Result: Selby Town 2-4 Dronfield Town (Northern Counties East League Division 1)
Venue: Flaxley Road Ground (Saturday 23rd January 2016, 3pm)
After an illness enforced week off the prior weekend from the groundhopping game, it was back to normality (or otherwise, if you think sanely) with a trip to….well an undecided location. For most of the month I was planning on heading up to Clitheroe, until replacement buses put paid to that idea. So to the trusty draw tub I looked and eventually the decision was made. The team remaining in was Selby Town of the Northern Counties East League Division 1 and so to the Robins’ ground it was.
Heading through Manchester via the usual methods, I eventually took a seat upon the Transpennine service towards Hull, turning down a table seat (and plug socket) due to a sticky table top, which is something I’ve learnt to always steer clear of because you never know. After Mark the conductor had thoroughly checked my ticket and railcard as I must appear the type who pays the best part of £18 to go to Selby but try to get off with paying the extra, we began to pick up the pace toward Yorkshire.
After heading through Stalybridge, where everyone (and I mean everyone) who got off headed into the Buffet Bar and the usual West Yorkshire stations, we passed through Garforth and I spotted, not just the one, but two grounds as Garforth Rangers’ home flashed past the windows sitting right alongside the line. One for another day perhaps? Who knows, but for now it was Selby and I disembarked at the station and headed towards the river to see what the area was like around there.
Not up to much was my assertion of the above and I was put off one pub by a guy having a cigarette outside blaring out “I’m a One Man Band” to someone on the opposite side of the road. Soon enough though, I was passing by the famed Selby Abbey and heading into the town centre where I found my first stop of the day, the Londesborough Hotel, which dates from the 15th century no less.
Carrying on the history theme, Selby also has a claim to royal fame. Henry I was born in the town during a visit by the monarch and his wife, Queen Matilda, apparently to the Abbey. The Abbey also has a stained glass window to the Washington family with the stars and stripes design said to be the inspiration for the flag of the USA. The town was also the scene of a battle in the Civil War. It also has an amphitheatre (sort of).
Through necessity I imagine, it’s rather more modern now but it still is a nice place to spend a while in. The place was rather full too with brunches being eaten alongside beverages being downed. After hearing of good things about Punk IPA, especially from Gibbo who raves about the thing on a regular basis, I decided to break my duck and have a try. It’s not bad, but nothing I’ll start to hammer away on!
After watching some of the Norwich-Liverpool game, but contriving to miss the first two Norwich goals while doing so, I headed down the Main Street and had a choice. The Cricketers’ Arms or the New Inn. I took a punt on how they looked from the outside and headed for the more interesting Cricketers. It’s certainly different inside, with tables laid out almost exclusively along the back wall and with cricket kit and pictures adorning the walls. Sadly, no football in here, so I quickly downed my Samuel Smith’s lager and headed back into Selby.
As I continued on down the high street and towards the ground it looked more unlikely I’d find the game anywhere else, so I gave best and plumped for a safe bet next. This safe haven was to be The Giant Bellflower, which I think is a great name, the town’s Wetherspoons. The Bellflower is quite a narrow, smallish ‘Spoons and has the usual assortment you’d expect. I took advantage of the 2-for-£5 Desperado’s and waited out some time here, while following the action at Carrow Road via the medium of social media.
Eventually, the combination of a week of working with slightly flu-like symptoms and the resulting tiredness, joined by alcoholic intake, began to catch up with me again and I began to feel a bit worse for wear, which is out of the ordinary prior to a game for me. But I soldiered on and got those Desperado’s down before deciding it was probably best to head to the ground early and secure a programme and the like.
After heading a further three minutes or so, I rocked up at Selby’s ground, which sits at the end of Richard Street, but is named after the more senior neighbouring Flaxley Road. After the guy at the turnstiles was quickly alerted to the fact there was a queue waiting for him, I handed over my £5 for entry and was into Flaxley Road itself. I was soon purchasing a programme for £1.5o off a group of young lads and set to finding the clubhouse.
After a quick search of the near touchline, I eventually found the door next to the turnstile. In I ventured and after heading past the hot refreshment window, found it still quite empty, with there still being 40 minutes or so to kick-off. I felt bad making use of Selby’s smart facilities and not having any drink, so I got a half of Foster’s to keep me company on the lead up to the game, as well as watching some snowboarding. I also found myself taking much notice of the wall decked in a pennant and pictures of David Beckham and Paul Scholes, amongst others, who played at Selby for a Manchester United XI a couple of months after the 1999 treble season.
After the snowboarding had been replaced by the dulcet tones of Jason Mohamed et al on the BBC, it was time to head back out for the game at hand today. Selby’s Robins were to be entertaining Dronfield Town, who currently share their town with the World’s oldest club, Sheffield FC. However, Dronfield represent the town in their own right, but still compete two levels below their temporary neighbours. As for Selby, well….
The club was formed in 1919 and became founder members of the Yorkshire League, becoming the only club to compete in each of its 62 seasons. The earlier years of the club featured much success, the first silverware coming in the form of the 1928 West Riding County Cup, with the 1930’s producing three league titles (’33, ’35’, ’36), the West Riding Challenge Cup twice (’35, ’36), the West Riding Senior Cup in 1938 and a League Cup (1938) was added to the cabinet.
The years around the war saw little success on the pitch for the Robins, with the only silverware during the 1940’s arriving in the decade’s last year. This solo West Riding County Cup, though, was followed by regular success in the ’50’s.
After a ground move early in the decade from their original Bowling Green home to Flaxley Road, the 1950’s saw two further League triumphs (’53 & ’54), two more League Cups (’54 & ’55) and saw Selby reach the FA Cup First Round on four separate occasions, with one of these ties, against Bradford Park Avenue, attracting no less than 7,000 spectators. They also managed to progress to the Second Round in 1955. But following a final Yorkshire League Cup win in 1963, trophies became hard to come by.
1982 saw the club join the NCEL, following the merger of the Yorkshire League into the new entity and in 1996, Selby won the Division One and were promoted to the Premier Division where they were to add a NCEL President’s Cup to their honours list (2001) & the 2008 Otisdale Cup. The Robins remained in the Premier Division until 2012 when they were relegated back to Division One.
The time around the relegation prompted a number of managerial changes in a rather short space of time, but eventually things settled for Selby and they are looking to progress once more. Last season, they finished up in 11th place.
Selby and Dronfield headed out of the dressing room block on the far touchline, but faced toward the turnstile/clubhouse side to shake hands, while still standing on the far side. Puzzling, yet boring in equal measure. With most of the home side’s fans congregating in the small stand which covers a small amount of the terracing at the far end, the game got underway with their team attacking that end. Dronfield, meanwhile, were attacking the “Main” Stand end where an old stand sits, numbering three rows of wooden seating, some more modern seats and a little terracing too, with ‘Selby Town FC’ emblazoned along the rear wall.
As for me, I headed on an early lap, heading past the small bit of terrace near the turnstile and onwards into the “Main” Stand. With very little early action, I continued onwards and round to the far end, where a segregation gate stopped me in my tracks and forced me back round. But this wasn’t all bad as I was making my way round to meet with Elliot who runs the Selby Town twitter on match days. The Selby flag was to be my destination.
After a quick pit stop, I headed back out of the clubhouse just in time to see Dronfield’s Tom Fairweather tap the ball in from a couple of yards. Timing is everything, they say! 0-1, but this setback for the home side did aid me in finding Elliot in the small stand. The typing away on phones usually gives “twitterers” away! I have to say now that I think I was more hindrance than help during the rest of the first half to Elliot’s match report, especially with my drunk-tired state, so I can only apologise as I doubt much sense was being said either!
But the half was to end on a positive note for the Robins as a ball through the middle found its way to the feet of the advancing Danny Bunch and the midfielder coolly stroked the ball beyond the Dronfield ‘keeper to level the scores and upon resumption of the game, the ref blew for the break. 1-1 and it was to the clubhouse but this time for food only. A plate of chips was ordered for the cheap price of £1.30 and though you don’t get loads, they are fresh and piping hot, so definitely keep you going and stave off hypothermia.
After Elliot had gone off on a quest to sell off some Selby merchandise to add to his already substantial list of jobs, it was time to head back out for round two. With the game well placed and little between the two sides during the first half, anyone could go on to win it and with me being promised that Selby were better attacking the “Main” Stand, there should have been one winner. But then….
The second half was definitely more entertaining than the first, as is common at this level of football I find, and both sides had a number of chances but it wasn’t until the 75th minute that a side doubled their score. That side was Dronfield and it was Fairweather again who doubled his own tally.
But just as they’d finished celebrating, Selby were level once more. The Robins kicked off, got the ball out to Bunch who drove expertly inside the far post to level the game once more. This prompted one guy who shouted “Come on Selby” quite frequently to do so even more regularly!
But that was as good as it got for the home side, as despite looking the stronger towards the end, they went on to concede two late goals. Firstly, a right wing corner was poorly defended and the ball was nodded in at the back post by Joe Butler, who hardly celebrated, maybe due to remembering what happened just prior, but the game was made safe with the last kick of the game in dubious circumstances. Callum Mawbey unleashed a wicked drive that crashed back off the underside of the bar. Neither ref nor linesman were in position to judge it had gone in, but the ref decided he might as well award it and give everyone another goal to witness. 2-4, game over.
So, I bid goodbye to Elliot and headed back to the train station for my return trip. After a short wait I was soon on board, this time with a table seat, despite having to slightly disrupt a lady’s own trip my ruining her immediate view with my mug. Apologies again! Happily for her, she only had to endure it to Leeds, and I was half asleep until Stalybridge anyway which helped the journey pass a lot faster than it had on the way, for sure!
Then on arrival into a soggy Mancunian evening for the second trip in succession and just as after the West Ham trip when I got back into a wet city centre, my connections went much better than expected, meaning I was able to catch my train home an hour later than I should have managed and thus a good day was improved markedly.
In summary then, it was a pretty decent day. A good little town, a good game with six goals can’t be sniffed at. In addition to that, the club itself at Selby seems a great little one and thanks to Elliot for the Selby Town sticker that I’d forgot about until I wrote these very words! On Dronfield, they look a good side and better than their table position suggests. Thanks all, and it’s onto another mystery destination next week!….
Game: 7- Slow start, livened up markedly during the later period.
Ground: 8- A small, simple ground but one that endeared itself to me.
Fans: 7- I especially liked the “Come on Selby” guy.
Food: 7- Small portion (but cheap therefore), but hot and tasty too.
Programme: 5- Only a simple production, not too much to it, though I did like the history articles, which helped in certain parts here!
Value For Money: 7- A good day on the whole, but ended a bit pricey!