Shaw Lane Aquaforce FC was formed in 2012 with the merging of two clubs, Barugh FC (1991), one of Barnsley's finest junior clubs, and Aquaforce FC (2007)the successful senior club who were causing quite a stir in the Barnsley and Sheffield leagues.
Barugh Boys u11s was first entered into the Barnsley Junior League as the only team in the club. We were a small village team whose popularity created a lot of interest and soon developed into a club who initially played all our home games in the village of Barugh. In 2005 Barugh FC (changed to accommodate several girls and ladies teams), were invited to play our games at Shaw Lane Sports Club to accommodate our growing membership. We gained FA Charter Standards and in 2007 we were awarded a £1,000,000 grant from the Football Foundation/Sport England to build new changing rooms and function rooms.
Aquaforce F.C. was formed in 2007 as a Sunday morning pub team. The following season they entered in the Sheffield County Senior League which is a Saturday league, and quickly made a big impression by winning the league and the Rosehill Cup. Then promoted into the first division (this was the first of 5 successive promotions for the club) we knew that any further progress would require a ground that was suitable. Aquaforce won the County Senior premier league and a move was made to move to Shaw Lane where the junior club, Barugh FC and the senior club Aquaforce FC would merge into one which was a move that gave both parties the progression they craved.
In 2012 under our new name, Shaw Lane Aquaforce FC had a team capable of an assault on the County Senior Premier League with a mix of young and experienced players. The season was hard fought and the club suffered only 1 defeat which was incredibly their opening fixture! The next stage in our plan was to enter into the North East Counties League. We had entered into an agreement with our Shaw Lane partners, Barnsley Rugby Club, to share their pitch and consulted with officials from the NECL to ensure that the ground came up to the conditions required.
The ground at Shaw Lane was lengthened by 16m and endorsed by the FA and all that was left now was to attend the NECL AGM and secure the votes from the League members. We were not accepted into the league which was unprecedented and would ultimately mean that league rules were changed to ensure that this could never happen again. The only course that was for us now was to appeal to the FA! We attended the hearing at Wembley along with league officials from the NECL, who were fully supportive of us to be part of the league and were successful in our hearing. We were now officially promoted into the NECL!
Season 2013-14 was a big step into the unknown for us both on and off the field. We got off to a great start and began playing good football despite doubters saying that football and rugby couldn’t work side by side, picking up points along the way. By Christmas we had become league leaders but we never opened up any sizeable leads and were always aware of other clubs being within striking distance of our position. The wet winter months took their toll on the playing surface at Shaw Lane and we were constantly battling against the rain with games being postponed to create a fixture pile up at the end of the season.
Our form after Christmas suffered but we held on and although we didn’t win the league, we gained promotion at our first attempt by finishing runners–up to Cleethorpes FC, a remarkable achievement by any standards. What was equally important is that we did this playing attractive football on the field and this was rewarded with good support from a healthy fan base. Promotion to the NECL Premier League was another huge step forward for the club and it was also the first year we would be able to enter the FA Vase.
We approached the Vase competition as a bonus to our main aim, the league title, but as we progressed through the rounds, Wembley became a realistic target .We were interviewed in a light-hearted, humorous manner by Colin Walker on his Talk-Sport show, who likened us to a side of “Super-Heroes” prior to our Quarter final encounter with Glossop FC, which we eventually lost after extra time in a replay at Glossop. Losing to Glossop, who went on to play in the final at Wembley, was of course a big disappointment but it had been the most remarkable journey in our first venture into the Vase.
In the league we had been equally successful with Shaw Lane Aquaforce FC always top or thereabouts. However, our FA Vase run and pitch problems had put us behind with our fixtures. In our run-in to the season, an unbeaten run of 11 games meant that we clinched the NECL Premier League title at our first attempt! Our promotion into the Evo-Stik Northern League for season 2015-16 was as eventful as ever. We were informed half way through the season that we were in breach of FA rules with the our club's name, and that we would have remove “Aquaforce” from our title. Despite a valiant appeal against the action we duly became Shaw Lane Association Football Club.
On the field our league form was going well and we were always placed in the top six. Unfortunately the wet weather of last year would have a huge bearing on the final outcome. At Christmas we were six games behind Stafford Rangers ,who we beat twice, and this grew to 10 games with a 27 point deficit to catch up. The team went on a remarkable run and took the league title down to the last game of the season. Unfortunately we lost the title by one point to Stafford which was a fantastic achievement in itself, but ultimately subjected Shaw Lane to the dreaded playoffs.
A home victory over Lincoln in the playoff semis put us into the final where we would play Coalville Town FC who deservedly beat us 3-1 to claim the second promotion place. Losing the League was a huge disappointment but worse was to come when the club were fined by the County FA for pulling out of the 2016 Sheffield Senior Cup Final at the last minute. In our opinion we had been left with no other option as the date of the final conflicted with the league play-off dates and both the CFA and League would make no allowances. An appeal to the CFA greatly reduced the fine and it would be fair to say that they also acknowledged some partial blame.
The 2016-17 season saw Shaw Lane get off to a great start with some great new signings and a determined resolve to win the league. However, a dark cloud was about to descend over Shaw Lane that no-one at the club could have foreseen. On the 12th September 2016 in a Integro League Challenge Cup game at Brighouse, Daniel Wilkinson, passed away after collapsing on the pitch. The actions to save Dans’ life by the Brighouse and Shaw Lane medics were all in vain as a hidden heart condition meant that the lad could not be saved. The club will never forget “Danny Wilks”, a young man with the world at his feet who was a superb athlete and footballer but also a gentleman both on and off the field. His death has forged a deep bond between Shaw Lane and Brighouse and the whole Football Family were a huge support to both clubs as well as of course, the Wilkinson family. After such a tragedy the club made the decision to dedicate the rest of the season to the memory of Dan. In so many games through the season when games were not going to plan it would only take a call from one of the players such as “Come on lads let’s do this for Dan!" and a new resolve would descend over the team, usually to great effect.
This resolve resulted in Shaw Lane winning the Evo-Stik club of the month award on three occasions and, although Witton pushed us close, the Ducks achieved their target and clinched the league, amassing a record breaking 101 points. More glory was to follow when the club claimed the Sheffield Senior Cup with a 1-0 victory over close neighbours Frickley Athletic FC who should have come together in the same fixture 12 months earlier. The final was held at Bramall Lane and in front of joyous supporters,captain Ryan Qualter lifted the trophy to complete the league and cup double.
The 2017-18 season will be full of opportunities and challenges as Shaw Lane venture into the Evo-Stik League's Premier Division. Home games will be played at Sheerien Park which is about four miles from our old ground and hopefully the settling in period will be brief yet positive. One thing that is sure is that whatever hurdles and barriers lay ahead, Shaw Lane will overcome them and enjoy the weekly battles with like-minded clubs in this beautiful game.