Shepshed Dynamo 4 St Andrews 0
Leicestershire Senior Cup – First Round
They arrived in the Midland Counties League with a big reputation.
It was 1981 and three times Leicestershire Senior League Champions Shepshed Charterhouse were elevated into the relatively closed shop of the semi-professional ranks. This was the club who had previously been known as Shepshed Albion, but following a name change courtesy of a sponsorship deal, they rose from a being a struggling Second Division Senior League side, into quite a force, a force that also reached the semi-final of the FA Vase.
They won the Midland Counties League at the first attempt, and then when the non-league Pyramid was formed at the end of the 81-82 season, they went on to win the Northern Counties East League to become inaugural champions. Throw in an FA Cup First Round appearance at Preston North End, and you had a club that were seriously upwardly mobile.
So how did this all come about?
Maurice Clayton and his company, Charterhouse Textiles, effectively took over the club. Maurice did two things, clearly he funded the running of the club, certainly in terms of the playing budget, but not only that he was extremely well connected in the local area and had some great footballing contacts.
The likes of Frank Wignall, Ian Storey-Moore and Alan Hill became involved with the club in varying capacities, and what that allowed was an influx of the top talent in the area. By the time they were ripping the Northern Counties East up in 1982-83 they had the likes of Mark Cox, Dennis Jenas (Jermaine’s Dad) and Jeff Lissaman playing for the club, players who could easily have played at a higher level.
|The Clubhouse - Where Throwing Of Beer Mats Is Forbidden!|
Crowds were up, the media were all over it, in fact I can remember Central Television running a feature on them. Shepshed Charterhouse were the IT club of the Midlands, but just how far could it go?
They moved into the Southern League Midland Division and finished runners up to Willenhall Town, thus earning another promotion, this time to the Premier Division. By now Evan Sutherland was managing the club, a vastly experienced and firebrand Scot who was extremely skilled at bringing together top quality players and blending them into great sides.
After a flying start to life in the Premier Division, they ended up finishing tenth, and then with seventh and eleventh placed finishes in subsequent seasons, it did look as though Charterhouse had found their level.
In 1988 the club were switched to the Northern Premier League and this appeared to do them no favours. Finishing bottom twice, and in the bottom four on two other occasions, they were eventually relegated to the First Division of the NPL in 1992, at which point the club reverted back to their original name of Shepshed Albion. The Charterhouse days were over in every sense.
They went down again, to the Midland Combination, after which followed another name change to Shepshed Dynamo, and this is where we pick it up today.
|Where Charterhouse Used To Reign|
They did become founder members of the Midland Football Alliance, and in 1996 they went on to win it, under the stewardship of Mark O’Kane. The following season, back in the Southern League this time, they reached the First Round of the FA Cup for the second time, losing at Carlisle United.
The Southern League was to be the clubs home for eight seasons, and in the final season despite finishing bottom they managed to retain their status, but with it came a move back North again.
The NPL was also a struggle, a best placed finish of eight, was countered by the fact the club finished next to bottom and then bottom in successive seasons. They were going back down again.
The United Counties League beckoned for a season, before ending up back in the Midland Football League where they remain, and promotion back to Step 4 has not to date looked realistic.
I first went to Shepshed in 1984, to watch Belper’s reserves play in a Cup Final. My only memory of it was a telling off from a barmaid for throwing beer mats in the social club, not me I might add, the players were the culprits!
Over the years I’ve been to the Dovecote on numerous occasions, in various leagues as you would expect, and I’ve always found them to be a very friendly and welcoming club. They also hold the record for the ground I’ve turned up at the most times only to find the match referee has called the game off at short notice following an earlier passed pitch inspection! Three visits at the last count that saw me turn around upon arrival.
I do like the ground, it’s a mixture of structures and it has quite some character. The clubhouse sits to one side just beyond the turnstiles, with an area in front of it providing shelter. A quirky small stand sits beyond the clubhouse and despite its elevation it contains just a handful of seats, while beyond this running up the goal line is another area of covered shelter. On the opposite side is a low slung seated stand, while behind the goal is a larger but shallow seated stand, with the club shop and media areas to the side of it.
Talking of the club shop, Steve Straw and Alan Gibson who run it are Shepshed lads through and through, and always have time for some football chat when you pay them a visit, as I make a point of doing each time I go to the ground.
Shepshed were playing Leicester based St Andrews in the County Cup, with the visitors competing in the United Counties League, who’s boundaries over recent years have started to swallow up Leicestershire. Shepshed are indeed right on that border and probably suspect that a return to the UCL could easily happen one day.
It was a pretty comfortable night for Shepshed, after scoring midway through the first half the result was never in doubt, and the 4-0 final scoreline was reflective of the hosts domination.
It may not be the heady days of Charterhouse, but Shepshed still have a healthy following. It’s a pretty sizable town, and with the ground being very central and easily accessible, the locals do turn out for the club in good numbers, which is great to see. Could they sustain a club at Step 4, absolutely, but the trick of course is getting out of the Midland Football League, and with likes of Bromsgrove Sporting, Worcester City and Coventry United in the mix, it’s going to be very tough indeed.
So that's Shepshed blogged, and not a single mention of liking it up the Butt Hole, and not many scribes have avoided the temptation to comment on that over the years. But if I'm being honest, a couple of times a season, there's no other place I'd rather be!
|The Butt Hole End|