Thursday, 15 July 2021

Askern Miners - The Welfare Ground

Askern Miners FC
Welfare Ground
Manor Way
South Yorkshire

01302 700957

Ground Number: 971
Wednesday 14th July 2021
Askern Miners 1-1 Hatfield Main


The club was established in 1924 and have been known as Askern Welfare, Askern Villa, Askern and Askern Miners at various points during it's history. They were long-time members of the Doncaster and District League, winning the title in 1956 and 1967. In 1992, the club joined the Central Midlands League. They were constantly in the top half of the second-tier Premier Division, winning promotion to the Supreme Division in 2001 following a 4th place finish. The higher level proved trickier for the team and they spent four seasons struggling before being relegated back. Askern bounced back straight away, finishing as runners-up to Bilborough Pelican in 2006. They were a lot more successful this time and were Supreme Division champions in 2008. Promotion to the NCEL followed with the club changing its name to Askern Villa over the summer. The 2008/09 season was the best in the club's history, finishing 3rd in the NCEL D1. They lasted for five seasons at this level, being relegated back to the Central Midlands League in 2013. By now, the league had switched to a single-tiered regional league and Askern were placed in the North Division. The best they could finish was 6th in 2016 and so following the curtailed season, Askern moved back to the Doncaster Saturday League in 2020. They were league champions and so return to the Central Midlands League this season.


Askern Villa spent a few seasons in the FA Vase. Their only wins came during the 2011/12 season. That year, they beat Silsden, Hall Road Rangers, Selby Town and Padiham before a  narrow 3-2 defeat to eventual finalists West Auckland Town. In terms of local competitions, the club has won the Doncaster FA Cup on five occasions and the South Elmsall Challenge Cup in 1934 and 1936. Their record attendance of 835 came for a 2010 friendly against Doncaster Rovers. The village of Askern is situated between Doncaster & Selby and had a population of just over 5,500. It was once a spa town although this stopped when the first mine opened in the early 20th century. The pit employed many people but closed in 1991. The village was built for the workers but now is just a generic residential area.


Once again, fellow hopper Chris was happy to join me for a game although it was on a Wednesday night as opposed to our standard Friday. This was because I was in Cornwall for the weekend but I was still keen to do a game with him. I would have preferred something closer but Chris had done Blidworth and we decided to save Handsworth for winter as it was a 3G pitch. I started the planning on Sunday night, still not feeling the greatest after a boozy day on Saturday. Work was horrible during the day as I also had an upset stomach and although I don't get hangovers, wearing a mask all day is much worse after a drinking day for some reason. Once I've got my birthday out of the way, I plan to practice moderation, as it can't be good for me. Work was made even worse by the store being absolutely rammed. Sunday is never fun at the best of times but the extra crowds because of the football made it hell. England started brilliantly, going in front after a couple of minutes and having much the better of the first half. However, the Italians came on strong in the second half, got their equaliser and then won on penalties, as usually happens against the English. Our team had plenty to be proud of and so did the vast majority of the support. However, there are always a few idiots that let us down, be it by rampaging in the streets, trying to force their way into the stadium or racially abusing the players on social media. Some politicians had the brass neck to condemn this, only a few weeks after they said it was all good and fine to boo players taking the knee.

I finalised my plans for my weekend in Cornwall on Monday night, hoping to persuade fellow hopper Colin to come with me. I did some more future planning although this game kept changing. Firstly the opposition had changed to St Joseph's Rockware of Worksop and then a few hours later to Hatfield Main. I went to Amersham Town v Aylesbury United on Tuesday night and the game was brilliant, the hosts leading 3-1 before the visitors came back to win 4-3 after a much-changed second half term. I'd managed to get all of my preparation done by that point, though sadly I'd be on my own as Colin was going up to his parents for the weekend. The day of the game came and usually, it's the easiest day of the week. Not today, however, the work was constant and heavy and everywhere was busy too. I didn't get away until 3.10, so didn't get to Chris until 4.30. The sat nav was estimating a 7.32 arrival which seemed ridiculous and I thought the M1 must be knackered. However, it soon became apparent that Google Maps had set itself to avoid motorways. I switched to Waze and that took us up an impeccably behaved A1M.  It was a decent journey and we were in Askern by 6.55. We stopped at the Man Wah Chinese to pick up our dinner before eating it at the ground. My Chicken Satay and Salt and chilli chips were pretty decent, though not the best I've had. Chris was happy with his meal too and after that, we paid our £2 entry to get in. We then took a place in the stand for the game, there were lots of families there and even better, lots of friendly dogs.


The referee made was quite authoritarian and let people know who was in charge. He got the decisions right though and let the game flow. Hatfield were the better side early on but didn't create too many chances. The hosts soon grew into the game and they soon started to dominate, hitting the post. A free-kick into the area saw a handball and as a result, a penalty was awarded. Toomer stepped up but saw his penalty well saved by the Inter Milan shirt-wearing keeper.  The hosts continued to press in the second half and it was only a good save by the visiting keeper with his feet that prevented them from taking the lead. Hatfield had good spells too, hitting the post and then taking the lead on 66 minutes when their player rounded the keeper and slotted into an empty net. Askern had a header disallowed on 77 minutes, but they weren't to be denied for long. They equalised on 86 minutes, Toomer making up for his early penalty miss by capping a good run with a tidy finish past the keeper. We must have left around 9.20, but I had to get petrol, stopping at Asda in Rossington en-route. We made our way back down the M1 and although a couple of junctions were closed, it only added around ten minutes to our journey. I dropped Christ off at 11.45, getting home myself an hour later. With me up at 6.50 for work, it didn't take me long to get into bed and asleep.


The Welfare Ground is an excellent venue for the level and could easily be good enough for step 5. There's a stand for around 150 seated, plus a covered area for around 100 standing. The rest of the ground is open hard standing. There's a reasonable tea bar at the ground, plus a club outside. There's also plenty of parking on the large site. The village is around 15 minutes walk away and has a good range of takeaways.

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