Monday 28th December 2009

Calverton Miners Welfare 0 Newark Town 1
Abacus Lighting Central Midlands League Buckingham Insurance Supreme Division
At: Hollinwood Lane
Kick-off 3-00 pm
Admission: £3; Programme: £1 (36 pages)
Attendance: 65 (headcount)
Weather: very cold, dry, clearish sky
Duration: first-half: 46:43; second-half: 49:40

The recent wintry weather hit the East Midlands football scene hard, so much so that this game was the first Buckingham Insurance Supreme Division fixture to take place since Saturday 12th December. It was always a tight affair settled in favour of title-chasing Newark Town by Simon Ellison’s first-half goal.

Outside the professional game and Blue Square Conference, there weren’t too many games scheduled for today in my usual midlands and north-western haunts. And with the freezing weather continuing to force postponements, I was pleased to read the message from Rob Hornby on the nonleaguematters forum that “CMFL Calverton MW v Newark Town Pitch has just passed inspection, so 3pm kick off”. Further to that: “Calverton is deffentley (sic) ON but wrap up warm its going to be a cold one!! Programme issued and I will have the teamsheets to hand if anyone wants to copy then down.”

The village of Calverton is located around six miles north-east of the centre of Nottingham and, as the directions I had suggested, there was no problem what so ever finding the ground. On the way I passed Arnold Town’s new ground and approached along Main Street from the B6386 junction by the golf course signed Calverton. Hollinwood Lane was first left and the ground on the left next to the household waste and recycling centre.

No problem as I said finding the ground but a lot of problems finding a parking space. The welfare car park was full and the surrounding streets were marked with single yellow lines complete with in-force parking restrictions. Eventually I found a spot on an unrestricted road – Collyer Road – around 300 yards away.

The ground was behind the welfare building (aka The Top Club) and the pitch ran lengthways from the entrance. Hardstanding ran the entire length of the nearest touchline, the Clubhouse End, with a recently erected covered stand occupying the area immediately behind the goal. There are plans to install black seats obtained from Derby County’s old Baseball Ground. Around the other three sides was flat standing on grass with the dugouts down the right-hand side either side of the halfway line.

The roots of the present-day Calverton Miners Welfare FC go back to 1946 when a gentleman called Arthur ‘Jotty’ Matthews formed a Calverton Colliery team. They joined the Notts Alliance in 1998/98 after another local team, Calverton Town, folded and CMW became a founder member of the Notts Senior League in 2004. The club took the bold move to join the Central Midlands League Premier Division two years later and gained promotion to the Supreme Divison in 2008. Last season, their first in the Supreme Division, Calverton finished in an impressive third position. However, during the close season, the first team management and almost the entire first-team squad defected to Gedling Miners Welfare.

As promised, programmes were available and teamsheets handed to those who wanted one. A few cars loads arrived minutes before kick-off having watched the early kick-off East Midlands Counties League game at nearby Radford.

Calverton, 13th in the 18-team league on 22 points from 22 games, had played more games than any other side in the Buckingham Insurance Supreme Division. Visitors Newark Town (34 points from 17 games) arrived at Hollinworth Lane in good form. With two games in hand they trailed leaders Kirkby Town by seven points and had moved up the table on the back of a run of five wins from their last seven games.

Both sides were last in action over two weeks ago on the aforementioned 12th December when Calverton won 1-0 at Blidworth Welfare and Newark won 4-1 at Westella & Willerby.

Before kick-off, I took advantage of Rob Hornby’s offer to get an on-pitch view of the fairplay formalities and also take a Calverton team photo as well. Thanks Rob.

Newark got the action underway attacking the Clubhouse End but it was Calverton who created the early chances. The visitors got a “Town wake up” call when Fraz Ahmed delivered a great cross from out of the left which the unmarked Gareth Clarkson headed straight at Garry Attwood.

Matt Roche had the ball in the back of the Calverton net just before the midpoint of the half only to be denied a goal by a raised offside flag.

A neat passing move led to Newark scoring the only goal in the 39th minute. Martin Wilson pulled the ball back from the bye-line and Simon Ellison fired home a low right-foot shot. It was the strikers 10th goal in as many games.

The visitors were in the ascendency and Simon Ellison headed against the bar before the interval. The feared striker wanted another goal and saw another header cleared from in front of goal.

The crowd adjourned to the Top Club, where a kitchen hatch did a roaring trade in hot drinks, unaware of the drama unfolding outside. Reported problems with the generator used to power the lights threatened to cause an abandonment until a puff of smoke and the ‘sweet’ smell of diesel provided good news. On came the lights and the second half kicked-off around 25 minutes after the first half had ended.

Newark almost doubled their lead early in the second half when Wilson fired against the left-hand post.

Calverton showed some urgency and Attwood needed to get down smartly to stop Gareth Clarkson’s curling free-kick. With time running out they brought on all three substitutes and pushed defender Seb Firman into attack.

The “big push now Calvo” almost led to an equaliser. Callum Kitchin hammered a 30-yard shot inches wide while Attwood reacted superbly to tip over a decent shot from Liam Harris.

Newark made absolutely sure of the win by getting the ball deep into Calverton territory at the start of stoppage time and made sure it stayed there until the full-time whistle.

The three points lifted Newark up one position in the table over Ollerton Town into fourth spot and nicely set themselves up for a sustained title challenge. Only one other Central Midlands League game survived today, the Premier Division game at South Normanton Athletic won 4-1 by visitors Church Warsop Miner Welfare.

On the way home, I found some elusive Namaqua wine in the Burton-on-Trent branch of Morrisons – Namaqua being the sponsor of Sky’s South Africa v England test match coverage. Who says advertising doesn’t work?

Calverton Miners Welfare (chilli red / navy blue / navy blue): 1. Mike Randall, 2. Marc Cannon, 3. Liam Harris (capt), 4. Seb Firman, 5. Justin Pinnock, 6. Fraz Ahmed, 7. Chris Jackson, 18. Rob McCoy, 9. Simon Gould, 10. Gareth Clarkson, 11. Chris Myton. Subs: 14. Tom Daniel (for Gould, 85), 16. Callum Kitchin (for Ahmed, 57), 17. Dan Clifford (for Cannon, 51). Manager: Tony Cox.

Newark Town (sky blue / white / sky blue): 1. Garry Attwood, 2. Sam Wilford, 3. Steve Carty, 4. Simon Greenfield (capt), 5. Ryan Stafford, 6. Martin Wilson, 7. Tom Mallinson, David Issott, 9. Simon Ellison, 10. Matt Roche, 11. Mark Ellison. Subs: 12. Louis Cree (for Issott, 76), 14. Ben Barnard (for Carty, 76), 15. Luke Parsons (for Roche, 81).

Referee: Alix Pashley.
Assistants: Damian Cottrell and James Robinson.

0-1 Simon Ellison (36)

Calverton: Rob McCoy (YC, 62).
Newark: none.