On this day – 15 April

A look through the archives to see what was happening to Reds on 15 April in previous years……

The 15 April, 1989 became one of the most tragic, saddest days in football with the Hillsborough disaster etched into the memory as one of those ‘where was I’ moments.

It was FA Cup semi-final day, Liverpool v. Nottingham Forest, but the match was abandoned just minutes after kick-off when 95 spectators were crushed to death at the stadium with another fan passing away later.

It was only after our game at Eastwood Hanley that the scale of the tragedy became clearer as we caught up with the news on a crackly radio on the team bus.

The disappointment of our 2-1 loss paled into insignificance and there was an unusual silence for most of the journey home.

One’s memory does distort the facts over time but the only things I remember from our game was that we were forced into handing sixteen years old Andy Hassall a debut in goal, Andy Forbes headed a spectacular own-goal to give the hosts an early lead and Dennis Finn scored the Reds goal.

And every year at this time when we remember those who lost their lives, I can recall exactly where Reds were on that very sad day.

Our manager at the time was Mick Heaton (pictured) and on this day in 1995, six years after the Sheffield disaster, we were mourning his death following a fatal car crash.  A minute of silence was observed prior to a home game against Gretna, which finished goalless.

Never has irony and tragedy been so poignant.    

As a non-league club, our playing record has been poor on this day and in twelve attempts there is just one victory to reflect on.  That was three years ago when a well taken Conor Tinnion goal secured a 1-0 home win over Halesowen Town.

Dav Symington saw an earlier penalty saved in that game.

We did convert a spot-kick, however, during our 2014 fixture at Gloucester City when Joe Jackson scored in our 1-1Skrill North draw, taking his tally for the season to 14.

Some of the defeats suffered on this day include a home match against Burscough (0-1) in 2008, a game at Nuneaton Borough (1-3) in 2006, versus Spennymoor United (1-2) at Borough Park in 2003, at Great Harwood Town (0-1) in 1996 and at Matlock Town (1-3) back in 1978.

Our Football League record on this day was more encouraging with just one defeat inflicted upon us from the nine matches played.

Back in 1961, we emerged 4-3 winner at Doncaster Rovers with Ron McGarry scoring twice, Roy Womack netting his only goal in a red shirt and the other an own-goal courtesy of a Rovers’ defender.

There was an even better victory on home soil when Stockport County visited us in 1963.  Reds triumphed 4-0 with Geoff Martin (pictured) grabbing two and joined on the score sheet by Dave Carr and Pete Watson.

Geoff Martin

Tommy Spratt also netted twice in a comfortable 3-0 home win over Newport County in 1972, the other goal coming from Dave Irving.

And the two goal contribution stretched back into the North Eastern League during the thirties.

Billy Boyd’s brace helped us to a 3-2 away win over Sunderland Reserves in 1938 and, three years earlier, Billy Charlton got two in a 4-0 success over Ashington at Lonsdale Park.

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