Saturday, 21 November 2015


21 NOVEMBER 2015 --- 3PM
A clinical Colin Larkin hat trick sent Sunderland RCA into round three of the FA Vase with a barnstorming performance in West Yorkshire.  Although the talk and the headlines will be made by the former football league player Larkin will no doubt admit this was a team display that screamed out with 100% commitment and no little ability in some of the play from the north easterners. 
The day started with a wait for an early pitch inspection at Hemsworth and after overnight snow there was a little doubt in the blogs mind.  But a departure from base station allowed a few possible routes for this journey with Rotherham at Leeds I opted to avoid a busy train up to Fitzwilliam and on arrival in Sheffield the 265 bus was boarded for the one hour journey to Barnsley.  With a quick trip that any sprinter would have been pleased with we made the about to depart number 28 which ultimately ends its journey in Pontefract.  This journey was of interest because it would take us through many of the former mining villages surrounding Barnsley and also allow us to depart with an hour to spend in Hemsworth and thanks to the 'explorer' ticket it was all included in the price.
Departure soon had us into the surrounds of Barnsley with Cudworth, Birdwell, Shafton and then Grimethorpe all evoking memories of the bygone pit days.  Grimethorpe was one that I had wanted to visit with the former CMFL club no longer gracing the league the ground remains and has just accepted Worsbrough Bridge Athletic as tenants and is on th 'to do list'.  The village was also base for the film Brassed Off set around the villages famous brass band around the time of the 84/85 strike.
Upon arrival at Hemsworth the bus station is adjacent to the big 'T' store amazingly you felt Metro had rejected the chance to position it in aisle 1!
Hemsworth has a nice and what looked relatively new 'Spoons' in the form of The Blue Bell well refurbished from a former nightclub and a warm welcome today on a cold day was guaranteed.  A relaxing half an hour was gained with a good meal and after a small break we elected to continue the rest of the journey via foot.
Its a straight route to Fitzwilliam the nearby village that stages the home ground of Hemsworth MWFC with the former pit of Fitzwilliam Main, to become Hemsworth Colliery and then Kinsley drift, this would appear to be a good enough connection.  The way to Fitzwilliam is met along the road by Kinsley a village that until last season had its own CMFL club and directly over the road from this a superb looking greyhound track, The Kinsley Stadium is a superb facility and this area with Hemsworth MWFC has a nice selection of sports grounds add to this the cricket grounds and you have a sports keen area which was probably past aided by the National Coal Board helping out in making sport a positive in an areas lifestyle.  As we left Kinsley and entered Fitzwilliam we crossed over the railway line and the station, which we would use for our journey back later in the evening.
Fitzwilliam as with most of the villages around was a mining village and when the pits went how the villages and the areas surrounding them suffered.  On my previous visit here a few years ago for a NCEL ground hop game the back to back rows of terraced housing behind the remaining Railway Terrace had been demolished readying new builds. 
Here in is the next story and my last visit I had explored were number 45 Milton Terrace was and today as I sought it out for a picture I found the builders had moved in big style.  You see on Milton Terrace you would have found the person we are about to declares Uncle Algy, his grandma scoring a 100 with a stick of rhubarb and his mum catching the ball in her pinny.  Yes it was the birthplace of one Geoffrey Boycott Yorkshire and England cricketer I had hoped to get a shot of the ground where is house once was but today I could only get a picture of houses going up over the site.  The picture shows in the back ground on the left the large roof of the massive miners welfare.  Sadly Geoff hadn't come back to visit memory lane today so it was time to make our way the remaining 100 yards or should I say cover drive to the entrance to The MDC.  Just before we do its also very much worth mentioning this villages sporting pedigree was further enhanced by the footballing brothers of Cyril and Peter Knowles, the former a glittering career including Tottenham and the latter at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The entrance to the ground previously had been via an approach road at the side of the cricket ground which fronts up the football ground but now its a little diversion through the first road that enters the newly built estate.
From my one previous visit not too much appeared to have altered at the ground with the social club and changing rooms being the main building. The spectator entrance is to the right hand side of this building and having paid the entrance fee a little step across a grassed area secured a programme from a portacabin window.  Thankfully we arrived at 1345 and secured the said item because within 5 minutes the window was closed up and all 30 programmes produced had been sold.  A little disappointing here for many travelling and home fans, surely most clubs would have predicted a large gate for this 2nd round tie especially with a club from the north east being involved.
The ground as previously discovered is a neat and tidy affair with a nice display of conifer trees bordering a good portion of the boundary.  Turning to the right we have hard standing all around the perimeter with the immediate goal backed by the conifer trees.  The far side has the Keepmoat Stand something I guess is now sponsored by the developing company of the adjacent upcoming estate.  Just before this smart tip up seat occupied stand we have the dug outs which are as smart as anything I have seen outside some football league grounds!  The far goal is concrete panelled off from the cricket ground and into the corner its large scoreboard, as we come back around we reach the bar area,  This is already packed out and with little room to move I decided to retreat with the snack bar in the same area today it was disappointing not to be able to sample anything.  Although todays game saw a larger than normal crowd in attendance I did hear the club was looking at extending the area something that would certainly have gained the club a few more quid from the blog today in purchases.
In the build up to and during, the game it was cracking to catch up with some of the RCA fans who we had met a few weeks back in the first round game at Silsden, once again their friendliness was a credit to the club.  Thankfully there was time to snap an impromptu track suited team gathering.  Thanks to Hemsworth officials the blog also managed to get a quick snap of the team sheets for reference.  The build up to the game went very quickly with some interesting conversations with not visiting fans but quite a few from Hemsworth and the surrounding areas who had opted to some and look at this attractive fixture.
So too the game and with Sunderland looking to continues their recent fine form they would expect to face a tough challenge form the leaders of the NCEL division 1 Hemsworth MWFC.  But the home side got off on the wrong foot within 30 seconds when ex Chesterfield front man Larkin was up to full steam straight away driving home a flowing move that caught out the home defence.
Hemsworth were shocked but they responded well forcing visiting keeper Jordan Harkess into a couple of good saves, before Luke Proctor rattled the bar for the visitors from the edge of the box.
The pace was intense and with Sunderland looking a constant threat Hemsworth were finding it hard to take advantage of any openings they did work in the game and it got even harder on 37 minutes when Larkin got his second lovely work by Stephen Callen and Kevin Gordon set up the number 9 who converted with comfort from 8 yards out.
Again Hemsworth looked for a comeback goal but they met Harkess in fine form when he turned Jason Yates shot onto the post at full stretch.  A few moments later Callen stretched for the visitors while trying to convert but his effort flew wide.  He wasn't to be denied though on 45 minutes when his pace took him into the box and rounded the home keeper Chris Snaith to slot home from a tight angle to make it 3-0.

The second half started at the same 100 mile an hour pace and on the hour mark Sunderland RCA further extended their lead with a sweeping move that saw Gordon race on into the box and fire into the bottom left hand corner as Snaith came racing out.
Fifteen minutes later Hemsworth pulled a goal back when Samuel Jones lashed the ball home from the edge of the box to make it 1-4 this encouraged the home side into their best period of play in the tie so far and they were pushing the visitors back.  Indeed Jones could have got a second with ten minutes remaining but his unmarked header scraped just the wrong side of the post.

Then a sublime moment when Larkin completed his hat trick and made victory secure as the visitors went 5-1 to the good.  A cross off the left by Ross McNab looked to be travelling out of play deep at the far post but somehow Larkin took the ball down under control and in the blink of an eye lashed the ball home past a shocked home defence.  A fantastic goal to round of a fantastic afternoon for the side from the north east, Larkin would of course be delighted with his contribution but the overall commitment from the whole of his teammates I'm sure is something he would acknowledge.  As for Hemsworth they gave it a good go and with some better finishing would probably have been in this game for a lot longer than the score line suggests.  But the game overview would have to declare some clinical finishing alongside unbelievable work rate for the cause from Sunderland RCA.
The return short walk to the station was made by terraces overlong the railway line and
the former Milton Terrace and as the weather was closing in to freezing we were glad to see the slightly delayed Pacer unit pull into Fitzwilliam station for the departure to Sheffield before a quick change decamped us back at base station just before 7pm.
Not a long journey today but a tremendous game with a good historical look around the former pit heartlands of Yorkshire and overall a enjoyable day out.


  1. Good to read your blog. Hope to see you at our next FA Vase tie at home to either Tadcaster Albion or Worksop Town

  2. Thanks Tim, as at Silsden enjoyed catching up with all of you a friendly bunch of fans. A superb game with some excellent fitness and determination from RCA never mind what was some excellent finishing. Saw the draw and really pleased you have a home tie that you can enjoy. Hope to see you all soon. Best wishes to all.