the real fa cup

Miners Fare Well.

Staveley Miners Welfare 2-0 Worksop
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round 16 August 2014

A near-monsoon in North East Derbyshire almost threatened my first ever experience of the Extra Preliminary Round on Friday night. Not because of a waterlogged pitch I hasten to add, more my own self-preservation – nobody likes being stood in the rain for a couple of hours, do they? Thankfully the rain subsided and I steeled myself for the short trip to Inkersall Road, the home of Staveley Miners Welfare.

They were hosting fellow Northern Counties East League Premier League side Worksop Town in something of a local derby, with only 11 miles separating the two teams. Approaching the ground, it seemed that FA cup fever had caught the attention of the locals. The cars were tightly packed through the main entrance, with later arrivals such as myself being directed to the overflow car park, although car park was stretching it a little as I beached my wheels in a puddle-cum-lake.

A queue at the turnstiles only confirmed that we had a bumper crowd on our hands with the attendance later announced as 371, including a good portion of those (nearly half) supporting the Tigers of Worksop Town. Only 103 had supported Staveley’s season opener the previous Saturday when they crashed to a 4-1 defeat at home to Bridlington. As a newcomer to this level, it was heart-warming to see the non-league staples I had been promised with two cocker spaniels among the spectators; whether the two canines were included in the crowd figure of 371 is open to debate.

The home team’s ball boys were decked out in full replica kit and when some of them wandered off 20 or so minutes into the match, they were quickly summoned back to their positions spread out around the perimeter. This is the FA Cup after all and clearly no time to be slacking off with errant ball fetchers – there are certain standards to be expected.

Some non-league traditions had fallen by the wayside however, and only three of the 22 players that started the game stayed true to their roots and turned out in black boots. Sticking with the sartorial commentary, Worksop were sporting a rather garish luminous orange strip. Who needs floodlights when a kit is that bright? The Tigers obviously picture themselves as a bunch of fancy-dans, opting for a fashionable three at the back with their wing backs pushed high up the pitch, but it was the hosts who started more strongly.

The opening exchanges were dominated by Staveley with a number of attempts in the first 20 minutes. Shots from distance flashed narrowly wide of the Worksop goal and the Staveley number 10 should really have done better with a free header that he sent sailing over the bar. The visitors eventually found their feet halfway through the opening period though and had the best two chances of the half within seconds of each other, but crosses flashed across the goalmouth found nobody to apply the finishing touch.

Half-time warranted a visit to the Staveley clubhouse, a very smart building for this level which looks to have been only recently refurbished and decked out in club colours. Even the tables were all adorned with the club crest and little expense had been spared in making this space their own. General football memorabilia could also be found on the walls, with signed shirts from each of the 1966 England World Cup winning team, although one obviously assumes they were not the actual matchworn items.

Another frame stood out while queuing for a £2 pint of ale, which initially looked like a piece of Nazi propaganda from a distance. As I got closer to my bargain pint of Black Sheep, it was revealed to be a photo from that classic football / war crossover film Escape to Victory signed by the movie’s best player. No, not Sylvester Stallone, it was Pele of course!

Emerging slightly late for the second half after swiftly finishing off my beer, it seemed Worksop had picked up where they left off before the break and it was them who went closest to breaking the deadlock, only being denied by the crossbar. Both teams were trying to play the right way, but Worksop’s patient passing out from the back would be their downfall as a casual pass across their own box was intercepted by Staveley’s Ellis Wall who pounced on the opportunity and dinked the ball over the onrushing keeper to put The Welfare 1-0 up.

Minutes later and the home side had doubled their advantage following a neatly-worked free kick. Suffering a quick one-two punch, Worksop’s heads dropped and they could have conceded a third when Staveley crashed a shot from distance off the bar. There was a late attempt from the Tigers to rouse themselves in the last few minutes, but they couldn’t find a goal to halve the deficit and Staveley ran out deserved winners.

A week or so into the league season, Staveley find themselves down the bottom whereas Worksop are riding high after two wins from two. On this occasion however, early league form went out of the window and it is The Welfare who progress to the Preliminary Round, where they have a Miners Welfare tear-up against Rainworth MW. I fought my way through the water features of the temporary car park, grateful that this was the only water encountered on an enjoyable, and crucially dry, night of FA Cup football.

Words & Pictures Chris Walker.
Chris co-runs Blackpool FC website and podcast Measured Progress.

  1. Chris
    You might be interested to learn that this is the first time ever in their 107 seasons of competing in the FA Cup that Worksop Town has been knocked out at the Extra Preliminary Round stage.

  2. Hi Phil,

    Interesting stat, that. As someone who has little experience of attending non-league football, and perhaps showing my ignorance, I must admit I was surprised Worksop Town were entering the tournament at such an early stage. I’ve since learned of the difficulties Worksop have been facing, and hopefully they can kick on from here. They certainly had a strong following on Friday night.


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