Frickley Athletic FC are based in the former coal mining village of South Elmsall, in the Wakefield district of West Yorkshire. Recent research has shown that the first South Elmsall football team was a founder member of the local Hemsworth & District League in 1905 where they played for three seasons. In 1908 this team was superseded by the newly formed Frickley Colliery Athletic Club & joined the South Yorkshire League which comprised of works, church and village teams. As the village of South Elmsall & the Colliery expanded rapidly, the mineworkers, with the support of the colliery owners set up a weekly levy on their wages to help to finance the football and cricket teams and in 1910 the football club moved up to join the Sheffield Association league. The club also became an associate member of the Football Association and first played in the FA Cup in 1910.
The club remained in the Sheffield Association League, except for the war years, until 1922, finishing runners up in 1911-12 and winners in 1920-21, the only time that the club has won a league title. In 1922-23, Frickley joined the Yorkshire League and after finishing runners up in 1923-24, the club were elected into the Midland League, which at that time included Mansfield Town, York City and Scunthorpe Utd, who were later to join the Football League.
This was a big step up for Frickley and the club finished third bottom and second bottom in its first two seasons, improving to 12th place in 1926-27. Steadily more Football League Reserve teams rejoined the Midland league, in some years making up more than half the teams in the league. Although the club had to apply for re-election several times pre-war, and didn’t play in any league in 1933-34, it was kept going by the continuous financial support of the local mineworkers and the transfer of players to league clubs.
1936-37 was Frickley's worst ever league season when the club finished bottom with only eight points, but amazingly reached the FA Cup 1st round proper for the first time – winning more games in the Cup run than in the league season. Post-war Frickley remained in the Midland League, gaining their best finish of seventh in 1945-46 but left the league on its break up at the end of 1959-60.
From 1960-61 to 1969-70, Frickley Colliery played in the Cheshire County League, finishing third in their first season but mostly mid-table thereafter. However, financial considerations led the club to join the Midland Counties League for 1970-71. They finished runners-up in 1972-73, and after several unsuccessful applications, were elected into the Northern Premier League for the 1976-77 season as Frickley Athletic.
After finishing third in 1979-80 and receiving a satisfactory ground grading, the club was promoted into the Alliance Premier League, now the National League. Here they remained for seven years, the most successful period in the club's history, and in 1985-86, reached the FA Cup 3rd round proper. After beating a Football League club in Hartlepool United, they lost 3-1 at home to Rotherham Utd. The club did however manage to finish as Gola League runners-up, with manager Sean Marshall winning the Gola League Manager of the Year award.
During their time in the Gola League, four Frickley players were chosen to play in England's Non-League team, Gary Hooley, Paul Shirtliff, Paul Wilson and Russ Wilcox, who went on to play over 500 games in the Football League and subsequently moved into management.
The following season saw a complete reversal of fortune as the 'Blues' lost their first games in both the FA Cup and FA Trophy, finished second bottom in the league and were relegated back into the Northern Premier League.
From 1987-88 to 1991-92 the club consistently finished around mid-table in the NPL but did manage to reach the League Cup Final in 1991-92 for the first and only time, losing 1-0 to a last minute Marine goal at Manchester City's Maine Road ground. The next two seasons saw Frickley finish seventh and fifth in the league but for the following 11 seasons they struggled to find success and finished in the lower reaches of the table.
Then, in 2005-06 the Blues enjoyed their most successful league season for 20 years as they finished runners-up to Blyth Spartans in an exciting race for the league title. Unfortunately, the Blues were defeated on penalties in the play off semi-final. Incredibly, this was their fourth penalty shoot-out defeat of the season!
In the following nine seasons Frickley returned to finishing in the lower half of the table, battling against relegation in several of them. That changed in 2015-16, the club having an excellent season to finish in seventh place with a brilliant late season nine match unbeaten run of eight wins and a draw.
It was not repeated in 2016-17 after most of the players who'd brought success were lured away to join other more affluent clubs. The Blues lost their first eight matches, results from which they never recovered. After also losing their last 11 league games, they were eventually relegated from the NPL Premier Division after a 30 year membership.
2017-18 saw the club enter a new era under new ownership and management in EVO-STIK League South. The team was rebuilt in the first half of the season and post Christmas lost only three of 21 games to finish third in the league. On the way they scored an incredible 117 goals, breaking both the club and divisional record for the amount of league goals scored in a season.
Additionally, Jacob Hazel broke the club record for individual goals with 47 and striker Gavin Allott passed the 100 goals scored mark for Frickley. The Blues also scored in 51 of their 52 games during the campaign. Despite enjoying a terrific season, the club didn’t manage to win the promotion play-offs but started 2018-19 looking forward to another successful season in the new EVO-STIK League East and to making friends at the many new clubs joining.
Facts and stats
In the FA Cup Frickley have reached the First Round Proper on eleven occasions and it was against Rotherham United in 1971 that the record attendance for Westfield Lane of 6000 was set when the club's average crowd was about 600.
1936 Southport (Home) 0-2
1957 South Shields (Away) 2-3
1963 Notts County (Away) 1-2
1971 Rotherham United (Home) 2-2 (Away) 0-4
1973 Halifax Town (Away) 1-6
1983 Altrincham (Home) 0-1
1984 Stalybridge Celtic (Home) 2-1
1985 Halesowen Town (Home) 1-1 (Away) 3-1
1986 Altrincham (Home) 0-0 (Away) 0-4
1988 Northwich Vics (Home) 0-2
2000 Northampton Town (Away) 0-4
The Blues have made the Second Round Proper two occasions:
1985 Darlington (Away) 0-1
1986 Hartlepool Utd (Away) 1-0
The club's only Third Round appearance to date is the 3-1 home defeat to Rotherham United in 1985-86
FA Cup 3rd Round – 1985-86
FA Trophy Quarter Finalists – 1984-85
Goal League (Football Conference Premier) Runners Up – 1985-86
Northern Premier League Runners Up – 2005-06
3rd Place (Promoted to Football Conference) – 1979-80
Northern Premier League Cup Runners Up – 1991-92
Midland League Runners Up – 1972-73
Midland League Cup Winners - 1975-76
Yorkshire League Runners Up – 1923-24
Sheffield Association League Winners – 1920-21, Runners Up – 1911-12
Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup Winners 1927-28, 1956-57, 1960-61, 1962-63, 1966-67, 1978-79, 1985-86, 1987-88, 1989-90, 1999-00, 2003-04 & 2012-13