Ahead of Saturday’s fixture at Hemsworth we lined up Darren Bell, part of the Athersley infamous Rec-In-Crew, and asked him a few pointed questions about his and The Crews involvement in the Penguins games at home and away.
Darren a 42-year-old father to two fantastic girls has been married to an amazing wife who has put up with being a football widow on Saturdays for well over 20 years now!! His job as a driving instructor has earned him his daily crust for about 14 years, and as for interests outside football, he doesn’t seem to find the time or need, the older he gets.
Darren began by speaking affectionately of his first encounter with Athersley. “My 1st game would be around 2010. Having lived in Athersley for some years, and always followed Barnsley home and away at every given opportunity, I found myself falling out of love with the professional game. Visiting my local boozer – The Acorn – I spoke at length to Pete Goodlad about the Recs games, the level of football, sponsorship, etc. Offering to sponsor a kit, I have been hooked ever since. I still made the occasional Barnsley game, but most of my weekends are now taken up following the REC. Then one celebration night in 2012 the REC IN CREW were born……”
Known throughout the NCEL for their boisterous, good natured support of Athersley we pressed Darren for his view of the Crew’s activities on and off the ground.
He told us, “They are a great set of people, who have become friends for life by following the Rec and there’s never a dull moment. We all have the club at heart and our aim over the years has always been to help the club, support the players on the pitch and off it as well. This club is basically set in a housing estate, with numerous clubs around so there’s great competition when we are trying to entice new fans down. The club has gathered together a great group of volunteers who are always there when needed and – with the help of Pete Goodlad – we even managed to get our own little stand erected. We had always envisioned how it would look but there is one glaring problem?? It’s a fair distance from the bar!”
Darren went on to regal us with some of the highs and lows of the Penguins infamous away day match trips. “There is nothing ‘typical’ about away days, with us lot!!” He went on, “I could write 50 pages or more on some of the away days we have had, sometimes a little mis-understood, but we are a good lot and just like to go away and enjoy our day and hopefully put some money into the away club’s tills.
We organise our famous ‘FUN BUS’ days when the day normally starts with a beer for breakfast! We have made attempts to use trains on the odd occasion as well – but this has ended badly – losing a few members just getting to the 1st stop! The lads find it difficult if there’s more than 1 platform in the mix! The last time one of the lads ended up in Nottingham instead of Chesterfield and I can guarantee you he was definitely on the train as we pulled into Chesterfield – so you can probably work out what we are trying to look after!
— REC IN CREW (@RECINCREW) March 24, 2018
We always try to make sure we get everyone home after the game but on another occasion, we failed…… even though the minibus waited 40 minutes, while we tried to find him. He did turn up……the next day. He was found an hour or so after full-time, a few miles away from the ground – on a country lane – by a lovely police officer who took him to a local B&B. The next morning, he woke up with no idea where he was or how he got there! Thankfully he was picked up and brought safely home.”
Darren elaborated further in his descriptions of the away day journeys. “The club always put a bus on for away games, for the players and us – and it’s great fun to be around the team before and after a game.
The journey home is always a good one – especially after a win – and they even arrange for our own portable Rec In Crew toilet to be installed on board every bus for us!”
We queried the rivalry between The Crew and Wells, to which he replied, “granted it’s always nice to beat any local team, but I wouldn’t say it’s a rivalry. Both clubs are very similar in many ways and you have to show respect to all clubs at this level.”
When we asked him about any favourite matches and players, he continued, “I have seen some great games watching Athersley, and there are many I could pick, but I am going to nominate the Sheffield Cup win at Hillsborough against Frickley. A great game and we came out 1-0 winners, very much against the odds. We took a great following, backing the lads all through the game – they responded by giving us one hell of a celebratory night. If the Sheffield Cup could talk, it would enjoy telling its grandkids about the night on Wellington Street after the win!
Liner is a penguin pic.twitter.com/IHuS8hj9LX
— REC IN CREW (@RECINCREW) November 18, 2017
As for favourite players – that could prove to be a hard one to call as there has been some great lads wearing the black and white over my watching years. However, one of the things I have noticed, is the close bond the players and supporters have always had – and I think that helps the boys on the field. It certainly puts some passion into us supporters knowing we are all in it together.”
And has he a prediction for Saturday? His instant reply, “A fantastic game and as games in this league are so unpredictable at times, I never like to predict – BUT – I am gunna say Rec to win 2-1!”