FA Cup First Qualifying Round: Glossop North End AFC vs Skelmersdale United FC

Glossop North End AFC vs Skelmersdale United FC

FA Cup First Qualifying Round

Saturday 12th September 2015

Surrey Street, Glossop, Derbyshire

“Come on, lads! Keep going!” It’s a rainy Saturday on the sidelines in Derbyshire and we’re 12-0 down at halftime.

My six-year-old son’s U7s side are playing their first ever match against a team of talented Matlock Town youngsters; while the opposition coach ran his side through warm-up drills and talked tactics pre-match, our manager pointed out the halfway line.

Undeterred, and two dry sets of clothes later, we’re heading north towards the High Peak for our second ‘underdog’ tie of the day. Thankfully, the odds will be stacked more closely in our favour.

Former FA Cup Quarter Finalists Glossop North End sit second in the EvoStik First Division North after five wins, seventeen goals and just two conceded in their first seven games – a great start to the season for any side made all the more impressive given they were promoted just a few months ago.

As we leave sunny north-east Derbyshire, it seems we’re following the weather. A big dark cloud hangs on the horizon as we wind our way up through the Peak District. I’ve agreed to meet Jonathan Haggart, or Haggis to his friends, who’s offered to introduce me to a few board members. As we enter the turnstiles for a very reasonable £10 with a programme, I mention his name to a chap selling raffle tickets.

Welcome to Surrey Street.

Welcome to Surrey Street.

He points ‘Haggis’ out to me; he’s a little younger looking than I’d anticipated, given that he’d emailed me during the week following his daughter’s 18th birthday. An exiled Manchester City season ticket holder, Jonathan writes the match reports at Surrey Street these days.

“I gave up my season ticket in 2003,” he tells me. “I just got sick of it with the money and all of that. I’m still a fan but I’m a supporter here.”

Jonathan introduces me to Chairman Dave Atkinson. I’m keen to find out what the key to success has been over the last few years that’s seen his side promoted as Champions as well as two visits to Wembley in the last half decade in the FA Vase; both as runners-up to Whitley Bay and North Shields respectively.

Dave says: “We’ve been building off the field during the ten years since I became involved. We spent money on the pitch and had a good success in the FA Vase in 2009/10. We spent that money wisely on the Clubhouse and changing rooms. The football kicked on from there really.

“(Manager) Chris Willcock got the job two seasons ago with a good plan to try and get us out of the North West Counties league within three years and we did it in two. On top of that, we won the League Cup which we’d always done badly in and the Vase just progressed and progressed. Unfortunately we got beat in the Final, but to be in with a chance of the Treble all season was absolutely brilliant.”

Glossop is a passion and a vocation for Dave and his board of directors; one which he juggles with his ‘day job’ as a joiner. That came in handy four years ago when it came to the Clubhouse and changing rooms – Dave and his son built them. He shows me a frame presented by the supporters club thanking him for the years of pleasure the fans will get from his ‘erection’.

He continues: “I got involved with the Club when my lad was 10 running the Junior football team. My lad is now 32! I joined the Board initially as a link between them and the Junior side. When my team turned 18, the Board asked me to stay on and then ten years ago I became Chairman.”

“It’s hard work when you’re working because it takes a huge chunk of your life up. But you do it because you love the Club, you do it because you love football and you do it because you’ve got to do it! We’re very lucky we’ve got hard-working directors, volunteers, management team and players. That brings success at any level of football.”

The players warm up pre-match.

The players warm up pre-match.

It’s a similar story for fellow board member Paul Eccles, a Tottenham fan who moved north 25 years ago and became involved with Glossop around the turn of the century after volunteering to help maintain the pitch.

He says: “It just hooks you in, the Club. You remember why you watch football when you see it at this level. You can forget why you watch football sometimes but fourteen of us put £100 in each to buy a minibus a few years ago which we take to away games and it’s fun again.

“I’m the Commercial Director, bringing in sponsorship and looking after the money. We’ve worked hard the last few years on a plan; an unwritten plan to grow the Club on and off the pitch. It’s no good just having a great side and a set-up that doesn’t meet it and I think you can see around the place that we’re definitely trying to get both sides going at the same time so the Club is growing at the same time as the team.

“The town is supporting us, the crowds are up. The atmosphere is superb, it really is, and I think people are getting value for money coming to see us so it’s working well at the moment.”

And how does his involvement with Glossop impact on his relationship with his boyhood team?:

“I’ve been offered two tickets for Sunderland away tomorrow but whether I take them up or not, I’m not too sure,” he laughs. “Spurs have broken my heart on many occasions; a lot more than Glossop will ever do!”

On the FA Cup, Chairman Dave continues: “They’re good days out and, if you get an away day, the fans enjoy it as they get to go to somewhere that maybe we haven’t been before. It’s all good fun, breaks the week up! We’ve had a great start to the season and here we are today to try and take Skelmersdale’s scalp and win £3,000.”

Midway through our chat, he points out former manager Steve Young. With a 50% win record over his 200-plus games in charge, he’s one of North End’s most successful managers ever. He’s here to watch his son Dave – the Hillmen’s skipper and one of several surviving members of the FA Vase Runners-up side of 2009.

As we finish our chat, Dave mentions almost in passing that he saved the life of a fellow board member at a recent meeting. Sat metres from where we’re stood a fortnight ago, he performed mouth to mouth resuscitation along with Paul before using a defibrillator part-funded by the British Heart Foundation. It arrived in pre-season.

“He was sat just there taking the minutes for the meeting,” he says. “He just keeled over at the table.” The board member is thankfully making a good recovery in hospital.

We head out to watch the first half and queue for a pie. Served by the self-titled Pie Fairies, I’ve been told to make sure I don’t miss out. We pick up a couple with gravy and mushy peas for the same combined price as your average Premier League Pukka and they don’t certainly don’t disappoint.

The opening quarter of an hour is competitive but a little disjointed. A fine cross and header is pushed wide of the post by a diving Greg Hall as Skelmersdale threaten early on. Beyond that, a series of strong challenges from both sides give the game a proper cup tie feel as referee James Price lets the game flow.

Martin Parker weighs up his options in front of the main stand.

Martin Parker weighs up his options in front of the main stand.

“Come on Glossop! We’re better than this!” shouts a lone voice from the touchline. There’s a feeling the home side haven’t found their rhythm yet as they suss out their EvoStik North Premier Division visitors.

Whether it does the trick or not is questionable, but Glossop finish the half in the ascendancy with a final ten minutes that threatened Skem without really creating a clear cut chance.

We head back into the bar in time for a deluge of rain to fall outside during the break. The bar is busy as people watch athletics on the big screen and Jacob fiddles with his Nintendo DS. I catch up with Bar Manager and away day specialist Shifty outside, as the rain subsides and the second half kicks off.

I ask him about the supporter-purchased van Paul mentioned earlier – or to give it its proper title, the ‘Hoolivan’:

He says: “It’s a minibus that we bought between us; a close-knit band of brothers and sisters. It was christened by one of the former directors, Ade Priestley, who unfortunately is no longer with us. He named it after a riot van the Leeds fans used to have follow them around. It’s a phoenix risen from the flames as we’re onto our second van having run the first one into the ground.

“We have had it break down on the way to an away game before. The springs went on the back of the first van so we had to get towed back. Luckily we had a coach for that match so most of them jumped on there while a few us waited for the AA. There’s seventeen seats on there and they’re usually just a drunken mess by the time we get there. I drive as I don’t drink so I’m the only one sober by the end of it.”

I ask Shifty if he has his eye on anywhere in particular should Glossop win today:

He says: “We always look forward to the away trips. There’s always the possibility of a weekend away somewhere. We’re all off up to Lancaster next weekend and stopping over on Saturday night. Any excuse really. It could be Droylsden and we’d have a night away!”

There’s plenty of reason for hope at the start of the second half as Glossop come out all guns blazing. They get their reward in the 53rd minute when Tom Bailey heads home from a superb cross by Astley Mulholland that put the chance on a plate for his teammate.

The team celebrate Tom Bailey's opener.

The team celebrate Tom Bailey’s opener.

Mulholland should have made it two in the 71st minute – and well he might have had Rainford played him in after beating the final defender as the two broke beyond the Skelmersdale backline and bore down on former Accrington Stanley ‘keeper Martin Fearon. The number 9 could be forgiven for opting to shoot as Fearon’s fine save prevented the in-form striker from increasing on his tally of eight goals in the opening six games of the season.

Captain Young’s powerful header hit the underside of the crossbar and back out in the final ten minutes to the exasperation of the home crowd; and there was to be a nasty sting in the tail.

Holding the ball near the corner flag, the Hillmen were succeeding in keeping possession and frustrating their opponents, with midfielder Mooney in particular becoming irked by the tactics. As the clock ticked down (and in the opinion of many, well beyond the signalled three minutes) the referee gave two blows of his whistle as tensions threatened to get out of hand – but crucially not the requisite three.

A cheer went up from the fans packed on the touchline but the game wasn’t over. Skelmersdale quickly took the free-kick and broke up and across the field to the left hand flank. A ball into the box was somehow scrambled in – possibly via Hillmen defender Martin Parker.

As Skem wheel away celebrating, the shock among those gathered at Surrey Street was tangible beyond the eventual final whistle that soon followed. The fans boo the ref as he leaves the field but veteran Kelvin Lugsden, who’s watched on crutches from the sidelines, voices his disappointment with several teammates as they leave the field.

Dark clouds over Surrey Street as the Hillmen settle for a replay.

Dark clouds over Surrey Street as the Hillmen settle for a replay.

I catch Jonathan again as the fans begin to file out. He’s been listening to the City game on his headphones during the match – they scored a late winner at Selhurst Park within seconds of Skelmersdale’s equaliser.

“I thought I had the week off!” he says, mock dejectedly. “Looks like I’m off to Lancashire on Tuesday night now.”

Dave extends an open invite for us to return as we head for the turnstiles and I call back into the bar to bid farewell to Shifty. “What a fiasco!” is his summation of the final minutes. It might not quite be Droylsden, but it looks like the Hoolivan is back on the road.

The Underdog Blog Record 2015/16*

P 3 W 0 D 2 L 1 F 2 A 4 GD -2

*does not include Wingerworth Falcons 0 – 22 Matlock Town All-Stars

Glossop North End AFC vs Skelmersdale United FC

FA Cup First Qualifying Round

Saturday 12th September 2015

Surrey Street, Glossop, Derbyshire


Glossop North End AFC                                                                                1               –

1             Skelmersdale United FC


Bailey (53)                 Holden (90+4)


Glossop North End AFC: 1. Hall, 2. Bowler, 3. Moran, 4. Parker, 5. Young (c), 6. Andrews, 7. Mulholland, 8. Bailey, 9. Rainford, 10. Lugsden, 11. White.

Substitutes: 12. Evason, 14. Stott, 15. Hare, 16. Brooks.

Skelmersdale United FC: 1. Fearon, 2. Strickland, 3. Holden, 4. Hardwick, 5. Bodie, 6. Mooney, 7. Mooney, 8. Corrigan, 9. Mitchley, 10. Donnelly, 11. Donaldson.

Substitutes: 12. Owen, 14. Herron, 15. Rendell, 16. McIntosh, 17. Kinsella, 18. Almond, 19. Woolcott.

Referee: James Price

Att: 339


2 thoughts on “FA Cup First Qualifying Round: Glossop North End AFC vs Skelmersdale United FC

  1. Pingback: Welcome to The Underdog Blog | The Underdog Blog

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