Date: Fri 13 May 2022

By Steve Whitney

They’ve Played For Your Club….Coalville Town

Continuing the series on players who have represented the current clubs in the Southern Football League.

Coalville Town Football Club were formed in 1926 as Ravenstone Miners Athletic.

They were the latest in a long line of association football clubs from the village of Ravenstone - Ravenstone Druids being one of the founder members of the Leicestershire and Rutland County Football Association in 1887.

The Ravens played most of their football in the now defunct Coalville & District Amateur League, winning numerous honours including the Division One title on five occasions and the Junior Cup Northern Section on two occasions.

Perhaps their greatest triumph came in 1953, when they won the League championship and the coveted Coalville & District Charity Cup.

When the league folded in 1975, they made the logical move to the North Leicestershire League with equal success.

In 1976/77 they were runners-up in both the Premier Division and Cobbin Trophy.

They won the Junior Cup in 1985/86, the league championship in 1989 and the double of championship and Cobbin Trophy a year later.

The Ravens were rewarded for their success on the pitch with election to the Leicestershire Senior League in 1991, following the construction of a new clubhouse at their Ravenslea home.

They adapted well to the higher level of football and never finished outside the top half of the Division One table.

The ambitions of the village club far exceeded those of the parish council and, following the council's refusal to grant permission for floodlights, Glyn Rennocks was instrumental in uprooting the club and moving it to Owen Street, Coalville.

A change of name followed to Coalville Football Club - with the club becoming the first senior side in the town since the demise of Coalville Amateurs in 1954.

The club commenced their first season as Coalville in 1995/96. Floodlights were installed prior to the 1996/97 season and, after a slow start to the campaign, the first team went on to finish as runners-up in Division One and gain promotion to the Premier Division.

Strength in depth was a major factor during this season with the reserves going on to win the Leicestershire Combination League Division Two.

The introduction of manager Lee Harriman for the 2001/02 season heralded the most successful period in the club's history.

Having led the side to back-to-back Senior League titles, Coalville finally made the step up to the Midland Alliance for the 2003/04 season.

The 2002/03 season also saw the under-18s clinch the FA County Youth Cup and finishing as runners-up in the League Cup competition.

A new era, in a league as tough and prestigious as the Midland Alliance, may have seen many a team wilt at their first attempt. However, with a great start from the blocks, the Ravens hit the ground running and finished in a respectable eighth position.

With the emphasis for 2004/05 on finishing as high as possible in the league, with of course aspirations to clinch the title, the squad could have been forgiven for getting a little side-tracked by a certain cup competition - the FA Cup.

With Coalville never being eligible for the competition before it was apparent that this would be an experience more than a challenge for the famous cup. However, try telling that to Lee Harriman and his squad. At their first attempt, the club reached the First Round proper where they came up against Football League side Wycombe Wanderers, and only bowed out of the competition by a single goal.

This was made all the more special as they started in the Extra Preliminary round and became only the second club in the entire history of the FA Cup to reach the First Round proper from the very first stage.

The cup run spurred the team on in the league and, helped by a 17-game unbeaten run, a highest ever finish of third was achieved.

Coalville began the 2005/06 season as many people's favourites for the Midland Alliance, but an inconsistent campaign saw the Ravens eventually finish in eighth place.

Away from the league, Coalville enjoyed a memorable Westerby Cup run which only ended with a 3-2 defeat in the final against Leicester City at the Walkers Stadium.

October 2006 saw Lee Harriman bring to an end his five-year association with the Ravens and former Nuneaton Borough boss Brendan Phillips was appointed in his place.

A difficult season for the `Bear` and Coalville ended with a disappointing 18th place finish and saw Phillips step down from the manager's post in the close-season.

Former player and fans' favourite Adam Stevens was appointed as manager prior to the 2007/08 season and soon set about restoring the Ravens' fortunes.

After leading Coalville to eighth, third and second place finishes, along with a narrow League Cup final defeat, Stevens made sure 2011 was a year that will live long in the memory of all Ravens fans.

Coalville opened the season with a run of eight victories to underline their status as title favourites but were pushed all the way by Tipton Town with both teams ending the campaign on 100 points.

It was Coalville’s record-breaking goal-scoring record of 153 goals - exemplified by a final day 9-0 victory at Alvechurch - that made the difference as the Ravens clinched the title and promotion to the Northern Premier League.

For most teams that alone would have been seen as a very successful season, but Stevens had loftier ambitions and an outstanding run in the FA Vase saw Coalville book their place in the Wembley final with a 6-2 aggregate victory against Kings Lynn Town.

Although Coalville were unfortunate 3-2 losers to Whitley Bay in the final, the Ravens made many friends with their open, attacking football.

A season of consolidation followed in the Northern Premier League with a high turnover of players in 2011/12.

The following season Coalville were top of the NPL Southern Division for most of the season.

This great form faltered toward the end of the season with results finishing mainly in draws and losses saw Coalville fall to second in the table behind King`s Lynn.

Coalville went on to compete in the play-off semi-final but lost at home to Chasetown, who went on to lose against Stamford in the final.

The Ravens did have some consolation after lifting the Westerby Cup, beating Loughborough Dynamo 2-1 in the final at the King Power Stadium.

Last following ended in the same way for Coalville but this time it was close all season with players coming impressing and being signed by clubs higher, manager Adam Stevens was really put to the test but continued to find the quality players to push Coalville to the top of the table.

A home defeat to Gresley on Easter Monday handed pole position back to Halesowen Town, who secured the title on the last day leaving Coalville again as runners-up.

This time Mickleover Sports were the visitors to Owen Street for the play-off and a 3-2 defeat left the Ravens following with that same feeling as the previous season, so near yet so far....

In the FA Trophy, Coalville had a memorable run, beating several higher league teams such as Marine and Solihull Moors before drawing the previous season's finalists Grimsby Town who were held to a draw at Owen Street before eventually winning through at Blundell Park.

Manager Adam Stevens hoped to build on the positive aspects of the last two seasons but soon resigned early on in the season.

Jimmy Gray took over for a short spell in charge before Tommy Brookbanks joined from Loughborough Dynamo with the task of steadying the ship.

The Brookbanks era started off with a hard run of games and lots of injuries but the style of football he was to bring to Coalville was soon evident and lifted the spirit of the Ravens` faithful.

Off the pitch this was a big year for Coalville as they continued to develop and improve as a club to match the progress of recent years on the pitch, the introduction of the youth development pathway and academy side will hopefully produce local talent for the first team in the near future.

Season 2014/15 did see a county cup final where the Ravens lost out 2-1 to Barwell at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium.

The 2015/16 started off as one of great optimism at Owen Street as Brookbanks had put a squad together capable of challenging for promotion and they got off to a solid start and were never out of the top three from September.

Acknowledged as probably the best footballing side in the league they were in touch with leaders Stafford Rangers, but a wobble in February and March left the Ravens looking over their shoulder. However, an impressive run-in saw Coalville win the promotion play off final at big spending Shaw Lane coming back from being a goal down at half-time before running out 3-1 winners following an immense second half performance.

The 2017/18 season saw Coalville win the Leicestershire & Rutland Challenge Cup with a 7–6 victory on penalties against Loughborough Dynamo.

At the end of the season, they were transferred to the Premier Division Central of the Southern League as part of the restructuring of the non-League Pyramid.

The club retained the Leicestershire & Rutland Challenge Cup the following season, beating Loughborough University 4–1 in the final.

When based in Ravenstone, the club played at Ravenslea. However, after the parish council refused the club permission to erect floodlights, they moved to the Owen Street Sports Ground in Coalville.

Floodlights were installed at the new ground in 1996. The ground is currently also known as the Mander Cruickshank Solicitors Stadium for sponsorship purposes, and has a capacity of 2,000, of which 240 is seated and covered.

One of the only former Coalville players to have represented their country was Hugh Adcock, although it was between the two World Wars!

Hugh Adcock

Hugh Adcock

Coalville born, Adcock started his playing days with Ravenstone United, then Coalville before joining Leicestershire Senior League side Loughborough Corinthians.

In 1922, he won a County Cup winners` medal with Corinthians, but in February 1923, the outside right was handed the chance to sign for Division Two neighbours Leicester City.

He went on to capped five times by England and represent the Football League in 1929 and 1930 as his direct wing play had helped the Foxes to promotion and then runners-up spot in the First Division.

He was a fine clubman whose twelve-year service to Leicester encompassed and helped create City’s early halcyon days as a major force in League football.

His partnerships with inside forwards Johnny Duncan and Ernie Hine were especially fruitful and his supply to Arthur Chandler immaculate, while his tearaway individualism brought him a fair personal tally of 51 goals in 434 games.

Adcock gained a Division Two championship medal in 1924/25 and was still exhibiting undiminished enthusiasm over 20 years later, acting as trainer to Leicestershire Senior League outfits Whitwick Colliery and Coalville while working as a maintenance engineer.

On three occasions he appeared in the same national side as his cousin, Birmingham City’s Joe Bradford (see his feature), while more ironically, he made his Bristol Rovers debut after finally leaving Leicester in 1935 in opposition to Arthur Chandler, who was turning out for Notts County for the first time – the two men had shared a Leicester City debut a dozen years before.

He made just 13 appearances for Rovers and then had a short spell with Folkestone in the Southern League before returning to Leicestershire to finish his playing days in the Senior League with Ibstock Peninstone Rovers.

He died in October 1975 at the age of 72.

Joe Bradford played alongside his cousin High Adcock in three of his twelve England internationals.

Born in Peggs Green, near Coalville, the centre-forward’s career began at Coalville, and he also played in the Leicestershire Senior League with Peggs Green Victoria.

Joe Bradford

Joe Bradford

In 1920, he was signed by Birmingham City and went on to become the Blues`
all-time leading goalscorer with 249 goals.

He topped the club's scoring charts in all but one First Division season between 1921/22 and 1932/33, and if goals in all competitions are counted, he was top scorer in all twelve of those seasons.

Bradford also scored Birmingham's only goal of the 1931 FA Cup Final, in which they were beaten by West Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion.

In 1935, he finally left St Andrews to sign for Bristol City, but the now 35-year-old made only a handful of appearances before hanging up his boots.

He died in Birmingham in September 1980, aged 79.

Another to have international honours, in this case for Grenada, is striker Kairo Mitchell.

The now 24-year-old is a product of the Leicester City reserve and academy set up.

He had a successful season with Leicester's under-18s in the 2015/16 season, as well as appearing for the reserves.

When he finished his scholarship with Leicester, he was offered a contract but a year later, he was released when his deal expired and eventually joined Nuneaton Borough in December 2017.

In November 2018, he moved to Coalville and played 57 times for the Ravens, netting 21 goals.

Mitchell then had a brief spell with Vanarama National League South side Dartford before joining King’s Lynn Town in October 2020.

After 7 goals in 20 games for the Linnets, he moved to Chesterfield in April 2021 for an undisclosed fee.

He signed for National League rivals Notts County in August 2021 for another undisclosed fee and played 26 times in 2021/22.

He debuted for Grenada’s national team in a 5–0 friendly loss to Panama in October 2017 and scored his first international goal in a 4-2 defeat to Belize in March 2018.

Defender Dan Martin began his career as a trainee with Derby County, captaining their under-18s to the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals.

Unusually, at international level he represented both England at under-16, 17 and under-18 level and Wales at under-21 level.

He joined Notts County in 2005, and made 51 appearances before joining Mansfield Town in 2007, where he played a further 26 senior matches.

After a short stint with Tamworth, he enjoyed a successful four-year spell with Mickleover Sports and he helped them win back-to-back promotions to the Northern Premier League Premier Division.

In January 2012, he signed for Coalville, who had been promoted to the Northern Premier League Division One South.

He then won a Central Midlands League South championship with Mickleover Royals in 2015.

He joined Rocester as a player in 2015 and took over as manager in the summer of 2016 after an initial caretaker role.

In May 2018, he was appointed as manager of Midland League Premier Division Heanor Town but that lasted only until the following September.

Walter Harrison is another former Coalville player to have been born in the town.

A wing half, he turned out for the Ravens before and just after the Second World War started and guested for Kilmarnock in 11 games, scoring 4 goals, while on Navy service after being called up for duty.

A tall, wiry right half, he signed for Leicester City after the war ended and soon earned the nickname `spider` from the Filbert Street fans and had his intelligent prompting recognised with two England `B` caps in May 1949, immediately after helping the Foxes to Wembley in the FA Cup Final against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

He also picked up a First Division runners-up medal alongside unrelated namesake Jim Harrison, who he later teamed up with again at Southern League Corby Town in 1953.

Walter Harrison excelled at the `wall pass` game but was remembered for a 50-yard dribble past five men that ended with him scoring in the FA Cup against Sheffield Wednesday in 1948.

After 125 games and 3 goals for Leicester, he moved to Chesterfield for £8,500 in an effort to help the Spireites avoid relegation from the Second Division.

He wasn’t able to achieve that but he went on to make 75 appearances and score 13 goals for the Saltergate outfit.

Curiously, Harrison had previously twice completed Leicester games against Chesterfield in goal; as City’s favoured stand-in, he had to take over the green jersey three times between November 1947 and September 1948 after injuries to the normal custodians.

After a spell with Corby in the Southern League ended in 1954, he qualified as a childcare worker and also acted as trainer to Friar Lane Old Boys back in the Leicestershire Senior League.

Full-back Micky Noon was born Whitwick, Leicestershire in 1875 and played for Coalville Albion before joining Division Two side Burton Swifts in 1897.

He played 35 times over the next two seasons for Swifts before signing for Aston Villa in 1899.

A versatile defender who could play at right-back, right-half or left-back, he made 84 appearances for Villa in almost seven years with the club.

Noon moved to Plymouth Argyle in the summer of 1906 and was a regular member of the first team during his only season with the club, as well as serving as vice-captain.

With Argyle facing severe financial difficulties he moved on to Leyton, back to the now merged Burton United, who were in the Birmingham League, and finished his playing career with Coalville Town.

Jack Sheffield was an outside right and another from Whitwick who also started out at Coalville Albion.

Spells with Whitwick White Cross, Coalville Town, Coalville Wednesday followed before he joined then-Division Two side Burton United in October 1902.

He played a dozen League games before returning to Coalville - his father owned the Railway Hotel in Coalville which Jack helped run.

Although his playing career rarely saw him venture far from North Leicestershire, he served abroad as a corporal in the Boer War.

In July 1904, he signed for Division Two side Leicester Fosse (later to become Leicester City of course) but only played twice, as he was reserve to the talented Arthur Durrant, who played over 150 games for the Fossils.

Sheffield’s first game in October 1904 was a 4-0 defeat at Anfield against the eventual Second Division champions Liverpool.

Three weeks later at Filbert Street, he faced Manchester United, (who were to just miss promotion at the end of the season), losing 3-0.

He re-joined the Royal Leicestershire Regiment soon after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

But in March 1915, Sheffield was shot in the head and killed by a sniper on the final day of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle – one of ten Leicester Fosse players killed on the Western Front - nine in France and one in Belgium.

Although his body was never found, he is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.

A team-mate of Jack Sheffield at Leicester Fosse was left half Bert Trueman.

He represented Leicestershire Schools and after spells with Hinckley Town in the Midland League, St Andrews and Coalville Town of the Leicestershire Senior League, in August 1905 he joined Leicester Fosse, then in Division Two.

Bert Trueman

Bert Trueman

Trueman wrestled for a place in the Leicester first team with Bob Pollock and captained the reserves as he waited patiently for games in the senior side.

He did make 43 appearances and score a couple of goals for Fosse and then flourished with Southampton, winning representative honours for the Southern League and scoring the winning goal when they beat the Football League in November 1910 at White Hart Lane on the way to a clean sweep of that season’s Inter-League tournament.

He made 87 appearances for the Saints and scored 4 goals before returning to the Football League and signing for Sheffield United in 1911.

Trueman remained with the Blades until the summer of 1913, before finishing his career with Darlington in the North Eastern League.

However, in September 1916, Trueman was visiting Filbert Street when he was persuaded to turn out for Leicester in a war-time game against Grimsby Town as the home team were short of players.

He also later assisted Scottish side Clydebank whilst serving north of the border later during the First World War.

Coalville Town Web Site