Thanks to Tim Rowland for this supporters view;-
And so the final league game of the season and one point needed to finish champions in only our second season in NCEL Division 1. Our opposition today, Worksop Parramores also newcomers to this level and having a great first season of their own and nothing less than a win for them today having faltered in recent games having been at the top all season. The early season encounter at Olivers had resulted in Handsworth’s worst defeat of the season 2:5 & a much changed ambers team from that day with no Herriot, Cusworth, Outram & Cockerill to name a few but they had all played their part in a fantastic season. The 46th competitive game of the season and after missing the first 3 due to holiday this was my 38th of the campaign and hopefully our 27th league win as a draw was highly unlikely having drawn just the one game all season. Starting Line Up : Poulter, Johnson, Tootle, Colliver, Griffiths, Roebuck, L Hill, Patterson, Smith, Bates, Gwindi Subs : W Hill, Torr, Broadbent, Ward, Ingram. In came Tootle, Lee Hill & Bates as changes from the Glasshoughton game. On the bench today for Parramores was ex-ambers player Grant Allott and his brother Gavin was up front & Rinki told me that this lad had played for Guiseley in the Blue Square North league. Well done to them for reaching the Conference. We had our own promotion agenda today and a strong start was required and boy did we get just that with a goal on 2 minutes as a powerful defensive header from Patterson found Smith wide right and his cross was met by Bates at the back stick for the tap in which sent the ambers contingent delirious in Parramore’s highest attendance of the season, 156. This settled everyone down as Worksop would now need at least 2 goals to spoil the party. It was clear from the outset that the home team’s game plan was to get the ball forward as early as possible to their target man, launch the long throws into the box and hope for a few set pieces and Griffths & Sir Jas would have to be at their very best. Roebuck was booked for an early foul on the halfway line and then Gwindi shot wide following loud appeals for handball. A poor defensive header from the home team’s captain and Smith volleyed wide as the ambers had the bit between their teeth. Lengthy treatment for Smith as he was shoved into the surrounding barrier but luckily he was able to continue. Handsworth had a big dead ball threat today with Tootle back in the side and an early free kick was headed wide by Griffiths. Then it was Gwindi’s turn to be barged into the barriers and the referee was letting a lot of early pushing & shoving go unpunished and he must have missed the one on himself as took a tumble with cards spilling everywhere much to everyone’s amusement. Worksop finally threatened in open play as 9 volleyed wide and then 11 headed straight at keeper Poulter. A great move as Bates having a senior ‘pro’s’ game sent Smith away down the centre and the keeper made an excellent save with the rebound falling to Bates but the follow-up was wide. Smith was put clear again and one on one with the keeper on the angle but the home stopper saved well with his leg and a second goal would have meant no way back for Worksop the way the boys had started this game. The reliable Johnson was making his trademark surging runs down the right flank and his cross found Bates running in at the near post and the flick header hit the side netting. Half time 1:0 to the away team and the ambers well on top although just the one goal in it. News filtered through that Glasshoughton were trailing 2:0 at the interval and don’t know if this was communicated to the home team but other than going 3 up top the second half began much as the first had ended with the ambers playing all the football and pressing for the killer goal. Griffiths had an early shot blocked and then headed over from a Tootle corner and some respite from his defensive duties. At the other end Johnson just managed to get an outstretched foot to the ball as the last defender. Roebuck had a shot saved and then Worksop let everyone know they were not out of the game as a strong right hand from Poulter kept the number 8 at bay. Smith headed wide and then the same combination as the first goal, Smith found Bates who made no mistake and 2:0. 57 minutes gone & game over and the Blades in the crowd happy as they could now shoot off to another promotion decider. Mrs Bates was in the crowd with mixed emotions as Scott had to be home for 6:30 and he was on a hatrick. Not an earthly Julie. Not content with the 2:0 the ambers were still going for it as Johnson shot wide. 20 minutes left and Ward replaced the excellent Gwindi and fresh legs in a like for like swap in the free role. Standing ovation and yes Faffy can walk on water. Glasshoughton had pulled a goal back at Emley and surely Worksop had nothing to lose in this game as they threw on two subs. Good to see Lee Hill back in the team today and he went on a mazy attacking run thwarted on the edge of the box. Ten minutes remaining and Bates would not get his hatrick only another standing ovation from the amber army with Broadbent on. 8 headed over for Worksop and then a late challenge on Griffiths went unpunished with 2 officials both less than 15 yards away. Broadbent was harshly booked for time wasting as the ambers were running the clock down. Added time and Worksop saw their shot deflected wide and three was yellow carded for slavering at the referee. The final whistle and to quote Gary Neville, oooooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh un-be-live-able!
Little old Handsworth, Championies in only our second season and every player today was magnificent giving their all for the cause. The news was that Glasshoughton had come back to defeat Emley which meant runners up spot for them at the expense of Worksop. Bad luck to Worksop who have had a great season and very humble in defeat with comments such as “well done Handsworth better team on the day. Deserved.” Great to see all the supportive tweets & pictures and would just like to add a massive well done to Russ & his backroom staff and family, the Chairman, John Ward, all the other trustees, the Amber Army and not forgetting the players themselves who go for the double on Wednesday vs Barton Town in the Presidents Cup Final. Come on boys 4 days to sober up!