There’s been some very memorable Non League Journeys published on Non League Yorkshire since March and now you can read about some memorable stories that didn’t make the final cut.
There’s more Non League Journeys to come, but here’s our first compilation ‘disc’.
You’ll read stories from Duncan Bray, Pete Goodlad, Chris Hilton and Luke Smith and among the people mentioned are Nigel Clough, Lee Stratford and Alan Radford, Steve Kittrick. There’s also the story about the time a Spanish striker signed for Hilton’s unforgettable Worsbrough Bridge invincibles team.
This is Non League Journeys Extra-Time:
“There’s a few chairmen stories especially in terms of when we needed games called off if we had players suspended, injured or wanted to have the fixture against a team who were flying pushed back a few weeks. Some of the pranks I’ve seen pulled by chairmen over the years to get games off are crazy. The stories range from sabotaging floodlights to sabotaging pitches. That especially happened for Boxing Day fixtures. It was almost an unwritten rule where ever I went that we had to get the Boxing Day game off. I’ve been a clubs where we’ve asked chairmen to get games off. Some would know which parts of pitches used to hold water and we’d get the hosepipe on it. We knew which plug to pull to make sure the floodlights wouldn’t come back on and we knew which friendly referees to ring.”
“I got a bit of a reputation for diving for pens which was partly justified. I seemed to have a sixth sense for defenders who would lunge into tackles and I used to slow down waiting for them to hand out a leg.
“I once got a pen at Garforth playing for Goole and the manager Nigel Danby said to me after ‘I told the bench it would be a penalty about five seconds before the tackle came in’. He knew me well. If I was dedicated penalty taker I was more prone to go down easily if I had no chance of getting a shot at goal. It didn’t make me many friends outside of my own dressing room and I often paid the price on the half way line when centre halves knew they could take their frustrations out on me with only a free kick and maybe a yellow card being the only punishment.”
Pontefract Collieries – Fair Play Winners
(Fellow joint manager) Nick (Handley) and I were called in front of the NCEL league disciplinary panel regarding the amount of red and yellow cards.
We once (and only once) got awarded the monthly league fair play award, which we told our dressing was an insult and something we should never win again, but we didn’t expect things to end up with us being called in front of the league committee.
“We basically told the committee we would address the behaviour with the team and get rid of any bad behaviour. They offered to send Howard Webb in to talk to the team about respecting referees and player behaviour. Knowing our squad we didn’t think Howard Webb would be able to change some of our lads, and we didn’t want to become a nice team to play against, but we welcomed the offer.”
Pete Goodlad (Athersley Rec founder)
“This is the funniest thing I have ever seen on a football field. We were playing Upperthorpe in Huddersfield in the Sheffield Cup. We got there and there was no changing rooms, it was like a park. The field was flat and down one side there was a right steep banking right next to the touchline and there were some right prickly nettles. It was terrible.
“We had a lad called David French who supported us and followed us all over and we looked after him. We had kicked off and after 20 minutes and one of their players hoofs the ball and it goes right up to the top of the banking in the nettles. It never came back so Dave said ‘I’ll get it’. So he went off up this banking through these nettles. He got to the top and then after a minute people were shouting ‘Dave, Dave, Dave’. The game was still going on and we were thinking ‘what’s happened’?
“There was some screaming and he rolled onto the pitch out of nowhere and out of the nettles with the ball in his hands. I couldn’t see him for nettles as he was covered in them. The referee had to stop the match because all the players, spectators were on the floor laughing. Even the referee was on the floor. It took us half-an-hour to get these nettles out of him. It looked like he’d had 40 lashes.
“We then get going again and we won about 7-1 in the end, but when we restarted someone kicked it in the nettles again. Dave only went and went back up the banking!”
Chris Hilton tells three stories from his Frickley days and one about the time when a Spanish striker signed for his Worsbrough Bridge invincibles.
Five-A-Side Tournament (circa 1995)
“Billy Whitehurst ran The Cricketers at Bramall Lane and he entered us into a five-a-side tournament. He entered two Frickley teams and we were all thinking ‘what are we doing here’? We got to the final and one of the Frickley teams knocked the other Frickley team out, but I was in the Frickley team which got to the final. Billy went ‘there’s a gallon of beer or a full football kit on it, it doesn’t matter though if we win or lose as I’ve already done the deal, we’re getting the beer’. We ended up winning it and he took the barrel back to his pub and we all went in. I had to shoot off, but he got the karaoke on, free ale on for the six who went in and he locked the door and said ‘right, we’re in all night, nobody f***ing leaves’. He wouldn’t let them out until the morning!”
Neil Redfearn (2008)
“I played with Redders at Frickley and I remember him scoring in the Prescot Cables FA Trophy game which was the only game we won with Mark Hancock in charge. It was a brilliant goal. He volleyed it after taking it on the chest and the ball hit the boards at the back of the net and flown back at. We got in the dressing rooms after and Hancock said ‘oh Redders, I thought you’d missed that volley on the edge of the box’. Redders turned round and said ‘last time I missed one of them I was seven’. Hancock just quiet and went ‘alright’.”
Marine (January 2009)
“After the Gateshead game which we lost 4-3, the game Chris Gowen spoke about, we beat Marine at Marine and we had two sent off in that game as well. Lee Morris and Phil Lindley got sent off so we had four sent off in two games! But somehow we won at Marine. I always remember Robbo (Steve Robinson) getting it at right-back and wasting time. He was booming it in the air as high as he could shouting ‘have it’. Marine were going mental. Groomey (Jonathan Groome) kept booting it out of the ground so they kept losing balls!”
Spanish Striker Signs for Worsbrough (2012)
“We signed (Chris White) Whitey at Worsbrough and I remember him signing his form. Nobody looked at it and it got sent in. We didn’t think anything more of it until it got thrown back at us. He’d put that he was Spanish and put two Spanish names as his middle names and put a fake Spanish club down as his last club! I can’t remember the names, but it was something like Chris Manuel, something else Spanish, White! I said to him ‘why did you do that’ and he said ‘come on Hilts, it was a good laugh’!”
Smith has previously reminisced about his most memorable games. Here’s some stories about his Non League career and characters such as Lee Stratford.
Gateshead signing on fee (circa 2003)
“I was at Brodsworth with Alan Radford, but then I’d not spoken to him for a couple of years when this happened as I was at Buxton. I came in from work one day and my mum said ‘Radders has been on the phone, you’re signing for Gainsborough’. I said ‘what’? She said ‘he’s the assistant manager at Gainsborough and you’re signing for them’.
“So I went and met the manager (Colin Richardson) at Ferrybridge, but it wasn’t Gainsborough, it was Gateshead. To sum my mum up is we were once playing in Sheffield and we missed the turn off and all she saw was London signs so she panicked. Geography isn’t her strong point.
“When I signed I was given this brown envelope which felt heavy. I thought I’m not opening it in the services and so I waited until I got to the cars. I opened it and it was £300 which in them days to a young lad was a lot of money. When I got home I rang all my mates and said ‘we’re out’! It was the longest weekend ever.
“But Radders was the reason me and a few others went up to Gateshead. There were a few cars going up from Barnsley as there was me, Terry Taylor, Daz Utley, Ryan White, Wayne Harratt, Craig Robinson. It was half-team Yorkshire, half-team Geordie. They couldn’t understand us and we couldn’t understand them!
“What didn’t help is we didn’t train with them. They trained up there and we had to do a Boxercise class twice a week with Alan in the gym at Grimethorpe. It was bizarre and because he was a marine he expected us to train like marines.”
Lee Stratford (circa 2001)
“I played for Gary Marrow at Belper and I knew Strats just from going out (in Barnsley). Gary rang and said ‘we’re playing at home tomorrow on Bank Holiday, pick Stratford up, all the best’. I said ‘what do you mean all the best’? Anyway he gave Strats’ number and I couldn’t get hold of him. I think he answered the phone at 10.30am on the Monday morning.
“I said ‘Strats, where are you’? He said he didn’t know. I asked him where I should pick him up and he said ‘near the (Barnsley) hospital about 12’. I picked up him and let’s just say he was dishevelled. He was hammered and he said ‘I think I finished about 7am’. I thought ‘f**king hell Strats’.
“Then he says ‘it is Bank Holiday Monday, I won’t be playing will I’. Anyway Gary Marrow has named him hasn’t he, left centre-half. It was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen! He was unbelievable. He didn’t lose a thing. He winked at me afterwards and said ‘I think I’m better when I’m p***ed’. That’s just how he was, great bloke.”
Steve Kittrick (circa 2006)
“I’ll tell what he used to love. He had this massive car, this big Audi thing and his trick with new signings was get them in the car and pressed the button to heat their seat up to get them sweating. I remember James Cotteril signing. I was in the back so I knew what was coming. The heater was on about six for the seat and Cotts opened the window and he was blowing his t-shirt. After 30 minutes he said ‘you b***ards, the heated seat is on isn’t it’. He was sweating his knackers off.”
Duncan Bray (circa 2010)
“We were away at Staveley with Ponte and he said before the game ‘I’m on call’. Five minutes before kick off he gets a phone call. So we’re at Staveley and he’s in his full kit and tracksuit and he went with his phone into the top corner out of the way. I’m sure the game went to extra-time and I’m sure he didn’t get off his phone until the end of the game.”
Nigel Clough (2013-15)
Smith was a fitness coach at Sheffield United for a few years, including during Nigel Clough’s time as manager.
Pre-Season Training and Marbella Training
“In pre-season we went to Rother Valley and he said ‘right, we’re going to have a jog round the lake, staff as well’. Then we went to one of the local parks in Sheffield and we’ve had a jog and he’s said run to the third tree and back. There’d have a swimming day where they’d have to push a brick across the full length of the pool underwater. They could come up for a breather, but the brick wasn’t allowed to. He’d walking along the side with the pole shouting ‘drop that f***ing brick’. Everybody loved it and it was brilliant.
“We went to Marbella a couple times. The rules were there that you were there for the evening meal and the rest of the time is yours. Anyway one of them didn’t get up for breakfast or didn’t come for the evening meal so he said ‘right, you’re training tomorrow’. There was a pitch at the side of the hotel. So the following day they went for a job and the kit man says ‘gaffer, we haven’t got a ball, you said not to fetch any’. So they had to send a someone to the next hotel to ask a kid who was with his parents if we could borrow his size five football. I think they paid this kid £30 to have his ball for two hours. So this training session consisted of a few warm-up things and they then played throw, head, catch for about an hour.”
Luke Smith’s Playing ‘Comeback’
“I used to go in the gym before training and on the Monday I was on a treadmill because I think we were preparing for a half-marathon. I’d done a fast 5k with another lad. He (Nigel Clough) came in and said ‘have you got your boots’? I said ‘yes, who needs them’. He said ‘you do, …. has tonsillitis, you’re playing left-back in the 11v11 (first team training session) at 10.30am, be ready’.
“By this time I’m 34 and I haven’t played any standard of football for about three years. I get out there and there’s Jamal Campbell-Ryce playing against me. I said ‘what’s happening here’. I was that s**t after five minutes Campbell-Ryce went on the other team. But you had Neil Collins at the side of me shouting ‘get up, get up’. I said ‘get up? Neil, I can’t b***ard breathe. Don’t try to tell me to get out’. We only played for 45 minutes, but I came off red roar in my training gear. By the Thursday my legs had started to feel human again.”
Don’t Call Me Brian, I am Nigel
“A lot of his traits are his dad’s, as much as he’ll say they’re not. At a game once they appealed for this decision and the fourth official called him Brian. Wow, berserk is not the word for how he reacted. He went nose-to-nose with this fourth official saying ‘it is not f***ing Brian, I am Nigel, apologise now, apologise now’. The game was going off and he had his back to it for a good two minutes. He’d gone.”
If you have enjoyed this interview, please consider making a donation to the not-for-profit organisation NLY Community Sport which provides sport for children and adults with disabilities and learning difficulties. CLICK HERE to visit the JustGiving page.
There is a video at the bottom of the page showing our work.
NLY Community Sport, run by James Grayson and Connor Rollinson, has always had combatting social isolation at the top of our objectives when running our Disability Football teams so when the green light to return is given, our work will play an important role in reintroducing our players, who have disabilities and learning difficulties, back into society.
We have six teams, a mixture of Junior and Adult teams – Nostell MW DFC, Pontefract Pirates, Selby Disability Football Club and the South Yorkshire Superheroes (Barnsley) – across Yorkshire.
We have enjoyed great success over the past three years. Several of our players have represented Mencap GB in Geneva, including Billy Hobson from Selby and Greg Smith, whose story is quite inspiring.
Like most organisations, we have been affected financially by the Coronavirus and we have incurred losses which we cannot recover. We have not been hit as badly as other organisations, but we do need raise £2000 to put us back at the level we were at in mid-March and enable us to make a difference once again to our players’ lives in the future, without having financial worries. As each day goes by, a substantial number of our players become further isolated so we need to be ‘ready for action’ when restrictions are lifted.
Any amount raised above £2000 will be put towards new projects (when the world returns to normal) designed to further benefit people with disabilities and learning difficulties. You can learn more about the organisation HERE and on our Facebook page.
Watch the video below to see highlights from our three years as an organisation. The video was produced for our players at the end of March to remind them of good memories from the last three years.