Atherton Laburnum Rovers

Flat Caps everywhere at the Flat Cap Derby !
North West Counties - Div 1
Atherton Laburnum Rovers 3
Atherton Collieries 1
Atten 155
Gate £5

'Flat Cap Derby'

 Match Enjoyment  7/10
Another decent day out in Greater Manchester at the 'Flat Cap' Derby. Feisty in parts , decent atmosphere and it was far from 'Flat'.
Rovers seemed to want in more than Colls from the start and they got their win with two excellent taken goals by the sub (14). Colls fans were not impressed with the ref especially after having a player sent off at a critical time in the game. But If truth be told the ref did a decent job and handled the game quite well. 

Collieries' form has dipped of late after a great start to the season. I have watched them twice recently and they have lost both games ,as one loyal Colls fan said with tongue firmly in cheek , "maybe I had better stay away" ?. I assured him that I never touch the ball during the matches.

Ground Enjoyment 7/10
Atherton LR were formed in 1956 as Laburnum Rovers FC when a group of local lads wanted to start their own team. They asked Joe Riley, elder brother of one of the lads, to help them and by the end of December 1956 they were ready to go. They were admitted into the local Briarcroft Junior League, despite the season being well under way.

The club was named after its first home at Laburnum Road Playing Fields, although after a couple of seasons Rovers relocated to Hag Fold (or Hagfold) Playing Fields. After a difficult start the club gradually progressed into senior football, but their lack of facilities prevented any further progression. Instead a farmer’s field was found in the shadow of the massive Laburnum Mill. Despite footpaths crossing it and duck ponds on either side (one roughly where today’s entrance is), sheer hard work transformed the field into a football pitch, with the club officially taking residence in 1966. Visiting the ground today, which is enclosed within a small housing development it is a little difficult to imagine what the site was once like.

Jack Crilly succeeded Riley as Chairman and until his sudden death in 1980, worked tirelessly for the club, with the ground re-named in his memory. The first perimeter fence was made from reclaimed railway sleepers, and the first structure to provide any cover was the clubhouse which had a verandah. In 1980 the club joined the non-league pyramid when their application to join the Cheshire County League was accepted. A stipulation of the League was that the town had to be in the clubs name, so links with the past were retained with the new name of Atherton Laburnum Rovers. In 1982 the club became founder members of the North West Counties League, being placed in Division Two where they remained until the League was reorganised in 1987 when their facilities saw them placed in Division One


  1. As a former referee, who is not a Colls fan but was at the game, I must take exception to your assertion that the ref "handled the game quite well". I haven't seen such a poor display at this level for some time.

    1. Lee , I suspect you are referring mostly to the sending off incident. To be honest it was difficult for me to judge either way as i was at the far corner of the ground when it happened. I did not study him as forensically as a former ref like yourself would. Nevertheless i have seen far more inept displays from a man in black than that witnessed at the Flat Cap Derby.

  2. Fair comment, although it wasn't only the referee, and the sending off, I had some issues with - this was the first game in the NWCFL I've ever seen an assistant appear to change his mind, signalling one way and then another. I'd say that from what I've seen recently refereeing standards in the NWCFL are better than some would imagine (or maybe I've been lucky in the games I've gone to!) and therefore I was disappointed with the quality of the officials at the flat cap derby.

    Anyway, officials aside, thanks for an excellent piece, capturing very effectively the atmosphere of the game and the ground's history.

    1. Thanks for your kind words , Lee as they are much appreciated.
      I have to say that ground visits and matches in the NWCL rarely disappoint. It offers great value and a friendly welcome is assured.Don't forget that the officials are humans and like you and me can have a bad day at the "Office".
      When i make a Match day Photo Set ,my aim is to try to tell a story for the everyday fan. I like to focus on the minutiae and get in the nooks and crannies , not just run of the mill action shots. Hopefully that comes across most of the time !

  3. I don't forget officials are human - I've been there myself!

    Keep up the good work, I've had a look now at some of your previous postings - an immensely interesting take on some grounds I know well (and some I don't) - not to mention that little bit different. I particularly like your quirkier photographs...I've now found another website to add to my favourites list.

    The NWCFL is a terrific league and has everything a supporter of non-league football could possibly want. Great to see you capturing a little of what makes it so unique.

    1. Lee ,Thank you very much for your kind words - very kind of you :)