Thursday 10 February 2022

Handsworth - Olivers Mount


Handsworth FC
Express Worktops Stadium 
Handsworth Junior Sporting Club
Olivers Mount
South Yorkshire
S9 4PA

Ground Number: 1037
Wednesday 9th February 2022
Handsworth 4-2 Maltby Main
NCEL Premier


Handsworth FC were originally formed in 1986 as a junior side and remained so for many years. In 1998 they took over Olivers Mount, formerly the home of the works team of the long-defunct steel company Brown Baileys. The senior side was established in 2003, joining the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior League upon formation. They spent two seasons in Division 2 before a 3rd place finish was good enough for promotion to Division 1. They were champions in 2008 and won promotion to the Premier Division. The progress continued and a couple of years later, a third-place finish was good enough for election to the Northern Counties East League. Despite winning Division 1 in 2012, the club was demoted back to the Sheffield & Hallamshire League as their Olivers Mount home was deemed not up to standard. By a strange quirk of fate, the team they were about to merge with were the beneficiaries of the extra promotion place. A merger was proposed with local side Worksop Parramore, formerly Parramore Sports and also Sheffield Parramore when they shared at the Don Valley Stadium. The demolition of the Don Valley Stadium saw them decamp to Worksop and become the main tenant at Sandy Lane, the home of Worksop Town. It was a marriage of convenience and in the season that it to finalise the deal, Worksop Parramore finished 4th in the NCEL Premier, whilst Handsworth won the Sheffield & Hallamshire Premier. The new club was named Worksop Parramore. The new club remained in the NCEL Premier and they were runners-up in 2016, losing out to Tadcaster Albion by four points. They remain there to this day and in all but one uncompleted season have finished in the top half. The club changed its name back to Handsworth in 2019, moving home to Olivers Mount in 2020.

The club's best run in the FA Cup came this season. They started off with a 2-0 win over AFC Mansfield before a notable 5-2 win over higher division Stocksbridge Park Steels. Another home game saw them beat Coventry United 2-0. They were forced to travel at last, but this produced their most remarkable result as they pulled off another giant-killing, this time winning 3-1 at Halesowen Town. Their run would end in the 3rd Qualifying Round with a 6-0 loss at Pontefract Colleries. Their best run in the FA Vase came during the 2015/16 season. They beat AFC Liverpool, Cheadle Town, Shildon & Hallam before a defeat to Cleethorpes Town in the 3rd Round. Local cup wins include the NCEL Presidents Cup in 2012 and the NCEL League Cup in 2015. The club's record attendance of 1,561 came for a 2016 friendly against Sheffield United whilst they were still based in Worksop.

The suburb of Handsworth is located in southeastern Sheffield and has a population of 10,000. The most famous person to come from the area is the actor Sean Bean. One aspect of Handsworth history which remains very much alive is the traditional sword dancing. The origins of this ancient ritual are unknown, but written records held by the team go back to the middle of the nineteenth century. Using long steel swords, a team of eight men perform a dance that lasts about nine minutes and ends with all the swords being interlocked and held aloft by one man. Traditional music is played and the dancers wear a military-style uniform similar to the Dragoons.


It had been ages since I'd done a game with Milton Keynes based hopper Chris, thanks mainly due to the tiny number of options on Wednesday or Friday, the only two days we were both available. Aside from the exception to the rule a few Tuesdays ago, there had been no options that were suitable since 22nd October. The trip was only agreed on Monday night after I had been without my car for five days. This was after a part had taken ages to come in and had caused me to miss a few groundhopping chances, as well as having to take the bus to work or in the case of Sunday, use one of the rentable electric scooters. I'd have preferred something closer, but beggars can't be choosers. In any case, Handsworth was another ground on my bucket list, although I had initial plans of doing it on the train and enjoying a Sheffield pub crawl. It would be the second game of a busy week, with me aiming to make up for what I'd missed out on last week.

I had my day off on Tuesday and despite walking around 18 miles all told, I stuffed my face with junk food and had a few pints before the Wycombe game. So much for my new year's intentions to eat and drink healthier, which is why I didn't call them resolutions. Wycombe drew 0-0 with Shrewsbury but totally dominated from start to finish. We had 26 shots to their 2 and 62% possession which must be our biggest share in about 15 years. There were only 3,871 there to see it too and the atmosphere was non-existent. I got home via a combination of bus, rented electric scooter and walking by 11 but didn't have the greatest night's sleep. I was glad to have my car back but my day at work didn't start off very healthy with a free Krispy Kreme donut. Though when your pay increase is only half the rate of inflation, you take all the perks you can. It was a fairly easy day in some respects, though I still had to deal with the general public. This was the same general public that stole a food bank collection box and that I feel does not support the town's football team as much as they deserve. After work, I left Wycombe at 3.10 and was with Chris by 4.20. It was a surprisingly decent journey and we were at Jewel City Chinese takeaway by 6.20. We both ordered an A1 Hot Box with Noodles and some Chicken Satay Skewers. We took them back to the ground and both were superb and generous portions. The satay skewers were very messy though. From there, we made our way to the ground, going on just after 7. Entry was an excellent £5 and a great glossy programme was £1.50. I had a look around and got some pictures while we waited for kickoff. I met Ryan, a Chesterfield fan who was into groundhopping too.
Handsworth were in disappointing form and had not won since 15th January when they won 2-1 at Penistone Church. Since then, they'd lost 4-1 at home to AFC Mansfield, 4-0 at Sherwood Colliery and 1-0 at home to Emley. They'd gained a point in the reverse fixture of this game as they drew 0-0 at Maltby Main. Just 12 miles separated the teams, so it was a local derby of sorts. The two sides were in m9d table with Handsworth in 10th and Maltby Main in 9th. The visitors were in better form and in the same time period they had won 4-2 at Emley, 3-2 against Parkgate and 3-1 at Thackley. Aside from the 0-0 draw in the reverse fixture, they'd also lost 1-0 against Thackley in the League Cup. Handsworth started on top and they took the lead in the 12th minute. Richard Tootle put in a left-wing cross and Neil Howarth headed home from around five yards out. A few minutes later it was 2-0, Howarth grabbing his second after Maltby Main keeper Hugo Warhurst could only parry the initial shot. On the half-hour, the visitors pulled one back, Robert Chipps volleying home from 12 yards out after the ball was punched clear by home keeper Ben Townsend. This was a good spell for the visitors and they had a few chances at the end of the first and the start of the second half. Handsworth extended their lead on 66 minutes, Mitchell Dunne lobbing Warhurst from the edge of the area. A few minutes later, Jordan Lonchar sealed the game with an excellent free-kick to make it 4-1 following a could just outside the area. The visitors would not lay down and they pulled a second back on 71 minutes, Jordan Sheldon finishing at the back post. There were notable chances for both before the evening was out. Howarth was denied a hat trick when his shot smashed against the bar for Handsworth and Jordan forced Townsend into an excellent save for Maltby Main as they looked to set up a tense finish.

There had been 168 in attendance for this local derby, which was just above average for Handsworth. They deserved their win and aside from when it was 2-1, they had looked pretty comfortable. We left around 9.45 and although we had to contend with a few lane closures, the journey home went smoothly. We listened to Andy Crane on Greatest Hits Radio as ever and I got the 'guess the year' of 1994 right at the start, thanks to the clue about the National Lottery. I dropped Chris off at 11.45 and had a slow journey home, thanks to a lorry that insisted on doing 25mph in a 60 on a single carriageway. I was back home around an hour later and stayed up for half an hour before going to sleep. Everyone had been friendly at the club which seems par for the course with these parts. It was back to seeing the other side of the general public the next day, but I just kept my head down and looked forward to my revisit to AFC Bournemouth on Friday night.


OLIVERS MOUNT or the HANDSWORTH STADIUM is a decent venue that sees plenty of use by various teams thanks to the 3G pitch. It's been freshly refurbished and is in great condition. There are three stands, two of the sadly all too common 'Arena' stands - one seated, one standing. Though to be fair to them, they offered the better view out of the three. There's also a proper brick and mortar stand. The total capacity of these is around 200 seated, 100 standing. These are set quite a way back from the pitch but the view is OK. There's an excellent cafe with a great range of food and a smart bar with a decent range of drinks. Though it is a fair way from the pitch. The place is a huge complex and has plenty of parking. There are plenty of takeaways around too, Jewel City is great but it looks like the club cafe is well worth a visit.


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