16 defining NCEL League games of the decade involving Yorkshire sides

What a decade it has been for Toolstation NCEL football. Some big clubs have passed through, Farsley Celtic, Scarborough Athletic, Tadcaster Albion, Brighouse Town, Pontefract Collieries spring to mind. Four of those clubs are enjoying great success in the Northern Premier Division, while Farsley are riding high in the National North.

We have delved into the archives and picked the Premier Division and Division One games we feel are still remembered fondly today or still have significance today. Please note that as we are Non League Yorkshire, all the games involve Yorkshire sides.

Tadcaster Albion 2-1 Hemsworth Miners Welfare (27/1/10)

Paul Marshall and Danny Pitts celebrate promotion with Tadcaster in 2010, after denying now Brighton manager Graham Potter’s Leeds Carnegie

The rise of Tadcaster Albion began with the Division One championship, won on a night of high drama and thanks to Leeds Carnegie’s two point deduction for playing Paul Harrison without international clearance. The manager that year for Carnegie? Brighton manager Graham Potter. Already finished runners-up Brighouse Town, managed by Mark Brier, watched on during the midweek fixture knowing the title was theirs could if Tad slipped up. It was win or bust for Tad as Leeds would take second place if they failed to win the game. For 60 minutes it was going wrong for Paul Marshall’s men as Damion Liddle had given the Wells an early lead. But cometh the hour, cometh the man, captain Danny Pitts levelled it and Michael Braithwaite dramatically fired Tad into the Premier in the dying minutes.

Parkgate 3-2 Farsley Celtic (22/1/11)

Neil Parsley (bottom) said Parkgate’s chanting in January 2011 inspired Farsley to promotion

“We are top of the league”. That was the chant from the Parkgate dressing room as their players sung their hearts out and banged on the walls. It was true, Parkgate had gone one point clear with three games in hand. The title race looked over. Heavily aided by a diabolical refereeing display in the controversial clash, Parkgate had defeated their title rivals. German winger Roy Stamer struck twice for Farsley who also had a Scott Driscoll goal dubiously ruled out. But Ashley Worsfold’s double and Nathan Swindells’ world class free kick from the halfway line which flew into the top corner past Tom Morgan won it for Parkgate. The after-match frivolities, which also included a mass brawl, only served to inspire Farsley. The Celts won 13 and drew one of their final 14 league fixtures, winning the title with a game to spare. Summing up how it had inspired his players after the title was won, manager Neil Parsley said: “Who’s chanting now? Farsley are.”

Yorkshire Amateur 0-1 Askern Villa (23/4/11)

Almost leading Yorkshire Amateur to promotion without spending a penny is arguably Paul Lines’ greatest achievement in management

Long before the major investment, Paul Lines almost led Yorkshire Amateur to promotion, cruelly missing after failing the Ammers failed to win on the final day. Without a penny to spend, Lines built a superb side, full of future stars such as Paddy Miller, Josh Grant, Chris Hitchings, Fernando Moke and Dempsey Smith and going into their final game, the Ammers were second, but promotion was on a ‘win and a pray’. The Ammers had to beat Askern and hope Barton dropped points in their final three games, two of which were played after the scheduled final day. Lines’ men threw the kitchen sink at Askern, but could not score and the visitors won it in the last minute thanks to former Harrogate Town man James Naylor. Had the Ammers won, promotion would have been assured as Barton lost to Emley the same day. Barton won their final two games to nick second place.

Emley 2-3 Glasshoughton Welfare / Handsworth 2-0 Worksop Parramore (28/4/12)

Craig Elliott was a magnificent manager for Glasshoughton and led them on a magical journey for two seasons

We’re counting this as one game for our list purposes, but the final day of the 2012 Division One season had two defining games. Over in Emley, now Boston United manager Craig Elliott completed his magical time in charge of Glasshoughton Welfare by clinching promotion on a dramatic final day clash at Emley. Discounting the events which followed, but Glasshoughton had to win and hope Handsworth won the title by beating Worksop Parramore. Handsworth did their bit, but on the hour, it did not look good for Welfare as Emley led 2-0. Tactical changes ensued and an own goal brought Glasshoughton back into and Sean Bennett’s double in the final five minutes sent Elliott’s men up.

Across Yorkshire, Handsworth’s players celebrated winning the title with the players not knowing that the club were about to be relegated for failing their ground grading. The decision led to the merger of Handsworth and Parramore in 2014.

Brighouse Town 0-2 Scarborough Athletic (13/4/13)

Rudy Funk led Scarborough to promotion in 2013

Brighouse Town pushed Rudy Funk’s Scarborough Athletic all the way and the decisive match came with three weeks left. An unprecedented crowd at Brighouse watched Scarborough win thanks to two second half goals from Ryan Blott and Jimmy Beadle. Scarborough won the Premier Division title seven days later when they beat Retford and Brighouse drew 3-3 with Barton Town Old Boys.

Brighouse Town 2-0 Retford United (19/4/14)

The iconic photo of Leon Henry scoring the title-clinching goal for Brighouse Town in April 2014

Having missed out 12 months earlier, Brighouse left nothing to chance in 2014 and basically cantered to the title. The promotion-clinching victory was a mere formality as Tom Matthews and captain Leon Henry to guide Brighouse up.

Shaw Lane Aquaforce 3-3 Hemsworth Miners Welfare (22/4/14)

Hemsworth defenders Harry Viggars (nearest camera) and Andy Hart show their disbelief after Shaw Lane’s 95th minute equaliser. Photo courtesy of Arthur Haigh (whiterosephotos.co.uk)

This was the night Wayne Benn’s young charges became men, paving the way for unprecedented success. It was also the night where Shaw Lane’s Division One promotion bid nearly went up in smoke.

Defeat would have been catastrophe for Shaw Lane, but a spectacular 95th minute own goal from Andy Hart pulled the Ducks out of the fire. The point enabled Aquaforce to win promotion two nights later in the Danny Frost-led promotion-winning final game draw with Knaresborough Town.

Against Hemsworth, Shaw Lane had been cruising thanks to Shane Kelsey and Danny Frost’s early goals. However, the Wells, with a team containing the nucleus of their 2016 promotion side – Harry Viggars, Cameron Clark, Nick Guest, Jason Yates and Nash Connolly – fought back through Yates and Guest. Guest’s penalty on the hour placed them ahead and Benn’s young men faced an almighty siege for 30 minutes. They held out until Jason St Juste’s cross was met by Hart who accidentally diverted it past his own goalkeeper Jamie Oddy.

Worksop 3-0 Shaw Lane Aquaforce (14/3/15)

‘Tired’ Shaw Lane won the Premier Division title in 2014 with a game to spare

Worksop Town manager Mark Shaw triumphantly claimed he felt “invincible” and that “tired” Shaw Lane were a spent force and not in the driving seat anymore for the title – insisting they had too many games to play.

Shaw Lane had been well-beaten and had James Cotterill and Joe Thornton sent off. But Shaw’s words came back to haunt him as the wheels came off Worksop’s title bid and despite a chaotic fixture schedule, Craig Elliott’s Shaw Lane won the title with a game to spare. It was Shaw Lane feeling invincible by the end.

Hemsworth Miners Welfare 3-2 Grimsby Borough (16/1/16)

Nick Guest, who had scored a memorable goal at Emley for Hemsworth a year earlier, scored twice in stoppage time to see off Grimsby Borough

This was quite some ‘Special Guest Appearance’. Nick Guest only played twice for Hemsworth Miners Welfare during their Division One title-winning campaign, but he played a significant role. On a day when the frost had caused multiple postponements, Guest’s injury-time double plucked a victory out of the jaws of defeat and extended eventual runaway champions Hemsworth’s lead at the top. The scenes after the 95th minute winner were so delirious, Guest crowd-surfed.

Tadcaster Albion 5-2 Handsworth (9/4/16)

Turning point: Handsworth goalkeeper Archie Sneath was sent off for a challenge on Tom Corner just before Richard Adams scooped the ball off-the-line

This humdinger put Tadcaster Albion firmly on course for the Premier Division title and the NPL as chasers Handsworth’s 17-game unbeaten run under Mick Godber came crashing to an end. Handsworth goalkeeper Archie Sneath’s controversial red and Josh Greening’s hat tick helped serve up a classic.

Pontefract Collieries 4-2 AFC Emley (28/1/17)

Pontefract’s bench celebrate Jordan Turner’s third goal. Picture: Twitter: @DribblingCode

Volunteers worked for hours to get the pitch playable for this crucial Division One fixture. Pontefract simply had to win and Jordan Turner’s hat-trick rode them home. The victory swung momentum away from Emley and the Colls have never looked back since.

Worsbrough Bridge 0-2 Pontefract Collieries (22/4/17)

Jimmy Williams had to go in for Pontefract Collieries after Ben Saynor was sent off in Pontefract’s promotion-clinching win at Worsbrough in 2017

To win promotion all Pontefract had to do was win, on the epic final day of the Division One. Over in Bradford, Hall Rangers Rangers 

Looking on were Emley who had finished their matches and were hoping that Pontefract or Hall Road would trip so they nick one of the two promotion spots.

It was all plain-sailing for Pontefract at 1-0 up through Chris Wood with 30 minutes gone. But when goalkeeper Ben Saynor was debatably sent off for an alleged foul on former Colls striker Jack Mawson outside the penalty area, promotion was in balance.

Key defender Jimmy Williams grabbed the gloves and fortunately he did not have a lot to do. Mikey Dunn made it two, and even missed a penalty in the second half as the Colls sealed promotion back to the Premier Division at the first attempt.

Emley 1-3 Penistone Church (26/4/17) 

Ian Richards with Duncan Richards, Andy Ring and Dany Howes after Penistone’s promotion-winning clash with Grimsby

This was the night one of the great NCEL managerial reigns ended and another rose to power. Popular Darren Hepworth’s seven-year hold on Emley came to an end, while Ian Richards’ stock climbed even further.

800 people watched Emley, who had missed out on the title and automatic promotion by one point, be stunned by clinical Church who raced into the play-off final where they would take Grimsby Borough apart to win an historic promotion.

FC Bolsover 1-2 Knaresborough Town (18/4/18)

Steve Bromley (right) scored the goals to fire Knaresborough to the Division One title

No-one got close to runaway Division One champions Knaresborough in 2018. Paul Stansfield’s men of 2018 were quality from start to finish and definitely one of the best Division One teams of the last 20 years. The midweek night at Bolsover was a nervy affair, but Steve Bromley’s quick-fire double late in the second half saw Knaresborough clinch the title.

Maltby Main 0-2 Pontefract Collieries (28/4/18)

Pontefract Collieries celebrate winning promotion following the 2-0 win at Maltby

No-one predicted this and no-one gave them a bark, but Pontefract Collieries were the Premier Division champions of 2018, sealing back-to-back promotions and a place in the Northern Premier League for the first time in their history. The Colls were almost unbeatable during the 2017/18 campaign, and despite major fixture chaos caused by their run in the FA Vase, they won the league by six points – the promotion clinching day came at Maltby Main on Non League Dog Day. One hundred and seventy-seven, plus over 100 dogs watched Vaughan Redford and Aaron Moxam guide Craig Parry’s men into the NPL.

Eccleshill United 2-4 Yorkshire Amateur (30/4/18)

Ash Flynn has scored over 100 goals for Yorkshire Amateur in three years. Picture: Matthew Appleby

Now with investment behind them and a team of all-stars, including Emley goal machine Ash Flynn, Yorkshire Amateur were the favourites for the Division One title. However, poor form around the turn of 2018 derailed their efforts. The title was out of reach, but not second spot and six consecutive wins set up a winner-takes-all clash with Eccleshill on a rearranged final day Monday night fixture. Both teams had to win and it was the Ammers who reached the Premier Division for the first ever time, with Fernando Moke (2), Flynn and Jason St Juste scoring.

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