Stocksbridge Park Steels FC was formed in 1986 as the result of the merger of Stocksbridge Works, the works team of the local British Steel plant, with another local club, Oxley Park Sports F.C. The new club was immediately admitted to the Northern Counties East League Division Two, the works club having previously played in Division Three of the same league. The Steels spent five seasons in Division Two before being placed in Division One when the lower division was discontinued upon league re-organisation in 1991. In the same year Mick Horne was appointed as the club's manager, and he led the team to the championship of Division One in the 1991–92 season. In Stocksbridge's first season in the Premier Division the team finished near the bottom of the table, but in the 1993–94 season the Steels became Northern Counties East League champions. The club failed to gain promotion to the Northern Premier League, however, as their stadium did not meet the required standard. The club finished second in the division two seasons later, losing the championship on goal difference to Hatfield Main, and on this occasion were admitted to the Northern Premier League Division One. In the 2008–09 season, the club once again qualified for the play-offs and defeated Belper Town in the final to gain promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division for the first time. The Steels spent five years in the Premier Division, never finishing out of the bottom half of the table and were relegated at the end of the 2013–14 season.
From the centre of Sheffield there are regular bus services to Stocksbridge. In daylight as I experienced, there is some wonderful scenery to view as the bus winds its way through the South Yorkshire countryside. The journey takes around an hour. The 57 bus service drops you off just a few minutes away from Bracken Moor.
On arrival at the ground I was greeted by a friendly club official, who then invited me into the ground, showing me where all the facilities were. After taking my initial batch of photographs I adjourned to the clubhouse. The licenced bar upstairs offers a good view of the ground and I was delighted to find real ale on sale. A good pint of Ye Olde English Ale (4.6%) from the local Bradfield Brewery was enjoyed. This seasonal beer from the brewery’s selection offers a light copper coloured traditional English ale. Full bodied with a citrus and spice aroma leaving a long dry aftertaste. I later bumped into the same official who was surprised to learn of the real ale as he “only drank wine”. I expect that he will include this fact the next time he welcomes a visitor to the club. Solid refreshment in the form of pie, peas and gravy was also enjoyed along with mint sauce which is often standard at clubs in this particular part of the country.
Both sides had endured a difficult season, particularly Brigg Town who were rooted to the bottom of the table with only three wins all season. One of these victories was against Stocksbridge Park Steels! There was to be no repeat of this though, as the home side steadily grew in confidence as the match progressed. A fine lobbed goal in the first period was supplemented by three further strikes in the second half. In the covered area behind the goal, Roxy the dog intently studied every movement of the ball, barking in delight at every shot on the Bracken Moor Lane end goal.
The match ended at 21:36 which was precisely the time of the SL bus for which the stop is outside the turnstile. The bus was on time and was just pulling away when I flagged it down. I and a couple of others from the match were grateful to the driver for stopping and saving us a further 20 minute wait. However, I soon realised that if another spectator had not left the ground earlier to catch this bus, it may not have stopped and we might not have been as fortunate! Stocksbridge Park Steels is a very friendly club and visitors are sure to receive a warm welcome.
Pie, Peas & Gravy: £3:00
Real Ale: £2:70
For a full set of photographs click here