Clive Allen is one of the finest goalscorers of his generation but arguably his biggest battle has been to prove himself the best in his own family.

His remarkable 49-goal haul for Tottenham in the 1986-87 season still stands as a club-record which earned him the rare dual honour of Professional Footballers Association Player of the Year and Football Writers Association Player of the Year in addition to the First Division Golden Boot.

That stunning achievement is the apotheosis of a career which began at Queens Park Rangers before becoming English footballs first million-pound teenager when signing for Arsenal in 1980.

Yet, in one of the most mysterious transfers of modern times, Clive was sold to Crystal Palace without playing a game and went on to represent eight more clubs including a year in France with Bordeaux before a brief stint as an NFL kicker for the London Monarchs.

Read our review here: Book Review: Clive Allen – Up Fron (footballbookreviews.com)

(Publisher: deCoubertin Books. October 2019. Hardback: 300 pages)

2019/20: An Incredible Journey. Match Day 8 – Saturday 31 August 2019: Scunthorpe United v Carlisle United

Matchday programme cover

The final Saturday in August sees me in Lincoln to visit my Mum for the weekend. Football wise, Sincil Bank, the home of Lincoln City is a ground I’ve been to umpteen times, in fact it is my second most visited stadium behind the Bridge. Just up the road from Lincoln is Scunthorpe, and the Sands Venue Stadium, (I have always known it as Glanford Park) the home of Scunthorpe United and it is the destination for my eighth match of this season. With Carlisle United the visitors it will be the second time in four days I have seen the Blues on the road – a hardcore Cumbrian fan!

I have a soft spot for Scunthorpe United. I’ve mentioned in earlier articles my dad’s trials at Chelsea and Arsenal, but whilst he was signed on for Arsenal, he was still in the Air Force and stationed in Lincolnshire. He signed part time terms with Scunthorpe United – I wish my dad had spoken more about his football career, too modest I suppose. I can’t find any evidence of him playing for the Iron but one of his stories was about the time he got called back to play full time for Arsenal, but he decided to stay in the Air Force as it paid better in those days. If he had played for Scunthorpe, he would have run out at the Old Showground, their previous home from 1860. As for Scunthorpe’s current ground (since 1988), it’s a nice touch, as with a number of new grounds, that its address is named after a former player, in this case Jack Brownsword, the Iron’s all-time appearance record holder, who played between 1947 and 1965 and would have been at the club the same time as my dad.

The Iron mascot – Scunny Bunny

Safely in my seat opposite from the main stand ahead of kick-off and with the teams warming up, the brilliantly named Iron mascot, Scunny Bunny, goes through its pre-match routine. Soon the teams are out with Scunthorpe in claret and light blue – apparently the design and colours are a tribute to when Sir Ian Botham played for the club – and Carlisle, who as in midweek, are in their change strip of, what their kit manufacturer Errea describe as After Eight – whatever has had happened to kit colours!

Iron pressure on the Carlisle goal

When the game gets underway, the Iron make the early running with good chances in the opening fifteen minutes. First, Yann Songo’o, has a header which is cleared off the line, and is quickly followed by a chance for Matthew Lund, but his shot ends up well over the bar. Abo Eisa then has a header which goes narrowly wide. Scunthorpe continue to dominate the first-half but can’t turn the pressure into goals, as decent chances come and go for George Miller, Andy Butler and Regan Slater. And as a result, at the break the game is goalless. The Iron were to rue their missed chances when on the hour mark, Ryan Loft, who had come on at the start of the second-half as a substitute for Carlisle finds himself with time and space to fire home at the near post. Scunthorpe though dig in and go in search of an equaliser but are susceptible to Carlisle on the counter-attack and are grateful to ‘keeper Rory Watson who is out quickly to thwart Harry McKirdy as he burst through midway through the second period. As the game goes on, Scunthorpe continue to push and think they have levelled from a Matty Lund goal-bound header, only for Adam Collin to produce a spectacular save. The Iron continue to hammer away at the visitors goal, but at the whistle it is the visitors Carlisle who take the points with a 1-0 win.


Saturday 31 August 2019

Sky Bet League Two

Scunthorpe United 0 Carlisle United 1 (Loft 60’)

Venue: Sands Venue Stadium

Attendance: 3,359

Scunthorpe United: Watson, Clarke, Lund, Songo’o, Butler (McGahey 63’), Gilliead (Colclough 73’), McArdle, Slater (McAtee 85’), Brown, Miller, Eisa

Unused Substitutes: Eastwood, van Veen, O’Malley, McAtee, Dawson.

Carlisle United: Collin, Elliott, Iredale, Carroll (Sagaf 56’), Thomas, Jones, McKirdy (Hope 79’), Webster, Bridge, Knight-Percival, Sorensen (Loft 45’)

Unused Substitutes: Gray, Mellish, Charters, Branthwaite.


Steve Blightom

Book Review: The Cumberland Senior Cup 1886 to 2019 by Barry Hoggarth

The 2019/20 football season in England, is one that won’t be forgotten in a hurry, but not for glorious goals, stunning saves or indeed fans in stadiums reduced to tears in triumph or in tragedy. It will always be one where, and as I write, no games have actually taken place in the Premier League or Championship in England to complete those competitions yet, the twists and turns of title wins, promotion and relegation was achieved either behind closed doors or by Points Per Game. In the non-league world for clubs in Step 3 to 7, the season never existed, with the results expunged from history. Whilst the FA harbours hopes of completing the FA Cup for this season, County Cups are unlikely to have that luxury, with many forever left with the competition uncompleted.

One such is the Cumberland Senior Cup, which can trace its history back to 1885/86 when Carlisle claimed the trophy after beating Workington. The 2019/20 version had reached the Semi-Final stage with Workington AFC due to host Workington Athletic and Penrith visiting Cleaton Moor Celtic. The scale of the current crisis is put in perspective when you consider that the Cumberland Senior Cup was played for throughout the duration of the Second World Cup, with the only break coming during the First World War with no competition in 1915/16, 1916/17 and 1917/18. 2019/20 now looks likely to be added to that list.

As with the book, The Wessie – A history of the West Riding Senior Football Association Cup, a look at the Cumberland FA’s competition by Barry Hoggarth in The Cumberland Senior Cup 1886 to 2019 is a real labour of love (as detailed in his interview with FBR), and one that provides a valuable record of a cup with a 134 year history to date.

Content wise, the book contains a full list of the winners and runners-up from the first final, with a timeline which provides brief details of the competition since its inception, up to the 2018/19 final. Thirty of the finals are then picked out with greater detail provided on them, featuring newspaper reports of the time, which are interesting in themselves for the language used to describe the game at that time. The book is then completed by some cameo pieces, including the tragic death of a player, John Fisher, following an incident at the 1886/87 final between Workington and Carlisle, a page dedicated to the various guises of the trophy down the years and a wonderful section of photographs of players, teams and medals from the history of the competition, many from the authors own collection.

Whilst the recording of the competition on a fact and figure basis are interesting in themselves, there are some other little gems that emerge within the books pages. There is for instance, the occasion from the 1951/52 competition when a young John Charles played for the 67th Training Regiment in the early rounds of the cup, whilst he was doing his national service. Interestingly, Charles, who was to go on to be a Welsh, Leeds United and Juventus legend also appeared in the West Riding Senior FA Cup, whilst with Leeds United. There are also mentions of other players who went onto great things, such as ex-England and Newcastle United star, Peter Beardsley, who played and scored in the 1979/80 final as Carlisle United overcame Penrith 3-2.

Football in the 21st Century has unfortunately come to be all about the Premier League, the Champions League, Sky TV, and the unhealthy amounts of money that swill in the confers of those that sit at the top table. Thankfully, we have books such as this offering by Barry Hoggarth to remind us all of the Victorian roots of the game and of a history of football that shows it existed long before the 1992/93 season and the monster that is Premier League.

(North Press Printers. December 2019. Paperback 144pp)

The book can be bought directly from the author priced at £15 including postage and packing, contact details are:

Mobile: 07791 956711

Email: hoggy63@msn.com

Twitter: @hoggy082

Facebook/messenger: Barry Hoggarth

Also available on eBay (search Cumberland Senior Cup) priced at £16.

Category: Reviews | LEAVE A COMMENT

2019/20: An Incredible Journey. Match Day 7 – Tuesday 27 August 2019: Rochdale v Carlisle United

Matchday programme cover

Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised that as an only child I started reading because dad had control of the telly, which was good on the occasion there would be sport on, especially football. But I didn’t read novels, my main reading material were encyclopaedia, history books, football books and annuals. I later added the music press to my reading list. As you’ll appreciate, these sort of books are essentially facts and figure based, and I loved reading and absorbing them, even to the point of getting my dad to test me on what I could remember. At one stage I knew all the countries in the world, their capitals, their national flag, their currency, major towns and cities etc and in terms of my football recall, I knew all the winners of the First Division, FA Cup, League Cup, European Cup, UEFA Cup, Cup Winners Cup and of course the World Cup, along with goal scorers, home grounds, colours, and individual honours like caps and goals. Sad, I know, but that answers a lot of questions for a lot of people about me!

Anyway my dad used to test me, and we were doing football grounds this particular day. He started off easy-ish with First and Second division clubs, but he would always throw in an obscure one, and on this occasion, he asked, “Rochdale?”, immediately I said “Spotland”. “How the hell do you know that?” or words to that effect was my dad’s response.

Rochdale had perked my interest from being in one of those pub-quiz football questions, Name six clubs in the league whose name ends with “e”? (The others being, Crystal Palace, Plymouth Argyle, Port Vale, Morecambe, and Stevenage). I also have a penchant for teams with one name, Chelsea, Fulham, Stenhousemuir. Additionally, I like the history of teams with the suffix United as it usually means the formation from two teams, with Wanderers usually having an interesting history and I like the unusual ones like Wednesday, Alexandra, and North End. The other Rochdale connection was that there was also a song in the charts called It’s hard being a Cowboy in Rochdale, by Mike Harding, so I have always wanted to visit Spotland or the Crown Oil Arena as it is now called.

My chance came with a Carabao Cup (the League Cup in my youth) Second Round tie with Carlisle United. ‘Dale had progressed after a First Round victory over Bolton Wanderers 5-2 at home, with Carlisle United impressing in a 3-0 win at Championship side Barnsley. As is the norm for the League Cup, the game was midweek, giving me a fix of walking to a ground of an evening with floodlights in the distance drawing the fans to the ground.

Team handshakes before kick-off

Of the game itself, ‘Dale began brightly with Stephen Dooley seeing an effort saved after jinking past two defenders and they were ahead after eleven minutes when Aaron Morley struck a stunner past Adam Collin. Morley was prominent for the home side and was involved in a move five minutes later which saw him pick out Callum Camps, who nodded down to Done, but he could only drag his shot wide from outside the area. Rochdale doubled their advantage just after the half hour mark. A ball forward wasn’t cleared by the United defence, with the wayward clearance falling to Done who did well to break into the Carlisle box, finishing calmly into the bottom corner in a one-on-one situation with ‘keeper Collin. Into the second half and ‘Dale had the better chances with Morley and Dooley having efforts to further extend the lead. Carlisle made a double-substitution on fifty-three minutes which sparked the visitors into life. One of those, Harry McKirdy got Carlisle back in the game when he won a penalty with nineteen minutes remaining, which was converted by Bridge. This gave United the impetus going into the final period of the game and Sanchez in the Rochdale goal had to be at his best on a couple of occasions to keep the visitors at bay. However, ‘Dale hung on and earned a lucrative Third Round tie at Old Trafford against Manchester United, where they weren’t disgraced, going out 5-3 on penalties after the game ended 1-1.


Tuesday 27 August 2019

Carabao Cup – Second Round

Rochdale 2 (Morley 11’, Done 31’) Carlisle United 1 (Bridge 71’ pen)

Venue: Spotland

Attendance: 1,974

Rochdale: Sanchez, Matheson, O’Connell, Magloire, Keohane, Ryan (Pyke 63’), Morley, Dooley (Rathbone 68’), Camps, Done (McLaughlin 86’), Andrew

Unused Substitutes: Norrington-Davies, Delaney, Lynch, Henderson

Carlisle United: Collin, Elliott, Webster, Knight-Percival, Iredale, Bridge, Jones (Carroll 53’), Scougall, Thomas, Olomola (Sorenson 64’), Hope (McKirdy 53’)

Unused Substitutes: Mellish, Gray, Branthwaite, Loft


Steve Blighton

Interview with Barry Hoggarth, author of the Cumberland Senior Cup 1886 to 2019.

Ahead of the review of this book about the Cumberland Senior Cup, Football Book Reviews caught up with its writer, Barry Hoggarth to get the lowdown on his football background and a bit about the book itself.

Football Book Reviews (FBR): How did you first get interested in football and what was your first football memory?

Barry Hoggarth (BH): My first football memory is of my dad collecting the ESSO coins that you got when buying petrol back then. The collection was made up of the England squad that took part in the 1970 World Cup Finals in Mexico. In terms of my first actual memory of a game that was the 1971 FA Cup final at the ‘old’ Wembley between Arsenal and Liverpool, when the London club won 2-1 in extra-time.

FBR: Do you support or watch a team regularly?

BH: It’s difficult to watch anyone regularly due to the geographic isolation, however, I do support Liverpool, as do my two lads. We try to get down when we can, but the reality is that with work commitments and ticket availability it’s difficult to get to see many games.

FBR: What was the inspiration for writing this book?

BH: I’m extremely interested in the history of West Cumberland and collect local postcards, pictures etc about the area and these have provided the basis for many of the pictures contained in the book. Another prompt came when someone at work gave me a list of all the winners of the various cups under the jurisdiction of the Cumberland FA (which turned out to be incorrect), but to my surprise my own village had three different winners of the Cumberland Cup. When I mentioned at work about writing a book on the history of the competition I basically got laughed at, however, here we are 10 years later with the book.

FBR: What was the most surprising or difficult aspect in compiling this book?

BH: I often visit the local archives in Whitehaven and the research started there and initially things were quite straightforward. However, as I got into the 1950s things began to dry up. The local weekly newspaper, the Whitehaven News started to stop reporting on the cup games if the teams in the west of the county had been eliminated, the balance of power had undoubtedly moved from the west to the north and east. I therefore had to make numerous visits to Carlisle (an 80 miles round trip) to finish the book. Unbelievably, the last season to be found was 1996/97.

FBR: From the book what is your favourite cup win and why?

BH: My favourite wins are undoubtedly the three triumphs for the Frizington teams in 1902, 1920 and 1926 given that is my home, but in terms of shock and surprise nothing beats the Bigrigg win over Carlisle United in 1915. It is without doubt a proper David v Goliath story, as Bigrigg is a village just north of Egremont with a tiny population, whilst Carlisle is a City with thousands of people and at the time Carlisle United, were playing in a particularly strong North Eastern League.

FBR: What do you think the future of grassroots football and Senior County Cup’s is?

BH: At grassroots level in Cumbria, teams are falling by the wayside left, right and centre. My own village has fantastic facilities, a superb pitch, its own clubhouse, but we don’t even have a team at junior or senior level, all this in a village with over 3,000 residents. The local Sunday League (Seniors) had three divisions when I played in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, but it’s down to one now.

Kids football, especially in West Cumbria is huge, loads of teams, but when the kids get to 18 only the good ones continue and play senior football because there’s nowhere for them to play.

Despite the decline in grassroots football, the Cumberland Cup remains relatively strong, with entries around the 32 mark for a while now. However, as no doubt with Senior County Cups around the country, the senior clubs (up here, Carlisle United and Workington), generally use the competition to field reserves and academy youngsters. Nevertheless, the smaller clubs who enter love to get one over on the so called ‘big guns’.

FBR: How can people buy your book?

BH: The book can be bought directly from me priced at £15 including postage and packing, contact details are:

Mobile – 07791956711

Email – hoggy63@msn.com

Twitter – @hoggy082

Facebook / messenger – Barry Hoggarth

Also available on eBay (search Cumberland Senior Cup) priced at £16.

Book Review: Clive Allen – Up Front with James Olley

A career in football is hard enough to achieve on your own, but when you are from a football family, then the pressure must be immense. For Clive Allen, that must have been monumental, with his father, Les, part of the Tottenham Hotspur’s team that did the ‘double’ in winning the First Division title and FA Cup in 1960/61, and a younger brother, Bradley and two cousins, Martin and Paul, who also went on to have professional careers in the game.

Clive though played for 17 years at home and abroad, scoring 49 goals in all competitions during the 1986/87 campaign and as a result claimed both the Professional Footballers’ Association Men’s Players’ Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year, earned five senior caps for England and finished with a scoring ratio of a goal in every two games.

And in Up Front, the majority of the book looks at this journey from his professional playing days as a teenager at QPR, chronologically following his career, including his Million Pound transfer to Arsenal (where he failed to make a first-team appearance), taking in his time at Crystal Palace, a second spell at QPR, Spurs, Bordeaux, Manchester City, Chelsea, West Ham United, Millwall and Carlisle United. Also, included is his time coaching at Spurs and stepping in as caretaker manager at White Hart Lane in both 2007 and 2008, his media career and his single season as a kicker in American Football (NFL Europe) for the London Monarchs in 1997. As such these are fairly traditional biographical content, but make interesting reading, nonetheless, with some honest opinions of certain situations and characters he came across in his football life.

Indeed, the title Up Front seems an apt choice working as it does on two levels. Firstly reflecting Clive Allen’s playing position, leading the line as a forward, and secondly in the phrases definition of someone who is ‘up front’ in being, bold, honest, and frank.

These qualities come to the fore and where the book shows real insight is with respect to Allen’s relationship with his famous father Les. Indeed, the book begins and ends with the pair being presented to the Spurs faithful as part of the celebrations to mark the final fixture at the ‘old’ White Hart Lane and leaves the reader in no doubt as to the significance of Clive’s view of his father, “I’m grateful for his guidance but pained by his parenting.” This seems to pervade the book, with the regret and the damage their uneasy relationship has caused, always appearing to be there under the surface. Further, James Olley who worked with Allen on this book, is able to extract a real sense of the much-travelled ex-strikers character, a man who hated losing, typified by the bust-up Allen had with Arsene Wenger and which appears not to have been resolved to this day, and despite all his success, still wonders ‘what might have been’ if he had scored on his England debut. In some ways the book is an interesting for what it implies and doesn’t say, as that which it does.

(deCoubertin Books, October 2019. Hardcover 300pp)


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2015/16: Capital One Cup First Round – Carlisle United v Chesterfield

League Two Carlisle United beat League One Chesterfield 3-1 in extra time at Brunton Park in the Capital One Cup first round.

Jabo Ibehre was the hero for United scoring twice. The first came from a header with just 15 minutes remaining. However, Emmanuel Dieseruvwe levelled for the Spireites to take the game into extra time.

Dieseruvwe though was sent off seconds into extra time for an elbow before Ibehre put the Cumbrians ahead with a right-footed volley.

With time almost up and as Chesterfield pushed for an equaliser, Kevin Osei confirmed victory in injury time with a curling effort

Chesterfield came out of the blocks fastest with Gboly Ariyibi an early threat which resulted in a Spireites corner in the opening minute.

This bright start continued in the opening six minutes as Chesterfield created three great opportunities to take the lead. First, Armand Gnanduillet fired against the post and moments later a second chance fell to captain Sam Morsy who forced Carlisle keeper Mark Gillespie into an excellent save to his left. The last of the trio of efforts on goal for the Spireites saw Gnanduillet round the keeper only to see his goal-bound effort blocked.

At this stage Chesterfield totally dominated the home side and Dan Jones and Ariyibi were combining to great effect.

With ten minutes on the clock Carlisle made their first real threat on the Chesterfield half with Patrick Brough and Steven Rigg combining. Indeed it was this pair who fashioned United’s first chance with Rigg’s header going wide and marked a change in momentum.

Just three minutes later Tommy Lee had to be at his best to save from Rigg and then almost immediately stop an Alexander McQueen attempt on goal.

As the game entered the midway point of the first-half the pace settled with Gnanduillet and Ariyibi continuing to work hard upfront, prompted by Gardner and Jones.

Carlisle though grew in confidence as the half progressed and Chesterfield were grateful to their keeper Lee to keeper out a curling effort from Angelo Balanta on thirty six minutes and from a Grainger free-kick seven minutes later, as the Chesterfield custodian leapt high to palm over the strike.

Even as half-time approached Lee was called into action once more, having to punch away a stinging free-kick from Grainger with Spireites skipper Ian Evatt booked for the initial challenge which conceded the foul.

As in the first-half, Chesterfield started strongly in the second period and Gillespie had to be quickly out to stop Ariyibi as he bore down on goal. Gardner also caused the home team problems from midfield in the opening exchanges.

However, in a repeat of the opening half, Carlisle came into the game and gained in confidence. With McQueen dangerous from the wing, Chesterfield were grateful to see a header from Charlie Raglan drift wide of their own goal.

As the hour mark passed, Carlisle made a double substitution. Charlie Wyke was replaced by Jabo Ibehre and Patrick Brough made way for Kevin Osei. The change proved to be inspired for Carlisle.

Chesterfield continued to press without creating any real opportunities although Jay O’Shea worked hard to drive the Spireites forward at every opportunity.

With twenty minutes to go the pace dropped and Chesterfield made their first change with Gnanduilet replaced by Mani Dieseruvwe.

The deadlock in an entertaining gamed was broken on seventy five minutes as a cross whipped in from the right-hand side was flicked home by Carlisle substitute Ibhere inside Lee’s left-hand post.

With ten minutes left Chesterfield made a change with Ariyibi taken off and Jake Orrell introduced to the action. And it was a case of the substitutes who combined to get the Spireites back in the game with six minutes left.

Orrell worked hard to retain possession and his intelligent ball to his right was swept home by Dieseruvwe for his first senior goal.

Chesterfield finished in the ascendancy but couldn’t fashion a chance as ninety minutes passed or indeed during the four minutes of time added on

Extra-time commenced in explosive fashion as Spireites goal-scorer Dieseruvwe was sent-off with twelve seconds for what appeared to be an elbow.

Carlisle looked to take advantage of the numerical advantage, as two minutes into extra-time Hery drove at the Chesterfield back four before his shot which went high and wide.

In order to provide some fresh legs, Chesterfield made their last change five minutes into extra-time when Banks was replaced by Michael Onovwigun.

However, chances proved to be at a premium in the remainder of the half with Osei having a strike for Carlisle straight at Lee, whilst Jake Orrell worked hard up front on his own for the Spireites.

Two minutes were added on at the end of the first period of extra-time and Osei had the only effort which was easily gathered by Lee during that period for United.

Substitute Osei proved to be a threat at the start of the second period of extra-time with an early shot from within the box which went comfortably wide and also latched onto a through ball which Lee saved bravely at the feet of the Carlisle striker.

This early pressure was the precursor to the Carlisle taking a 2-1 lead as within three minutes of the restart Grainger crossed and Ibehre hooked in his second of the night.

The Spireites responded almost immediately as O’Shea had a shot for Chesterfield which was deflected for a corner just a minute later.  Shortly after Gardner had a free-kick opportunity but it was high and wide.

Lee, who was Chesterfield’s man of the match, was in the wars when he dived at the feet of Rigg who earned a booking for his late lunge at the keeper.

Despite being a man down, the Spireites continued to create half-chances as Gardner miskicked from a good position and Morsey had a curling effort just wide.

However, Osei continued to be a threat for United and with the last two minutes of time added on nearly up, he broke down the left and curled into the top corner past the unfortunate Lee and condemn to Chesterfield to a 3-1 defeat.

2013/14: Pre-season friendly – Garforth Town v Carlisle United

(Tuesday 16 July 2013)

It is a sporting cliché that the start of a new season brings fresh beginnings and a sense of optimism and nowhere will it apply more than at Garforth Town Football Club in 2013/14. Having finished the 2011/12 season in their highest ever position (fifth in Evo-Stik North First Division), the summer of 2012 proved to be a disastrous one. All but one of the playing squad left as did many of the significant people who ran the club and indeed a number of supporters. With chaos behind the scenes and on the pitch, the club lurched through the 2012/13 season to finish bottom with 16 points having conceded a staggering 157 goals and inevitable relegation to the Baris Northern Counties East League (NCEL) Premier Division. Thankfully the summer of 2013 has seen some stability restored to The Miners with the Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy coming on-board and the return of many of those who left the club last season including Brian and Jane Close and Paul Bracewell. As well as ensuring that matters on the pitch are on a more stable footing, the new management team will work to get the club back in the consciousness of the local community and start attracting fans back to Wheatley Park.

A ‘new’ era at Wheatley Park

On the pitch, Graham Nicholas has been appointed as the new manager. He brings with him a wealth of experience having coached at a number of club academies including Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, Barnsley, Sheffield United and Rotherham United and in the 2012/13 season he worked with Athersley Recreation in the NCEL. In terms of pre-season fixtures, The Miners start tonight with a fixture against nPower League One side Carlisle United, with games to follow against Farsley AFC, Worsbrough Bridge Athletic and AFC Emley before the league action starts on 10 August.

The Miners are able to start their pre-season with such attractive opposition after reaching an agreement with Carlisle to allow the Cumbrian club to use Wheatley Park as a base to train when playing in and around the area. As part of the deal the team from Brunton Park agreed to play a friendly at Garforth.

(Wednesday 17 July 2013)

My last visit to watch Garforth Town was back in March this year on a grey cloudy day, when The Miners were bottom of the Evo-Stik North First Division and facing league leaders (and eventual Champions), Skelmersdale United. On and off the pitch it was obvious that the club was struggling. Despite being up against the top team in the division only 137 fans witnessed United take all three points with a comfortable 3-0 victory as Garforth were pushed closer to relegation. The ground itself both in terms of the pitch, the bar, the surroundings and the stand looked neglected and the players had kit on that was cobbled together from different seasons, all illustrating the problems at the club.

First-half action

Last night (just four months later), it was a very different situation at Wheatley Park as a good crowd of 216 witnessed a new start for Garforth Town in their first pre-season game of 2013/14. The pitch, whilst dry (unsurprising given the recent temperature), looked tidy and can only improve once there is a bit of rain and cooler days ahead. The clubhouse and stand have been cleaned and it’s amazing what a lick of paint can do to a place. On the pitch the players donned a new playing strip which featured yellow and blue stripes with blue shorts and yellow socks, adding to the ‘feel-good’ factor on the night. However despite all this no-one is getting carried away and there is a sense of realism at the club as new manager Graham Nichols reflected in his programme notes that “this season is about bringing stability to the club…”

Second-half: David Symington about to take a corner.

Of the game itself, Carlisle brought a strong squad and made all their professional class tell as they secured a 6-0 win, but in which Garforth played their part. Lee Miller coolly side-footed home after eight minutes to give United the lead and despite plenty of possession and chances only grabbed a second goal three minutes before half-time, when Mike Edwards fired home from a corner. Both sides introduced a number of substitutes in the second period and Carlisle scored four more goals. The first of these came from Danny Emerton with an easy header just before the hour mark and was added to by a sixteen minute hat-trick from Mark Beck, the pick of which was a clinical finish on eighty five minutes. At the whistle both sides left to generous applaud. A new era for Garforth Town has begun.

Final Score: Garforth Town (0) 0 – 6 (2) Carlisle United

Miller (8), Edwards (42), Emerton (59), Beck (73, 85, 89)

Garforth Town: Dom Smith (Paul Hagreen 46), Moise Misambu, Ben Sampayo, Nick Allen, Ben Jackson (Jack Kirk 30), Josh Greenhaigh (Chris NDukura 46), Alex Booker, Liam Royles (Taran Jheeta 46), Nick Black, Bobby Devine, Craig Tomkinson. Substitutes (Not Used) Victor Balis, Dougy Stevenson, Jack McMurrough.

Carlisle United: Mark Gillespie, Brad Potts (Brandon Gwinnutt 59), Reece James, Mike Edwards, David Livesey (David Symington 59), Paul Thirlwell (Danny Emerton 46), David Amoo (Graham Kavanagh 59), Jack Lynch (Josh Gillies 59), Lee Miller (Mark Beck 46), Lewis Guy (Alex Salmon 46), Matty Robson (Jordan Deacey 46).

Attendance – 216