Football Team in Belper, DE56 1BA
Lying in a picturesque setting, Belper’s Christchurch Meadow ground is well appointed with excellent facilities and a first class playing surface.
The club has made many improvements in recent seasons. In 2003, the club opened a new 500-seater stand to bring the stadium up to UniBond Premier Division standard and beyond. This supplemented the provision of an earlier covered stand that accommodates 300 spectators, improved spectator terracing and perimeter barriers. The current ground capacity is 2,640.
Belper Town's unusual nickname, 'The Nailers', came about because the craft of nail making began In Belper in the middle ages when it was the site of a hunting lodge for John of Gaunt. The huntsmen needed nails for the shoes of their horses and the trade in nails eventually grew.
Nail making was a domestic industry with the Nailers working in family groups but, in 1861, the introduction of machinery to manufacture nails was the begin¬ning of the end for the local trade which died out altogether at the beginning of the century to be replaced by modern industry and commerce In the town.
Like the nail making industry, Belper Town FC has faded away in the past. Origi¬nally formed in 1883, the Nailers went out of existence three times through lack of finance.
The main highlight in those early years was an FA Cup 1st Round tie against Sheffield Wednesday on 15th October 1887 in which the Nailers were narrowly defeated 2-3 by the Yorkshire giants.
The Club reformed for the fourth time in 1951 and it was in that year that they enjoyed their record attendance when 3,600 fans turned up to see Belper play Ilkeston Town. Regular four figure attendances were commonplace at Christchurch Meadow in those days.
Season 1958/59 was a turning point as the Nailers outshone wealthy Heanor Town and Ilkeston Town, their strongly backed neighbours, with 2,000 gates to win the Central Alliance League championship and the Derbyshire Senior Cup. Three years later, they were invited to join the revamped Midland Counties League although major ground Improvements were required before the Club was allowed to bring Midland League football to the Town for the first time.
Three times the Club finished bottom of the League, the last time in 1978/79, when only the charitable overtures of member clubs at the League AGM saved Belper from comparative obscurity once again.
Under the astute managership of lvan Hollett and John Harrison, the Nailers responded to the challenge in magnificent style by winning the Midland League championship in the very next season and, just for good measure, the Derby¬shire Senior Cup as well.
The Nailers won the Northern Counties East League Championship in 1984/85 the guidance of the late Harry Bethell. The championship success that season coincided with the arrival of former Derby County and England striker, Kevin Hector. Lack of finance at that time held the Club back from taking up a place in the newly formed First Division of the Northern Premier League.
In more recent seasons the club has enjoyed tremendous success in the FA Vase, reaching the 5" Round twice and also a semi-final appearance in which they lost 2-3 on aggregate to Oxford City, having won the first leg 1-0 at home, in front of nearly 2,000 spectators.
Having achieved the runners-up position in the Northern Counties League in 1996/97, the Club took its place in the UniBond League 12 years after the first opportunity had been spurned.
Initially the club did well in the UniBond League but has struggled in recent seasons. Ernie Moss and his assistant, Sean O’Neil, kept the club safely away from the relegation positions during their time in charge at Christchurch Meadow but the club did not really challenge for honours during their time at the helm.
Ernie and Sean resigned their positions midway through the 2006/07 season, to be replaced by goalkeeper, Andy Carney and club captain, Danny Hudson, initially on a caretaker basis. The joint managers did more than enough though to secure the managerial reins on a permanent basis and are now looking to push the club forward towards the UniBond Premier Division.
The new managerial team achieved their first piece of silverware in 2008 by winning the Derbyshire Senior Cup with a 4-3 aggregate victory over neighbours, Alfreton Town
Last season, the Nailers finished the league campaign in second place, having secured 81 points and equalling their record points score of 1984/85 when the club won the Northern Counties East League championship.
A heartbreaking defeat in the play-off final against Stocksbridge Park Steels was a titter pill to swallow but the Nailers have retained the majority of their playing squad for another determined assault on the Division One South title this season.
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