11 24


DAVE BAKER


BORN: PENZANCE, 21ST OCTOBER 1928

POSITION: RIGHT BACK

PREVIOUS CLUBS: MAPPERLEY IMPERIALS, WELLINGTON TOWN, NOTTS COUNTY, BRUSH SPORTS, NOTTINGHAM FOREST, SUTTON TOWN

MILESTONES:

ILKESTON DEBUT: 22ND AUGUST 1953 v NOTTS COUNTY ‘A’ (HOME)

FINAL APPEARANCE: 7TH OCTOBER 1961 v STAMFORD (HOME)

FIRST GOAL: 24TH OCTOBER 1953 v LINBY COLLIERY (HOME)

100TH APPEARANCE: 1ST OCTOBER 1955 v RETFORD BRITISH ROPES (AWAY)

150TH APPEARANCE: 7TH NOVEMBER 1956 v SUTTON TOWN (AWAY)

200TH APPEARANCE: 28TH DECEMBER 1957 v NOTTINGHAM FOREST ‘A’ (HOME)

250TH APPEARANCE: 14TH MARCH 1959 v BELPER TOWN (AWAY)

300TH APPEARANCE: 20TH AUGUST 1960 v NOTTINGHAM FOREST ‘A’ (HOME)

HONOURS:

CAPTAIN: 1958/59

EVER PRESENT: 1954/55, 1958/59, 1960/61

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CHAMPION: 1953/54, 1954/55

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CUP WINNER: 1957/58

DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP WINNER: 1955/56, 1957/58

FA CUP FIRST ROUND: 1956/57

GOAL SCORING FEATS:

3 v 26TH DECEMBER 1954 v HEANOR ATHLETIC (HOME)

Dave Baker was already quite familiar to Ilkeston Town supporters when he joined the club in 1953. His hard tackling style had been put to use on several occasions against Town in the past and had not exactly endeared him to the Ilkeston faithful. Yet this very same attribute, plus his powerful shooting, quickly won them over when he wore an Ilkeston shirt.

Born in Cornwall he moved up to the Nottingham area as a youngster and during the Second World War he made three appearances for Notts County. Following a spell with Loughborough team Brush Sports he signed for Nottingham Forest where he made three appearances in the Football League but he spent most of the time there playing for their reserves and ‘A’ teams. Throughout this period, and with subsequent club Sutton Town, Baker played at centre-half where his height allied to his strong tackling made him ideal for the role.

When he signed for Ilkeston the club already had an excellent central defender, the legendary captain Les Smith, and in order for him to get regular first team football he reluctantly accepted to play at right back. Although he was not blessed with great pace his lengthy stride helped him keep up with the nimblest of wingers, none of whom particularly looked forward to playing against one of the hardest right backs around.

Over the next nine years Baker gave Ilkeston Town superb service. His thunderous shooting ability led him becoming the chief penalty taker for several years and once, after he had failed from the spot and colleague Rex Osman stepped up to take the next one awarded, Osman was jeered by some Ilkeston supporters, such was Baker’s popularity (Osman scored). One of Baker’s successful penalties, the 83rd minute winner against Long Eaton Town in April 1954, clinched the Central Alliance title. This was just one of 25 conversions and he had a success rate of 78% from the spot.

Baker was first choice right back for almost his entire career at Ilkeston although there were signs that age was catching up with him at the turn of the 1960s. A knee injury suffered early in the 1961/62 season allowed the promising John Thornhill the opportunity to show what he could do and from that moment on Baker’s days were numbered. Rather than languish in the reserves he chose to join Ransome & Marles, in February 1962. However, Baker’s connection with Ilkeston Town was not over and he spent the 1964/65 season as reserve team trainer.

In total he made 345 appearances, a total beaten by two only other players in the history of the club. In April 1959 he shared the proceeds from a benefit match with Coventry City with fellow beneficiaries John Commander and Terry Blount.

 

 

TERRY BLOUNT


BORN: BELPER, 1935

POSITION: OUTSIDE LEFT

PREVIOUS CLUBS: DERBY COUNTY, HEANOR ATHLETIC

MILESTONES:

ILKESTON DEBUT: 7TH NOVEMBER 1953 v CRESWELL COLLIERY (HOME)

FINAL APPEARANCE: 24TH NOVEMBER 1962 v RETFORD TOWN (AWAY)

FIRST GOAL: 7TH NOVEMBER 1953 v CRESWELL COLLIERY (HOME)

100TH APPEARANCE: 24TH MARCH 1956 v GRANTHAM RESERVES (AWAY)

150TH APPEARANCE: 20TH APRIL 1957 v DERBY COUNTY ‘A’ (HOME)

200TH APPEARANCE: 10TH SEPTEMBER 1958 v ARNOLD ST MARYS (HOME)

250TH APPEARANCE: 28TH JANUARY 1961 v GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY (HOME)

100TH GOAL: 19TH NOVEMBER 1960 v BELPER TOWN (AWAY)

HONOURS:

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CHAMPION: 1953/54, 1954/55

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CUP WINNER: 1957/58

DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP WINNER: 1955/56, 1957/58

FA CUP 1ST ROUND: 1956/57

GOALSCORING FEATS:

3 v RETFORD BRITISH ROPES (AWAY) 5TH FEBRUARY 1955

As often happens in football someone else’s misfortune opened the door for Terry Blount at Ilkeston Town. A highly promising outside left who had been on Derby County’s books and had played for Heanor Athletic, the teenager joined Town in 1953 and settled into the reserve team. Sooner than expected he was thrown into the deep end.

When the prolific scoring centre forward Barrie Jepson suffered from an ankle injury in October 1953 regular left winger Jackie Ward was handed the number nine shirt, thus leaving a vacancy at outside left. Blount stepped up to the plate and was an instant success, scoring twice on his debut. A week later the experienced inside forward Ken Johnson made his first appearance and Blount was to benefit enormously from his guidance. He was soon offered a trial at Stoke City but sadly for him nothing came of it.

The pair formed a splendid partnership on the left of Ilkeston’s attack and Johnson’s promptings gave Blount the opportunity to send over accurate centres or cut inside to shoot. Although many of his 113 goals came this way he was also fond of racing in to meet crosses from the opposite wing with his head or on the volley. One of his century of goals was the winning goal in the 1955/56 Derbyshire Senior Cup Final against Heanor Town, watched by 11,912 spectators on the Baseball Ground. Two years later he scored the fourth, killer goal that saw off Buxton’s challenge at the same stage of the same competition.

Although Blount remains one of the best left wingers in Ilkeston’s history his career was one of unfulfilled promise and his best days were undoubtedly his first three seasons at the club. Perhaps it was no coincidence that once Johnson ceased to be a first team regular Blount’s performances became less consistent. At his best he could destroy opponents but sometimes he tried to do too much, delaying his cross until it was too late or going for goal when a centre was a better option. This manifested itself particularly when the rest of the forwards were struggling and he tried to solve the problem single handed (and on occasions it worked).

During the summer of 1959 Blount opted to join Heanor Town and Ilkeston struggled in vain to find a worthy successor. He was welcomed back in time for the start of the 1960/61 season and for the next couple of years he was a regular, though not always an automatic choice. His place was initially under threat from youngster Mick Thompson. However, the signing of John Langford in December 1962 proved to be the end of Blount’s career as an Ilkeston player, and he left the club after making 299 appearances. Nevertheless he continued to give fine service to various senior Derbyshire non-League clubs including Belper Town, Long Eaton United, Ripley Town, Wilmorton and Rowditch Athletic.

His tally of 113 goals for the club is only bettered by three other players and he was awarded with a joint benefit match with John Commander and Dave Baker, against Coventry City in April 1959.

 

JOHN COMMANDER


BORN: DERBY, 1931

POSITION: RIGHT HALF

PREVIOUS CLUBS: WEST BROMWICH ALBION, DERBY VICTORIA

MILESTONES:

ILKESTON DEBUT:12TH APRIL 1952 v LONG EATON TOWN (HOME)

FINAL APPEARANCE: 20TH SEPTEMBER 1958 v LONG EATON UNITED (AWAY)

FIRST GOAL: 7TH NOVEMBER 1953 v CRESWELL COLLIERY (HOME)

100TH APPEARANCE: 25TH AUGUST 1954 v LONG EATON TOWN (HOME)

150TH APPEARANCE: 3RD SEPTEMBER 1955 v STAMFORD (AWAY)

200TH APPEARANCE: 6TH OCTOBER 1956 v BOOTS ATHLETIC (HOME)

250TH APPEARANCE: 26TH OCTOBER 1957 v STAMFORD (HOME)

HONOURS:

EVER PRESENT: 1954/55, 1956/57, 1957/58

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CHAMPION: 1952/53, 1953/54, 1954/55

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CUP WINNER: 1957/58

DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP WINNER: 1952/53, 1955/56, 1957/58

FA CUP 1ST ROUND: 1956/57

John Commander showed considerable promise as a youngster playing local football in Derby. His talent was spotted by West Bromwich Albion who offered him a trial and he played a few times for their Youth Team. The chance of signing for them on a permanent basis failed to materialise, however, and upon returning to Derby he went on to play for Derby Victoria in the Derby & District League.

In November 1951 Victoria met Ilkeston on the Manor Ground for a Derbyshire Senior Cup tie and his steady performance was noted by the Town committee. The following Spring, when Town were on the lookout for a new right half, Commander was an obvious target and he duly signed.

Over the next six years he rarely missed a game and became one third of the legendary Commander-Smith-Hackland half back line. More defensively minded than his colleague on the opposite side Commander showed great energy, determination and enthusiasm. Although distribution was not his strongest point initially he worked hard on this aspect of his game to become a more than competent passer of a ball.

It seemed as if he still had years of successful football ahead of him when the 1958/59 season began but a disappointing FA Cup exit at Long Eaton in September led to him being dropped for the first time in his Ilkeston career. The decision proved fateful. In his first outing for the reserves he broke his leg. Showing typical determination he worked his way back to fitness and returned to the reserve team early in 1959. Tragically he broke his leg in two places in his first game back but this time the injury was more complicated, to such a degree that he never kicked a ball again.

Commander had made 286 first team appearances and stands eighth in the club’s all-time appearances list. He was awarded a benefit match, along with Dave Baker and Terry Blount, against Coventry City in April 1959.

 

GEORGE DARWIN


BORN: CHESTERFIELD

POSITION: LEFT BACK

PREVIOUS CLUBS: CHESTERFIELD, SHEFFIELD UNITED, BOSTON UNITED, WORKSOP TOWN, HEANOR ATHLETIC

MILESTONES:

ILKESTON DEBUT: 29TH SEPTEMBER 1951 v GEDLING TOWN (HOME)

FINAL APPEARANCE: 1ST MAY 1958 v WILMORTON (AWAY)

FIRST GOAL: 10TH SEPTEMBER 1952 v LANGWITH MINERS WELFARE (AWAY)

100TH APPEARANCE: 26TH DECEMBER 1954 v HEANOR TOWN (HOME)

150TH APPEARANCE: 14TH JANUARY 1956 v LONG EATON TOWN (AWAY)

HONOURS:

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CHAMPION: 1951/52, 1952/53, 1954/55

DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP WINNER: 1952/53, 1955/56

DERBYSHIRE DIVISIONAL CUP WINNER: 1951/52

George Darwin arrived at Ilkeston in 1951 as a full back of considerable experience. He was a stylish, intelligent defender with great anticipation, and a good clean tackler. If there was one criticism that could have been levelled at him it was that he was sometimes too gentlemanly for his own good.

His best days were restricted by World War II. A regular for Chesterfield Boys, he was a member of the team that reached the England Schools Shield Final in 1939. Naturally he joined his home town club where he made a couple of Wartime appearances. Just up the road Sheffield United also took a keen interest and he appeared for their reserves side.

After the War, however, he dropped into non-League where he joined Boston United in the Midland League. During his time there he was a member of the side that was surprisingly beaten by Ilkeston in the FA Cup in 1947. Spells with Worksop and Heanor followed before he returned to Ilkeston to sign for the club.

Capable of operating on either flank he was a regular during his first two seasons at the Manor Ground but a pre-season injury limited his appearances in 1953/54. He managed to reclaim a regular place during the next two seasons before, as a seasoned campaigner, he assisted with the reserves side until 1957/58, his final season with the club.

Darwin was rewarded for his loyalty, along with Les Smith, Ken Ledger, Horace Hackland, Cliff Hancock and Jackie Ward, with a shared benefit match against Port Vale in May 1957.

 

KEN FAULCONBRIDGE


POSITION: INSIDE RIGHT

PREVIOUS CLUBS: FOREST COLTS, RALEIGH ATHLETIC, STAMFORD, BOURNE TOWN

MILESTONES:

ILKESTON DEBUT: 23RD AUGUST 1952 v SOUTH NORMANTON MINERS WELFARE (HOME)

FINAL APPEARANCE: 16TH FEBRUARY 1957 v ROTHWELL TOWN (AWAY)

FIRST GOAL: 23RD AUGUST 1952 v SOUTH NORMANTON MINERS WELFARE (HOME)

100TH APPEARANCE: 18TH SEPTEMBER 1954 v SOUTH NORMANTON MINERS WELFARE (AWAY)

150TH APPEARANCE: 22ND OCTOBER 1955 v BOOTS ATHLETIC (HOME)

200TH APPEARANCE: 24TH NOVEMBER 1956 v NOTTS COUNTY ‘A’ (AWAY)

100TH GOAL: 9TH APRIL 1956 v SUTTON TOWN (HOME)

HONOURS:

LEADING SCORER: 1955/56 (34 GOALS)

EVER PRESENT: 1953/54

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CHAMPION: 1952/53, 1953/54, 1954/55

DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP WINNER: 1952/53, 1955/56

FA CUP 1ST ROUND: 1956/57

GOALSCORING FEATS:

4 v RETFORD BRITISH ROPES (HOME) 29TH JANUARY 1955

3 v SUTTON TOWN (HOME) 1ST NOVEMBER 1952

3 v SOUTH NORMANTON MINERS WELFARE (AWAY) 9TH OCTOBER 1954

3 v HEANOR TOWN (HOME) 26TH DECEMBER 1954

3 v BOOTS ATHLETIC (HOME) 22ND OCTOBER 1955

Few players lit up the Manor Ground during the 1950s quite like Ken Faulconbridge. The son of local born former Ilkeston United and Ilkeston FC forward George, who was good enough to make 19 League appearances for Southend United despite the use of only one eye, his dazzling array of tricks, sublime skills and his ability to produce the unexpected gave Town supporters many memorable moments. Unlike many ball players of his ilk he was also remarkably brave and a good number of goals were scored when he stuck his head where boots were flying. He also had something of a short fuse and it was not unusual for the red mist to descend when he was on the receiving end of robust challenges.

Raised in Nottingham his early days were spent playing with Forest Colts and Raleigh Athletic. However, it was at Stamford and then Bourne Town where his talents were truly allowed to flourish, playing as he was with the big boys in the Lincolnshire League.

When the talented youngster Billy Coxon left Ilkeston to join Norwich City during the summer of 1952 the Town committee were anxious to find a replacement inside right and they found him in Faulconbridge. Unlike Coxon, whose game was based upon precise passing, the newcomer was the master of the dribble and had excellent close control. Faulconbridge also proved himself to be an excellent finisher and his goals per game ratio is much more favourable in comparison to that of Coxon, who admittedly did suffer some wretched luck in front of goal. However, it was Coxon who went on to enjoy a substantial career in the Football League. On the other hand Faulconbridge enjoyed great success at Central Alliance level with Ilkeston.

As tough as they came he missed only six games during his four first seasons with Town during which time he won three Central Alliance Championship medals and he also scored the final goal in their 3-0 victory over Heanor Town in the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final in front of a remarkable 11,912 gate on the Baseball Ground in March 1956. The 1954/55 and 1955/56 seasons were particularly fruitful ones for him, periods which saw him score 64 goals in 92 appearances.

But the 1956/57 season coincided with a loss of form, as sudden as it was unexpected, that by March Ilkeston were happy to let him move on to Long Eaton United. During that last season with the club he scored just 4 league goals. His final appearance for Town was a low key affair at Rothwell although he had managed to score on what became his farewell appearance on the Manor Ground in January, ironically against Long Eaton United. His final tally of 112 goals is surpassed by only 4 Ilkeston players, each of whom played alongside him at some stage during his Ilkeston career.

 

 

HORACE HACKLAND


BORN: PONTLLANFRAITH, WALES, 16TH MAY 1926

POSITION: LEFT HALF

PREVIOUS CLUBS: BASFORD UNITED, GROVE CELTIC, NOTTINGHAM FOREST, NUNEATON BOROUGH

MILESTONES:

ILKESTON DEBUT: 1ST APRIL 1950 v LONG EATON TOWN (HOME)

FINAL APPEARANCE: 18TH FEBRUARY 1961 v DENABY UNITED (HOME)

FIRST GOAL: 14TH OCTOBER 1950 v DERBY BRIGHTON ROAD OLD BOYS (HOME)

100TH APPEARANCE: 28TH SEPTEMBER 1952 v LONG EATON TOWN (HOME)

150TH APPEARANCE: 10TH OCTOBER 1953 v NOTTINGHAM FOREST ‘A’ (AWAY)

200TH APPEARANCE: 12TH MARCH 1955 v SOUTH NORMANTON MINERS WELFARE (AWAY)

250TH APPEARANCE: 8TH SEPTEMBER 1956 v POTTON UNITED (HOME)

300TH APPEARANCE: 12TH SEPTEMBER 1959 v ARNOLD ST MARYS (AWAY)

HONOURS:

EVER PRESENT: 1956/57

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CHAMPION: 1951/52, 1952/53, 1953/54, 1954/55

DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP WINNER: 1952/53

DERBYSHIRE DIVISIONAL CUP WINNER: 1950/51, 1951/52

FA CUP 1ST ROUND: 1951/52, 1956/57

Wales born but raised in Nottingham Hackland was a stylish left half who is Ilkeston’s longest serving player. He was signed by Nottingham Forest towards the end of the Second World War after making his name as a teenager playing for local clubs Basford United and Grove Celtic. Unable to make the leap from reserve team football to the first team he was allowed to leave to sign for Nuneaton Borough, who were a strong team in the Birmingham Combination playing against the likes of Atherstone Town, Bromsgrove Rovers, Hednesford Town, Hinckley Athletic, Moor Green, Tamworth and the ‘A’ teams of a number of West Midlands based League clubs.

In the spring of 1950 he had the opportunity to sign for Ilkeston but, after making just one appearance, he chose to join Midland League side Peterborough United instead. His stay at London Road was short, however, and he signed for Ilkeston permanently before the start of the 1950/51 season. It was the start of a long association with the club.

Over the next decade he accumulated a total of 337 first team appearances for Town. A stylish left half who loved to push forward, he was a good passer of a ball, could strike it cleanly and was something of a dead ball expert. He was a more than useful penalty taker and 22 of his 63 goals for Ilkeston were from the spot, at a success rate of 73%.

Like all players he was not without his critics. Some felt that his attacking instincts left the team vulnerable defensively but with greater experience came greater discretion. It was also rare for Town to suffer too greatly from his forays as the other half backs, for many years Les Smith and John Commander, provided tremendous cover and his goal record speaks for itself. One of his goals, in April 1953, was the winner at Bentinck that clinched the Central Alliance title for the second season running.

Hackland was almost an automatic choice until he was omitted from the team at the start of the 1957/58 season. The young, enthusiastic, wholehearted and more defensively minded Lol Owen was brought in and did so well that Hackland only appeared for the first team very occasionally for two years. But when Owen picked up an injury early in the 1959/60 season Hackland rolled back the years with some vintage displays and was appointed as captain later in the season.

This was to be his final full season in the first team but he remained loyal to the club. Appointed as coach in 1960 he continued to play regularly for the reserves right through until 1964. When Graham Cutts, the former Ilkeston player who was player manager at Kimberley Town, decided to rejoin Ilkeston as general secretary in late 1964, Hackland left the club after close to 15 years service to fill the vacancy at Kimberley. However, in 1969, he rejoined Ilkeston to coach the youngsters in the reserves. He had been awarded a benefit back in 1957, which he shared with Les Smith, Ken Ledger, George Darwin, Cliff Hancock and Jackie Ward, the players sharing the income from a match against Port Vale.

 


BARRIE JEPSON


BORN: ALFRETON, 29TH DECEMBER 1929

POSITION: CENTRE FORWARD

PREVIOUS CLUBS: RIPLEY WHITE STAR, CHESTERFIELD, BENTINCK MINERS WELFARE

MILESTONES:

ILKESTON DEBUT: 15TH SEPTEMBER 1951 v TEVERSAL & SILVERHILL COLLIERY (HOME)

FINAL APPEARANCE: 31ST OCTOBER 1953 v NOTTINGHAM FOREST ‘A’ (HOME)

FIRST GOAL: 15TH SEPTEMBER 1951 v TEVERSAL & SILVERHILL COLLIERY (HOME)

100TH GOAL: 2ND MAY 1953 v LANGWITH MINERS WELFARE (HOME)

HONOURS:

TOP SCORER: 1951/52 (37 GOALS), 1952/53 (63 GOALS)

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CHAMPION: 1951/52, 1952/53

DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP WINNER: 1952/53

DERBYSHIRE DIVISIONAL CUP WINNER: 1951/52

FA CUP 1ST ROUND: 1951/52

GOALSCORING FEATS:

6 v CLAY CROSS MINERS WELFARE (HOME) 13TH DECEMBER 1952

4 v COALVILLE TOWN (HOME) 1ST DECEMBER 1951

4 v BLACKWELL COLLIERY (HOME) 29TH DECEMBER 1951

4 v GRESLEY ROVERS (HOME) 5TH JANUARY 1952

4 v HEANOR ATHLETIC (HOME) 16TH FEBRUARY 1952

4 v HEANOR ATHLETIC (AWAY) 25TH DECEMBER 1952

3 v SUTTON TOWN (HOME) 15TH DECEMBER 1951

3 v PARKHOUSE COLLIERY (HOME) 9TH FEBRUARY 1952

3 v BENTINCK WELFARE (AWAY) 23RD FEBRUARY 1952

3 v SOUTH NORMANTON MINERS WELFARE (HOME) 23RD AUGUST 1952

3 v SHIREBROOK MINERS WELFARE (AWAY) 24TH SEPTEMBER 1952

3 v LONG EATON TOWN (HOME) 28TH SEPTEMBER 1952

3 v SUTTON TOWN (HOME) 1ST NOVEMBER 1952

3 v LANGWITH MINERS WELFARE (HOME) 6TH DECEMBER 1952

3 v HEANOR ATHLETIC (HOME) 26TH DECEMBER 1952

3 v GRESLEY ROVERS (HOME) 14TH FEBRUARY 1953

3 v CLAY CROSS MINERS WELFARE (HOME) 21ST FEBRUARY 1953

3 v LANGWITH MINERS WELFARE (AWAY) 12TH SEPTEMBER 1953

3 v NOTTINGHAM FOREST ‘A’ (AWAY) 10TH OCTOBER 1953

Barrie Jepson is the undisputed king of Ilkeston Town centre forwards. Sceptics may point to the fact that he played at a lower level than some excellent strikers who have played for the club at other times. However, when Jepson left Ilkeston to begin a career in League football, he averaged a goal every two games, the benchmark figure required for a quality striker.

Jepson’s early days were spent playing local football close to his Alfreton home but it was while he was starring for Ripley White Star that he came to Chesterfield’s attention. In those days he played as an inside forward and although he played for The Spirites’ youth team nothing came of it and he returned to non-League circles with Bentinck Welfare. It was there that he first came to Ilkeston’s attention. It was also Ilkeston who realised that his greatest strength would lie in the centre forward role.

Jepson was the complete centre forward. He could finish with both feet, was a good header of a ball, was cool when through on goal, and had that precious knack of being in the right place at the right time. He also had boundless energy and enthusiasm and his willingness to chase seemingly lost causes turned unpromising situations into goals. Jepson was also brave, and a broken nose suffered during the 1951/52 Derbyshire Divisional Cup Final was the result of a desperate attempt to reach the ball ahead of an equally determined Derby County ’A’ goalkeeper. His debut season thus came to an unfortunate end after scoring 37 goals in just 24 appearances. With nine games still to play it is feasible that he would have scored 50 goals but for the injury.

He scored 50 - and then 13 more on top - the following season to set the all time club record of 63 goals, a record that surely will never be beaten. His first 100 goals for Ilkeston had taken just 72 appearances.

In October 1953 he picked up an ankle injury at Shirebrook. Although he featured in the next couple of games it was clear that he was in discomfort and it was revealed that an operation was necessary. Out of the team and recuperating Jepson lost his place to the outside left Jackie Ward. Ward did such a sterling job in his absence that when he was fit to return the following March he could not get his place back in the team. Mansfield Town of the Third Division North were alerted to the situation and paid the princely sum of £50 for his services plus the promise of sending their team to the Manor Ground for an end of season transfer match. Jepson left Ilkeston with the astonishing record of 115 goals from just 85 appearances.

Even though Jepson remained part time - he earned good money working for the Electricity Board - throughout his career in the Football League his record was impressive: 36 goals in 55 games for Mansfield, 41 goals (including 5 in one match against York) in 89 games for Chester, and 7 goals in 24 games for Southport.

After six years playing League football he returned to non-League during the 1960s and played for a variety of clubs where he continued to embarrass even the best of defences. Clubs he appeared for included Lockheed Leamington, Heanor Town, Alfreton Town, Arnold St Marys, Loughborough United and Sutton Town.

Unsurprisingly he was unable to score at quite such a prolific rate as he had done at the Manor Ground. Then again it would have been virtually impossible to replicate the sort of form that saw him score all six goals against Clay Cross, score four on 6 occasions, and a further 12 hat-tricks within the space of a little over two years.

 

 

KEN JOHNSON


BORN: DERBY, 1926

POSITION: INSIDE LEFT

PREVIOUS CLUBS: NOTTINGHAM ROAD OLD BOYS, STANLEY COLLIERY, DUFFIELD UNITED, DERBY BOROUGH POLICE, LINCOLN CITY, LONG EATON TOWN, GRESLEY ROVERS

MILESTONES:

ILKESTON DEBUT: 14TH NOVEMBER 1953 v SUTTON TOWN (HOME)

FINAL APPEARANCE: 18TH APRIL 1959 v BUXTON (BASEBALL GROUND)

FIRST GOAL: 28TH NOVEMBER 1953 v BRUSH SPORTS RESERVES (HOME)

100TH APPEARANCE: 25TH DECEMBER 1956 v LONG EATON UNITED (AWAY)

HONOURS:

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CHAMPION: 1953/54, 1954/55

DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP WINNER: 1955/56

FA CUP 1ST ROUND: 1956/57

GOALSCORING FEATS:

4 v LONG EATON TOWN (HOME) 25TH AUGUST 1954

4 v LANGWITH MINERS WELFARE (HOME) 30TH APRIL 1955

3 v RETFORD BRITISH ROPES (HOME) 29TH JANUARY 1955

Ken Johnson proved himself to be an outstanding inside forward and loyal club man. Not only that but his mentoring skills aided the development of many young players during his time at the Manor Ground.

Johnson’s early days were spent playing in Derby local league football and his qualities were recognised by Lincoln City. Although he played frequently for their reserves team he was unable to break through into the first team squad and eventually returned to his native Derbyshire where a long career in senior non-League football followed.

Long Eaton Town and Gresley Rovers both benefited from his talent. An excellent passer of a ball he regularly opened up defences with his thoughtful promptings, either out to the wing or inside. A decent header of a ball to boot, he was physically strong and difficult to knock off the ball, and although he is remembered as a creator of chances he had a fine goal scoring record at all of his clubs, including Ilkeston.

Johnson joined Ilkeston in November 1953 and he immediately forged a wonderful partnership with the youthful Terry Blount at outside left. Without doubt he brought out the best in Blount with his encouragement, advice and service on the pitch.

Although he suffered from a series of niggling injuries Johnson remained a first team regular until 1956 when the club announced that it would be playing in the Central Alliance Division One (South) in 1956/57. The extra travelling involved, to Cambridgeshire, South Lincolnshire and Bedfordshire amongst other places, led to Johnson’s decision to quit playing first team football. However, he informed the club that he would remain to play for the reserves if his services were still wanted, an offer that was gratefully accepted.

Johnson unselfishly had indicated that his decision had been made because he did not think it fair that he should make himself available for first team selection only when it suited him. Yet his talent was one that the club could ill afford to lose and he was nevertheless selected for a number of matches in the 1956/57 season, primarily home fixtures and local away ties. From then on his appearances became less frequent but he remained true to his word and gave invaluable service to the reserves. In one of his final appearances for Ilkeston he captained the reserves in the 1960/61 Derbyshire Divisional Cup Final, scoring a hat-trick in the 5-0 win over Chesterfield ’A’. Soon after, he announced his retirement but also made known his desire to coach young players at Ilkeston if a youth or junior team could have been set up. He was not taken up on his offer.

A frequent captain of the Derbyshire county amateur team, he scored 84 goals in 119 appearances for Ilkeston he scored the winning goal when they clinched the 1954/55 Central Alliance title against Langwith Miners Welfare and also scored one of the goals in the 1955/56 Derbyshire Senior Cup Final victory against Heanor Town played in front of 11,912 spectators on the Baseball Ground.

Johnson was awarded a benefit match which he shared with Ray Hunt, against Chesterfield in April 1960.

 

 

DENNIS KNIBBS


POSITION: GOALKEEPER

PREVIOUS CLUBS: NOTTINGHAM FOREST

MILESTONES:

ILKESTON DEBUT: 20TH AUGUST 1955 v NOTTS COUNTY (HOME)

FINAL APPEARANCE: 6TH SEPTEMBER 1958 v LANGWITH MINERS WELFARE (HOME)

FIRST CLEAN SHEET: 7TH SEPTEMBER 1955 v LONG EATON TOWN (AWAY)

100TH APPEARANCE: 7TH DECEMBER 1957 v LINBY COLLIERY (AWAY)

HONOURS:

DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP WINNER: 1955/56, 1957/58

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CUP WINNER: 1957/58

FA CUP 1ST ROUND: 1956/57

A solid and dependable rather than spectacular goalkeeper Dennis Knibbs joined Ilkeston as the replacement for the much loved Joe Sharman. Previously with Nottingham Forest where he appeared for their reserves and ‘A’ teams, he made a fine job of it. In his first season he kept a clean sheet as Ilkeston defeated Heanor 3-0 to lift the Derbyshire Senior Cup in front of 11912 spectators in March 1956. His stature and organisational qualities soon earned the respect of his colleagues, and occasionally opponents begrudgingly paid their respect by targeting him with some rough treatment. Nevertheless he rarely flinched and it would take a bad injury to force him out of a game.

Knibbs suffered a shoulder injury in the FA Cup First Round tie with Blyth Spartans inside the first two minutes and his subsequent lack of mobility, it is said, cost Ilkeston the game. However, Ilkeston’s 5-1 defeat may have been much worse had he left the field.

Ironically it was injury that ended his days as an Ilkeston player. Cracked ribs suffered in a home game with Langwith in September 1958 led to German born Gunther Schmiedel being elevated to the first team. The newcomer did so well that Knibbs could not regain his place once he was fit. In the summer of 1959, after a total of 131 appearances, he signed for Arnold St Marys.

Like many goalkeepers he fancied himself as an outfield player and in April 1958 he had the chance to show what he could do when he turned out for the second half against Retford British Ropes at centre forward. Although he didn’t score he did lay on Town’s third goal for Terry Blount. Six weeks earlier he had excelled himself in his usual position with two penalty saves in one game at Matlock.

 

 

KEN LEDGER


BORN: STAPLEFORD 1924

POSITION: OUTSIDE RIGHT

PREVIOUS CLUBS: STAPLEFORD AIR FORCE CADETS, STAPLEFORD BROOKHILL, DERBY COUNTY, NOTTS COUNTY, NOTTINGHAM FOREST

MILESTONES:

ILKESTON DEBUT: 21ST AUGUST 1948 v WARSOP WORKING MENS CLUB (HOME)

FINAL APPEARANCE: 25TH APRIL 1959 v CLAY CROSS MINERS WELFARE (HOME)

FIRST GOAL: 21ST AUGUST 1948 v WARSOP WORKING MENS CLUB (HOME)

100TH GOAL: 7TH JANUARY 1956 v GRANTHAM RESERVES (HOME)

100TH APPEARANCE: 15TH MARCH 1952 v CRESWELL COLLIERY (HOME)

150TH APPEARANCE: 24TH APRIL 1953 v BELPER TOWN (HOME)

200TH APPEARANCE: 28TH AUGUST 1954 v SOUTH NORMANTON MINERS WELFARE (AWAY)

250TH APPEARANCE: 17TH SEPTEMBER 1955 v LANGWITH MINERS WELFARE (HOME)

300TH APPEARANCE: 16TH FEBRUARY 1957 v ROTHWELL TOWN (AWAY)

HONOURS:

EVER PRESENT: 1950/51

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CHAMPION: 1951/52, 1952/53, 1953/54, 1954/55

DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP WINNER: 1949/50, 1952/53, 1955/56

DERBYSHIRE DIVISIONAL CUP WINNER: 1950/51, 1951/52

GOALSCORING FEATS:

3 v RETFORD TOWN (HOME) 26TH AUGUST 1950

3 v MATLOCK TOWN (HOME) 6TH SEPTEMBER 1950

3 v BENTINCK WELFARE (HOME) 31ST DECEMBER 1952

3 v MATLOCK TOWN (AWAY) 6TH MARCH 1954

Ken Ledger is arguably the finest outside right ever to play for Ilkeston and in his prime was certainly the best winger in the Central Alliance. Described as Ilkeston’s Stanley Matthews he was also known as ‘Twinkletoes’ by many supporters. Blessed with blinding pace, he could cross a ball with deadly accuracy and had a blistering shot that brought him many goals, often referred to as ‘Ledger Specials’. He also had excellent close control that enabled him to turn defenders inside out. These qualities enabled him to become Ilkeston’s fifth all-time top appearance maker and only five Town players have scored a greater number of goals.

Ledger joined Derby County during the War but, unable to break into the first team, he tried his luck with Notts County where he scored 4 goals in 16 Wartime appearances. Then he crossed over the Trent and played 10 times for neighbours Forest, adding a further goal to his collection. After the War he remained with The Reds until the summer of 1949 despite not making the first team again. During his time as a Forest player he made a single appearance for Ilkeston at the start of the 1948/49 season although it was a year later before he joined Town on a permanent basis.

Ledger remained with Ilkeston until 1959 apart from a three month spell at South Normanton Miners Welfare at the start of the 1951/52 season. He was certainly one of the reasons why Town enjoyed so much success in the Central Alliance up until the mid 1950s and he scored a penalty when they clinched the title at Bentinck in 1952/53. This goal was the club’s 1000th since their formation. However, by his early thirties, he was no longer an automatic choice in the team. His pace, so important to his game, was on the wane and Ilkeston began to try alternative wingers in his place. The fact that they kept going back to him speaks volumes of the esteem in which he was held and how difficult it was going to be to replace him. Eventually the club signed John Carrington in 1958 who, while he was no Ken Ledger in his prime, was certainly impressive and able to keep the veteran Ledger out of the team once and for all.

Ledger was granted a benefit game, which he shared with Les Smith, Horace Hackland, George Darwin, Cliff Hancock and Jackie Ward, against Port Vale in May 1957. Two years later he played his final game for Ilkeston and returned to his Stapleford roots to play local football with Stapleford Villa.

 

 

JOE SHARMAN


BORN: ROTHWELL, 2ND FEBRUARY 1932

POSITION: GOALKEEPER

PREVIOUS CLUBS: SYMINGTONS, DERBY COUNTY

MILESTONES:

ILKESTON DEBUT: 29TH SEPTEMBER 1951 v GEDLING COLLIERY (HOME)

FINAL APPEARANCE: 7TH MAY 1955 v BRUSH SPORTS RESERVES (HOME)

FIRST GOAL: 2ND MAY 1955 v SHIREBROOK MINERS WELFARE (HOME)

FIRST CLEAN SHEET: 13TH OCTOBER 1951 v LONG EATON TOWN (AWAY)

100TH APPEARANCE: 14TH NOVEMBER 1953 v SUTTON TOWN (AWAY)

150TH APPEARANCE: 25TH DECEMBER 1954 v HEANOR TOWN (AWAY)

HONOURS:

EVER PRESENT: 1952/53

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CHAMPION: 1951/52, 1952/53, 1953/54, 1954/55

DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP WINNER: 1952/53

DERBYSHIRE DIVISIONAL CUP WINNER: 1951/52

FA CUP 1ST ROUND: 1951/52

A real crowd pleaser Joe Sharman, christened Donald, was an entertainer in more ways than one. Not only was he capable of wowing the crowds with enthralling saves but he was also a highly accomplished singer who performed his not inconsiderable talents long after he finished playing football. He also used to entertain his colleagues on the team bus when returning home from a victorious away trip.

Sharman was signed by Derby County as a teenager and for many years was the youngest goalkeeper ever to play in the League for The Rams. However, first team outings were limited to two League appearances and in September 1951 he joined Ilkeston. He must have wondered what he had let himself in for when he picked the ball out of the net three times in the first fifteen minutes of his debut against Gedling Colliery in the FA Cup but Town bounced back to win and neither he nor the club looked back. During the 1953/54 season he set the club record of not conceding a goal in 584 minutes, a record that stood for the next 55 years.

Sharman proved to be a highly confident goalkeeper whose mistakes were rare. But he was best known for his remarkable agility that made him capable of producing some astonishing saves. He was also quite fearless, being particularly adept at diving at the feet of onrushing forwards. His heroics won the admiration of male supporters but he also had a small army of female fans who loved him as much for his handsome features as his goalkeeping ability. He could often be seen chewing sweets during games that had been handed to him by his devotees.

Town won the Central Alliance title in each of his four seasons with the club and he remains the only goalkeeper to score a goal for Ilkeston, from the penalty spot, against Shirebrook Miners Welfare in May 1955. Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly considering his shot stopping skills, the number of goals he scored from the spot equalled the total number of penalties he saved. It should be pointed out that a number of opponents missed the target from the spot when Sharman was in goal. Perhaps their awareness of his agility led them to over compensate.

Sharman left Ilkeston in the Summer of 1955 after announcing that he hoped to make a return to League football. Instead he joined Gresley Rovers although a spell at Bradford City followed, without success. He then returned to the non-League game and played for Burton Albion, Long Eaton United, Wilmorton & Alvaston, Long Eaton Reprobates and Loughborough United before removing his gloves for the last time.

 

 

LES SMITH


BORN: TAMWORTH, 16TH NOVEMBER 1921

POSITION: CENTRE HALF

PREVIOUS CLUBS: BILSTHORPE COLLIERY, NOTTINGHAM FOREST, NOTTS COUNTY, MANSFIELD TOWN

MILESTONES:

ILKESTON DEBUT: 19TH AUGUST 1950 v PARKHOUSE COLLIERY (AWAY)

FINAL APPEARANCE: 5TH MAY 1958 v BUXTON (HOME)

FIRST GOAL: 29TH MARCH 1952 v BENTINCK WELFARE (HOME)

100TH APPEARANCE: 10TH SEPTEMBER 1952 v LANGWITH MINERS WELFARE (AWAY)

150TH APPEARANCE: 7TH NOVEMBER 1953 v CRESWELL COLLIERY (HOME)

200TH APPEARANCE: 11TH DECEMBER 1954 v LINBY COLLIERY (HOME)

250TH APPEARANCE: 31ST DECEMBER 1955 v DERBY COUNTY ‘A’ (HOME)

300TH APPEARANCE: 2ND MARCH 1957 v SHIREBROOK MINERS WELFARE (HOME)

HONOURS:

CAPTAIN: 1950/51-1957/58

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CHAMPION: 1951/52, 1952/53, 1953/54, 1954/55

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CUP WINNER: 1957/58

DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP WINNER: 1952/53, 1955/56, 1957/58

DERBYSHIRE DIVISIONAL CUP WINNER: 1950/51, 1951/52

FA CUP FIRST ROUND: 1951/52, 1956/57

Les Smith is the most successful captain that Ilkeston have ever had. At a time when the captaincy of a team was far more meaningful than it is today he was instated in the role almost as soon as he arrived from Mansfield Town during the 1950 close season. By the time he retired eight years later he had led the club to four championships in successive seasons, won six cups and led the team to the First Round of the FA Cup twice. He also retired as Ilkeston’s all-time appearance maker, a record he held until Terry Swinscoe overtook him almost nine years later.

Known as ‘Snowy’ due to the premature whitening of his hair he became even more recognisable on the pitch when his mane had disappeared by the early 1950s. His superb heading ability probably drew even greater attention to his balding pate, the ball seemingly drawn to it like a magnet. More often than not this skill was used in defence for he rarely ventured forward but his rock like quality meant that Town’s back line became notoriously difficult to break.

Smith was discovered by Nottingham Forest whilst playing for Bilsthorpe Colliery but it was at Notts County where he first sampled first team football at a professional club. He made seven appearances for The Magpies during the War before a move to Mansfield Town led to greater opportunities. His total of 38 League appearances for The Stags would have been significantly greater had it not been for the War although he did make an additional 31 Wartime appearances for them.

By the late 1940s he was not part of their first team plans although he appeared regularly for their ’A’ team, who played in the Central Alliance. He played against Ilkeston on several occasions and was outstanding in each game. It was a great coup for Town when they managed to sign him in 1950.

Smith played the game with a calm authority, led by example and played hard but always fair. He wasn’t booked in any of his 347 appearances for Ilkeston, a remarkable record considering his role as a centre half. He knew how to bring out the best of his colleagues and was tactically astute, and these attributes meant that he was probably the biggest playing influence in one of Town’s most successful eras.

Speed was never his greatest attribute and he relied greatly on his anticipation and awareness. However, during his final couple of seasons, by which time he had reached his mid thirties, he was past his best and prone to the occasional error. Nevertheless he held down a regular first team place right up until his retirement because his leadership qualities and the respect he had from his colleagues remained undiminished. Fittingly he bowed out in style. His final match saw him lift the 1957/58 Derbyshire Senior Cup when Ilkeston beat Buxton 4-2.

 

 

JACKIE WARD


POSITION: OUTSIDE LEFT/CENTRE FORWARD

PREVIOUS CLUBS: NOTTINGHAM FOREST, RALEIGH ATHLETIC, PORTSMOUTH, BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION, LINBY COLLIERY

MILESTONES:

ILKESTON DEBUT: 18TH AUGUST 1951 v RANSOME & MARLES (HOME)

FINAL APPEARANCE: 4TH MAY 1956 v MATLOCK TOWN (HOME)

FIRST GOAL: 1ST SEPTEMBER 1951 v RETFORD BRITISH ROPES (HOME)

100TH GOAL: 28TH AUGUST 1954 v SOUTH NORMANTON MINERS WELFARE (HOME)

100TH APPEARANCE: 9TH SEPTEMBER 1953 v SOUTH NORMANTON MINERS WELFARE (AWAY)

150TH APPEARANCE: 30TH OCTOBER 1954 v LINBY COLLIRY (AWAY)

HONOURS:

LEADING SCORER: 1953/54 (42 GOALS), 1954/55 (35 GOALS)

CENTRAL ALLIANCE CHAMPION: 1951/52, 1952/53, 1953/54, 1954/55

DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP WINNER: 1952/53, 1955/56

DERBYSHIRE DIVISIONAL CUP WINNER: 1951/52

FA CUP FIRST ROUND: 1951/52

GOALSCORING FEATS:

5 v BRUSH SPORTS RESERVES (AWAY) 19TH DECEMBER 1953

4 v BOOTS ATHLETIC (HOME) 25TH SEPTEMBER 1954

3 v HEANOR ATHLETIC (HOME) 26TH DECEMBER 1952

3 v BELPER TOWN (BASEBALL GROUND) 3RD APRIL 1953

3 v LONG EATON TOWN (HOME) 6TH APRIL 1953

3 v HEANOR TOWN (AWAY) 13TH FEBRUARY 1954

3 v RETFORD BRITISH ROPES (HOME) 24TH APRIL 1954

3 v SHIREBROOK MINERS WELFARE (HOME) 29TH APRIL 1954

3 v NOTTS COUNTY ‘A’ (HOME) 21ST AUGUST 1954

3 v LANGWITH MINERS WELFARE (HOME) 30TH APRIL 1954

Jackie Ward, like Dave Baker and Les Smith, had frequently been a thorn in Ilkeston’s side whilst playing against them. So, when Ilkeston had the chance to sign him from their bogey side, Linby Colliery, in the summer of 1951 they jumped at the opportunity.

Ward was one of many players of his era who could possibly have played League football had it not been for the Second World War. A native of Nottingham, he joined Nottingham Forest as a junior and also played local football with Raleigh Athletic. His obvious talents were recognised by Forest and he made 10 Wartime appearances for the first team, scoring twice. Ward also guested for both Brighton & Hove Albion and Portsmouth although he was limited to just two Wartime League fixtures, both with Brighton.

By the time the War was over Forest decided not to retain his services and he subsequently joined Linby Colliery where he proved himself to be one of the finest non-League wingers in Nottinghamshire. With a fair turn of pace, a decent shot and capable of delivering crosses with deadly accuracy he was a constant menace to opposing defences. He was also an excellent header of a ball and scored plenty of goals by running in to meet crosses delivered from the opposite wing.

When Ward joined Ilkeston it took him a little time to win over the supporters. To begin with the ball was often played to his feet for him to take on defenders but it was soon realised that he was much more effective running on to passes played ahead of him. In such cases he would cross the ball early to find men arriving in the box before a full back could make a challenge. This direct approach soon made him a favourite and was also appreciate by his fellow forwards who scored many a goal between them as a result of this tactic.

Ward’s strong heading ability led to him being selected as a centre forward, on the odd occasion when Barrie Jepson was unavailable. Despite his scoring record Ward was not a ‘natural’ finisher like Jepson but he never shirked the responsibility of scoring goals even when he missed the sort of chances that Jepson would put away without blinking an eye. As a consequence he would get his fair quota of goals.

When Jepson, in October 1953, injured an ankle that was to keep him out of contention for four months Ward moved inside for an extended run in the number 9 shirt. He was so successful that when the prolific scoring Jepson regained fitness he was unable to displace Ward from the team. In March 1954 was sold to Mansfield Town and Ward became Ilkeston’s regular centre forward until the start of the 1955/56 season.

Ironically, given that Ward had become Town’s all-time top goalscorer, a record that he still holds, Ilkeston decided that they needed someone who was a natural finisher. They signed Jack Marsh and the signing signalled that Ward, who was now approaching his mid thirties, was nearing the end of his career, especially as Terry Blount had done such a splendid job at outside left from the moment Ward moved inside. He was no longer an automatic choice and after spending an injury plagued 1956/57 season assisting the reserves he announced his retirement from football. This coincided with a benefit match against Port Vale which had been awarded for himself, Les Smith, Ken Ledger, Horace Hackland, George Darwin and Cliff Hancock.

Ward scored 139 goals for Ilkeston, including ten hat-tricks. One of these hat-tricks came in the 1952/53 Derbyshire Senior Cup Final at the Baseball Ground and was seen by almost 10,000 spectators. He remains the last player from any club to score a hat-trick in the Final.