Of more relevance to Saturday’s opponents is the story of coal mining in the area, which began in 1866 and ended with the closure of Kiveton Park Colliery in 1994. It was from this industry that the football club originated.
According to their web site, “The Park” were founded in 1892 although recent evidence points to a team competing in the Sheffield & Hallamshire Cup as early as 1884.
Also known in the past as “Kiveton Park Colliery” and “Kiveton Park United”, they joined the Yorkshire League in 1963 and were promoted from Division 2 two years later. In 1972 they lifted the Sheffield & Hallamshire CFA Senior Cup for the only time in their history, beating Frecheville Community Association FC 3-0 at Swallownest.
Founder members of the Northern Counties East League, they were eventually relegated to the CML in 1991, which they left five years later before rejoining in 1999. Promotion to the Supreme Division was gained via a runners-up spot in 2002/03 but the club was demoted two years later for not having floodlights.
Recent cup success came in 2004/05 and 2005/06 when they lifted the Sheffield & Hallamshire Association Cup (the Senior Cup’s junior competition) two years running.
However, such halcyon days must now seem a long time ago for player-secretary Paul Warrington and manager Wayne Burgin. The team sheet handed me by the latter on Saturday had just twelve names on it, while the previous week’s 0-1 home defeat by Bentley Colliery in the league cup left our hosts with only a fight against a possible re-election to occupy their thoughts for the remainder of the season.
In addition to the club’s on-field struggles, their Hard Lane home of some seventy years has also seen better days.
Typical of several venues we’ve already come across in the CML and similarly constructed by the nearby Colliery when times were better, it has the ubiquitous grandstand running along one side with the rest of the pitch completely fenced off and evidence of hard standing along three sides.
The ground’s capacity is listed as 2000 and the grandstand has “seating space for 200”; although there were precious few areas you’d have wished to sit on this particularly damp and murky afternoon. Again like many of its contemporaries, the ground has fallen prey to vandalism as well as the effects of time.
In the match programme the club states their aim to “fully fence off” all three pitches on the site in order “to keep out the threat of teenage vandals”. They also aim to erect floodlights and build new changing rooms. Similar to Welbeck, one can only wish them well in their quest.
For those amongst our number who chose to pass comment as to the possible health hazards lurking in and around the toilet & shower area of the away changing room, as well as the overall feeling of neglect about the place, it’s perhaps worth remembering that at the same time as these facilities were first being constructed, back at Low Farm players were getting changed in an old farm shed, the toilet facilities were of the al fresco variety and the pitch was adorned by various types of animal droppings!
Anyway, what Kiveton’s ground lacks in aestheticism their committee more than makes up for in hospitality. And a large pot of tea combined with a packet of Rich tea set us up for the cold afternoon ahead.
Given the state of our own pitch, Hard Lane’s main playing surface wasn’t in bad nick. Heavy yes but without a trace of standing water and the ball ran true enough.
Twenty one of us had braved another miserable winter’s afternoon to watch the fare on offer, with the away support again constituting a decent percentage of this total.
Early on it appeared we were in store for an afternoon stroll as we dominated the opening exchanges. But as one good set-piece opportunity followed another, and the final ball or touch was lacking in other promising moves from open play, a feeling of anxiety began to grow amongst the travelling support.
After Frosty had hit the bar our fears almost proved founded when Kiveton’s skipper Jamie Webster and striker Simon Toseland both went close in the run-up to half-time.
The interval was spent looking around the old stand and working out the cost of erecting something similar – if smaller – at the Farm. Get onto it Burt!
The second half began similar to the first i.e. we asked a lot of questions without any end product. That is until the hour mark when Jamie C latched onto a Farny lay-off, strode towards goal and unleashed an absolute belter from 25 yards that hit the back of the net before the home keeper had even smelt it. Magical stuff.
Mack immediately withdrew the injured Smalls, dropped Chav in at right back and brought young “Torres” on to the left. The replacement’s first contribution was to skip past a defender and cross perfectly for Jamie to net his second. 2-0, 62mins, game over…
Well not quite. Having used all three subs, Frosty’s whack on the knee with just over ten to go meant us playing out the majority of the remaining time a man down. Kiveton seized on this and Toseland nipped into make it 1-2 on 80mins. Suddenly my thoughts turned to that “draw specialists” tag that the CML’s Frank Harwood has pinned on us.
Thankfully, we were to have the last shout – ball half-cleared to Mozzer, fine chip back in to find “Torres” and a sweet left foot volley over a stranded keeper. Points assured.
My mood at the final whistle was enhanced further by news of Jozy’s maiden strike for El Tigres at The KC and by the time I was packing the kit onto the “Riding School Express” City were two up courtesy of George “Feed the Boat and he will score” Boateng!
Our post-match watering hole was the Jubilee Club along the B6059 in neighbouring Wales. And for those of you wondering, as with the country of the same name it originates from the Saxon English term 'stranger' or 'the Welsh' (what an informative little site this J31 one is!) which, also according to the site, “possibly denotes the presence of Celts who remained after the Anglo-Saxon settlement in around 500 AD”.
I must admit to lowering my expectations of any liquid satisfaction on being told that the venue was a “working men’s club”. For although I guessed correctly that the ale would be cheap, I didn’t think it would be “real”. Oh Lordy how wrong could I be?
There were two absolute gems on offer – Robinson’s “Mr Scrooge Humbug Bitter” (4.4%) and Harviestoun’s “Haggis Hunter” (4.3%); both at £2.10 a pint and both extremely quaffable (especially the Robinson's seasonal (sic) offering which had lasted really well given the date). Combined with what looked like some fine chilli and jackets (I abstained in favour of the chicken biryani that awaited my return home) it helped create the perfect post-match atmosphere; topped off of course by confirmation of a much needed win for City over their mega-rich namesakes.
The journey back proved lively and entertaining, aided by the usual offy take-out, and plans were drawn up for this weekend’s “Porn ’Tache Day” to accompany the visit of leaders Church Warsop Miners Welfare. Having a particular inability to grow anything that resembles mature facial hair above my top lip, I may well be hoping the weather again intervenes to force postponement of yet another home game…
Thanks to Burt Graham for the photography