Rainworth Miners Welfare
|The Welfare Ground, Kirklington Road, Rainworth Tel: 01623792495|
|5071 v Barton Rovers - F.A.Vase Semi-Final - 1982|
|Who are ya?||The Wrens|
|What Division are you in?||Step 6 - Northern Counties East League Division One|
You must have come in a taxi
From Nottingham - Take the A60 northbound for
4.9 miles. At roundabout, take the second exit for the A614 (Doncaster).
At next roundabout after 7 miles (White Post Farm) , turn left onto the
B6020 Mansfield Road. * Continue through
Rainworth for 2.6 miles before turning right into Kirklington Road. The
ground is a short distance up on your LHS, with the Welfare Social Club
and car park immediately opposite.
From Mansfield - Take the A617 (Newark) for 2.5 miles. At junction, continue straight over on the B6020 (Rainworth). Continue for 1.1 miles before turning left into Kirklington Road. The ground is a short distance up on your LHS, with the Welfare Social Club and car park immediately opposite.
From the North - Leave the A1 at junction with A614 & continue on A614 for 14 miles. Take the third exit at the White Post Farm roundabout onto the B6020 Mansfield Road then as * above.
From the East - Exit the A1 at Newark and take the A617 Kirklington Road for 15.2 miles. Turn left into Old Kirklington Road, and then right at the junction. The ground is a short distance down on your RHS, with the Welfare Social Club and car park immediately opposite.
Stagecoach East Midlands No.27 (Mansfield Bus Station - Bilsthorpe), No.28 (Mansfield Bus Station - Blidworth) & No.29 (Mansfield Bus Station - Newark Bus Station) all pass Kirklington Road, as does TrentBarton No.141 (Nottm Victoria Bus Station - Sutton Bus Station).
Mansfield - 4 miles. Catch one of the above buses from Mansfield Bus Station next to the Train Station.
For a map of the location, Click here.
My garden shed is bigger than this
Peering down from the car park above the peaceful
setting of The Welfare Ground, it is hard to imagine a time not so long
ago when thousands of people descended on this little part of
Nottinghamshire to witness a little bit of footballing history.
Rainworth Miners Welfare Football Club were formed as a colliery side in 1922, under the name of Rufford Colliery Football Club. They originally played their matches at Heathlands, and was very much a football team formed for social purposes, rather than with any ambitions to really put Rainworth on the map. Indeed, the capture in 1975 of Britain's most wanted man, the notorious Black Panther Donald Neilson, was probably the most interesting event to have happened to the village. However, by the early 1980's all that was to change, this time with Rainworth making national news again for all the right reasons.
The Football Club was now playing at the Welfare Ground, under the new title of Rainworth Miners Welfare. With their new name, and new home, their fortunes would take a dramatic turn for the better. Between 1978 - 1983, the Club won the Notts Alliance on a record six consecutive occasions. They also achieved back-to-back Nottinghamshire Senior Challenge Cup victories between 1981 - 1982. However, it was their 1982 efforts in the F.A. Vase which really caught the eye, a run which took them all the way to a coveted final at the home of football, Wembley Stadium.
Victories in seven previous rounds led the club to a semi-final clash against against Bedfordshire outfit, Barton Rovers. Too add to the occasion, the television cameras were in attendance, with then rookie presenter Nick Owen, later of GMTV fame, on hand to do the commentary and the post-match interviews. Following a goalless draw in the first leg, a 2-1 victory at The Welfare Ground in front of a Club record crowd of 5,071 ensured their place in the Final. The crowd was not only a Club record, but remains a record for an F.A.Vase tie outside the final.
At the Wembley Final, it was estimated that almost 10,000 had traveled down from Nottinghamshire in a crowd of over 12,000. Whilst Rainworth lost to Forest Green Rovers in the final, they can be rightfully proud of holding the honour of being the first ever miners welfare team to grace the famous turf, and also only the second true amateur side, in that they paid subs to play, to reach the Vase final.
Interest in the Club had reached an all-time high. Towards the end of the 1982/83 season, Rainworth were regularly pulling in crowds of over 300 at The Welfare Ground. Even away from home, the crowds were flocking in. The Notts Alliance League Cup final, normally watched by around 200, drew a 2,000 crowd to the John Player Ground in Nottingham. The success story continued in the following season, with Rainworth completing a Notts Alliance League & Cup double. Throughout the decade, F.A.Trophy matches continued to be a pretty special event in Rainworth, with the Club winning 15 out of 18 F.A Trophy ties between 1981 - 1990, losing just once. The most peculiar of which has to be the 1983 third round replay 1-0 victory over Mid-Cheshire League side Rylands. The original tie had ended with Rylands inflicting an embarrassing 4-1 drubbing over Rainworth. However, the match was ruled as void due to Ryland's Gossley Lane pitch being ruled as was just over a yard short of F.A. requirements. The discoverer of this fact remains a mystery, though rumours of a tape measure allegedly being found in the away dressing rooms after the match have never been substantiated.
It was not until 1991 that silverware again graced the Welfare trophy cupboard, in the form of another Notts Alliance title, with another two following in 1996 & 1997. The Club have since progressed up from the Central Midlands League to the NCEL First Division in 2007.
Prior to those heady days of the early 1980's, The Welfare Ground was a simple, basic arena, set in a valley off the Kirklington Road. The only viewing platform was from the large section of banking behind and to the side of the pitch. In 1982, to accommodate the huge crowd, some rudimentary terracing, made up of old railway sleepers, was added to the bank on the side of the pitch. This greatly enhanced the capacity of the Ground, but following the tragedies at Bradford & Hillsborough saw a shift in emphasis in English football to ensure the safety of supporters. By the 1990's the Club began to take steps to addresses these issues initially with the sole intention of meeting safety requirements, but later with the intent to ensure they had the facilities in place to compete at the highest level possible. Why such ambition was lacking following those halcyon days of 1982 is rather puzzling. Better late than never.
The first major step to enhance The Welfare Ground facilities was the installation of floodlights in 1991. In doing so, they became the very first Notts Alliance club to illuminate. It was another ten years before Southwell City followed the Wren's lead. Four of the climbable steel pylons are interestingly placed in each corner of the Ground, rather an the usual placement along the touch line, holding thee clusters each in a 'T' shaped formation. An additional floodlight is positioned behind the stand on the east side of the pitch, holding an additional cluster to increase the light to the centre of the pitch. There is no pylon on the adjacent side, as this would interfere with the cricket pitch, which overlaps the football pitch during the summer. The floodlights were updated in 1996 to meet tighter regulations on light source, and conform to F.A.Cup standard.
Until the turn of the millennium, Rainworth had no covered accommodation. The first stage of this being rectified, in line with FA Vase requirements, was when a covered stand being erected on the Allotment Side. The stand runs halfway down each side of the half way line in front of the famous east bank, which housed so many of those in attendance in 1982. The roof of this basic, yet well constructed, corrugated construction is held aloft by a series of red steel posts. It has an estimated standing capacity of 200, which has been extended to include 62 black plastic seats sited within. A new pitch barrier, made up of a series of connected steel crowd control barriers, completely encloses the pitch.
There are no further facilities for spectators to the north of the pitch. However, since the cricket team moved on in 2006, some major developments have taken place on the west side. A new 7-foot high concrete fence has been installed. Inside which the Wrens have erected a colourful, cantilevered, pre-fabricated stand. The exterior of the stand is coated in bright green, which contrasts sharply with the blue & white seats within. The stand is further enhanced by the impressive sign attached to the roof, proclaiming the club's name. A new extension to the stand in the summer of 2008 bumped up the standís capacity up to 159. The Wrens now have enough seating on both sides of the pitch to host UniBond Northern League football.
In the summer of 2006, two portakabins were sited adjacent to the old pavilion. One has been thoroughly refurbished to contain a hospitality lounge and the other a small office. Additionally, the fine Miners Welfare across the road caters for all the Club's hospitality requirements.
The Welfare Ground is almost fully enclosed by a combination of concrete and steel fencing, with extra precautions taken at the top of the bank by the Kirkington Road entrance, with barbed wire added to keep intruders at length. From the entrance, the view affords expansive views of the rolling fields to the north. The main feature on the horizon, just yards behind the North End goal, is the A617 bypass. Built in 2005, the £8m dual carriageway was designed to take 16,000 cars and lorries a day away from the village. Not so long ago the landscape was very different, with the twin headstocks of Rufford Colliery dominating the skyline. It's closure in 1993 was a devastating blow to the community, but the local miners welfare continues to thrive and provide invaluable help and backing to the Wrens.
In the summer of 2007, the club secured some of items from Manor Park, the former home of Nuneaton Borough (now Nuneaton Town). These included a Portakabin, a turnstile, a covered shed for the gateman and a perimeter barrier. New dressing rooms were opened in October 2007, as part of a magnificant new pavillion. Built to Football Conference standard the building also includes an indoor and outdoor tea bar, various changing rooms, an office and public toilets. A barrier walkway from the foot of the pavilion steps to the main pitch has also been installed. Addtionally, Ladies, gents and disabled toilets to rear of pavilion. Extra covered standing is also provided under pavilion overhang.
The fence behind the Main Stand has been extended to the main gate. It's erection has brought about the end of an era, as it's built into the banking at the Kirklington Road end of the ground - the end which helped up to house the record 1982 Vase semi-final crowd. It also means that half of the banking will no longer be serviceable as a viewing area.
At the ground entrance you cannot fail to notice a pair of beautifully welded wrought iron gates. Known as the Memorial Entrance Gates, these are dedicated to the late local legend, Alan Wright, who sadly passed away in 2002. The inscription within the metalwork reads "Alan Wright 1933 - 2002 - A lifetime's dedication". Alan made an immense contribution throughout his life not only to Rainworth, but also to Nottinghamshire football. As chairman of the Notts Alliance, he was the driving force behind the establishment of the Nottinghamshire Senior League and the gates stand as a lasting tribute.
The Club are striving to move in a new direction, with
a brand new commercial department launched to generate sponsorship, headed
by local legendary sports reporter, Tony Delahunty, and
new fund-raising events likely to be a continuing feature as the ambitious
club continue to improve both on and off field resources.
The recent push to upgrade the Welfare ground is costing in the region of £180,000, with funding coming from several sources, including the Football Foundation and Rainworth Minersí Welfare Trust. The Veolia Environmental Trust has also awarded the project a grant of £45,000 through The Landfill Communities Fund.
© Christopher Rooney - permission required for photo & text usage