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Looking Back At The 1983/84 Season…..

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It was another good year for the Gola League – the title then for the National League – as it had two of its teams in the FA Trophy Final for the third successive season as it began to dominate non-League football`s top cup competition.

Northwich Victoria, for the second time in three seasons, and Bangor City, battled out a 1-1 draw at Wembley before the Vics triumphed 2-1 in the replay at Stoke City, thanks to a Colin Chesters penalty and a John Anderson goal in front of only 5,805 fans.

Maidstone United went one better than in 82/83 by clinching the title, pipping Graham Carr`s Nuneaton Borough by one point on the last day of the season after Boro had led the table since late January.

The Stones under Bill Williams had a good side with England semi-professional stars John Bartley, Mark Newson, Brian Thompson, Nicky Ironton and keeper Derek Richardson as well as former Spurs and England winger Peter Taylor in their ranks.

Nuneaton were arguably the more exciting side to watch, with Paul Culpin and Trevor Morley in attack and Richard Hill in midfield, but just fell short in the end.

Trophy finalists Bangor and Trowbridge Town were relegated.

Also proving a success this season was the three points for a win initiative and the two substitutes experiment!

Barrow and Dartford replaced Bangor and Trowbridge – Barrow as champions of the Northern Premier League and the Darts as winners of the Southern League – the Isthmian League were still a year away from being involved in direct promotion and relegation.

Dartford were in a battle with Fisher Athletic for the Southern League title after early runaway leaders King`s Lynn faded.

It became something of a three-horse race between Chelmsford City, Fisher and Dartford in the end before the Kent side triumphed.

Their manager was John Still – amazingly going strong still as manager of Dagenham & Redbridge.

John Still

He possessed a prolific scorer in Tony Burman – the current manager of the Darts – as well as experienced hands like George Borg, Bobby Makin and Joe Simmonds.

The Northern Premier League was dominated by three clubs in 83/84 – eventual champions Barrow, FA Trophy semi-finalists Marine and South Liverpool.

In the end, the Bluebirds won the title by a whopping 20 points from Matlock Town and South Liverpool in joint second.

Out of 42 games, Barrow won 29, drew 10 and lost just 3, scoring 92 goals and conceding just 38.

Their front three of Colin Cowperthwaite, Barry Diamond and Frank Gamble scored 75 between them.

However, Barrow suffered a blow after winning promotion when manager [b]Vic Halom[/b] quit to take over at Fourth Division Rochdale.

Former Oldham keeper Peter McDonnell took over as player-manager, but only lasted until November.

Staying in the north, Stalybridge Celtic were crowned champions of the recently-formed North West Counties League First Division.

Penrith were second and Radcliffe Borough third and Burscough fourth.

Interestingly, lower down the table were Curzon Ashton, Lancaster City, Accrington Stanley and Leek Town, while finishing second-bottom were Ashton United!

Winning the Second Division in 83/84 were Fleetwood Town and Clitheroe were crowned champions of the Third Division.

The bottom two in the Second Division incidentally were Salford and Nantwich Town!

Spalding United won the Northern Counties East League Premier Division title with Arnold Town as runners-up.

Lower down the Premier Division table we find Alfreton Town, Guiseley and Belper Town, while finishing third to champions Pontefract Collieries in Division One North were Farsley Celtic with Ossett Albion, Harrogate Town, Scarborough, North Ferriby United trailing, and Ossett Town finishing bottom.

In Division One South, Borrowash Victoria were champions, with Sheffield FC and Lincoln United below.

The (Drybroughs) Northern League still stubbornly remained outside the Pyramid.

Their champions in 83/84 were Blyth Spartans, with North Shields as runners-up and Whitby Town third.

Spennymoor United finished eleventh.

The Southern League back then was split into Midland and Southern divisions below the Premier and in 83/84, [b]Willenhall Town[/b] saw off the challenge of Shepshed Charterhouse (now Dynamo) and Bromsgrove Rovers to win the Midland Division title by 5 points.

Finishing bottom were Tamworth, with Forest Green Rovers in eleventh!

RS Southampton (Road Sea) were winners of the Southern Division by 9 points from Crawley Town.

The Hampshire outfit were to only last another three years before being dissolved and their ground sold to Southampton FC for training purposes.

Dover Athletic finished thirteenth, Salisbury, Poole Town and Basingstoke Town were also in the section then,

Just finding their shooting boots in the Premier Division in those days were Kim Casey for AP Leamington and David Leworthy for Fareham Town – both were to become prolific in the Conference.

The (Servowarm) Isthmian League champions of 1983/84 were Harrow Borough, who had a 17-point gap on runners-up Worthing.

Bromley finished bottom – 11 points adrift of Tooting & Mitcham United – while the likes of Wycombe Wanderers, Billericay Town, Bognor Regis Town, Sutton United and Bishop`s Stortford were also in the division at the time.

Leading the scoring charts for Harrow then was George Duck, who bagged 34, with David Pearce also netting 30.

However, they trailed in the wake of Worthing`s Mick Edmonds, who scored a staggering 52 goals for the runners-up.

Winning Division One were Windsor & Eton with Epsom & Ewell and Wembley second and third respectively – Maidenhead United, Boreham Wood, Hampton, Woking, Oxford City and Kingstonian were all lower down the table.

Division Two champions were Basildon United, with St Albans City as runners-up.

Lower down could be found Hungerford Town, Grays Athletic, Hemel Hempstead Town and Horsham, who finished bottom.

Redhill won the Athenian League and Godalming Town were champions of the Combined Counties League.

The Essex Senior League was won by Heybridge Swifts, with Canvey Island and East Thurrock United both finishing mid-table.

Collier Row won the London Spartan League with Merstham, Greenwich Borough and Waltham Abbey below, while Shefford Town were South Midlands League winners – Royston Town finishing second-bottom and Biggleswade Town being fourth-bottom of Division One!

Halesowen Town won 32 of their 38 games to claim the West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division title with Hednesford Town as runners-up.

Chasetown finished second-bottom and the likes of Gresley Rovers and Rushall Olympic in mid-table.

Almondsbury Greenway were Hellenic League champions, winning the title by eight points from Moreton Town.

Lower down the table were the likes of Thame United, Northwood and Didcot Town, while below Division One winners Morris Motors were Yate Town, Bishops Cleeve, Cirencester Town and Kidlington.

Buckingham Town sealed the United Counties League Premier Division title hy eight points from Baldock Town.

Stamford finished third and also reached Wembley that season in the final of the FA Vase before losing 3-2 to Essex Senior Leaguers Stansted.

Stevenage finished sixth and St Neots Town were bottom with just three wins all season!

Winners of Division One – Brackley Town!

Braintree Town won the Eastern Counties League on goal difference from Wisbech Town, having scored an incredible 125 goals in 83/84.

Lowestoft Town, Sudbury Town, Bury Town, Histon and Soham Town Rangers finished lower down.

Midland Combination League champions were Studley Sporting, who finished a point ahead of Coleshill Town.

Evesham United finished eighth just in front of Stratford Town with Solihull Borough and Cinderford Town lower down.

Sittingbourne won the Kent League from Sheppey United, with Hythe Town, Faversham Town and Herne Bay lower down and Ramsgate bottom.

Sussex County League winners in 83/84 were Whitehawk, who finished three points in front of Littlehampton.

Hastings Town and Burgess Hill Town were lower down the table.

And finally, winning the Western League by two points were Exmouth Town from Saltash United.

Barnstaple Town, Frome Town, Bideford, Bristol Manor Farm, Taunton Town, Mangotsfield United, Weston-super-Mare and Chippenham Town were also members of the Premier Division, while Paulton Rovers, Wimborne Town, Larkhall Athletic and Tiverton Town were all languishing in the First Division.

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