A cup fairytale has come true for Athersley Rec who began as rank outsiders but thoroughly deserved to lift the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA Senior Cup with an outstanding display in last night’s final at Hillsborough.
The winning margin over the holders Frickley Athletic was only 1-0 but it did the Barnsley side scant justice as they outplayed their Evo-Stik Premier Division opponents who are two divisions above them. It completes a remarkable journey for Athersley and one never achieved before. They began in 1979 in the local leagues in Barnsley, have worked their way up, during which they won (five times) what was then the junior equivalent of last night’s competition, the Sheffield Junior Cup, and are the first club in the 100-year-plus history of both competitions to have their name on the Senior Cup as well.
They are the first Barnsley side to win lift this trophy since 1969 when Redfearns Sports did so - and they also beat Frickley 1-0.
There is no doubt at all the Northern Counties East Premier Division side deserved it and a much bigger margin would not have flattered them .
In the first 20 minutes they could have scored at least three times. Dan Joynes firstly fired over an empty net after a Kieron Scargill cross came back off a post then had an effort cleared off the line before Adam White struck the bar with a dipping volley.
Joynes made up for his near misses with the winner on 40 minutes, scrambled in from a cross by Joe Thornton.
They showed great desire and hunger, fought for every ball and Frickley rarely got going, the closest being when Jake Picton had a header cleared off the line from a corner with 18 minutes to go but, before then, Thornton had twice been superbly denied by Ben Simpson who also made a great save to foil Joynes.
n Two clubs pipped for their own league titles aim for some cup consolation tonight when Rawson Spring meet Joker in the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA Sunday Senior Cup Final at Bramall Lane (7pm).
Rawson Spring lost the Meadowhall League title on goal difference after losing their last two games, one of them to eventual champions Hackenthorpe. Joker missed out by a point for the Rotherham Sunday League crown to AFP who made it a league record fifth successive title.