About our Former Programme Editor

NOTE: In its final years, under the editorship of David Green, the club produced one of the best Match Day Programmes at its level of football, winning a number of awards for the production, including the prestigious Wirral Programme Club award for the best Match day Programme outside the Football League in 1999, outranking the publications of all the clubs in the Football Conference, Northern Premier League and other leagues of similar status in the South and Midlands.

Rev David Green, Vicar in Thorne
http://www.stnicholasthorne.org/
Stonegate, Thorne, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN8 5NP
The Vicarage, 2 Brooke Street, Thorne, Doncaster, DN8 4AZ  
Tel: 01405 814055 EMAIL

 

THE CRYING SHAME OF DONCASTER AREA FOOTBALL - 13/02/12

Doncaster Metropolitan Borough is the largest local authority borough in Britain, and yet in football terms it must be the most deprived.  Yes, Except for Doncaster Rovers the scene is pretty bleak. Only Armthorpe Welfare and Rossington Main now play above step seven in the football pyramid in the Northern Counties East League, and in fact only two Doncaster clubs play at step 7: Yorkshire Main and Thorne Colliery in the Central Midlands League. This means that Doncaster has no clubs playing between step one and step four. 

Compare this to Sheffield which has Sheffield FC (step four), Stocksbridge Park Steels (step three),  Handsworth and Hallam (step six) and Kiveton Park (step 7) all playing in the pyramid at a decent level.  Compare it to Bassetlaw which has Worksop Town (step 3), Retford United (step five), Worksop Parramores (step 6) and Harworth Colliery (step 7) all playing in the pyramid.  Going just further South, look at the situation in the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire areas. Although not one unitary area as with Doncaster, in just a few square miles you have Alfreton Town, Eastwood Town, Ilkeston FC, Hucknall Town and Belper Town all playing at step four or above with many others playing between steps five and seven.  Both Rotherham and Barnsley, however, are also boroughs bereft of higher placed clubs, although Rotherham does have three clubs at steps five and six.

So what is wrong with Doncaster?  Doncaster has traditionally been reliant on the mining industry for its organised sport as for many other avenues of social and cultural life. When the mining industry was still at work, it took pride in its football clubs and their success.  The miners at Frickley I understand paid something like 50p per miner each week to support Frickley Athletic.  Denaby and Cadeby miners paid a weekly subscription towards the general sports fund of which United received a share. 

The decline of the mining industry has played its part at least financially.  But equally  the attitude of the miners' welfares since becoming virtually private members clubs in the years after the decline of the mining industry, has played a significant part as we know only too well at Denaby.  This has been particularly true towards football.  Similar stories can certainly be told at Mexborough, were Town were evicted after doing so much to ensure the future of Hampden Road as a sports venue by being the instigators of a trust fund through manager Neville Wheeler, and Hatfield Main. 

So what is the answer?  In short, I would suggest to go it alone and don't submit to any other umbrella organisation: become masters of your own destiny rather than victims of someone else's. As far as Denaby United is concerned I fundamentally believe that the best hope for the club's future lies at Old Road or even some other piece of land acquired on lease or by owning the freehold, not a return to Tickhill Square.   Some people may forget, others will never forget and some will never forgive.             

REFLECTIONS OF A FORMER PROGRAMME EDITOR 

My time with Denaby United over two spells (1982-1985 and 1993-2000) were full of memories, some good, some not so good and some downright awful. For this article I want just to focus on three good memories.

The first must be winning the Northern Counties East League Premier Division championship in season 1996/7. Today I listened to the Yeovil Town and Sheffield United commentary and the game sounded awful.  You regularly see matches on TV where the standard is terrible and the football can only be described as playground stuff. Such football immediately brings back memories of the Denaby United 1996/7 champ­ionship season and the overall quality of the performances that season.

The names of the players who made up that squad are indelibly etched into my memory: Craig Thompson, Mel Sterland, Phil Wilson, Stewart Evans, Steve Evans, Tim Wragg, Mickey Stewart, Bob Haddrell, Mark Thompson, Alan Radford, Craig Smith, Mark Highfield - and I could go on. Many games that season can be recall­ed but the obvious one was the 7-0 demolition of the old adversary Maltby Main which actually clinched the title. The face of their manager Dave McCarthy, now chief executive at Bramall Lane, was a picture, particularly when Stewart Evans scored from the half-way time shortly after the break.

The second memory is winning promotion to the Premier Division in 1985 under the managership of the late Roy Ford. Again that season United had a team full of personality, talent and no little skill. Many names again come to mind: Andy Barnsley (transferred to Rotherham United and then Sheffield United), Mick Leng, John Whittaker, Steve Earner, Kevin Deakin, Steve Leary and Colin Beresford. The side also contained local players Gary Smith and Phil Watkin.  Certainly the most memorable match that season came not in the League but in the FA Vase 3rd Round with the deserved 2-1 success over 'big spending' Halesowen Town. United took the lead through Smith only for Town to draw level. But a Steve Earner header gave United the victory that not even the moaning 'morons' who had attached themselves to the West Midlands side could take away from us.

The final memory is over the 1-0 extra-time success over Selby Town in May 1999 to claim the League Cup. On a Monsoon night at Garforth, a weakened United team battled bravely in a nip-and-tuck game before Bob Moorwood grabbed the winner on a pitch resemb­ling Lake Victoria. Earlier Nathan Kerry had missed a penalty, but a spir­ited United side were not going to be denied the trophy, which had been forecast in the programme before the season had even started, and which Adam Longdon duly collected.

Three memor­ies but there are many more, not least that emotional final Tickhill Square game against Arnold Town on May 4, 2002.  It could have been all so different if at that Committee Meeting in 1995, people would have listened when it was suggested by Barbara Norton and myself that we should look to leave Tickhill Square and develop our own stadium.  A plot had been identified on the industrial estate off Hilltop Road, but the committee, I believe wrongly as history would later prove. decided to stick it out only to be betrayed by people who pretended to be friends.

I wish the new club all the best in your quest to revive this famous footballing name.  Develop a real vision for the club and don't repeat past mistakes.  Make Old Road your home and forget about Tickhill Square.       

Where are they now?

The rise of some of United's NCEL Opponents

Of the 19 other teams that Denaby United competed against in that fateful 2001/02 season, only six are still members of the Northern Counties East League Premier Division.  It is true that three are now playing in the League's First Division, one in the East Midlands Counties League, one in the Central Midlands League and one other, Brodsworth Welfare,  in the Doncaster Senior League Premier Division.

Of the rest, six are playing in the Evostick Northern Premier League and one, Alfreton Town (who were champions that season), in the top division of the Blue Square Conference.  It is interesting that both clubs who finished below Denaby, Garforth and Buxton, are now both in the Evostick League. Glapwell, who finished mid table that season also rose to the Northern Premier League, but due to problems with their landlords, the local council, have this season took voluntary demotion to the Central MIdlands League.

These few bare facts show that in the non-league football pyramid, progress can be made for those with the real ambitions to go for it.  The fact is that none of the clubs who have progressed, possibly with the exception of Buxton and Alfreton, were any bigger than United.   Yes, all had more control over their own grounds and all had their own licensed clubhouses, which is an important source of revenue.  But none were substantially bigger financially or in terms of support. Here is the full list of clubs who competed with United in that 2001/02 season and where they are now:

Alfreton Town
Blue Square Conference Premier
Brigg Town
Evostick NPL South
Hallam
NCEL One
Pickering Town
NCEL Premier
Harrogate Railway
Evostick NPL North
Armthorpe Welfare
NCEL Premier
Selby Town
NCEL Premier
Thackley
NCEL Premier
Sheffield
Evostick South
Arnold Town
NCEL Premier
Liversedge
NCEL Premier
Goole AFC
Evostick NPL South
Ecclesill United
NCEL One
Glapwell
Central Midlands League North
Brodsworth Welfare
Doncaster Senior League Premier
Borowash Victoria
East Midlands Counties League
Glasshoughton Welfare
NCEL One
DENABY UNITED
Doncaster Senior League One
Buxton
Evestick NPL Premier
Garforth Town
Evostick NPL North

The rise of Alfreton Town is a truly inspiring one, although this season is undoubtedly going to be a struggle for survival against a host of former Football League teams such as Lincoln City, Wrexham, Darlington and York City. But the fact that a club who only a few years ago were relegated back into the NCEL and seemingly down and out, shows the possibilities.   Alfreton were one of the exodus of clubs to leave in the NCEL in 1987 following the formation of a Northern Premier League second division.  It is true to say that had United got floodlights at that time, they would probably have been invited to join, although I suspect in all honesty the committee would not have accepted.  Anyhow, Alfreton remained in the second tier of that league mainly as strugglers until gaining promotion to the top division in 1996.  Two seasons later they were relegated back to Division One and the following season back into the NCEL where they spent another two seasons before gaining promotion as champions a clear six point champions.

Back in the Northern Premier with former United boss David Lloyd now as manager they won the Division One championship on goal difference at the first attempt and after just one season in the Premier Division became founder members of the Conference North Division.  After struggling in the lower reaches for three seasons, they had a dramatic turn around by finishing third twice and unsuccessfully competing in the play-offs in both seasons  2008/09 and 2009/10.  But last season they went the whole way and won the championship by a full ten points over second place AFC Telford United.

Also in the Conference North were Eastwood Town, another founder member NCEL club, who spent season 2003/04 back in the NCEL after being relegated from the Northern Premier.  Eastwood finished in a play-off place but were denied the opportunity to play in end-of-season promotion matches due to the old chestnut of ground grading.  Their place in the lottery matches was taken by yet another former NCEL club Guiseley, who finished sixth.  Two other former Northern Counties East clubs also appeared in the division last season in Harrogate Town and Ilkeston Town, although the latter were forced out of the league after just seven games when Her Majesty's Inland Revue won a court case against them and the club were declared insolvent.

Reflections of a former programme editor.

I would like to congratulate Steve Pugh on producing an excellent programme.  I know from personal experience it isn't an easy task, but he has certainly made a good start and hopefully the programme will develop and eventually become a matchday programme.

I began editing and producing programmes when I was 17.  From being 11 I began going to Bramall Lane to watch Sheffield United but the hooliganism that marred the game in the mid-70s killed off some of my interest particularly after one game with West Ham we got caught in a pitched battle between the police and the Shammers' fans (sorry I am still a Sheffield United fan at heart) with bricks being thrown at the police.

I decided to try the non-league game.  At the time Denaby were on the down but Mexborough Town had recently been elected to the Midland League.  The crowds were healthy and there was a good atmosphere at Hampden Road.  They were having good runs in the FA Cup and Trophy and had a good team.  I can still remember the names of the players at that time such as Mal Brunt, Ernie Booth, Geoff Kay, Tony Moore, Mickey Harrity, Ian Gallagher, Paul Bently, Mally Whitehouse etc.  I began attending home games regularly, but in 1976 I also began following them away on the team bus to the likes of Alfreton, Eastwood, Ashby, Louth, Boston and Skegness.

In 1978 Gordon Waddington the programme editor stood down and I volunteered to do the job.  That first effort was very basic both in terms of presentation and content.  I continued with the Mexborough programme until 1982, the quality of the programme improving each season, until I left the club and became treasurer of Denaby United.  I took over the prgramme at Tickhill Square from Reg Fort from the 1983/4 season until the end of the 1984/5 season... during which time I rebranded the programme with the name "Score", introduced photographs and made the programme more a magazine than just a basic team sheet.

The reasons for leaving United were to do with the pressure of being treasurer through the miners' strike which had affected my health. As the debts rose, I didn't know where the money would come from to pay even the smallest bills and spent many sleepless nights.  On top of that I had decided to return to full-time education.  I also had certain issues with one or two members of the Welfare committee who I didn't see eye-to-eye with.

In the years that followed I rediscovered my love of "The Blades" following the appointment of Dave Bassett as the Sheffield United manager.  I was a big fan of his style of fast, direct football, watching Brian Deane and Tony Agana score almost at will... 60 goals between them in the promotion season of 1988/9.

One of my dearest friends from football, the late Bill Stones, asked me if I would produce the programme for Mexborough Town again and I did so for two seasons but the Boro' were on the decline and fell out of senior football in 1992.  I was invited to return to Denaby as programme editor for 1993/4 season, a decision made easier by the fact the team management had changed.

I was editor for seven seasons until moving to Durham in 2000 and during this time the programme developed into one of the most successful in the whole of non-league, winning awards from the Wirral Programme Club and the Soccer Swap Shop.  For all seven seasons the Wirral members voted the programme the best in the Northern Counties East League, but the ultimate accolade came in season 1997/8 when the Wirral Programme Club named it the best non-league programme nationally and the issue for the home League Cup semi-final the best special issue of the season.

So what was the basis of the success?  I am not a competitive person but I believe fundamentally that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well.  In some ways the programme took on a life of its own.  We introduced new and innovative ideas which lifted it above the standard of our competitors.  We were one of the first in the NCEL to have a full-colour cover, to have the team listings printed on the back page.  Thanks to Barrie Dalby, we had in depth player profiles rather than those trite question and answer type ones and a whole range of articles often submitted by contributors.  Above all we went for quality rather than quantity.

Although the last few seasons I was doing the programme each issue ran to an average of 64 pages it was meaty stuff rather than just scissors and paste padding from newspapers and other publications.  I also tried within the limits of what I had to work with to try and make the programme eye catching and well presented.  This wasn't easy considering that we produced it ourselves with just a photocopier/ink duplicator and for much of the time a basic Amstrad word-processor.  Eventually it did become computerised.

Our programme success brought the club a lot of compliments and good publicity... and surprisingly very little jealousy.  Through the programme I developed excellent relationships with a lot of clubs such as Worsop Town, Frickley Athletic, Arnold Town and Ossett Albion.  One person, however, did begrudge us our success.  The then programme editor of Hucknall Town wanted our crown badly and began producing a 100 plus page programme.  Most of it was plagiarised  from League and FA newsletters, page after page of scissors and pasted statistics, but very little in the way of fresh articles.  He failed to dislodge our crown.  His disappointment bordering on anger was almost palpable.

The only regret I have was never being able to edit and design a professionally produced fully printed programme and I suspect I never will.

[This sentance prompted your webmaster to make sure David's wish was realised!]