Cod and Headstocks

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Saturday October 19th 2013, KO 3pm at the ‘Turnbull Ground’, Whitby, North Yorkshire.
FA Trophy 1st Round Qualifying.
Whitby Town (Blue/Blue) 0-1 Chorley (BlackNWhiteStripes/Black), att 219.
Admission 9.00, Programme 2.00, Badge 3.70, Pen 1.00, Team Sheet .20, Coffee 1.00.

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Sunday October 20th 2013, KO 2pm at ‘The Worksop Van Hire Stadium ‘ Clipstone, Nottinghamshire.
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RHP Sports & Social (Newark/Grantham and District League) 3-0 FC Brimington (Chesterfield/Chesterfield League), att 25.
Admission 2.00, Programme included, Coffee and snickers 1.20

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During July 2007 we had visited Whitby for a long weekend. I called into the Turnbull Ground which is located high above the West Cliff on the Saturday morning to enquire about a possible pre-season friendly. However the groundsman told me that the 1st team were away that day, so I disconsolately trudged back to the car with a mental note to one day be back at the Turnbull.

And so, six years later here I was. Ros was happy to re-visit and photograph the wonderful Abbey ruins on the East cliff across the River Esk inlet via the swing bridge. And after a stroll around the cobbled streets, it was off to the new Wetherspoons (The Angel Inn) perfectly situated on the quay for pre-match food and a selection of Autumn beer festival beers.

Whitby is on the edge of the North York Moors and it feels a very isolated and remote location as you drive toward it. But the effort is worth it. A small town, its industry and wealth was mainly generated from the fishing industry. Although boats are now still much in evidence, now tourism seems to be its main source of revenue. It has many quirky little shops in the cobbled street that lead up to the 199 steps that take you steeply up toward the marvellous Abbey ruins. Whitby has other charms and history to pull in the punters. Captain Cook was born nearby and learnt his seamanship here and there is a museum dedicated to him. The dark ‘jet’ stone was mined locally, and jet jewellery is a big attraction for some tourists.
An impressive whalebone arch and a statue of Cook stands over the west cliff and there is big culture of literature and folk music in the town, with Bram Stokers ‘Dracula’ also featuring Whitby, so in the process having given the town the title of the capital of ‘Goth’.
Bring your camera, because Whitby is very photogenic, the colours of the houses particularly on the East side, and the coastal light give the town a particular ambience, and the Abbey arches will have you reaching for your camera.

On the West Cliff and tucked behind housing is the Turnbull Ground. As I parked my car up about 200 yards from the ground, the very clear PA was playing ‘I won’t get fooled again’ by the Who, a particular favourite of mine, so a smile played around my lips before I’d even entered the ground.
After a visit to the club shop situated under the stand, I was able to take in and get an impression of the ground. It is a special venue, and one of those ‘must visit’ NL venues. Looking right from the main stand, you look West towards the moors, to the left, you see between houses a small vista of sea, looking south over the houses is the west cliff with a small tantalising glimpse of the abbey arch. The main stand won the ‘Best new non league stand’ award from the Groundtastic magazine when it was unveiled about nine or ten years ago and you can see why, easy on the eye, good leg room, and excellent rake. Either side is shallow terracing, with the covered terracing opposite looking rather tired and old, but probably with many tales to tell of games past but more importantly a shelter from the cold sea breeze that no doubt blows around here during the mid winter months.

Although a cup tie, Chorley, as are Whitby, are members of the Evo Stick Northern Premier League, ‘Premier Division’, so no worries today from either team about not knowing what to expect.
What Whitby did get was a visiting team who looked extremely well organised, which considering the vast professional experiences of their manager David Flitcroft and coach Matt Jansen I suppose should not be surprising. Both played to a high level, Matt Jansen, although having only played 24 games for Palace made a massive impression on the fans with his classy footwork and eye for goal. He was expected to be picked for the 2002 England World cup finals squad, but his place apparently went to Martin Keown instead, a sad case of brawn over skill! Later he suffered a life threatening motor bike crash whilst on holiday, and his career never reached the same heights again. He gained legendary status at Palace by helping our finances with being transferred for a couple of million pounds to Blackburn during our first period of administration, and then contributing to our ‘save the club’ fund after having left. As so often happens, on the last home game of the season we needed to beat Blackburn to ensure survival in League One (The Championship). Jansen scored but did not celebrate, he just walked head bowed back to the half way line, a case of a professional doing his job, with no enjoyment taken. Thankfully, Palace went onto win the game 2-1. But Matt Jansen was a wonderful talent, and by all accounts a thoroughly decent man.

Anyway I digress, Chorley riding high in the league were a big powerful team, and took the lead on thirty minutes when live wire striker Stephenson, reacted quickest to the home keeper, Shane Bland, parrying the ball out from a shot out on the right, and stroked home from about ten yards out. He ran to the touch-line, and embraced a smiling Jansen, confirming my suspicion that he is the ‘forward coach’.
Stephenson and strike partner James Dean were a handful throughout, and it was only due to some last-ditch defending from the hosts, that they were not able to add to the first half lead.
The second half was rather end to end without ever reaching any great levels of entertainment or skill, a couple of good saves from the visiting keeper, Sam Ashton, in keeping Whitby at bay (pardon the pun :)), but a draw may have been a little generous on Whitby, who IMO were the slightly inferior team throughout. So, Chorley live to fight another day in their pursuit of a Trophy cup run.

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Goalscorer Darren Stephenson
Goalscorer Darren Stephenson

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Departing our base in Osmotherley, we arrived in good time in North Nottinghamshire for a quick spot of lunch, and then to drop Ros at Rufford House and gardens, where she had a sculpture trail on her itinerary.. And I set off the four miles to Clipstone Road East for my first ever taster of FA Sunday Cup action. Passing the towering and imposing headstocks of the closed, and very haunting looking Clipstone colliery on the way, with a mental note to stop on the way back for a closer look. I was to learn later of the local controversy the headstocks cause.

I’m not sure of the FA Wording for the details of what is required by hosting clubs. But at the very least it is that the ground is enclosed enough to ‘take a gate’, and not allow casual passers-by free view. Hence why RHP of Newark had asked Clipstone FC of the Northern counties East League to stage this game, presumably as their own venue is probably as open as a recreation ground venue. Each club has by FA stipulation to produce a programme, although in most cases I suspect this will not be much more than a basic four page fold over, with club history and squad listing, as was the case today.

However, I was interested to learn that RHP in a previous name of Ransome and Marles FC in the distant past had a rich history playing in the Midland League and regularly attracting 1,000 gates in the 1950s. Also, they once played in front of 8,000 at London Road, Peterborough in an FA Cup qualifying round. Apparently some remains of terracing still exists at their Elm Avenue ground.
I was also to learn that quite a number of their players played on Saturday for Newark Town in the Central Midlands league, and one turned out for Clipstone in the NCEL.
Whereas FC Brimington’s history is much shorter, it is as rich. Formed in 2007 after manager/chairman Cliff Richard (no, not that one!) had visited the Nou Camp/Barcelona, he based the clubs strip on theirs, and the badge is almost identical, bearing the famous FCB on it!

Cliff is an FA qualified coach, and their progress was swift, reaching as far as the northern counties east league, as well as competing in the FA Vase, but unfortunately the local support was not forthcoming, the cost of running the club at this level was not sustainable and sadly they folded in Nov 10. But then reformed again in May 13 playing more local football.
This was their first venture into the FA Sunday Cup.

On the day, the experience of RHP was very telling. Frankly it could have been five or six nil at half time, if only for the wasteful finishing of the RHP front line, their 9 (sorry names not obtained), heading over two or three very good opportunities. I did wonder if this would come back to haunt RHP in the second half. And to a degree it did, as FCB became more relaxed, starting passing the ball to each other and created a few opportunities of their own. Sadly for them, their nice approach play did not compute into a goal. As the second half progressed, and FCB pushed more and more players up, we now saw at least three one on ones with their keeper as RHP exploited the space.The FCB keeper had an amazing game, and kept them in it with some lovely saves. Sadly for him, with about ten minutes to go, the home 10 volleyed a lovely third, and it was game over, in what had been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, played to a high level of enthusiasm.
I shall be returning to the Sunday cup again this season 🙂

During the game, and falling into conversation with a Clipstone official, he told me that Clipstone had been a first world war army camp, with many thousands based there the village is now. The village as it is now, coming later. Also that the colliery (closed 2003) headstocks and building are listed and protected as an industrial heritage. I found out later that they are the largest free-standing examples of their kind in Europe, and that the locals are not at all happy about their protected status, seeing them as aye-sore and dangerous for marauding local children, which frankly you cannot really argue about.

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One thought on “Cod and Headstocks

    laurencereade said:
    October 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Whitby is very high on my to do list. Clippo are a wonderful little club, they do an excellent flan!!!!

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