Fellow Yellows – Belper Town FC

FA Cup, Preliminary Round
Belper Town FC v Retford United FC
Saturday, 31st August 2013, 3pm
Christchurch Meadow
Entrance £8, Programme £1.50
Distance 121 miles, Attendance 218
Like a trip down memory lane, I drove up the M1 to the mouth of the Derwent, before heading west along wonderfully named Brian Clough Way. I’d been to this footballing region often, though this time I was heading somewhere new; further north, up the beautiful valley which leads towards the Peak District.
130831 FACup PR Belper Town v Retford Utd (12)In an area once famed for its nail-making iron works – through the expansion of the textile industry – Belper became one of the original mill towns. Over the years three huge mills were built in the town, bringing employment and prosperity to the region. Still standing, the truly impressive East Mill – a Belper landmark – towers imposingly over the picturesque Christchurch Meadow.
Founded in 1883, The Nailers moved to their current ground in 1951 and, within five years had notched up their record attendance and then their biggest ever victory. In the six subsequent decades many regional trophies were added to the cabinet whilst nationally, the side reached the 1995 FA Vase Semi Final then three FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Rounds. In the last of these feats, Belper were equalled by today’s opponents Retford United.

130831 FACup PR Belper Town v Retford Utd (54)w

Whilst generally playing at similar levels on the pyramid, they hadn’t actually met in over four years, and are now a league apart. With both teams having impressively high-scoring starts to their respective seasons, the programme warned of a “tough test”; a prophecy which was clearly played out in the first half.
Though manager Peter Duffield struggled to orchestrate a way through his former employers, chances attacked both goals creating an exciting yet inconsistent fixture. Worried of where the game was going; what I didn’t realise at the time was that Duffield is a master of half time motivation.
As the players came out for the second period, I positioned myself between the dugouts and waited hopefully for the drama to unfold. Soon the match exploded into life as Ooos rang out, when Jon Froggart failed to capitalise on a fierce drive that had been parried by Retford’s keeper Jody Barford. Typing a record of this into my phone, I was interrupted by the crowd cheering.
130831 FACup PR Belper Town v Retford Utd (77)wGlyn Cotton had fired home from the edge of the box… Three minutes later Chris Adam – as if knowing I’d missed the first goal – repeated the feat from an almost identical position. Two minutes on Adam had his brace, following superbly unselfish play from Froggart and Chris Jones. Andy Walkden then tried to lob his own keeper and, from the resulting corner Froggart headed home a loose ball. In sixteen minutes the game was well and truly over.
Children went back to their kickabout behind one goal and, hospitable David Laughlin was joyfully discussing groundhopping again, whilst about us fans mulled over a local derby against Ilkeston in the next round.
130831 FACup PR Belper Town v Retford Utd (129)Just before the final whistle – as David and I discussed the many highlights of the day – Froggart broke free and coolly slotted past the keeper. Maybe it wasn’t fair on Barford but, five-nil was very deserved for Belper’s remarkable half; it was also a truly fitting end for one fan.
Celebrating his 50th birthday, club photographer, Tim “Snapper” Harrison, had been rewarded with commemorative kit and the chance to lead the teams out. Unlike almost everyone else I’d met, he’d known nothing of it before walking into the clubhouse but, the camaraderie during warm up was clearly evident.
Despite the crowd being lower due to one of Clough’s old team playing at home, it was the same close knit friendliness that I witnessed from everyone; from the humour at the turnstiles, to the service at the tea bar.

130831 FACup PR Belper Town v Retford Utd (10)w

Others will remember Belper for gas lighting but for me, they will always be the FA Charter Standard Community Club who won 5-0 just to aptly celebrate the birthday of their mascot. Leading the teams out Tim wasn’t too keen on his coloured boots but as his wife proudly admitted, “he’s been wanting to do this for years”. Haven’t we all.
shorts league
P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Pts/P
GD/P
red
1
1
0
0
4
1
3
3
3
black
5
1
1
3
8
6
4
0.8
0.4
yellow
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Initially appearing in the 2013-14 Watford FC matchday programmes, consequently these reports will have a delayed publication on here.

Fellow Yellows programme (14)

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