Community focus: South Yorkshire mining village turns its attention to above-ground activities with a bright future ahead

St Helen's Church at Treeton
St Helen's Church at Treeton
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A South Yorkshire village with a long mining history is quickly building a future on top of the ground, with a reputation of strong sporting prowess.

Sportspeople from Treeton, which lies five miles east of Sheffield and four miles south of Rotherham, are punching well above the weight of the small village.

John Swift is one of Treeton's characters

John Swift is one of Treeton's characters

The village has five thriving cricket teams and a football club which is drawing in players from across South Yorkshire.

Most nights of the week there will be a team of Treeton Terriers training down at the playing fields on Washfield Lane.

The club has 15 teams from nursery-aged kids to under 16s plus an open age adult side.

It's a far cry from 20 years ago when just two teams played.

The village cemetery looks over the adjacent fields

The village cemetery looks over the adjacent fields

Kids travel from far and wide to pull on Terriers colours. Treeton has players from as far as Worksop, Rotherham and all over Sheffield.

Vice-chairman Mark Hawley put that down to success breeding success, but the Terriers aren't just worried about what happens on the field.

He said the main aim was getting kids off the streets, keeping them fit and giving them a chance to have fun with their mates.

"The social side of it is as important as the football, to me," he said.

This building was once the Station Hotel, but is now a childcare centre

This building was once the Station Hotel, but is now a childcare centre

"We want as many kids as possible playing football and having fun both on and off the pitch.

"We have certainly grown over the years and it has been great watching young children developing and going off to professional clubs over the year,s as well as having players still together since joining us when they were just four years old."

The club's highlight so far has been the under eights team taking out the Indesit Mini Soccer Cup in 2014.

They went up against teams from across the country, and took out the final at Wembley Stadium.

The Treeton kids, captain Jacob Yearsley, Isaac Gordon, Harley Battison, Soren Milner, Harris Lih, Kieran Hawley, Robbie Lewins and goalkeeper Bradley Bellamy, beat Tiki Taka Catalans, a Bolton team, in the final.

The Treeton lads won 4-3.

Mr Hawley said the whole experience gave the boys memories to last a lifetime. They got to hold the FA Cup and were given a tour of Wembley Stadium.

"Wembley was an experience the boys, coaches and families will never forget," he said.

"We believe in giving kids opportunities and that result showed that a little club from Rotherham can cut it with the best of them from around the country. You don't get days much better than that."

In previous generations, Treeton has had a distinctly subterranean focus.

The village colliery was founded in October 1875.

It was about then that, according to the local history group, the population of the village exploded.

By 1901, it had reached almost 2,500.

The pit eventually closed in 1990.

Parish Council chairman John Swift remembers working down the pit, a tough job made even worse by the constant threat of serious injury.

Mr Swift saw a man's leg get taken off by a machine one day. On another day, he broke is back in two places in another accident, when a section of the ceiling gave way.

Mr Swift is one of the characters of the village.

You can see the love he has for his part of the world just by having a conversation with him.

Born at Catcliffe in 1940, he's lived in the area ever since.

John remembers flooding in the area ever year when he was younger. He would have to be taken to family on higher ground as the water rose.

"I used to have to come out with mum and dad and stop off with relatives," he said.

That's why he was an instrumental part in coming up with the village's Treeton Parish Council Emergency Plan in 2013.

It's a guide for villagers to respond should something go wrong.

John said that, in typical Treeton style, the whole village came together to ensure it was done.

"Everybody worked with everybody else," he said.

John can often be found at the Treeton Reading Rooms on Front Street.

That's where the Parish Council meetings and John's surgeries are on at.

He's quick to point out the village is the only one in Rotherham which runs its own youth group.

History and dancing groups also have meetings on the premises.

"Anybody in the village can use it," John said.

"We don't charge them much. It's not here to make money."

The walls are lined with photographs from Treeton's long history, and John has a story about most of them.

There's a team shot of Rotherham FC from the 1950s. He points himself out in the back row of the grainy, black and white image.

"I played in goal," he said.

"It was all amateurs back then."

A hobby of his these days is walking. Mr Swift has trekked the trails of Scotland, Bulgaria and Africa.

He's been to the ultimate heights - 22,000 feet in the Himalayas.

"I still do a lot of walking," he said.