Recreation ground by Paul Yorke

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Villages United

Jovial Dutchman c 1973. Photograph courtesy of Geoff Noble, taken by Herbert Key

by Claire Ganthony

Tansley Juniors
Tansley Juniors FC in action by David Lane

The Crich area has a long history of active sporting teams, particularly when it comes to football. In December 1914, a report in the Peak News announced the withdrawal of the Crich Town team from the Matlock League. A letter in the paper responded to accusations of ‘pot-hunting’ as the withdrawal followed their defeat in a knockout competition.

This was strongly denied by the team. Instead, the writer explained, the withdrawal had been due to a lack of available men as more and more locals signed up to join the armed forces.

Whatstandwell Youth FC 1946
Whatstandwell Youth FC 1946

Eric Hartshorne credits Mary Hammond, Akela of the Crich 1st Wolf Cubs, with introducing organised football to the youth of Crich in the late 1940s, and the Crich area had many teams throughout the latter half of the 20th century. Local pubs played a central role in the founding of these teams, with Crich Boys meeting at the Black Swan clubroom for many years and the landlord of the Bull’s Head being chairman of the first committee. Teams played in fundraising tournaments such as the one in 1965 to raise money for the recreation ground. You may recall seeing photos of the victorious ‘Fire Crackers’ being awarded their trophy in the last issue of CACN.

Tansley Juniors
Tansley Juniors team photo by David Lane

There were also organised leagues and cup competitions in which Crich area teams competed with others from neighbouring villages and further afield, sometimes with up to 1,000 supporters attending finals matches.

Eric Burton recalls playing with Whatstandwell, when John Hawksley was manager. Eric also told me about his friend, the late George Storer, who was devoted to the Crich Boys team for many years. John Peach played a few games for Crich Rangers but mostly for the Jovial Dutchman. He said of the teams: ‘There were great players in both of these sides, when football was football.’ And many Crich area residents will remember a Kings Arms team playing on the recreation ground on a Saturday.

Although teams in Crich are sadly lacking at the moment, fortunately we don’t have to go far to see some quality football – Tansley Juniors FC is a thriving club with teams for both kids and ‘seniors’.

Get in touch

Were you an active member of a Crich area sports team? Would you like to see the teams reformed? Are there any active sports teams in our area today? Why not share your memories or ideas on our social media page? To find out more about Crich football teams in the past, visit: