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Lost City

Non-League Football Teams in Notts

19 August 12 words: Al Needham

There's more than two football teams in Nottinghamshire: maybe you ought to adopt one


Established: 1897

Potted history: Mansfield was on the football case almost as early as Nottingham was - in actual fact, home ground Field Mill is the second oldest football ground in the world. The actual club started life as church side Mansfield Wesleyans, who eventually aced out local rivals Mansfield Mechanics as the main team in town. The Stags were a mainstay of the lower end of league football for nearly eight decades.

The best of times: Take your pick from being in Division Two as recently as 1978, winning the Freight Rover Trophy at Wembley in 1987, pulling in nearly 25,000 people for a FA Cup tie with Forest in 1953, or battering West Ham 3-0 in the Cup in 1969, who had three members of the world champion England squad on the pitch.

The worst of times: Recent years have not been kind; they're still getting over the nightmare season of 2007/08, when not only did they get relegated out of the Football League, but a prospective new owner announced that he would change their name to Harchester United, after the club in the TV series Dream Team.  

Where are they now? In the Conference, and banging on the door of the League; they finished third in the table, losing to eventual winners York City in the playoffs

Mansfield Town website


Established: 1953

Potted history: A pretty recent club by Nottinghamshire standards, but one that can claimed direct lineage with DH Lawrence's dad's works team, Eastwood Colleries (DH himself wasn't that arsed about football, apparently; legend has it that he was once chinned in a Jacksdale pub for not supporting any of the local teams). It took the Badgers eighteen years before they turned semi-pro, but they have hardly looked back since..

The best of times: On the pitch, making it to the third round of the FA Cup in 2004. Off the pitch, getting £72,500 from Middlesbrough for defender Richard Liburd (who went on to play at Notts County for five seasons) in 1993.

The worst of times: Getting relegated from the Conference North last season, after finishing in the playoff zone the season before (but not being allowed to participate due to the ground not meeting Conference-level standards)

Where are they now? Back in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, preparing to do the necessary work on their ground to take themselves to the next level.


Established: 2002

Potted history: The result of an arranged marriage between Sneinton FC and Porchester Lions (hence the '1904' on the badge, when the former first started). The former club happily bumbled around assorted local leagues for much of the twentieth century; the new Millers, on the other hand, are the hothouse flowers of Notts football, both on the pitch and off. Maybe being handily positioned near the Stoke Bardolph sewage works has something to do with it.

The best of times: Midlands League Supreme Division champions in their first season, tearing through and out of the North Counties East Football League in the noughties, and a nice new all-seater stand.

The worst of times: Having a new bypass from Gedling go right through the middle of their pitch, forcing a relocation of said nice new stand next to said sewage works.

Where are they now? Nicely placed in the Northern Premier League Division One South, two ridiculously good seasons away from the League. They actually finished second last season, falling away in the playoffs.

Carlton Town website


Established: 1945

Potted history: A long-time favourite of hardcore Football Manager players in the Notts area (as for a long time, they were the only local non-league team that you could actually manage if you couldn't face getting your beloved Trees or 'Pies relegated), The 'Yellers' used to play at the gloriously-named Wigwam Park and were - for a long time - your common-or-garden small-town club, content to pick up local trophies here and there.

The best of times: Propelling themselves out of the Central Midlands League in the early nineties. Winning the NPL Division One in 1999, and its Premier Division five years later.

The worst of times: For the first 42 years of its life they were known as Hucknall Colliery Welfare, until the name became obsolete for obvious reasons in the eighties. Being denied entry to the Conference due to ground regulations, and getting relegated from the Conference North in 2009.

Where are they now? Holding their own in the Northern Premier League Division One South. Luckily, 'South' in this case only means as far as Sutton Coldfield.


Established: 1987

Potted history: Another relatively new side (and another one called the Badgers), United have succumbed to an ailment common in fledgling non-league sides; they've done too much, much too young. After finding their feet in the Nottinghamshire Alliance - a league that either sounds like a building society or a local anti-Taliban force, depending on how old you are - they rapidly climbed up the pyramid until they got a bit light in the head, and the wallet.

The best of times:  Winning six championships in nine seasons last decade, vaulting four divisions and hoovering up local knockout cups along the way.

The worst of times: Dropping out of the Northern Premier League due to financial constraints.

Where are they now? In the Northern Counties East Premier League. Even though they won it last year, they're not ready to move up. The fact that they're one of the few non-leaguers in Notts to have a proper youth system - with kids as young as ten turning out for them - means they're a club to watch.

Retford United website


Established: 1861

Potted history: Yep, whisper it quietly, but the Magpies aren't the oldest club in Notts. There are only three clubs in the world older than the Tigers, and in the early days they had to mix it with the clubs in the Sheffield Association League before becoming mainstays of the Midland League for much of their existence.

The best of times: Getting to the last 64 of the FA four times, including playing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 1908 in front of 70,184 - a figure that Forest or County have never got near to.

The worst of times: Getting taken over by the son of Soho grot baron Paul Raymond in 2001, only to be booted out of their own ground seven years later and having to crash round Hucknall Town and Retford United's gaffs for a few seasons.

Where are they now? In the NPL Premier League, and back in their old stadium again.

And not forgetting... Arnold Town, Dunkirk FC, Gedling Miners Welfare, Gedling Town, Greenwood Meadows, Radford FC, Rainworth Miners Welfare, Teversal FC, and everyone in the Central Midlands Football League and the Nottinghamshire Senior League.

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