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Sunday 12th December 2021 ko 10:30

Burton & District Sunday League Division Two


McIntosh sent off 80 (DOGSO)

TL DARBY 4 (Lynn 36p 80p Lord 51 Morris 87)

Att c20 at Gresley Old Hall, Church Gresley

Free Entry

With Robyn and I staying with GroundhopUK’s Chris Berezai in Long Eaton after the York City game, there was time to take in a Sunday League game before heading for home. There are advantages of having friends in the area, and since Newhall United secretary Dan Bishop picked this game for Chris, Robyn and I to watch I’ll wonder whether he picked this game because I’m a season ticket holder at Oxford United!

Of course Swadlincote in footballing terms is best known for Gresley Rovers, but just about at the highest point in the village you’ll find Gresley Old Hall. The now disused Hall is now used for ghost hunting trips as its reckoned to be one of the most haunted places in Great Britain. 

The Hall was built by Sir Christopher Alleyne in 1556, who used the old materials left over from an old priory. Legend has it that a derelict room on the second floor houses the lost souls of three children who died in a house fire after their maid fell asleep beside the fire. After the accident, the room was boarded up and never used again, but the ghost of the guilt-ridden maid doesn’t like her story being told, and torments those who comes too close to the abandoned room.

But behind the hall, is the altogether more modern Community Welfare Centre which does include a memorial to the former Swadlincote Colliery that was based a few hundred yards away. The community centre is home to a church group, who do make teas which on another day would have been handy.

The game was in the third tier of the league, and there was quite a bit to think about even before the ball was kicked. The first was that the referee hadn’t turned up, normally the rule of the league is that the home side then supplies the referee, but on this instance it was actually quicker for the away team to supply the official. These days at grassroots you have to do what it takes to get the game on!

I should explain the visitors name. TL Darby is short for Terry Leo Darby, a VW dealership in Derby who until his passing sponsored the team bearing his name for over 60 years. Even though he’s no longer with us the sponsorship is still in place.

But it’s The Mount’s manager that I’m fairly certain is the reason Dan picked this game for us. Because the manager is Jamie Hanson, who as his day job is a defensive midfielder for Oxford United. He started his career at Derby County and still lives locally despite being 3-and-a-half years into a 4 year contract at Oxford. Its fair to say his stay at Grenoble Road hasn’t been a happy one, due mainly to injury and I can well see that running a team with your mates is an antidote to a troubled last few seasons. 

The problem was that I caught them having a bad day at office. Even my brief time watching showed they were both a better side than the rather harsh 4-0 reverse here. I’m sure though TL Darby will take the win and the points gladly though. 

I made my way home with an ironic smile. There are some Oxford United fans who I’ve little doubt would have let Hanson know just how disappointing his spell has been. But I’m sure he knows that already, and having been in a job once where I was the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time, I know when to give a man a little empathy and give him his space away from his place of work.