Manchopper in….Ilkeston

Result: Ilkeston 1-1 Trafford (Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division)

Venue: New Manor Ground (Saturday 21st December 2013,3pm)

Att: 359

A trip down to the small town of Ilkeston was the plan for the 12th day of December, an, more specifically, the New Manor ground was to be my destination. Once again, gaining my usual, for this season at least, travel off the Trafford team coach, the trip down lasted around the 2 hour mark, and once there Trafford supporter Ashley Saddoo and I decided that food had to be required, because you can’t live without it of course. Nothing to do with anything else. The town itself is small and quite smart, more likened to a large village than a town, with the main street housing Chinese take-outs aplenty, so this is always an after game option, be the result sweet or sour…..

I resisted the urge of a full-English, and instead went with a Chilli and Chips dish from a small café by the name of Brown’s Café on the main road through the town. The food in there was fantastic, and reasonably priced too for the good portion size. It had only been open a month by the time of our visit, and is well worth the small detour onto Granby Street, just past the church. There is also a short video online of the café being opened by the Mayor, which is quite something! The two closest pubs to the ground consist of the Little Acorn which seemed nice enough, and the Commercial, which houses a pool table as well as live sports on a big screen. This is the one we chose, and again it was a good decision. Yes, I lost at another pub sport again….

By the time this detour had been completed, it was time to head back towards the ground and over the small bridge over the stream running almost adjacent to the ground. From here, an immediate right takes you into the car park, but a further walk to the far end turnstile faces you, unless you are a ticket holder for the home side. After paying the entrance fee of £10, and shortly after going through, a further £2 for the programme, which was printed in landscape rather than profile, which is different, and a couple of strange things immediately became apparent. One is the clock tower adjoining the main stand, which serves as the medic station, and next to this is a vending machine decorated with a Pepsi Max design in the covered terrace at the far end. Strange! Another one is the couple of small food outlets situated around the ground, which means that you shouldn’t be waiting too long if you are looking for this kind of refreshment. And if there happens to be any trouble between the fans, there is an SIA licensed door supervisor on hand at the clubhouse door to sort them out. Seriously. Now, I’m not criticizing the club for this, as this seems to be what they have been used to doing from their times higher up the pyramid in their previous guise, but for games such as this today, is a door supervisor really required? For the bigger attended games, fair enough, but it seems an unnecessary cost for the club to put on itself, week in, week out, as I doubt it is done voluntarily?

Anyway looking at the New Manor Ground, and it quickly endeared itself to me. Whether it is the slight resemblance to Quorn FC’s ground, the scene of one of my most memorable football matches, or something else, I wasn’t too sure. It may have been the quirks of the clock tower and can machines, but I was immediately fond of the place. The ground features four stands, a smart terrace behind the far goal, as you enter, and a smaller, more standard one behind the near end goal. The turnstiles are situated just to the right of this. The smart conservatory-like club shop adjoins the ‘stiles, with the large clubhouse extending down most of the ground’s right-hand side. Opposite it is the main stand, with tunnel and players dining area housed beneath it, next to the clock tower, and a further seating stand extending further along the length of the touchline. The ground has an official capacity of just over 3,000. Under their new guise, the Robins have quickly recovered the position they held as the original Ilkeston Town side, which means they are in a good position to create some new history….Ok that was a bad link, but here goes!

History Lesson:

The ‘new’ Ilkeston, has only been in existence since 2010, but is considered as a progression of the defunct forerunner Ilkeston Town, which ran from 1894 up until its demise as a result of unpaid tax-bills of £47,000 in September 2010. So, to beef out the history let’s have a look at Town firstly.

Founded in 1894, the club initially joined the Midland League, where they finished as runners-up in 1899, before being expelled in 1902-’03. They only re-emerged in 1925, re-joining the Midland League, remaining there for three seasons, before leaving again. After a period of inactivity, they re-joined the reformed Midland League, and won it in 1968 on goal average. In 1971, the club joined the Southern League Division 1 North, but lasted just two seasons, before once again, re-joining the Midland League. Here they remained for a further 9 season stint, before leaving to become founder members of the Northern Counties East League. After another short stay of three seasons, they moved to the Central Midlands League, as founder members of the most stupidly named division of all time, the ‘SUPREME DIVISION’. That is just awful!!

Again, after three seasons, another switch, this time to the West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division took place in 1990, but the club were demoted to Division 1 at the end of the season, but won this division immediately resulting in an immediate promotion back to the Premier Division, which the Robins won just two seasons later. In winning this, the club moved up to the Southern League Midland Division, and won it immediately, resulting in promotion to the Premier Division. After just a season, relegation was suffered and a return to the Midland Division was inevitable. Two seasons later, and the club were promoted back into the Premier Division, as runners-up, and missed out on a runners-up spot in their first season back in the top-flight on goal difference only. 2003 saw the club’s five-year stint end in relegation to the Western Division of the Southern League, and after just one season, the club were switched into the Northern Premier League, immediately finishing as runners-up in Division 1, and achieving promotion to the Premier Division. After 4 seasons at this level, the club reached a new high, when they finished as runners-up, and achieved promotion through the play-offs by defeating Kendal Town in the SF, and Nantwich Town in the final, 2-1. After surviving their first season, financial troubles proved a mortal wound and in the early stages of the 2010-’11 season,  the club sadly died and folded, only for phoenix club Ilkeston F.C. to form two-months later, and they were accepted into the NPL Division 1 South.

Town reached 4 FA Cup first rounds, in ’51-’52, ’56-’57, ’00-’01 and in ’09-’10. They have also achieved two 2nd Round appearances, in ’97-’98, losing to Scunthorpe United after a replay, and in ’99-’00 losing to Rushden & Diamonds, another team who have ceased to exist in its original guise, again after a replay. They never got further than the 3rd Round of the FA Trophy, surprisingly, and reached the FA Vase 4th Round in ’88-’89, losing to Tamworth in their best run.

Ilkeston F.C. have had a successful start backed by a solid fan base, achieving promotion through the Division 1 North play-offs, beating Leek Town 2-0 in the final, in front of 1,670 after finishing the season in third. After a bad start last season, which saw just two wins from the first 17 games, but after an upturn in form which saw thirteen further wins, a mid-table finish was achieved. The club also have links with the Bermuda Football Association, to allow talented Bermudan’s the chance to play in England, which is something quite interesting!The Robins are currently managed by Kevin Wilson, with ex-Sheffield United defender Rob Kozluk holding a player-coach position.

Kozluk was not in the side today, and it’s a shame he wasn’t as for 75 minutes, the game was poor. Not much happened, both sides will have claimed to have edged it, without either gaining a clear upper hand. However at half time, during a small-sided junior game (under 10’s I think?), an unfortunate young lad caught a ball flush in the face, and had to take a brief break. After a word from his coach and regaining his composure he returned to the game, to defend a corner, only to immediately boot the ball into his own face. Two times in two minutes, how unfortunate!! They also had the smallest goals I’ve ever seen, a strange dancing defender and a young blond-haired winger who looks like he has a bit about him, which is always good to see!

Anyway, after 75 minutes of averageness, despite the Robins’ loan-star Tyrell Waite looking dangerous, but not quite as fast as his name suggests he should be(!), Ilkeston were awarded a free-kick about 23 yards out, and the Ilkeston crowd grew in anticipation, as James Reid stepped up to fire past Trafford’s Kieran O’Hara with a fine strike. With the lack of goal threatening action, you’d have bet on this being the winning goal. With one higher-level academy keeper, Manchester United’s O’Hara, being beaten, could the other, in the shape of Derby County’s Ross Etheridge keep hold of his. The answer…was no. After Callum Jones headed a golden chance wide, which would’ve capped a fine performance from the young centre-back, Ilkeston conceded a free-kick on the left-flank. Ex-Macclesfield Town man Andy Smart whipped it in and Michael Oates flicked the ball on into the far corner leaving Etheridge with no chance, The game became a bit niggly in the last few minutes, and the game fizzled out into the inevitable, but fair, draw. As it was Christmas, I wondered afterwards, where the sides put off by some of the abominations that surrounded the pitch, those known by some as the dreaded Christmas Jumper. Who’s jumping then?!

My Ilkeston M.o.M.- Laurie Wilson

My Trafford M.o.M.- Tom Schofield


Game:5- Average.

Ground:9- Smart, and just liked it!!

Food: N/A- Not sure about the ground, but the café was good!

Programme:7- It was a good effort, but it felt strange in landscape.

Fans:7- Good, and sung a little, but as always there are a couple of know-it-all’s namely two old guys in the stand behind the dugouts.

Value For Money:6- Normal prices, so can’t complain. Poor game though.

Referee:5- Not the best I’ve seen, but not the worst. Still a poor rating though.


ILKESTON: 1.Ross Etheridge, 2.Cheye Alexander, 3.Ryan Wilson, 4.Laurie Wilson(c), 5.Joe Maguire, 6.Ellis Storey, 7.Che Adams, 8.Callum Chettle, 9.Gary Ricketts, 10.Tyrell Waite, 11.Matt Richards. SUBS: 12.Matt Baker, 14.James Reid(p)(1), 15.Danny Gordon, 16.Kane Richards(p), 17.Aaron Hooton.

TRAFFORD: 1.Kieran O’Hara, 2.Steve Mason, 3.Andy Smart, 4.Callum Jones, 5.Nia Bayunu, 6.Tom Schofield, 7.Shelton Payne, 8.Martyn Andrews(c), 9.Brett Mbalanda, 10.Rory Fallon, 11.Paul Ashton. SUBS: 12.Michael Oates(p)(1), 14.Simon Hackney(p), 15.Danny Meadowcroft, 16.Alirou Nsangou, 17.Chris Palmer(p)

Referee: Mr. Robbie Dadley. Assistants: Mr. David Middleton & Mr. Shaun Garner.






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