There are two new Clubs in the NCEL this season, Louth Town, whom I visited on the Groundhop last season and Handsworth FC. Now I have to admit that the only Handsworth I was aware of was the one in Birmingham, home of the British reggae greats Steel Pulse. But diligent research (oh alright, I checked out the NCEL Official site) informs me that it is in Sheffield and not only that, but that I passed within yards of the ground on my recent visit to The Don Valley Stadium. Using Google, I looked at the ground and it did not appear to have many facilities with only a stand hidden by trees on the photo. I took the decision that a visit here would be done early or late in the season. Once the fixtures came out their first home match was set for a Wednesday night and so I decided to check out the Handsworth Revolution (see what I did there? No, ok then) and go to the game against Glasshoughton Welfare.
The ground was easy to find and there were plenty of stewards to help point you in the right direction as this is a large complex catering for Handsworth Juniors FC too. I park up and get out to have a look round and notice how windy it is. I fall into conversation with a guy from Oldham (apologies, I realised afterwards I never asked your name). I head down to the entrance and find out that the Clubhouse is back up the way I came, so I buy a programme and head off to find it. It’s a fair hike, up hill all the way, and this is where the toilets are too! The Clubhouse is open, selling hot drinks and more impressively hot food. An all day breakfast is available but I just have a coffee. The changing rooms are situated here too and there is a practice pitch in front of here. I head back down to the ground and pay my entrance fee and but a badge from the friendly ladies in the hut which you go through to gain access.
As I saw from the pictures, there is only hard standing and a railing around three sides of the ground with one small stand on the side you enter. I wander round to take some photos and eventually work my way back in front of the stand just as the teams have completed their journey from the changing rooms. The pitch is surrounded by trees and this gives some shelter from the wind, but as I said before this is definitely one ground to visit early or late in the season, I could imagine it being very chilly in December/January.
I really did not know what to expect from the game as Glasshoughton had only played one pre-season game (which they won 6-1) as their manager quit and all other games were postponed. As I’ve already owned up, I knew nothing about the Handsworth team but I had read that some of their players had come from other NCEL teams having previously played for the Juniors. The establishment of Handsworth FC had been to provide a route for the Junior players who wanted to play at a higher level, so it was good to see some of their former players return.
The game started off fairly evenly and both teams looked a bit nervous to begin with but as the game went on they both settled down and we started to have one or two chances in front of goal. It was a pretty competitive game and there one or two hard challenges going in without it being dirty. The game turned after 27 minutes when Handsworth were awarded a penalty. The ball was played into the box and the Welfare defenders arms were around the striker and the referee awarded the spot kick. After some protests which led to a booking for the Welfare defender, Russell Hobson stepped and calmly sent the keeper the wrong for the opening score. (Pictured below)Both teams continued going forward but it was Handsworth who scored the next goal. A short corner was then put in the box and a superb volley from Hobson flew past the keeper to make it 2-0 on 36 minutes. Four minutes later it was 3-0. A flowing move ended with Lee Brunt placing his shot into the corner of the net. I have to say that the scoreline was a little unfair on Glasshoughton, but the difference was in the finishing.
To Glasshoughton’s credit they came out for the second half attacking their hosts and were unfortunate not to get a penalty when Bird was pulled down in the box. They then hit the woodwork with a header from Bird. Handsworth did not play as well as they had in the first half but on 75 minutes they extended their lead. Ryan Johnson put the ball into the net but I’m not sure he knew a lot about it as it seemed to hit him rather than him heading it, but it still counts. The game petered out after this and it was Handsworth who looked more likely to score but some poor finishing left the score at 4-0.
I enjoyed the game and felt for Glasshoughton as the score was hard on them. I'm glad I visited Olivers Mount early in the season as I'm fairly sure it will a bleak place to visit in the depths of winter. But don't let that put you off, I'm sure the friendly welcome I got tonight will be replicated if you
decide to go.
More pictures of Olivers Mount here.
Handsworth 4-0 Glasshoughton Welfare