Programme Review: 2022/23 Handsworth FC

Fixture: Toolstation  Northern Counties East League (NCEL) Premier Division

Date: Saturday 21 January 2023

Teams: Handsworth v Maltby Main

Venue: Express Worktops Stadium, Olivers Mount, Sheffield

Result:  Handsworth 1 (1) – (1) 2 Maltby Main

Programme cost: £2.00

Pages: 32

The freezing temperatures of December 2022 and January 2023 have heavily impacted the non-league fixture calendar this season. Take for instance Saturday 21 January. Of the scheduled twenty league fixtures in the NCEL, only two survived, those at Handsworth and Hemsworth Miners Welfare – the common denominator? Both clubs have artificial pitches. Love them or hate them, they do have their advantages and without doubt was the reason these fixtures went ahead.

Of the two, FBR took the option of a first visit to Olivers Mount in Darnall, Sheffield who as part of a decent crowd of 254 on a very cold, but bright day, enjoyed a local fixture against Rotherham based Maltby Main, with the visitors getting a last gasp winner to take all three points in a 2-1 victory.

The welcome at both the main bar (set a little way from the ground entrance) and entry to the playing area was as is usual in non-league circles, warm and friendly. Admission was paid at a hut with a 32 page all colour programme also able to be purchased. This edition covered both the midweek NCEL League Cup fixture vs. Ollerton Town and the league encounter vs. Maltby Main. Now I know that this divides fans and even some leagues, where double issues aren’t permitted. However, in the current economic climate it seems a sensible approach to save not only money but volunteers time in putting together two separate editions with little turnround time.

So what of ‘The Ambers Review’ as the Handsworth match programme is titled? Well the cover is an attractive one featuring a member of the Ambers squad and in the club colours of yellow and black. It contains all the usual detail you would expect with the date, opposition and competition displayed, the club badge and the logos of league sponsor (Toolstation), league benchwear provider (Macron), ground sponsor (Express Worktops) and shirt sponsor (HE Barnes).

Pages 2 and 3 have the club directory and history. Here there are a couple of observations. Firstly, the history is one solid block of text, which would be visually more attractive if broken down into paragraphs. The second point is that although the club badge has the date 1986 on it, the history within the programme only provides details from 2014/15. Now there maybe a reason of space which explains why the content as is. However, from a neutrals point of view it would have been interesting to read of the club from 1986. Page 4 is given over to all the various club sponsors, with page 5 ‘From the Dugout’ the notes of Aiden Spowage (‘Spow’) part of the management team, providing his review of results to date and a welcome to the opponents.

The next five pages are pen-pics of the Handsworth squad, especially useful for neutrals and away fans unfamiliar with the home team squad. Page 11 features the thoughts of Ambers skipper San Finlaw, who in addition to welcoming both Ollerton and Maltby Main, provided his views on Gareth Bale’s recent retirement and his choice of greatest ever Premier League player. Pages 12 and 13 provided a match report of their 1-1 draw with Eccleshill United, followed by a classic of many a programme, a Q&A with a featured player. Midfielder Morgan James features in this edition of ‘Meet the Ambers’ who in response to the question, ‘What would be your death row meal?’ responded ‘Nando’s simple as that!’ It must be decent in Sheffield!

The centrespread (pages 16 and 17) contain the seasons fixtures and statistics, with the results column dominated by red blocking highlighting that the Ambers have had a wretched recent league run which saw their last victory in the NCEL back in mid-November. The stats continue on page 18 with the squad appearances for this season and their Handsworth career. Page 19 is an advert for Macron who besides being a league sponsor, also provide the Ambers kit. Another match report features on pages 20 and 21, this time the 2-0 defeat at Goole, and you have to admire the honesty of the reporting, with the writer beginning the piece, ‘Another turgid performance on the road’ – candour to be admired.

Page 22 is a advertorial from The FA featuring the RESPECT campaign and message, which has come to be more relevant with a noticeable increase in behaviour problems in non-league football this season. This is followed by a page on Ambers league cup opponents, NCEL Division One, Newark based, Ollerton Town (who incidentally, the Ambers beat 2-0 with a brace from James Eyles). Page 24 is an advert for club shirt sponsor HE Barnes followed by an article from the Non-League Paper putting the case for a third promotion place from the National League to the Football League.

The next three pages are given over to Maltby Main with two pages of history and one of pen-pics, standard programme content but vital reading for home and neutral fans. As with the Ambers history, the formatting of that for Maltby would have benefited from splitting into paragraphs.

Page 29 contains two adverts, one for league sponsor Toolstation and the other for BMW Construction. Pages 30 and 31 details the squads for both games, with the final (and back) page providing the NCEL Premier Division table. All useful for fans on the day.

All in all this programme is well worth the £2 with plenty of material to see fans through their pre-match and half-time read. It only contains five pages of adverts (approximately 15%) and is a well written, edited, produced and printed programme.



2010/11: NCEL Premier Division – Farsley AFC v Maltby Main

revival“Revival” is defined as, “…a restoration to life or consciousness…”

Why am I starting this particle article with this word? Well, the answer is a simple one. The word “Revival” adorns the cover of the matchday programme of Farsley AFC this season. It is there as a reminder to all that this is indeed a club restored to life. Few outside of this part of West Yorkshire will know about the story of Farsley AFC.

Farsley Celtic football club was founded by a group of local men in 1908 and the team began life in the Leeds Amateur League. From the 1920’s they found a permanent home at Red Lane opposite Farsley Cricket Club and moved to their current ground at Throstle Nest after the Second World War. In 1949-50 “The Villagers” moved into the Yorkshire League Division Two and won the title in 1951-52 gaining promotion to Division One. In 1959-60 Farsley were crowned as champions, but were not promoted due to the ground not meeting the regulatory standards. History repeated itself in 1968-69, when having won the title again Farsley were once more denied promotion.

With the merger in 1982 of the Yorkshire and Midland Leagues to form the Northern Counties East League, Farsley found themselves in Division One North. Success soon came “The Villagers” way, winning the title in 1984-85 and promotion to the Premier Division. After only two seasons Farsley finished runners-up and were invited into the Northern Premier League as founder members of the Northern Premier League First Division.

There followed a period of consolidation, before in the 2003-04 season, Farsley earned promotion to the Northern Premier (Unibond) League Premier Division. Then just two seasons later, following a Play-Off Final win over North Ferriby, promotion was obtained to the Conference North. Incredibly the following season (2006-07) Farsley reached the Play-off final after finishing fifth. They played Hinckley United winning 4-3 with a last minute penalty from Simeon Bambrook after twice coming from behind, securing their place in the highest echelons of non league soccer for the fist time in their history during their centenary season. Lee Sinnott had achieved a remarkable four promotions in five seasons and was making a good fist of life in the Conference Premier before departing to Port Vale.

Sinnott’s departure during 2007-08 inevitably affected the team and on the last day of the season “The Villagers” were unfortunately relegated back to the Conference North. By now the financial pressure of the promotions were hitting “The Villagers” hard and at the end of the 2008-09 the club was charged with financial irregularities and expelled from the Conference North. However, the decision was reversed and Farsley began 2009-10 but with a -10 point deduction. “The Villagers” never completed the season when in March 2010 the club was disbanded by the Administrators.

Many believed that would be the end of the club, but Farsley AFC were reformed by John Palmer’s consortium and were accepted by the (Koolsport) Northern Counties East League, Premier Division in June 2010 so allowing the continuation of 102 years of existence for the club.

Farsley have made a strong start to this seasons campaign and before the home fixture against Maltbty Main had a record of: Played 15, Won 11, Drawn 3, Lost 1. This total of 36 points meant they topped the table, although the teams below them such as Parkgate and Bridlington Town have games in hand on “The Villagers”.

Maltby Main came into this game at the wrong end of the table and on paper it looked like a routine win for the League leaders. However, it was an uncomfortable day for Farsley who put in a very poor performance to lose 4-2. Farsley looked vulnerable at the back and conceded the midfield area to a much more committed and eager Maltby team.

The visitors took the lead in the 17thminute when Adam Shepherd coolly beat Tom Morgan when presented with a one on one situation with the Farsley keeper. It looked like the home side had finally woken up when they equalised almost immediately, as Simeon Bambrook converted Roy Stamer’s cross. Farsley pressed without being convincing and on the stroke of half-time, went behind again. There was a suspicion of offside as Robert Branagan was played in and he squared the ball to Scott Whittingham who applied the finishing touch.

If the home fans expected their team to come out all guns blazing, then they were disappointed. However, the second half came to life during a seven minute period which effectively put the game beyond Farsley’s reach. In the 56thminute Maltby were awarded a penalty which Greg Mason expertly put away to give the visitors a 3-1 lead. Within five minutes, Farsley had reduced the deficit as substitute Dave Stead raced into the penalty area and was brought down by Patrick Sullivan. Dominic Krief had his spot kick saved, but Simeon Bambrook managed to score the re-bound. Any chance of a Farsley recovery however were dispelled on 63 minutes, when Robert Branagan breezed through the non-existent Villagers backline to give the visitors a 4-2 lead. At last there was some urgency from the Farsley team as they created a number of chances in the final quarter of the game, but all to no avail.

In truth the visitors deserved their victory and the Farsley faithful amongst the 244 crowd will hope that it was just once of those days. Here’s hoping that the “revival” continues and that come the end of the season, “The Villagers” are celebrating promotion.

The Farsley AFC website can be found through the following link: Farsley AFC website