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The Awards

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

On the 17th of February we celebrated a year of promoting and championing local non-league football by hosting the first ever awards. The aim of the awards was to place a spotlight on the clubs and individuals who make non-league football in South Yorkshire truly exceptional. The thread for the live tweeted awards ceremony can be found here Below are the winners of the awards with their own superb stories of excellence.

Atmosphere of the year

If you are looking for a club with passion, heart and desire (and that’s just the fanbase) then look no further than Hallam FC. From the entrance into the worlds oldest ground to the final whistle, if you’re at Sandygate you know you’re going to be in for an evening/afternoon of entertainment and a cracking atmosphere. As the cold winter midweek game kicks off you’ll hear the singing and atmosphere from the “shed-enders” who will sing nonstop win, lose or draw. They also possess the most fantastic (and friendly) banter with the referee and linesman. This excellent atmosphere has inspired many a second half comeback and a last-minute winner at Sandygate is really something to witness! The roof of the stand came off when Hallam came from 2 goals behind to defeat a second-string Grantham Town team in a pre-season friendly in September. (Yes, you read that correctly) This fanbase love their football in whatever guise whether it be a friendly, a league cup game or a potentially lucrative FA cup tie.

Ground of the year Rossington Main’s Oxford Street ground is officially the FOOTBALL GROUND OF THE YEAR. This ground strikes a unique balance between practicality, traditionalism, and modern fan-friendly facilities. The historic floodlights watch over a beautiful playing surface that the ground staff deserve a huge amount of credit for. The clubhouse provides a welcoming, fresh environment for fans to enjoy where you can look through a range of local football memorabilia whilst enjoying a drink and a snack. The flags flying on the stand opposite the dugout cut a sublime image into the Rossington skyline that looks superb in both day and night matches. This ground is a beautiful clash of the new and the old, a sterling example of preserving the history of the ground but also building for the future. Congratulations Rossington Main FC!

Community Club of the year

After a tough eight years playing away from their home of Oliver’s Mount. Handsworth officially returned home in 2020, providing their local community with the football club they had longed to return. Handsworth have created a beautiful facility for non-league football, but they have also created a superb home for local junior football further promoting footballing opportunities to the children of their community. They have a range of junior teams and have been a standout football club in encouraging participation in girls and women’s football and therefore are deserved winners of this award. Congratulations Handsworth FC.

Programme of the year

Volunteers around the non-league scene work tirelessly in their own spare time to produce written content for the fans to purchase on matchday. The judging panel have read many a non-league programme this past year in the quest to find the best and it was found at Parkgate FC in the form of “Steelmen”. The quality of written article in the matchday programme is the perfect accompaniment for any visitor to the Roundwood Sports Complex. “Steelmen” provides a wealth of information, including player interviews, a fascinating history of the club, news around the league, information on previous encounters between clubs and it also meets its obligations to club sponsors in a tasteful presentation. At £.150 this is a publication which rivals many of our local professional clubs and that is to the testament of the volunteers of Parkgate FC. Congratulations Parkgate FC!

Social Media of the year Social media has continued to become a powerful form of communication between clubs and supporters and our local clubs do an excellent job of ensuring their fan bases remain informed. The hard work and effort that goes into establishing a club presence online cannot be overstated and it can feel like a 24/7 role at times attempting to increase engagement and thus increase numbers of fans through the turnstiles. Using social media Armthorpe Welfare have provided news, excellent photography and have utilised their social media presence to further promote sponsorship opportunities at the club. The club’s use of graphics is excellent, and they are an incredibly approachable club through their online realm which has in turn increased the awareness of the club across South Yorkshire. Their recent ties established with Armthorpe Wolves being an excellent example of how Wellie create a ‘buzz’ using their social media accounts. Congratulations Armthorpe Welfare!

Club Ambassador of the year This award is given to the individual who has had an exceptional year as part of their club. They represent their club professionally and do a brilliant job of promoting their club in the community. The winner of this award is Sharon Fudge, Sharon does a truly remarkable job in her role with Hallam FC. She has forged excellent ties between the club and the local community and is one of the many smiling faces that will greet you at the World’s oldest ground. In her role she has forged ties with local crafters, bands FC, foodbanks and Sheffield Children’s hospital. She is beloved amongst the Hallam FC supporters due to her approachable nature and the desire to see all aspects of the club succeed. She is proactive in her approach to promoting the club and welcoming new supporters. Sharon is incredibly passionate about her club and her role and rightfully is the Club Ambassador of the year. Congratulations Sharon.

Recognition Award The recognition award is given to an individual who has had a huge impact on non-league football in our area. As part of his role with the NCEL Matt Jones has guided the league through an incredibly tricky time during the pandemic. He has prioritised the safety of players, staff and supporters whilst promoting our clubs and has done so with a superb positive attitude. Matt is somewhat of a fixture magician as he manually manages the fixture list each season which is a mammoth task. He maintains excellent relationships with our clubs, and this has been apparent with the outpouring of support from clubs since this award was announced. Matt has been exceptional in his role and is thus very deserving of the recognition award. Congratulations Matt!

Friendliest club of the year A visit to the Pinto property stadium is always such an enjoyable experience win, lose or draw and there are many reasons for this. The reason which really stands out for is the excellent welcome you receive at this club. From the staff on the door, at the food hatch, right through to the chairman at Worsbrough you will find the most approachable people in non-league. During the pandemic Worsbrough Bridge further showed incredible kindness to their community by organising free school lunches to the children in the local community who needed it the most. Their online presence too is incredibly approachable, and Worsbrough Bridge possess a great desire to work with people in and outside of their community. This is incredible to see and the club are rightly proud of their team of volunteers who make them the Friendliest club of the year! Congratulations Worsbrough Bridge Athletic!

Volunteer of the year

The volunteer of the year is the man, the myth, the legend that is “Acker”. If you have visited any of the local grounds in our area, then there is a very big chance that you have thrown a couple of quid in his collection bucket. Acker frequents the local clubs in our area collecting money for the Weston Park Cancer Charity. He spends most of the game collecting from the supporters and has been known to miss the odd stunning goal or two because of this! As of writing this article Acker has raised over £81,000 towards the charity and has vowed to continue to do so when football returns. Congratulations Acker!

The Excellence Award. This is awarded to the club who have had an exceptional year both on and off the pitch in ALL AREAS of their club. They excel and show the path to a bright footballing future. Despite the pandemic it is fair to say that Penistone Church have had an exceptional year on and off the pitch. Before the 19/20 season was cut short Ian Richard’s side were semi-finalists in the County cup and were well in contention to promotion from the NCEL premier division. Following the lockdown and the uncertainty this brought to our clubs, Penistone were very proactive and through the immense support of their community they did an excellent job of fundraising. Away from the pitch Penistone ensured their ground was Covid safe by installing appropriate measures to their clubhouse and converting their hospitality suite into a kitchen to ensure they could still make vital matchday revenue. A new turnstile was fitted alongside an outside bar/merchandise stand and a new media vantage point was constructed which would prove vital as the club provided an online stream service for behind closed doors games. Penistone Church have a friendly, passionate and welcoming group of volunteers who take great pride in their club, this pride translates through to the community and it is a common occurrence to see the youngsters of Penistone sporting club merchandise even on non-matchdays. This tight knit relationship with the local community has allowed Penistone to build on their excellent youth structure which does a great job of nurturing the talent of the future. Penistone utilise the local media effectively and can be frequently heard on local radio. Their use of social media is professional yet personable which encapsulates the feel of the club perfectly. They have an outstanding website and this is just another example of excellence that this club has shown. Penistone Church have epitomised what it means to be an excellent club at non-league and are worth recipients of the EXCELLENCE AWARD Congratulations Penistone Church FC.

A huge congratulations to all of our winners. Thank you for your excellent hard work over the last year. We look forward to seeing you all again when REAL football returns!

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