Fond memories of Whitby Town's FA Trophy clash with Frickley in 1984
THERE’S JUST NO STOPPING THESE LEE-MEN, the Whitby Gazette exclaimed after the FA Trophy victory over Leytonstone and Ilford back in 1984.
It was a hard-fought 1-0 win courtesy of a John Gollogly header that ensured the Seasiders’ progression in the competition, away from home; this despite some turning up at Leyton Orient rather than their actual venue.
And the reward for the 500-mile round trip was a home tie, with Frickley Athletic visiting the Turnbull Ground for a hotly-anticipated Yorkshire derby on the coast.
It was so hotly anticipated that a crowd of over 1,800 packed into the Turnbull Ground - one of the biggest turnouts since the FA Amateur Cup replay against Harwich & Parkeston 19 years previous.
And they were rewarded for their support on the afternoon - Whitby put on a display that ensured an unbelievable value for money. Commitment was top drawer; skill and determination were the orders of the afternoon. The Northern Alliance visitors didn’t have a clue what had hit them.
That’s not to say they didn’t have chances of their own - a number of them - but profligacy and an excellent Whitby rearguard action ensured that they weren’t going the break the Seasiders’ resolve.
These men were the ultimate cup fighters, and woe betide anyone that got in their way. Frickley found it out the hard way.
One aspect of cup football of the time was that Whitby would take to the field in their all-white strip - a kit considered by many to be lucky, and following the club’s cup exploits in those colours, both previously in the season, and across the club’s history, who could realistically blame them?
Tony Lee promoted Mark Lawrence from the bench for Whitby, in place of Geoff Lilley in the forward line. However, it was the Seasiders who started the game on the back foot, with their opposition showing more aggression in the opening exchanges - aggression that sections of both sets of fans would later show just minutes from the ground, on Tucker’s Field.
On the pitch, though, David Coleby was soon in action for Whitby, punching away Smith’s cross before thwarting Reed’s headed attempt.
Despite the visitors’ good start, Whitby soon found their rhythm and settled into the clash. John Gollogly forced a save from Hinchcliffe with a 25 yard drive goalwards with little under ten minuts on the clock.
A Frickley free-kick on the edge of the box would soon cause problems for the Seasiders. Myles’ shot was blocked, with Gill’s follow-up from the rebound eventually sent into touch, much to the relief of the Whitby crowd.
The Seasiders were slick going forward under Tony Lee - the number of goals they scored each season proved what a threat they were - and started to cause real problems for Sean Marshall’s side.
Ronnie Sills, Neal Granycome and Paul Sharkey all combined to set Lawrence free on the attack, but Hinchcliffe was quick to react and rob the ball from the forward’s feet.
As Whitby grew in attacking confidence and get a real grip on the game, their best attacks started to flow and the run of the ball was falling in their favour, rather than in the visitors’.
ranycome’s cross was met by the head of Trevor Smith to give Athletic a scare, as his effort whistled past the upright. Moments later though, no mistake was made.
Richie Walker’s lob caused problems for Frickley gloveman Hinchcliffe, who fumbled the ball in his area.
It fell to the feet of Sills, who was Johnny on the spot, capitalising to slam the loose ball into the roof of the net, opening the scoring for the afternoon.
And from here, Whitby looked increasingly dangerous, pushing men forward at every opportunity and not letting their visitors push out on any occasion going into half-time.
One could assume Frickley had had the hairdryer treatment from Marshall over the break, as they came out looking stronger and more determined to level matters. Coleby had to react quickly to rob the ball from the feet of Reed inside his own box, before saving Gill’s header from a swerving delivery.
Reed was causing no end of problems for Whitby, shooting over on the hour mark, while Myles went on to fire wide after some neat build-up play.
A sustained period of pressure failed to pay off for Frickley, and Whitby continued to look dangerous when they advanced forward, on any given occasion. Around twenty minutes from time, that threat of a Whitby goal became a reality.
Sills’ looping cross dropped into the Frickley net, deceiving Hinchcliffe who could be forgiven for probably never wanting to see the experienced forward ever again after that day.
The Seasiders’ forward could have been the hat-trick hero on the afternoon. Walker’s cross found him in the area again, though this time around he skewed his effort.
The visitors continued to battle and could have snatched a consolation in the midst of a goal line scramble. David Coleby saved well from one effort, while the Whitby rearguard stood strong with two defenders blocking others before eventually clearing the danger. Whitby could breathe again.
With five minutes remaining, Sharkey fired just wide with Hinchcliffe beaten, while at the other end Reed missed the target with another header, ensuring Frickley would leave the Turnbull Ground without anything to show for their efforts.
Whitby left the pitch to rapturous applause on the afternoon, after a display worthy of yet more credit they were to get across the following days and weeks.
The reward for their win was a quarter-final clash, again down in London, with Dagenham - another roughly 500-mile round trip.