FOOTBALL’s coming home to a local village after 20 years following a four-year campaign to restore a neglected recreaton ground.

Young footballers played the first competitive matches in two decades on the Silkstone Common community football ground on Sunday.

Silkstone Common Miners Welfare Football FC hosted the historic games which marked the revival of grassroots football in the village.

The under eights team kicked off against St Joseph’s of Worksop, in the Sheffield and Hallamshire’s Junior League; followed by the under tens against Durkar Green FC in the Barnsley and District Junior League.

These first matches follow a four-year campaign to restore Silkstone Common’s recreation ground and revive sporting opportunities for local young people.

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Chair of Silkstone Common Sports and Recreation Association Nigel Matthewman said: “It was wonderful to see the youngsters take to the pitch and play the first games we’ve seen in Silkstone Common in two decades. The boys and girls did us proud.

“I played here as a young man in the 70s and 80s when we had some very good teams in the leagues. Today we are building on their legacy and carrying it forward.

“The junior teams are now up and running, and next year we plan to start women’s and men’s teams too.”

While neither team won, goals were scored and players of the match were Zach Allen in the under eights and Hector Davies in the under tens.

Silkstone Common Miners Welfare FC was founded in in 1926 when local miners accessed welfare funds to purchase a patch of land in Hall Royd Wood and cleared the trees to create a football pitch.

Following pit closures, ownership of the recreation and sports ground passed to Barnsley Council from British Coal in the 1990s.

Fire destroyed the club’s pavilion and facilities in 1996, which was a great blow for both community and club and Silkstone Miners Welfare FC played their last game there in 2002.

The club’s revival is thanks to Silkstone Common Sports and Recreation Association which was set up in 2019 to bring the outdoor space and football club back to life and improve its facilities.

Working closely with Barnsley Council, the charity has raised funds, conducted feasibility studies and drawn-up detailed plans for further development.

Nigel said: “Sunday was nostalgic for me. I had been so horrified to see what had become of the recreation ground since I played there, but now we are back. We’ve worked very hard as a community to make it good again for the benefit of everyone.”

More active volunteers are needed to support Silkstone Common’s grassroots junior football revival.

Its volunteer coaching squad is led by experienced Barnsley Football Club coach Tiago Rodriguez, but more team managers, assistants and volunteers are needed.

Nigel said: “We also need sponsors to get behind our teams. We’ve had a couple of generous donations from residents and former residents but would love to hear from local companies who would like to support our young people and see their logos on our kit.”

Players of all abilities, aged five to ten, are welcome at the Silkstone Common Miners Welfare FC. Training is every Wednesday at the recreation ground (or indoors at Shoot5 during winter months) from 6pm.