Celebrating History – Carlton Class of 96/10

Today I’m looking at something a bit more close to home for me and a very special era for the club I not only support, but also love. Non League history doesn’t get the spotlight it deserves, unless you have a run in the FA Cup. History makes a football club the entity that it is and is even more vital in attracting fans to follow them, which in Carlton’s case, is what this article is about. It runs alongside Carlton’s afternoon event on June 24th to celebrate everything Manager Tommy Brookbanks, his backroom staff, his players and his academy achieved during that time.

Tommy started playing for Sneinton when he was 28, Roger Smith was Chairman, Bill was Vice Chairman and of course Paul Shelton was Club Secretary. In his first season the team won Notts Alliance Division 1 and in his second they won promotion from the Alliance Premier. Tommy then transitioned to manager alongside Neil Cooper, winning promotion from Central Midlands 1. A problem struck which most people reading this article will never come across, a lack of floodlights. Enter Mick Garton, who  provided funds to install floodlights and again Tommy came close to promotion, finishing runners up to Garforth who had earlier won a six pointer against the club to deny us the title.

The following season Promotion came with ease as the squad won with games to spare and we reached the Northern Premier. The squad was packed with quality that season, attackers Daryl Thomas, Phil Bignall and Steve Chaplin. The midfield was much the same with Martin Ball, Dean Gent, Joe Irons and Aidan Brady. A rock solid defence including Grant Brindley, Dave Jepson, Dan Fletcher, Dan Cane, Don Thomas and Ian White with Steve Brealey in goal. That squad won promotion again, getting revenge over Garforth with a 2-0 away win, which also denied them promotion. We then had a solid season in the Unibond, reaching the play-offs but losing to Stocksbridge Park Steels courtesy of the now slightly more well known Jamie Vardy.

This journey was an incredible time for the club and so many people contributed to its success. Daryl Claypole was one of those people, king of the youth academy, bringing through players who played for the first team with some moving on and further up the ladder. Along with Ian Spencer and Kevin Randall amongst others, they went on to reach legendary status by winning a major trophy in Holland – The Harlem Cup – with the likes of the young Martin Ball and Gent.

As Tommy admits. there are too many people to name as so many contributed to these fantastic achievements. Gary Stones, Tommy’s final assistant, the Jepson Family, Brian Franks and of course all the talented players that were with the club on this Journey. I asked Tommy who he felt his best player was across that time; “ I go back to that forward line of Thomas Bignall and Chaplin, also players such as Simon Newell, Martin Ball, Dean Gent, Joe Irons, Whitey, my own brother John but the list is endless. The one that has always stood out for me was Dicko.  Mark could do everything but tackle. Right foot or left foot, he would score goals from anywhere and go past people for fun. What a player.”

Tommy added “Looking forward to seeing everyone on the day including the King of Carlton, Mick Garton. I’m sure he’s put his prices up especially! We’ve been asked so many times when are we going to have a get together, well this is now the right time!” The event takes place at Stoke Lane on June 24th afternoon and the prices haven’t been raised. It runs alongside the CTFC Annual Beer and Sausage Festival so the day will be merry to say the least.

As Press Officer at the club for just over a year now, this history and era got the club to where it is today. It forged a family and despite coming and going, it remains every year. You cannot help but notice how important this time period was to the club with the pictures splashed throughout the clubhouse and boardroom. The feel for the club and the stories passed around make the club great to be around. The evening will be brilliant for those that were with the club then or who are with Carlton now.

History may be in the past but it is very much still present everyday at Carlton. Come on you Millers!


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