Christmas is almost upon us – plenty of NCEL Football to be played during and after the festive period, – thank goodness – but as Scrooge Kendall reprises his secret Santa Role for the beleaguered staff here at The Bootiful Game (‘secret’ meaning ‘invisible’), we thought we would take a minute to pay our Yuletide Tribute to the fantastic North East Counties Family by publishing our Christmas A-Z. So, take a break from your pre-Brexit food hoarding, put down that glass of sherry and consider a few of the characters who helped to shape the last twelve months at TBG Towers. If we’ve forgotten anyone, we humbly apologise and we look forward to your abuse on Twitter… so, any road up, here we go….hang on to your (Santa) hats…writes Colin Muncie.
A is for Aliens– the Paranormal Phenomena who appeared in Daniel Barrett’s garden as he assessed the performance of the Officials – ‘the best we have ever had’ after a 3-3 draw with Hallam at Bradley Road in October (clue; three players were sent off);
Also, for AFC Emley, not regular contributors to TBG, but who are developing a lovely venue at the Fantastic Media Welfare Ground, and who have in their ranks the brilliant Barrie Pettinger and Ian Steele, with whom we had a lovely chat at Dronfield Town in November;
For Agnew – Brett, that is – who has made a stunning start to his Management career at Bridlington Town, despite the handicap of two ‘Manager of the Month’ awards;
For Anne Holland, the fantastic volunteer at Hallam FC who has been with the Countrymen for over 62 years; if crowds keep going up at Sandygate, and to paraphrase the Roy Scheider line in ‘Jaws’, she’s going to need a bigger tea bar;
And for Albion Sports, managed by the incomparable Kully Sandhu, 36 years at the helm at Throstle Nest – and for providing the best post-match meal bar none.
It’s also for Wayne Benn, charismatic Manager at Hemsworth Miners Welfare and one of our stalwart contributors. Win, lose or draw, Wayne is never entirely satisfied and can rarely be heard humming ‘Bring me sunshine’ in the technical area. Merry Christmas, Benno;
The Bootiful Game has grown as the year has gone on. Last year (2017) saw TBG go from strength to strength, seeing nearly 300,000 visitors to the site. However, after complaints about the site been very slow (and it was!), we changed it during January, and by change, we mean TRANSFORMED. Our fantastically quick site really brought us to the forefront of online media and have just achieved 900,000 visitors so far this year. Thank you all for your fantastic support.
For the brilliant Jake Brown, host to our Bootiful Podcasts and a great friend to our magazine;
The Bootiful Podcast, our on-line series and the conveyor belt of entertaining guests, including Stephen Whitehead’s pet dog;
Barton Town, assembling a dangerous looking squad under thoughtful Manager David Riccardo – and playing excellent football in the shadow of the Humber Bridge.
C is for Campion, also playing some lovely football and sitting top of Toolstation NCEL Division One, and a club we’ll be visiting in the New Year;
It’s for Paul Clayton, Bootiful Podcast star and now a regular spectator at Knaresborough’s games and a much-missed contributor here at TBG Towers;
And for Clipstone,who left the NCEL after relegation from the Premier Division last season; a lovely club now plying their trade in the East Midlands Counties League.
D is for Defibrillator essential at all football matches. Although a game loved by players and spectators alike, we should all remember that there is danger on the pitch.
Luca Campanaro, 14-year-old goalkeeper, was playing for Bedgrove Dynamos FC under 13’s in Hillingdon, West London when he collided with another youngster and was rushed to hospital on Sunday 9thDecember 2018 where he sadly died. Luca was an avid Tottenham Hotspur fan and a dedicated footballer. The only consolation for his family – he died doing what he loved best.
For Dronfield Town, a brilliant Community Club with a fantastic set of volunteers, and who, under Manager Chris Millington, are punching above their weight, enjoying another fine season in Division One. The chip portions, however, remain excessive;
It’s also for our Ellie Dalglish, stellar transcriber, Hemsworth fanatic and a welcome addition to our underpaid and overworked staff;
For Lee Danysz, a fine young manager who left Rossington at the end of last season and must surely be back in a technical area near you soon;
For Craig Denton, our resident wine connoisseur and still–life photographer who is doing a fine job at Worksop Town. Will this be the year that Lucy D. gets her new kitchen to go with that megabuck’s settee? And will this be the Year of the Tigers?
And for Dogs,and our Premier Division set a new record for canines in attendance at a Non-League Football ground when 78 four-legged fans descended on Maltby Main in April.
Eis for Eccleshill United, who have taken to the Premier Division like a duck to water under Manager Sean Regan;
And for East Yorkshire Carnegie, who made a good fist of their first NCEL Division One season and look like doing the same this year under Manager Leon Sewell.
F is for Billy Fox,master of the one-liner and who recovered from a career–threatening Achilles injury to take Parkgate to within 15 minutes of the much-needed investment that progression beyond the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup – and a win over Leek Town -would have attracted; and for son Andrew,midfielder and reality TV addict;
It’s also for FC United – not from the NCEL, but still standard bearers as a supporter’s club in the face of the greed of the Premier League. Witness their players’ response to the travelling support after a recent defeat at York City.
Gis for Garforth Townand their fantastic venue at Cedar Ridge; their former player Ross Shelton shared the heartbreak of long-term injury with the Bootiful Game back in June;
It’s for Glasshoughton Welfare, who came so close to glory in their Play-Off semi-final defeat to Grimsby Borough back in May after a terrific run-in;
For Danny Guest, the NCEL and Evo-Stik referee who gave such a terrific interview to TBG about the challenges faced by the guys and girls in the middle – one of our most popular pieces from October;
For Goole AFC, back in the NCEL for the first time in fourteen years;
And for Gav King,the prolific Ollerton sharpshooter and a regular TBG Contributor;
It’s for Groundsmen– their thankless task around the winter period and the guys who deserve every pat on the back that they can get;
Grimsby Borough – will this be the year for the Wilderness Boys? And will their Manager be returned from deep space in suspended animation?
His for Hemsworth Miners Welfareand their Community–minded Chairman, Richard Norman – host to our popular ‘Action All Areas feature’ back in November. Previous form suggested a high-scoring encounter between Wells and Athersley Recreation, so the subsequent goalless draw came as no real surprise;
Hall Road Rangers, who overcame a twelve-point deduction to comfortably retain Premier Division status under their fine manager Bill Gill;
Hallam, regular contenders in Division One under the Chairmanship of Steve Basford and their fine young management team, and can play the Sandygate slope better than anyone; their tremendous army of volunteers featured in our in-depth feature on their FA Vase tie with Hebburn back in November;
For Handsworth Parramore who took significant steps towards their long-awaited return to their Oliver’s Mount home with the award of significant grant funding in October;
For Ryan Hindley, back in the saddle at Rossington after a spell out of the game – and already making an impression on Oxford Street, and his dad, a brilliant supporter of disadvantaged school kids;
For Lee Holmes, Rosso’s evergreen striker, who is a key component of Ryan’s thinking going forward and is still banging in the goals in his early 70’s;
Harworth Colliery, back in the NCEL after a 33-year gap under the energetic management of Lee Needham;
And Harrogate Railway, late survivors in last season’s Premier Division and now managed by Craig Ogilvie;
Dave Haddock, doing a marvellous job at his home town club, Selby Town, and editor of the fabulous ‘Town of my Life’ Fanzine – definitely worth a read.
Ifor Irlam FC,and their generous Manager, Michael Dodd; his side saw off three NCEL clubs in their march to the Fourth Round of the FA Vase; we wish them well.
Jis for Jas Colliver – a smashing bloke, a talented young Manager, and a lifelong Sheffield United supporter; well, two out of three ain’t bad. We are sure he’ll be back on the touchline soon.
Kis for Craig Kendall, Editor of TBG and for whom the phrase ‘if you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves’ was invented. King of the witty headline, unless his missus has dragged him to Meadowhall again…which is why score updates are sometimes delayed ‘until 4.30!’
For Knaresborough Town, deserved Toolstation NCEL Division One Champions last season, and who have made a stunning start to life in the Premier Division with the lively Paul Stansfield at the helm.
Lis for Liversedge,and their idiosyncratic Manager, Jonathan Rimmington. We wish Jon a speedy recovery from ill-health, although the recorded interview in which his dog set off after a swan was one of the most bizarre in TBG’s history.
Mis for our Margaret Gregory,our latest recruit, former Parkgate website guru, Deputy Editor and ace proof-reader;
For our Manager of The Month curse – just ask Brett Agnew, Chris Millington and Andy Dawson all of whom had a dismal run of results after picking up this prestigious award;
For Managers,without whom we wouldn’t have the magazine we have. Thanks to one and all of you.
To Maltby Main,the little club with the big heart and their hard-working, serial raffle winner, Chairman Wilf Race. A visit to Muglet is always a pleasure, and the home support is always happy to provide advice to referees and visiting managers, even though much of the advice isn’t physically possible;
Money,the root of all evil and – maybe – the difference between a top of the table team and mid-table mediocrity. All power to the Community clubs building from the bottom and developing their own talent;
To Duncan Milligan, a smashing bloke – and Manager – whose time will surely come.
And Colin Muncie. Well words cannot describe how much he has helped TBG over the past 18 or so months. His wit, way with words and support has been incredible and the standard, content and development of the website is mostly down to Colin – THANK YOU!
N is for Nostell Miners Welfare, who under Joint Managers, Jason Dodsworth and Simon Houghton are proving to be worthy challengers in Division One this season;
For Non-League Yorkshire, our impressive competitor, doing great things for football for young people with intellectual disabilities. Keep up the great work, James;
And for Non-League TVand our great buddy Sammy Varley, bringing high-quality NCEL Action to your living room; Sam can eat a burger and record a game at the same time – who says men can’t multi-task?
And for the NCEL,under Dave Morrall and Matt Jones, doing a great job in keeping the great show on the road.
Ois for Ollerton Town,and their fine supporters who we met at their game at Swallownest recently;
It’s also for Levi Owen,a super young goalkeeper now mixing University with clean sheets at Shirebrook Town, and his Dad Nigel,ace photographer and volunteer.
P is for Parkgate,who, with new on-field investment and a fine young manager in Andy Dawson are making their way up the Division One table. The fantastic playing surface at Roundwood remains inextricably linked to the Steelworks and the Steelmen who fund the ground staff;
For Howard Pirie, the Dandy Highwayman and head of Media Operations at Bottesford Town; a man who must have the most eclectic music collection this side of Scunthorpe;
Also, postponements,highlighting the lack of funding for grass roots football, teams and pitches – not helped by rainfall of biblical proportions;
For Penistone Church and their fine Manager, Ian Richards, watched by big crowds at the DSM Memorial Ground and making a big statement in the Premier Division and in Cup Competitions;
Is for last year’s promoted sides AFC Mansfield (Rudy Funk and Mark Ward) Pontefract Collieries (Craig Parry and Craig Rouse) and Pickering (Paul Marshall), all waving the flag in the Northern Premier League;
Qis for Queensgate,home to Bridlington Town and their irreplaceable Chairman Peter Smurthwaite, a pillar of the Community and much-loved by his peers.
R is for Ian Robinson, an outstanding writer and a more-than-welcome, high-calibre addition to TBG;
For Referees – all of ‘em, irrespective of gender – it wouldn’t be much of a game without them;
For Luce Rollinson, beloved mother to Connor and Calan, whose brave fight with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia was honoured in the ‘Show Your Support for Luce’ fundraiser at Worsborough Bridge in early May, and who sadly passed away in August. God bless;
For Mitchell Radford, our occasional contributor, and who will make a brilliant media guy at a club before too long;
For the Rec-in-Crew at Athersley Recreation, and especially our great friend Darren Bell, a star performer at our Hemsworth feature. We hope he enjoyed his vacation in Bulgaria, and we hope the Balkan state survived his trip too – and will soon rebuild the beer stocks. Thank you, Darren, and see you soon;
For Rainworth Miners Welfare,a lovely club who elected to move to the East Midlands Counties League at the end of last term; we miss the brilliant Gordon Foster.
Sis for Swallownest,who made a great start to life in the NCEL with an impressive eleventh place in Division One under bright young Manager Jordan Stocks and Chairman Mick Kent, and who are looking to develop as a Community club;
For Social Eyes,the Rotherham-based team competing in the fantastic South Yorkshire Ability Counts League. We featured Darren and Mike from the SYACL in our feature in October. Social Eyesgrabbed their first win in their fourth game last month;
For Selby Town; Christian Fox’s Robins again sit – deservedly – at the business end of Division One;
Peter Scudamore, the outgoing Premier League Chairman and beneficiary of a £5m golden goodbye after pocketing £1m per year just for doing his job. Nice work if you can get it;
For Staveley Miners Welfare, enjoying a promising League campaign and playing some excellent football under the impressive leadership of Brett Marshall and Paul Ward;
For Sponsors; every penny counts at this level, which makes our sponsors and partners a crucial part of the whole picture. Thank you;
And for Skegness Town, everyone’s choice of away opposition in September, March and April – but maybe not a Tuesday night in February.
Tis for the Three Amigos, the Hallam Management team of Scott Bates, Stephen Whitehead and Dean Bamforth; always brilliant contributors and never shy in making a point if they feel they have been wronged, and giving credit if they haven’t;
Also, for Aiden Tyas; at one stage, Aiden’s Registration Papers had a Velcro backing as he unwillingly sought our ‘more clubs than Seve Ballesteros award’; but he’s settled now, and doing a fine job at Worsbrough Bridge Athletic;
Thackley,and their Manager, Pat McGuire. The Denny boys are looking to play the right way at the picturesque Dennyfield, always a great ground to visit.
Uis for Underdogs,and it’s true what our Managers tell us, ‘On any day, any team can beat anyone else.’ There’s a surprise almost every week in either League – which covers ‘Upsets’ as well;
Vis for Lee Vigars, another marvellous contributor to TBG; after a great start to this season, his Glasshoughton Welfare side have hit a bump in the road – but we are sure that it won’t last long;
It’s also for Volunteers,the life blood of the Non-League game; so, take a bow, you lads and lasses, boys and girls and thank you for your fantastic contribution come rain or shine.
Wis for Curtis Woodhouse, who after a terrific football and boxing career stepped away from being the Manager at Bridlington Town to concentrate on his Elite Boxing Academy in his home community of Driffield. Always worth a read – and good luck to him;
It’s also for Winterton Rangers, who, under Manager Rob Watson, have built on a great start to his Management last season. His side won their first ten games in all competitions this term, and went all the way to the third round of the FA Vase – the only NCEL side to do so;
For Worsborough Bridge Athletic, now a force to be reckoned with in Division One after a marvellous turnaround engineered by Manager, Lee Morris and Assistant, David Taylor and who have already closed in on last season’s points tally; and at home, we are told, serve the biggest chip butty in the League;
For Worksop Town and their marvellous and vocal support, home and away – welcome visitors to every away ground in our League;
For On the Pitch, West Yorkshire, a new site covering our League and others. Good luck lads…
And for Doctor Keiran Watson, referring defences to A and E in Division One on a regular basis.
Xis for X-rated tackles, the subject of many Managers comments most weekends, usually linked to an assessment of the Officials, and generally prefaced by the phrase “Now I’m not one to talk about referees, but…”
Y is for Yorkshire Amateur, top of the tree in the Premier Division at the time of writing, pushing on in their lovely passing style after their promotion last season under Joint Managers, Neil Sibson and Phil Harding, and with the prolific Ash Flynn up top.
Zis for Zebras,and Brigg Town, who dropped out of the NCEL with Retford United despite a spirited battle against the drop. Their Manager Lee Thompson never gave up until mathematics finally defeated his battling side.
It’s also for you, our Readers.Thank you for your support during the last twelve months, and we’ll see you on the other side.
That’s it then – another year done and dusted. It just remains for Craig, Ellie, Ian, Margaret and Colin to wish you and yours a brilliant Christmas and Happy New Year!!!