Into the Archives!
Great Harwood Town Football Club
The best..and worst
|Most exciting game
||Holker Old Boys home (6-7)
|Most boring game
|| Winsford United away (Division Two Trophy)
|Best home performance
|| Nantwich Town home (League Challenge Cup 2-1)
|Worst home performance
|| Norton United (1-2)
|Best away performance
|| Blackpool Mechanics (4-0)
|Worst away performance
|| Cammell Laird (FA Vase (0-7)
|| Cammell Laird (FA Vase)
|| Flixton (Home AND away!)
|| Cammell Laird
|Best away ground
|| Ramsbottom United (League Challenge Cup)
|Best away support for harwood
|| Norton United
|Best home support for harwood
|| Holker Old Boys
|Best visiting support
|Best support for opponents (away)
|| Matt Derbyshire’s first at Nelson in the Division Two Trophy
|Player of the year
|| Bobby Harris
|Best opposing player
|| Scott Gizon (Colne)
Robins Winners 2003-04
Players player of the year
supporters player of the year
players clubman of the year
managers player of the year
division two programme of the year
GREAT HARWOOD TOWN
AUGUST- Almost all of the squad who finished the previous season in such splendid style re-signed to give everyone at the Showground optimism for the coming campaign. First up were Chadderton and two goals from leading scorer John Eastham helped us to a 3-1 win. Three more unbeaten league games saw the Robins riding high in the table.
North Ferriby ended Harwood’s interest in the FA Cup when they won 3-0 here, but the game will be remembered for an incredibly inept performance from the referee which included the sending off of Matt Derbyshire for ‘diving’ after he was tackled. Eventual Champions Colne started the season in devastating fashion , winning their first four games, scoring 16 goals in the process.
SEPTEMBER- The month started with a trip to Cammell Laird of the West Cheshire League in the FA Vase. Hopes were high of a good run in this competition but the Robins were blown away by a very talented Birkenhead side who hit seven goals without reply. Two days later we returned to league action and thumped lowly Daisy Hill 6-0 here at the Showground. Matt Derbyshire was playing his first league game of the season and hit a hat-trick. He followed this up with nine more in the next four games including all four in a 4-0 win at Castleton. Scouts from all over the country were now flocking to Harwood games to check him out as the Reds marched towards the top of the 2nd Division. John Eastham was also scoring regularly and had notched six goals in eight league games when he collided with the Cheadle keeper and damaged his knee. Sadly, this was the last time that we’d se John in action this season. September also saw the departure of Chris Heslop to his home town Clitheroe. Chris was playing the best football of his Harwood career but was happy to go and play for Clitheroe Reserves. At the end of the month Colne were still leading the pack but the form team was Harwood, four points behind with two games in hand.
OCTOBER- The Robins travelled to Maine Road in the league Challenge Cup and thanks to two more Derbyshire goals we won 2-1. A draw against Ashton followed by three wins without conceding a goal meant that Harwood had now embarked upon a record unbeaten run. Next up were Blackpool Mechanics away when Matt produced what I described as the finest performance which I’ve seen from a Harwood player. He scored three times before Hughesy ‘declared’ and replaced him with another great youngster Sam Pope, who made his debut. Matt was now turning out in trials for Premier League Blackburn Rovers. Favourites and eventual Champions Colne led the Second Division as they had from the start and had embarked upon their fantastic FA Vase run. The Colne public were as yet unimpressed, with their first two Vase attendances failing to reach 50.
Harwood now boasted the 2nd division’s top crowds and Matt was leaving the other leading scorers way behind as he averaged over two goals a game.
NOVEMBER- First Division Nantwich Town arrived at the Showground for the Second Round of the League Cup and Harwood produced their best performance of the season to win 2-1. The record club run was finally ended at Cheadle thanks to a 2-0 defeat. Derbyshire had not only played on trial for the Rovers in the morning, he also turned out as sub. for the Robins at 3 o’clock and with Mashiter unavailable, we were really struggling to field a forward line. Lancaster City dumped us out of the Marsden Trophy in front of a very disappointing crowd of 81. The following week saw Matt’s final game here before his transfer to Ewood Park for £20,000. It was a record for us and with ‘add-ons’ depending on how successful he is, we may yet receive another windfall in the next couple of years. We were now finding goals hard to come by and ended the month with a goal-less draw at Eccleshall, our fourth consecutive game without scoring.
DECEMBER- Enter Paul Mashiter. In the first game of the month, the second round of the League Cup at Atherton LR, Paul hit a hat-trick to help us win 4-2. In his next game he scored at Winsford in the Trophy before he hit two more at home to Eccleshall. He ended the month with another hat-trick in the 4-0 win at Daisy Hill as the Robins embarked on a seven match unbeaten run, and had lost just one league game all season. Not surprisingly Paul was named player of the month.
JANUARY- The new year started in familiar fashion with a Mashiter goal, but the Robins were beaten 2-1 against a Chadderton side struggling near the bottom of the table. The following week saw an ideal opportunity to put things right when top of the table Maine Road came to the Showground with the bets attack in the Division. Facing the best defence, the visitors came out on top with a 3-1 win and just seven days later, second placed Formby made it three defeats in a row when they came from behind to beat us 2-1 at their new and unimpressive ground. Several new players were signed with Neil Zarac making a good impression by scoring regularly and young Sam Pope looking good on the left wing. Nevertheless Ramsbottom dumped us out of the League Challenge Cup although they did play an ineligible goalkeeper who turned in a man-of –the-match performance. Strangely, the League, instead of expelling the Rams from the competition, ordered a replay but with a backlog of fixtures already, the Robins resigned from the Cup. Pete Smith returned to the Showground and hit four goals to finally end the losing sequence against lowly Castleton.
FEBRUARY- The beginning of the month saw dreadful weather play havoc with the fixtures but by the middle of the month we’d made it to the Division two Trophy Final after a two-legged win over Darwen. The Salmoners were one of the League’s top scorers but two superb performances by our defence, including a Bobby Harris penalty save at the Anchor, stopped them scoring even a single goal. The League form was still giving cause for concern though and poor sides from Padiham, Norton and Holker all took points off us. With the leading two teams pulling away at the top and Colne having as many as ten games in hand on the rest, it seemed like a battle for fourth place was all that was on for the Robins. The 24th of the month saw Holker Old Boys record an amazing 10-2 home victory over Castleton Gabriels.
MARCH- We can’t let this month go without mentioning the tremendous Vase run of Colne which came to an end in front of almost 1800 fans at Holt House, when Sudbury won 4-3 on aggregate. If last month was disappointing then march was surely the one when our promotion dreams went up in flames. Draws against Leek and Winsford were followed by a 3-1 defeat at Oldham, then a most incredible 7-6 reverse at home to lowly Holker. This after scoring three late goals to level at 6-6 before an injury time winner had us rubbing our eyes in disbelief. A 1-0 win against Nelson seemed purely academic as more players poured into the Showground with one of them, Nicky Hand scoring the goal.
APRIL-The month started off with yet another defeat, 1-0 at high-flying Ashton, another game which was a ‘must win’ for Harwood. After the Holker debacle, the defence started to show renewed determination, and the final nine games of the season saw just five goals conceded. One own goal, one penalty, one against top scorers Colne and two in the game at Norton when Bobby was out injured. Away victories at Darwen, Flixton and Norton saw us finish in an unlikely fifth place, one better than last season. But for the 7-6 disaster, we would have had the best defence in the Division, and there’s no doubt that but for the transfer of Derbyshire and the bad injury to Eastham, we would have finished in the top two. Colne went on to win the League by a massive ten points scoring over 100 goals in the process, despite having to play three games a week for most of the last two months..
MAY-The final game of the season was the Division Two trophy final against Colne at Clitheroe, when thanks to a huge following of ‘new’ Colne fans, the gate was over 500. Although we held them twice in the previous fortnight, we were torn apart in the first half and only poor finishing kept us in it. An improved second half meant that we were still in the game until the end but there’s no doubt that over the 90 minutes, Colne deserved to win.
So, the season was over and we’d only just missed out on promotion by three points and one place. It seemed that our only hope would be that one of the four teams above us would be refused entry to the First Division because of ground deficiencies, but on Monday 17th of May at Maine Road, Darwen were dramatically deducted three points for fielding a player who was suspended at the time. Darwen lost the game at Leek CSOB 6-0 which must have made the punishment seemed even harsher, but rules are rules as many clubs have found to their cost in recent seasons. That decision meant that the Robins jumped a place and finished fourth, ahead of Darwen and Flixton on goal difference and the last game at Norton when we came from behind to win, became more important than anyone could have imagined at the time.