Sunday 30 July 2023

Hucknall Town - RM Stadium

Hucknall Town FC
The RM Stadium
Aerial Way

07572 473037

Ground Number: 1209
Saturday 29th July 2023
Hucknall Town 1-1 Wisbech Town
United Counties League Premier North


The club were founded in 1943 as HUCKNALL COLLIERY WELFARE. They started out in local Nottinghamshire leagues, and in 1987 changed their name to HUCKNALL TOWN. For the first 2 seasons, the rebranded club remained in the Notts Alliance, finishing as champions on both occasions. For the following season, 1989/90, they joined the Central Midlands League, in it's wonderfully named Supreme Division. The success continued, with a further 2 championships in their first two seasons at the new level, then after finishing as runners-up in 1991/92, they joined the NCEL for the following season. They were an instant hit here, finishing as runners-up to Lincoln United in their first season, and winning promotion to the Premier Division in the process. They struggled for the first few seasons but improved to finish 6th in the 1996/97 season. The following couple of seasons saw a rapid rise up the leagues. The NCEL Premier championship was followed up by a runners-up spot in the NPL Division 1 as they lost out to Droylsden on goal difference. The turn of the century saw them compete for the first time in the NPL Premier, and after 4 seasons of consolidation, they won the league in 2003/04, gaining promotion to the newly formed Conference North. That season remains their highest-ever finish, as their new home was actually at the same level on the non-league pyramid.

Under normal circumstances, they'd have gone up into the Conference Premier, but their ground was deemed insufficient for the top-tier of non-league football. Despite finishing 10th in their first season, the next few seasons saw a gradual decline and after being reprieved from relegation in 2007/08 they went down the following season, after a bottom-placed finish. Back in the NPL Premier for the 2009/10 season they spent two seasons here, then another two in the NPL D1 South following another couple of relegations. Their last season of 2012/13 saw another basement finish, with 4 wins all season and 171 league goals conceded. Financial issues had been dogging them for a while and for that reason, they took the decision to drop 3 leagues into the step 7 Central Midlands League South. In 2019, they were champions and were promoted to the East Midlands Counties League where they spent two abandoned seasons. In 2021, the EMCL was disbanded and Hucknall Town joined the United Counties Division 1, finishing 5th & 4th since. In January. they moved into their new RM Stadium, built near their old home after they sold it to Supermarket chain Lidl.  They celebrated their first season in their new home by gaining promotion through the playoffs, beating Bourne Town & Birstall United, both on penalties.

The club were FA Trophy finalists in 2004/05. Despite taking the scalp of former football league side Hereford United in the Quarter-Final they lost in the final on penalties to Grays Athletic, in a match played at Villa Park. Hucknall Town have never actually made it to the 1st Round of the FA Cup, though they have reached the 4th Qualifying Round on five occasions. There have also been a couple of good runs in the FA Vase, reaching the 5th Round in 1990 and 1998. Locally, several league cups have been won, as well as the Notts Senior Cup on six occasions, as well as the Notts Intermediate Cup and Notts Junior Cup. A number of famous players have turned out for the club, including future football league goalkeepers Saul Deeney and Stuart Nelson. The dugout has also seen a number of football league players including Phil Starbuck, Kevin Wilson, Andy Legg and Des Lyttle.

Hucknall was once a mining town, and until more recently was the home of Rolls-Royce for engine testing purposes. Former residents include former Nottingham Forest defender and one-time Wycombe loanee Steve Blatherwick. The town is twinned with Kramolna, a small village in the Czech Republic. It has a population of just over 32,000. It was a colliery town from 1861 to 1986. The sinking of the mines caused Hucknall to grow into a market town in under a century. The Hucknall Colliery Company formed in 1861, sank two shafts, Hucknall No. 1 colliery (Top Pit) in 1861 off Watnall Road (closed 1943), and Hucknall No. 2 colliery (Bottom Pit) in 1866 off Portland Road (closed 1986).


I had enjoyed my visit to Hucknall Town's old ground, so when they moved into their new home in January, I was keen to visit as soon as possible. Back in January, I planned a trip on March 11th, thinking that the weather would surely be good enough. However, this has proved to be a year of freak weather and despite me securing a tenner return to Nottingham on Flixbus, the game was called off due to heavy snow. Luckily not too much money was wasted and I went to Yately United instead. There was a great range of pubs in Hucknall and for that reason, I was hoping for another opportunity on public transport. However, when it came up as game three on the Saturday of the UCL Hop, it was too good a chance to turn down. I'd be only doing the latter two games on this day, finding alternatives for the first two to give me one new ground and a revisit to Mickleover which was a new ground for Chris who was coming with me. 
From our game at Eastwood and Kimberley, it was an easy 15-minute drive to Hucknall. We beat the hoppers from Gedling who had narrowly avoided a double 0-0 thanks to a late Blackstones winner. We paid £8 to get in and I bought a pen for £1 from the club shop. The only choice of food was a slow-serving burger van but I'd only had snacks since breakfast. It cost £5 for a double burger and was actually nice, albeit with a limited range of sauces. The Groundtastic stall was next where they were selling their latest book 'Before The Cemetery End' on pre-order. I picked one up for £25 and also a book about 90s Football for £1. The bar had a dull selection of cider and my phone battery was waning so I opened my laptop in the stand, catching up on my blog and sorting pictures before kickoff.

It was an end-to-end game for Hucknall's first UCL Premier North game. Wisbech edged it and they took the lead through a well-taken penalty on 20 minutes. Both sides had chances and Wisbech had the ball in the net a second time only for it to be ruled offside. My phone battery being unexpectedly rubbish didn't help and I wish I'd bought my power bank. The hosts equalised on 75 minutes, a shot on the turn by Nathan Kelly. Wisbech had been the better side and they had been a credit to themselves after travelling a fair way for an altered kickoff time, putting pay to a Saturday night out for the people at the club. Both sides has chances near the end but could not find a late winner. The attendance was an impressive 688, the best of the hop, I believe.

There had been repeated messages about people moving their cars out of the car park opposite, as the nursery was locking up for the weekend. Luckily, I avoided another situation like Finchley Rugby Club as I'd parked on the street outside. Everywhere was really busy by the time we left and it took a while to get away. The parking situation was equally tight at Eastwood and we parked a few streets away. A quick stop at Tesco for a soft drink and onto the ground for my third visit to Coronation Park. I fancied some food, but the queues were ridiculous and moved at a snail's pace. It was a shame as there was some decent-looking chilli and chips coming out. One person had to wait 55 minutes to get served and there must have been fewer than 15 people in the queue. The official hop organisers' advice had been not to use a small hatch to serve food, but they did not heed this recommendation. No doubt they were happy as they'd been busy all night but they'd not made the most of their opportunity. The same could be said on the pitch as they went down 2-0 to a very professional Melton Town performance. I was suffering from a bit of football fatigue now, unable to break it up with a few pints due to driving duties. I sat in the stand talking to Chris, Laurence and Robyn and the game passed me by. Due to injury, the game didn't end until gone 10 and by the time we'd stopped at Tesco, it was 10.15 by the time we left. I dropped Chris off at 11.45 and got home myself an hour later. I had a few cans ahead of bed before what was guaranteed to be the usual unpleasant Sunday.


THE RM STADIUM is not as good as their old ground, though it still is pretty decent for a new built. The stand is quite big and holds around 200. In addition, there are two spacious areas of flat standing, holding around 300 between them. The rest of the ground is open flat standing. The club shop offers a good range of cheap items whilst the bar and tea bar are more basic. Cider is Inch's and Old Mout with bottles also. There is a small car park at the ground, or street parking is plentiful.

Saturday 29 July 2023

Eastwood & Kimberley - The Dale Club

Eastwood & Kimberley FC
The Dale Club
Jacksdale Miners Welfare
Main Road
NG16 5HR

FA Full Time Page

Ground Number: 1208
Saturday 29th July 2023
Eastwood & Kimberley 2-2 Gedling Southbank


The club was established in 2011 and has gradually expanded to include women's and charity sides as well as their usual first team. They appear to have started out as a Sunday League team as the earliest record I can find of them is from the 2015/16 season when they finished 6th in the Nottinghamshire Sunday League Division 2. A 4th place finish in 2017 was good enough for promotion to Division 1 where they recorded a 5th place finish. This was good enough for another promotion to the Premier Division for the 2018/19 season where they finished 6th. They then disappeared for a season, at least from that league. When they returned, they took over their reserves place in Division 2 for the 2020/21 season where they finished 4th. Promotion was once more earned and they spent their final season in Sunday football finishing bottom of Division 1. Last season they switched to Saturday football, joining the Notts Senior League Division 3, finishing 12th and will compete there again this coming season. They will be hoping for a better season this time out, it took them until November to get their first win last time, 2-1 against Elston United.

The club is based in Jacksdale, at the Miners Welfare Club. This venue hosted Central Midlands League football for three seasons between 1987 and 1990 when Jacksdale won promotion from Division 2 to Division 1. The village of Jacksdale is located near Selston on the Notts / Derbyshire border with a population of just over 3,000. Actress Samantha Beckinsale, daughter of actor Richard Beckinsale (most famous for playing Godber in the hit sitcom 'Porridge') and half-sister of actress Kate Beckinsale, was born in the village. Pye Hill Pit was based in the village from 1894 until it closed in 1985. The spoil heaps have since been made safe and landscaped for walking, providing access to nearby Jubilee Hill. The nature reserve there demonstrates colonising vegetation and scrub.

The Grey Topper music venue was located in Jacksdale. Many well-known bands and singers appeared there in the 1970s: Dr Feelgood (when called The Pig Boy Charlie Band) as mentioned in Julien Temple's film Oil City Confidential ('the silk top hat club'), Bill Haley, Billy Fury, glam rock band Sweet, Mud, Bay City Rollers, Hot Chocolate, soul legends Ben E King, Geno Washington, Edwin Starr, reggae greats Desmond Dekker and Jimmy Cliff, heavy metal acts UFO, Judas Priest, Saxon. Punk and new wave acts The Stranglers, The Vibrators, UK Subs, The Members, The Ruts, Angelic Upstarts, Ultravox, Adam and the Ants, The Pretenders, Toyah, The Specials, Simple Minds. Inevitably with punk, violence flared, culminating in the Angelic Upstarts riot gig that has gone down in Jacksdale folklore. The story of the Grey Topper is told in the book The Palace and the Punks by Tony Hill.


As with a lot of hops last season, the United Counties League one had not worked out for me. I needed Hucknall Town, Skegness Town, Southwell City and Newark Town to complete both divisions of the league. I was really pleased when Hucknall, Southwell and Newark were announced as included on this season's hosts list. However, having not booked the time off and not being able to change dates that I'd already booked, I was disappointed when both Southwell and Newark were placed on Sunday, which I think of as the day of Satan due to it being hell at work. However, I still had one ground to do and so decided to make the best of it. Fellow hopper Chris was keen to join me and he played a blinder when he spotted this game as a replacement for Gedling Miners Welfare which we had both done together in 2019. It was a decent railed pitch and both clubs were also good on social media.

Due to the 'late' start at Mickleover, we were pushed for time. We dropped fellow hopper George off in Alfreton before heading to Jacksdale. We were there a few minutes before kickoff. It was a bright start, chances for both. Gedling Southbank took the lead on 27 minutes through a close-range goal by Jordan Coleman. The hosts were dominant though, spurning a number of chances including a free kick blasted high over the bar. On 38 minutes, it was 1-1, a shot blasted home from just inside the area. Right on halftime, it was 2-1 to Eastwood & Kimberley, the visiting keeper unable to keep out a shot from the right at his near post. Gedling hit the right-hand post around 20 minutes into the second half and looked the most likely to score. The visitors equalised on 75 minutes, a long ball found Coleman who beat the keeper to the ball before rounding him and slotting the ball into the empty net to complete his brace.

JACKSDALE MINERS WELFARE is a decent setup. Set in pleasant greenery, the pitch has a fence surround on two sides but no cover. There is a bar at the ground and a small car park. There is also street parking and a chippy and a few pubs further afield.