Manchopper in….Athersley

Result: Athersley Recreation 0-5 West Didsbury & Chorlton (FA Cup Extra-Preliminary Round)

Venue: Sheerien Park (Saturday 5th August 2017, 3pm)

Att: 113

For the second straight year, my season would get underway on the way to Wembley. Yes the FA Cup was again getting a number of non-league sides’ campaigns underway and I would be watching one clash that pit the two old Roses together, namely Barnsley’s Athersley Recreation & Manchester’s West Didsbury & Chorlton, if you’re willing to put the current county boundaries aside!

Hitching a ride upon West’s coach (for a £10 charge), I was joined by Cappy who has featured a few times on these pages now – none-more-so than in the Berwick trip a couple of seasons back – and his son Oliver. Also present were a number of the travelling West supporters including one “Barca Jim”, an exiled Scotsman with Celtic tendencies. Under his guidance, we were dropped off by the coach within central Barnsley, not far from a fine row of outlets that offered Taco Bell and KFC alongside a British Heart Foundation charity shop. Ah, the subtle warnings.

Barnsley

Old No.7

As the team headed onwards to the ground, so we headed for the pub, with Barnsley native Josh being designated guide. First up was the Old No.7 and what a place this was! Unfortunately, I was still suffering some effects from the Test Match day out the day before (at least that’s what I’m putting it down to) and so decided to be somewhat sensible and have just the one Yorkshire Cider in here. Whilst in here, Cappy also got into an interesting conversation with a guy (whose name escapes me sadly), who regaled us with tales from the miners’ strikes, through his times watching Barnsley and playing, albeit briefly, for Emley. A real interesting fella to talk to and a fine way to pass the time here.

Upon the close of his story about the Dickie Bird statue and the numerous things presented upon his erected finger, it was time to head out and over to the Wetherspoons. The other members of the crew (bar Bolton fan Elliot, who remained behind with us) left just before us as Cappy finished up his 3 1/3rd pints, before we too joined them next door. It was a good job he had too as he was soon to be royally disappointed by the lack of real ale within the ‘Spoons, whilst I settled upon a Punk IPA (shocker), I know, courtesy of Elliot’s cash.

‘Spoons

Myself, Oliver & Cappy with the Cup (not real)

After a short spell outside in the small beer garden, with West fan Matt trying desperately to frame Barca Jim with his tin-foil FA Cup, time was quickly approaching kick-off and so taxis were ordered to take us up. Three of them, no less. After finishing up (though Elliot was told he couldn’t drink outside as we waited, despite a table and chairs being readily available there) and getting in ours, it soon became apparent the driver had no idea what an Athersley was, nor where it is, despite driving a cab in Barnsley. Having pointed him in the right direction via the medium of technology, we were soon en route and arrived at the ground with minutes to spare. It’s not a cheap do at £9 for a fifteen minute journey though!

Hmmmm…

After heading down the sign-posted access lane towards Sheerien Park, we were greeted with a handshake by a Liverpudlian welcoming us to “The Rec”. Cappy commented how this was the first time he’d ever been welcomed to a ground in such a way and, after a quick check in my remaining memory, I concurred. A nice touch and it seems this happens for everyone, so god knows how he’d cope if Athersley ever get a fair way!

Anyway, after paying my £5 entrance fee, it was into Sheerien Park, though sadly programme-less at this point due to lack of numbers/too many in attendance (though we were given an e-mailed copy during the week). Programmes aren’t a huge be-all and end-all to me, but I do like to get one where possible and definitely at my opening game, so thanks to Athersley for doing this.

Arriving at the Rec

Aquaforce lives on!

Sheerien Park is a smart little ground, hosting three stands. The stand behind the goal is covered seating, with the near touch-line hosting a covered standing area (which I term the Ryan White stand due to the 1,000-game veteran having a nice “mural” at the rear, along with a small stand combining both seating and standing, which proudly states it houses the “Rec-in Crew”. By the way, they love that pun here. The rest of the ground is open, hard standing and there is affair amount of space at the far end for possible further extensions. There is also a further barred off pitch at the far side of the ground from which you enter, but I don’t know to which level it’s used. All facilities stand behind the near-end goal, alongside the seating stand, with the tea hut and bar located through a gate in the fence. There is also a press box, though this is a shed.

Not too long after our arrival, the players were making their way onto the field and we were all set to go in the 2017-’18 season and the FA Cup. But, before we get to the contest at hand, here’s a little back story about the Penguins of Athersley Recreation…

History Lesson:

Athersley Recreation FC was founded in 1979 as Athersley North Juniors, initially competing in the Barnsley Nelson League. After promotion in 1984 saw the club rise from Division 2 to Division 1, as runners-up placing in 1985 saw the club switch to the Barnsley Junior League for 1895-’86, finishing their first season here in Division 2 in third place and earning promotion to Division 1.

Ryan White. Longevity.

Renamed as Athersley Recreation in 1986, the club would go on to win the that season’s Barnsley Junior League Division 1 title and went on to join the Barnsley Association League’s Division 1, finishing runners-up and winning promotion at the close of their first season at that level. Back-to-back BAL Premier Division titles would follow in 1992 & ’93, followed by a further hat-trick of titles between ’95 &’97. After the latter of these title successes, the club would take a further step up to join the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League for the ’97-’98 season.

Winning the league’s Division 2 & League Cup in their first season, Athersley’s swift rise continued with a further promotion the next season as Division 1 runners-up and then a league title at the end of their first season in the Sheffield & Hallamshire’s Premier Division (2000). A second title would not arrive until 2004, but this would be a springboard for the Rec into more success, taking the title a further four times over the next eight seasons (’05, ’07, ’09, ’12), with the latter providing the club with a move into the pyramid system and the Northern Counties East League. They also added a further two League Cups during this period – these arriving in 2006 & 2009 respectively – and a Sheffield & Hallamshire Association Cup in 2008.

ARFC

Playing in Division 1 of the NCEL, the Penguins had yet another successful first season, ending the season as runners-up and earning an immediate promotion to the Premier Division. This also gave the club more chances to compete in FA competitions, making their Vase bow in 2013-’14 and the FA Cup a year later. The club also lifted their first Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup silverware in 2014, defeating Frickley Athletic of the NPL Premier Division at Hillsborough. Last season saw Athersley end up in a solid 10th place in the NCEL Prem.

Teams are out

The game got underway with both sides looking to steal on early march on their opponents. However, West soon got into their stride and deservedly took the lead. After forcing a corner, the resultant ball was headed against the upright, the rebound seeing the Athersley ‘keeper pull off a fine save, only to end up luckless as the ball fell to Kev McGrath at the back post, the centre-half sliding the ball home.

Athersley, though, could have levelled almost immediately. A poor ball in the midfield saw the home side gain possession and release Jack Briscoe, but the striker could only find the woodwork with only the ‘keeper to beat, the ball eventually finding its way into the visiting gloveman’s grateful hands. You felt that was a chance to grab the initiative, and this was soon to be taken, unquestionably, by the hummous-promoting visitors.

Manager’s view

View from the ‘Ryan White’ Stand

Match Action

With twenty minutes played, the Penguins were the architects of their own downfall, as a mix-up at the back between ‘keeper and centre-half just outside the area allowed Tom Bailey to nip-in and lift the ball over the stranded home custodian and into the net for 0-2 and what looked to be game over, even at that early stage. West’s passage into the next round was almost sealed a few minutes later, but the impressive winger Carlos Mendes-Gomez was denied by a fine save by Ellis Halpine.

Athersley did begin to come into the game a little more as the half wore on, a couple of flash points seeming to serve to fire them up a bit. But, there was little to threaten the West goal and the half-time whistle went to signal a trip for some chips which, for £1.50, weren’t too bad. A further bonus was to actually be able to use the park benches flanking the bar, with the sun now shining unabated in this part of Yorkshire.

Halpine continued to keep his side in the contest at the start of the first half, pulling off another great stop to deny Nic Evangelinos, but the winger wouldn’t be denied his goal and curled a fine effort into the corner a couple of minutes later. A fourth followed just before the hour, newly introduced sub Joe Shaw drifting an effort across Halpine and into the far corner and that was that in terms of the result. But it certainly wasn’t in terms of the action.

Match Action

Match Action

Down the line

To their credit, Athersley didn’t quit and Jason Paling’s rocket effort brought the best out of West’s Aaron Ashley who tipped the ball onto the crossbar whilst completely airborne. Then came the controversial moment in the tie as West skipper Mark Rogers saw a needless red following a pretty poor challenge. I didn’t see the actual incident that led to the red (nice Wenger), though I did hear a “headbutt” was the reason and this, via the grapevine, was confirmed!

A couple of further home chances came and went but, with 10 minutes left, it would still be the visitors who would add further gloss to the score-line, Bailey taking advantage of the Athersley defender’s misjudgment of a header to acrobatically fire beyond Halpine and into the net for five. Cappy was very pleased with himself for getting this goal on camera, though the score was very harsh on the ‘keeper who’d had a fine game, underlined by his late save to deny Evangelinos when one-on-one. Any fire was now out of Athersley and the time wound down to signal West’s progression to the Preliminary Round in an impressive display.

West celebrate their fifth

The triumphant West support

A quick drink from ‘The Rec Inn’ was had after the game before it was back to the coach for the journey back to Manchester and onwards home. The journey was sound-tracked by numerous karaoke renditions from the back of the bus, with Aaron Ashley’s version of James Blunt’s “Wise Men” going down extremely well, despite initial reservations and insults from those in attendance. A good day for him!

All in all then, it was a pretty decent day, if I ignore the first hour. A good game, a nice ground and a good atmosphere within the visiting clan. Next up is the beginning of the quest to add to the ’92’ before my railcard gives up the ghost. The spectre of time is forever looming….

RATINGS:

 

Game: 7

Ground: 6

Food: 5

Programme: 5

Value For Money: 7

 

Manchopper in….Garforth

GarforthTown Retford

Result: Garforth Town 1-4 Retford United (NCEL Premier Division)

Venue: Cedar Ridge (Saturday 30th January 2016, 3pm)

Att:91

A day which began with myself intending to head into Cheshire instead saw me, once again, travelling over the Pennines and almost immediately regretting the decision. No, not because of the place I stress but…well, we’ll come to it later. As it was, my initial choice of Poynton bit the dust and so it was to my back up game: Garforth Town vs Retford United.

The game was my reserve on the basis that Garforth had been involved in goal gluts of late and so were likely (I hoped) to serve up more. It also happened that LostBoyo’s Matt and Gibbo of his own blog persuasion were due to watch the same game and, of course, everything else that comes with it. So at around 10.20am I was heading through to Manchester and onwards from Oxford Road. Oxford Road did treat me and the other 50 or so people at the station to the show of someone being arrested and pinned down for well more than a three count. Classy.

Eventually, my train arrived and I was headed towards the White Rose county once more and for the second in what is seemingly odds on to become a hat-trick of visits to Yorkshire. An uneventful journey was lit up by the fact that we skirted around and above a small town near Huddersfield that was being doused in a rain shower, whilst we weren’t, despite being a matter of meters away. Quite incredible, I’m sure you’ll all agree. What do you mean no?! *mumbles*

Alas the rain did catch up with us as the rattler arrived into Huddersfield and stayed with us until we passed out of Dewsbury where it was plain sailing onwards to Garforth. Upon exiting the station, it was back over the footbridge and onwards down the street towards the town centre. First stop was the Lord Gascoigne, a Hungry Horse institution which shows just how highly Paul is regarded in these parts, never mind Socrates or even Lee Sharpe!

They love Paul here

They love Paul here

Town badge in the Horse

Town badge in the Horse

Upon arriving, I purchased a Kopparberg (of the mixed fruit variety of course) and contacted Matt to see when and how they’d be arriving in Garforth, only to discover they were already there and in a pub on the high street by the name of the Newmarket Inn. So, I quickly downed the genius Swedish cider and headed out into the fresh Garforth air. It was only now I was to experience the wintry conditions that were to plague the day as I looked down the road and saw rain heading straight towards me. This quickly became hail and I was relieved that it stopped pretty rapidly and allowed me to figure out where the Newmarket was.

Now located, I headed into the Newmarket (unsurprisingly, the sign has a racehorse on it) where I found Matt, Joe and Bolton fan Dan, who probably regretted joining the ranks for this one by the end of it. After a further five minutes and a downed Desperado, we headed back towards the station and to the Miners, in a precursor to the team we were to watch in a little over a couple of hours time. The Miners’ was probably trying to be the “upmarket” bar in the town, and thus I went all Champions’ League circa-early 2000’s and ordered an Amstel.

Garforth

Sunny Garforth

Town Centre signage

Town Centre signage

After a test of obscure Swansea and Bolton players that hardly anyone will remember outside of supporters of both respective clubs and now joined by Tom and Dan who’d also been present in the Swansea end of the United game, we headed back to the Paul and watched the remainder of the FA Cup tie between Colchester and Spurs. Now, this was all going well and good until the weather turned a touch nasty and started snowing sideways. Cue pessimistic me predicting “Match Off” to come over the airwaves in the not too distant future.

Luckily, no such message ever arrived (nor was it ever really in any danger of doing so) and we headed, en masse, back to the station where we got a cab to the ground for the pretty hefty price I thought, considering the journey, £4.50. Anyway, not to worry, we’d arrived at the Miners’ home at Cedar Ridge, with it’s one major stand looming over the rest of the ground like Godzilla over Tokyo.

With the wind still bracing, we headed into the clubhouse, where Tom and I decided to take full advantage of the 5 bottles of Kronenberg for £10. With these shared out amongst us (Matt exempt), we remained in here until it was time to brave the outside world once again for the Northern Counties East Premier Division clash. With programme already in hand, due to the seller coming around the clubhouse and selling his stash, it was straight through the turnstile (not for free, of course) and into Garforth Town’s home. For me, it was a fourth visit, don’t know if I mentioned that during the day, did I? Maybe once…

GTFC

GTFC

Clubhouse

Clubhouse

Info

Info

Upon seeing both sides, Gibbo was rather excited by the fact that both clubs were wearing the colours of the two Atherton sides and thus was supporting Retford, or “Colls” as they became for 5 minutes. For me, it was a fourth visit, don’t know if I mentioned that during the day, did I? Maybe once…

Anyway, Cedar Ridge is a strange ground in some ways. The other three parts of the ground, the far touchline and two ends, are pretty much all open, hard standing bar a little plastic roof suspended behind one of the goals, providing a little cover. Then comes the Main Stand which towers over all around it and offers raised seating, with a bit of terracing to the bottom of it, on either side of the tunnel and dugouts. Up here is where the club’s video-man (is that even a term?) braves all weather’s and today was no different. He must be mad! As for Garforth Town, well….

History Lesson:

Garforth Town FC was founded in 1964 as the Miners Arms. After initially playing outside the town, the club acquired land on Brierlands Lane in 1976 and began to compete in the West Yorkshire League. In 1978, the club had to change its name, choosing Garforth Miners and were elected to the Yorkshire League, with pub teams not being allowed in. The Miners won promotion from Division 3 in 1980 and joined the newly formed Northern Counties East League in 1982.

Placed in the Division 1 North, Garforth went on to change their name to their current title in 1985 and were placed in Division 2 after a league reshuffle and won promotion at the first attempt. In 1987, Garforth reached the FA Vase 6th Round, losing out to Collier Row (now Romford).

During the 1990’s, the club featured a number of ex-players from Leeds United and Andy Morrell also featured before going on to Wrexham. 1999 saw Town sell Andy Watson to Doncaster Rovers for a pricey £25,000! On the pitch, Garforth won the NCEL Trophy in 1997 & remained in Division 1 until 1998 when they won the title and were promoted to the Premier Division.

Cedar Ridge

Cedar Ridge

That same year saw the Miners move to their current ground at Cedar Ridge and the club won a pair of West Riding cups in the 1998 & ’99. 2000 saw Garforth win the NCEL Cup and 2002 saw the club finish bottom of the league, but they were reprieved as Denaby United folded. The next season, though, saw relegation suffered. Simon Clifford arrived and bought the club in 2003, becoming manager too in 2005 and bringing the likes of Socrates, Careca and Lee Sharpe to the club, the former in relation to the Brazilian themed businesses and footballing links Clifford had attained.

2007 saw the club reach the Northern Premier League via a fourth placed finish, as the Northern League (surprisingly!) refused promotion. Not long after his “Clean Sheet” team talk on the pitch at Trafford (that went down in infamy with me and my mate Dan), Clifford stepped down in 2009, but the club did win a third West Riding Cup, adding a fourth the next season, after Paul Gascoigne was to take over in 2010, but apparently decided against it with the team at Mossley.

The covered terrace was constructed in 2011 (known as the Strawberry End, as the field behind is used to grow the fruit) and in 2012, Town reached the NPL Division 1 North play-offs, but lost out to Curzon Ashton on penalties. After Rupert Lowe and Clifford came together to run the club on and off the pitch, through 2013, the club had a miserable season and dropped back to the NCEL. Last season saw the club finish in 14th place in the NCEL Premier Division and the current manager, Adie Costello, took over in October upon the former manager’s departure.

The Strawberry End (the field behind is a field of the fruit

The Strawberry End

Kick-off

Kick-off

The game got underway and may as well have had a half-hour first half, because we didn’t see the last 15 as a bloody arctic crosswind came through blowing snow sideways once more, straight into the face of the Retford ‘keeper who was determined to keep his cap on regardless of the fact there was no sun to blight his view and I doubt it helped much with the snow.

Match action wise, the deadlock was broken within the first five minutes, Retford skipper Adam Lee poking in from a few yards. After this, we went on a lap of the ground, where Matt gained the attention of the youth section of the Garforth support, who proceeded to serenade him with a “No Flat Cap, No Party” chant and a “sign him up” after a delicate chip. Not so complimentary to the other kick which bounced off the railing and down the far end though!

Apparently, according to a few of our contingent, a corner for Garforth appeared to cross the line before being cleared, though I have no recollection of this at all. None. Which is, in fact, just as much of a view we all had of Retford’s second. All sheltering from the storm behind the stand’s far side, we heard a small cheer through the wind’s roar, though no-one really cared about missing it, just avoiding being blown into the next field. For what it’s worth, it was an own-goal.

Braving the elements from the stand

Braving the elements from the stand

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

After a few of us had braved the stand, there was still time for Garforth to gain a foothold in the game, as the dangerous, powerful striker Spencer Lund received the ball on the edge of the area and placed his effort beyond the, still cap-wearing ‘keeper. Not too long afterwards, the ref allowed mass relief to flow over the 91 hardy souls in attendance, who all rushed for cover in the old “Bar Mineiros” a hark-back to the Brazilian Simon Clifford-themed days.

After a stop off at the food trailer, where the price of chips & curry was priced at £2.80, but ended up at £3.60 somehow (give it a miss is my tip if that’s going on) it was to the clubhouse to eat my massively overpriced dining extravaganza. It was ok, but it wasn’t bloody Michelin-starred cuisine! £3.60, tut, tut. Still in a bit of a huff, I left the guys to finish their drinks and headed back out on my lonesome to the sounds of cheers. Luckily, it wasn’t another missed goal. Well it was, but it was chalked off for offside and Retford had to wait for their third.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

The fourth goes in

The fourth goes in

The cap's still on!

The cap’s still on!

During the second period, our numbers were swelled by the arrival of Paul Brockett too, as Garforth seemed to be the place to be on this afternoon. Paul had been at an early kick-off in a local league (at Aberford, if I remember right) and had headed to Cedar Ridge for the second period. With most of us back out at pitch side, bar Tom and Dan who’d remained inside and I think stayed there for the rest of the game, we witnessed the Badgers add two further goals to their tally. First, Gareth Campion managed to manoeuvre a flick into the net, before they were awarded a penalty late on and Lee added his second of the day.

There was to be no further addition to the score-line and so  the Badgers were left to celebrate an impressive win against a Garforth side who’ve shipped a large number of goals of late, though they weren’t three goals worse off than Retford in this game, performance wise. But still, the scoreboard doesn’t lie and it must be a concern. As for us, our only concern was getting back to the bar and after a quick final drink and a catch up of the scores, Matt, Joe, Dan and I headed back to the station, where I bid goodbye to the lads and headed back into Leeds for my train back to Manchester.

After boarding my train and travelling into Dewsbury, it struck me soon after that we hadn’t seemed to have stopped in Huddersfield. I figured, though, we must be near Stalybridge as I noted that we were passing by Guide Bridge, 10 minutes from Piccadilly. Fell asleep for the second week in succession on the train home. I feel a Matt-inspired faux pas coming at some point. Keep me away from Cammell Laird!

Unfortunately, my luck of late with connections deserted me on this night and I was left with the best part of an hour to waste in Manchester. Not wanting to drink any more on the night, I headed straight over to Oxford Road and waited out the 40 minutes in the waiting room, taking advantage of the plug holes and reading up on the programme, which is a pretty decent issue for £1.50. Some good articles in there. Eventually, I was on the train back home and was back in time to watch Take Me Out with a ready meal. This is life!!…

DSC01489

RATINGS:

Game: 7- An extra point for the teams considering the conditions!

Ground: 6- It’s a nice ground and facilities are good, but lacks bar the stand.

Food: 4- Not happy with the price. Did you guess?

Programme: 7- As I said, a pretty good read, with some good articles.

Fans: 6- Not much in terms of atmosphere, but the youths gave Matt some friendly (I think) stick.

Value For Money: 6- About £13 travel, £25 at the ground all in (approx.). Decent game, just bloody cold!

 

 

Manchopper in….Selby

1308328447_originaldronfieldtownfc-thumb-549790

Result: Selby Town 2-4 Dronfield Town (Northern Counties East League Division 1)

Venue: Flaxley Road Ground (Saturday 23rd January 2016, 3pm)

Att: 72

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.

Selby Abbey

Selby Abbey

Selby, probably overdoing Christmas now

Selby, probably overdoing Christmas now

The Londesborough Hotel

The Londesborough Hotel

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.

The Giant Bellflower

The Giant Bellflower

Selby Town FC

Selby Town FC

Selby Town FC

Selby Town FC

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….

History Lesson:

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.

Flaxley Road

Flaxley Road

Flaxley Road

Flaxley Road

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.

 

Today's Teams

Today’s Teams

Pre-match pleasantries

Pre-match pleasantries

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!

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

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!

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Goalmouth Scramble

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!….

Match Action

RATINGS:

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!

 

Manchopper in….Farsley (Albion Sports)

1328959064_0Bradford_Park_Avenue_logo

Result: Albion Sports 0-7 Bradford Park Avenue (West Riding County Cup 2nd Round)

Venue: Throstle Nest (Farsley Celtic) (Wednesday 28th October 2015, 7.45pm)

Att:158

After the original plans laid to visit the St Helen’s Rugby Stadium for Liverpool vs Celtic u21 fell by the wayside as it was moved to a new date and, with short notice given, a new game had to be found. I originally was planning on Warrington Town Reserves vs Halebank in the Cheshire League 2, but after seeing MattLostBoyo (if we use his twitter handle) inform the world that he was off to Albion Sports, plus the fact I thought my chosen game seemed a bit shit, I decided to join him on his trip over the Pennines.

After early rain had put the game in slight jeopardy, I set off for Manchester where I was to meet Matt in Victoria Station, where we’d catch the train towards Selby. From here, we undertook the journey, taking around an hour and 10 minutes, passing by Halifax and Bradford before pulling into New Pudsey station shortly after nightfall. After both of us suffering respective initial camera issues, we headed down the road from the station towards Farsley, safe in the knowledge that the game was definitely on.

After Matt had regaled me with Bootle FC related tales of Ronnie Moran’s family and Delta Taxis-related fights, we soon got slightly lost in the quiet suburban roads and alleyways of Farsley, before we eventually spotted a pub by the name of the Old Hall Hotel. Matt, however, wanted to have more of a look at the village high street itself, so we bypassed here and headed for the road.

First Stop of the evening

First Stop of the evening (courtesy Matt Harrison)

After heading down the far end, we headed into the Bay Horse, which was more of an old-style boozer institution. With nothing of note in here, bar the Hallowe’en decorations adorning the walls and ceiling, we headed for the New Inn. Again, there wasn’t much of note here, though I did go into full on name drop mode about the time I met….wait, that was close. So, it was off to the Old Hall, or so we intended, when we came to a democratic decision to try to Village Wine Bar. This was probably the best place in the town, if the most expensive, complete with further decorations of the dead and a “Contaminated Area”, which was a seating area separated from the bar area. I hope it wasn’t actually contaminated, as the people in there wouldn’t have stood a chance.

The New Inn

The New Inn (courtesy Matt Harrison)

Final Stop, the Village.

Final Stop, the Village. (courtesy Matt Harrison)

Before long, we headed out of here and, finally, to the Old Hall, which I’d talked Matt into and away from the clubhouse. But, alas, the punter to barmaid ratio was unfair and made service seem unlikely for the short term, so we headed out back into the Farsley night and towards the floodlit-hue which hung over the village like it was announcing the birthplace of the second coming.

After overshooting our turn, we headed back towards the correct way and headed past a sports team doing warm-ups in the park by torchlight. I suppose it may help their eyesight in games affected by fading light! Anyway, we arrived at the Throstle Nest ground shortly after and was about to head inside when Matt requested a “double thumbs-up” picture by the gates stating “Farsley AFC”. This was fine, until the gate opened and five or six guys headed out complaining they couldn’t reach the ground this way. Eventually, the gate shut and with pic taken, we heeded the advice and stayed out the ground for now and instead headed for the bar.

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In the Clubhouse (courtesy Matt Harrison)

On Entry

On Entry

Handshakes prior (courtesy Matt Harrison)

Handshakes prior (courtesy Matt Harrison)

After I made a detour to secure a programme prior to the influx of the crowds, it was back inside for a final pre-match beverage before the teams were heading out for the start and we headed for the turnstiles. After passing through them in exchange for £5, we were inside the ground, dually used by today’s home side, Albion Sports, and actual home side, Farsley Celtic. After a brief greeting to Bradford PA’s media guru, Joe Cockburn, the game was underway and so was the singing band of travelling support from Bradford.

History Lesson:

Albion Sports were founded in 1974, originally competing in the Bradford Sunday League which included reaching the National Sunday League Final on two occasions. In 2007, Albion resigned from Sunday competition to join Saturday football and in order to progress up the pyramid. Starting Saturday life in the local Telegraph & Argus League, Albion immediately had success, winning promotion and the League Cup in their first season.

Sports were elected into the West Riding Amateur League in 2008, again winning promotion straight away and joining this with further silverware, in the shape of the District Cup. 2010 saw Albion finish runners-up in the Premier Division & win the Divisional Cup & ’11 saw Sports finish as runners-up again which helped them to be elected to the Northern Counties East League for 2011/’12 season.

Terracing

Terracing

Hark Back

Hark Back

The Tigers’ time in the NCEL has been a success so far, with them missing out on promotion in their first season by a point, but achieved it the next season, gaining promotion as champions of Division 1 to the Premier Division for season 2013-’14. Last season saw Sports achieve a highly respectable 10th place.

Back onto the night’s game and after Sports hit the post in the early stages and I wiped off all the pre-game pictures from my camera, thus meaning those you see are via Matt’s, it was mostly one-way traffic. Bradford, as is their official title, dominated  the game with a strong side proving too much for their NCEL hosts. The defending champions reacting to their early wake-up call to charge into a dominant lead. First, Richard Marshall guided a 25-yard daisy cutter into the bottom corner and he added his second around 20 minutes later, firing in a low cross from six-yards.

Take it down

Take it down

World In Motion

World In Motion

Match Action

Match Action

The one-way traffic was turned around for a short time, as, firstly, Ferdinand Annor wasted a great chance and then Bradford ‘keeper Jon Stewart pulled off a great stop to thwart Albion’s Marcus Edwards, but it was 3-0 shortly afterwards as Chib Chilaka slid in. This was just before the interval and at the break Matt, who’d discovered the young lad who’d liked his picture on line wasn’t his new “stalker” and was being a lackey for the bench today, and I headed back inside and were soon met by Joe, who was taking a short relief break from his match reporting, which has proved a massive help in piecing together the night! Cheers, Joe!

Back outside 10 minutes later, the game was back underway, but I’d discovered that I’d be forced to leave before the end due to train times and with no viable alternative, I was left with next to no choice in the matter. So, I was pleading for a fourth and no sooner had I requested it, the goal duly arrived via Michael Potts close range finish. Chilaka immediately added number five a minute later, heading in, before Albion’s fight was ended with Avenue’s sixth. coming through Craig King. Upon this strike, I bid farewell to Matt and left him to watch the remainder of the game.

Farsley Illuminations

Farsley Illuminations

Avenue Fans

Avenue Fans

Just to prove it

Just to prove it

I rushed over to New Pudsey Station, almost missing the train upon arrival, as I stood on the platform labelled as “trains to Manchester” before remembering I needed the one to Leeds, which was standing opposite me! A sprint over the bridge sorted the issue and I was soon in Leeds, where I caught a train running 26 minutes late back to Manchester Oxford Road and eventually caught my last connection home.

It transpired I’d only missed one more goal. Jason St.Juste celebrated his international call-up to the St Kitts & Nevis side with a seventh BPA goal but, despite hating leaving a game early, I’d have swapped missing this any day for getting home an hour earlier and stress-free!

So, another club ticked off that I’d probably never have got round to visiting and a good evening in full all leads towards a successful trip. s always, it’s a good experience to have a day out with the Lost Boyo and meeting many of those in his entourage! As for Albion Sports, they are a well-run club to my eye and, without wishing to sound disrespectful, I have to say it seemed much better ran than I was expecting, so fair play to all involved. Their side seems decent, but there was a massive gulf in class on the night. As for me, it’s on to the next one….

DSCN0067

RATINGS:
Game: 6- Very one-sided, bar the odd chance.
Ground: N/A- Wait until Farsley blog to rate.
Fans: 5- There were a few backing Albion here and there.
Programme: 5- Standard issue, not much in it, but looked nice enough and only £1.
Food: N/A.
Value For Money: 6- Dear do in travel for a County Cup game. All at the club and in the village itself was cheap enough.

Manchopper in….Emley

 

AFcEmleyCongleton Town

Result: AFC Emley 3-4 Congleton Town (FA Vase Second Qualifying Round)

Venue: The Welfare Ground (Saturday 3rd October 2015, 3pm)

Att: 139

After much deliberation, out of my hands, to do with the destination for today’s game between Matt, the Lost Boyo, & Gibbo, the birthday boy, the final decision became AFC Emley, after initially being headed for Shaw Lane Aquaforce and later Knutsford for a short while. I wasn’t too enamoured by either of the provisional pairing due to the fact I’d already previously visited the two clubs, so when I received the news that Emley would be welcoming the entourage of groundhoppers, including the duo of Tony 1 Leg and Johnny The Rhino, I was more than pleased. Emley had long been a target of mine, but due to its rather out of civilization placing, it wasn’t one I was in a rush to head for.

But today was the day. So, after eventually managing to escape Manchester Oxford Road and its delays, I met with Matt in the concourse of Piccadilly station, where we were soon joined by the trio mentioned above. No sooner had seating arrangements been sorted out, than the party hats were out and Tony and Johnny got to work on two ladies heading over to Harrogate. Also, a lad sitting opposite our group was soon in possession of a hat of his own, to which he seemed mighty happy about and the other guy he was sat next to even found our conversation interesting enough to remove his earphones to listen in.

Upon arriving into Huddersfield, the 1LegOnTheCup duo were separated from their TransPennine beaus and our two new male friends were also headed separate ways, but in differing states of dampness. The one with the hat made sure he took it with him back to his Yorkshire abode in a very dry state, but the other man wasn’t so luck, as Matt went on to knock his can of Fosters all over the helpless fella’s lap. I was even given praise for not swearing by the (not quite) old woman sat next to me upon our disembarkation, though I’m not sure if this was directed at us all or just me. I like to think it was the group, so I took this idea and ran with it. Anyway, after being dumbfounded by the ticket machine that took my ticket but didn’t release it again, I was into Huddersfield itself.

Arriving in Huddersfield

Arriving in Huddersfield

The Cherry Tree (somewhere)

The Cherry Tree (somewhere)

For when it gets too much in The Wellington

For when it gets too much in The Wellington

Within a couple of minutes, we’d reached our first stop, the town’s Wetherspoon’s: The Cherry Tree. Here, we had our first, much needed, beverages of the day, whilst Tony tried his best to get the barmaid to show him different tattoos on various parts of her anatomy. Nothing sinister though, I stress! Soon after we’d got our drinks in, we were joined by a new Huddersfield import, Craig, a more recent suffering Crawley Town fan, who ha moved to better pastures in the North, though I question his decision to move to Yorkshire. Anyway, Craig recommended a pub somewhere in the near distance, so we headed there. But, in true fashion when I’m in such company as I found myself today, we ended up in a dingy bar hidden behind some roadworks, The Wellington.

The Wellington was much better inside than out, with its interior decorated with the flags of the countries competing in the Rugby World Cup. Otehrwise, there was little to add colour to the interior of the public house, other than a door stating “Warning: Carbon Dioxide”. I wondered whether this is where people ventured when it got a little too much, after watching a game. Soon enough, we were out of the dingy surroundings that didn’t quite live up to the Duke and were heading over to the bus station for the carriage over to Emley.

Craig, after directing us to the station, soon left us after reaching a helpful sign stating “Stands A-Z”, with an arrow pointing to the concourse. Here is where things began to get wild. As the Gregg’s increased its profits due to our arrival, we also found ourselves entranced with the stand specific tannoy system, which stated the tooo-three-tooo’s route. I don’t think the locals were too impressed by our incessant pressing of the Stand G lady’s button, but there we are. To their relief, I’m sure, the 232 soon arrived, and we were boarding the “Yorkshire Tiger” service, decked out in tiger-print seats. I did spot a Tiger-Blue bus too, which sounded like the late-night version.

After around a half-hours journey into the hills and moors of the West Riding of Yorkshire, we were soon nearing Emley,  heralded by the large pole towering above the area. Matt stated he’d heard it was taller than the Eiffel Tower, and was on a mission to discover if this was indeed the case. Meanwhile, I discovered a local delicacy called “German Eggs”. Although, it became apparent tat German Eggs were in fact Gammon, Eggs…This was much to the amusement of the rest of the group and to the local directly in front of us.

Emley

Emley

The White Horse

The White Horse

Interior. The White Horse.

Interior. The White Horse. Horses Heads. Family.

So, now insearch of local facts and German Eggs, we disembarked in the buzzing village of…Ah. Well, there isn’t much at all in Emley. Think Emmerdale, but without the drama or the murders (as far as I’m aware). Anyway, we soon found ourselves within the walls of the White Horse Pub, which has a restaurant that’s rendered obsolete for at least half of the year, due to no food being on offer for the other 6 months or so. The locals were quite the welcoming bunch, more interested in quite what we were doing in their village. After explaining why, they still looked dumbstruck, as were the Congleton fans by their surroundings, who soon joined us in the small bar. Anyway, before long we’d exited the White Horse and headed over the road to AFC Emley’s home, The Welfare Ground.

The Welfare Ground is reached via a small passage, and is neighboured by a second pub, the Wentworth. The two are separated by the club’s car park, which has to be survived to reach the turnstiles, where we were relieved of £5 entry and a further £1.50 for the programme. After entering through, we were all collared for a raffle ticket, with prizes ranging from eggs (German?) to a tin of Haggis, probably donated by the game’s sponsors, the Emley Scottish Supporters’ Club. Ooh, stereotyped! Onwards to the bar, which is situated alongside the main stand. The bar is also in the building that houses the changing rooms, with the main stand offering raised seating over the pitch. Behind the end where you enter from is a covered terrace, with the far end open, hard standing, though the small steps of terracing here have been somewhat reclaimed by nature. The ground is three-sided, due to it also being a part of the village cricket ground’s outfield.

AFC Emley

AFC Emley

Raffle Prizes

Raffle Prizes

Matt in the hat

Matt in the hat

So, back inside the bar, it was onto the cider for me and an old favourite, Woodpecker! Lovely. Somewhere in the meantime, Gibbo had gone on to decide that his shower curtain birthday present, decorated with ducks, would be more worthy of being a poncho. And it was. Thus the legend of Duckman was born. Now, I can’t do it justice on these pages, so f you want to read into the myth yourselves, then this is the place to do it: Duckman hath cometh

So, it was onto the game, but first it was over to the “café” for some  food. I got some chips and a sausage roll combo for £.50 only, and quickly ate the pretty good produce. Matt was just as complimentary, if not more so, of his local delicacy, which was a turnip and carrot  meaty-type thing. It must taste better than it looked to my eye, but then, I despise turnip. A terrible thing. anyway, here’s the history of AFC Emley…

History Lesson:

The club was formed in 2005 after the village’s old team, Emley AFC, moved to Wakefield in 2000 after 97 years, to become Wakefield-Emley and later Wakefield FC. The club is now defunct.

The current Emley started out in the West Yorkshire League, being promoted from Division 1 at the first attempt, finishing third. This brought the club into the Northern Counties East League Division 1, where they’ve competed ever since, finishing no lower than 13th, their first season. Their best finish was 5th, which they attained last time out.

Café!

Café!

Handshakes

Handshakes

Watching early on

Watching early on

Main Stand

Main Stand

So, back onto the game,  and it was played out at a decent pace early on, though there wasn’t much in the shape of goal-mouth action until Matt and I headed off on a “lap” of the Welfare Ground, whereupon the visiting Bears from Congleton took the lead. A low ball in saw the ‘keeper make an initial block, but he was unable to stop the rebound being bundled in, much to the delight of the Bears forward who whooped away in front of us. 0-1, and this was how it remained until the break.

The rest of the half was spent with Gibbo ribbing certain former Atherton LR players about their former lives on the, from his viewpoint, “dark side” of Atherton. But, on the pitch, the main recipient of the barrage, Bears keeper Farrimond, was almost beaten when left one-on-one with an Emley forward, but the chance was wasted and the visitors headed in with their lead intact.

The mythical Duckman

The mythical Duckman

Blurred lines

Blurred lines

Celebrations

Celebrations

After a quick sojourn in the bar, it was back out for the second period, where the home side almost immediately drew level. If the first goal was ugly, then this was repulsive. An even worse scramble ended with another one bundled into the turnstile end net. 1-a-piece, via a disputed goal/own-goal. And it was soon two, but this goal was much more pleasant on the eye, as hotshot Ashley Flynn fired home from the edge of the area, for 2-1 to the home side. But the best was yet to come from Flynn, and from Emley.

Flynn, after a good passing move, picked the ball up just outside the box, advanced slightly, before delightfully chipping Farrimond from 20-yards, to cue manic celebrations, including the Emley manager pegging down the touchline, Mourinho-esque, to join in with his players down in the corner.

Back level!

Back level!

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

But, Emley hadn’t counted on Congleton coming back from 3-1 with 20 minutes-or-so to play. But come back was what they did. Declan Fletcher initiated the comeback, slotting in from inside the area, before they levelled after Fletcher was this time denied by the home custodian, but then coolly squared the ball to the onrushing Scott McGowan to slot into the back of the net. 3-3!

By now, it looked like extra-time was on the cards, and discussions turned to this. Matt and Gibbo were more than happy for the extra half-hour, whereas I was hoping for a winner in 90-minutes. Congleton won a corner as I stated I’d go for a winner here. Duly, Fletcher obliged, powering a towering header into the corner, sending the small band of black-and-white clad fans behind the goal into jubilation.

Emley's jubilation at 3-1...

Emley’s jubilation at 3-1…

....turned to dismay at 3-4.

….turned to dismay at 3-4.

Clash!

Clash!

That was that, as goal updates came raining in from West Didsbury and Chorlton’s 15-1 win over Dinnington Town in the Vase. 3-4, and what a game. After Gibbo and Matt partook in some on-field after match photography, it was to the Wentworth, where Matt finally got his confirmation, from the barmaid, that the Emley Moor tower was indeed taller than the French one. With this fact safely tucked within our brains, we finished off our drinks and headed for the bus back into Huddersfield.

After being semi-complimented by some of the Bears players on their way to the coach outside the newsagents with a sign bearing “newspapers sold here”, we were back into town and on to our next stop, the station bar by the name of the King’s Head, which is located round the back from the, now closed, George Hotel, where Rugby League was founded.

Duckman's charms

Duckman’s charms

Extra passenger in hold.

Taking over Emley

Newspapers sold here

Newspapers sold here

The King’s Head looks like it’s still undergoing decorating, with bare walls and floors but someone has decided to throw some tables in there and open early. The toilets being the best decorated part of the pub. It certainly is a strange one, but it more than fitted in with what had gone before today. Soon enough, we were on the train back to Manchester, where the ever compelling Duckman ended up pulling an Ulster girl with his Quacking charm.

Back in Manchester, it was onto the Piccadilly Tap, where I had an hour to waste before my train back home. Here, you can go to the bathroom and learn something interesting upon the blackboard.

The King's Head

The King’s Head

Finished, or....?

Finished, or….?

The Tap

The Tap

Yeah...

Yeah…

After ordering a half of something or other, the time eventually dwindled off and I bid goodbye to my “colleagues” and set off into the night of the City Centre and over to Oxford Road again, which was much more settled than earlier in the day. I must have looked the worse for wear though, as I shut my eyes for about a minute on the train, when the conductor came over to me and asked if I was ok, and where I was headed. Being in something of sound mind, he left me to my journey.

So, the story of the day in a small village north of Huddersfield comes to an end. I challenge anyone to go to Emley and have a more dramatic, action-packed, duck-filled experience than we all had on this day. If you do, you may just end up being Quackers. Okay, enough of the duck puns now…

DSC00627

RATINGS:

Game: 8- End to end, 7 goals, comebacks, glorious chips. Brilliant.
Ground: 7- A nice, characterful ground.
Fans: 8- A great bunch, and some of the best I’ve come across in my travels.
Programme: 6- Not a bad effort, considering the level.
Food: 7- A decent offering, very economical helps the rating,
Value For Money: 8- To be honest, I’d lost track on how much it all cost.

Manchopper in….Thackley

ThackleyFCAbbey_Hey

Result: Thackley 2-2 Abbey Hey (FA Cup First Qualifying Round)

Venue: Dennyfield (Saturday 12th September 2015, 3pm)

Att: 86

The FA Cup trail continued for both myself and Abbey Hey on this day, as I made good on my word and made my way over to near Bradford and, more specifically, Thackley AFC of the Northern Counties East League (NCEL). So, on a wet, miserable morning in Manchester (shock, horror), I was trundling along the station approach into my usual transitional point of Manchester Oxford Road, before going through to Piccadilly Station and getting the Newcastle-bound train to my next stop, Leeds. Surely, the weather over the other side of the Pennines must be an improvement. Surely…

Well, no. No it wasn’t. Upon arrival at Leeds, there was an absolute deluge of rain in the process of drenching the Leeds-dwellers. Luckily for myself, I was able to stay under the substantial cover afforded to you at Leeds Station and immediately jumped on the train which would take me the short distance to Shipley where the strange layout means I had to cross over one set off tracks via footbridge, before crossing the car park to get to the other pair of platforms for the hop to Baildon, which was the destination for today’s pre-match ritual. Pub visits!

Buck Wood

Buck Wood

River Ayre

River Ayre

Lock

Lock

Well, that was the plan originally, but having scouted the walk, I decided to head straight for Thackley itself as to truncate the 1.5 mile walk with a couple of much needed “water” stops. After a walk through Buck Wood, along the pedestrian pathway/road which separates the two towns, I eventually re-entered civilization amongst a small housing estate, at the end of which sat the roadway leading to the ground. But, first, it was to the Great Northern for the first half of Everton-Chelsea.

After arriving just as the heavens re-opened, I quickly headed inside and ordered an Amigos, to try to simulate somewhere with a much nicer climate. The experience was improved even more so, as I was first welcomed to use the plugs to charge my phone and watched Steven Naismith put another early dent into Chelsea’s title hopes. Superb. Before too long though, it was time to leave the welcoming, if unspectacular, public house and head to the Commercial Inn, which sits round the corner from Dennyfields. Well, that was the plan, but upon it coming into view, it quickly became apparent that it was closed for a re-fit.

Great Northern

My respite from the rain: The Great Northern

Alternatives helpfully signed!

Alternatives helpfully signed!

Thackley AFC

Thackley AFC

Plans spurned, I decided to head to the ground, having just been passed by the, slightly late arriving, Abbey Hey team bus. So, with the clock standing at 2pm, I figured I’d give Thackley’s clubhouse a go. Having walked up the small lane heading to the ground, past both the town’s cricket club and horse-filled farm, I came upon the unmistakable sound of “pre-match entertainment” emanating from my right, and soon enough Thackley’s ground came into view. From the outside, it didn’t look all too much, but unperturbed, in I headed, purchasing a programme first (£1.50), before heading to the clubhouse, which sits just outside the ground itself.

So, after ordering a Corona for the remarkably cheap £2.60, I got chatting to Thackley supporter, and former Morley rugby player, Jamie, who gave me a fair low down on his adopted local side, as well as regaling me the story of Cyril, a man who followed one of his semi-pro rugby sides as far as Cornwall and Exeter. Some people are just nuts! It was a shame that the story ended with the ever present problem of players not particularly caring for their loyal fans, bar the odd few. It happens in all sports, and some need to have a think about where they’d be without these sort of people.

Clubhouse

Clubhouse

A great combination!

A great combination!

Today's Teams

Today’s Teams

Entering Dennyfield

Entering Dennyfield

Anyway, my chat with Jamie quickly passed the best part of a half-hour leading to kick-off and at 10-to the hour, I bid goodbye for the moment and headed to the turnstiles where I parted with £5 for entry and I was into Dennyfield itself. Contrary to my earlier view, the ground was a gem. A decent-sized benched seater stand sits on the half-way line, and is joined by the tea bar and dressing rooms, which are situated behind a small covered standing area in front of the tea bar, which bears the club’s main sponsor, Superfreight, otherwise you’d probably never even notice it. The far touchline is flanked by an open standing terrace, which runs the length of it, with both ends being open hard standing, with a further small terrace at the far end. Now, here’s the story and the history of the Dennyboys of Thackley…

History Lesson:

Thackley AFC were formed in 1930, spending their formative years in the local leagues before switching the West Riding County Amateur League in 1939, winning it on five occasions before spending a brief spell in the West Yorkshire League, winning it on two successive occasions in 1965-’66 & ’66-’67. Thackley then joined the Yorkshire League, winning its Division 2 in 1974, alongside a further two prior promotions and relegations, before becoming founder members of the Northern Counties East League Premier Division in 1982. Remarkably, the club have remained in the same division ever since, the only club in the NCEL to hold this achievement.

Match Action

Match Poster

Top point is the best.

Come down, but behave!

Main Stand

Main Stand

Terracing

Terracing

The club’s best finish in this league was runners-up, which in they achieved in 1993-’94, when finishing behind Stocksbridge Park Steels. They have, though, won two NCEL League Cups, in 2011-’12 & ’12-’13, allied with the club winning two West Riding Challenge Cups (1964 & ’67), two West Riding County Cups in ’73-’74 & ’74-’75 and no less than 13 Bradford & District Senior Cups. In FA Competition, the club haven’t achieved a huge amount, though they did reach the FA Vase 5th Round in 1980-’81. Last season, the Dennyboys finished in a solid 12th place in the NCEL Premier Division.

Handshakes

Handshakes

Getting Underway

Getting Underway

So, onto the big game then, with over £3,000 at stake as well as a place in the next round of the Cup. Hey were comfortably on the front foot in the early stages, and it was to no-one’s surprise when they took the lead as Bradley Robinson netted with a simple back post tap in after a poor mistake by the Thackley ‘keeper, who let a weak cross squirm through his grasp and to the feet of the oncoming Hey #7.

Early celebrations

Early celebrations

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

This did seem to spur the home team on somewhat, with them forcing Hey back and into a number of errors, but without ever really looking to threatening in the final third. As I made my way to the turnstile end of the ground once again, I came across Jamie and watched the remainder of the half alongside him. Well, I say the remainder. It was about three minutes until Hey doubled their lead through Johnathon Hardy, who had the easiest of tasks to net from six yards, after some questionable defending by the Thackley left-back, who kept retreating into his area and allowed the cross. Jamie headed to the bar, with the prophetic words “Well, we’re always better thus way second half…”

Tea Bar

Tea Bar & Covered Terrace

Anyone for honey?

Anyone for honey?

Upon the break, I headed to the tea bar, where I ordered some chips for £1.20 (a decent portion too and fresh), so well worth it. I headed over to the park benches next to the hatch, but not before the guy in front of me, who’d just got some sort of soup, had it knocked from his hand and all over the floor and “all over (his) new trainers!”. No such qualms for me, as I quickly finished off the fries before heading to the stand to watch the early stages of the second period.

The early part showed no real signs of what was to come. Hey pretty much in control, despite more urgency from the home side with nothing to lose. But, it wasn’t until I headed behind the Thackley goal that it all began to go right for the hosts, and badly wrong for those from Gorton. First, they had a goal ruled out for offside, before Thackley mounted a quick attack which saw the ball crossed in and #9, Mike Garrod, finished off to give the home fans a lot of belief. They, as well as the players, were up for this and for the next five minutes, Hey fell apart.

As such, it was little surprise as the Dennyboys, on the crest of a wave of their own making, found the leveller. I was just about to tweet about the fact Hey had gone close, as an effort rattled the bar and bounced down just in front of the line (definitely no goal) and Thackley went up the other end and went mighty close themselves. Just as I was updating the message to include the latter, up went the decibels and I saw the ball rolling into the net via Craig Bentham. 2-2! The comeback was complete and Thackley, you felt, could go on to win from here.

View from the stand

View from the stand

Match Action

Match Action

Not over!

Not over!

Equaliser!

Equaliser!

But then, Abbey decided they could play football again and completely dominated the last 15 minutes or so of the game and really should have won it on the day, as numerous chances came and went, with sub Ashford Blake, as in the Warrington game, being mighty effective. Not sure why he didn’t start! But, there were no further goals for me today, nor the other 80+ people in Dennyfield to witness, so it meant that Abbey would get another £5 from me on Tuesday night. Fix!

So, upon the whistle, I made my exit and quickly climbed up the hill overlooking the ground, which is home to a tower of some sort. I did get some strange looks off a young couple who were having some serenity up there as I came bounding over the steep incline, camera in hand! They must have been rather relieved when I let them be and headed back through Buck Wood and to Baildon station, before repeating the inbound journey exactly.

The bonus on the outbound leg was the fact that I inherited a table seat on arrival at Huddersfield and thus a further opportunity to charge the necessity of the mobile. Not only that, but I was joined by a lad who was heading into Manchester for a mate’s birthday and who, after waking up late after realising it was in fact today and not next week(?!), somehow happened to inherit a 4-pack of Stella Artois and I was presented with one for the final leg home as he had to get rid of them before getting to Manc. A strange story, but one that I feel may be a watershed moment in my groudhopping tales. We’ll see, as I return to Yorkshire next week…

RATINGS:

Game: 8- Full of drama and action from the off.

Ground: 8- One a really fell for. Something about it I truly liked.

Fans: 8- A friendly bunch, who really got behind the team.

Programme: 5- A fairly average issue, but I liked the simplicity of the cover!

Food: 9- Superb, well worth it, especially for the price.

Value For Money: 7- Can’t fault the club, but not much to the town and the travel was quite steep.

*Incidentally, Abbey Hey won the replay on Tuesday 15th September,  1-0.

DSC00482

Manchopper In….Worksop

Result: Worksop Town 1-2 Trafford (Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division)

Venue: The Windsor Food Service Stadium (Sandy Lane) (Saturday 11th January, 3.00pm)

Att: 352

Another Saturday, and another week had passed without bad weather interrupting the season (remember when that was the case?). As it was I had undertaken the trip to North Nottinghamshire, and to the market town of Worksop. Travelling down the road, the ground suddenly springs upon you on the right hand side, neighbouring as it does a large, featureless Retail Park. Sandy Lane, or ‘The Windsor Food Service Stadium’ as it is currently known is currently operated on a groundshare basis, whereupon the current owners of the ground, Worksop Parramore of the Northern Counties East League, share their home with the previous incumbents Town. This situation came about earlier in the ‘Noughties’ but I’ll leave this until a little later.

First of all, I look at the Town itself, and perhaps most importantly for some of you out there, the public houses. Having again taken a seat on the visitors’ coach, I made my way with a few of their supporters about five minutes around the corner to The Grafton Hotel. Inside, the pub had live football on offer, as well as cheap beer at £1.70 a pint, and offered hot beverages as well, in addition to having a pool table, albeit with quite a slant which made a number of pot attempts slightly interesting if nothing else! The Grafton has a very welcoming atmosphere and friendly regulars and staff, with a few Worksop fans stopping here on their way to the game, along with an unfortunate man who was making his way to Old Trafford for the United-Swansea re-match. After sharing worries & his surprising optimism, he went on his way, and we left soon afterwards, stopping off just short of the town itself in the Waterfront. Unfortunately, our stay here was cut short due to the pungent smell of bleach throughout the building. Forced outside temporarily, there’s a decking area, opposite what appears to be the old location of the bar, which is an old dock building alongside the Chesterfield Canal, which features a loading crane outside it, all harking back to its original usages.

After a further short walk, we found ourselves within the town centre, but with time now running thin, only one more stop was an option, and thus the Unicorn was it. The Unicorn is somewhat set out in the way of a Wetherspoon’s and is a large sprawling place and after a quick one & watching Fernando Torres find the net, we made our way back towards Sandy Lane for today’s live action, which included a café playing music out of a speaker on an outside wall, open advertisement of treatment to tender areas of animals, and a bus to Rhodesia (not back in time Zimbabwe I hope!)

Upon arrival at the ground, I paid my entrance dues of £10, plus a further £2 for the average programme. A quick scan of the ground revealed a somewhat strange set out, with a large seating stand running the length of the left-hand side of the pitch, a small terrace behind the far end goal and three small box-like stands, one near the turnstile, and two more up behind the dugouts on the right-hand side. Now seems a good time to look back on the history of Worksop Town, and just how they managed to be tenants in a home they once owned.

History Lesson:

Formed back in 1861, Worksop Town can lay claim to being the fourth oldest club in the country, lagging behind only Sheffield(1857), Hallam and Cray Wanderers (1860), but the first known action only dates from 1873, so this may be debatable? They originally played games on Netherton Road in Worksop, before moving to Central Avenue in the town, which was to become their home for almost the whole of the next century. During their early years, Town initially played in the Sheffield & Midland Leagues, but achieved little success only winning one league title in 1921-22, and a Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup (SHSC) title in 1924. However, the club achieved two notable FA Cup runs in this time, coming firstly in 1907-08 when they reached the First Round (the equivalent of the modern day 3rd Round) and drew Chelsea away. They lost 9-1 but drew an attendance of 70,184 which, unsurprisingly, remains a record for a game featuring the club. In 1922, they lost at the same stage to Southend United but the following season they initially had better fortunes, holding Tottenham Hotspur to a goalless draw at White Hart Lane. For financial reasons, the replay was controversially held at the same venue where Worksop once again shipped nine goals, 9-0 the result this time around. In a show of fan power, disgruntled supporters who expected the replay to be held at Central Avenue stayed away from resultant games, resulting in financial strains upon the club.

In 1935, the club switched to the Yorkshire League for the next three seasons until 1939 & WW2, before moving back to the Midland League once the club resumed playing in 1949. It took until 1953 for the next silverware another SHSC was lifted, and was one twice more in the decade (1955 & 56),  the latter season also featured an FA Cup Third Round defeat to Swindon Town. The mid 1960-s saw a small period of Midland League success for the Tigers, with the club finishing runners-up in 1962-63, winning the title in ’65-’66, and finishing runners-up again the following season, before becoming founder members of the Northern Premier League(NPL) in 1968-’69, but the club lasted only a season before relegation returned them to the Midland League. The 1970’s a SHSC won in ’70, one League title lifted in 1972-’73 paired with a SHSC win, and another 2nd place the following season which led to promotion back to the NPL for 1974-’75.

Little success followed for the club within the NPL top tier, with only two SHSC wins in 1982 & ’85, and an NPL President’s Cup in 1986 recorded along with an FA Cup First Round appearance, a 5-1 defeat to Barnsley, before relegation to the newly formed NPL Division 1 followed at the end of the 1988-’89 season. The club also lost their long term home at Central Avenue during that season, and were forced to ground share at Gainsborough Trinity for three seasons before returning to Worksop and Sandy Lane in 1992.

The decade proved to be a better one for the Club, with SHSC wins in ’95 & ’97 sandwiching a second NPL President’s Cup win in 1996. At the end of the ’97-’98 season, the club achieved promotion back to the NPL Premier Division and immediately achieved a runners-up spot, which is, to date, the club’s best placing in the pyramid. The next few seasons saw consolidation in the form of top-ten finishes and the marquee signing of Chris Waddle. In 2002, the Tigers lifted the NPL Chairman’s Cup, followed by a further SHSC success the next season, before the club finished high enough in the table to earn a spot in the newly formed Conference North for 2004-’05, but they only lasted three years before being relegated back to the NPL. At this time the club encountered serious financial difficulties and they lost ownership of their Sandy Lane ground. They became Nomadic, playing at the grounds of Hucknall Town, Ilkeston Town and Retford United (who have also encountered troubles of their own since), before returning to Sandy Lane in 2011 after the newly arrived Sheffield Parramore bought the ground and renamed themselves Worksop Parramore, and also allowed the club to play in the Town of their origin.

Back to the present day, and Worksop were severely hindered by the absence of top scorers, ex-pro Tom Denton and league top  scorer Leon Mettam.  They had brought in loanee Mark Gray & ex-player Jamie Jackson as cover from King’s Lynn & it looked to have proved a masterstroke as he rose high from a Marc Goodfellow (another ex-pro) corner to head home. Trafford then took the game by the scruff of the neck, and always looked likely to score. On the half-hour it looked as though Michael Oates had done, as he tapped home, only to have his celebrations cut short by the assistant’s flag. It appeared to be to correct call on this occasion, however. As half-time approached, controversy struck, as Worksop goalkeeper Jon Stewart appeared to handle outside his area, and despite animated claims for a free-kick and the inevitable red card the referee waved away the protests. He thought he was right, the knowing smirk from Stewart said otherwise.

At the break, I looked to go and have a look at the clubhouse, but as it was packed as tight as a sub-continent train, this was impossible, and so I queued for 20 minutes for some chips, missing almost ten minutes of the game in the quest for food. At least you can get an almost unobstructed view from the queue, which meant seeing Worksop’s Shane Clarke and Josh Hill spurn chances the same shade of Worksop’s kit.

After devouring the chips and gravy, which were well worth waiting for, for £2 by the way, I did something I never do at a game. A comfort break. Yeah. Nothing will happen will it. No, no it won’t. Through one door, through two door, and cue cheers. AH! A Worksop supporter came in to enlighten me as to the scoreline, 1-1, and I didn’t miss the opportunity to mention my Manchopper out in the toilet. Tut, Dirty minds. As it was, it was a 30-yard screamer by Tom Schofield that had levelled up the scores, and from then on only one side looked like taking the points. The Tigers looked rattled, and Shelton Payne gave Worksop a warning when Oates set up the Welshman who was denied by Stewart. The warning was not heeded however, as Town gave Rory Fallon all the time in the world to pick a pass to Payne who outpaced the defence and slide beyond Stewart. 2-1. He may be arrogant beyond belief, and split opinion wherever he goes, but on his day & when he fancies it, he is class. To add insult to injury for The Tigers, Goodfellow pulled up late on injured.

Trafford even brought on giant Sunday League striker, 19-year-old Mark Derbyshire as they closed out the game, with the ever more nervous man next to me following events elsewhere as well as on the pitch as he looked for an £800 accumulator windfall, which was duly delivered in the 90th minute. Guess who the drinks were on that night!

My Worksop Town M.o.M.- Marc Goodfellow

My Trafford M.o.M.- Shelton Payne

RATINGS

Ground: 7- Nice enough,  just seems a strange set out.

Game: 6- Not bad, not great.

Programme: 6- See above! There is a note about cuts to pages, which explains why it was bit empty.

Food: 8- Really good, worth a taste!

Fans: 8- Welcoming & friendly, and knowledgeable.

Value For Money: 6- Just about average on the whole.

Referee: 6- Missed the major point, but got most other points correct.

TEAMS:

WORKSOP TOWN: 1. Jon Stewart, 2.Alex Pursehouse, 3.Josh Williams, 4.Jake Scott, 5.Josh Hill, 6.Mark Gray, 7.Jack Muldoon(c), 8.Shane Clarke, 9.Jamie Jackson(1), 10.Jack Adams,11.Marc Goodfellow. SUBS: 12.Jack Barnett(p), 14.Mitch Husbands(p), 15.Jack Broadhead, 16.Aaron Cole(p), 17.Ben Gathercole.

TRAFFORD: 1.Tom Read, 2.Steve Mason, 3.Luke Heron, 4.Callum Jones, 5.Nia Bayunu, 6.Tom Schofield(1), 7.Shelton Payne(1), 8.Martyn Andrews(c), 9.Michael Oates, 10.Rory Fallon, 11.Paul Ashton. SUBS: 12.Chris Palmer, 14.Rees Welsh(p), 15.Mark Derbyshire(p), 16.Garry Vaughan (?!!), 17.Simon Hackney.

REFEREE: Mr. J. Simpson. ASSISTANTS: Mr. J. Masheder & Mr. S. Healey