Club History

Club History

New Mills AFC, based in the High Peak of Derbyshire, have continually been at the forefront of organised football in the area. The Club's home ground, regarded as one of the most picturesque in non-league football, is situated opposite the impressive St George’s Church and has a splendid backdrop of Kinder Scout, which is the highest point in the Peak District National Park. The Club’s facilities are quite considerable. Covering seven and a half acres with well over three acres of land, the Club has a floodlit playing arena, an all-weather pitch suitable for a number of sport which is used by local schools and the local community in general as well as New Mills Juniors teams.

The game of football has been played in the town of New Mills since 1886 when the Club, originally known as New Mills St George's, first played in friendlies before joining organised competitions such as The North Cheshire League and ultimately The Manchester League. After playing at several locations around the town, the Club moved to their present home of Church Lane in 1922 and this coincided with a hugely successful period in the Club's history as they recorded two Manchester League titles and four Derbyshire Divisional Cup wins. These successes led to average home crowds of around 2,000 and eventually saw no fewer than ten players transferred directly to Football League Clubs.

More great days followed in the 1960's under the leadership of Joe Martin but following a move to The Cheshire League in 1974 the club struggled in spite of being able to attract a number of household names including Wyn Davies and Vic Halom, as well as Ray Hatton whose son Ricky was famously to become a World Champion boxer. By the early 1980's the clubs struggles reached the point where they were forced to cease football activity, although they still continued to seek membership with a view to reorganising and eventually entering competitions again. Coincidentally, local amateur side Birch Vale and Thornsett FC were looking for a new ground and within twelve months, they had adopted the name of New Mills AFC and began to progress firstly via The Lancashire and Cheshire League and then The Manchester League.

In the mid-late 1980's The Millers enjoyed great success, winning a number of trophies and reaching several Deryshire Cup finals, being victorious on more than one occasion. Former player Ray Coverley was the Manager of the First Team during this time, and he was to eventually move up to become Chairman of the club. Featuring players from New Mills and the immediate surrounding area during that period, the club was already demonstrating that it could become a force at a higher level, competing against clubs with far bigger catchment areas for players and support. The Millers side of the 1980's was one of the most memorable in the clubs history, with the line up still rolling off the tongue of long time supporters. Once Coverley stepped down as Manager the club adopted a policy of appointing from within, with former goalkeeper Andy Bowers taking over for a spell and then prolific striker Alan Peatfield overseeing several seasons in the late 1990's-early 2000's. After guiding the side to two Derbyshire Cup victories and promotion to the Manchester League Premier Division, Peatfield stepped down and was replaced by Tony Rigby who had been on the Management staff at Woodley Sports.

New Mills re-joined The North West Counties League in 2004 (they were founding members in 1982) , initially with former player Scott Moore in the managerial hotseat. Moore steadied the ship while the club adapted to the higher level, before he was replaced by Tony Hancock. Hancock already had a wealth of experience managing in the North West Counties League, having worked at the likes of Abbey Hey and Woodley Sports, and he brought a new level of professionalism to the club, as well as bringing in new players, many of whom were to become club legends. The likes of Micky Ryan, Carlos Meakin, Adam Mather, Michael Bowler and Gary Kharras were all brought to the club by Hancock as the club went on to enjoy several years of success, beginning with the North West Counties League Second Division Trophy in 2007. The following season saw the team break numerous Club records as they won the Division Two Championship by ten points. 2008/09 saw another trophy triumph, The League Challenge Cup, but following an unprecedented twenty one game winning run, promotion to The Evostik League was only denied by a last day defeat at AFC Fylde which resulted in the team finishing runners up on goal difference. The Millers only required a point in that final game and actually played fairly well on the day, but missed opportunities and an early red card were to prove crucial as AFC Fylde came out on top and their run towards the upper reaches of non-league football started.

The 2009/10 season again saw The Millers as bridesmaids for the second successive season as this time Newcastle Town grabbed the solitary promotion place to The EvoStik League. The Club enjoyed success in The FA Vase and reached the last sixteen for the first time in its history before The Northern League’s Norton and Stockton Ancients spoilt the Wembley dream. Shortly after the FA Vase exit Tony Hancock resigned from his post, with former Woodley Sports and Mossley boss Ally Pickering taking over the reigns in a caretaker role.

The club advertised the Managers job at the end of 2009/10, and an impressive array of Managers applied and were invterviewed for the role. Caretaker Boss Pickering was successful in obtaining the post on a full time basis and 2010/11 proved to be a case of third time lucky as New Mills finally achieved their goal of promotion to The Northern Premier League when they won The North West Counties Premier Division. Winning the first seven games of the season the squad set the pace from start to finish before being presented with the Championship trophy after the game against local rivals Glossop North End on Easter Monday. The team also reached the North West Counties League Challenge Cup Final but failed to achieve the double after losing narrowly to Winsford United. It was a successful season off the field as well as the Club achieved the prestigious FA Charter Standard Adult Club status which was an excellent recognition for all the hard work that has been put in by everybody connected with the Club.

The first team’s debut season in The EvoStik Northern Premier League was tough after being placed in Division One South, the eventual position of ninth represented a respectable finish. 2012/13 proved to be another roller-coaster ten months, after the club were moved into the Evo-Stik Division One North. After a mixed start to the campaign Pickering stepped down and was replaced as Manager by his number two Roy Soule, who had an immediate impact on the squad and brought in some new faces to add to the quality that was already in place. The Millers were defeated at Curzon Ashton on the final day of the season and that meant that they missed out on second place in the league and therefore had to face Trafford in the play-off semi-final. Trafford had already beaten the Millers home and away that season, and they were to be victorious again in front of a huge crowd at Church Lane just two days after the Curzon Ashton match.

2013/14 was an all-together more difficult season with the Club having to overcome many hurdles, none more so than contending with the wettest High Peak winter in living memory which produced the inevitable March/April fixture backlog. The first team, who endured a high turnover of playing staff, eventually ended in a mid-table position in Division One North. Soule and his Assistant Manager Paul Armstrong continued to work hard, but were finding it more and more difficult to fend off attention for their players from clubs who were able to offer financial incentives to leave Church Lane.

2014/2015 proved tough for New Mills AFC as the Committee cut back on the players expenses and focused on developing youth players through the Development squad successfully. The Millers finished in the relegation positions in the Evo-Stik League, but were spared relegation on a technicality due to restructuring of the league pyramid. Sadly Manager Soule tendered his resignation in the summer and was initially replaced by ex-Stalybridge Celtic Manager Keith Briggs. Briggs was never to take charge of the club in a competitive fixture as just weeks after his appointment he accepted a coaching role at Sheffield United and his Assistant Andy Fearn took over the reigns.

Fearn was to remain in post for just a few months when, after losing every game while he was in charge, he resigned from the job. Former Glossop North End Manager Garry Brown took over, bringing his assistant Paul Williams with him. Although they had enjoyed success at Wythenshawe Town the previous season they were unable to change the Millers form and New Mills AFC hit the headlines in national press for all the wrong reasons. The club were winless in their 42 league matches that season, and mustered just three draws along the way which gained national media attention.

The club found themselves back in the North West Counties League for the 2016/17 season and were keen to renew acquaintances with some old friends. Although there were signs of improvement Brown left his role early in the season, with Paul Williams taking over as Manager. Williams was unsuccessful in making the step up from Assistant Manager and he was to leave the club just before Christmas in 2016.

After considerable changes in personnel in recent times, the Committee looked to add some stability to the club and were successful in appointing Calum Sykes to the Management position. Sykes had previously worked at Glossop North End and newly formed club Stockport Town, whom he had guided to the North West Counties League Division One play-offs the previous season. Sykes was able to clinch the signings of a number of players that he had worked with at previous clubs giving the club solid foundations to build from moving forwards.

Although home form was good at the latter end of 2016/17, away form remained disappointing and the club were relegated from the Premier Division, but with many of the playing squad remaining at the club and several new committee members in place, the club remained positive going into the 2017/18 season. Unfortunately things didn't go to plan and Sykes resigned in November 2017, replaced by Nick Dowse and Gareth Cross. The managerial duo steadied the ship for a period before Dowse stepped down 12 months later to be replaced by Anthony Trucca. After narrowly avoiding relegation from the North West Counties Football League in 2018/19 the Committee were forced to take action and appointed Paul Riley as Manager.

Riley's reign got off to a terrible start in 2019/20 as the club lost every game under his stewardship and before the end of August he was replaced by the team of Dave Birch and Mike Norton as joint-Managers. Both non-league legends in the Manchester area, Birch and Norton bought an immediate improvement in results and performances, and the club began to move up the table. Indeed by the time the season was curtailed by the Covid-19 outbreak The Millers were one of the form sides in the division and supporters were left to wonder how things may have gone had their side avoided the awful start to the campaign. A fine run in the Derbyshire Senior Cup saw Norton and Birch’s side reach the semi-finals knocking out Ilkeston Town and Derby County along the way, before they were narrowly edged out by Belper Town away from home.

The Millers management team have retained the majority of their 2019/2020 players with a few exciting additions and with a young vibrant squad in place it is hoped that 2020/21 will see their side challenging at the top end of the table once again.

In March 2020 New Mills AFC became New Mills Football Club, as the club changed entity to become a Company Limited by Guarantee