Blidworth Welfare F.C. First


Blidworth Welfare Social Club Mansfield Road Blidworth Notts NG21 0LR


Folk House Old Boys Football Club was formed in 1926 giving local miners & residents a football club to play organized and competitive matches against other local football teams. In 1982 they changed their name to Blidworth Welfare Football Club and for the season 1982-83 they became one of the founder members of the newly formed Northern Counties East League, a competition founded from the merging of the old Midland Counties League and the Yorkshire League. Blidworth joined Division One South of this league when it was reorganised for the 1984-85 season and twelve months later when there was a further reorganisation they became members of the new Division Three. In season 1986-87 Blidworth left to join the Central Midlands League and started life in the Premier Division eventually winning promotion to the Supreme Division in 1990.

In 1994 Blidworth were promoted back to the Northern Counties East League for season 1994-95 competing in Division One but were relegated back to the Central Midlands Supreme Division after finishing bottom of the table at the end of season 1997-98. In 1998-1999 under the guidance of John Slater Blidworth were relegated back to the lowest point of the football pyramid the Central Midlands Premier Division, Slater resigned and Blidworth were close to folding but happily the club was rescued at the last minute by Steve Spencer who after spending time maintaining the ground decided to become the new first team manager.

Although Blidworth had their worst ever season finishing bottom of the league without a single win the club was invited by the Football Association to attend the Lilleshall Centre of Excellence for a tour of the facilities and an afternoon of training with England coaches. The fact that the club is still alive today is solely down to Steve. The club had the facilities to play at a much higher level but were struggling to build a team capable of achieving the success it craved so in 2001 Rudy Funk a vibrant and influential local manager was appointed as the new first team manager by incoming new Chairman Alan Whitworth and the pair started the huge task of trying to turn the club around on and off the pitch.

Two Seasons of relative success and rebuilding followed but after Funks departure in 2003 Blidworth struggled in the league & cup competitions for a number of years under different management teams until in 2007 when under the management of Dave Hughes the club won the Nottinghamshire Intermediate Cup beating Bulwell FC 2-0 at Hucknall Town’s Watnall Road Ground on a warm & sticky night in April. In 2007 the Central Midlands league was reshuffled which saw Blidworth move to the Supreme Division and again under the management of Dave Hughes the club reached the final of the Quartet Catering League Cup where they were unfortunate to lose 1-0 in extra time to Dunkirk. This defeat had followed an extraordinary cup run where Blidworth beat holders of the cup Heanor Town, league leaders and champions elect Askern Welfare, plus Holbrook Miners Welfare in the semi final.

After 2 fantastic seasons at the helm Dave Hughes reluctantly resigned as manager of the first team before the start of the 2008-09 season after his brother Rob was attacked whilst on holiday in Crete, the Manager felt he could not continue whilst his brother was in a serious medical condition in hospital. This resulted in Chairman Alan Whitworth appointing the management duo of Kevin Chappell & Keith Easom assisted by ex Blidworth player Simon Ward. The pair had previously worked together at Shirebrook Town looking after the Reserve & A sides. Easom had been a player at Shirebrook Town whilst Chappell had experienced football management at Worksop Town, Matlock Town, Matlock United and had been assistant to Rudy Funk during his days in charge at Blidworth. The club appointed Graeme Rodger & Chris Bullock to manage the reserve side that played in the Supreme Reserves Division of the Central Midlands League.

The first team had to manage without Kev Chappell during the second part of the season as ill health forced him to leave his role at the club so Easom ran the first team virtually on his own till the end of the season and managed to keep Blidworth in the Supreme Division finishing in a very respectable 14th position with the reserves finishing in 10th. The start of season 2009-10 saw Keith Easom promote Chris Bullock to join him as assistant manager with Graeme Rodger left to run the reserves alone. Stan Matthews a qualified Level 2 coach was appointed as the under 19’s manager assisted by Chris Bullock.The season also saw the removal of the old wooden tea bar at the ground that had been in place since the club began, the management team purchased a redundant portable cabin which they developed into a more useable hospitality area.

In January 2010 the clubs old wooden changing rooms which had not been used for a number of months for health & safety reasons were demolished and the football club moved into the cricket pavilion until their own facilities were rebuilt. Plans & funding applications were well underway for a brand new football changing facility overseen by vice chairlady Helen Wilford which were hoped to be in place for the season after. Blidworth finished in 17th place at the end of season which was a respectable position considering the lack playing staff the manager had at his disposal but after this Keith Easom, Chris Bullock and Stan Matthews resigned from their positions at the club and it was then decided not to run an under 19 side for season 2010-11. Graeme Rodger had resigned from running the reserves in Feb 2010 so players Dave Voller & Jez Wright supported by former referee Darren Wragg stepped up to run the reserve side for the remainder of the season but despite a great effort they finished bottom of the Supreme Reserve Division.

Former Southwell City and Kirkby Town Manager Brett Marshall was appointed Blidworth First Team Manager for season 2010-11 assisted by Steve Roebuck. Marshall has had a successful playing career at clubs such as Retford United and can count Blidworth as one of his old teams. Ambitious to progress with a good knowledge of the game with the ability & reputation to attract the right players Blidworth were hoping Marshall’s appointment would see them challenging for promotion at the end of the season. Former player Liam Best assisted by Darren Wragg were appointed by Marshall to run the reserve team. Best left the club after a few months due to work commitments so reserves captain Dave Voller stepped up to help Wragg till the end of the season which was a great success with the reserves finishing a credible 4th in the league whilst Marshall led the first team into runners up spot but only after a final day defeat to eventual champions Sheffield Parramore denied Blidworth the title.

In July 2011 after Marshall’s departure to Retford United and also the sudden departure of Chairman Alan Whitworth after 12 years at the club saw Scott Ward and Dave Voller, local & loyal servants to the club taking over the running the club and first team, working alongside Mick Gould as assistant manager the trio worked hard to rebuild the club from scratch bringing in a whole new squad & backroom staff. Despite great efforts the team finished the season in 12th place in the CML South division after the league split to North & South. The reserve team was scrapped for the season due to lack of funds but on a brighter note the club saw the return of an under 19 squad led by Martin Bower. Bower assisted by Kevin Heathcote brought a fine squad of players to the club and finished the season in 6th place along with a late quarter final defeat in the under 19`s shield.

On October 7th 2012 the changing facilities at the new look Welfare Ground opened for use after local resident Don French took over the stalling project from Helen Wilford in September 2011 and within 10 months dug the first spade on site, a fantastic achievement for the club after nearly 3 seasons sharing the cricket pavilion. Gary Shelton joined the club as the new chairman with Dave Voller, Mick Gould and Mike Wain left to run the first team. Voller and Gould stepped down from their roles as the season began so Mike Wain brought in Richard Preston and Lee Cook to steady the ship. Wain & Preston left the club in November after a terrible start to the season leaving Cook along with goalkeeper Gareth Briggs and player Scott McMillan the tough task of reviving the clubs fortunes on the pitch but unfortunately could not gain enough points to lift the club off the bottom of the table. Martin Bower & Kevin Heathcote ran the reinstated reserve team after impressing at under 19 level and finished the season in 3rd position.

Season 2013/14 saw Martin Bower & Kevin Heathcote promoted to run the first team after Cook, Briggs & McMillan left the club at the end of the season for Pinxton FC. The pair introduced local youth to the team but struggled to compete in a competitive league finishing 3rd from bottom. Scott Ward left the club in November 2013 for a role at Heanor Town but Paul Holmes, Andy North & Andy Ellis joined the club to run an under 19 squad and the reserve team, both sides produced some great results with a youth team squad fresh from winning the Mansfield Chad Under 16 league the year before. The under 19 squad finished 2nd behind Mansfield Town in a strong league and 5th place in the reserve premier division was a fantastic achievement using under the age of 18 players.

The season after saw big changes at the club, Bower & Heathcote moved to Pinxton FC and Holmes left football altogether so Rainworth MW reserve team manager Ady Smith bought his championship winning reserve squad to the Welfare Ground for the new season. Smith bought with him Ian Cotton from Sherwood Colliery to run the reserve team and the pair set about reviving the clubs fortunes on the pitch. The season went well with first team finishing in an improved 7th place in the league after Smith left for Shirebrook Town midway through the season with Rob Camm & Danny Bacon taking over. The real stars though were Cotton’s reserve team which won the Reserve Premier Division title and the Reserve League Cup but lost in extra time to Thoresby CW reserves in the President’s Cup final after extra time to deny them the treble, however Thoresby were found to have played ineligible players in the game so the title was handed to Blidworth by the league committee. Chairman Gary Shelton left the club on the last day of the season to pursue other interests.

The season 2015/16 saw Ian Cotton’s treble winning reserve squad make the step up to challenge for honours in the CML South Division, Cotton bought in Ian Birtley to assist him and Jason Lilliman to run the reserve side, Rachael Swinney also joined the club as secretary replacing Pete Dean. Cotton’s squad adapted well finishing 6th in the league and narrowly missed out on victory in the league cup with a late 2-1 defeat to Hucknall Rolls Leisure in the final. However the highlight of the season was the fantastic run in the FA vase where Cotton’s squad beat higher league opposition twice before being made to replay St Andrews on a technicality and losing in extra time. The reserve team though struggled in the league finishing in 11th place with a very young squad before disbanding at the end of the season.

Season 2016/17 started where Blidworth left off the season before with Ian Cotton and Ian Birtley in charge of the first team, Scott Ward returned to the club to help out in the backroom and Dave Voller rejoined as chairman to guide the club forward. The campaign started slowly but began to gain momentum with key players returning from injury and suspension along with the return of ex manager Michael Wain as coach. Again Blidworth fared well in the FA Vase beating higher league opponents Teversal, Shirebrook Town and Heanor Town before losing to a late goal from AFC Mansfield in the second round of the competition in front of an impressive 146 spectators at the Welfare Ground. Cotton, Wain and Birtley all left the club in February 2017 to save Cotton’s home town club Clipstone from folding so Goalkeeper Steve Smith stepped up and took over the manager’s role guiding the club to a 12 place finish.

In the summer of 2017 Scott Ward and Chris Wain again started to rebuild the club from the bottom, with stability a big factor in their decision the pair appointed Lewis Saxby as first team manager after Steve Smith had stepped down from temporary charge after the last game of the season at Southwell City, Saxby brought in Dan Machin and Dan Hatfield as his assistants along with Keiran Booker as Media Manager to help promote the club. Saxby brought in a whole new squad of players to start the 2017/18 season in the CML South but promised to use the clubs youth system to blood local talent in men’s football so asked Blidworth Welfare Junior chairman Martin Weedop to join his coaching staff. Again the club will compete in the FA vase, the Floodlit Cup and the Nottinghamshire Senior Cup.

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