shot was well saved. A series of offside decisions halted any further progress from the Harwood legend but he did set up Frecklington in the 36 th minute and then saw his header saved two minutes later.

After the Millers had taken the lead on 57 minutes, Matt came close to making it two but his 25-yard right-footed effort flew just wide.

With less than five minutes of normal time left, the Owls lokked to have salvaged a point when Lavery headed in but exactly one minute later Bowery put Rotherham back in front. With 30 seconds of the 90 minutes remaining, Matt was subbed and 3 minutes into stoppage time Wednesday equalised again. The game went on and on with the visitors peppering the home goal until in the 98 th minute they scored what untimately proved to be the winner.

Not too far away, in Bradford, Fleetwood Town also produced a storming finish with goals in the 86 th and 92 nd minute to secure a valuable point with the equaliser coming from Nathan Pond, who played against us in the NWCFL.

A few days earlier, the Cod Army blew the chance to have got into a play-off spot when they lost 2-0 at home to relegation-threatened Coventry City.

They remained three points outside of the top six after a 1-1 home draw with PNE.

In League Two, Andy Procter was missing with inury from the Accrington Stanley team that earned a cracking point at Wycombe Wanderers and they had in fact led 2-1. He was absent again as the Reds needed a 90 th minute goal to secure a 2-2 draw at home to struggling York City. A 1-0 loss at home to Newport County left Stanley still needing a few points to secure their League Two future.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon are hanging on to their slim play-off chances despite losing 2-1 at Mansfield Town thanks to an 87 th minute winner for the Stags. They then defeated Portsmouth 1-0 thanks to an early own goal in front of almost 4,500 fans at home.

A trip to relegation threatened Tranmere Rovers gave them the chance of moving nearer the play-offs but they had to settle for point after a 1-1 draw, a result that saw Rovers drop into the bottom two.

In the Vanarama Conference , Paul Salt’s Altrincham lost 2-1 at Dover thanks to a late headed winner before earning a point in a goalless draw with Halifax Town at Moss Lane in front of almost 1,400 fans.

Another long trip to Kent followed where a Reeves double gave thenm a 2-1 win and put another nail in Dartford relegation coffin.

Southport exited the Liverpool Senior Cup after a 5-0 home defeat by Skelmersdale United but won their important home game with Dartford 2-0, a result that almost certainly condemns the Darts to relegation.

Another three points, thanks to a 2-1 home win against Torquay United, took them nine points clear of the bottom four.

In the Vanarama North, Fylde went back to the top after a superb 4-0 win at Worcester City but lost that position to Barrow after a 1-1 draw at home to botom side Hyde, a result which saw the Tigers relegated.

They then dropped another two points with a goalless draw at struggling Gainsborough Trinity.

Chorley had a surprisingly comfortable 2-0 win at Stockport County to stay in touch with James Dean going close with a header before making way on 67 minutes.

Earlier in the week, the Magpies clinched their 16 th win in the Lancs. Challenge Trophy Final, beating Simon Garner’s Clitheroe 3-0, with all the goals coming in the 1 st half.

Deano won and converted the penalty that made it 2-0 after only 16 minutes and was singled out for praise by manager Garry Flitcroft.

He was then missing through injury for the 3-1 win at Leamington which moved them just below the play-off positions before an amazing 6-0 home win against 4 th placed Tamworth took them up into 4 th spot. Deano returned for that one and although the leading scorer failed to add to his 18 league goals, he helped set up three of the goals.

Three days later he was absent again from the squad as they took on 3 rd placed Guiseley where the most amazing stat of the evening that the game actually took place after a day of heavy rain and hailstone.

The Magpies had to be at their defensive best as the Yorkshire side took the game to them. The second half in particular saw Guiseley miss several presentable opportunities before Chorley scored the only goal of the night on 85 minutes and once again swap places with their opponents. The crowd of over a thousand was magnificent for a dreadful evening and with England’s game also being shown live on terrestial TV.

Boston United moved into a play-off spot with another home win, 2-1 against Lincolnshire rivals Gainsborough Trinity in front of an excellent 1,319. An even bigger crowd saw them beat Worcester City 2-0 to leave them, Chorley, Tamworth and Guiseley all locked on 63 points.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough secured their third win in a row, beating Bishop’s Stortford 3-0 but have very little hope of making the play-offs. Even so, the good run continued as they defeated Sutton United 1-0, also at home.

In the Evo-stik Premier, Phil O’Dell’s FC United moved 7 points clear at the top after a hard fought 1-0 win at home to Workington in front of almost 2,400 fans. That gap remained the same after the next round of matches when they drew 1-1 at Stamford.

Ramsbottom United are still moving in the right direction after a 1-1 draw at 7 th placed Buxton, a 3-3 draw at home to 9 th placed Blyth Spartans and a 2-1 win at bottom side Belper Town courtesy of an 88 th minute winner.

The home game really should have produced three points as they led 3-1 with only two minutes remaining.

A 1-0 home loss to Barwell proved to be just a blip and a 1-0 win at Grantham Town saw them move up into mid-table.

In the Evo-stik North, bottom side Padiham had the chance to close the gap on nearest rivals New Mills to just a point but an early goal for the Millers at the Arbories settled the issue.

A 3-1 defeat at 3 rd placed Spennymoor Town left them 10 points from safety.

A week to forget for Clitheroe as they lost 3-0 to Chorley in the Lancs. Challenge Trophy and then 2-0 at Farsley. Spennymoor Town breezed to a 2-0 win at Shawbridge and the poor run looked to be continuing at home to lowly Ossett Town where the Yorkshire side led 2-0 with only 5 minutes remaining and no doubt some of the 241 crowd had already left when the fireworks started. Dale scored for the Blues and a minute later Mullen equalised. With 93 minutes on the clock Dent hit the most unlikely of winners.

Down in the Evo-stik South, the public of Norton still won’t get behind their successful local side United. Just 65 spectators turned out to see them beat Carlton Town 3-1 and move up tp 9 th.

In the NWCFL, Colne made it 10 wins on the bounce with successes at Runcorn Town, 3-1, and West Didsbury & Chorlton, 2-0. The good run had to come to an end and it did at Ashton Athletic where the home side won 3-2.

Next up was the Friday night local derby at Nelson where an amazing crowd of 442 turned out despite the England game being shown on TV.

They outplayed the Admirals for the majority of the game with Danny Boyle scoring an equally amazing hat-trick. The first came when his penalty was saved, hit the post and he knocked in the rebound via the crossbar. The second was also saved but once again he scored from the rebound and the third was another penalty that he put in at the first time of asking.

The game certainly had plenty of action and Colne were reduced to ten men on 36 minutes with Nelson also down to ten on 65 minutes. The Blues finished the game with nine after a hand ball in the box which led to the 3 rd penalty.

In the Nelson games before that, ex-Robin Ed O’Neil hit the first of their two goals as they beat 5 th placed Ashton Athletic 2-0 away from home. Congleton Town were then beaten 1-0, at Victoria Park.

Just 39 supporters turned out to see Brent Peters’ Bacup go down 2-0 at home to Abbey Hey but with games in hand and the other struggling teams dropping plenty of points, there’s still hope of avoiding the drop.

Their cause wasn’t helped by another defeat in the following game, 2-1 at West Didsbury & Chorlton.

Just above them are Barnolsdwick Town who earned a point in a 1-1 draw at home to Maine Road.

It looks almost certain that our two local sides, plus St.Helens and AFC Blackpool will provide the two clubs to go down.

The Seasiders were given a great boost for their home game with Bootle as disenchanted Blackpool FC supporters swelled the gate to over 500 and cheered them on to 1-1 draw.

In the 1 st Division, Atherton Collieries look unstoppable but Darwen travelled there without fear and led 1-0 at the break before Colls hit back with four unanswered goals in the second half, a win which took them above Cammell Laitd into top spot.

That lead lasted just a day when Laird, also 1-0 down at the break to lowly Widnes, hit back to win 6-1 but they then went down 1-0 at Chadderton.

Darwen, meanwhile, hosted bottom side Oldham Borough just two days after the Colls game, and took 26 minutes to break the deadlock, and just led by the single goal by half time-and then the floodgates opened. An amazing 7 goals in 25 minutes helped them to win 9-0 and they even had almost ten minutes to make it double figures at the end. With live football on TV, the crowd of 90 was a little less than normal and the missing 30 or so must have regretted not turning out.

Ryan Steele hit four of those goals and he hit another in the next game at Widnes where the Salmoners won 4-0. A surprise 1-0 home defeat against Chadderton knocked them back before they took a break from League action with a 1 st Division Cup semi-final at home to Ashton Town.

They came from behind to lead 3-1 before Ashton hit back to force extra-time but the home side scored twice more before a last minute consolation saw the game end 5-4. The final will see them take on Atherton Collieries who breezed past Litherland REMYCA 4-0.

With games in hand, a play-off position is well within their grasp.

In the Western League, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic won again, 2-0 at home to Street to remain 4 th. A 1-0 win at Winterbourne then took them into 2 nd place but a surprise 4-1 defeat at Gillingham Town saw them drop back to 3 rd and still without a draw in 28 league games.

In the FA Vase, Glossop North End will fly the flag for the NWCFL after making it to Wembley despite a 1-0 home defeat against AFC St. Austell in front of over 1,300 fans in Derbyshire.

Things could have been more comfortable had they not been reduced to ten men after a reckless challenge on just five minutes but the only goal came in the last minute so the 2-1 aggregate score made the contest sound closer than it was.

The FA Trophy was won by underdogs North Ferriby United, our cup opponents not too long ago, who defeated Wrexham on penalties at Wembley.

In the Blackburn Sunday League, Dave Eastwood’s Mill Hill have brought in several youngsters to replace some of the older players so it’s been a season of transission, but even so they still lie in 2 nd place after a 4-0 win against Whinney Hill. Just behind them are Clifton who defeated Brownhill Arms 20-0 in their latest outing.

Great Harwood Town are still 2 nd in the Accrington Combination and they’ve been inactive for a while because of the wet weather.

Leaders Newchurch were one of very few sides to play during the last couple of weeks and they took full advantage to move 7 points clear with a 13-0 rout of bottom side Whinney Hill Reserves.

Ten Years Ago

The Robins were still firmly entrenched at the bottom of the NWCFL 1 st Division, and it was difficult to see who would score the goals for us after top scorer Paul Mashiter’s departure to Fleetwood Town. He’d scored 14 and John Eastham, injured since January, had 11. Only Liam McManus with 5 had scored more than one goal!

A trip to 5 th bottom Salford City gave us a good chance to make up ground but with manager Dave Sharples having recently resigned, we could muster just 11 players for the trip with no substitutes. A attendance of only 55 saw the game remain goalless until 28 minutes when the Ammies went in front, and that came three minutes after Adie Prestige was sent off. Salford then took complete control and ran out 8-0 winners with Harwood effectively down to seven men because of injured players being unable to be substituted!

That looked to be ‘curtains’ for our relegation battle and the next game wouldn’t be any easier, a ‘home’ game, at Holt House Colne, against high-flying Ramsbottom United who’d won their last five games,conceding just one goal in the precess.

A tremendous performance saw us well deserving of the point we won after a 0-0 draw against the 5 th placed Blues.

That good form was taken into the next game at Nantwich Town where the small band of loyal Harwood followers in a crowd of 68, enjoyed a rare happy away-day as goals from Graham Price, Ged Walsh and Mark Young gave us a 3-1 win, which, in truth, could have been many more. Price’s goal taking him to 4 th top scorer with two for the season.

At the other end of the table, it was a two-horse race for the title between Fleetwood Town and Newcastle Town.

In the 2 nd Division, Cammell Laird were ‘dead-certs’ for the title with our good friends from Winsford United almost certain to join them as long as they could complete the necessary ground improvements in time. With just four games left, they needed to get the work done very quickly although they were confident that they could.

Darwen lay in mid-table, mainly thanks to a nine point deduction for a breach of League rules.

 

Early March

Matt Derbyshire is enjoying his long run in the Rotherham United starting line-up although the first game of the month went non-too-well, losing 3-1 at home to Cardiff City. The game was effectively over after the 1 st half when three goals in 14 minutes put the Bluebirds in total command.

Before the first of those goals, Matt had the ball in the net only for the offside flag to spoil the celebrations and on 16 minutes he headed wide but was substituted on 59 minutes.

A Yorkshire derby at Huddersfield Town followed and three vital points were taken after a well-deserved 2-0 success.

Matt headed the first chance wide and saw his 67 th minute 35-yard shot fly high and wide before being substituted 8 minutes from time.

A ‘six-pointer’ at home to Wigan Athletic gave the Millers the chance to put another nail in the Latics coffin but it was the visitors whose improved form continued, securing their fourth away win on the trot, 2-1. Two free-kicks put them in the driving seat before Matt’s header just before the break brought the Reds back in it.

A special mention for Fleetwood Town who still harbour ambitions of making the League One play-offs. They took around 250 fans to Bramhall Lane and the journey was well worth it as their favourites won 2-1.

In League Two, Andy Procter’s Accrington Stanley went down 2-1 at home to leaders Shrewsbury Town but then earned a point against Portsmouth after a 1-1 draw at the same venue.

The first of those games saw the Reds sunk by a double from old-boy Grant with the winner coming just two minutes from time. Even worse than the defeat was the size of crowd with just over 800 Stanley fans present for the second time in recent weeks.

The same amount travelled up from Portsmouth for the second game and that helped to swell the crowd to just under 2,000 where even when down to 10 men, Coleman’s side looked the more likely winners. Andy came close to opening the scoring on 29 minutes but his tremendous shot flew just wide of the upright.

They then lost 3-0 at promotion-chasing Burton Albion.

Don Fitzgerald saw his Wimbledon side draw 0-0 at home to Southend United, and beat struggling York City 2-1, both at home.

They then took the lead at Exeter City but a 24 th minute red card put them on the back foot and they eventually went down 3-2 with all the Grecians goals coming after the break.

In the Vanarama Premier, Paul Clark’s Aldershot Town moved 11 points clear of danger after defeating Dover 3-1 at the Rec. and then earning a fine point in a goalless draw at promotion-chasing Macclesfield Town.

Their seven game unbeaten run came to an unlikely end as they lost 2-1 at home to Southport. The Sandgrounders led 2-0 at the break and ran out comfortable 2-1 winners leaving them four points above the bottom four.

Caretaker Boss Chris Barber has been given the manager’s hot seat at the Rec. until the end of the season.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham gained their first win in five as they beat lowly Welling 1-0 away from home but they were then well beaten by Wrexham at Moss Lane. The Dragons stormed into a 3-0 half-time lead and ran out 4-1 winners.

Southport recent results since they dropped into the bottom four have been vital and they defeated Halifax Town 1-0 at Haig Avenue before drawing 0-0 at the same venue against 3 rd bottom Nuneaton to leave themselves with a four point cushion above the drop zone.

In the North Division, Chorley made it three home draws in a row this time 2-2 against Leamington. James Dean twice hit equalisers for the Magpies and was man of the match.

They then got back to winning ways with a 1-0 success at Brackley with Deano setting up the only goal and being made man of the match-again!

A great Lancashire derby game against Fylde came next and over 1,500 fans witnessed an entertaining encounter. The visitors took the lead five minutes before the break but Deano brought Chorley level on 72 minutes and an own goal three minutes later put them in front but a great 25-yard effort two minutes from the end sealed a 2-2 draw.

Fylde had lost again, 2-0 at Hednesford Town but then won 4-1 at Leamington to keep their promotion push still very much on track despite the recent poor run prior to the Chorley game.

Boston United are hanging on to their play-off hopes with a 2-1 win at 3 rd placed Hednesford being crucial and they followed that with a hard fought 1-0 win at rlegation threatened Gloucester City.

Hyde’s results have improved dramatically in recent weeks even though there is very little chance of them staying up. They continued that good form with a terrific 1-0 win against Solihull Moors at Ewen Fields and a 1-1 draw at the same venue against Harrogate Town with a 2-0 defeat at 3 rd placed Guiseley sandwiched in between.

Down in the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough beat Gosport Borough and bottom side Staines Town to stay in mid-table.

In the Evo-stik Premier, Phil O’Dell’s FC United gained a fine point in a 1-1 draw at Rushall Olympic before 2,500 fans witnessed a 3-1 home win against Kings Lynn.

Another similar crowd saw the Reds drop two points with a 2-2 home draw against Ilkeston although it could have been worse as a Tom Greaves goal five minutes from time saved them from defeat.

Almost 1,500 fans saw them win 1-0 at Halesowen Town to move five points clear.

Two sides struggling to find a win met at Skelmersdale and it was the home side who took the points after defeating Ramsbottom United 3-0. That left Rammy 4 th from bottom although they do have six games in hand on most of their rivals.

A trip to Stourbridge proved more fruitful, the Rams coming from behind to win 2-1.

They then lost 1-0 at home to Stourbridge while Skem could only draw 1-1 at bottom side Belper Town.

In Division One North, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr’s Clitheroe gained one of their best results of the season, coming from behind to beat Darlington 2-1 at Shawbridge in front of 538 fans.

They then travelled to mid-table Warrington Town but despite taking an early lead, went down 4-2.

A big shock came in the next game at Spennymoor Town where they lost 8-3.

Brett Ormerod scored again for Padiham but his penalty could only earn them a point against visitors Brighouse Town and a 2-0 defeat at Harrogate R.A. kept them stranded at the bottom.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Colne’s terrific recent form continued with 3-1 wins against Abbey Hey, away, and Maine Road, at home and then defeated Silsden 3-0 also at Holt House before registering what must surely have been their best result of the season, a 4-1 win at 1874 Northwich. Danny Boyle hit a double to move to the top of the goalscoring chart with 31.

Barnoldswick Town lost 2-0 at Glossop North End and 4-1 at home to 1874 Northwich in front of over 200 fans but their efforts to escape the drop were given a huge boost with the expulsion of Stockport Sports. They’d already been thrown out of their ground and the end came when they failed to fulfil three fixtures and also failed to pay outstanding fines.

Barlick then lost 5-1 at home to Runcorn Linnets with all the goals coming after the break and despite the home side taking the lead.

That defeat saw them drop into the bottom three and Runcorn move 14 points clear at the top.

Bacup will probably need even more help from elsewhere to avoid the drop. And despite leading 2-1 at Congleton Town, they went down 4-2. Three days later they earned a point after a goalless draw at Winsford United.

Their hopes were then given a huge boost as they defeated Runcorn Town 4-3 at West View although they led 4-0 at one stage. Those three points saw them move within three of safety and within reach of a highly improbable escape.

Peter Wright’s 17 th league goal of the campaign gave Nelson the lead at home to Glossop North End but goals in the 84 th and 86 th minutes gave the visitors the points.

In the 1 st Division Cup ,Darwen won 4-1 at Hanley thanks to a Karl Turner hat-trick and in the league, they came from behind three times to earn a point at Barnton.

A long midweek trek to much-improved Holker Old Boys ended in disappointment as they were thrashed 6-2.

That sorry defeat was followed by the Salmoners’ best result of the season, a 2-1 home win against table-toppers Cammell Laird. The Merseysiders took the lead but Darwen hit back to go in at the break ahead. The win took Darwen up into 8 th spot.

The 1 st Division’s leading scorer, Atherton Collieries Mark Battersby reached 46 goals for the season with 30 of them coming in the league.

In the FA Vase, Glossop North End made it through to the semi-final by the skin of their teeth. They were losing their replay at home to Shaw Lane Aquaforce 1-0 with 87 minutes on the clock but they then equalised before scoring twice more in extra time to go through.

Down in the Western League, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic won their 7 th game in a row, five away, to move up into 3 rd place. Cadbury Heath were the latest victims and 3-0 was the score at the Bucks’ Homer’s Heath ground.

A win at Sherbourne would have taken them 2 nd but they went down 2-1 with their cause not helped by the 8 th minute sending off of Booth.

Buckland have not applied to move up into the next step of the pyramid as consolidation was surely the aim at the start of the campaign, but hopefully next term will see them mount a challenge to reach the equivalent of our NPL 1 st Division North.

Great Harwood Town gained revenge for their recent 4-0 league defeat by Park, by winning 3-0 in the Calvert Cup.

Dave Eastwood’s Mill Hill, of the Blackburn Sunday League, have improved in recent weeks, beating ATM Lawyers 17-0, 2 nd placed Clifton 3-2, and previously unbeaten and top of the table New Gardeners 8-1. They then went through to the next round of the Cup by beadtin Beehive 4-2 on penalties after a hard-fought 1-1 draw.

Ten Years Ago

The Robins began the month with a game against Champions-elect Fleetwood Town at the Crown Ground and despite an excellent performance which merited at least a point, we lost our fifth game in a row in front of 126 fans.

We then lost 1-0 at 1-0 at third placed St. Helens Town but once again our performance deserved some kind of reward.

Mid-table Bacup Borough were our next opponents with Darwen FC our hosts on this occasion. Another tremendous performance saw us finally win again with Karl Williams scoring the only goal.

A tough trip to 2 nd placed Newcastle Town looked daunting but a Graham Price goal gave us a share of the spoils after we went behind after only three minutes, and as the games came thick and fast, we then travelled to 6 th placed Alsager Town where a Liam McManus was just a consolation in a 3-1 defeat. With manager Dave Sharples arriving late, along with two players, the kick-off was delayed for 20 minutes and when it did begin, we were blown away by a superb display from the Bullets who thankfully ‘only’ led 3-0 by half-time.

The noisy band of Harwood supporters in a crowd of 76 didn’t stop singing for the entire game and helped the boys stem the tide.

Assistant boss Lee Rogerson had left earlier in the campaign leaving ‘Sharps’ with the unenviable task of managing on his own and this latest defeat saw him resign.

Another manager who quit at the same time was St. Helens Town boss Joe Paladino which was a big shock to the Saints as they were in 3 rd place at the time. The reasons were the same as Dave Sharples’ and Paladino stated, “If it were just a question of turning up and running team affairs, which would be fine, but I have to deal with all sorts of other issues which are distracting and stressful.”

Chairman Bill Holden was ‘fuming’ as the FA refused his plea for help. He’d written to them to ask for financial help to cover the cost of away travel but they ignored his request stating that thay couldn’t help with re-building costs at the Showground.

“The FA have spent £600m on the new Wembley Stadium and they can’t give us a bit of financial help.”

Paul Mashiter was in dispute with the club and left us to join Fleetwood.

Leading scorer in the NWCFL was 2 nd Division Cammell Laird’s Ronnie Moore with 45, 28 in the league, and that helped the Merseysiders to break the 100 league goal barrier after only 24 games.

Fleetwood led the 1 st Division by seven points although Newcastle did have a game in hand.

Ramsbottom United suffered from vandals at the Riverside ground where around £500 worth of damage was done.


Late February

Matt Derbyshire’s hot goalscoring run continued for Rotherham United as they hosted title favourites Derby County and when his fine right-footed finish put his side 3-1 up it looked like three valuable points but the Rams struck back in the second half to earn a point in a 3-3 draw.

A tough trip to Wolves followed that but the defensive frailties were evident again with the Millers losing 5-0 to leave them just one place above the drop zone.

It appeared to be a massacre but the possession was fairly even with Rotherham having the same number of shots as the hosts, more on target, and a corner count of seven to two.

The closest they came to a goal was in the second half with the score at 2-0 when Matt’s terrific header was heading into the top corner before the Wolves keeper produced the save of the match. Matt was eventually substituted on 78 minutes after a tireless display.

Another tough away trip, to Watford, followed that and another heavy defeat, 3-0, was the outcome. Once again though Matt was the Millers most dangerous player, shooting just wide on 20 minutes when the Hornets had already taken the lead.

His right-footed shot on 33 minutes looked destined for the bottom corner before the keeper saved and after falling 3-0 behind, his 63 rd minute header was again saved.

Four minutes later a great shot from outside the box was once again stopped by the home keeper. With just five minutes remaining he came close to firing in a consolation goal but his goal-bound effort was blocked and three minutes later he was substitued after his tireless, all-action display.

A ‘six-pointer’ at home to Millwall followed that and after the Lions had taken an early lead, Matt headed wide on 22 minutes and on 35 he shaved the post with another headed effort. In added on time he then saw his shot from outside the box blocked.

The Millers then continued to dominate and were rewarded with two second half goals to take the points.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon continued their good recent form at home to promotion-chasing Luton Town, building up a two-goal lead before the Hatters hit back to level. Much to the delight of Fitz and the ususal vociferous home crowd, the Dons scored the fifth and decisive goal of the afternoon.

A goalless draw at Cambridge United followed in midweek with both sides failing from the penalty spot.

They then had a great chance to move nearer to the play-off positions with a trip to basement side Hartlepool but against all the odds ‘pools won 1-0 to leave the Dons in mid-table.

Andy Procter was at the heart of everything good that Accrington Stanley did in the home game against relegation-threatened Cheltenham Town but the Robins picked up a fine point after a 1-1 draw.

Leaders Burton Albion were the next visitors and Stanley defied the odds to win 1-0 and end the Brewers 13 match unbeaten run.

Andy’s brilliant midfield display stiffled Burton’s attempts to make inroads into the Reds back line although he had to be careful after picking up a 1 st half booking.

The one sour note of the evening was the truly dreadful turn-out of just 919 and that included a pityful away following of 93.

Another fine display followed at Luton Town but the Reds were unlucky to go down 2-0.

In the Vanarama Premier, Paul Clark made his usual fortnightly long trip following his Aldershot side and after a 3-2 win at fellow strugglers Alfreton Town, he enjoyed a rare happy journey home.

That win took the Shots 8 points clear of danger.

A home game against 2second bottom Dartford gave them a great chance to move away even further but they had to come from behind to earn a point.

Southport also need to keep picking up points and they came from behind twice at Dover to earn a valable one in a 2-2 draw.

Bristol Rovers proved too strong for Paul Salt’s Altrincham, winning 1-0 at the Memorial Ground.

They then entertained leaders Barnet and a 5 th minute sending off made their task even harder. Unsurprisingly, the Bees took the points after a 3-1 win.

Southport dropped into the bottom four after losing an eight goals thriller at Forest Green Rovers, 5-3 the final score.

In the North Division, I travelled to Kellemere Park (and found it eventually!) to see Boston United try to extend the home side’s four game losing run but the evening went from bad to worse for the Pilgrims.

The team coach was held up in traffic causing the game to be delayed for half an hour, the visitor’s keeper Vince then let a lomg-range shot slip through his fingers early on to put his side on the back foot and an own goal on 17 minutes more or less ended the game as a contest.

Boston saw plenty of the ball for the rest of the game but man-of-the-match Hinchcliffe in the home goal was as solid as a rock throughout and never looked like conceding. A third goal from ex-Nelson man Richie Allen with the last kick of the game took them to the top of the league and gave the scoreline a rather lop-sided look.

The Whites are looking to move into a new ground in a years time so let’s hope that they’ll be able to attract more spectators when they do, just 349 were present for the promotion clash with around 30 of them travelling up from Lincolnshire.

Fylde then travelled to whipping boys Hyde and when they led inside one minute, they must have been looking forward to a huge win but like Boston two weeks earlier, they failed to take their chances and the Tigers hit back to equalise.

One thing that can’t be levelled at Fylde is their foul play and they were 7 th in the Fair-play league before the game but incredibly they had two men sent off in the game and only the heroics of Hinchcliffe, once again man-of-the-match, saved them from defeat.

They then made it just one win in six games as they were held to a 1-1 draw by play-off chasing Tamworth.

Boston, meanwhile, were back to their goalscoring exploits at York Street although things looked bad after ‘bogey’ side Harrogate Town went 2-0 up after just 5 minutes. Undeterred, the Pilgrims stormed back to hit five unanswered goals and make it 26 goals in their last six home games.

Chorley made it through to the final of the Lancs. Challenge Trophy again after a comfortable 3-0 win against Holker Old Boys at Leyland with James Dean an unused substitute.

Unsurprisingly he was back in the starting line-up for the tough league game at Harrogate Town but he was helpless to prevent the home side running out comfortable 4-1 winners, helped by the sending off of Teague for Chorley.

A home game against Oxford City gave the Magpies the chance to get back to winning ways in the league but after Deano had headed them into a 49 th minutes lead, City hit back strongly after that and fully deserved their equaliser.

The ex-Harwood star should have given his side the lead in the first half but fluffed a one-on-one with the keeper. A poor attendance of just 659 witnessed the game with a reported away following of…………ONE!

Oxford were pleased to finish with 11 players, they’ve had their keeper (three different ones) sent off in four of their previous six games.

Sadly for Chorley the club was broken into again, resulting in hundreds of pounds worth of damage and theft.

The shaky form continued when they hosted Worcester City despite taking a 1 st half lead. City hit back before Deano edged them in front before the break. Worcester then scored twice in two minutes just after the hour mark but the Magpies managed to force a draw with a third of their own.

Oxford then proved what a decent side they are by hammering Gloucester City 7-1 away from home.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne continued with their inconsistent form, losing 2-1 at second-bottom Farnborough.

Whitehawk drew an improved crowd of 262 for their 1-1 draw with Concord Rangers but considering Brighton & Hove Albion’s shocking season in the Championship, they would surely have expected more.

Phil O’Dells FC United attracted almost 2,300 fans for their home derby against Ashton United and bar a handful of away supporters they all went home happy after a 3-0 win.

They followed that with a 3-1 victory at bottom side Barwell who actually took the lead after only three minutes.

That left the Reds just three points behind faltering leaders Skelmersdale United with seven games in hand. Skem slipped up again being held to a 1-1 draw by mid-table Kings Lynn Town.

They then hit the summit after a 1-0 home success over Halesowen Town in front of another 2,000+ crowd and still with six games in hand on Skem.

Another win, 2-1 at Grantham Town cemented that top spot but Skem lost again, 2-0 at Barwell and with all the other leading sides having several games in hand, the West Lancs. side look highly unlikely to miss out even the play-offs.

Ramsbottom United are finding life difficult in the Evo-stik Premier League after the departure of the managers and several players and they lost 3-2 at home to Rushall Olympic despite leading 2-1 at the break.

They then went down 2-1 at Witton Albion and 4-0 at Blyth Spartans.

A 2-1 home defeat to Ilkeston made it nine games without a win and they now sit just two points above the drop zone.

In Division One North, Simon Garner’s Clitheroe took on promotion-chasing Scarborough Athletic at Shawbrige in front of a healthy 327 but went down 1-0.

They then made it through to the final of the Lancs. Challenge Trophy with a hard fought win against NWCFL high-flyers Atherton Collieries at Leyland.

Colls boasted the country’s top scorer in 43-goal Battersby but luckily for the Blues he left his shooting boots at home.

Clitheroe were up against it before the half-hour mark when Simon picked up two yellow cards in two minutes but goals in the 85 th and 90 th minutes took them through to the ‘Reebok’.

A late goal then denied the Blues three points at Kendal Town where the sides drew 2-2.

Padiham suffered another postponement but fellow strugglers Radcliffe Borough and Prescott Cables both suffered heavy defeats to leave the Storks clinging on to their hopes of avoiding the drop.

Those hopes took another set-back after a 6-0 home defeat by leaders Salford City.

In the South Division, Brigg Town’s defence shows few signs of tightening up, losing 7-0 at Coalville Town and 6-1 at home to Spalding.

In the Southern Premier League, leaders Poole Town entertained St. Neots Town but could find no way past the legend that is Paul Bastock in the Saints goal and had to settle for a goalless draw.

Glossop North End are still flying the flag for the NWCFL in the FA Vase. They travelled to Dunston UTS for a replay and although things looked bleak when the home side went in front after only four minutes, the Derbyshire side levelled with 15 minutes remaining to take the tie into extra-time for the second week running. Two goals in the opening period of that extra-time took them through much to the delight of their excellent following.

Another away tie followed, at Worksop side Shaw Lane Aquaforce and the Hillmen twice came from behind to earn a replay.

In the League, Nelson went down 3-2 at home to Bootle but Barnoldswick Town continued their improved results with a 1-1 draw against Winsford United.

The Admirals then made short work of St. Helens Town, winning 6-1 at Ashton Athletic’s ground.

Colne also had a big win at the end of the month, defeating West Didsbury & Chorlton 5-0 at Holt House.

Bacup moved to within ten points of safety after their best result of the season, a 1-0 home win against AFC Liverpool.

In one of the big games of the season, Runcorn Linnets entertained 1874 Northwich in front of 665 fans and the home side took the points after a 3-2 win, coming from behind twice before snatching the winner two minutes from time.

In the 1 st Division, an excellent attendance of 133 saw Darwen edge past Ashton Town 2-1.

In the Western League, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic continue to climb the table with their latest success, a 3-1 win at Bitton, taking them up into 5 th place, just six points behind leaders Melksham with two games in hand.

At the start of the season the aim for the Bucks would surely have been consolidation but now the title is within reaching distance.

They then travelled to Slimbridge and overtook their opponents into 4 th spot with a comprehensive 3-0 victory.

In the Northern League, poor old Crook Town reached the unenviable total of 151 goals conceded after a 6-1 home defeat by Marske.

In the Accrington Combination, two big wins saw Great Harwood Town go top. Whinney Hill Reserves were despatched 6-1 and 4-1 on consecutive Saturdays.

They were then well beaten 4-0 by Park and dropped down to second.

Meanwhile Park FC, AKA Great Harwood Town Old Boys, lost 3-0 in the cup to Fulwood Amateurs despite having the likes of Dennis Hill, Neil Kennedy, Andy Taylor, Graham Lightbown and Neil Baron amongst their ranks.

The last month has seen Great Harwood Town move up an incredible 100 places in the Fantasy Non-League table to 903 rd in the 3 rd week and another 42 places in the final week.

Ten Years Ago

A really poor end to month, losing two games and conceding ten goals.

Dennis Hill gave us the lead at Atherton L.R. but the home side stormed back to win 5-2, Liam McManus scoring our other, in front of an attendance of 48, including around a dozen Harwood supporters.

We then entertained Nantwich Town who beat us 5-0 in front of 121 fans at the Crown Ground although the scoreline flattered the Dabbers greatly. Even with 17 games to go, the writing looked to be on the wall with just 8 points from 25 games.

It seemed to be a three horse race for the 1 st Division title, Fleetwood Town leading the way with Newcastle Town and St. Helens hot on their tails, although Skelmersdale United, way back in 13 th spot and 26 points behind the leaders, did have 7 games in hand.

In the 2 nd Division, Cammell Laird and Winsford were joint leaders although Cammell were top on goal difference and had 5 games in hand.

Paul Gallagher of Skelmersdale was the manager of the month after 6 wins and a draw.

Stone Dominoes came back from 2-1 down at the break to hammer Salford City 7-2.

Newcastle Town drew 234 for the home game with Congleton Town but just 35 saw leaders Cammell Laird win at Oldham Town.

Accrington Stanley were sitting just outside of the play-off positions in the Conference and Aldershot beat local rivals Farnborough before over 4,000 fans at the Rec.

Wimbledon took 1,000 fans to their game at Molesey.

One of our previous NPL rivals Gretna, were the first club in Britain to gain promotion when they beat Cowdenbeath 1-0 to move 35 points clear from their nearest rivals.

Early February

Until recently Matt Derbyshire was struggling to make an impact at the New York Stadium but after starting, and scoring, against Bolton, he’s had a new lease of life.

His brave diving header gave Rotherham United the lead at home to high-flying Ipswich Town and they never looked back, deservedly winning 2-0.

Matt had come close to scoring on 22 minutes when his long-range shot was blocked but on 38 minutes he was fouled and from the resultant free kick he notched his second goal in consecutive home matches.

The three points took the Millers six points clear of the drop zone and Matt was given a standing ovation when substituted five minutes from time.

Next up was a trip to his beloved Blackburn Rovers and after a quiet first half in which Rovers took the lead, the Millers slowly took over and unsurprisingly, the equaliser came from the Harwood hero. He raced into the box and was first onto a Green cross but as expected, didn’t celebrate despite the thousand Rotherham fans chanting his name.

At that point there looked to be only one winner but he went home disappointed after a late home winner. Even so, the Millers should have taken a point after Green headed wide from just a couple of yards in added time.

Andy Procter was dropped form the Accrington Stanley after four successive defeats but the Reds fell to 19 th in the League Two table after a 1-0 loss, Andy failing to appear from the bench.

He was re-instated for the home game with Oxford United and a 1-0 win, courtesy of an added time goal, lifted them back into mid-table.

He almost opened the scoring with a 21 st minute header which went just wide and his 77 th minute shot was even closer, flying inches over the bar.

He then produced a tireless display as the Reds enjoyed what was arguably their best result of the season, a 2-1 win at promotion-chasing Southend United.

In the same division, Don Fitzgerald saw his Wimbledon favourites beat Newport 2-0 before earning fine goalless draw at leaders Burton Albion, a result which cost the Brewers top spot.

A trip to new leaders Shrewsbury Town followed but the Dons couldn’t repeat the previous performance, going down 2-0.

Another side to suffer a 5 th defeat in a row was Paul Clark’s Aldershot, much to the delight of our other Paul, Salt, as his Altrincham favourites won 1-0.

The Shots had looked on course for a rare away point but an own goal from caretaker player/manager Chris Barber five minutes from time meant yet another miserable journey home to Hampshire for the Shots’ diehards.

Then came a ‘six-pointer’ at home to Welling where a defeat would put Paul’s boys deep in trouble but a 92 nd minute penalty gave them a 2-1 win.

Alty, meanwhile, then went down 2-1 at Macclesfield but earned a point in their next outing, a 2-2 draw against 6 th placed Forest Green Rovers at Moss Lane.

Southport were involved in a Conference ‘six-pointer’ at 21 st placed Alfreton Town and the hosts moved to within a point of the Sandgrounders after a 4-2 win.

The next round of games saw Town pick up a point while ‘port lost again. When they took the lead with less than 15 minutes remaining, things looked rosy but visiting Eastleigh scored twice in five minutes towards the end to record an unlikely win.

A tough game at home to 2 nd placed Macclesfield Town followed but they came from behind to take a point in a 1-1 draw.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United exited the FA Trophy after a great campaign, going down 1-0 in the ¼ final at Torquay United. Cheered throughout by an amazing following of almost 1400 fans, a goal 8 minutes from the end ended their hopes although they almost equalised when a late effort struck the crossbar.

They then looked to having a cup-hangover at home to 3 rd from bottom Marine who led 2-0 before the half-hour mark but two goals in six minutes just before the break brought them level.

After an hours play the Reds had sealed the points, scoring three more in 15 minutes.

In the Vanarama North, Boston United travelled to Hyde with the Tigers almost certainly on course for another relegation. The Pilgrims led 3-0 after an hour before easing off and allowing Hyde to pull a goal back.

They then scored five at home for the 4 th time in 5 games with Bradford Park Avenue the latest victims, 5-0 the score with Jones netting a hat-trick.

Oxford City had their goalkeeper sent off for the second game in a row and with the side leading 1-0 at Brackley the home side must have had high hopes of turning the game round but City made light of the situation, going on to add four more unanwered goals. The previous match saw the 10 men defeat promotion-chasing Tamworth 1-0.

AFC Fylde could have gone top with a win at Guiseley but they went down 3-1 while Chorley moved back into the play-off positions with a 1-0 win at Stalybridge Celtic, the only goal coming from James Dean’s spot-kick just befor the break.

The following weekend saw huge surprises with Barrow, Fylde and Chorley all losing at home against unfancied opposition.

Fylde lost 2-1 at home to Harrogate Town while Chorley lost by the same score against relegation-threatened Gloucester City.

Deano had given his side the lead on 11 minutes, firing in from a tight angle.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough arrested their recent slide with two good away performances.

Things looked bleak at Weston-super-Mare with the Sports 2-0 down approaching the 85 th minute but a goal breathed new life into them and a 90 th minute own goal salvaged an unlikely point.

A 1-0 win at Hayes & Yeading lifted them back into the top half but they then lost 3-1 at home to Havant & Waterlooville who moved up to 3 rd.

Brighton side Whitehawk have moved up the divisions in recent years but how they compete at Vanarama level is a mystery with the size of crowds they attract. Just 110 saw the 3 rd placed club defeat Bath City 2-1 and only 170 turned out as they hosted top of the table Boreham Wood, a game which saw them win 3-0.

The club’s average attendance is by far the smallest in the league at 210.

In the Evo -stik Premier Division, leaders Skelmersdale United suffered the surprise result of the season, losing 3-0 at home to 17 th placed Stamford. Another home game against 21 st placed Matlock Town gave the the chance to get back on track but their season looks like coming off the rails, just as it did last season, as they lost again, 1-0.

Ramsbottom United moved up a place to 17 th after a 1-1 draw at Stamford although with several game sin hand, look set to finish in the top half.

In Division One North, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr’s Clitheroe lost 2-1 at 4 th placed Scarborough Athletic who have high hopes of moving back into the town from their exile in Bridlington.

They then entertained fellow mid-table side Kendal Town but despite both sides having no chance of going up, or down, they produced a fantastic game to thrill the 258 spectators at Shawbridge. The Blues led 3-0 and then 4-1 before goals in the minute before and the minute after half-time, brought the visitors back in it. Goals in the 66 th and 79 th minutes put the game to bed but Kendal finished off the scoring with a goal 9 minutes from time to make it 6-4.

At the bottom, Brett Ormerod struck again for Padiham and his penalty earned them a point at home to highly placed Harrogate R.A.

Over 300 fans then saw the Storks take the lead against Darlington at home but the visitors struck three times to take the points.

Ormerod was on target in the next game at Burscough where his side led 1-0 until a 93 rd minute own goal.

Nice to see Droylsden on the up again and they were involved in a thriller at Warrington Town. They trailed 3-2 with just a couple of minutes of normal time left but an 88 th minute spot-kick brought them level and a last minute 4 th gave them all three points with the evergreen Kilheeney scoring both to complete his hat-trick.

A home game against fellow promotion hopefuls Scarborough Athletic followed and Kilheeney looked to have secured a point after an 89 th minute equaliser but the Yorkshire side took the spoils with a 93 rd minute winner.

In the South, Brigg Town lost again, 7-1 at home to Norton United and that made it 105 conceded in the league so far. Norton had their keeper sent off 20 minutes from time but they still added another two goals during that time.

In the Southern, South & West, Bashley have conceded 107 after their latest thrashing, 7-0 at home to Evesham United.

In the Northern League, bottom side Crook Town travelled to fellow strugglers Billingham Synthonia hoping to pick up a rare point but an 8-0 hammering made it a whopping 140 in the goals against column.

In the Western League, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic made it three wins in a row with a 5-0 away-day demolition of bottom side Bishop Sutton. They then went to leaders Melksham and came away with another three points after their best performance of the season which gave them a 3-1 win.

In the NWCFL Nelson breezed past Alsager Town 3-0 at Victoria Park but a poor performance at Winsford United saw them lose 1-0.

Bacup lost 2-0 at Squires Gate but then gained only their second win of the season, defeating Blackpool 2-0 at West View.

Barnoldswick Town also gained a rare win, 4-1 at home to St Helens Town thanks to a Henderson hat-trick.

Colne exited the Men United Cup after a 2-0 home defeat to Atherton Collieries.

The remaining side in the FA Vase, 2009 finalists Glossop North End, drew 2-2 at home to 2012 winners Dunston UTS in front of 651 fans.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen overtook visitors Widnes in the middle of the table after a tremendous 6-1 win at the Anchor but then dropped a couple of points when they were jeld 2-2 by Cheadle Town at the same venue.

The latest game for Park saw them lose 3-0 in the cup against Fulwood Amateurs.

In the Blackburn Sunday League, Dave Eastwood’s Mill Hill finally saw some action after the bad weather and defeated Havelock Inn 3-2.

Ten Years Ago

Just the one game for Harwood in early February and it resulted in another defeat. A Liam McManus goal proved insufficient as we went down 2-1 at Maine Road in front of 55 fans, including around 15 of ours. Liam gave us the lead after 17 minutes but the home side equalised after 55 minutes before hitting a late winner.

The run of five defeats and a draw in the last six games left us stranded at the foot of the table.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the club’s future was put in doubt after the arson attack on Monroes nightclub destroyed our changing rooms, electricty box and bar.

Stanley and Darwen both offered us their facilities for future home fixtures.

In the Conference North, Southport travelled to leaders Kettering Town and swapped places with them after a fantastic 5-0 win before losing 3-1 at bottom side Bradford Park Avenue!

In the FA Vase, Colne went through to the last sixteen after a cracking win at Bodmin Town.

The other side from our league, Skelmersdale United lost 2-0 at home to Frome Town.

We reported that in the home game against Formby, striker Paul Mashiter was pushed and dragged away by the referee after complaining to a linesman.

The match also saw star striker John Eastham break an arm to put him out of action for the rest of the season and the game proved to be the final one ever played at the Showground.

Our hosts Accrington Stanley beat fellow Conference promotion hopefuls Barnet 4-1 in front of over 1800 fans at the Crown Ground.

We also had a quote from the Aston Villa manager David O’Leary after his side were knocked out of the FA Cup by Sheffield United,

“People think we’re Aston Villa”

Late January

Matt Derbyshire’s Rotherham United career looks none-to-safe despite completing 90 minutes of the Millers last outing at Brentford.

Manager Steve Evans has made several new signings in a bid to get the Millers away from the drop zone and Matt was an unused sub. as they went down again, 2-0 at home to leaders Bournemouth. Rotherham’s form of just a single win from their last 15 games means that a relegation battle is now assured.

Next up was a home game against a resurgent Bolton Wanderers and Matt was surprisingly includeded in the starting line-up.

After the Millers had taken an early lead, he fired in a long-range shot which flew inches wide. On 23 minutes he latched onto a poor pass and advanced before hitting a great shot which was destined for the bottom corner but Lonergan in the Trotters goal made a superb save only for the loose ball to be knocked in by Matt’s strike partner Sammon.

The ex-Robins legend then dashed down the right wing before delicering a perfect cross for Green to make it 3-0 at the break.

Soon after the re-start, Matt almost made it four when his brilliant control and instant shot once again brought the best out of Lonergan who produced an acrobatic save.

Not to be denied, he finally got his reward just before the hour mark when he advanced towards a retreating defence and fired in an unstoppable 25-yard left foot shot into the top corner which raised the roof of the New York Stadium.

He was then fouled on the edge of the box but Newton’s free kick hit the wall.

They ended the month with a trip to the Valley to face a very average Charlton Athletic side and the first chance fell to Matt on 11 minutes but he stabbed the cross wide from just 6 yards.

He did better with his next good chance on 77 minutes, firing into the net only for a linesman’s flag to cut short the celebrations but with the clock on 90 minutes, Rotherham scored an equalising goal to salvage a point.

There was good news for Matt in the transfer window as Millers striker Alex Ravell moved to Cardiff City.

Despite his best efforts, ex-Robin Andy Procter couldn’t stop 2 nd bottom Tranmere Rovers completing a convincing 3-0 win against his Accrington Stanley side at Prenton Park.

He then faced his former club Bury at the Crown and fired in the first shot of the evening which was blocked on the edge of the box.

An all action display once again bore no fruit as the Shakers won 1-0 in front of 2,000 fans, almost half coming from Bury.

Two defeats in a row became three after a shocking performance against Northampton Town at the Crown.

Stanley found themselves 2-0 down and Andy picked up an early booking but when Cresswell was sent off for the Cobblers in the 38 th minute and Stanley had a penalty, the game looked set for a big change.

Sadly Joyce’s spot-kick was saved but within a minute Mingoia had made it 2-1 to set up a great Accy second half comeback-but no!

Just 20 minutes into the second period Northampton had stormed into a 4-1 lead which they made five in the 80 th minute thanks to some comical defending.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon have been inconsistent this season and that’s stopped them from making a real concerted effort for automatic promotion from League Two.

Despite taking a first minute lead at home to lowly Carlisle United, they went down to a 3-1 defeat.

The Dons tralled to the Globe Arena next and took an early lead but Morecambe levelled before the break and that’s how it stayed.

Southport made the daunting trip to leaders Barnet in the league and were doing O.K. trailing 1-0 with 8 minutes left but the Bees fired in another three unanswered goals.

Another huge away following for Chester swelled the gate at Haig Avenue for ‘port’s next game, just under 2,000 turned out, but they and the Southport fans all left the ground disappointed after a goalless draw which leaves the Sandgrounders four points above the drop zone.

New Boss Paul Carden couldn’t inspire ‘port in his first game in charge and they once again lost by the only goal, at home to Gateshead. Luckily, no teams in the bottom half of the table won on the day.

Paul Clark continues to follow his Aldershot side throughout the nation and through thick and thin (mostly thin!) and his latest long trip saw him travelling home despondant after another defeat, 3-0 at Lincoln City, a result which leaves them 6 points clear of the bottom four.

Another defeat, 1-0 at home to Kidderminster Harriers saw manager Andy Scott lose his job.

Paul was ready to make yet another long trip, to Altrincham, but the game was snowed off so at least it saved him from another miserable journey back to Hampshire.

No such worries for Paul Salt’s Alty as they won again, 2-1 at home to Torquay United in front of another fine turn-out of 1,333.

They then travelled to Bath City in the FA Trophy and were surprisingly beaten 1-0.

In the Vanarama North, leaders AFC Fylde look invincible and Oxford City were their latest victims, losing 2-1 at Kellemergh Park.

They took on Phil O’Dell’s FC United at Curzon Ashton in the FA Trophy and three first half goals all but ended the contest, although they did pull a goal back in the second half.

Chorley moved up into the play-off spots with a 4-1 thrashing of Gainsborough Trinity at Victory Park with James Dean scoring a tremendous 16 minute second half hat-trick.

The Whites then hosted Chorley in a huge Lancashire derby and the Magpies showed that the title race is far from over by winning 3-1 in front of a four-figure crowd.

Fylde’s record of ten wins and two draws at home puts Chorley’s performance into perspective. Richie Allen was once again on target for the hosts.

Boston United have a poor recent record at Harrogate Town and despite the Yorkshire clubs indifferent season, that trend continued as the hosts won 2-1 thanks to some poor decisions by the match officials.

The Pilgrims then entertained another of their ‘bogey’ sides, Guiseley, but after an early goal, there was only going to be one winner. The 5-1 success was the third home league game in a row that United had hit five.

Despite another fine attacking performance at home to Stockport County, the Hatters keeper produced a great display to earn his side a point in a 1-1 draw.

Congratulations to Pilgrims legend, 44 year-old goalkeeper Paul Bastock (voted Boston’s all-time cult hero) for making his 1000 th league appearance. It came for St. Neots Town at Evo-stik Southern Premier leaders Weymouth and although Saints lost 1-0, Bazza saved a penalty. He then kept a clean sheet at Histon earning his promotion-chasing team a point.

In the Vanarama South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough needed a last minute leveller to salvage a point at home to Wealdstone and a few days later I travelled down to the South Coast to meet up with him and his wife Jean for the first time, at their Polegate home.

Whilst there I took in the Eastbourne United v Ringmer game in the Sussex League and considering the visitors were struggling near the foot of the table, the quality of their play suggested that the league is a particularly strong one.

The visitors won 4-2 in front of around 80 fans and would have more than held their own in the NWCFL.

The match programme mentioned that in Ringmer’s first entry into the FA Cup, 1970/71, they were the first village team to make it through to the first round.

1500 fans (that must have been the whole of the village plus the residents of the next one) to Colchester United to see a brave 3-0 defeat. Colchester, later in that campaign, produced one of the greatest-ever cup shocks when beating the then mighty Leeads United.

Also in the programme’s league round up, it mentions the game at Midhurst & Easebourne (no not a wrong spelling!), where the home side led visitors Little Common 4-0 with just 20 minutes left but a last minute equaliser from their player/manager saved the day for Common.

The Sports then fell to 15 th place after a 1-0 home defeat by improving Bath City.

Simon Garner and Ryan Parr were delighted at the break as their Clitheroe side led hosts New Mills 3-0 in the Evo-stik 1 st Division North but an own goal soon after the re-start gave the Derbyshire side hope and another made for a nervy ending. The Blues looked like hanging on despite having a player sent off but a goal with the last kick of the game, on 94 minutes, denied them the three points. Hot-shots Gonzales and Hart were both once again on the scoresheet.

They then needed a late Hart strike to salvage a point at home to Burscough and the Colne old boy repeated the trick, this time from the spot, to earn the Blues a 1-1 draw at home to Ossett Albion.

At the bottom, Padiham suffered another heavy defeat, 5-1 at Northwich Victoria, who moved up into second spot in front of a pityful 85 spectators.

A home game against fellow strugglers Radcliffe Borough followed and they finally stopped the rot. They built up a two-goal lead before a Borough goal 15 minutes from time saw them hanging on but the crossbar saved them in the 82 nd minute and they recorded their third win of the season.

Another decent performance followed at Bamber Bridge but the Storks went down 3-1.

Leaders at the end of the month are Salford City who beat 1883 Darlington 2-0 at Moor Lane in front of 900 fans. Darlo would have gone top with a win and also have five games in hand but with Northwich Vics in second spot, three points behind with a game in hand, the Champions will almost definitely come from one of those three sides.

In the Doodson Cup, Ramsbottom United came from behind to defeat Northwich Victoria 3-1 at the Riverside.

Very little action in the NWCFL due to the wet and then freezing weather but there were a few games that survived.

In the Premier Division, Nelson went down 2-1 at leaders Runcorn Linnets while Colne continued their fine form, winning 3-1 at Congleton Town.

Barnoldswick Town were thrashed 6-1 at home to Runcorn Town but then came from behind at Alsager Town to win 2-1 and move within one point of safety.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen took the lead at Hanley Town via the penalty spot but they still went down 3-1.

In the South Division, Brigg Town’s woes continue, beaten 7-0 at home to Gresley making it 98 goals conceded already.

Ryman South Burnham have already hit the 100 goals conceded mark after a 3-3 draw with Cheshunt.

That’s bettered by one of our old cup foes, Crook Town, a massive 132 conceded in 30 games

Buckland Athletic beat Longwell Green Sports much to the delight of Great Harwood Town fan Nick Hancock and although the Bucks are still below half way down the Western League, the win left them only six points from 3 rd spot.

A 4-0 victory at Hallen then saw them move to within just three points of 4 th place.

In the FA Vase, the two remaining NWCFL clubs had contrasting results, Chadderton losing 5-0 at home to AFC Mansfield before an excellent 171, but Glossop North End won 1-0 after extra-time at Worksop Town in front of 650.

Ten Years Ago

Just three games for Harwood this month, all in the latter part. 162 supporters saw the Robins go down 3-2 at runaway leaders Fleetwood Town despite a dominant display that warranted at least a draw. Ed O’Neil and Darren Rogers both scored their first league goals of the season in the game.

The team directly above us Formby, were the next visitors but despite goals from Eastham and McManus, the Squirrels held on for a 2-2 draw.

John Eastham suffered a broken arm during the game in which we twice took the lead.

At the end of the month, we travelled to West View to take on Bacup Borough in the 3 rd round of the League Challenge Cup and the gate of 128 was made up of many Harwood supporters.

A goal from full back Chris Steele proved to be insufficient as Borough won 2-1 with a hotly disputed goal in the 94 th minute.

In the 2 nd Division, Cammell Laird lost for the first time in the campaign, to mid-table Eccleshall

A fantastic crowd of 587 saw Colne exit the FA Vase in the 5 th round.

In the Conference, Accrington Stanley thrashed leaders Barnet 4-1 in front of a crod of 1,800.

In the Lancs. Marsden Trophy, Stanley won 5-2 at Atherton LR with all the goals coming in the second half. They were joined by Burscough, who defeated Colne 3-0 at home, Sklemersdale United, who neat Ramsbottom United 1-0 at home-in front of a paltry 63 fans, and Morecambe, who beat Nelson 3-2 at Christie Park with the opener coming after only 15 seconds.

Castleton Gabriels could attract just 18 fans as they entertained Norton United, who won 3-0.

We lost full back Anthony Green who switched to Padiham after being dropped and stripped of the captaincy at the Showground.

The match day programme had a list of the best Christmas cracker jokes:

‘What was the tortoise doing on the motorway?’

‘ABOUT ONE MILE AN HOUR’

‘What goes in the water pink and comes out blue?’

‘A SWIMMER ON A COLD DAY’

‘What did the judge say when a skunk ran into the courtroom?’

‘ODOUR IN THE COURT’

‘How do you get rid of a boomerang?’

‘THROW IT DOWN A ONE-WAY STREET’

Fans club AFC Wimbledon lost their 78 game unbeaten run anded as they lost 2-0 at Cray Wanderers.

Another fans club, Enfield Town, lost their 30 game unbeaten away record after a 2-0 defeat at Waltham Abbey.

Padiham led the 2 nd Division after a 4-0 home win against Holker Old Boys.


Early January

Matt Derbyshire must have been hoping for a rare start as Rotherham United entertained Bournemouth in the FA Cup but once again he started on the bench but a few minutes after the Cherries had come from behind to lead, he was brought on. The idea was for him to get the Millers back on level terms but sadly, within 10 minutes, Bournemouth had hit three more to end the game as a contest. With Rotherham being outclassed, Matt had little opportunity to impress and when his chance did come, his 92 nd minute left foot shot from just a few yards out went flying over the bar when it seemed almost impossible to miss!

Despite that, he was promoted to the starting line-up for the tough game at Brentford and he helped set up the first chance of the afternoon but Barmby shot wide. He then saw his 20-yard shot fly just over the bar before homing in on goal but a great tackle denied him the chance to slot home.

After the Bees had taken the lead on the hour Matt almost equalised but his shot was well saved by the home keeper.

In the dying stages another super shot flew just over the bar but Brentford ran out winners and ended Rotherham’s six game unbeaten league run.

Southport gave a great account of themselves at Derby County, holding the Rams until the 93 rd minute when a penalty saw them go out in front of over 20,000 fans.

In League One, Fleetwood Town looked well on their way to a great win, leading Swindon Town 2-0 but the Robins scored twice in the final 20 minutes to salvage a draw.

They then took maximum points from a trip to Leyton Orient, winning 1-0.

In League Two, Andy Procter’s Accrington Stanley came from behind to record a fanatstic 2-1 win at Exeter City with the winner coming in the 92 nd minute. Andy almost scored when his 80 th minute header was saved.

In the Vanarama Premier Division, I went down to Moss Lane to meet up with Great Harwood and Altrincham fan Paul Salt and we saw the Robins give a masterful display to win 4-1 and if they can continue with that form then there’s little chance of them getting involved in a relegation battle.

The crowd of over 1,800 was swelled by a terrific following of around 800 Chester fans who had to watch from the open terracing in 90 minutes of strong winds and rain.

Another great result followed, a 2-0 success at Eastleigh and the Robins then won 1-0 at Kidderminster Harriers in the FA Trophy.

Eastleigh meanwhile made ground the following week, playing the only League game of the day with the other sides in the FA Trophy. They thrashed in-form Lincoln City 4-0 but still missed three penalties. The first was chipped into the keeper’s arms, the second well saved and the third one was ‘put into orbit’.

Paul Clark travelled to leaders Barnet to see his favourites Aldershot go down to a narrow 1-0 defeat.

A home game against bottom side AFC Telford gave them a terrific chance of getting back on the winning trail but worryingly they lost 2-1 to continue their poor run of results. Luckily for the Shots, that defeat still left them with a 9 point cushion over the bottom four.

In the Vanarama North, AFC Fylde completed a fabulous quick-fire double over previous leaders and red-hot title favourites Barrow by winning 2-1 in Cumbria.

Richie Allen then grabbed the second goal as they defeated Lowestoft Town 3-1 at home.

Lowestoft’s previous game had seen them earn a lucky point against Boston United. The Pilgrims were robbed of victory when they were denied a clear-cut penalty, had a player sent off, and then conceding a highly debatable spot-kick all within a few second half minutes of the 1-1 draw.

Colwyn Bay then visited York Street with an envious away record of just one defeat all season but Boston turned on the style to win 5-0 and cause Bay’s manager Frank Sinclair to resign after the game.

At the foot of the table, Hyde already looked doomed but they put up a great fight against Barrow at Ewen Fields. They led 2-0 before the Cumbrians stormed back and looked to have secured the points, leading 4-2 but the Tigers showed fanatastic fighting qualities to score twice more an earn a point.

In the South Division, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough drew 2-2 at home to Whitehawk before producing arguably their best result of the campaign, 3-0 against 3 rd placed Basingstoke Town, also at home.

In the Evo-stik Premier League, Phil O’Dell’s FC United defeated neighbours Trafford and Ashton United 3-0 and 2-0 repectively over the Christmas period.

The Reds then travelled to Victory Park for an FA Trophy clash and after a pulsating game, the sides drew 3-3 with James Dean putting in a man-of-the-match performance.

His sweetly struck shot in the 37 th minute gave Chorley a 2-0 lead but United hit back to take the lead with just 8 minutes remaining but Deano’s header two minutes later saved the day in front of well over 2,000 fans, almost 1,000 from FC.

The replay at Curzon Ashton only drew 1,393 but the huge majority left happy as United won 1-0 thanks to a second half goal from Greaves.

The Reds managed to keep Deano much quieter although he had strong claims for a penalty after a tackle in the penalty area late on.

Ramsbottom United lost 3-2 at Nantwich Town despite going ahead but that loss was the least of their problems after joint managers Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley left for Salford City after almost six hugely successful seasons at the Riverside.

Club legend Jon Robinson was immediately given the hot-seat.

Within a week the new bosses had signed five Rammy players and seen the Moor Lane side go top after a 2-1 win at Bamber Bridge.

In Division One North, Simon Garner’s Clitheroe went down 1-0 at home to Lancaster City thanks to an 89 th minute goal but two days later won 4-0 at Radcliffe Borough with ex-Colne hot-shot Jason Hart hitting the final goal.

They build on that success with a tremendous 3-2 home win against promotion-chasing Droylsden to make it five wins from the previous six games.

The Bloods hot-shot Ciaran Kilheeney, usually so deadly from any distance, had the chance to give his side the lead at 0-0 but his penalty struck the post.

At the bottom, Padiham looked to be on course for just their third win of the season when two Brett Ormerod goals gave them a 2-0 lead at Mossley but the Seals hit back to win 3-2. Whilst the scores were level, Ormerod had the chance to complete hit hat-trick from the penalty spot but saw his effort saved.

I readied myself to go to their next game at home to Darlington but like many non-league games in the area, the game was called off through a waterlogged pitch.

I had logged onto the Darlo web-site to check if the game was on and watched extended highlights of the Darlington v Ramsbottom semi-final play-off game from last season and what a good watch it was.

Rammy played brilliantly to win the game easily and in truth it could have been five or six nil.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Nelson went up to 5 th despite being held to 3-3 draw by fellow promotion hopefuls Squires Gate. Ex-Harwood star Ed O’Neil equalised in the 40 th minute but Gate hit back to lead 3-1 with only 10 minutes left before goals in the 80 th and 90 th minutes levelled.

Bacup remained 10 points from safety after another thrashing, 5-0 at Bootle. Brent Peters’ side had held on for 44 minutes before the floodgates opened.

They then travelled to leaders Runcorn Linnets and must have feared another sound beating but they put in a terrific performance only to go down 3-2.

A Spencer Jordon treble helped Colne to a great 5-1 win against Runcorn Town at Holt House.

Barnoldswick Town led Abbey Hey 1-0 at the Silentnight Stadium, before going down to yet another defeat, 2-1.

In the 1 st Division, AFC Darwen enjoyed what was probably their best result of the season, winning 5-0 at 4 th placed Daisy Hill, a result that took the Salmoners up to 11 th place.

Poor Wigan Robin Park lost 6-1 at Barnton making it 81 goals conceded in 22 games.

Hereford United’s record has been expunged from the Evo-stik Southern Premier League.

Great Harwood Town are failing miserably in the NPL’s fantasy football league, at the turn of the year they were lying in 970 th place from 1,856 teams.

With apologies to Harwood and Aldershot supporter Paul Clark, I’ve ditched the Shots for the more successful Ilkeston FC. I’ve also brought in subs. Margate(top of the Ryman) and Barrow(second in Vanarama North), but the mighty GHTFC have slipped down to 1000 th place!!

Ten Years Ago

Just like this year there were plenty of games called off through waterlogged pitches.

Our home game against Ramsbottom United was one of the casualties.

Bacup Borough did us a favour by beating second bottom Formby 3-0 away from home while Colne’s bid to make ground on the leading teams was scuppered as they lost 3-0 at second placed St Helens Town.

Leaders Fleetwood Town travelled to lowly Glossop North End expecting to take all three points but had to settle for just the one despite scoring five times!

That was only half the story though as they’d led 4-0 with only 20 minutes remaining but an incredible four goals in 15 minutes saw The Hillmen draw level. Fleetwood then struck what surely looked to be the winner with three minutes left only for Gary Kharas complete his hat-trick to make it 5-5 in the 89 th minute. That was his 21 st goal of the season, leaving him three behind the 1 st Division’s top marksman, Lee Catlow of Fleetwood who hit two of his side’s five on the day.

Also on the leading goalscorers list was Nathan Pond who signed for the club from Lancaster City in 2003 and is still at Highbury.

Late December

Matt Derbyshire was an unused substitute for Rotherham United as they won 2-1 at fellow relegation threatened Wigan Athletic in the Championship.

The Millers then hosted Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town at the New York Stadium and they looked to be heading for defeat until two late goals saved a point but once again Matt warmed the bench throughout.

He was missing from the squad altogether for the next game, a relegation battle at Blackpool where a host of missed chances for the Reds meant that they had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw.

In the FA Cup, Andy Procter’s Acrington Stanley faced Yeovil in an replay knowing that a win would net them around £ ¼ m. after the next round’s home tie with Manchester United but despite their second half dominance, they went down 2-0 after goals in the 84 th and 88 th minutes. Some bad luck and abysmal finishing saw the Reds go down to defeat in a tie which, overall, they should have won.

On 56 minutes Andy saw his header blocked and when the rebound fell at his feet, he hammered the shot just inches over the bar.

Stanley then struck the bar but as the ball fell invitingly into the path of a Reds forward, he inexplicably headed wide when it seemed easier to nod into the empty net.

A home League Two game against leaders Wycombe Wanderers was next and they came from behind to earn a point but once again they could count themselves unlucky not to have won.

A trip to York City, the only side in the League without a home win gave them the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways but the Minstermen won 1-0 despite having a player sent off.

Accy should then have hosted Burton Albion but the game was the only League two fixture to be called off on the day.

GHTFC supporter and arguably Aldershot’s number one fan Paul Clark made his third long trek North in a few weeks to see the Shots take on Rochdale in an FA Cup replay and when they equalised on 73 minutes the signs looked good but but three late stikes saw Dale go through and leave Paul with yet another long, miserable trip back to Hampshire.

If those two results weren’t bad enough, Boston United exited the FA Trophy after a 2-0 home defeat in the replay against North Ferriby United and Southport completed a shocking evening by losing 2-0 at Wrexham.

Paul was then part of a big away following at Welling but once again the fans went home fed up as the Wings won 3-1.

Leaders Barnet then rolled up at the Rec in bouyant mood and they then proceeded to roll over the Shots, 3-1.

Undeterred, Paul and the usual large following made their way to 5 th place Woking, probably expecting the worse but the lowly Reds upset the form book by winning 2-1 and moving up to 17 th place.

Result of the Trophy so far saw Vanarama table-toppers Barnet lose 6-2 at home to Concord Rangers.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham came from behind twice to earn a point at home to Dover before winning 2-0 at Chester on Boxing Day in front of a big crowd of over 2,500.

A perfect opportunity to keep the unbeaten run going was squandered as they lost 1-0 at home to 2 nd bottom Nuneaton and that loss saw the Robins drop down to 19 th.

Southport produced a great perfomance to upset the form book with a 2-1 win at 5 th place Woking.

A huge crowd of almost 2,000 then saw the Sandgrounders lose 1-0 at home to Wrexham on Boxing Day but they gained a second great away win in 8 days, winning 1-0 at 6 th placed Kidderminster Harriers.

Don Fitzgarald’s AFC Wimbledon took a huge following to Fratton Park to help swell the crowd to an incredible 17,558-and this remember is the ‘4 th Division’ in real life. The Dons produced a great performance which saw them cruise to a 2-0 win and that form continued as they defeated a strong Exeter City side 4-1 at home in front of just under 4,500 fans.

Those six points took them up to 11 th place and if the form continues into the New Year, then a play-off spot seems well within their capabilities.

In the Vanarama North, less than 300 supporters turned out at Kellemergh Park to see AFC Fylde beat Leamington 3-1 and the Coasters then cemented their 2 nd place with a 2-0 win at Brackley.

They then went to the top of the table after defeating Barrow 3-2 at home in front of almost 1300 fans.

Barrow had earlier made it nine home wins from nine games thanks to a highly debatable 90 th minute penalty against Boston United.

Chorley lost their long unbeaten run at Lowestoft Town, their longest trip of the season.

James Dean had a chance to get the Magpies back in the game when trailing 2-0 but he shot straight at the keeper. It was 3-0 before Teague pulled back a goal towards the end.

They looked to be heading for another poor result at home to Bradford Park Avenue, trailing at the break but two second half goals gve them the points.

Deano had a particularly quiet game, his only chance coming in the 15 th minute when his fine shot produced a great save from the Avenue keeper.

Another bumper Boxing Day crowd here, 1,207.

Boston United won 5-3 at home to Lowestoft Town but then lost 2-0 at North Ferriby United.

In the South Division, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough enjoyed their best result of the season, beating leaders Borehamwood 4-1 at home but then went down 2-0 at 4 th placed Whitehawk.

A 2-2 home draw with Maidenhead United left them in mid-table going into the New Year.

In the Evo-stik Premier Division, Ramsbottom United suffered a rare defeat in a bad-tempered game at Kings Lynn. The Rams took the lead before being pegged back and were piling men forward in an effort to claim all three points wen they were hit on the break four minutes from time.

They then fell to 11 th place after losing 3-0 to leaders Skelmersdale United at the Riverside, and they moved 9 points clear of 2 nd placed Buxton.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United enjoyed a good Christmas period, picking up maximum points with wins at Curzon Ashton, 4-0, and Kings Lynn, 2-1, and moved up to 7 th spot.

Simon Garner and Ryan Parr were delighted with their team’s performance as Clitheroe won 6-0 at Prescott Cables, their highest away win in the league for twelve years. Poor old Prescott were then hit for another six at Kendal Town.

The Blues meanwhile, travelled neighbours Padiham who were bottom after another defeat, 3-0 at home to Lancaster City.

Before an excellent crowd of 312, it was of no surprise to see an away win with Simon hitting the all important third goal direct from a free-kick.

Two sides who struggle to get much of a following are the Ossett clubs but when lowly Town hosted Albion, 314 turned out to see a 3-0 away success.

In the NWCFL, many games were lost to the wet weather but Nelson’s game survived and they took full advantage, beating St. Helens 4-0 to move into 5 th position. Ex-Harwood star Ed O’Neil put the icing on the cake with the 4 th goal but the crowd of just 50 was a great disappointment to club officials. The Blues could even afford to miss a penalty but the game was marred by an injury to Jonny Hession who spent much of the Saturday evening at the A & E department after a heavy clash.

They then took on Colne at Holt House where the groundstaff ensured that the game was one of only a handful to survive the weather and they were well rewarded with a spectacular attendance of 471 and a 2-0 home win.

In the M.E.N. United Cup, Colne defeated 1874 Northwich 3-2 at Holt House the week before the derby game.

Bacup lost again, 3-0 at Abbey Hey, a result which leaves them 8 points adrift at the bottom at the end of the year.

Barnoldswick fared no better, losing the West Yorkshire derby 2-0 at Silsden.

Some excellent holiday crowds in the League, 667 saw Runcorn Linnets come from behind against local rivals Town to win 2-1, and 500 saw 1874 Northwich surprisingly lose 1-0 at home to Winsford United.

The trend wasn’t in evidence as Squires Gate hosted AFC Blackpool, just 89 saw the game end 1-1, and in the 1 st Division, the Staffs. derby between Hanley Town and Eccleshall drew just 68.

Game of the day in the 1 st Division saw 2 nd placed Atherton Collieries host leaders Cammell Laird and a crowd of over 200 saw an entertaining battle end all square at 2-2. Laird had in fact taken a two-goal lead before a terrific fightback by Colls.

Oldham Borough and Rochdale Town have always struggled for crowds and the week before Christmas brought another couple of poor turn-outs.

20 spectators saw Oldham torn apart by visitors Hanley Town who’d buit up a 4-0 lead after only 13 minutes before going on to win 6-1.

Rochdale attracted 23 for the game with Atherton L.R. and most of them were happy until the 77 th minute with Dale leading 2-0. Rovers then hit back to draw 2-2.

The big Boxing Day crowds were evident in the Atherton derby where a massive 320 witnessed a predictable easy win for Collieries who beat Laburnum Rovers 4-0.

Not good news for Wigan Robin Park who couldn’t raise a team to travel to Holker Old Boys and there could be trouble in store there.

Darwen took the lead at promotion-chasing Cammell Laird and held it until the second half when three unanwered goals gave the Birkenhead side the points.

The Reds then made it through to the 3 rd round of the Reusch Cup with 2-1 win at Holker Old Boys but then lost by the same score in the League at Irlam, not helped by a first minute own goal. That defeat left the them 5 th from bottom of the Division One.

In the Western League, leaders Bristol Manor Farm travelled to Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic looking for revenge for their recent defeat and that’s just what they did, winning 4-0 and sending the Bucks down four places.

A trip to Willand Rovers looked for all the world like getting them back on track but despite taking the lead three times, they lost 4-3 to an 81 st minute home winner.

Down at the foot of the table, bottom side Bishop Sutton travelled to next-to-bottom Gillingham Town hoping to pick up a rare win, but judging by the scoreline, they look to have little hope of avoiding the drop even at this stage of the season-Gillingham Town 13 Bishop Sutton 0.

We always found good results against Brigg Town difficult to come by, as did many other North West clubs, but if we could only play them now!

Latest results for them were a 9-0 drubbing at mid-table Loughborough Dynamoes, watched by just 59 fans, and a 5-0 home defeat by Mickleover Sports. They then improved by losing just 2-0 at home to mid-table Goole.

In the Accrington Combination, Great Harwood Town took on Water FC who’d beaten Bay Horse 10-2 in their last outing but Harwood won 4-2 before taking on the defensively challenged Bay Horse themselves recent 7-3 winners against Whinney Hill Reserves. A goal-fest ensued with Harwood winning 11-1.

Great Harwood Town Old Boys/Park Vets., beat Ribchester Rovers 3-0.

Dave Eastwood, Harwood star in the 80’s, is struggling to continue his unpresidented success with Mill Hill in the Blackburn Sunday League and they find themselves in mid-table after a 4-1 defeat against leaders New Gardeners.

Ten Years Ago

Our 1 st Division game at Alsager Town was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch but the game of the day took place at Highbury where leaders Fleetwood Town took on Ramsbottom United.

A crowd of 202 saw Town take the lead only for 4 th placed Rammy to seal the points with a 2-1 win.

In the 2 nd Division, the leaders were, just as they are ten years down the line, Cammell Laird, and they made short work of 5 th placed Flixton. Ronnie Moore, still banging in the goals now, scored a hat-trick, as did McGuire in an 8-1 rout to leave them with a record of 13 wins and 2 draws from their opening 15 games.

Colne were flying the flag for the league in the FA Vase after winning 1-0 at Stone Dominoes.

Ashton Town’s Edge Green Street ground was hit by vandals who caused thousands of pound worth of damage.

Early December

Matt Derbyshire was missing from the Rotherham United squad that that took on Cardiff City away from home and was also absent from the home game against his former employers Nottingham Forest at the New York Stadium and once again the Millers failed to register on the ‘goals for’ column as they were held to a goalless draw in both games.

Andy Procter helped Accrington Stanley earn a replay in the FA Cup 2 nd round at home to Teovil Town and that result was vital as the Reds were drawn out of the hat to host Manchester United in the 3 rd round should they win the replay.

They then travelled to Fratton Park to take on Portsmouth and were in dreamland after taking an early two-goal lead but Pompey levelled before the break and with the crowd behind them, there looked to be only one winner but manager John Coleman’s philosolphy of scoring more goals than their opponents paid dividends with a second half winner.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon travelled to League Two leaders Wycombe Wanderers more in hope than expectation in the FA Cup but they turned the formbook on it’s head by winning 1-0 to set up a home tie against Liverpool in a repeat of the FA Cup Final of 1988.

The Dons then came from behind to win 3-2 at York City to emphasise that they had other things on their minds other than a glamorous FA Cup game.

Southport made it through to the 3 rd Round of the FA Cup after defeating Eastleigh 2-1 at Haig Avenue and they then earned a fine point with a 1-1 draw at Gateshead before hosting Wrexham in the FA Trophy and having to settle for a replay after another 1-1 scoreline.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham lost 2-0 at 2 nd placed Woking but remained 8 points above the drop zone despite that defeat. An early goal was then enough to see off local rivals Macclesfield Town in the FA Trophy.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot have been slipping up lately and that indifferent form continues although a goalless draw at home to Rochdale in the FA Cup was O.K.

They then lost 1-0 at home to Macclesfield Town who moved up to 2 nd place with those three points but it was in the FA Trophy that the Shots really let themselves and their fans down. Visitors Burgess Hill Town from the Ryman Division One South, made the headlines by winning 1-0 at the Rec.

Chorley made it through to the semi-finals of the Lancs. Challenge Trophy by thrashing Darwen 7-1 at Victory Park. James Dean came on from the bench on 66 minutes with the Magpies already 4-0 up.

They then struggled against Colwyn Bay and in the end were grateful to pick up a point in a scoreless draw.

They were back on top form though for the FA Trophy trip to league rivals Guiseley where Deano played on the right wing and supplied numerous crosses throughout the comfortable 2-0 success.

AFC Fylde were held to a goalless draw at Stockport County, a result that left them 5 points behind leaders Barrow. They then breezed past Gainsborough Trinity 3-0 in the FA Trophy although the attendance of just 215 must have been a huge disappointment for club officials.

In the Vanarama South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough have slipped well away from the play-off spots and lost again, to a last minute winner from Chelmsford City.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United looked to be on their way out of the FA Trophy as they trailed 2-0 at home to Barwell but a goal 13 minutes from time brought them back into it and they looked to have earned a replay with a 93 rd minute leveller, an own goal, but they battled on and two minutes later they hit the winner.

They then hosted Harrogate Town from the league above but made a mockery of that diiference by winning 4-0.

Ramsbottom United went through to the next round of the Doodson Cup after a terrific 3-1 win at Salford City.

They were then held to a 1-1 draw at Matlock Town before surprisingly losing 2-1 to Atherton Collieries in the Lancs. Challenge Trophy ¼ final.

Next up was a huge FA Trophy tie where they entertained Stockport County and over 900 fans turned up to see the Vanarama North side ease through 3-0.

Padiham suffered successive 5-1 away defeats, at Prescott Cables and Salford City with Brett Ormerod scoring in both game sfor the Blues. In the second of those losses, they were 4-0 down after only half an hour.

Simon Garner’s Clitheroe saw little action in the first part of the month but in their only game they made it through to the Lancs. Challenge Trophy semi-fianls by winning 2-1 at Bamber Bridge.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, a big game was postponed between Runcorn Town and Glossop North End due to vandalism and that followed a break-in at Nelson’s Victoria Park where several item were stolen. We at GHTFC sympathise with those clubs as we know only too well about vandalism and theft.

Many games were postponed due to both frozen and waterlogged pitches and some of our local clubs maybe wished their games had fallen by the wayside.

Barnoldswick Town were thrashed 6-2 at leaders Runcorn Linnets before losing 3-1 at Congleton Town, despite taking the lead in the second of those games.

The Bears had earlier in the week won 3-1 at Colne.

For the second year running, Darwen let a three-goal lead slip to exit the FA Vase. With 33 minutes of this season’s home game with Chadderton, they led 3-0 and looked well on their way to an easy victory but the visitors played some fine football to score three of their own in 14 minutes either side of half-time. Surprisingly, that’s how it stayed until two minutes from time when Chaddy scored twice in the closing stages.

The Salmoners then looked to get back to winning ways at Cammell Laird and they were on track at the break, leading 1-0 but Laird hit three unanswered goals in the second half to take the points.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic ended November on a high, beating 2 nd placed Bristol Manor Farm 2-1 in the Western League thanks to a mis-hit 88 th minute winner before winning 4-3 at Cadbury Heath. It looked like a stroll in the park for the Bucks as they built up a 3-0 lead just after half time but the home side fought back before Nick’s boys clinched a 4-3 win to move into 6 th spot.

The St. Lukes Bowl ¼ final saw them host Plymouth Argyle and a crowd of 122 saw the young Pilgrims triumph 3-1.

They then lost 1-0 at Bridport who leap-frogged Buckland in the table.

One of our recent cup opponents, Glasshoughton Welfare are having a hard time of it at the moment, lying bottom of the Northern Counties East League and their most recent defeat came at home to Shaw Lane Aquaforce who won 12-0!

Another team to notch double figures were Northwich Flixton Villa who smashed Widnes 10-1 at home, and this after the visitors took the lead! In fact it took Villa almost half an hour to hit their first goal.

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago this week we hosted Newcastle Town in the 1 st Division of the NWCFL and the Staffs. Side ran out 3-0 winners in front of a crowd of just 60.

With Formby surprise winners at Trafford, that left us with just seven points on the board(we’d been deducted four points for a breach of league rules)seven points adrift at the bottom with just two wins from 20 games and already 50 goals conceded

Table toppers Fleetwood Town won by the same score at Bacup Borough while in the 2 nd Division, a Zarac goal wasn’t enough for Darwen as they lost 3-1 at home to Cammell Laird. That was the Merseysiders 12 th win in 14 games although they still trailed leaders Padiham by two poitns, albeit with five games in hand.

Our only local side left in the FA Vase, Colne, drew 1-1 at home to Stone Dominoes with both gaosl coming in extra-time.

Some things haven’t changed at all over the last decade, poor old Flixton and Oldham’s attendances. The former drew just 20 who saw their side beat Castleton Gabriels 5-1 and just two more saw Oldham beat Eccleshall 1-0 in the Divison Two Trophy.

Ronnie Morgan, a legend at Cammell Laird had already amassed 32 goals including 20 in 18 league games.

Despite our position, we had two names on the leading scorers chart, Paul Mashiter led the way for us with 14 while John Eastham had 10, with an incredible 18 of our 20 league goals being scored by that duo.

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Late November

Matt Derbyshire was an unused substitute as Rotherham United slipped to another disappointing home defeat, 1-0 to his former club Birmingham City.

The Millers then entertained another of his former sides, Blackpool, and they looked like securing a rare win against the bottom side, leading 1-0 going into the final stages of the game but the Seasiders levelled late on to salvage a point.

Matt’s deft header set up Rotherham’s goal on 78 minutes and after Blackpool had equalised, he almost snatched the winner but his 92 nd minute goal-bound header was blocked.

Andy Procter helped Accrington Stanley come from behind to defeat League One Notts. County 2-1 at the Crown Ground but the attandance must have been a massive blow to the club with around 900 Stanley fans amongst the crowd of 1,026.

The Reds then beat Cambridge United by the same score at the same venue to move nearer to the League Two play-off positions.

A similar result at home to Exeter City would have been most welcome on the Friday evening but sadly Stanley went down to a 3-2 defeat.

Andy came very close to opening the scoring when his first half header went inches over the bar but City scored just before and just after the break and although the Reds pulled a goal back, the Grecians soon re-established a two-goal lead.

Stanley made it 3-2 with around 20 minutes left but couldn’t force a leveller.

One highlight of the evening was the attendance of over 1,400, well up on an average Saturday turn-out.

Fleetwood Town lost an unbeaten home record going back nine months as they went down 1-0 to Walsall.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon also came from behind to progress, beating York City 3-1 after going 1-0 down on just five minutes in front of a surprisingly poor turn-out of 2,048.

The Dons then fought out a goalless draw at bogey side Oxford United.

A big crowd of 4,306 saw the next home game against Cambridge United and the majority were celebrating as the home side took an early 2 nd minute lead before the visitors scored twice to seal the points.

Southport drew a much better than average 1,472 for their game with Dagenham & Redbridge and produced a dominant display to win 2-0.

A game at fellow strugglers Nuneaton followed that and after letting a two goal lead slip, the Sandgrounders scored the winner 11 minutes from the end to move three points clear of the bottom four.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham looked to be down and out after Wrexham went 2-0 up in the final minute of the first half at the Racecourse Ground but a terrific fight back with three goals in the final 16 minutes gave the Robins a memorable victory and kept them just above Southport in the Vanarama Premier League.

Thr next game saw them once again go behind, at home to Kidderminster Harriers, but two 2 nd half goals gave them three points and lifted them up to 17 th position.

Harwood fan Paul Clark left the last Aldershot game before the end but there was no chance of that happening in the FA Cup replay against Portsmouth and he was ‘over the moon’ to see the Shots win 1-0 before a fabulous crowd of 5,374. The 81 st minute winner was fully deserved for the home side who were unlucky not to knock out the 2008 winners of the competition in the first game at Fratton Park.

It was a case of ‘after the Lord Mayors Show’ in the next home game as Eastleigh cruised to a 2-0 win against a tired looking Shots side in front of another fine crowd of over 1700.

I then met up ‘superfan’ Paul at Haig Avenue where his favourites gave a thoroughly professional performance to win 3-1. A dominant first half had them leading 2-0 beofre a scrappy goal on 45 minutes brought ‘port back into the game.

Although the home side enjoyed plenty of possession after the break, they rarely troubled the Aldershot keeper and after the 71 st minute third, it was just a question of how great the margin of victory would be.

Despite the lengthy midweek journey, the travelling support numbered around 70 in a disappointing crowd of 843.

Paul was back on the road three days later travelling up the North West again to see his side take on Wrexham and it looked like being another good day out when the Shots took a 14 th minute lead but the Dragons halted a long win-less run by hitting three goals without reply.

Southport lost again, 1-0 at Lincoln City, where only a little over 2,000 turned out.

In the Vanarama North, Chorley bounced back in style after gaining just a point from their two games with the mighty Boston United to beat Stockport County 3-0 at Victory Park. The Hatters would have leap-frogged the Magpies with a win but Chorley eased to victory before a near 1,700 crowd and they followed that up with another three points against rock-bottom Hyde although it was far from a walkover. James Dean returned from suspension but had to be content with a place on the bench.

The Tigers shocked the home supporters in another four-figure attendance with two early goals but Chorley hit back to level by the break. Deano was brought on midway through the second period and he helped his side to complete the comeback with a thrid goal soon after. Even then the strugglers almost defried the odds coming very close to equalising at the death.

That victory saw them leapfrog AFC Fylde who were held to a 0-0 draw by Stockport in front of almost 1,000 fans at Kellamergh Park. That crowd was more than double the previous home league gate.

Chorley then entertained lowly Stalybridge Celtic in the FA Trophy and although they took the lead, Celtic hit back to lead 2-1 before an injury time equaliser gave the Magpies a second chance.

In the Vanarama South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough defeated Hayes & Yeading 2-0 at home before being held to a 1-1 draw by 3 rd paced Ebbsfleet United and those four points left the Sports just a point outside the paly-off positions.

In the Evostik Premier Division, Ramsbottom United moved above Phil O’Dell’s FC United after they beat play-off rivals Grantham Town 3-1 at the Riverside despite trailing at the break. FC had beaten Frickley Athletic in midweek before 1,634 fans but when the Yorkshire side equalised 5 minutes from time it looked a though they’d have to settle for a point but a winner two minutes later kept them in the top four. They then went down 2-1 at Stourbridge while leaders Skelmersdale United took a first minute lead at home to Ilkeston before being thrashed 4-1.

Rammy then came from behind against Burcough at the Riverside in the Doodson Cup to breeze through 5-1.

An FA Trophy tie at Banbury United followed that and once again they produced a professional performance to go into the 1 st round with a 3-0 win.

FC United drew 1-1 at Barwell to go into the hat for Minday’s draw.

Bottom side Padiham exited the Doodson Cup after a 4-1 home defeat by Bamber Bridge and then lost 3-1 at Brighouse Town in the league but still remain only four points from safety.

Simon Garner’s Clitheroe side refused to be intimidated by a amassive crowd of over 1,000 at leaders Darlington and despite going behind after an hour, stayed in touch before grabbing a last minute leveller. That goal was just the 10 th conceded by ‘Darlo’ on 18 league games and it stopped them completing a tenth successive win.

Earlier in the week the Blues had been hammered 5-0 at Lancaster City in the Doodson Cup.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Ed O’Neil’s Nelson came from two down to gain a point at home to West Didsbury & Chorlton.

Barnoldswick Town recorded a vital win at home to Alsager Town.

Colne completed a quick-fire double over AFC Liverpool thanks to a 2-0 win at Holt House and that followed a midweek goalless draw at Squires Gate.

AFC Blackpool drew a huge 234 for their clash with Runcorn Linnets who won 3-1.

In Division One, just one of the seven games on the 22 nd attracted more than 50 fans and the stayaways at Cheadle Town missed a treat. Visitors Wigan Robin Park have been conceding goals for fun and they didn’t disappoint the 35 spectators who saw Town win 8-1.

In the Reusch Cup, the seemingly unstoppable Atherton Collieries entertained nieghbours Laburnum Rovers and a jaw-dropping 398 saw the visitors cruising to victory, 2-0 up with just 17 minutes left on the clock but Colls stormed back to win 4-2 after extra time.

In the Lancs. Challenge Trophy, AFC Darwen defeated AFC Blackpool 1-0 at the Anchor but the Salmoners next game, in the FA Vase, was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Also in the Vase, St. Helens Town edged out Alnwick Town in a nine goal thriller after extra time while the afore mentioned unstoppable Atherton Collieries were stopped in their quest for Vase glory when they lost 2-1 at home to our old foes Seaham Red Star.

A really excting game at Saffron Waldon where the home side beat Kings Langley 6-5 after extra time.

The furthest Great Harwood Town managed was the quarter final where we lost to Littlehampton Town and they were involved in a great game in Oxfordshire against Abingdon Town.

As half time appraoched, they led 3-0 but just six minutes after the break it was 3-3. Abingdon then took the lead before Littlehampton forced a replay with a Grey header.

Great comeback in the Staffs. Vase where home side Uttoxeter Town looked to be racking up a cricket score against Hanley Town, leading 3-0 after only 16 minutes but the NWCFL side hit back to level in the final minute before notching the winner in extra time.

Harwood old boy Dennis Hill shows no signs of slowing down, playing for Park in the Lancs. Veterans League and Vintage Clarets(Burnley Old Boys), and he’s still scoring regularly-at both ends!

The Clarets drew 1-1 with Commercial Old Boys and Dennis scored them both before he helped them to a 2-1 win over a St. Theadores XI.

Park slipped up as the Winter League began, losing 3-1 to Euxton Villa.

Early November

Matt Derbyshireonce again had to be content with a place on the bench for Rotherham United as they hosted high-flying Middlesbrough but with the Millers two down at the break, he was brought on and although he came closest to scoring when his 83 rd minute, 25-yard left foot hit the post, the visitors ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.

He then made a rare start and and even rarer full game as his team took on Reading away from home and he almost opened the scoring with a 13 th minute header,

The Royals were on top for most of the game though and by the time Matt set up strike partner Revell with a great chance, Rotherham were already 3-0 down and that’s how it stayed.

Thw closest they came to a consolation was when Matt hit an audicious 35-yard shot which was blocked.

Next up was a local derby at Sheffield Wednesday where the Millers earned a point with a goalless draw in front of a massive crowd of just under 27,000. Matt was an unused substitute.

In League One, Fleetwood Town gained a long overdue three points when they beat Gillingham 1-0 at Highbury but they then exited the FA Cup, losing 1-0 at Cambridge United.

A third 1-0 scoreline followed, a 1-0 win at Yeovil Town to leave them in 10 th spot while the loss saw the Glovers sink to the bottom of the table.

In League Two, Don Fitzgerald’s Wimbledon were chasing an equaliser at Northampton Town before the hosts scored a 94 th minute second goal to end the contest.

The Dons then forced a replay in the FA Cup thanks to a 1-1 draw at York City before drawing 1-1 again in the Johnston’s Paint Trophy at Bristol City.

They then defeated Dagenham & Redbridge 1-0 at home in the league in front of a healthy 3,887. The goal was scored by Fuller, his first for EIGHT years and the three points took them up to 14 th place.

Andy Procter’s Accrington Stanley forced a replay thanks to a terrific 0-0 result at Notts County in the FA Cup but they then lost 1-0 at Carlisle United despite a dominant second half performance.

Andy came closest to equalising when his 60 th minute header forced a great save from the home keeper.

In the Vanarama Premier, Paul Salt’s Altrincham have adjusted to life there although a 1-0 home defeat to second bottom Alfreton Town left them just above the drop zone.

Thankfully they followed up that disappointment with a 2-1 win at Lincoln City where they enjoyed a huge 61% possession.

A big crowd of 1,763 saw the Robins take on Blyth Spartans up in the North East where two goals in the last few minutes gave the scoreline a lop-sided look of 4-1 to the home side.

A visit to bottom of the table Telford gave them a chance to move away from the danger zone but despite being on top for most of the game, they went down 2-1.

They then entertained 2 nd placed Grimsby Town where a 90 th minute leveller gave them a well-earned point to keep them 3points above the bottom four.

If that turn-out was impressive then the one at our old foes Norton United was unbelievable. When we played them, they were attracting around 50 fans to their home games but a whopping 1,762 packed into their ground for the FA Cup tie with Gateshead.

Not surprisingly the ‘Heed’ triumphed, winning 4-0 but Norton’s best-ever run in the competition saw them earn almost £50,000 so well done to them.

The next home game for Norton saw them take on Tividale in the Doodson Cup and just 54 fans turned out to see the visitors triumph 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

In the same competition, a paltry 165 witnessed a fantastic turnaround in the North East as Darlington led Whitby Town 3-0 after only 32 minutes but still lost 3-1 on penalties after a 3-3 draw.

In the Vanarama Premier, Paul Clark left the Aldershot versus Gateshead game well into added on time, satisfied with the point secured with a 1-1 draw but sadly for Paul and the Shots supporters amongst the 1,679 crowd, the visitors hit an injury time winner which took them up into 2 nd place.

He was then amongst a huge following of around 2,500 fans who made the trip to Hampshire rivals Portsmouth in the FA Cup. Paul’s boys looked to on their way to a big defeat after Pompey opened strongly and took the lead but they hung on and came back superbly after the break.

It was all Aldershot and they looked to be heading through to the 2 nd Round until a late equaliser took the game to a replay.

Another away game followed soon afterwards and a great display at Kidderminster saw them climb up to 13 th place thanks to a comprehensive 2-0 win.

They couldn’t quite replicate that form in the next game but still had enough to beat Nuneaton 1-0 at the Rec in front of another healthy turn-out of 1,658.

Southport defied the odds by forcing a replay at Dagenham & Redbridge thanks to a 0-0 draw in the FA Cup and a week later made the even longer trip to Dartford in the league. A single goal looked like being enough to seal all three points but the Kent side hit back in the 94 th minute.

The result left both sides directly below Altrincham and just above the ‘trap door’.

In Vanarama North, James Dean failed to hit the target but his Chorley team-mates still built up a four goal lead inside half an hour at Gainsborough Trinity. Although the hosts had pulled back two goals back still with 18 minutes remaining, a last minute third made the game appear much closer than it actually was.

The Magpies then hosted the mighty Pilgrims of Boston United and were no match for the visitors who dominated throughout despite the scoreline of 2-1. Deano hardly got a kick and an injury time consolation gave the scoreline a deceptive look.

A trip to leaders Barrow in the Lancs. Challenge Trophy saw them return to winning ways thanks to a terrific 2-1 win before they made the long trip to Lincolnshire for the return league fixture with Boston.

Deano was missing through suspension but the game was a much closer one than the previous weeks.

I travelled down ‘incognito’ on the Chorley supporters coach and we were all treated to an excellent game of skill and passion despite the 0-0 scoreline.

With the Magpies missing their two main goalkeepers, skipper Teague and James, Boston will have been slightly disappointed with not claiming maximum points on a foggy/misty afternoon where supporters couldn’t see the action at the other end of the pitch.

Chorley substitute Winter was sent off 10 minutes from time-his third dismissal of the season-for a reckless ‘leg-breaking’ challenge, which I got a good view of, and it was a definate red card so I was surprised to hear manager Garry Flitcroft defend the player afterwards and state that the referee had a poor game.

Leaders AFC Fylde were surprisingly beaten 3-1 at Boston United whose recent form had been quite eratic.

Maybe their thoughts were on the next game, an FA Cup tie at Plymouth Argyle, and they certainly gave as good as they got, firing in no less than 18 shots although they went down 2-0.

A trip to mid-table North Ferriby United ended in a 1-1 draw which saw the Coasters drop two further points behind Barrow at the top.

Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough made it six draws in nine away games, 1-1 at Bishops Stortford and they’ve now slipped down to 12 th spot in the Vanarama South.

A couple of wins could see them shoot back up the table with just two points separating ten clubs from 7 th spot down.

The FA Cup saw the lowest ranked team, Warrington Town, host a decent Exeter City side in front of the TV cameras and incredibly they made it though to the 2 nd round after a hard-fought 1-0 win.

A packed crowd of 2,400 saw the hosts take the lead then fight for every ball as the Grecians enjoyed a huge 72% of possession and fired in 26 shots.

In the FA Trophy, a last minute Gaskell goal secured a 2-1 win for Ramsbottom United at Whitby Town but Simon Garner’s Clitheroe went out after a 2-0 home defeat to Workington in front of a healthy 326 supporters at Shawbridge.

Two clubs trying to make their way back into the Football League met as Scarborough Athletic hosted Darlington 1883 and it was Darlo who made it through with a 3-0 win infrnt of over 700 fans.

Padiham did well to hold Phil O’Dell’s FC United for 45 minutes at Stalybridge but two second half strikes were enough for the Reds to progress in front of a surprisingly small turn-out of 624.

In the Evo-stik Premier Division, FC United followed up their Trophy success with a 4-0 trouncing of visitors Witton Albion. The Reds led 3-0 after only 9 minutes and completed the scoring on 32.

They then exited the Doodson Cup, losing 3-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw at neighbours Curzon Ashton but made it through to the next round of the FA Trophy thanks to a 2-0 home win against Buxton in front of an unusually small turn-out of just over 1,000.

Ramsbottom United suffered a rare defeat, 2-0 at Halesowen Town in front of just short of 2,000 fans but then progressed in the Lancs. Challenge Trophy by defeating West Didsbury & Chorlton 3-0 at the Riverside with all the goals coming in the final 10 minutes.

A 3-1 FA Trophy win at Nantwich Town followed that one to keep the Blues on course for some cup glory this season.

In the Evo-stik Premier, United were then held 1-1 at Buxton while Rammy also dropped two points after a 1-1 draw with Workington at the Riverside Stadium.

In Division One North, Clitheroe took the lead at Bamber Bridge but the hosts fought back to win 3-1.

Surprise result/score of the season as Salford City suffered their first league defeat of the season, 6-0 at Kendal Town although the visitors did finish the game with nine men after two red cards.

Town then travelled to bottom of the table Padiham and hit another five after going behind on 13 minutes. The Storks were leading until the half hour mark when an own goal set them back. That defeat was their 7 th in 9 home games.

Kendal continued their terrific run of goalscoring, coming from 3-1 down at home to New Mills to force a 4-4 draw and then scoring another three without reply in their next game against FA Cup heroes Warrington.

What a game in Division One South and cup heroes Norton United hosted Brigg Town. After an hours play, Brigg led 4-1 but Norton produced a stunning fight-back to win 7-4. What a pity that only 123 witnessed the goal avalanche.

In the Evo-stik Division One North, over 300 fans passed through the turnstiles at Shawbridge to see Simon Garner’s Clitheroe take on Salford City and the home side took the points after a fine 2-1 win.

The Blues then entertained Nelson in the Lancs. Challenge Trophy and won 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw but couldn’t build on those wins. Losing 3-0 in their next outing at Northwich Victoria.

Salford’s poor run continued as they were beaten 4-1 at home to Harrogate R.A.

Bamber Bridge produced one of the performances of the season by beating Spennymoor Town 6-1 away from home in front of over 500 fans in the North East.

Brett Ormerod scored again but he couldn’t prevent struggling Padiham losing again, this time 2-1 at Ossett Albion.

In the FA Vase, Colne narrowly lost 3-2 at home to a strong Shilden side while Darwen also went out after a 2-1 home defeat by Maine Road.

Of our recent opponents, Winterton Rangers lost 5-0 at Marske United, Seaham Red Star won 4-2 at Selby Town and Guisborough Town defeated visitors Billingham Synthonia 3-1.

The biggest win of the round was at Daisy Hill who lost 8-0 to the seemingly invincible Atherton Collieries 8-0.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Colne enjoyed a great 5-2 win at St. Helens with Jordon netting a hat-trick but then found Glossop North End a much tougher proposition. A crowd of 333 filed into Holt House and they saw the 2 nd placed Hillmen cruise to a 6-0 win.

That turn-out followed North End’s Derbyshire Senior Cup game against Gamesley where an incredible 635 saw them win 5-1.

Nelson beat AFC Liverpool 2-1 at Victoria Park before 420 fans saw them draw 0-0 at 1874 Northwich.

Not much joy for Bacup recently, they lost 1-0 at Alsager Town and also exited the Lancs. Challenge Trophy, losing 2-0 at home to Daisy Hill in front of only 22 spectators at West View.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen drew a ‘jaw-dropping’ 350 for the home game with Atherton L.R. and the majority went home happy after the Salmoners cemented their 8 th place position with a 3-1 win.

At the top of the table, Atherton Collieries completed their 13 th game of the season with their 13 th win, 6-1 against 6 th placed Rochdale Town.

Harwood supporter Nick Hancock saw his Buckland Athletic favourites go through to the next round of the FA Vase with a 1-0 extra-time win against Longwell Green at Homers Heath.

What a game in the Ryman League where home side Cheshunt led 3-0 at the break only for relegation threatened Redbridge to storm back with five goals in the last 20 minutes.

Late October

Matt Derbyshire could only make the bench for Rotherham United as they took on improving Fulham at the New York Stadium but he entered the fray 12minutes from time with the scores level at 2-2 and within a minute he should have scored but his close-range header went wide. The Millers looked to have clinched victory with an 86 th minute own goal but the Cottagers hit back with a last minute equaliser to salvage a point.

He was then an unused substitute as they gained a fine point with a 1-1 draw at Brighton & Hove Albion.

In League One, Fleetwood Town went down to 11 th place after defeats at MK Dons, 2-1, and Preston North End, 3-2. The second of those games saw the Cod Army, cheered on by 1500 travelling fans, lead 2-0 at the break before a Joe Garner hat-trick gave the Lilywhites the points.

In League Two, Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon were held to a goalless draw by Plymouth Argyle in front of 4,318 fans and were then held again by Tranmere Rovers. The Dons twice took the lead but once again had to share the points.

Andy Procter helped Accrington Stanley to a 3-1 home victory against Hartlepool but the big talking point was the paltry crowd of just 947. Andy alomost opened the scoring on the half-hour mark but his header went just wide.

Stanley then gained another point with a 1-1 draw at paly-off chasing Newport County before ending the month with a 2-1 home success against Morecambe. The Reds were two goals to the good after only 10 minutes but the Shrimps hit back early in the second half but failed to find the equaliser and their shocking record of never having beaten Stanley in the Football League continues.

Two goals from Scott saw Paul Clark’s Aldershot make it through to the 1 st round of the FA Cup as they defeated Torquay United 2-0 in front of 1,690 fans at the Recreation Ground.

Also in that competition, Paul Salt’s Altrincham eased though with a 3-0 win at Barwell but Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough went out, losing 1-0 at Dover Athletic after a goalless draw in Sussex.

Southport recovered from a 3 rd minute penalty to force a draw at Tamworth and then went through on penalties after a similar score at Haig Avenue.

Who would have believed that Norton United would have made it to the 1 st Round, a club that was certainly a lot smaller than Harwood when we were locking horns just a few years ago?

They performed admirably to hold Shilden to a draw but then produced one of the shocks of the 4 th qualifying round by winning 1-0 up in the North East in front of crowd of almost 1,000 who were anticipating a derby game against mighty Gateshead in the next round.

Kings Lynn striker hit a hat-trick at home to AFC Fylde but that proved to be insufficient as ex-Nelson goal-machine Richie Allen hit three of his own as the Coasters won 4-3 in front of a partisan crowd of 1,500.

Chorley versus Halifax Town looked to be a thriller in the making but the sides cancelled each other out to produce a game lacking in excitement much to the disappointment of the 2,333 attendance.

That could’t be said of the replay as 387 Magpies fans helped swell the gate at the Shay to 1,681. The vistors, with James Dean at heart of the action, started superbly and he set up Hine whose effort produced a great save. Winning all the headers to set up team-mates, Chorley poured forward and Deano came very close with a great curling shot that skimmed the post.

Halifax then scored with their first chance on 14 minutes and ten minutes later a linesman spotted Deano’s elbow connecting with a Town player off the ball and he was given (another!) red card.

That, surprisingly didn’t knock the stuffing out of the Magpies and they gave as good as they got for the remainder of the half but the Tykes struck again just before the break and another soon after the re-start ended the contest. Two more goals made it a miserable evening for everyone connected to the club.

In the Evo-stik Premier, Phil O’Dell’s FC United drew 0-0 at Matlcok Town before they pulled in just short of 2,000 for their game with Rushall Olympic at Stalybridge, in which they triumphed 1-0.

They were then held at home to another scoreless draw by Blyth Spartans.

Also in that Division, Ramsbottom’s rise up the ‘pyramid’shows no sign of slowing down. They thrashed Whitby Town 4-0 at the Riverside and then moved into 4 th spot with a 3-1 win at Marine.

In Division One North, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr would been delighted to see their Clitheroe side storm into a 3-0 lead at Brighouse Town but the home team fought back to 3-2 before an 83 rd minute 4 th sealed the three points. The Blues then edged past Harrogate R.A. 2-1 at Shawbridge.

Lowly Padiham progressed to the next round of the FA Trophy with a 4-2 replay win over Brigg Town at the Arbories, in no small way thanks to a Brett Ormerod hat-trick.

That win saw confidence return to the team and a few days later they defeated 7 th placed Farsley 3-1 at the same venue but still reanied bottom of the league.

£rd placed Droylsden then proved too strong as they ran out 5-1 winners at the Butchers Arms.

With bad luck coming thick and fast at West View, Bacup boss Brent Peters has anounced that from next season, the club will be reverting to their former name of Bacup Borough.

Their luck was still out, however, as they looked to be earning a great point at AFC Liverpool before the irrepressible Ronnie Morgan completed a hat-trick in the 90 th minute to seal a 3-2 win in the Men United Cup.

Also in that competition, Nelson lost 3-1 at home to Squires Gate while Colne won 1-0 at Silsden.

A big crowd of 198 saw Barnoldswick Town fall three goals behind to 1874 Northwich at the Silentnight Stadium after only 19 minute but the expected thrashing didn’t materialise and Barlick were unlucky to go down 3-2 in the end.

Down in the Western League, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic produced their best result of the season by winning 2-0 at top of the table Bristol Manor Park before a 3-0 home win against Bishop Sutton took them up to 4 th spot.

Early October

Matt Derbyshire was given the nod to start as Rotherham United travelled to Norwich City. He missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring on just 9 minutes but he was instrumental as the Millers took the lead just before the break. A long pass put him through in the penalty area but he was clattered by the Canaries ‘keeper resulting in an obvious spot-kick which was converted. In the 2 nd half he shot just wide before being substituted 12 minutes from the end and Norwich then salvaged a point with a late equaliser.

He started again as Rotherham hosted Leeds United at the New York Stadium and despite going in at the break one down, the Reds hit back to win 2-1. Matt had a first half effort well saved before making way just after the hour mark.

Andy Procter’s Accrington Stanley hosted an improving Dagenham & Redbridge at the Crown but despite the Reds leading 1-0 at half time, the Daggers fought back to win 2-1.

A trip to Stevenage followed that defeat and the game ended with the same scoreline and another defeat.

In the same division, Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon recorded a great 3-2 home win against leaders Bury and then travelled to Wycombe where a 2-0 home win took the Wanderers to the summit.

In League One, Fleetwood Town lost again, 2-1 at Colchester United but then got back on the winning trail with a 3-1 home success against Doncaster Rovers.

In the Skrill Premier League, Paul Salt’s Altrincham have endured a torrid start and a 3-0 home defeat against Woking saw that continue but the next game saw them beat Braintree 1-0, also at Moss Lane, and those three points took them out of the bottom four.

Those results followed a fantastic 3-1 win at Halifax Town and an equally good result at Grimsby Town where the game ended goalless.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot are also struggling at the wrong end of the table but a fine 2-2 home draw against much-fancied Bristol Rovers was followed by another good point with a 1-1 draw at Dartford.

Alfreton Town were then beaten 2-0 at the Recreation Ground to leave the Shots well clear of the drop zone but the unbeaten run was then ended with a 1-0 loss at Chester.

Southport were hammered 5-2 at home to Woking and then conceded another three at home to Lincoln City but they did salvage a point. They then had a great 2-0 win at Braintree and a 1-0 win against Welling at Haig Avenue which took them out of the bottom four.

In the North Division, Chorley were beaten 3-1 at Solihull Moors despite James Dean giving them a 13 th minute lead. Deano had already seen one shot saved before a through ball gave him the simple task of lobbing the stranded keeper for the game’s opener. That loss saw them drop to 3 rd position. The Magpies had earlier progressed to the next round of the FA Cup with a convincing 4-1 win at neighbours Bamber Bridge before over 2,000 fans at a packed Sir Tom Finney Stadium (Irongate). The turnstiles were closed at 2-40 with many fans unable to gain access. Deano also opened the scoring in that game with a simple tap-in.

AFC Fylde’s rollercoaster shows no signs of slowing down and they made it though to the next round of the FA Cup courtesy of a hard-fought 1-0 home win against Buxton.

They then defeated Gainsborough Trinity 2-1 to move 5 points clear at the top of the table with top scorer Richie Allen hitting the vital 2 nd.

Mike Barry’s Skrill South division Eastbourne Borough made it through to the next round of the FA Cup thanks to a last minute goal at Kingstonian, giving them a 3-2 win before a last minute equaliser salvaged a point at Gosport Borough to leave the Sports in 6 th spot.

In the Evo-stik Premier, Phil O’Dell’s FC United won 2-0 at Bower Fold against Whitby Town before they exited the Manchester Premier Cup, losing 3-1 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Radcliffe Borough. They then came from a goal behind to beat Nantwich Town 2-1 away from home but then a last minute goal saw them go down by the same score at home to Skelmersdale United.

Another defeat followed that, 3-1 at Ilkeston Town but the game was over by the break with the Red Rebels already three down.

The next few weeks should see them commence playing at their brand new stadium at Moston.

Ramsbottom United won 1-0 at Trafford before beating Belper Town 4-2 at the Riverside. Another home win, 2-0 against 2 nd placed Buxton in front of almost 500 fans, saw them move up to 4 th place.

In the 1 st Division North, Simon Garner and Ryan Parr saw their Clitheroe side go down 2-0 at Droylsden but they earned a point with a 1-1 draw at home to Radcliffe Borough.

They built on that point with a fine 2-1 success at Burscough before avenging the ‘Bloods’ defeat with a 3-2 win in the FA Trophy. The Blues built up a two-goal lead at Shawbridge before the Mancunians levelled but an 88 th minute winner saw them progress.

Padiham travelled to Darlington and, before a crowd of just under a thousand, were unlucky to go down by just a single goal and they looked to be heading for another defeat as they trailed 2-1 at home to Ossett Town but a last minute equaliser salvaged a point.

Two 1 st half goals were then enough for Northwich Victoria to take the points at the Arbories before the Storks looked to be heading for only their second win of the season as they led 2-0 at Radcliffe Borough but the home side hit back to level.

An FA Trophy tie at our old adversaries Brigg Town then ended goalless.

In the FA Vase, Darwen were in danger of exiting the competition, losing 3-2 at home to Washington but they hit two late goals to go through while Colne hit four second half goals to blow away visitors Heaton Stannington.

The Anchor side were then rocked when manager Kenny Langford resigned due to ‘personal reasons’.

Two late goals for Barnoldswick Town failed to make any difference as they were already 5-0 down at Ryhope C.A. while Bacup lost 4-2 at Selby Town.

Nelson earned a replay with a 1-1 draw at West Allotment Celtic but the North-Easterners won the replay 2-1 at Victoria Park.

Biggest score of the round saw 1874 Northwich thrash Wigan Robin Park 9-0 but the visitors were let off the hook as they trailed 8-0 with over half an hour to play.

Darwen then hit the hapless Wiganers for another four although the visitors made more of a game of it by hitting three of their own in the 1 st Division Challenge Cup.

The Salmoners then came from behind to win 2-1 at Ashton Town in the league before drawing 3-3 at Litherland REMYCA thanks to a last minute equaliser from their goalkeeper. Holden launched a clearance upfield which caught the wind and bounced over the home keeper. None of the nine 1 st Division games drew a three-figure crowd and only Hanley Town drew more than 52.

In the Premier Division, Colne suffered a narrow 1-0 home defeat against 1874 Northwich in front of over 300 fans at Holt House and that encouraging display was built on in the next game at Barnoldswick Town where a Boyle hat-trick helped them to a 4-1 win, despite going behind, in front of another big crowd, 226 at the Silentnight Stadium.

The hotshot then hit another treble as the Reds enjoyed their best result of the season, a 5-1 win at 4 th placed AFC Liverpool.

Barlick, meanwhile, continue to struggle, the Colne defeat following a 2-1 loss at Abbey Hey and they then lost 3-2 at West Didsbury & Chorlton.

Bacup are also in trouble and they lost 3-0 at home to Runcorn Linnets, in front of 153, mainly away fans, 3-1 to Stockport Sports, also at West View, and 3-1 at Glossop North End to leave them bottom.

The sorry defeat against Stockport was put into context by the Sports next two results, an 8-2 home loss to Runcorn Linnets and a 6-1 home defeat to Runcorn Town a few days later, watched by just 20 spectators.

Nelson lost 2-1 at Alsager Town but a great 4-0 win at Silsden followed with the prolific Peter Wright hitting the lot and the good form carried on in the next game when they defeated AFC Blackpool 2-0 at Victoria Park.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic are back on the right track and they defeated Gillingham Town 5-1 at home to move into the top half of the Western League before beating Street 3-2 in the Les Phillips Cup.

Great Harwood Town FC lost 7-3 against Newchurch but made it through to the next round of the Cup with 3-1 win against Black Dog.

They then gained their second win of the season, edging out Whinney Hill Reserves 4-3.

Ex-Harwood star Dave Eastwood would have been hoping for his Mill Hill side to continue with the great form of last season but they’re not having it all their own way in the Blackburn Sunday League this term.

They lifted Silverware pre-season with a 3-1 victory over Clifton in the Charity Trophy and then got the league campaign off to a flyer with a 7-1 win against ATM Lawyers. That win though was put into context By ATM’s next game, an 18-1 defeat against leaders New Gardeners.

Brownhill Arms were then beaten 1-0 before Dave’s boys lost 3-0 against Clifton. Another defeat, 3-2 against Bee Hive was followed by an 8-2 Blue & White Rosebowl success against Rishton Reserves.

Late September

Paul Salt’s Altrincham were well beaten 4-0 at Kidderminster Harriers and a trip to leaders Barnet proved no easier. The Robins were trailing 2-0 when first half stoppage time kicked in but the four added minutes brought another two goals for the Bees who went five up just after the break. Thankfully for Paul’s boys Barnet eased off and that’s how the score ended.

They then dropped to second bottom after another heavy defeat, this time at home to fellow strugglers Welling. Paul must have been quietly optimistic as the visitors had lost all five away games and the Robins would have climbed above them with a victory but the Wings had sewn up the points by half-time, having built up a 3-0 lead, which they made into four after the break.

Southport have joined Alty in the drop zone after they were beaten 1-0 by Bristol Rovers at Haig Avenue.

Matt Derbyshire started Rotherham United’s game at Bolton Wanderers but failed to make much of an impact. His only chance came on 65 minutes when his shot went straight at the keeper and he was replaced two minutes later, Bolton winning the game 3-2. Matt then spent the entire 96 minutes of the next game at home to Charlton Athletic on the bench, the game ending 1-1.

A tough trip to Ipswich Town followed and the game was effectively over after only six minutes when the Tractorboys had built up a two-goal lead and that’s how it stayed.

Matt came on from the bench after an hour and came closest to scoring for the Millers 15 minutes late but his shot whistled just past the post.

He was then disappointed to remain on the bench as his current side took on his boyhood team the Rovers but he wasn’t needed as United eased to a 2-0 win.

Fleetwood Town are still struggling to find a win and they drew two home games, 0-0 against Barnsley and 3-3 against Bristol City.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon faced two tough home games but came away with six points, after defeating leaders Burton Albion 3-0 and previous leaders Morecambe 1-0.

Andy Procter played the full 94 minutes at the Kassam Stadium where Oxford United gained their first win of the season after beating Accrington Stanley 3-1. Andy saw two long range shots fly just wide in the opening half an hour.

He also completed the following game at Northampton Town where manager John Coleman made a triumphant return to Stanley.

The Reds won 5-4 but had led 5-2 as the game entered the 89 th minute.

Next up was a home game against Plymouth Argyle and another three points courtesy of a 1-0 win lifted them into mid-table.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon enjoyed a great week, beating leaders Burton Albion 3-0 at Kingsmeadow and then leaders Morecambe 1-0 at the same venue.

In the Vanarama Premier League, after travelling hundreds of miles recently, Paul Clark saw his Aldershot favourites finally secure at win, 1-0 at home to Lincoln City to move into mid-table.

In the North Division, James Dean scored the second goal, a simple tap-in, as Chorley beat Hednesford Town 2-0 at Victory Park in front of over 1100 fans to maintain their 3 rd position.

He was also on target as the Magpies made it through to the next round of the FA Cup by beating a stubborn Glossop North End side 1-0 at home.

AFC Fylde still lead the way and their bandwagon shows no signs of slowing down as they hammered Worcester City 4-0 at Kellemergh Park with ex-Nelson hot-shot Richie Allen on target yet again, his two goals taking up to six for the season.

A 2-2 draw at Bradford Park Avenue in the FA Cup followed that win.

Great to see Hyde winning their first game of the season, a thumping 5-1 win at Ewen Fields against Lowestoft Town. The win was a great relief for their long suffering fans who’ve waited the best part of 18 months for a league win.

Earlier in the week they’d won 8-0 at Chadderton in the Manchester Cup so let’s hope those wins are a turnaround in fortunes for the Tigers.

In the South Division, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough have slipped up badly after a good start to the campaign and their latest defeat came at lowly Bath City who previously had failed to win at home. The 2-0 result saw the Sports drop into 9 th spot.

In the Western League, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic are another side who were at the top of their division only to slide down alarmingly. They lost 3-1 at Longwell Green Sports and found themselves below half way. He was then relieved to see the Bucks halt their recent slide by beating Hallen 2-0 at Homers Heath.

In the Evo-stik Premier Division, Phil O’Dells FC United defeated Grantham Town 3-1 in front of just under 2,000 fans to move up into 7 th position while Ramsbottom United continue to adapt brilliantly in a higher division by beating fancied Ilkeston 4-2 on the road.

A crowd of over 300 at the Riverside then saw top of the table Curzon Ashton held to 1-1 draw.

FCUM were then one of only two clubs to attract four-figure attendances for an FA Cup game but the majority went home disappointed after they were beaten 1-0 by lower-leagued Lancaster City.

Of our recent cup opponents, Harrogate Town lost 2-1 at home to Stockport County while North Ferriby United scraped through, 2-1 at Cleethorpes Town.

In Division One North, not too many sides are below Simon Garner’s Clitheroe and one of them, Ossett Albion, leapfrogged them by winning 2-0.

Another disappointing result followed, a 3-3 home draw with Prescott Cables.

The slide was halted with a 3-1 home win over Northwich Victoria.

No one is below Steve Wilkes’ Padiham who lost their 7 th game in 8 outings at home to Bamber Bridge by two goals to one, this despite taking the lead.

The next game at Lancaster City looked to have slipped away when the Dollyblues took a 3-1 lead in the 89 th minute but two last minute strikes secured a most unlikely point for the Storks.

A home game against lowly Burscough gave them an opportunity to move off the bottom and above the Linnets but the West Lancs. side eased to a 3-1 victory.

Salford City are going from strength to strength and their latest victory, 2-1 at home to Northwich Victoria was watched by a tremendous turn-out of 443.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, Nelson won 2-0 at AFC Blackpool and then 5-1 at Stockport Sports to move into the top half. Ex-Harwood star Ed O’Neil hitting the Admirals 4 th goal ten minutes from time.

A trip to winless Abbey Hey gave the Blues a chance to make it three wins in a week but despite the Mancunians terrible start of 11 defeats in 12 games, they eased to a 3-0 win courtesy of two penalties.

Bacup lost 3-0 at both Maine Road and AFC Liverpool to leave them struggling near the foot of the table and facing a long Winter. That also goes for Barnoldswick Town who lost again, 3-1 at home to Congleton Town who came from behind in the Men United Cup.

The two struggling sides then met at West View and Barlick secured just their second win of the season with a 2-0 win in front of only 51 spectators. Bacup have now lost 10 times in their opening 13 games.

A late penalty saw Colne lose 2-1 at high-flying Glossop North End in front of another terrific attendance of over 300.

The Reds then entertained Squires Gate who’ve enjoyed their best start to a campaign for many seasons and had conceded just six goals in the first eight games but Colne defied the odds by winning 3-0.

Glossop North End have also enjoyed a good start and they continued their fine early season form with a fantastic 8-0 win at Stockport Sports but despite that, they’re still 10 points behind leaders Runcorn Linnets.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen lost 2-0 to a Daisy Hill side who are enjoying their best season for years and the win took them up to 3 rd place.

In the Men United Cup, Darwen won 3-0 at Holker Old Boys while Bacup lost 3-0 at AFC Liverpool.

Cup competitions in the following week proved just as fruitless to our local sides. Padiham were thrashed 5-0 at Holker Old Boys in the Lancs. Challenge Trophy and two Danny Boyle goals weren’t enough to send Colne through to the 2 nd round as they were beaten 3-2 at home by West Didsbury & Chorlton.

Also on that competition, Radcliffe Borough defeated Wigan Robin Park 6-0 but only 38 fans turned up at Stainton Park and just 15 saw Rochdale Town go out on penalties to AFC Blackpool.

Barnoldswick Town exited the West Riding County Cup, losing 5-0 at Silsden.

Early September

Matt Derbyshire has almost certainly been dropped down the pecking order at Rotherham United after the mis-firing Millers brought in two more forwards, record signing Clarke-Harris from Oldham Athletic and Luciano Becchio from Leeds United.

Matt started on the bench of the Reds’ game at Bournemouth but was brought on after 65 minutes with a dominant Cherries side leading 1-0 and seemingly cruising to victory.

The ex-Robin helped to turn the tide and Steve Evans’ side earned a point after a last minute equaliser.

Andy Procter has gone ‘home’ to Accrington Stanley after a transfer deadline day move from Bury.

He made his second debut in the home fixture against Tranmere Rovers and helped the Reds to a 3-2 win, lasting 77 minutes before tiring. Stanley trailed 2-1 at one stage but fought back to claim all the points thanks to an 82 nd minute winner.

Listening to the action of his AFC Wimbledon side at Carlisle United, Don Fitzgerald must have feared the worst with the Dons 4-2 down in the 80 th minute, but they fought back to draw 4-4 thanks to a 93 rd minute equaliser and in doing so denied the Cumbrians their first league win of the season. A magnificent 420 made the long trip North.

A home game in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Southend United followed that and after a 2-2 draw, Fitz’s boys made it though 4-2 on penalties..

Stanley and Wimbledon then met at the Crown where a pitiful 1,238 supporters (including 212 visitors) saw a post-James Beattie side win again, 1-0 thanks to a late Gray goal.

In League One, Fleetwood Town have hit the ‘buffers’ slightly, following two home draws, they exited the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, losing 3-1 to close rivals Morecambe at Highbury, and then 1-0 in the league at Oldham Athletic.

They then slipped to 7 th after another single goal defeat at Crawley Town.

In the Vanarama Premier League, two Reeves goals gave Paul Salt’s Altrincham a 2-1 home victory over Dartford and the Robins must have been looking forward to another success on the road at pointless Alfreton Town but things didn’t quite go their way. The Notts. side had lost all seven opening league games but led 1-0 until the 89 th minute and 1-1 was how it finished.

Reeves then hit another double in a creditable 3-3 home draw with fancied Eastleigh.

Southport ran Eastleigh close before going down 2-1 on the South Coast but they then defeated Kidderminster Harriers 1-0 at Haig Avenue to stay out of the drop zone.

Another home game, against bottom side Alfreton Town gave them the chance to register another win but the visitors, after their first point against Alty, got their first win of the campaign, 2-0, with both goals coming in the opening ten minutes.

Paul Clark made the long trip to Halifax Town along with over 300 other Aldershot supporters and although the contest was even throughout, the League leaders shaded it 1-0.

Paul was then amongst a crowd of over 3,000 at the Recreation Ground where neighbouring Woking also ruined the evening by winning 1-0.

Another journey followed, this time to Nuneaton where thankfully the Shots found the back of the net to equalise the home side’s 1 st half opener.

In the Vanarama North Division, I travelled over to Yorkshire to see Boston United overcome a half-time deficit to win 3-1 at Bradford Park Avenue.

No stopping AFC Fylde and they stormed to the top of the table after three great wins. An astonishing 8-1 win at promotion rivals Oxford City, a 2-1 home success against Bradford Park Avenue, and a 2-0 win at Gloucester City.

That latest win took them to the summit after Chorley’s 2-0 defeat at Worcester City.

The Magpies had earlier registered two cracking wins at Tamworth and at home to North Ferriby United. In the first of those games, James Dean was fouled for what appeared to be a certain penalty but the referee waved away appeals. Chorley then took the lead and Deano added a second before the break and their cause was helped by the Lambs’ indiscipline which saw two players sent off. The Magpies cruised to the three points and added a third in the second half.

The North Ferriby game was a tight affair and was decided by the only goal when a long clearance by Deano from a United corner set up an attack from which Dorney netted, much to the delight of a superb four-figure turn-out.

At Kidderminster, temporary home of Worcester, they were well beaten and it took an hour for them to make a chance, Dean setting up Stephenson just before being substituted.

In the South, Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough have slipped up recently, losing 5-2 at leaders Boreham Wood and then 2-0 at home to lowly Hemel Hemstead to drop out of the play-off positions.

In the Evo-stik Premier Division, Ramsbottom United moved away from the foot of the table into mid-table after two home wins in a week. The first of those was a comfortable 3-2 success against Marine with the Merseysiders goals only coming in the final four minutes.

A good crowd of 250 saw that one and an even better 357 were present at the next game where Stamford were beaten 3-1.

They then went down 2-0 at Whitby Town before a trip to league rivals and highly placed Buxton in the FA Cup 1 st qualifying round where they lost out on a cash injection after a 3-2 defeat. The Bucks looked to have settled the tie after only 36 minutes after building up a 3-0 lead but after Spencer had missed a penalty, he then pulled one back before the break and when the Rams made it 3-2 from the spot with 13 minutes left, the home side were hanging on.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United are finding goals hard to come by, winning 1-0 at Blyth Spartans before two goalless draws, at Marine and at home to Matlock Town, before almost 2,000 fans.

What a game in the FA Cup at North Shields where ‘born-again’ club Scarborough Athletic came through after extra-time. The scores were level at 3-3 after 90 minutes with all three Scarborough goals and two of Shields goals coming from penalties!

After 120 minutes it was 4-4 with the visitors going through after a 4-2 shoot out success.

The next round saw them draw 2-2 at Ashington.

Elsewhere, Littlehampton Town, who ended our best-ever run in the FA Vase several years ago, went out of the FA Cup after an embarrassing 10-0 defeat at Maidstone United, who must be one of the favourites from non-league to reach the 1 st round proper.

Of our local sides, Lancaster City demolished West Allotment Celtic 5-0 away from home, Bamber Bridge could only draw 2-2 at home to Squires Gate while Simon Garner’s Clitheroe were beaten 3-1 at league rivals Harrogate R.A.

The Blues previous game was at the same venue and produced the same result, a 1-0 loss, courtesy of a 90 th minute goal, which gave them just one win in their opening six league games. That should have been two as they led New Mills 2-0 at Shawbridge before having to settle for a point.

Salford City continue to impress and also attract the crowds, over 700 turned up at Spennymoor to see a goalless draw and 265 for the 4-0 home win over Ossett Albion, a result which saw them go top.

They then made it through to the next round of the FA Cup after a 2-0 home win over Nantwich Town.

Padiham lie bottom of the table after two more defeats, 3-0 at Warrington Town and 5-3 at home to resurgent Droylsden with all the goals coming in the first 65 minutes.

They then looked to have earned a point at New Mills but a last minute winner gave the home side a 3-2 win.

Brigg Town have been a bogey side for us in recent times but they suffered an embarrassing 10-0 defeat at mid-table Gresley. After three goals in the first 22 minutes, Brigg stemmed the tide for over half an hour before the Midlanders cut loose.

Fantastic game in the FA Vase at Stockport Sports watched by just 57 spectators. A 90 th minute penalty gave the home side what looked to be the winner but there was still time for Selby Town to make it 4-4 in stoppage time. Another goal apiece sent the tie to a replay where Selby won 3-1.

Previous opponents of ours, Glasshoughton Welfare were also involved in a ‘goal-fest’, unfortunately for them, all eleven ended up in the back of their net. Once again a lowly crowd saw the action, just 74 turned up at Runcorn Town.

Norton & Stockton Ancients brings back happy memories for Harwood supporters who saw us triumph there recently but they made it through to the next round after a comprehensive 3-0 win at Holker Old Boys.

Colne made it through by the skin of their teeth thanks to a last minute Boyle penalty which gave them a 2-1 win against Penrith at Holt House.

Neighbours Barnoldswick Town breezed through 5-1 against Tow Law Town although it wasn’t until extra-time that they made their superiority count.

That got them back on track after they’d lost 4-2 at Colne in front of a healthy 220 fans who saw the dynamic duo of Hart and Boyle score two apiece.

Barlick then drew 0-0 at improving Squires Gate before going down 1-0 at Maine Road.

Meanwhile, Colne defeated Stockport Sports 3-0 at home with all the goals coming in the first 40 minutes.

Nelson led visitors Silsden 2-1 at the break but the Yorkshire fought back to win 3-2.

A trip to West Didsbury & Chorlton looked to be a case of ‘deja’vu’ as the Admirals went in at half-time 1-0 up but within 10 minutes of the re-start the home side led 2-1. A Salmon hat-trick then helped the Blues to an impressive 5-2 win.

The following game was another topsy-turvey event, Nelson taking the lead before visitors Ashton Athletic hit back to lead at the break but after equalising, a last minute Holt strike gave them the three points and move them into mid-table.

Brent Peters’ Bacup continue to struggle but they must have been confident when they travelled to pointless AFC Blackpool but the Mechanics finally got a point after a 1-1 draw. An 89 th minute McKenzie goal looked to have secured a win in their following game at West View until Congleton Town made it 2-2 in the final moments.

McKenzie scored again in the next home game against West Didsbury & Chorlton but the Mancunians had already build up a 3-0 lead by that time.

A fantastic crowd of 551 turned out for the Glossop North End versus Runcorn Linnets game where both sides were protecting 100% records. The Cheshire side won the battle 2-0 to move 8 points clear at the top of the Premier Division.

AFC Liverpool are enjoying a much better season, lying 2 nd after a fantastic 9-0 win at 6 th placed St. Helens.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen lost their first game of the season, 3-0 at home to Hanley Town, and then drew 2-2 at Oldham Boro in front of only 30 spectators.

In the Western League, Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic have been slipping after a good start. Although they won 1-0 at home to Cullompton Rangers in the FA Vase, they then lost 3-2 at home to Brislington, making it three consecutive league defeats.

Great Harwood Town FC won their second Accrington Combination game 5-0 against Hapton while the GHTFC ‘old boys’ at Park FC, won 3-0 against Lancashire Rangers to move up to 4 th in the Lancashire Veterans Summer League. Andy Taylor scored two with the other coming from Dennis Hill.

Late August

Matt Derbyshire came on as a 62 nd minute sub in Rotherham United’s 1-0 home win against Wolves and was again on the bench for the next game against Watford where the Hornets triumphed 2-0, Matt coming on after 76 minutes. The next game at Millwall saw the Harwood legend remain on the sidelines throughout the terrific 1-0 win.

He was then given a starting berth for the home game with Brentford but the Reds indifferent form continued with a 2-0 reverse.

Matt’s 24 th minute shot from just outside the box flew narrowly wide and ten minutes later he headed wide from 15 yards when he could have done better.

His right-footed shot on the hour was well saved at the foot of the post and that was as close as they came to scoring with Matt being subbed a few minutes later.

The Robins former foes Fleetwood Town stormed to the top of League One with a series of wins but slipped to 2 nd after being held to a 1-1 draw by much-fancied Leyton Orient.

Our old landlords Accrington Stanley have endured a nightmare start to the season including a 4-0 thrashing at Shrewsbury Town where the away following numbered just 54.

A much-improved performance at Bury saw Naismith give them the lead and the same player then had a shot cleared off the line. After the Shakers equalised, he then hit the bar before the hosts scored the winner.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon have had a good start to the season and that continued with a 1-0 win at Southend United which took them into 5 th spot, but they then lost 2-1 at home to Hartlepool.

That good start turned into an average opening month as they lost at home again, 3-2 to Stevenage despite taking the lead.

In the Vanarama Premier League, Paul Clark travelled to see his Aldershot side take on in-form Eastleigh and he was quite happy with the prospect of a goalless draw but the home side clinched the points with a last minute goal.

Paul was on the road again a few days later and this time he enjoyed the journey home after a 2-0 win at AFC Telford, both goals coming in the first half.

High-flying Forest Green Rovers then visited the ‘Rec’ and although the Shots led 1-0 at the break, the game ended 1-1 and that was followed by a similar scoreline at Torquay United.

A tough home game to Grimsby followed and two Williams goals proved to be just enough for a 2-1 win.

Paul Salt’s Altrincham suffered two defeats in their first two games but got off the mark with a 2-1 home win against Bristol Rovers in front of almost 1500 fans at Moss Lane before another defeat, 2-1 at Southport courtesy of a last minute goal.

The Sandgrounders picked up those three points after a fine 0-0 draw at Torquay United.

Barnet then proved far too strong for ‘port, winning 2-0 on the road thanks to a brace of first half goals. In truth the Bees dominated for most of the game and Southport were relieved to come away with such a narrow defeat.

Alty, meanwhile, lost again, 1-0 at home to Gateshead and then a 5 th defeat in six games, 2-1 at Nuneaton, left them 4 th from bottom.

In the North Division, AFC Fylde made the long trip to Lowestoft Town but returned home pointless after a 1-0 defeat. They then hosted Guiseley, always one of the leading sides in the Division, and earned a creditable point in a goalless draw before heading to North Wales to take on Colwyn Bay who they hammered 5-0.

Richie Allen then hit the third goal, on 75 minutes, in a 3-1on win over Hednesford and moved up into 5 th place.

Chorley travelled to a much improved Oxford City and despite being under the cosh for long periods, earned a point after a goalless draw- James Dean making way on 65 minutes.

They then entertained Stalybridge Celtic and another four-figure crowd saw them win 2-0 with Deano scoring the opener on 11 minutes against one of his many former clubs.

The Bank Holiday game at title favourite Barrow saw the Magpies lost their unbeaten record, losing 4-0 with Winters being red-carded for the second time in three games.

Last season’s play-off losers Brackley were the next visitors to Victory Park but they’re not the force they were then and it took Deano just 18 minutes to put his side ahead. He first won a penalty but saw his powerful spot-kick saved only to put in the rebound. Once again Chorley had a man sent off, this time in the 38 th minute, and from then on Brackley took control and for the majority of the game, after they’d equalised, there looked to be only one winner but out of the blue, the Magpies snatched all three points after an 85 th minute winner to move up to 4 th spot.

In the South, Mike Barry was delighted to see his local side Eastbourne Borough go top of the table after a 3-1 home win over Weston-super-Mare and that despite going behind.

That win was followed by two more, 3-1 at Concord Rangers and 1-0 at home to St Albans City to leave the Sports top of the table after five games.

They were then held to a goalless draw at Maidenhead United, but having a man sent off, they were happy to avoid defeat and remain at the top.

In the Evo-stik Premier, Ramsbottom United flew out of the traps in the home game against fancied Kings Lynn Town and led 2-0 after only 9 minutes but the Linnets hit back and sealed all three points courtesy of an 87 th minute winner in front of 322 fans at the Riverside.

Another narrow defeat, 1-0 at Workington followed but the Rams got off the mark with a terrific 4-2 win at Rushall Olympic.

A Bank Holiday crowd of 345 turned up for next home game against Nantwich Town expecting the Blues to build on that win and by the break it was looking good as they led 1-0 but three goals in 11second half minutes turned the game on its head and the Dabbers went on to win 4-1.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United attracted a huge four-figure crowd for their game at Trafford where the game ended 1-1.

FC then entertained the Rams at Bower Fold Stalybridge with the visitors taking the lead on 10 minutes but the Reds, cheered on by a crowd of just under 2,000, triumphed in the end, 3-1.

In 1 st Division North, Simon Garner’s Clitheroe picked up their first point of the campaign although they were held to a 2-2 draw by Brighouse Town at Shawbridge. Selection problems meant that Simon played himself and it was from his corner that the Blues scored their second goal.

They then picked up their first win, 3-1 at Lancaster City to move into mid-table.

Padiham lost their opening game against Spennymoor Town, 2-0 at the Arbories but bounced back at Kendal Town with a fine 2-1 win.

They were then beaten 5-0 at Farsley and 2-1 at home to Mossley.

Salford City won their first four games with 330 turning up for the recent game with Scarborough Athletic.

Norton United have always struggled to attract a decent following despite their success in recent seasons and just 83 turned out to see their 2-1 win against Stocksbridge PS.

What a game down South as Swindon Supermarine overturned a 3-0 half-time deficit with four goals in 20 second half minutes.

What a game up North!! Harrogate Railway Athletic 5 Mossley 5, and what a pity that only 100 fans saw it. Here’s how the scoring went;

0-1, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 3-2, 4-2, half-time, 4-3, 5-3, 5-4(80mins), 5-5(88 mins).

Always nice to see clubs who’ve endured torrid times recently, coming good at last and Droylsden certainly come into that category.

They followed up their opening day 7-1 win at Bamber Bridge with a 1-0 defeat at home to New Mills but at least they attracted a decent 200+ crowd. They then entertained Harrogate RA and another good turn out of 168 saw them win 6-1 after going behind.

A Manchester derby at Salford City, watched by a fantastic 459, saw them unfortunate to lose 2-1.

In the FA Cup, most of our local sides made an early exit.

Barnoldswick Town went down 5-0 at Tadcaster Albion, Colne lost 3-0 at Northallerton Town, Bacup 5-0 at Whickham, while a large away following swelled the gate at Victoria Park to 168 where Nelson lost 2-1 to West Auckland Town despite the prolific Peter Wright giving them the lead.

Squires Gate are much improved this term and they provided one of the days best results, a 3-0 win at AFC Liverpool.

Rochdale were thrashed 6-0 at home by Runcorn Linnets but an attendance of 253 was the biggest for some considerable time.

Our recent cup opponents Winterton Rangers won 3-2 at Alsager Town while Crook Town lost 7-0 at Shilden. Guisborough Town drew 1-1 at home to Armthorpe Welfare and then 2-2 in the replay but went out 3-2 on penalties.

In the next round, Squires Gate looked to heading out, trailing 2-0 at New Mills after 55 minutes but they stormed back to win 3-2.

Stockport Sports led visitors Ossett Town 1-0 at home before the smallest attendance of the round, just 32, and the loyal few went home disappointed as the Yorkshire side hit five unanswered goals after the break.

The highest crowd was at West Auckland Town where 1,238 saw the home side earn a replay after drawing 1-1 with Darlington 1883.

Don Fitzgerald’s local side Carshalton Athletic breezed through 5-1 at Mole Valley SCR and Lancaster City were top scorers, winning 7-0 at Washington.

Padiham went out, losing 1-0 at home to North Eastern side Shildon while Simon Garner’s Clitheroe were given a scare by Seaham Red Star at Shawbridge. The Blues led 3-0 on after 70 minutes but just three minutes later it was 3-2 and that’s how it stayed.

Winterton Rangers lost 3-0 at home to Ossett Albion.

In the NWCFL Premier Division, predicting the outcome of games could be nigh on impossible if these series of scores are anything to go by;

Runcorn Town 1 Bacup 4

Bacup 2 St Helens 6

Runcorn Town 7 St Helens 2

Barnoldswick Town recovered from their cup exit with a 3-2 home success against AFC Blackpool before drawing 1-1 with AFC Liverpool, also at the Silentnight Stadium. The Blackpool game saw them come back from two down with three goals in the final 18 minutes to record their first points.

They then lost a thriller 4-3 at St. Helens with no fewer than four of those goals coming in 7 second half minutes, three of them to the Saints.

Bacup lost 2-1 at home to Silsden then 4-0 to 1874 Northwich, also at the Brian Boyes ground.

Colne found the leaky St Helens defence to their liking as they won 4-0 at Holt House but Nelson lost again, 4-1 at Maine Road despite Peter Wright once again giving them the lead.

The Reds then made the short trip over the border to take on Silsden where a crowd of over 200 saw the Yorkies win 1-0 before a last minute penalty earned them a point at Alsager Town.

Meanwhile, Nelson defeated neighbours Bacup 2-0 at home and earned a point at Bootle with a 1-1 draw.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen drew another three-figure crowd to the Anchor and the majority were delighted to see the home side thrash new boys Barnton 5-1. They were then just seconds away from another three points before visitors Litherland REMYCA equalised in the 90 th minute.

A trip to Chadderton then saw them continue with their excellent early-season form, building up a 4-0 lead by the break and eventually winning 6-0 with Lee notching a hat-trick. The Salmoners remain unbeaten after their first six games.

Down in the South West, Buckland entertained Bitton with the winners to go top but sadly for Harwood and Bucks supporter Nick Hancock, the visitors won 2-0.

The legend that is Dennis Hill , ex-Harwood superstar, has been turning out for Mill Hill St Peters, Burnley Vets, and Park Vets and with the latter, he helped them to a 2-1 win over BJFF in the Veteran’s League. Park-AKA Great Harwood Town Old Boys-took the lead when Den crossed for the evergreen Neil Baron to fire home and another sweet left-footed pass gave Graham Lightbown the chance to seal the points two minutes from time.

The ‘new’ Great Harwood Town opened their campaign in the Accrington Combination with a disappointing 5-2 defeat at the hand of Bay Horse.


Early August

Just into August and the season has already begun for the NWCFL clubs and some of our local clubs made a less than auspicious start.

In the Premier Division, Colne got off to the worst possible start by having Nangle sent off after only three minutes of their game at Winsford United. The Reds more than held their own until just after the hour mark when two goals in eight minutes secured the points and soon afterwards Thompson also saw red to ensure the visitors finished with nine men.

Brent Peters’ Bacup also endured a nightmare opening fixture, losing 6-0 at home to Glossop North End in front of a huge 120 strong crowd.

Colne then entertained Bacup and before a healthy 145 attendance, the Reds won 1-0.

Barnoldswick Town also suffered a heavy home defeat as West Didsbury and Chorlton won 4-2 at the Silentnight Stadium. They then entertained Silsden in a West Yorkshire derby but things went from bad to worse as the visitors eased to a 4-0 win.

Colne were then hammered 4-0 at home to Bootle before getting back on track with a 2-1 success at AFC Blackpool.

Barlick, meanwhile, lost again, 3-1 at 1874.

Bacup recovered from their opening two defeats with a superb 4-1 win at Runcorn Town

The Division’s new boys Nelson earned a creditable point after a 1-1 draw at home to Runcorn Town with the prolific Peter Wright putting them ahead from the spot in front of a terrific turn-out of 145.

They were then well beaten 3-0 at Squires Gate for whom Sowerby netted a hat-trick in front of a very rare three-figure crowd.

Another heavy defeat followed, this time at AFC Liverpool where the evergreen Ronnie Moore scored twice in a 4-0 home win.

They won their first game of the season at home to Barnoldswick Town who’ve endured a torrid start to the campaign.

In front of another terrific turn-out of 140, the Admirals romped to a 5-0 win with Ed O’Neil notching the third goal on 80 minutes.

In the 1 st Division, Darwen stormed to the top of the opening table after a 4-1 win against Irlam at the Anchor. They then travelled to Atherton L.R. and came from 2-0 down to earn a point thanks to a penalty and an own goal.

Another point was picked up on the road after a 1-1 draw at Eccleshall.

Great comeback from Atherton L.R. on the opening day who were 3-1 down at home to Hanley with only 17 minutes remaining but hit back to win 5-3.

Two days later neighbours Collieries trailed 1-0 at home to Wigan Robin Park before five unanswered second half goals gave them the points in front of 197 fans.

Not sure if the attendances in the opening week of the season included the players and officials but there were some ridiculously high turn-outs recorded.

Rochdale Town have started the season as they ended the last one, scoring goals for fun, three at Holker Old Boys and four at Chadderton as they recorded a maximum points haul from their opening two fixtures.

What a game at Stockport Sports (Woodley Sports)! They entertained Congleton Town but in the opening half an hour it was the Bears who did all the entertaining, leading 4-0 and seemingly on their way to a record-breaking win, but Sports hit back to make it 3-4 after only 51 minutes and on 75, they’d tied the scores at 5-5 but despite late pressure they couldn’t quite secure the most unlikely of wins,

Matt Derbyshire must have been encouraged to be given a starting berth in Rotherham United’s starting line-up for the final friendly game at home to Leicester City but he failed to make the most of a couple of half chances before being replaced at the break of the 3-1 defeat.

Despite that below-par performance, he started his first league game as the Millers travelled to Derby and despite a good showing, where they had more shots than the Rams, they lost 1-0 to a late goal.

It was a debut to forget for the Harwood legend as his name wasn’t mentioned in the minute-by-minute match coverage until the hour mark when, according to Steve Evans, should have scored with a headed chance and he was withdrawn a few minutes later.

Huge changes were made for the League Cup tie at home to Fleetwood Town with Matt starting on the bench. Despite the Millers dominating proceedings, the tie was goalless when Matt was brought on after 66 minutes but the game was still awaiting its first goal when the ex-Harwood star was brought down in the box in the 109 th minute. He picked himself up to blast the ball into the top corner to secure a 1-0 victory.

Fleetwood had begun their League One campaign on the previous Saturday with a great 2-1 win against Crewe Alexandra at the Highbury Stadium. Where will it all end? Next season a defeat to Blackpool could be classed as a giant-killing!

No mention of Andy Procter as Bury and Rochdale fought out a 3-3 draw in their final pre-season game at Gigg Lane, or in the Lancs Senior Cup win against Wigan Athletic.

The opening league game at home to Cheltenham Town resulted in a 1-0 defeat with Andy once again missing from the squad.

Ex-Robins’ star Dennis Hill is still gracing the football pitches of the region, firstly turning out for Burnley Veterans and then Mill Hill St. Peters. The Clarets were thumped 4-0 by a youthful Sunday League side but things went rather better in the second game where ‘Petes’ won 3-1 against a Padiham Reserves side which included the evergreen Steve Pickup.

Den was desperately close to getting on the scoresheet when his amazing shot, from just inside the opponents half, swerved away from the keeper and struck the angle of post and bar.

He then played for the Burnley Vets against a team from Yorkshire and came out on the winning side after a 6-1 win.

Don Fitzgerald saw his AFC Wimbledon side come from behind to lead against Shrewsbury Town at the Cherry Red Stadium but the Shrews earned a point after an 84 th minute equaliser.

The Dons then travelled to ‘arch-enemies’ MK Dons for a League Cup tie but were beaten 3-1 to leave Fitz and an excellent away following gutted.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot were looking forward to a season that began on no points, instead of -10, and a tough-looking opener at home to Altrincham proved to be no problem as they led 3-0 after only 50 minutes, eventually winning 3-1 much to the disappointment of Harwood supporter Paul Salt.

Salty then saw the Robins go down to another defeat, 2-1 at home to Lincoln City.

In the same league, Southport also lost their opening two games, 1-0 at home to Forest Green Rovers and 3-1 at Halifax Town.

Nick Hancock’s favourites, Buckland Athletic, got off to a great start despite going behind at home to Winterbourne United after only 3 minutes. By half time the game was as good as over with the Bucks leading 4-1.

Eastbourne Borough have enjoyed a good start to the season which will have pleased Boro and Great Harwood Town fan Mike Barry .

They drew 1-1at Wealdstone before beating Chelmsford 2-0 at home.

James Dean and his Chorley side took on fellow new boys Lowestoft Town at Victory Park in the Vanarama North and fell behind after just 32 seconds but they fought back to take the lead. They drew level after 27 minutes and pumped up the pressure but were thwarted by some outstanding goalkeeping by Jones in the Trawlermen’s goal, twice denying the ex-Robin. Deano eventually beat him although it took a spot kick on 79 minutes but Town earned a point with a 92 nd minute strike.

The Magpies then travelled to Colwyn Bay in midweek and once again it was Deano who opened the scoring with a spot kick. That came on 38 minutes but he should have already scored when clean through early in the game but the Bay keeper saved his effort. Chorley went on to record an excellent 2-0 win.

AFC Fylde made the step up with ease on the opening day thrashing highly-rated Brackley Town 4-0 at Kellemergh Park. Ex-Nelson star Richie Allen, made the first, scored the second then hit the post in a superb individual performance.

A trip to Stalybridge Celtic proved to be rather more difficult and the Whites were well beaten 3-0.

Late July

Rotherham United completed their pre-season tour of Scotland with a 2-2 draw at Falkirk and a 5-1 drubbing at Queen of the South although the latter result can be explained as it mainly youth team players involved. Matt Derbyshire must have been frustrated, being ruled out of any involvement in those games.

He did though make his debut in the Millers’ game at Parkgate, making the second goal and scoring the third from the penalty spot before being substituted at half time in the 9-1 win.

In the next outing at Alfreton Town, he missed a good chance when heading over the bar and then saw a great long-range effort fly just wide.

Ten minutes into the second half he pounced on a defensive mistake to fire into the bottom corner and soon afterwards some neat footwork on the edge of the penalty box gave him the space to fire in a ‘rocket’ shot which flew inches over the bar.

He then made way 15 minutes from time of the 2-0 win.

Andy Procter was amongst the many Bury players who took on Salford City at Moor Lane but the Shakers went down 1-0 with Andy heading their first chance wide and then dragging a shot wide.

Paul Clark saw his Aldershot Town side, which included five new signings, take on a Chelsea XI at the Recreation Ground and was delighted to see the Shots take a 2-0 lead before the Blues, including several FA Youth Cup winners, storm back to win 3-2.

Chelsea’s next game saw them travel to yet another Great Harwood Town fan’s club, AFC Wimbledon. This time it was Don Fitzgerald who saw his side two up before going down 3-2 in front of a tremendous turn-out of 4,634.

A tough game at Woking followed but a fine performance saw them run out 3-1 winners.

Paul Clark’s Aldershot needed a penalty to win 1-0 at Staines.

Phil O’Dell’s FC United could only draw 1-1 at Yorkshire side Shelley, but won an early Trophy when defeating Maidenhead United 3-0 in the Chauntry Cup.

Mike Barry’s Eastbourne Borough have made two recent signings, a goalkeeper and a forward, but they went down 1-0 at Tonbridge.

Simon Garner and his assistant Ryan Parr must be very pleased with Clitheroe’s pre-season form and they followed up their victory over the Rovers with another one against Colne. The visitors gave a good account of themselves before going down 3-2 in a game more reminiscent of an FA Cup tie than a friendly with the tackles flying in. The Reds keeper was the one to suffer most as he needed 34 stitches in a head wound after a collision with two Clitheroe players.

FC United were next to visit Shawbridge and their fans helped to swell the gate to over 300. The Blues held their own for the majority of the game but two late goals put some gloss on the result for the Premier League title favourites.

A trip to Squires Gate resulted in a 2-1 win before they entertained Conference play-off finalists Guiseley who showed their class in the 1-0 victory.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic defeated Torpoint Athletic, 2-1, and Galmpton United, 4-2, both away from home. The Buck’s have been drawn away to Plymouth Parkway in the FA Cup.

Chorley won the Harold Taylor Memorial Trophy by beating Bolton Wanderers 2-1 at Victory Park. Only a tremendous save by the young Trotter’s keeper denied James Dean his first goal of the season.

It didn’t take him too long to get off the mark in the next game, at Salford City, just 22 seconds in fact. The Magpies went on to win 3-0.

Two of our local sides drew large crowds for games with their more illustrious neighbours. Nelson saw 322 fans pass through the turnstiles for their game with Accrington Stanley and the Blues supporters amongst those were happy to see their side go one up before Stanley hit back to win 2-1.

Darwen entertained a Rovers side made up of mainly under-21 players and the Salmoners performed tremendously in restricting the Blues to a single goal success in front of 345 fans.

The Anchor side had previously drawn 1-1 at home to Maine Road, with Turner putting them ahead, before the NWCFL Premier side hit back.

Colne won 4-1 at Hurst Green.

In the Accross Cup, Padiham defeated Nelson 2-0 and Darwen beat Ramsbottom United on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

In the game for 3 rd place, the Rams won 3-1 against the Admirals while Padiham took the Trophy after a 3-2 win against Darwen.

Nelson then won 2-1 against a young Burnley side at Victoria Park thanks to a brace from Peter Wright.

Lancaster City have quite a management team in place, with Trevor Sinclair joining as assistant manager to ex-Rovers star Darren Peacock.

It’s usually quite a struggle for non-league clubs to raise vital funds and the last thing they need is official stealing money from his employers. That’s what Anthony Beard did while he was secretary of Hyde. He was found guilty of stealing £12,000 and was sentenced to three years in jail.


Early July

Plenty of friendly games taking place but Matt Derbyshire missed Rotherham United’s first outing at Greenock Morton after picking up a slight ‘niggle’ in training. Steve Evan’s side comfortably winning the game 1-0.

Andy Procter wasn’t needed by Bury who sent a young side to Radcliffe Borough and won 4-1.

Don Fitzgerald’s AFC Wimbledon came up against their former manager and some ex-players at Margate and they proved too strong for the Dons, winning 3-0.

Darwen were well beaten 3-0 by Colne at the Anchor while Nelson drew 1-1 at Longridge. The Admirals then came from two down at Fulwood Amateurs to win 5-2 with Wright and Peet both getting a brace apiece.

Next up for the Blues were AFC Fylde at Victoria Park and former Harwood star Ed O’Neil could do nothing to prevent the Conference North side winning 5-0.

Colne then entertained much talked about Salford City and went down 2-1 in front of an incredible attendance of around 400. That would be about 350 more than it would have been last year before the ex-Man United players took over the club. They weren’t playing, they weren’t in attendance, so why did the extra 350 turn up for a pre-season kick about???

Bacup showed plenty of promise for the coming season in going down 3-2 to Ashton United at West View.

Park Veterans, aka Great Harwood Town Old Boys, drew 3-3 with Lostock St. Gerards before going down 3-0 to Alder Veterans. The legend that is Dennis Hill was amongst the goals in the draw.

Simon Garner’s Clitheroe have strengthened their squad with the signings of quality players Hocter, Bonaminio, Wood-Townend and Aspin and their opening friendly saw them beat a young Rovers side 2-1.

James Dean set up Hine for the opener as Chorley took on PNE in the annual Jack Kirkland Trophy game. The Magpies made it 2-0 before the Lilywhites hit back to win 3-2 in front of almost 1500 spectators at Victory Park.

Always good to see clubs rising from the ashes and AFC Hinckley, from Hinckley United, will be playing in the Midland Football League this season.

The chaos that is Salisbury City FC continues with appeal after appeal and the takeover by Otail Touzar being overturned after it was revealed that he used ‘fraudulent misrepresentation’ to take over

FC United were hoping to move into their new Broadhurst Park Stadium at the beginning of this season but a delay in construction has meant that it will probably be at the end of September.

Even at this late stage, clubs are still finding out which league they’ll be playing in this season. Highgate United finished 3 rd in the Midland Alliance but have been relegated because of ground grading despite an appeal to the FA.

Whitehaven Amateurs have been shown the door by the Northern League for similar reasons although their Chairman suspects that geographical reasons could be real problem.

AFC Ludlow were only formed two years ago after Ludlow Town folded and they looked to have played their last game until a local couple stepped in to save the day. The main problem for the club is the ridiculous £1200 monthly business rate they have to pay on the Showtime Stadium.

Nick Hancock’s Buckland Athletic played their first pre-season friendly at Plymouth Navy Command where a late penalty gave them a 4-3 victory.

 

   
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