Result: Worksop Town 1-2 Trafford (Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division)
Venue: The Windsor Food Service Stadium (Sandy Lane) (Saturday 11th January, 3.00pm)
Another Saturday, and another week had passed without bad weather interrupting the season (remember when that was the case?). As it was I had undertaken the trip to North Nottinghamshire, and to the market town of Worksop. Travelling down the road, the ground suddenly springs upon you on the right hand side, neighbouring as it does a large, featureless Retail Park. Sandy Lane, or ‘The Windsor Food Service Stadium’ as it is currently known is currently operated on a groundshare basis, whereupon the current owners of the ground, Worksop Parramore of the Northern Counties East League, share their home with the previous incumbents Town. This situation came about earlier in the ‘Noughties’ but I’ll leave this until a little later.
First of all, I look at the Town itself, and perhaps most importantly for some of you out there, the public houses. Having again taken a seat on the visitors’ coach, I made my way with a few of their supporters about five minutes around the corner to The Grafton Hotel. Inside, the pub had live football on offer, as well as cheap beer at £1.70 a pint, and offered hot beverages as well, in addition to having a pool table, albeit with quite a slant which made a number of pot attempts slightly interesting if nothing else! The Grafton has a very welcoming atmosphere and friendly regulars and staff, with a few Worksop fans stopping here on their way to the game, along with an unfortunate man who was making his way to Old Trafford for the United-Swansea re-match. After sharing worries & his surprising optimism, he went on his way, and we left soon afterwards, stopping off just short of the town itself in the Waterfront. Unfortunately, our stay here was cut short due to the pungent smell of bleach throughout the building. Forced outside temporarily, there’s a decking area, opposite what appears to be the old location of the bar, which is an old dock building alongside the Chesterfield Canal, which features a loading crane outside it, all harking back to its original usages.
After a further short walk, we found ourselves within the town centre, but with time now running thin, only one more stop was an option, and thus the Unicorn was it. The Unicorn is somewhat set out in the way of a Wetherspoon’s and is a large sprawling place and after a quick one & watching Fernando Torres find the net, we made our way back towards Sandy Lane for today’s live action, which included a café playing music out of a speaker on an outside wall, open advertisement of treatment to tender areas of animals, and a bus to Rhodesia (not back in time Zimbabwe I hope!)
Upon arrival at the ground, I paid my entrance dues of £10, plus a further £2 for the average programme. A quick scan of the ground revealed a somewhat strange set out, with a large seating stand running the length of the left-hand side of the pitch, a small terrace behind the far end goal and three small box-like stands, one near the turnstile, and two more up behind the dugouts on the right-hand side. Now seems a good time to look back on the history of Worksop Town, and just how they managed to be tenants in a home they once owned.
Formed back in 1861, Worksop Town can lay claim to being the fourth oldest club in the country, lagging behind only Sheffield(1857), Hallam and Cray Wanderers (1860), but the first known action only dates from 1873, so this may be debatable? They originally played games on Netherton Road in Worksop, before moving to Central Avenue in the town, which was to become their home for almost the whole of the next century. During their early years, Town initially played in the Sheffield & Midland Leagues, but achieved little success only winning one league title in 1921-22, and a Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup (SHSC) title in 1924. However, the club achieved two notable FA Cup runs in this time, coming firstly in 1907-08 when they reached the First Round (the equivalent of the modern day 3rd Round) and drew Chelsea away. They lost 9-1 but drew an attendance of 70,184 which, unsurprisingly, remains a record for a game featuring the club. In 1922, they lost at the same stage to Southend United but the following season they initially had better fortunes, holding Tottenham Hotspur to a goalless draw at White Hart Lane. For financial reasons, the replay was controversially held at the same venue where Worksop once again shipped nine goals, 9-0 the result this time around. In a show of fan power, disgruntled supporters who expected the replay to be held at Central Avenue stayed away from resultant games, resulting in financial strains upon the club.
In 1935, the club switched to the Yorkshire League for the next three seasons until 1939 & WW2, before moving back to the Midland League once the club resumed playing in 1949. It took until 1953 for the next silverware another SHSC was lifted, and was one twice more in the decade (1955 & 56), the latter season also featured an FA Cup Third Round defeat to Swindon Town. The mid 1960-s saw a small period of Midland League success for the Tigers, with the club finishing runners-up in 1962-63, winning the title in ’65-’66, and finishing runners-up again the following season, before becoming founder members of the Northern Premier League(NPL) in 1968-’69, but the club lasted only a season before relegation returned them to the Midland League. The 1970’s a SHSC won in ’70, one League title lifted in 1972-’73 paired with a SHSC win, and another 2nd place the following season which led to promotion back to the NPL for 1974-’75.
Little success followed for the club within the NPL top tier, with only two SHSC wins in 1982 & ’85, and an NPL President’s Cup in 1986 recorded along with an FA Cup First Round appearance, a 5-1 defeat to Barnsley, before relegation to the newly formed NPL Division 1 followed at the end of the 1988-’89 season. The club also lost their long term home at Central Avenue during that season, and were forced to ground share at Gainsborough Trinity for three seasons before returning to Worksop and Sandy Lane in 1992.
The decade proved to be a better one for the Club, with SHSC wins in ’95 & ’97 sandwiching a second NPL President’s Cup win in 1996. At the end of the ’97-’98 season, the club achieved promotion back to the NPL Premier Division and immediately achieved a runners-up spot, which is, to date, the club’s best placing in the pyramid. The next few seasons saw consolidation in the form of top-ten finishes and the marquee signing of Chris Waddle. In 2002, the Tigers lifted the NPL Chairman’s Cup, followed by a further SHSC success the next season, before the club finished high enough in the table to earn a spot in the newly formed Conference North for 2004-’05, but they only lasted three years before being relegated back to the NPL. At this time the club encountered serious financial difficulties and they lost ownership of their Sandy Lane ground. They became Nomadic, playing at the grounds of Hucknall Town, Ilkeston Town and Retford United (who have also encountered troubles of their own since), before returning to Sandy Lane in 2011 after the newly arrived Sheffield Parramore bought the ground and renamed themselves Worksop Parramore, and also allowed the club to play in the Town of their origin.
Back to the present day, and Worksop were severely hindered by the absence of top scorers, ex-pro Tom Denton and league top scorer Leon Mettam. They had brought in loanee Mark Gray & ex-player Jamie Jackson as cover from King’s Lynn & it looked to have proved a masterstroke as he rose high from a Marc Goodfellow (another ex-pro) corner to head home. Trafford then took the game by the scruff of the neck, and always looked likely to score. On the half-hour it looked as though Michael Oates had done, as he tapped home, only to have his celebrations cut short by the assistant’s flag. It appeared to be to correct call on this occasion, however. As half-time approached, controversy struck, as Worksop goalkeeper Jon Stewart appeared to handle outside his area, and despite animated claims for a free-kick and the inevitable red card the referee waved away the protests. He thought he was right, the knowing smirk from Stewart said otherwise.
At the break, I looked to go and have a look at the clubhouse, but as it was packed as tight as a sub-continent train, this was impossible, and so I queued for 20 minutes for some chips, missing almost ten minutes of the game in the quest for food. At least you can get an almost unobstructed view from the queue, which meant seeing Worksop’s Shane Clarke and Josh Hill spurn chances the same shade of Worksop’s kit.
After devouring the chips and gravy, which were well worth waiting for, for £2 by the way, I did something I never do at a game. A comfort break. Yeah. Nothing will happen will it. No, no it won’t. Through one door, through two door, and cue cheers. AH! A Worksop supporter came in to enlighten me as to the scoreline, 1-1, and I didn’t miss the opportunity to mention my Manchopper out in the toilet. Tut, Dirty minds. As it was, it was a 30-yard screamer by Tom Schofield that had levelled up the scores, and from then on only one side looked like taking the points. The Tigers looked rattled, and Shelton Payne gave Worksop a warning when Oates set up the Welshman who was denied by Stewart. The warning was not heeded however, as Town gave Rory Fallon all the time in the world to pick a pass to Payne who outpaced the defence and slide beyond Stewart. 2-1. He may be arrogant beyond belief, and split opinion wherever he goes, but on his day & when he fancies it, he is class. To add insult to injury for The Tigers, Goodfellow pulled up late on injured.
Trafford even brought on giant Sunday League striker, 19-year-old Mark Derbyshire as they closed out the game, with the ever more nervous man next to me following events elsewhere as well as on the pitch as he looked for an £800 accumulator windfall, which was duly delivered in the 90th minute. Guess who the drinks were on that night!
My Worksop Town M.o.M.- Marc Goodfellow
My Trafford M.o.M.- Shelton Payne
Ground: 7- Nice enough, just seems a strange set out.
Game: 6- Not bad, not great.
Programme: 6- See above! There is a note about cuts to pages, which explains why it was bit empty.
Food: 8- Really good, worth a taste!
Fans: 8- Welcoming & friendly, and knowledgeable.
Value For Money: 6- Just about average on the whole.
Referee: 6- Missed the major point, but got most other points correct.
WORKSOP TOWN: 1. Jon Stewart, 2.Alex Pursehouse, 3.Josh Williams, 4.Jake Scott, 5.Josh Hill, 6.Mark Gray, 7.Jack Muldoon(c), 8.Shane Clarke, 9.Jamie Jackson(1), 10.Jack Adams,11.Marc Goodfellow. SUBS: 12.Jack Barnett(p), 14.Mitch Husbands(p), 15.Jack Broadhead, 16.Aaron Cole(p), 17.Ben Gathercole.
TRAFFORD: 1.Tom Read, 2.Steve Mason, 3.Luke Heron, 4.Callum Jones, 5.Nia Bayunu, 6.Tom Schofield(1), 7.Shelton Payne(1), 8.Martyn Andrews(c), 9.Michael Oates, 10.Rory Fallon, 11.Paul Ashton. SUBS: 12.Chris Palmer, 14.Rees Welsh(p), 15.Mark Derbyshire(p), 16.Garry Vaughan (?!!), 17.Simon Hackney.
REFEREE: Mr. J. Simpson. ASSISTANTS: Mr. J. Masheder & Mr. S. Healey