Remembering: A Golden Era For Little Old Linby

The aftermath of the Second World War would see the Home Nations, as well as countries right across the globe, rebuilding their lives as best they could; the pastime of football was one such way and it was to be the same in the Nottinghamshire colliery town of Linby.

Initially formed in the late 1800s, Linby Church institute going on to have limited success in the early 1900s, losing to Nottingham Forest Reserves in the semi-final of Nottinghamshire FA Senior Cup, prior to disbanding in the 1930s.

After the war had concluded though, and life was looking to return some kind of normality, big name footballers of the time, who were moving about the country looking for work down the mines, would see one start a revolution in Nottinghamshire.

Ernest ‘Ernie/Tim’ Coleman, was one such individual, and he had some pull about himself also, he bringing about the rebirth of Linby Colliery, and leading a domination of sorts over the next decade or so, winning both league titles, and cup competitions, and, for one brief moment in late 1950, have a brush with greatness, immortality, in the FA Challenge Cup.

On the home front meanwhile, in the Notts Senior Cup, there was to be a back-and-forth battle with that of Retford Town, over three, consecutive seasons (1950, 1951, and 1952), Linby winning the trophy twice then before adding a third to the haul in ’54, defeating Sutton Town in the county’s showpiece final.

Of those Notts FA Senior Cup successes that came the way of Linby, the one against Retford Town, in 1950, was said to have been played out in front of an incredible crowd of 20,500 – Linby would win the trophy, 1-0, at the City Ground that season.

Retford would avenge that loss, quite handsomely, the following year, before Linby defeated the same opponents, in a replay at Meadow Lane, in the third final, in 1952; Linby returned to the Notts showpiece final again in 1954, taking away the trophy for a third time.

In the immediacy before the Senior Cup successes, Linby were also successful in lifting a couple of league championships, winning the Notts Alliance in 1948, then the Central League, two years later.

And then came that 1950-51 season, a season which would go down in Linby folklore, and the peak of the ‘Coleman Era’ at the club,, after Ernest Coleman et al had dragged the club from the ashes.

Having been born in Blidworth himself, less the seven miles from Linby, in the early 1900s, Coleman would become a professional footballer in the late 1920s, taking in spells at Halifax Town, Grimsby Town, Arsenal, Middlesbrough, and Norwich City, before returning home, upon conclusion of the war.

Along with the players that Coleman brought with him to the area, primarily for that work down the mines, the crowning achievement would be their reaching the First Round Proper of the FA Cup, losing to Gillingham, in front of 6,850 spectators, at the Notts’ clubs Gatehouse Ground.

In order to reach the First Round, the holy grail for non-league clubs, Linby would traverse some matches (includes one replay), netting over twenty goals along the way; the results en-route would be:

  • Extra Preliminary Round vs. Parliament Street Methodists (A) W4-3
  • Preliminary Round vs. Retford Town (H) W3-0
  • First Qualifying Round vs. Shirebrook (H) W2-0
  • Second Qualifying Round vs. Boston United (A) W4-0
  • Third Qualifying Round vs. Spalding United (A) D2-2 (replay, H, W3-1)
  • Fourth Qualifying Round vs. Nuneaton Borough (H) W3-1

By the time the FA Cup clash, at the Gatehouse, came around, in the late November of that year, Linby’s only injury worries, according to Ernie Coleman’s ‘Club Notes’ in the Hucknall Dispatch on the morning of the game, were Jackie Robinson and Eric Lummus.

Coleman, in the Dispatch, would say that: “Today is a great day in the life of Linby Colliery Football Club, and we as players are justified in being proud of gaining the distinction of being the first club in the town to entertain a league club in the First Round Proper of the FA Challenge Cup.

“It is with great pleasure, that we welcome all connected with the Gillingham FC to the Gatehouse Ground and we hope that we can give then a game worthy of the occasion…..

“…..All supporters will be pleased to learn that Jackie Robinson is making good progress, but it will be some time before he is ready to play football again.

“We have suffered a great loss by the reoccurrence of Eric Lummus’s muscle injury, but we hope time and patience will help him return to the side in the form previous to his injury.”

Meanwhile vice-captain Herbert Severn, was quoted by the Chatham News saying: “By using a big team, they will obviously try to disconcert us, but it does not appear to be wise policy on their part, on a playing-piece that has had so much rain.”

One of the biggest matches in the county’s footballing history, the run-up was said to have been a wet one, one of continual rainfall, with the visitors said to be “looking to field a number of six-footers, Linby’s average height being 5ft 8ins.”


Lining up for the Colliery, on that Saturday afternoon in late November (25th) in 1950 was –

William Thornley; Fred Williams, George Tabberer; Ray Braddow, Herbert ‘Ernie’ Severn, George Drury, Cliff Sinclair, Eddie Rogers, Ralph ‘Dickie’ Dulson, Tim ‘Ernie’ Coleman, Jack Ward

Although the end result didn’t go in Linby’s favour, the Colliery club were far from disgraced in a 4-1 loss to the Football League side; the Gills would lead by four at the break, goals coming via Dave Thomas, Charlie Burtenshaw, Bill Burtenshaw, and Randy Jenkins (his only goal for the Gills).

Dickie Dulson would pull a goal back for the hosts, in the 56 minute, but it wasn’t to be in the end, any hopes of a glorious fightback failing to materialise.

The Dulson name though, it is a one actually synonymous with the beautiful game emanating from the county, Dickie’s son, Garry, and grandson Frazer, all lacing up the boots and kicking leather.

After the match the following, from a Gills perspective, was published –

‘Giant Killers’ Eclipsed 

Gillingham Conquer The Colliers By First Half Goals

“A fight to the finish at Hucknall, Gillingham had everything to do to make sure. No score for 20 minutes. Then Dave Thomas really started Gillingham on the mining trail. Three more goals in ten minutes before half time and Gillingham had secured safety.

“The miners, the ‘giant killers,’ fought to the last. Coming down the slope second half with the ‘Linby Roar’ to help them they brought out the best in the Gillingham defence. Again the hard way to victory for Gillingham, a much-changed Gillingham who rose to the occasion. Magnificent team work pulled Gillingham through to confirm their superiority, despite Linby’s keen challenge.”


“Attacking with long balls and quickly changing the point of attack, the Colliers made inroads into Gillingham’s defence which had far more to do than before the change over. After 11 minutes a Gillingham attack miscarried, the ball was swept through Gillingham’s centre and Dulson turned his shot inside the post.”

A couple of seasons’ later, continually adding to Linby’s pursuit of glory in the Notts Senior Cup, mentioning winning three times in five appearances, between 1949 and 1954, they would also come within a whisker of returning to the FA Cup First Round.

During the 1952-53 campaign, Linby would crash at the final qualifying round, away to Selby Town, again having played seven matches (includes two replays); results for that cup run would be:

  • Preliminary Round vs. Parliament Street Methodists (A) W6-0
  • First Qualifying Round vs. Bestwood Colliery (H) W3-0
  • Second Qualifying Round vs. Players Athletic (H) W6-0
  • Third Qualifying Round vs. Cresswell Colliery (H) D0-0 (first replay, A, D0-0; second replay, A, W5-0)
  • Fourth Qualifying Round vs. Selby Town (A) L4-2

During those fifties FA Cup ties, Linby would meet several clubs a number of times with Sutton Town Ashfield (6), Cresswell Colliery (5), and Parliament Street Methodists (3) among the regulars.

Selby, they would go onto lose their First Round Proper match, 5-1 at home to Bishop Auckland.

Since those heady days of the fifties though, it fast became a case of what might have been for Linby, where they could have been, or what they could have achieved, had that run of success continued.

There had been the likes of ‘keeper Thornley, a coalface miner who’d played for Leeds United and Mansfield Town, Dulson was a colliery technician and Coleman an underground road logger, whilst Ward, he was being scouted by the like of Derby County and Luton Town, among others.

Although going on to become founder members of the Midlands League in 1975, runners-up three years later, it would not be until the nineties any sense of a return to the halcyon days of the fifties, would be felt.

Notts Alliance runners-up in 1993, Linby would be seen to win the Division One title four years later, whilst also lifting the Notts FA Intermediate Cup between times, in 1995; still though, continued success would be hard to maintain for Linby and only time will tell what the future does hold.

In 2004, Linby were also the founder members of the Nottinghamshire Senior League, being runners-up in the leagues’ debut season, behind eventual champions, Wollaton.

And time will most certainly tell if the current crop of Linby players can capitalise on their Central Midlands League, League Cup success in 2022.

Post-Second World War, Linby’s roll of honour sees the following –

  • 1946 Linby re-formed
  • 1948 Notts Alliance champions
  • 1950 Central Alliance champions; Notts FA Senior Cup winners
  • 1951 Notts FA Senior Cup runners-up, FA Cup First Round Proper
  • 1952 Notts FA Senior Cup winner
  • 1953 FA Cup 4QR
  • 1954 Notts FA Senior Cup winners
  • 1976 Founder Members of the Midlands League Division One
  • 1978 Midlands League runners-up
  • 1993 Notts Alliance Division Two runners-up
  • 1995 Notts FA Intermediate Cup winners
  • 1997 Notts Alliance First Division champions
  • 2004 Founder Members of the Nottinghamshire Senior League
  • 2005 Notts Senior League runners-up
  • 2008 Notts FA Intermediate Cup runners-up
  • 2012 Notts FA Senior Cup runners-up
  • 2022 Central Midlands League Cup winners

To find out more about Linby Colliery Welfare, and their long history, visit their website HERE

Grateful thanks to be afforded to that of Paul Briers, and the Linby CW Chairman, Ade Ward, for their assistance with this Bygones feature…


*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @FCLinby action from the clubs famous FA Cup match verses Gillingham in 1950.

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