Blog Archives

Under the League Interviews…Darren Williams

It’s no surprise that Darren Williams has made a splash as manager of ‘The Catch’. Now four years into his tenure as Whitby Town boss, the friendly and genuine Teessider has seen it all during more than two decades in the game. In a storied career, Williams has played in the Premier League, every division of the Football League, and earnt his stripes as a veteran defensive rock and acute manager in Non-League football.

Discussing everything from playing in York City’s famous 3-0 triumph over Manchester United, to scoring his first goals for Sunderland, his respect for the hardworking professionals of the Northern Premier League and much more, Darren talks me through his fascinating journey, with honesty and heart. Read the rest of this entry

Bicycle Kicks by Simon Hood

Scott Knowles reviews Simon Hood’s book, Bicycle Kicks, for Under The League. Read the rest of this entry

FA Competition Draws

The draws for the early rounds of the FA Cup, Trophy and Vase are now out, properly signalling that the start of the new season is imminent.

The FA Cup starts with the Extra Preliminary Round on Saturday, August 11th. There are TWO HUNDRED matches taking place, with every team dreaming of reaching the First Round of the competition, and with it national coverage and the windfalls that come along with it. Forget the third round, this is the round that defines what the competition represents. You only have to read Ashley Greb’s excellent book The Long Way to realise that. There’ll be a review of his book on the site soon.

Of course, with the first three rounds being drawn, there are way too many fixtures to list here. In addition to the 200 Extra Preliminary Round games, there are 166 matches in the Preliminary Round, and 116 in the First Qualifying Round. That’s a grand total of 482 games. Way too many to be listed here! For any of the teams in the Extra Preliminary Round to reach the First Round, they have to negotiate six ties. If a Premier League team manages the same feat, they lift the trophy.

Along with the Cup, the opening draws for the Trophy and the Vase have also been made. The Trophy gets underway on September 15th, while the Vase begins two weeks earlier on the 1st. The Trophy and the Vase are the real showpiece tournaments for non-league clubs, with a day out at Wembley the aim for all the clubs taking part. Last year’s Trophy winners York City got promoted to League Two, so won’t be around to defend their title. Last season’s Vase winners, Dunston UTS, will be hoping to emulate Whitley Bay’s exploits in recent seasons by retaining the Vase after their win in last season’s final.

All the information on the draws, including lists of all clubs participating and the prize funds for each competition, can be found on the FA website.

Minstermen Face Their Biggest Week

Last Saturday’s FA Trophy success was just the start of a momentous week for York City. The Minstermen take on Luton Town in the Conference playoff final this weekend, with a place in the Football League up for grabs. Prior to that, though, they will find out whether their plans for a new community stadium have been approved. Both events are huge for the future of the club.

The 2-0 win over Newport County was City’s first Trophy success, having lost the 2008-09 final to Stevenage Borough. Goals from top scorer Matty Blair and Lanre Oyebanjo secured the win, and manager Gary Mills will be looking to 19 goal top scorer Blair delivering again in the playoff final. He has certainly proved himself to be a big game player, adding to his goals in both the Trophy and playoff semi finals with his headed goal against County.

Before the playoff final, though, comes the council’s decision regarding the stadium. The decision will be made on Thursday, May 17th, and there is no indication which way the sixteen councillors will vote. The plans are for a 6,000 capacity stadium, plus shopping centre and superstores. The club are desperate for the deal to go ahead so they can move out of the ancient Bootham Crescent ground, which has been their home since 1932. Unusually, planning officials have not given recommendations to the council on whether to accept or reject the proposals.

Clearly, this is a huge week for The Minstermen, and could go down as the greatest in the clubs’ history.

FA Trophy Semi Final Draw

A look at the draw for the last four of non-league football’s premier cup competition. Read the rest of this entry

FA Trophy Second Round Preview

The top cup competition in non league has reached the last thirty two. Here is my preview of a few of the FA Trophy Second Round ties. Read the rest of this entry