Result: Yorkshire Amateur 1-2 Hemsworth Miners Welfare (Northern Counties East League Premier Division)
Venue: Bracken Edge (Saturday 16th November 2019, 3pm)
With the weather once again causing widespread havoc around the country, I found myself with the dilemma of yet another morning trying to sort out an alternative venue for my footballing entertainment. The rain had well and truly taken its toll on the pitch at Cheshire League Billinge’s pitch, so much so that it was called off some 15 hours in advance of kick-off. Despite this, the moment of truth would have to wait until the following morning, what with the weather still hanging around.
Eventually, at around 10am, I seemed to receive some very positive news from Yorkshire Amateur – a club who featured in one of my earlier experiences of live football when playing Trafford in a FA Vase tie back in t’day, and so had been long due a visit in the books. As such, all, directions led to Bracken Edge – though I’d still have to encounter a cancelled train, and so was delayed a further half-hour. Further delays saw a little more time lost as I headed into Leeds, catching a bus from the centre up to the Chapel Allerton area of the city, near to where the Ammas play. It looked a decent enough area, though upon arriving, it became apparent that I may have undersold it. Chapel Allerton is quite the attractive suburb, with a mix of traditional and more modern builds around the centre, many of which were of the pub/bar nature. What a shame….
The Mustard Pot was slightly the furthest away on the short run through the centre, and appeared to be some kind of converted Manor house or something, the interior and painting of a reception room definitely pushing this theory. With time at a bit of a premium, I was going to opt for a pint of one of my usual, designed swift drinks – but the appearance of the rarely-spotted draught Red Stripe (£4.50) soon changed that! From there, I undertook the short walk back, slightly downhill, to a pair of all but neighbours, the Kith & Kin and the Pit.
The first of the two yielded a pint of Estrella (£4.60) in one of those kind of modern gastro-pub-style places, though this one was if the rustic variety and kept an air of being a bar primarily too. The Pit, meanwhile, was somewhat similar in decor, though was definitely more solely focused on being a bar, despite the fact that the tap of my initial choice, Blue Moon, died as I was being served. This proved something of a blessing in disguise, as I had spotted bottles of Big Wave (£4.40) in the fridge, and so was disappointed I’d missed out. Obviously, the alternative was sorted quickly!
Chapel Allerton is an inner suburb of Leeds, located to the north-east of the city centre and was noted in the Domesday Book as Alreton (likely derived from the Old English ‘alor’ (alder) and ‘tūn’ (estate or farm)) and was then named in a 1240 charter as land “which lies between the road which goes to the Chapel of Allerton and the bounds of Stainbeck”. The chapel itself was linked with Kirkstall Abbey, but was demolished in the 18th century and the town’s name was shortened to “Chapeltown” (first attested in 1427) whereupon both names were used and co-existed and became interchangeable. During the 17th century, the area had grown from its medieval farmland beginnings to something of a resort, for the wealthy residents of this area of Yorkshire and continued to grow through into the 19th century, being named in the Leeds administrative area in 1869 as a civil parish.
However, it did continue to be considered a village into the 1900’s, but construction of housing and roads in the open lands between it and the surrounding areas saw it become less isolated overall and more a part of Leeds itself. It has many older, rather showy dwellings and impressive public buildings dotted around from these times, and the Leeds Tramway once ran through the town, though this was dismantled and taken up in 1959. It is now a part of a highly served bus route. It’s most notable former resident (apart from an ancestor of Captain Oates of Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition), is Margaret Scriven – a four-time tennis Grand-Slam champion, including back-to-back French Open titles in 1933 & 1934.
Finishing off in the especially cold glass I was served, I continued on to the northern end of the town, where the fittingly-named Further North can be found. A true real ale place, I was given a warm welcome by a customer’s dog prior to ordering a pint of Grapefruit stuff from somewhere called Schoffe hauffen…or something like that! I’ve had a few beers that claim to be of a grapefruit taste, but aren’t in truth, but this offering was truly pink and it really was like having the fruit’s juice. Lovely stuff!
I began to head back groundwards and to two pubs slightly off of the main road that also happened to be the more traditional, older pubs Chapel Allerton has to offer. However, I had time for just the one for the moment, and came upon the Regent first. A small, largely timbered interior place, a fine pint of Heineken (£4.30) did the trick, before I embarked on the ten minute or so trek over to the Edge. Just be prepared for the incline getting there! Arriving, I purchased a programme (£1), along with my £6 entry (paid in many coins) before I decided to go for an early pie. Chips weren’t on anyway, so it was a steak and kidney and peas for me (£2.50). Not bad, though the peas did come at something of a premium.
After using the clubhouse as a restaurant and having a peruse of the light on content programme (though you can’t complain at a quid), it was back out for the game. Bracken Edge is a decent old, school ground flanked by a 3G cage at the far side. The ground is mostly open, hard standing though a bit in front of the clubhouse provides some cover in this regard, as well as a few seats. The Main Stand, meanwhile, sits at the far side of the pitch, separated from the clubhouse by the tunnel/changing room building, the dugouts situated out front. That’s the ground in short, and this is the story of the Ammas….
Yorkshire Amateur Football Club was founded in 1918 and became a founding member of the Yorkshire League two years later. Initially leaving after four seasons, the club would return in 1930 and finished as runners-up in the Section ‘B’ of the league’s Subsidiary Competition at the end of their first year back, though would go on to achieve success that same season in the form of the West Riding Challenge Cup. The following season saw the Ammers reach the FA Cup’s First Round, where they bowed out to 3rd Division North outfit Carlisle United, whilst continuing their cup runs that year with a semi-final appearance in the FA Amateur Cup, which ended in defeat to Marine at Leicester City’s Filbert Street. Meanwhile, Yorkshire Amateur also went on to secure the Second Competition of the Yorkshire League, though did lose to First Competition winners – Huddersfield Town ‘A’ – in the championship deciding game.
Cup success continued in the pre/mid-war years, 1933 seeing the club lift the inaugural Yorkshire League Cup, whilst going on to add another two West Riding Challenge Cups to their tally – these coming in 1933 and 1945. Season 1945-’46 saw another FA Cup First Round appearance made by the club, though they would go down in a two-legged tie to Lincoln City – this despite the Ammers having led 1-0 from the first game. Soon after, the Yorkshire League gained a Second Division in 1950, with Yorkshire Amateur place in the First Division and despite being relegated in 1952, returned at the first attempt as Division 2 runners-up. The drifting between the divisions continued through the decade, with 1956 seeing the drop suffered for a second time, with the club this time having to wait for three seasons before returning to the Yorkshire League top-flight as Division 2 champions.
1963 saw the Ammers return to Division 2 once again, and this time they would have to wait almost a decade to return to the league’s top-table, the club ending as runners-up in 1972 and, in doing so, ended a nine-year absence. They were relegated once again in 1975, after finishing bottom of the First Division table, but worse was to come two years later as the club suffered the drop into the league’s Third Division for the first time. However, this stay would prove brief, the Ammers being promoted as Division 3 winners in their first attempt, and they remained in Division 2 through to the league’s merger with the Midland League in 1982; thus the North East Counties League came into being, with Yorkshire Amateur placed in Division Two North initially, before a third-placed finish in 1984 secured them a spot in the restructured Division One North for the next season, before further league changes saw them back in a Division 3 the year after.
Upon the abolishment of Division 3 after just a sole year in 1986, the Ammers took a place in Division 2 and remained there through to its absorbing into Division One in 1991. The club duly joined the Division 1 ranks, and won the league’s “Wilkinson Sword” Trophy in 1999, though league success has been rather hard to come by, the club having remained in Division One right through until the 2017-’18 season, when they finally escaped as runners-up and achieved promotion to the Premier Division, and NCEL, top flight for the first time. Last season saw Yorkshire Amateur record a highly creditable 5th place in the Premier Division at the end of their first campaign.
We were underway pretty much bang on time, and it was the hosts who really should have struck first early in the day, when a long ball forward was taken down and squared to Matthew Sykes, but he somehow struck wide when it looked easier to score. Hemsworth responded, with Brice Tiani getting a badly-timed bounce that resulted in his effort striking the bar and eventually the danger being cleared. They were almost gifted the opener shortly afterwards too, when a poor clearance by the Ammers’ GK Ed Wilczynski, allowed the visitors in, the eventual cross was deflected goalwards and only just kept out by the ex-Huddersfield youngster, atoning for his earlier error.
Harrison Blakely blazed over for Yorkshire Amateur before the visitors eventually grabbed the opener, when a good ball into Ryan Carroll by Dec Parker saw the initial shot kept out well, but the rebound fell kindly for Carroll to duly finish off. Nash Connolly almost made it two shortly after, but mishit his shot and the crucial moment, but centre-half Eddie Cass, would find the target shortly before the break, when he met a corner and directed a looping header into the back of the net. Dangerman Ash Flynn created a chance for himself to grab one back on the stroke of half-time, but his good work and endeavour eventually came to nought, as his effort flew straight at the ‘keeper. Half-time and 2-0 to the visitors in this top-half clash.
An uneventful half-time interval came and went and we were soon back playing as the lights began to take full effect at Bracken Edge. The home side needed to come out of the blocks swiftly, and only a fine double stop by Hemsworth ‘keeper Jordan Greaves stopped them from getting back in the game almost immediately. A good save down the other end denied Carroll his second and a third for Hemsworth, whilst his opposite number Flynn didn’t quite get the connection he was looking for following on from the counter-attack. Soon after, Ammers sub Steve Smith showed good pace to enable him to get in position to deliver to the back-post, where the arriving attacker was again denied by the ever busier Hemsworth stopper.
It would be Gibraltar international Adam Priestley’s replacement Smith who would give his side a lifeline with around his shirt number left on the clock, when he was brought down by Greaves in the area, and Matthew Sykes duly stepped up and did the honours with some confidence. We were now set for a grandstand last quarter-hour, though it wasn’t quite all hands at the pump for Hemsworth as you might expect. Yorkshire Amateur did dominate the play for the most part, but only really had a Flynn free-kick that flew over the bar to show for their efforts.
However, they were given another bonus when Hemsworth sub Luke Danville, was dismissed for a second yellow (much to the chagrin of a number of away fans near me), but the visitors held on right through until the game was inside stoppage time. Following a goalmouth scramble, the ball ran loose from a set-piece delivery and fell to centre-back Ryan Serrant, but he would only fire well, well over from a great position, this miss ensuring that it would be Hemsworth’s win and the points would be heading back to Fitzwilliam along with them.
Post-match, I returned townwards, passing by various Canadian-inspired roads before coming across the Nag’s Head. I entered, to find in what is now a mix of happiness and horror, that it was a Sam Smiths. No technology here, as it seemed like I was transported back in time to around when the place opened. Well done, Smithy boy. Anyhow, the trademark good part of the brewery is the £1.40 pint of Arctic Lager. I suppose that, if you’re going to run your pubs like their in the past, the prices should reflect that too!
Heading back, I ended up at the final central pub stop, the Woods, where I caught the end of some live music they had on, whilst imbibing upon a pint of Sagres, the Portuguese beer setting me back a cool £4.85. It’s bloody lovely though, so no complaints! From here, I undertook the short walk down the road to the Wetherspoons – which again seemed to be an old house of stature or something – and went for a Kopparberg Mixed Fruits prior to crossing the road for the bus opposite. Eventually, one did turn up and safely delivered me back to Leeds, though I was again tripped up by the reverse ticket scanner used in these parts. Damn technology!
After a period of getting slightly lost in the city centre, which included two visits to the same roundabout somehow, I eventually managed to get to the station for an earlier than planned train back to Manchester. Delays work in your favour, sometimes! No further drama and the rest of the journey passed smoothly. It was good to have finally managed to get to Bracken Edge after a few close calls; the ground is decent and the game was OK too. It turned out to be the final game at the club for the Hemsworth manager too, so a good way for him to bow out. Chapel Allerton is well worth a visit also, and I must say that the service received in the pubs as a whole was some of the best I’ve come across, so kudos for that, all. Onto another week and a rare cup trail, where North meets South….
Value For Money: 7