Burton Wanderers FC

As this article goes to press, Burton Albion are sitting pretty near the top of the fourth tier of English football. The club, who play at the modern Pirelli Stadium can claim a number of honours including once holding Manchester United to a no score-draw in the FA Cup third round under the management of Nigel Clough. Whilst they represent the honour of a town, perhaps better known as the home of Bass Beer and Marmite, the club has a complicated background.

burton_wanderers_1894-1897Let me take you back to the 1894/95 season when Burton Wanderers were elected into the Football League Second Division after winning the Midlands League title. They weren’t however, to be the first team from the Staffordshire town to be playing in the Football League. Two years previously Burton Swifts had been part of the Football Alliance Division that had merged with the Football League to form a two-tier structure.

Swifts had finished in sixth place in their first two seasons but it was Wanderers who seemed to impress the most, recording a 9-0 victory against Newcastle United and a 8-0 win against Manchester City on their way to a 4th place finish in 1896. They missed out on promotion due to goal average but it seemed that they would push again the following season. But it was not to be. That following season they finished second to bottom in the league and could count themselves very unlucky to be voted out of the Football League at the expense of Luton Town. Rivals Burton Swifts finished one place higher and lived to fight another day.

Three seasons later after Swifts finished bottom of the league they did a deal with the Football League to stop themselves being relegated, merging with rivals Burton Wanderers to form Burton United, and thus becoming the third Burton incarnation to play in the Football League. However, once again their tenure provided short-lived and at the end of the 1906/07 season after never finishing higher than 10th in the Football League Second Division, they were demoted and soon disappeared completely off the footballing map.

It wasn’t until 1950 that football returned to the town with the formation of Burton Albion. Their promotion to the Football League in the last decade meant that Burton now has the honour of supporting more Football League clubs than any town in England.

The ground, Peel Croft, used by two of the first three Burton teams is still in existence today and is home to Burton RFC. Back in the day the ground had a capacity of 6,000.

Whilst Wanderers, Swifts and United’s time in the Football League was brief, it did show that provincial towns could support the game at the top level, albeit just for a few seasons.


In search of Joanne Guest

Many people would say that the most famous sight in Chesterfield is the twisted spire of the Church of St Mary’s and All Saints. The wooden tower leans nearly 10 feet from its centre axis and it famed the world over. It is relatively logical that the local football team take its nickname from the most visible point in Derbyshire’s biggest town.

Some may suggest that the town is also well-known as the birth place of John Hurt, or even Simon Groom. Eighties pop aficionados would surely point their stylus to the fact two of the three Thompson Twins hailed from Chesterfield but to me the town has always been the home to the finest women, bar The Current Mrs Fuller, in the whole world.

1624873-609mWe can all remember our crushes when we were growing up, which manifested themselves into something obsessive as the hormones took over. One of the rites of passage growing up is when you build up the courage to buy your first top shelf magazine, making sure Mrs Patel had gone to lunch so you could carefully slip the copy of Razzle, Mayfair or Readers Wives under Viz and a packet of Minstrels. I remember the day very clearly when I went into my local newsagent a boy, and came out a man. She had already been a familiar face (among other body parts) in the Sun and the Star, but it was the news of her first ever “spread” as it was harmlessly called in those days, in Escort magazine that had me slipping on a baseball cap, wearing sunglasses and putting on a fake accent to obtain a copy of a magazine that today would be tame compared to the likes of Zoo and Nuts. But this was in the day when Baywatch was as exciting as things got on TV. Continue reading

Gone for a Burton

Last weekend saw the return to Dagenham of probably the most hated man in the history of the club, Steve Evans. With a welcoming committee ready and waiting to meet their team coach as it arrived at the car park, the day itself saw quite a fair amount of abuse aimed at the former Boston United manager whenever he ventured into the technical area surrounding the Rotherham bench.

As it turned out, Saturday 10th November will go down as one of those days when just about everything went right. A an excellent 5-0 win saw each goal celebrated like a World Cup final, and a reminder of just how much everyone hated Evans after each time the ball hit the net. Rotherham, on the day, were awful, and had Andy Warrington to thank for keeping it at just the five. After the game, Evans described it as the worst performance of his managerial career, so that was nice. There was even the threat of him not sending the team back out in the second half, but they eventually emerged and were just as bad in the second half as they were in the first. Perhaps it would have been better just to pack up and go home at the interval.

Despite the win though, Saturday just seemed a bit of a strange day. There was an atmosphere, partly stoked by the situation regarding the visiting manager, but there was also a bit of a dispute regarding the supporters club. For as long as I can remember, they have been staffing the match day club shop, so now that it has moved from inside the stadium to outside, there was probably the expectation that this arrangement would continue. Except that it hasn’t, and so standing outside the old premises prior to the game were a few of the “former” staff of the shop, complaining about the situation, and that they would need to have a word with those at the club who had seen fit to dispense with their services. This created more than one edge to the atmosphere, which helped make the noise in the ground last week the loudest and most sustained for some time.

Then, in the early hours of last Sunday morning, there was a fire at the club. First reports on the forum reckoned that it was the club house that had gone, which wouldn’t have entirely surprised me. That was then corrected, and it was confirmed that it had been the programme shop that had gone up instead.

As a club, one of my biggest moans is that we don’t seem to celebrate our history enough. As Dagenham & Redbridge, we were formed in 1992, out of a merger between Dagenham and Redbridge Forest. Forest themselves were formed out of mergers before that, but like Sky and their Premier League era, we only came into existence in 1992. It just seems that anything that happened before that isn’t of as much importance.

In the programme shop were loads of items that related to our predecessors, and now thanks to this, they are now gone forever. A quick look at the picture posted on the club’s website in the week showed the almost total destruction of what was inside. If anything is salvageable I’m not sure, but from that picture, it didn’t look like it. If there is nothing left, then it’s an opportunity to celebrate the history of Walthamstow Avenue, Ilford et al that has gone. How long it takes to get the shop back up and running again is anyone’s guess.

All of this has sort of cast a long shadow over what had been a brilliant day on the pitch. Winning any game by five goals is a cause for celebration, but given the nature of the win, and then adding in the history with the opposition manager, it just made it so much sweeter.

The win meant that the good league form had been extended by another game, making it now just one defeat in ten. There were times at the start of the season when this didn’t look likely, but now that there is a settled team, with minimal injuries, the side is starting to play well. There is also a little bit of confidence appearing in the support. Whereas there was the hope that we might play well and get a result, now that has changed slightly, and we are now going into games with a good level of expectation that we can get a result. Continue reading

No sunshine today Eric

Chris Durning from the Baradin website chose to spend his New Year in Morecambe…Don’t ask…

“Bring me Sunshine” goes the song most associated with the seaside town of Morecambe, yet typical british weather decided otherwise as the rain lashed down on my Fiat Grande Punto on the long journey to Lancashire from the East Midlands. The final match of 2011 for Burton on whats been a memorable year for the Brewer’s, a last gasp giant-slaying of Middlesbrough in the F.A cup, securing football league status for the second season running and now Albion find themselves battling amongst the divisions top six for a dream ticket to League One.

Still there was the small matter of an away tie before all that due to take place at the brand spanking new Globe Arena, the Shrimp’s residence after leaving Christie Park in 2009. Arriving in Morecambe is one of the easier drives to an away ground in the country with a few car parks surrounding the stadium and street parking a-plenty. Car parked it was time to brave the elements and head to see one of Morecambe’s main attractions, the statue of the towns most famous son, Eric Morecambe.

One half of legendary comedy duo Morecambe and Wise (i’ll leave it up to you to guess which one) Eric’s statue is surrounded by a Hollywood walk-of-fame style arrangement with stars depicting famous names that have appeared on the pair’s chat show’s over the years, well worth a look if you’re ever up in this part of the country, on the other hand from riches to rags the town appears a shadow of its former pomp in its heyday of years gone by and in parts has the appearance of a delapidated seaside resort that once owned a large slice of Britain’s tourist trade. Continue reading

Daggers stop the slide in Marmite town

Christmas is generally regarded as a time when miracles happen. For a team that has lost nine league games in a row, a miracle would probably be a game where they managed to avoid defeat. Despite this run of “form”, one thread on the main Daggers forum this week seemed to suggest that the majority of the posters want the manager to stay in charge. There are those however, that don’t want the miracles that have happened in the recent past, to be tainted by consecutive relegations.

During the week, we had the small matter of a replay in the FA Cup up at Walsall. General opinion from those who attended was that the game wasn’t the best, but after two hours of goal-less football, the game was settled by a penalty shoot-out. For the second time this season, we won a penalty competition, this time by 3-2. If only we could play each game with a shoot out at the end; we would be champions by now…

Today though, we have another league game, and it’s a trip up the M1 and A54 to Burton-on-Trent. After managing to lose a game where we had led (albeit for less than a minute) last weekend against Port Vale, today’s trip to Burton Albion is being well attended; ok, as well attended as a game the week before Christmas can be. The coach is about three quarters full, which is good going given that we now have eight days left to the festive period. Continue reading