Rainworth Miners Welfare FC
Ground Number: 496
Saturday 4th July 2015
Rainworth MW 1-5 Mansfield Town
Green Energy Cup
So, the football season finally returns and I am certainly glad of it. I only had a 36 day break and in some ways it went quick, while in others it seemed liked an absolute age since my season ended near the end of May at the opening game of FC United’s Broadhurst Park. I had been pretty bored, but had at least bought my site up to date with most of the league changes, as well as repairing some broken picture links on a large number of my blogs. 2 of my main 3 aims for the break had been thwarted - I was still enjoying my cider when I thought I might cut down and I had endured plenty of expense what with car and dentist bills. One thing I had managed to do was to cut down on junk food and also spend a fair amount of time jogging. Although I hadn’t lost as much weight as I had hoped, it was something to fill the void that football had once occupied.
I’d been waiting for my own club, Wycombe Wanderers to release their pre season schedule for ages. The promised ‘early June’ release turned out to be just before lunchtime on June 23rd. It turned out it be a big disappointment with only 3 fixtures in the UK in addition to their trip to France which they had wasted no time in trying to flog trips too. While our club needs to make money anyway it can, it looked more like the Thomas Cook travel agent website at times! As for the 3 we had organised, I already decided that I wouldn’t go to Aldershot on Saturday 1st August as I would be on the United Counties League and Peterborough & District League Groundhop, having started looking early and managing to get a room in nearby Rothwell for £20 on the Friday night. I was unsure about the trip to Basingstoke, but was hoping to go to the closest of them all, a trip to Wealdstone on 21st July.
As for my own pre season friendlies, I wanted to get cracking as soon as possible. For a long time I had been planning to go to Walton Casuals v Spelthorne Sports, to be played at the Xcel Leisure Centre near their ground. But in the days leading up to the game I was getting less and less enthusiastic about watching a game in a cage on a 3G pitch and so tried to rope Anwar into doing Newtown v Bala, a pre season match in deepest Wales. I was even willing to pay a larger portion of the fuel costs than usual, in order to get to see a game in a proper ground. But as he was fasting for Ramadan, it was just that little bit too far for him to go. In the end I decided to leave football for another week, and as time wore on, last season was feeling more and more like a distant memory.
RAINWORTH MINERS WELFARE were founded in 1922. They played in local leagues up until 2003 when they joined the Central Midlands League. This saw a rapid rise in their fortunes as within 4 years they were promoted to the NCEL Division 1 in 2007 along with Bottesford Town and Barton Town Old Boys. After finishing 4th in their first season they were promoted in 2nd place behind phoenix club Scarborough Athletic in 2009. The following season, they repeated the trick, this time finishing runners up behind Boro’s landlords Bridlington Town. Normally 2nd place would not be enough, but due to financial constraints Brid elected no to take promotion and Rainworth were offered the chance to go up in their place. They spent the next 6 seasons in the NPL D1 South, with a best ever finish of 14th coming in 2012-13. Despite finishing in 21st place last season, they would have been offered a reprieve due to Norton United folding. However with on field results not being great and the cost of travelling longer distances, they opted to drop into the NCEL Premier for the coming season.
Their first season in the FA Cup proved to be their most successful. in 2007 they beat Nuneaton Griff, Reversal, Biddulph Victoria & Kidsgrove Athletic before falling to Chasetown in the 3rd Qualifying Round. Chase, who won 2-0 went on to reach the 3rd Round of the Cup before losing to Cardiff City that season. Little progression was made in the FA Trophy with their sole victory coming in 2012-13 when they beat Sleaford Town before going out to Carlton Town after a replay in the 1st Qualifying Round. They reached the FA Vase Final in 1982 but lost 3-0 to current Conference high fliers Forest Green Rovers. This was after a record home attendance of 5071 saw them overcome Bedfordshire outfit Barton Rovers in the semi final. They won a number of local cups as a Notts Alliance league side, including the leagues own cup on 5 occasions. They were also champions of this particular lead on 10 occasions.
Though I’d not see Rainworth Miners Welfare play before, Mansfield Town were regular opponents of my team Wycombe. I’d seen them play on 16 previous occasions and generally Wycombe had a decent record against them. Probably my favourite memory was when we won 4-1 up there in the snow back in around 2004. They were to play an even more pivotal part in our history in May 2013. With us all but relegated, they saved our skins by beating Bristol Rovers in a surprise result on the last day of the season. With us putting in a rare decent performance at Torquay, we won and stayed up on goal difference. The following season we got all the way to the playoff final which was a great turnaround and hopefully we will never see such dark days again.
In the week leading up to the game I was getting happier and happier that the return of football was fast approaching. It had been scorching hot all week, but the night before the game there was a huge storm with loads of rain, and I hoped that this wasn't going to affect the game. As a result of the storm I didn't get as much sleep as I'd have liked and I was up from around 4.30am. To kill time before the footy I watched some videos, did a little of my blog and went on social media. While on Twitter I noticed that the manager of Rainworth was Julian Watts who I remember from Luton Town when they played Wycombe in 1999. Whoever assigned the squad numbers had a good sense of humour as his shirt adorned the monicker '40 WATTS' earning him the nickname of 'Light Bulb'
I still had time to kill before leaving at 9.30 and so I started looking at potential FA Cup Preliminary Round replays for my few days up north in August. I'd already pencilled in Chorley v FC United of Manchester for the Tuesday and was hoping for Monday & Wednesday games as well. I left on time and went to B&M Bargains and Poundland in Aylesbury before meeting Anwar at 10.30.
We were on our way by 10.35 and it was a decent journey apart from the pathetic 50MPH limit through around 25 miles of roadworks on the M1. These have been going on for around 5 years and it's ludicrous how long things take to complete in this country compared to other places. We had planned to stop for a look around Mansfield on the way to the game and with us arriving at 1 we had around an hour to kill. I remembered from last time that there was 45 minutes free parking in the retail park so though time was tight I used that. I went to Cash Converters and picked up a PS2 game - Simpsons Hit & Run for 99p. I also grabbed some lunch - Curry & Chips for the bargain price of £3 from a place called Crawshaws. The curry was nice even if it wasn't authentic. The chips though were a bit of a disappointment, only being lukewarm after obviously being sat on the hotplate for ages. There was then the main reason I came to Mansfield, a Micropub called The Beer Shack where you could buy obscure ciders to take out. The range was about half as much as last time but I still managed to get half a pint of Bush Pig cider to take to the game with me as well as a couple of the local magazines that detail similar establishments.
After a quick look round Home Bargains where I got some drinks for the game, we were on our way. We were there by 2 and parked up in a nearby side road. We paid £6 to get in which was fair enough, even though they will only be charging a fiver for league games. I also picked up a very nicely designed programme for £1 which had some good articles in as well and came with a free teamsheet. I sat in the shade and checked Facebook while I drank the cider that I had purchased earlier. I also went back to the programme stall and bought a book for £1 called 'Meat Pies & Microphones'. It was by the local radio reporter Simon Mapletoft who covered Mansfield Town on BBC Radio Nottingham for 13 years. An annoncement went over the tannoy that loads of people had to move their cars from the side road where I was parked. Thankfully there was still plenty of time until kick off and I got back in no problem. I had a brief chat to Chris Bedford who does the Football Traveller magazine - a very comprehensive list of all the games that are being played on a given week. I often buy a copy when I am on my week off as I seek to see as many games as possible when I am away somewhere.
PRE MATCH PREDICTIONS
Anwar: Rainworth Miners Welfare 2-3 Mansfield Town
Myself: Rainworth Miners Welfare 1-4 Mansfield Town
Mansfield fielded a completely different side each half and the first half side included former Wycombe keeper Scott Shearer amongst other names I recognised. The visitors had the better of the game and they look the lead on 29 minutes as Anthony Dwyer fired a load diagonal shot to the keepers left hand side. 4 minutes later though it was all square as Lewis Chambers scored from the penalty spot after a foul in the area. Chambers had a great game and caused Mansfield plenty of problems, especially during the first half which remained level at the break.
The second half was a different story. A couple of minutes in Craig Westcarr's deflected shot gave Mansfield the lead. Nicky Hunt scored with an excellent long range strike on 62 minutes for the goal of the game. It was down to former Oxford City man Adi Yousseff to steal the show though as his brace completed the scoring for the football league side. The second one was the better of the 2 - a neat finish after some lovely team play.
Rainworth Miners Welfare 1
Mansfield Town 5
Dwyer 29, Westcarr 48, Hunt 62, Yousseff 68, 75
AFTER THE GAME
It had been a most welcome return to football and I was very pleased to have ticked off another of the grounds in my favourite league - the Northern Counties East. As with all of their clubs, everyone is super friendly and you are made to feel very welcome. The league also has a brilliant website which is very helpful when planning trips and researching clubs. We left just before 5, but on the way home stopped for a look at Blidworth Miners Welfare FC. They play in the Central Midlands League which is a step below the NCEL D1 at step 7 of the Non League Pyramid. It took a bit of nifty footwork to get in but what greeted me was a very neat ground which could easily grace up to step 4 of the pyramid. With good value entry and floodlights as well, there is a good chance I could find myself back there for a game and there are a few other decent grounds in that league too. I dropped Anwar off at 7.20, getting home myself 20 minutes later. My Aunt and Uncle were staying over so I had a couple of drinks with them before going to bed around 10.30
KIRKLINGTON ROAD is a decent ground that is probably fit for step 3 football. There are 2 seated areas - firstly a covered stand that is on the halfway line, holding around 200. There is also an uncovered stand in the corner holding around the same amount. Opposite the covered stand is cover for those to wish to stand and that holds around another 250.
I didn't use the tea bar or clubhouse but both looked decent. The club also have a decent range of merchandise on sale. There are a few shops and pubs near the ground too, and this friendly club are well worth a visit.