Result: Garforth Town 1-4 Retford United (NCEL Premier Division)
Venue: Cedar Ridge (Saturday 30th January 2016, 3pm)
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!
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.
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…
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….
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.
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 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.
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.
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!!…
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!