Frickley Athletic FC
Westfield Lane Stadium
Ground Number: 305
Tuesday 15th October 2013
Frickley Athletic 2-2 Kings Lynn Town
FRICKLEY ATHLETIC - A BRIEF HISTORY
The club was established in 1908 and became a member of the South Yorkshire League. The football team was only one arm of the Frickley Athletic Club, which had been formed to give miners at the Frickley Colliery a recreational outlet. In a 1908 Yorkshire Telegraph and Star newspaper article the club was referred to as Frickley Colliery Athletic, but as the years went by the Athletic suffix was used less often. A couple of spells in the Sheffield Association League followed which they won in 1921, they then joined the Yorkshire League in 1922. After finishing as runners-up behind Methley Perseverance in 1924, they joined the Midland League. This was not the same league as the modern-day version and directly supplied clubs to the Football League on more than one occasion. They spent a long but unsuccessful spell here before decamping to the Cheshire League in 1960. They finished 3rd in their debut season but would move back to the Midland League in 1970. In 1973 they finished as runners-up to Worksop Town.
In 1976, the club changed its name to Frickley Athletic and joined the Northern Premier League. Despite struggling in their first season, they finished 3rd in 1980 and joined the Alliance Premier League, known nowadays as the National League. In 1986, they finished as runners-up to Enfield, by far their highest-ever placing. However, they would finish second-bottom the following season and would return to the NPL. By now, it was a two-tier league with Frickley Athletic remaining in the Premier Division for some years. They finished 2nd in 2006 but lost in the playoffs to North Ferriby United. In 2017, Frickley Athletic were relegated to the NPL D1 South and finished 3rd in their first season. They went on to lose to Stamford in the playoffs but over time, results fell away. In 2022, they were relegated to the Northern Counties East League where they finished 17th in the Premier Division last season.
Frickley Athletic's best FA Cup run came during the 1985/86 season, Due to previous good performance, they were exempted to the 4th Qualifying Round where they beat Northwich Victoria 2-1. They then won 3-1 at Halesowen Town in a replay before winning 1-0 at Football League side Hartlepool United. Their run came to an end in the 3rd Round as they lost 3-1 at home to Rotherham United in front of a record crowd of 5,800. The FA Trophy Quarter Final was reached during the 1984/85 season when they beat Barrow, Gateshead and Fisher Athletic before they lost to eventual winners Wealdstone. They also famously won 2-0 at Doncaster Rovers in the 2nd Round in 1998, the one time Jeremy Clarkson saw his home town team. Locally, the club have won the Sheffield and Hallamshire Senior Cup fourteen times and the Midland League Cup in 1976.
Several well-known players have turned out for Frickley Athletic, notably Gary McSheffrey. They also have Wycombe Wanderers connections in 1990s midfielder John Deakin and Danny Rowe who plays Whitby Town currently. The two sides faced each other during the 1985/86 season when they finished as runners-up and Wycombe were relegated on goal difference. They are based in South Elmsall, located near Wakefield and with a population of 6.500. The town is most famous for its coal-mining past; it was the site of Frickley Colliery, which was one of the largest deep coal mines in the UK. The colliery invested in several improvements that were of benefit to the area, including the building of the Warde Aldam Hospital, as well as swimming baths and sports facilities. The colliery became a key source of union radicalism. During the UK Miners' Strike, there were numerous disturbances in the area. It was one of the last pits to return to work after the strike, seeing as it was picketed by a group of hardliners from Kent who continued to picket Frickley after the NUM had called off the strike. The Frickley miners refused to cross the hardliners' picket. The most famous person from the area is footballer Ronnie Radford who scored a famous FA Cup goal for Hereford United against Newcastle United in the 1972 FA Cup.
MY FIRST VISIT
Originally I was planning to go to Ossett Albion v Mossley but on checking the non-league paper on Sunday I found that it had been moved to Wednesday due to the crunch England v Poland game. I double-checked the site as the non-league paper often gets stuff wrong but to my dismay it was true. I had been looking forward to this one especially as they had a good club shop and I had been planning to meet people there. So at short notice, I started looking for an alternative. It was then that I discovered how rubbish the public transport system was. From my base in Huddersfield, the only doable one on the bus or train was Liversedge v Nostell Miners Welfare. And even that would involve a right pain in the backside journey where I had to change bus in an unfamiliar area. After my own town's transport had let me down recently when I knew exactly what I was doing, I decided that if possible, I would limit my drinking during the afternoon and drive to Frickley Athletic v Kings Lynn Town. I was also considering Witton Albion and Nantwich Town but Frickley was the nearest and therefore I plumped for that.
On the day I had planned to go into town and go round the shops and check out a couple of pubs. I was really pleased to kick off the day with a great bargain. From Cash Generator I managed to pick up The Great Escape game for the xBox as well as the first Oasis album and a Capital Gold Greatest Hits CD, all for £1.39. True to form, I had forgotten to bring something with me, this time my toothbrush. So I went to Home Bargains and got one as well as a few other bits. By then, it was pub opening time at 12 and so I made my way to the first port of call, the Sportsman. There I had a couple of pints of cider from the decent Pure North brewery, namely Katy and Valley Gold. I then went and got myself some lunch and finished looking around the shops. It was still only 2 and so I killed some time by going and looking at Huddersfield's stadium, a scene of a Wycombe horror show on one of our visits as we lost 6-0. We even repeated the trick at home around a year later, both embarrassing performances were captured live on Sky, with the second being especially painful. I spent the afternoon back in my room relaxing. I watched The Chase on ITV1 and left for the game at 6.
After a slow start getting out of Huddersfield, the journey went fine and I was at Frickley's ground in South Elmsall just before 7. After listening to an extremely annoying Kings Lynn fan use the phrase 'hashtag' to describe 10 things within 90 seconds I decided to support Frickley Athletic for the night. After getting some pictures of the ground, including a fantastic mural, I went and had a look at the club shop. I was very tempted to get an old shirt for a fiver but I would never wear it and I would have nowhere to display it. So I settled for a pen for a quid. They also had a large selection of old programmes and a few books too. I took some more pictures and took a seat in the stand. Some fans from Frickley saw my coat and thought I was scouting for Brigg Town, their opponents on Saturday. I told them I was from Wycombe and they were very welcoming as most clubs are at this level. They got me a team sheet which was useful for seeing who had scored. They also had a fantastic set of younger fans who got behind their team all night with some good chanting. The tea bar was very good too, I had chips and gravy and then pie and peas, both of which were very nice. The pie especially was nice and big and had a lovely crust. The peas worked well with it to give it moisture.
In front of a crowd of 196 fans, Frickley probably should have had a win. Certainly, striker Gavin Allott aided the cause with a brace, one from the penalty spot, sealing his place at the top of Frickley's top scorers' list and indeed amongst the front-runners in the NPL Premier Division too. Jake Jones and Andrew Hall, the latter a penalty in the last 10 minutes got them a point. No team dominated entirely, but Frickley were the better side overall. After the game, I got in the car and listened to the last bit of the England game, which finished 2-0 against Poland, and therefore qualified for the World Cup in Brazil. It was another easy drive home and I got home in plenty of time to have the cider that I had not tried at the Rat and Ratchet pub which was 20 minutes walk from my hotel. I got back around 11.30 and was disappointed that this would be my last day for a while up North. My Travelodge room had been perfect with a great location and the room was really nice too, especially considering it was only £23 a night. I'd say that it was the nicest Travelodge that I had stayed in, being pretty new compared to the other ones I had stayed at.
VISIT 2: FRICKLEY 3-1 GOOLE
(NCEL PREM 26/12/23)
Originally for my second game of the day, I was going to Glasshoughton Welfare but this was shunted back to 1 PM. My next choice of Campion was also pushed back, this time to 2 PM. It was disappointing but I have no issue with clubs putting volunteers and players first, should they wish to spend time with family. In any case, I was benefitting from an early kickoff for my first game. Fellow hopper Chris had an engagement back home at 7.30 so maybe it was good we were forced southwards. It would be a revisit for me, but what a revisit in Frickley Athletic. A great ground which it would be nice to get fresh pictures of and also do some research into a historical club. It was very enjoyable looking back when I did my dive into their history on the Thursday before.
It was a slow old drive between Horbury and South Elmsall. The roads were poor and there were a plethora of speed cameras enforcing the limit. My mood was not improved by the poor team selection by Matt Bloomfield for Wycombe's trip to Exeter. Everything was more rushed than I'd have liked due to the late finish of our previous game. We were there at 2.40, paying £7 to get in. It was as good as I remember it. After getting some new pictures of the ground, we went to the food bar. Service was efficient, but with all the sauces on the counter, people took an age to clear the space for the next customer. The food was excellent, chicken curry and chips for a fiver.
Frickley were 10th in the table whilst Goole were rock bottom. The hosts had not won in six league games, last tasting victory when they defeated Thackley 3-0 on 11th November. On Saturday, they had lost 4-2 at Silsden. Goole had lost six league games in a brown, last winning on 28th October when they beat Eccleshill United 5-1. On Saturday, they had lost 2-1 to Thackley. The hosts took the lead after four minutes through Richard Patterson. Goole were very poor during the first half but although Frickley dominated, they didn't seriously threaten. A great through ball found a Goole man on a rare break but he let the ball run too far and attempted to cover up his embarrassment with a dive. It was another brilliant through ball that found Regan Waud on 59 minutes and this time he finished well. This saw the visitors improve greatly and they had a few chances. Frickley had kept them at bay previously with a very effective offside trap. On 85 minutes Lewis Binns headed home an excellent corner to give Frickley the lead. It was another header from Keegan Townrow, this time from a deep free-kick which saw Frickley make it 3-1 on 89 minutes to seal the game.
THE WESTFIELD LANE STADIUM is a traditional non-league ground, that is becoming ever rarer these days. The big main stand is the main feature of the ground, offering an excellent elevated view despite some pillars. Opposite that is a covered terrace, while both ends are basic uncovered terraces. By the looks of it, you used to be able to stand on the grass banks behind too, but there has since been fencing put in to stop you from doing this. Probably due to some daft health and safety rule no doubt. As mentioned above the club shop is good, with lots of stuff to choose from and bargains to be had. The tea bar is excellent also with a nice range of tasty food. The bar is fairly small by nice and modern with your typical selection of drinks. The town is nearby if you want a wider choice.
2023 GROUND UPDATE AND PICS
Little had changed, aside from a few cosmetic bits and possibly a building behind the near goal. Benches had also been changed for seats in the stand. A few more bits were worn, giving the ground its charm. They'd also got rid of the club shop as far as I could tell.