FOOTBALL - SHIREBROOK DOUBLE CELEBRATIONS

SUPER Shirebrook Town wrapped up a Redferns Central Midlands League and League Cup double in a dramatic end to Saturday s cup final against Collingham at Alfreton Town s North Street stadium on Saturday.

Red hot striker Lee Widdowson s single goal had ensured the league championship at Graham Street Prims last Tuesday night, and he did it again with his 42nd goal of the season 60 seconds into stoppage time at the end of Saturday s final.

The match itself may not have lived up to the occasion it was Town s seventh in 16 days and they had needed to win all seven to achieve their remarkable feat. And, yes, it showed.

But that did not worry the huge bulk of the 451-strong crowd, whose full-throated celebrations as the cup was presented by guest of honour Reg Symcox left no-one in any doubt about their feelings.

Just 12 months ago Shirebrook had to sit and wait, having finished their fixtures, while Lincoln Moorlands overtook them on the last day of the season to take the league championship.

This time the roles were reversed, but Shirebrook had to win their last six league matches to gain their revenge on Moorlands, and add a semi-final and final victory to make it a double.

League chairman Frank Harwood heaped praise on Shirebrook s achievement, just as he had done when presenting the league championship trophy the previous Tuesday.

Jubilant joint manager Stuart Greenwood enthused: "This has been a great achievement to follow the huge disappointment of last season."

Reflecting on the final itself, he revealed that he and joint boss Graham Charlesworth had considered bringing off Widdowson.

"It was a tired performance all round after all we have had to do this past three weeks," admitted Greenwood. "Lee had looked very much out of sorts, and the only reason we did not bring him off was because we had penalties in mind and he is one of our penalty takers.

"Then he comes up with a goal like that, a real striker s goal, just when it mattered most."

Collingham had dominated the first half, although Town skipper Tony Starkey had again marshalled a mean defence and ensured that nothing was given away.

But Shirebrook s second half superiority, despite those tired legs, was reflected in a 14-0 corner count and just when extra time seemed certain it was from the 14th of those corners that the game was settled.

Justin Burdett floated over one last ditch attempt to win something by this means. Substitute Nathan Booth, who had freshened things up for Town, saw his powerful goalbound header parried upwards by keeper Kevin Sly, and, as the ball dropped, it bounced around the six yard area, and Widdowson rammed it in from close range.

Greenwood s co-pilot Graham Charlesworth looked back on the season, and acknowledged the immense part played by everyone involved.

"What a great end to a great season!" he acclaimed. "The players have been absolutely magnificent all year, the men who work behind the scenes have been brilliant and what can you say about our marvellous, fantastic supporters who have turned up and backed us in numbers right the way through?

"There are clubs in the UniBond League that would give their right arms for support like ours.

"Shirebrook is a very tightly-knit community, and that works to our advantage in the way our army of fans get behind the club. I cannot speak too highly of them, and what we have achieved is as much for them as it is for the players."

The only disappointing aspect of Town s wonderful season is that they cannot move up to the Northern Counties East League, and it is Lincoln Moorlands who will go up as runners-up, since Shirebrook s ground does not meet NCEL standards.

One hopes that this can be rectified, because it would be a tragedy if this great club were to fall backwards simply because they could not go forwards.

That, though, was furthest from the minds of the players and their vocal 'Red Army as the celebrations which began last Tuesday night were heightened on Saturday.

Collingham created most of what few first half chances there were, Simon Hennessy s downward header from cross dropping just wide, Saxby finding just enough of a touch to deflect Gavin Smith s long free kick away, and Mark Eade s curling shot from the left touchline passing only inches too high.

Shirebrook did not really come into the picture until late in what had been a fairly drab first half.

But they came up with the best move of the match so far on 35 minutes, right wing back Martin Rowbottom exchanging passes first with Justin Burdett and then with Simon Johnson before rounding Smith, only to see his shot well saved by Kevin Sly.

Sly, though, was by far the busier of the two keepers after the break, first saving wll from Widdowson then stretching up to get just enough of a hand to Starkey s long forward ball to deflect away from the lurking Simon Johnson.

Collingham attacks by this time were becoming few and far between, but they almost snatched a 73rd minute lead when the inrunning Steve Doughty glanced a header narrowly wide from a Robinson free kick.

Instead it was Widdowson who grabbed that dramatic last gasp winner, and the double was Town s.

COLLINGHAM: Sly, Bishop (Hyde 90), Smith (Dobb ht), Doughty, Durham, King, Hennessy, Robinson, Wilcox (Gregory 90), Gamble, Ease.

SHIREBROOK: Saxby, Rowbottom, Carter, Charlesworth, Starkey, Tansley, Burdett, Shaw, Widdowson, J. Johnson, S. Johnson (Booth 76). Subs not used: Hill, Darby.

REFEREE: Shaun Fletcher of Chesterfield. ATT: 451.

CHAD MAN OF THE MATCH: Tony Starkey.

Amazing scenes of celebration climaxed an amazing match at Asterdale on Tuesday night as Redferns Central Midlands League chairman Frank Harwood presented the Supreme Division championship trophy to Shirebrook Town skipper Tony Starkey.

The match, before a noisy 180 crowd - some 90 per cent from Shirebrook - was settled by a 17th-minute goal from leading scorer Lee Widdowson, who pounced when Prims keeper Paul Shipp could only parry away Starkey s 30-yard blockbuster into his path.

But rarely can such a one-sided game have finished so closely, with Town - who had enough clear-cut chances to have won by double figures - having to defend their slender advantage in the last two or three minutes to avoid the heartbreak of conceding an equaliser which would have handed the title to Lincoln Moorlands.

But, that 17th-minute and ultimately championship-deciding goal apart, Shirebrook had two probably justified penalty appeals turned down and had three efforts hit the bar in the opening 45 minutes - one from Burdett and two from Widdowson.