the real fa cup

Miners Welfare Derby

Rainworth Miners Welfare 0-3 Staveley Miners Welfare
FA Cup Preliminary Round 30 August 2014, att 103.

After seeing Staveley Miners Welfare ease past Worksop Town in the Extra Preliminary Round, the tantalising prospect of a Miners Welfare derby was too strong to resist and so I headed to the Welfare Ground, home of Rainworth MW. A closed road and a poorly signposted diversion later I managed to make it through the turnstile just in time to see the two sides walk out accompanied by the sounds of a brass band belting out The Great Escape theme. With the day being filmed by the FA’s in-house media partners, the hosts were clearly pulling out all the stops.

Rainworth, pronounced ‘Rennerth’ which once you figure out makes their ‘Wrens’ nickname easier to comprehend, play a league above Staveley in the Evo-Stik League Division One South but their surroundings are a little more humble than the visitors’ Inkersall Road home. That said, the ground is pleasant enough and offers panoramic views of the Nottinghamshire countryside and the matchday programme even made a point of welcoming ground-hoppers such as me. There are two covered stands along either side of the pitch, one seated and one terraced, as well as an unusual open seating area built into the grass verge behind one of the goals.

Rainworth have had an appalling start to their 14/15 season taking only one point from their first four league games which has included a 6-0 and a 5-0 hammering. Meanwhile Staveley’s results have been a mixed bag, but they also suffered a recent heavy defeat losing 4-0 to the fantastically-named Shaw Lane Aquaforce, albeit with several players unavailable. With a strong crowd of 371 having watched their victory over Worksop in the previous round, around 30 Staveley fans made up a disappointing attendance of just 103.

It was the away supporters who had more to cheer early on when they opened the scoring after just eight minutes. Staveley’s tricky number 11 Nathan Forbes quickly realised he had the beating of the Rainworth right back and a good run saw him cut inside a drill a shot into the bottom corner past the veteran home keeper. The hosts were at sixes and sevens and could barely string two passes together but they did almost restore parity when Staveley had to clear off their own goal line.

The visitors quickly reasserted their dominance however and doubled their lead on the half hour mark following a strong run down the right from Staveley’s full-back Austin McIntosh who cut it back for the number 10 Ryan Damms to tap in. There was more chaos in the Rainworth box shortly after which resulted in Staveley hitting the crossbar. Time and time again the home side kept playing themselves into trouble and were far too casual with their passing out from the back, although Staveley’s high pressing contributed to the panic. The Rainworth manager spent most of the first half with his head in his hands and it was easy to see why. It must have been a relief when the half-time whistle finally blew.

The interval meant an obligatory visit to the clubhouse and the FA’s camera crew clearly had the same idea, getting some good footage for their documentary to be shown around the time of the 1st round proper in November. The clubhouse is small but homely and memorabilia from Rainworth MW’s sole Wembley appearance in the 1982 FA Vase Final where they lost 3-0 to Forest Green Rovers adorns the walls. Tea and coffee is served in proper porcelain mugs with nary a polystyrene cup in sight. Those who were not driving could also have indulged themselves in Mansfield Bitter for just £1.70 a pint – there’s no arguing with that, is there?

Back out on the pitch, Staveley had another couple of great chances in the first 15 minutes of the second half to wrap up the victory but the hosts just about hung on. A raft of changes followed and Rainworth MW went for it with a guts-or-glory 4-2-4 formation. A mixture of Staveley slacking off and the home side upping the pressure saw Rainworth go close on a few occasions but they lacked any real cutting edge.

With minutes remaining Staveley did finally put the game beyond all doubt when they added a third goal following a neat one-two on the edge of the box through Oli Ryan. Staveley MW now face Mickleover Sports who knocked out Thurnby Nirvana on Friday night with a 3-1 win. As for Rainworth, one suspects they’re in for a tough season. Patience from the stands was in short supply and on-pitch bickering was there for all to see; this is a side still trying to find its feet after a summer of upheaval. Should they somehow manage to avoid relegation, then it surely calls for a return of the brass band to blast out another rendition of The Great Escape.

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


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