Glossop North End

Ground: Surrey Street
Date: Saturday 14th February 2008
League: North West Counties Division 1 (Vodkat)
Result: Glossop North End 4 Atherton Collieries 0 HT: 2-0 Att: 151
  Morris 3, 14
  Hamilton 88 Young 90

Additional: Entrance £5 Programme £1 Hot drinks 60p

Surrey Street Glossop North EndFootball trivia buffs will know that Glossop is the smallest town in England to have had a top-flight football team. It seems incredible now, but Glossop spent season 1899-1900 amongst England’s elite, and despite beating Aston Villa, Blackburn, Burnley and Nottingham Forest (3-0), it turned out to be their only season, as they finished bottom.

They’d been promoted in their first league season behind Manchester City as Glossop North End, but had dropped North End to become just Glossop FC for their division one campaign. This small club were bankrolled by local born business tycoon, cotton magnate and member of parliament, Samuel Hill-Wood, who was a kind of Roman Abramovich figure of his day. He later went on to Arsenal as did descendants of his after him, to this day.

They recorded their best ever crowd in the FA Cup in the 1913-14 season against their namesakes Preston, of 10, 736. They also reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup in 1908-09, losing to Bristol City. Not bad for a team from a little market town with a population of just over 30,000!

The Glossop of today is quite different. No longer a mill town it is still a prosperous place, that sits among some wonderful scenery. Though not strictly within the peak district boundaries, it is often referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Peak District’, lying on the north west tip(just up from my last hop, New Mills). The football team, who since the glory years, reinstated the suffix North End, play at step five of the non-league pyramid in the North West Counties League, a league which they were founder members of in 1982, and have remained ever since.

The ground is at the end of Surrey Street between  a quiet area of terraced yorkstone houses and a small commercial / industrial park. The picture of the entrance I took (top of page) would have you believe that it is at the end of the world! It is a great ground for views with something different on all sides. All the different panoramas on view were further enhanced by a freakishly bright and beautiful February day.

A moribund old building complete with conspicuous chimney stood loftily behind one goal, it’s smashed windows like eyes watching the pitch, casting a shadow on smaller industrial sheds below and the small covered terrace. Glossop North End Surrey Street

Opposite this building and to its right is what looks like a small industrial estate with little commercial/industrial units dotted about, punctuated behind the other goal by a boxlike KFC. Wild shots often flew over the back of the terrace into it, to be flown back on to the pitch some time after, thankfully not coated in the Colonel’s secret herbs and spices. Moving round from here is a serene and pleasant view of Glossop with a panoramic backdrop of hills in the distance.

Glossop North End Surrey Street

The red strip you can see behind is the KFC.

The disparate elements of the surrounding scenery were mirrored in the ground itself, which was a gallimaufry of structures. It is fairly evident when doing a circuit of Surrey Street that all efforts in recent years have been to just keep GNE ticking along, as is the case with so many clubs at this level. This is far from a criticism of the club as I quite like my grounds erring towards the makeshift side.

The main stand in Surrey Street was this ramshackle affair, consisting of two rows of long benches, interrupted suddenly for some random red bucket seating. It holds around 200 fans.

 Glossop North End Surrey Street

Behind the goal this shot was taken from, is a covered terrace stetching halfway along on the main stand side and next to this is the fair sized clubhouse and bar. By the side of the clubhouse is a small portacabin with a rectangular hatch sawn out, serving refreshments. Down the other side the first thing you come just down from the turnstile down the terrace is a bizarre square of seating. I’ve never come across anything like it before in a ground – a very small wall completely enclosing some stone seats, with a capacity of about 8.

Further down was a very skeletal affair covering of some of the terrace. Like in the game of Jack Straws it looked like if you took a sliver of wood from any part of the structure, the whole thing would collapse.

 Glossop North End Surrey Street

Behind the other goal was just a path behind the perimeter bar, whose thick white glossy coat was peeling to expose a rusted underneath. There was a building behind this goal, of unspecified use or occupation, that looked like it had just appeared there one day, TARDIS-like, pre-antiquated.

Glossop North End vs Atherton Collieries is about as northern a sounding fixture as you can get! It should be accompanied by Dvorak’s New World Symphony (aka ‘the Hovis advert’). Atherton Collieries are a team founded, unsurprisingly, from miners from six pits around the Atherton district, in 1916 – the Atherton district lying in the metropolitan borough of Wigan. They too were founder members of the NWCL in 1982 and have made steady progress since.

Glossop were lying slightly above Atherton in mid-table before today’s game. The game was bookended by a pair of double strikes. A powerful header into the top corner from a sublime cross made it 1-0 after 3 minutes, and the same bloke, Morris, made it 2-0 after 14 with a deft chip. Glossop never looked in doubt of claiming three points as they played some good football throughout. Balls get lost very easily in Surrey Street and by 3.20 they were already reduced to the yellow balls as the latest one was lost in what looked like a sub-station behind the seated stand, within the ground. It wasn’t until two minutes from time that they added a third – a close slide in from a cross. Their fourth was only the second time ever I have seen a goal scored directly from a corner – and what a view I had of it!

I was stood directly behind the corner flag in front of the exit, as Young hoofed a banana ball over the haplessly advancing Atherton keeper straight into the net. It was a touch of class to finish a great performance from the GNE.

[The story of Glossop’s league adventures from 1898/99 – 1914/15 is an interesting one. There is a chapter devoted to it in David Conn’s book ‘The Beautiful Game?’. As Viz would tell you it is available from all good book shops and most crap ones.]

Glossop NE website
Atherton Collieries website

My Album

NL Glossop North End – Surrey Street

4 thoughts on “Glossop North End

  1. Lovely memories: 6 p.m. Kick Off (pre-floodlights) on an April Sunday evening: NW Counties League Cup replay v. Leyland Motors. Blizzard driving horizontally from one corner to the other. Soup at half time, sherry afterwards in the referee’s dressing room. 1-0…..

    John Everton

  2. Sherry?! Were you refereeing in the days of Samuel Hill-Wood? Those kind of days are the memorable ones. Thanks for getting in touch. Sounds like you have refereed round the region a lot.

  3. Qualified in 1965; Local football in Altrincham area from 1968.
    Mid Cheshire League refs list 1974, Cheshire League (later N.W.Counties) line1974, refs list 1977-91. Allied Premier League (later Conference) line 1982. Football League line 1984-91. Conference refs list 1985-91.

    Now work as Press Officer for Sale Sharks Rugby Club, but have a store of football memories!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.