Tuesday 14 November 2023

Wombwell Town - Wombwell Recreation Ground

Wombwell Town FC
Wombwell Recreation Ground
Station Road
​S73 0BJ

Ground Number: 1243
Tuesday 14th November 2023
Wombwell Town 3-2 Athersley Recreation
NCEL Cup 2nd Round


The present Wombwell Town FC was established as recently as 2018, joining the Sheffield & Hallam County Senior League upon formation. They won Division 2 in their first season and then spent two curtailed seasons in Division 1, gaining some impressive results. However, they would have to wait until the 2021/22 season when they won the Division 1 title to gain promotion to the Premier Division. Last season, a 5th place finish was good enough for elevation to the Northern Counties East Division 1 where they have made an excellent start.

A number of clubs have represented the town of Wombwell. The longest-running was established in the early 1940s.  After the end of the war, they emerged as Wombwell Athletic, winning the Yorkshire League in 1946. They were runners-up again in 1950, just before the league split into two divisions. They were relegated to the second tier in 1953 before changing their name to Wombwell & Darfield in 1956. This brought no change to their fortunes and they changed their name again in 1961, this time to Wombwell Sporting Association. This saw an upturn in results and they were promoted to Division 1 in 1963, winning the league title in 1965 and 1966. It was a bad start to the 1970s with relegation to Division 2 in 1971 and Division 3 in 1974. When the NCEL was introduced in 1982, reorganisation saw the club move around without much success. In 1988, they joined the Central Midlands League. In 1990, they changed their name to Wombwell Town, leaving for the Sheffield & Hallam County Senior League in 1993. They finished 3rd in Division 1 in 1996 and remained in the Premier Division until disbanding in 2000.

The first Wombwell team played in long-defunct local leagues and existed in the 1890s and the first few years of the new century. They were known as Wombwell and the the highlight was winning the Yorkshire League in 1899. The second existed from 1920 until 1934 and was also known as Wombwell. They were founder members of a new Yorkshire League,  which later became the Northern Counties East League and they finished as runners-up to Bradford Park Avenue Reserves in their debut season. They then spent 12 seasons in the Midland League with unspectacular results before departing the league. Wombwell Main are still playing to this day, having been established in 1890. They play at Wombwell Cricket Club and have played in the Sheffield & Hallam County Senior League since 1996. They are currently members of the Premier Division, sitting a tier below Wombwell Town. The town of Wombwell is located near Barnsley and has a population of just over 15,300. It has a history in mining and was home to two collieries: Wombwell Main and Mitchells Main.


A few weeks ago, MK-based hopper Chris let me know that he would be available this Tuesday, a rarity for him. The vast majority of our groundhopping together has been done on Wednesday and Friday. However, those games have dried up and with me up for work at 5 on both of those days, I was reluctant to drive for fear of being tired. For that part, I'd try my best to get a good night's sleep on Monday ahead of the game. There were four possible options - either Harleston Town in the east or one of three up in south Yorkshire. When I checked the previous week, the M1 had no planned roadworks which would make the journey back decent. So, it would be one of either Wombwell Town, Dearne & District or Harworth Colliery. I initially favoured Wombwell but after I was informed that had a Wetherspoons nearby, I considered saving it for a Saturday on public transport.

Since my last groundhop, I'd considered a revisit to Harpenden Town for a youth game on Friday night but opted to stay in with a few drinks instead. The Saturday brought about yet another visit to Adams Park, my 934th in total. It was a great start, the usual pints at the Rose & Crown then a cracking Dhansak on the way to the ground. The turnstile was very efficient, but that was where the positives ended. Wycombe never really got going against a very physical Stevenage side. They played to their strengths, just as we did under Gareth Ainsworth. However, their fans acted poorly, giving stick to Luke Leahy who was down with a serious head injury, eventually being taken to hospital out cold. On the pitch though, we were piss-poor up front, offering no threat whatsoever. Not so much as a shot on target. The referee was also poor. I don't like criticising officials but he got several decisions incorrect and didn't let the game flow. A few drinks were consumed post-match but the football had made it a disappointing day.

At least I'd confirmed my game the previous night as Wombwell, mainly for its range of takeaway and food options. Sunday is always a hard slog, but it was made even worse by now having the euphoria of a good football game to give me a lift. The two minutes' silence for Remembrance Sunday was ignored by many, typical of some of the moronic behaviour I'd seen on social media over the weekend from all sides of society. It was a relief when the store was empty at 4.30 and I could switch on the comforting tones of John Murray on BBC Five Live. In a remarkable game, Chelsea and Manchester City drew 4-4, though I listened to the end of it as I was driving home. When double-checking the road situation on Sunday evening, I was dismayed to see that some closures had been added on the M1 but I'd already decided on my destination for this game.
It was my usual day off on the day of the game and the standard walk into Wycombe. I picked up a few things and was planning to walk home. However, torrential rain saw me take advantage of the bus. Once again, the excellent £2 fare cap made it an easy decision. It meant I got more time at home which wasn't a bad thing. I spent the time looking ahead to Saturday's potential games amongst other things. Leaving at 2.45, I stopped at Sainsbury's in Ay for petrol before going on to Chris. I was with him at 4 and we were on our way. Despite a few delays, we had a good journey and were in Wombwell at 6.20. The China Lantern was our food place of choice and we ordered our food to go. I had twice cooked char sui pork and salt and pepper chips. It was excellent, especially the pork which was full of taste. It was a few minutes drive to the ground. After we'd parked up, we paid the bargain £3 entry which must be the cheapest in the pyramid. I had half an hour to get some pictures and relax before the game. We sat in the stand. Despite it being a fair way from the pitch, the view was OK.
Wombwell were sitting in 2nd place, a couple of points behind leaders Wakefield. It was a remarkable effort but they'd lost their third game in a row on Saturday, going down 3-0 at Harrogate Railway. They'd lost 2-0 at Wakefield in the game before that to lose their place at the top and had also gone out of the Sheffield & Hallam County Cup, 2-1 at Rossington Main. It was in sharp contrast to the start of the season when they won twelve of their first thirteen games. This included a 4-1 win over tonight's visitors Athersley Recreation who sat in 19th. They had a tricky start to the season but had won three in five, the latest a 3-2 win at Retford on Saturday. The game opened with Wombwell shading proceedings, though both sides were wasteful in front of goal. The hosts opened the scoring on 22 minutes. It was an excellent run down the right by Brad Kerr who crossed for Eddie Agnew to blast into the roof of the net from close range. The hosts continued to dominate and then right before half-time, Callum Walton's powerful curling shot was parried but fell to Gareth McDermott who followed up. The second half started much as the first half ended. On 50 minutes it was 3-0, a good through ball found Brad Kerr who strode forward and finished confidently from just inside the area. That was it th Athersley Recreation were still having chances, but until they switched to Gaelic Football, they looked unlikely to score. They eventually pulled one back on 68 minutes, Sam Thompson putting a good cross in which resulted in a Wombwell defender putting through his own net. The game died down a bit after that but Athersley looked the most likely. Thompson got on the scoresheet himself deep into injury time, heading home a right-sided cross. There were no further goals though and in  the end it was a deserved win for the hosts.

WOMBWELL RECREATION GROUND is an unusual venue. There are only one and a bit sides available to spectators with what looked like a go-kart track at one end and one side closed off near the dressing rooms which also cut off supporter access. The covered accommodation and best viewing area is a large seated stand which stretches for a good amount of the pitch and holds around 200. The view from here is not bad but it would probably be better photographed in the daytime. At the ground is a large car park and bar and tea bar. Everything is good value and entry is just £3. The town is around five minutes walk away and includes several places including a Wetherspoons and a decent Chinese called the China Lantern.

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