Wednesday, 11 April 2012

1912 – the miners’ strike and Barnsley football club

1912 – the miners’ strike and Barnsley football club

In 1912 Barnsley won the FA Cup for the only time in their history. En route they beat the holders Bradford City 3-2 after a third replay in the quarter-final. The game was held at Bramall Lane, Sheffield and took place smack bang in the middle of the Miners’ strike that year. The following account, of how strikers got to the match, is taken from the Barnsley Independent of March 21st 1912. Hopefully one or two on this list might like it, which is taken from a book I co-authored with the club historian David Wood a few years ago about the 1910-12 team.  Lifting the Cup – the story of battling Barnsley 1910-12.

Snow, slush, together with rain many times repeated were not sufficient to dampen the enthusiasm of hundreds of football fans who tramped over from the Barnsley district for sheer necessity propelled the use of ‘Shank’s mare’ as owing to the coal war the train service is almost hopelessly disorganised and from the same cause the bulk of these enthusiasts had not money with which to pay for a train service.

Soon after nine o’clock little groups of independent representatives of little groups of men and youths were to be found at Wentworth station plodding citywards. They had suffered an hours snowstorm, which had closed the roads and countryside in white, and looked wretched but resolute.

Gradually the struggling procession increased, the enthusiasts coming along in ones, twos and threes and occasional in dozens. But they followed each other in quick procession, and after several hours added animation to the sloppy turnpike which otherwise would have been almost deserted. Many of the travellers, a number of the them ‘pitlads’ had neither overcoat or ‘mack’, they made no mystery of the fact they were already wet through and accordingly it was anything but a triumphal procession - but to turn back? They scorned the suggestion. When opportunity offered some of the more active spirits tried to rouse the spirits by singing for ‘good old Bairnsla!’ But for the most part they plodded and plodded with the skies seeming to frown all the while, mentally counting for the last milestone which would bring them into the great city. All their energy was concentrated on ‘getting there’ since a good proportion of them were making their first acquaintance with the road. One group lightened the monotony of the journey with a noisy clatter of rattles, whilst other men got inspiration from a melancholy corner and band bells.

Trampers from Bradford.

One party were fortunate in commandeering the goodwill of the drivers of a big brewery motor and perched on the top of numerous 36-gallon casks they made great sport of their foot sore comrades who tried to keep a brave heart in face of adversity. A number of the lucky passengers hailed from Bradford. As a matter of fact, many supporters from the woollen town tramped all the way, but half of the journey was done on the Wednesday. The Barnsley enthusiasts came from places as widely apart as Hemsworth, Ryhill, Staincross, Dodworth, Barnsley, Worsbro’, Hoyland and Wombwell.

Several hundred colliers in clogs must have passed me on the road during the four hours. Often they looked limp and stiff, and suggested a problem of ‘what about the return journey?’

There is not the least room for doubt that many of the enthusiasts had not more than the price of admission to the ground.

The Last Copper

This was strongly borne out by the fact that they were not able to avail themselves of the boon of a penny train ride when the outskirts of the city was reached. Many who had intended to make the trip abandoned it at the last minute owing to the weather.

A singular fact is that many of the trampers went by strange round about routes to get to the city. Some turned off at Harley and went via Rotherham; others for on to the Wortley road and travelled via Greneside and Wadsley Bridge, and more strange of all, at Ecclesfield not a few left the straight route to the city and went three miles out of their way through Southey and into the city via Owlerton.

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