Wednesday 20th July 2011
Before John Stones became an established England international and Premier League title-winning defender with Manchester City, there was a time when he was just another youngster learning his trade.
On the books at Barnsley alongside team-mates such as Danny Rose, Kurtis Turner, Rueben Noble-Lazarus (who was perceived to be the next 'big thing' by many but didn't actually feature in this match), Paul Digby, Sam Patterson and Brad Abbott, the Reds' youngsters were all in need of exposure to men's football - therefore, this pre-season game at Frickley Athletic was arranged for that very reason.
At the time, Frickley were in the Evo-Stik Premier Division (Step 3). Then-manager Peter Rinkcavage had assembled a squad with some decent experience in the shape of Danny Walsh, Michael Simpkins, James Ashmore and Stuart Ludlum to compliment some younger lads who'd been recruited that summer including former Doncaster Rovers trio Chaz Fisher, Brad Grayson and Jordan Bradshaw.
Nobody inside Westfield Lane (or the Tech5 Stadium as it was known for sponsorship reasons) on what was a muggy summer's evening probably anticipated that a future England star was appearing before their eyes - especially as Frickley won 1-0 thanks to a strike by Grayson who beat Reds 'keeper Lukas Lidakevicius with a shot from a tight angle just past the half-hour mark.
Barnsley, despite their inexperience, weren't a bad side by any means and went close to scoring on a few occasions with Rose having a shot blocked on the line by Lincoln Adams, whilst Bradshaw (appearing as a substitute for the last 20 minutes) made a point blank save to deny Rhys Oates what would have been a certain equaliser. However, it could easily have also been a much greater scoreline with Ollie Ryan squandering a number of first half opportunities, Walsh also going close just before the interval, and Jack Watts only being denied a late goal courtesy of a well-timed challenge by Jake Scott.
The match report is still available to read here on Frickley's website and although John Stones doesn't get a specific mention, he does appear in a number of the photos taken by myself that night (see below).
Whilst the central defender went on to put this night firmly behind him and eventually compete at the very highest level, his old team-mates who also featured have enjoyed more modest careers.
Danny Rose and Paul Digby are currently playing in the Football League following a short spell together several years later at Mansfield Town, whilst midfielder Kurtis Turner recently turned out for Penistone Church in the Yorkshire Trophy following spells in America and closer to home at Stocksbridge Park Steels. Brad Abbott has just moved into the National League North with Spennymoor Town, whilst Brad Kilburn was at Parkgate during the 2020/21 season. The Lithuanian 'keeper, Lukas Lidakevicius, went on to play for East Thurrock United amongst other clubs; Sam Patterson had a spell at Altrincham a few years ago, and McCauley Shilito (what a name!) went into coaching in Barnsley's academy.
The players who appeared for Frickley were as follows: Lawrence Matthewson (Jordan Bradshaw), Gavin Smith (Chaz Fisher), James Kay, Danny Walsh, Lincoln Adams, Dean Jones (Michael Simpkins), Lee Bennett (Ben Leonard), James Ashmore (Alex Callery), Brad Grayson (Jack Watts), Ollie Ryan (Ashley Longstaff), Teo Ringrose (Mark Whitehouse).