Saturday 8th May 2021 14.30 Sheffield & Hallamshire League Cup Group Stages Denaby Main JFC 2 Dodworth Miners Welfare 5 HT: 1-3 2,65 : 8,16,20,66
from Tickhill Square
Denaby’s ground is a jewel that might not have registered on some people’s radar, on account of its county league status. However, it has a rich history, and aside from the lack of floodlights, could be mistaken for a step 3-6 ground.
Football has been played at Tickhill Square since 1912; it was the home of former club Denaby United, est. 1895, folded 2002. At their height, United won the Northern Counties East League with help from former Sheffield Wednesday favourites Imre Varadi and Mel Sterland. Previously, in 1927, they reached the 1st round of the FA Cup and had a crowd of 5,200 agasint Southport. They reached the FA Cup 1st round again in 1932 where they lost 1-0 to Carlisle at Brunton Park. Alas, in 2001, the local miners welfare trust told them that it was their last season playing at Tickhill Square, and the club folded.
This game was a triumph of hope over adversity. I headed out into the peak in torrential wind and rain, more than expecting the game to be called off, and rather than relenting, the rain seemed to increase, the further I delved into the National Park. I’d overheard at another Hope Valley Ground that, amusingly, the team used to be called Bradwell Sports, playing at the Stretfield Sports Club and that now they were Strefield Sports playing at the Bradwell Sports Club. Due to a lack of info on the internet I can’t confirm or deny this tidbit.
Saturday 1st May 2021 14.30 Cheshire League Premier Broadheath Central 2 Altrincham Reserves 0 HT: 2-0 Att: 35hc 4 (pen),20
from Salisbury Fields
With the choices of game still confined to step seven of non-league and below and even then only on public venues (unless you get lucky and find a club willing to turn a blind eye), the choice of fixtures was not great and, within a sensible distance, it was a choice of either a Step Seven club with perimeter bar or another step nine Hope Valley League club with open pitch, but probably nice views. I went for the former but, in hindsight, would probably have been better off with the latter, as the second half in this game was dire beyond belief.
Wednesday 28th April 2021 18.30 Bolton Hospital Cup Quarter Final Chew Moor Brook Sports Club 2 Old Boltonians 1 HT: 2-0 Att: 103 hc 25,35 : 50
from CMB Sports Ground
Dave and I would normally be heading out to the Peak District on a Wednesday for a Hope Valley League match, their preferred midweek matchday, as we had done several times since lockdown. However, with the weather not so good, Dave found us an interesting alternative; the Peak can be unforgiving in bad weather (as I was to find out the following week!). He’d found CMB FC playing a Bolton Hospital Cup quarter final against Old Boltonians. It sounded like a fixture from Victorian times and its rarity certainly piqued my interest. I hadn’t heard of either side. CMB, whose full name I was to discover, is Chew Moor Brook Sports Club, named after the Chew Moor area of Bolton, play in the West Lancashire League Premier division. Old Boltonians play in the Lancashire Amateur League Premier division.
Saturday 24th April 2021 14.30 Staffordshire County Senior League Premier AFC Alsager 2 Walsall Phoenix 0 HT: 0-0 Att: 35 60,70 from The Alsager Sports Hub
This game was a late call and as suchI couldn’t go too far, but it’s still a new ground for me. The venue, which is part of the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) campus has undergone significant redevelopment recently, and was officially unvelied as the Alsager Sport Hub in October 2019. The site boasts a massive leisure centre, eight changing rooms, five grass football pitches plus a hockey pitch and 3g football pitch. Where AFC Alsager play is a fully railed pitch within the complex.
Wednesday 21st April 18.30 Hope Valley League Premier Bamford 0 Doveholes 1 HT: 0-0 Att: 40 hc 90 from Bamford Recreation Ground
This was another Hope Valley League venue; I was whipping through them now, this being the fourth in 10 days – only three to go to complete the top flight. Bamford is very much the epicentre of this league, lying just a few miles west of Hope itself and just up from the post town of Hope Valley. The head of the Hope Valley lies just below Mam Tor in Castleton, flows down to Hope and on as the river Noe towards Bamford where it meets the Derwent. Although technically now the Derwent Valley, the Hope Valley continues to be used to describe its later course through Hathersage and Grindleford.
Saturday 17th April 2021 13.00 Hope Valley League Premier Ashover 2 Chapel Town 4 HT: 1-1 Att: 15 hc
from Calver Crossroads
This was a hat-trick of Peak District grounds for me in the space of a week. Once again a Hope Valley League Premier game, with the home team playing at Calver Crossroads, not their usual ground. I don’t know the reason, but this match was being played on Calver FC’s home soil, a team from Division A – the second tier. Ashover lies south west of Chesterfield and their usual Ashover Playing Fields is 14 miles away.
On the subject of the divisions there are three in the Hope Valley League – Premier, A and B, with 11, 9 and 8 teams respectively.
Wednesday 14th April 2021 Hope Valley League Premier Furness Vale 6 Chapel Town 2 HT: 4-0 Att: 60
from Yeardsley Lane
This was my second peak district game this week, and if I felt like a fellow villager in Tansley on Monday that feeling was intensified at Yeardsley Lane this evening. It felt like the whole neighbourhood had turned out on this pleasant Spring evening to watch some football. There was a palpable community spirit in the air as people of all ages mingled amiably at the top end of the ground, which sits atop the pitch affording fantastic views of the game as well as a breathtaking backdrop of the hills of the Peak District.
Monday 12th April 2021 18.15 Hope Valley Premier League Tansley Juniors 3 Youlgrave United 1 HT: 0-1 Att: 40 (headcount)
from Fete Field
With the sun coming out again it was back to the Hope Valley League. With the three divisionsonly having 11, 9 and 8 teams in them, resuming their seasons has been possible and will still finish before the end of May. For the second time in three days I’d be watching Youlgrave United, this time as the away side. They were second bottom whereas Tansley were mid-table.
I’m still not sure what Tansley’s official name is. The corner flags show their club emblem that says Tansley Juniors, but the initials on the same crest just have TFC rather than TJFC. The Hope Valley League website calls them Juniors, but the FA Full Time webste just Tansley. Their Twitter account is just called Tansley too. If you type Tansley Juniors into Google you actually get junior football, as in the kid’s teams.
Saturday 10th April 2021 14.30 Staffordshire County League Division One Shenstone Pathfinder 2 Audley Reserves 1 HT: 1-0 Att: 16
from Shenstone Pavillion
Of all the teams I’ve seen Shenstone’s has to be one of the best suffixes. The sort of suffix you only get in the county leagues.
This was the second Saturday of the resumption of the minor leagues, after the easing of lockdown. The offshoot of the bizarre ruling about only being able to watch a game if it’s on a public park, was that groundhoppers were probably looking at games and grounds that wouldn’t normally be on their radar. The choices now for us weren’t just step seven and below but step seven and below AND grounds accessible by the public. This required a bit of research beforehand. Although the Hope Valley League is always a good shout in these circumstances, fellow groundhopper and car-sharer, other Dave, suggested this fixture on account of the overcast weather rendering a scenic Peak District venue wasted. It was a good strategy, backed up by his Google street view of Shenstone’s ground that showed a wavy path round the pitch, that had local council written all over it. Dave was the pathfinder.