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Frickley Athletic >> Rough Guides > Frickley Athletic

Club Details
Send ransom demands to: GMB Stadium
Westfield Lane,
South Elmsall
West Yorkshire

Telephone: 01977 642460
Matchday prices: Adults: £-
Concessions: £-
Who the hell are FC Frickley?
impsTALK doesn’t have good memories of this bunch, who, a bit like the Spice Girls, seemed to be a perennial thorn in our side throughout the 1990s.

A quick check of Ken Fox’s Boston site proves this instinctive wariness to be statistically groundless, although the reason for us wanting to designate ‘bogey team’ status on Athletic is readily identified: a 3-1 home defeat on Wednesday 6 September 1995, a night of infamy in an era when Boston were rarely humbled by such margins on their own turf.

We recall that night being unusually cold for an early September game, which only heaped more misery on what was an already miserable evening. Having said that, maybe it wasn’t unusually cold for 1995. Remember when trips to Graves Park on bonfire night used to end with you scurrying back to the car to prise off your wellies and thaw your toes under the car heaters? These days, you can practically go topless - providing you’ve packed enough sunscreen.

The famous Frickley slagheap

And for global warming, and the fact all your favourite budget airlines will soon be going bust faster than you can say ‘Crawley Town’, you can partially pin the blame on Frickley Athletic, for they were originally the works team of the local colliery; a vast, blackened pit helping feed our addiction to unsustainable fossil fuels when we probably should have been building more wooden windmills and regressing back to the Dark Ages or something.

Frickley Colliery were established in 1910 but their halcyon days remain the seven years they spent in the Conference in the early 1980s. By then, the colliery was suffering, the strikes were in full copper-bashing swing and the football team had re-designated themselves as ‘Athletic’.

Claims to fame

Frickley in South Yorkshire, a small mining town
Where once the riot coppers beat the pickets to the ground
Has a football team, and a stand full of fans
Who love their game and who love revenge
If a cop comes near the ground
On a Saturday afternoon
He’ll be heading the bricks
Until he’s over the moon

So sang hapless political Prezza-dunking musos Chumbawumba in ‘Frickley’, just one example of the 99.99998% of their songs no-one bothered to listen to, let alone purchase. Look, it’s a nice attempt to be, oooh, you know, anti-fucking-establishment, but there are two essential problems here.

First: Chumbawumba are absolutely cocking atrocious. Second: they’re not fooling anyone with the ‘stand full of fans’ line. Looking at Frickley’s average attendance, a more accurate line might read ‘stand partially full of fans’.

Ah yes, and ex-Boston free bus-pass holder Neil Redfearn pitched up at Frickley last year.

Where do they knock long balls to the big man?

“Well George, we knocked the bastard off!” exclaimed Sir Edmond Hillary to his friend, George, in a quote wrongly attributed to the intrepid explorer’s historic conquering of Mount Everest in 1953.

Hillary had, in fact, just completed the preparatory ascent of Frickley’s gigantic slag-heap, a huge cloud-prodding, snow-capped mountain of spoil which towers over Westfield Lane in much the same way Mount Vesuvius dominates Naples, just without the terrifying threat of sudden pyroclastic obliteration.

Looking at an aerial photo of the mountain, it is striking just how closely it resembles photos snapped of Titan’s surface: it boasts what look like rivers, creeks, valleys and run-offs. And it's just as cold and lonely as that remote Saturnian world, too. Put simply, the spoil heap is what Frickley is really famous for - fans often pitch up at the ground just to take pictures of that, rather than the football.

One of the above photos is of Titan's surface - the other is of the Frickley slag mountain. Any guesses?

The huge, derelict colliery site next to Westfield Lane is due for extensive redevelopment over the next several years, and although ‘regeneration’ is often bandied about as a euphemism for ‘TK-Maxx’ it seems as though the old pithead is going to be turned into a country park and a few hundred houses built. The stadium will be part of the scheme.

Do Frickley actually play in a town called Frickley?
Nope. Frickley are based in the small town of South Elmsall, which is itself as close to Wakefield as you’d really want to get. Like a good number of NPL clubs, it’s an ex-mining town, but unlike Eastwood, which had a literary sex tourist trade to fall back on, the closure of the pits hit the area hard. When the guide to the town is reduced to reporting the presence of a Co-Op on Barnsley Road, you know you’re really in trouble.

Still, it’s not as though it's South Elmsall’s fault that its main industry was ripped from it when the colliery closed in 1993. The town has expanded in recent years with the addition of more administrative employment. Excitingly, Danish discount specialists Netto base their UK headquarters in the town. Actually, that's not exciting. That's just embarrassing.

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