9 May 2002

by Barrie Dalby

"You'll Never Walk Alone" played as Denaby United took to the field for the last time.

A CROWD well in excess of 300, the best attendance at Tickhill Square for many years, said goodbye to Denaby United on May 4, as they drew 1-1 with Arnold Town to finish a traumatic season one point clear of the two relegation positions in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division.

With a number of former players, together with officials of the League amongst the invited guests, the United players stepped on to the pitch for the last time through a guard of honour formed by Arnold Town players and officials to the accompaniment of "You'll Never Walk Alone".

Denaby needed a point to finish above Buxton, who had a better goal difference, and the visitors were determined that they would have to earn it. An enterprising start saw early chances for both sides with United goalkeeper Paul Norton saving well from Giorgio Vitale, whilst his opposite number, Lee Broster, tipped over a close-range header from Shaun Waller. Against the run of play, Town took a 20th-minute lead, when Denaby failed to clear a corner and Chris Hudson fired past Norton from 10 yards. United could soon have been level but Broster, who had an outstanding first- half, made superb saves to turn goal-bound headers from Brad Hill and Waller again over his crossbar.

Hill shot over the top from another chance as Denaby went in at the break deserving to be at least on level terms. Early in the second-half, Jake Pidcock beat the Arnold offside trap but although his shot beat Broster, it came back off the post and when Matt Clarke had his shot turned out for a corner by the inspired Broster, it seemed that United were fated not to score. Arnold were playing their part in an absorbing match and looking particularly threatening on the break and Norton produced a great save to deny Nigel Baily what would almost certainly have been a "killer" second goal for the visitors.

Substitute Steven Ellor, with his greater pace, was brought on to replace Pidcock and almost became an instant hero. Denaby midfielder Darren Utley had a powerful shot saved by Broster, who was unable to hold on and Ellor following up, was only inches away from the loose ball, before the Arnold keeper claimed possession. With the minutes ticking away and tension mounting Hill stepped up to take his first penalty for United with 70 minutes played.

Showing great composure in a pressure situation, he sent Broster the wrong way to equalise. Both teams continued to look for the win and Denaby hearts missed a beat as Mark Gadsby fired against a post, whilst at the other end, Clarke could only direct a clear chance straight at Broster. Norton was at full stretch to palm away with one hand a dangerous curling cross and then showed all his vast experience to rise above a crowd of players to collect a corner with the 90 minutes up.

Referee Mike Stoddart played four minutes stoppage time but United held on to their precious point and at the final whistle, the players left the pitch to a great ovation amidst very emotional scenes. Summing up, it has been a very difficult time for everyone connected with the club since the Denaby and Cadeby Miners' Welfare Scheme Trustees announced their intention to evict Denaby United back on September 18, 2001.

The club wishes to record particular thanks to the management team of Glynn Kenny, Glyn Reeve and Ron Akers, together with all the players, for their loyalty in seeing it through to the end and finally ensuring that Denaby United left football having retained their place in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division