Glossop North End seal NWCFL title: GNE 3-0 Nelson

Glossop North End celebrate winning the NWCFL title.
Glossop North End celebrate winning the NWCFL title.

Glossop North End secured the North West Counties title after a memorable afternoon at Surrey Street.

The club joined the NWCFL when it was formed in 1982, and has remained within its umbrella ever since.

Glossop North End celebrate winning the NWCFL title.

Glossop North End celebrate winning the NWCFL title.

32 years in the same league, some of those years very dark indeed.

On Saturday though the weather proved a metaphor for the North End of the present and future outlook for the club – bright and sunny.

For on Saturday they escaped the NWCFL - by winning it!

Excitement had been building in the town all week.

They had known that seven points from their three games in the week would secure the title, no matter what main rivals Runcorn Linnets did, and with an eye on a big finish at Surrey Street, rare points had been dropped on Monday in a 0-0 draw whilst Wednesday saw them win 1-0.

The Glossop public responded positively, 914 having enough sense of occasion to give the home side their largest crowd for a league fixture for donkey’s years.

The GNE players rose to the big occasion too, with a flying start.

Clearly wanting the job done quickly they were at Nelson from the get go, but couldn’t find a breakthrough.

When keeper Ben Woodhead allowed a soft shot from Lee Blackshaw to trickle through his legs, it tricked behind the lurking Tom Bailey and Jason Carey.

Shortly afterwards, when Ben Richardson’s short-range header seemed destined for the back of the net Woodhead made a flying save.

North End had to be careful not to try and force matters, and were guilty at times of rushing to shoot rather than crafting an opening, although Kieran Lugsden’s turn and first time shot in the area was just over the bar.

As the half wore on, Nelson grew more in confidence, and captain Peter Wright just failed to reach a header across the box.

Meanwhile, just before the break, Kelvin Lugsden headed over the bar meaning a 0-0 half-time score.

Nelson continued to threaten after the break when Wright shot just over the bar, but then the glorious breakthrough came in the 50th minute.

Bailey was the architect, working hard on the right flank to create himself some space to put in a deep cross to corner of the six-yard box where Blackshaw was waiting to head home his 50th goal for the club and remove any weight that was beginning to gather on GNE shoulders.

Nelson were restricted to half chances, Ben Hoskin volleying wide, whilst North End began to play again with freedom.

Carey’s cross was just inches away from Bailey and Blackshaw but on 72 minutes the game was effectively sealed.

This time Carey made it with some hard work on the left touchline, keeping a ball in and laying it inside for Blackshaw at the corner of the box.

His cross was deflected and looped high into the air, and whilst everyone else seemed to stop and watch as the wind kept the ball in play, Mark Reed – only on the pitch for a minute or so – nodded his first touch of the ball home for a 2-0 lead.

With Linnets losing elsewhere, excitement was building on the sidelines inside and outside the perimeter fence as the fans finally sang ‘Championes’ and the bench produced some well hidden ‘Champions 15’ t-shirts.

Then, with three minutes left, Blackshaw put the icing on the cake with a sharp finish from Sam Hind’s low cross.

Now the celebrations could really begin, with only the referee’s whistle required to get the party started.

There was a mini pitch-invasion as the man in black blew up for time, but not enough to put a glorious trophy presentation in jeopardy.

Captain Dave Young, 12 years after making his debut for the club, lifted the first trophy the club had won since 2001, but the most important since beyond 1982.

This one meant Evo-Stik league football next season.

And still two cup finals to come, including Wembley for the FA Vase showpiece on May 9.