Result: Brighouse Town 0-3 Atherton Collieries (Northern Premier League Division 1 North)
Venue: St. Giles Road (Saturday 18th November 2017, 3pm)
In a rare diversion from FA competitions this season, this very Saturday gave me the chance to “tick” one of the few grounds in the NPL’s Division One North that I’d still to visit (having done most in my time watching Trafford), this despite it being one of the more simple journeys to complete. So when Brighouse thusly won out in the popular twitter vote in the week leading up to the game, I was more than happy to seize the chance to travel to the Yorkshire club’s St. Giles Road home for their league clash against Roses rivals, Atherton Collieries.
A simple journey from Manchester through to Brighouse, via a swift change in Huddersfield, saw me arriving into the town at just after midday, the reasoning behind my early arrival being that I had the circa 35 minute walk up to the ground ahead of me. But with a couple of hours ahead of me before I had to contemplate the walk in the chilly Yorkshire air, it was off to some of the finest hostelries in Brighouse, and there’s a fair few to choose from in that respect.
First up was The Calder, located on the main road leading in towards the town centre. The Calder is located within a former theatre building, though there isn’t much to suggest this is the case (to my eye anyway) within sadly, with the only clue alluding to this fact coming in the form of a plaque near the door. Regardless, I began with a pint of Hop House 13 in here for the not too shabby £4.20. However, my struggle over this first drink made me reckon today was going to be a cider day. This came to pass.
Upon finishing up my pint in here, I continued the walk up towards the town centre itself, though was half-sidetracked by the Barge pub across the way. I did decide that there was more options on the linear route towards the ground, though, and changed tack to the more traditional The George, where a finely priced (not much more than £2) Dark Fruits was enjoyed whilst watching the first half of the Arsenal-Spurs game. Half-time at the Emirates (or Ashburton Grove, if you prefer) called for me to head onwards towards the Olde Ship, a pub which is appropriately named, due to it actually being largely created out of an old ship – namely HMS Donegal – the timbers of which make up the frame and supports within. This is the sort of character I like in a pub, though I’m not quite sure the music stylings being played loudly within quite fit! Another cheap Dark Fruits was had whilst I helped a guy who was stoking the pub’s fire with his walking stick, to load up said fire with some wood (despite being remonstrated with for initially picking up the wrong piece). I got it right on the second attempt and all was well!
Next up was a planned swift one in the Black Bull which sits across the roundabout from the Ship. However, I soon spied the Bridge across the road and decided I’d pop in there instead and leave the Bull for a post-game pint instead. A swift Corona was had in here before I embarked on the walk to Brighouse’s ground, entailing a largely uphill journey until getting to the road which leads off and down towards a pathway leading through some trees to the rear of a fairly modern housing estate. The ground sits immediately at the end of said path, with the entrance at the far side of the car park.
Upon arriving, I paid my £8 (having had no Football League season ticket for discount and, don’t worry, I’m not ranting about that offer again) for entry, plus the £2 for the fairly decent programme. I also bought a golden goal after pretty much all the guys around the gate alerted me to the fact I’d dropped a fiver, making sure there was no way I was losing it! My pick of 66 minutes gave me little hope of regaining some money and so I headed to the clubhouse to find some food, as this usually helps matters…
Brighouse’s clubhouse is a smart little building with the bar and food area located within, along with the usual paraphernalia. Heading over to the food bar, I plumped for the advertised £2 chicken curry pie which was a very decent offering indeed. With a few minutes left to kick-off, I took my newly purchased pastry bliss back outside and gave me a chance to take in St. Giles Road.
The ground is a fairly simple one, with not much else to speak of bar the clubhouse, which sits to the rear of the near end, and the sole stand at the ground which runs the majority of the left-hand touch-line. The turnstiles are sandwiched between the two, with various mobile buildings being located to the rear of the clubhouse building. The far end and right-hand touch-line are open, hard standing, with a little open terracing just beyond the stand. As for Brighouse Town’s story….
Brighouse Town F.C. was formed in 1963, initially as a representative side of Brighouse’s Blakeborough Valve Company, the club playing their home games at the Woodhouse Recreation Ground and competing in the Huddersfield Works League. During their time as Blakeborough, the club won numerous honours, with 1969 seeing their most successful campaign end with League Cup and Halifax District Cup triumphs, with this season being followed by the club taking the step of gaining its own ground, Green Lane, where the club would remain for the next decade, winning a further two league titles prior to applying for the West Riding County Amateur League and joining in 1975.
Following their departure from Green Lane, the club mad the short move to their current St. Giles Road site and continued to ply their trade in the WRCAL until 1988 when the company whose name the club carried failed and Brighouse Town AFC came into being. The name change also tied in to a period of success for the club with promotion to the WRCAL’s Premier Division being attained in its first season as Brighouse, the club finishing as Division 1 runners-up, as well as lifting the league’s Division One Cup. 1991 saw the Premier Division title won for the first time and the West Riding County Cup joined the trophy cabinet the next year. Success in the nineties continued, with ’94 seeing the Premier Division League Cup won, before winning the Premier Division title again in 1995.
The ’95-’96 season would become on of, if not the, most successful in Brighouse’s history, as the club proceeded to lift the title once again and then completed the double by taking the League Cup. Their double became a treble, as the Bod Wedgeworth Memorial Trophy was added to the silverware. The decade was rounded off by another double, Town lifting both the 1999 Halifax F.A. Cup and WRCAL Premier Division Cup.
The early part of the new millennium saw Brighouse’s success in the WRCAL continue unabated, with regular silverware arriving at St. Giles Road. Following the second lifting of the Bob Wedgeworth Trophy in 2000, 2001 saw a treble of WRCAL Premier Division, Premier Division Cup and Halifax F.A. Cup arrive, prior to the retention of the league and Halifax Cups the next season, the latter being won for a third and fourth consecutive year, in 2003 & 2004 respectively. 2004 also saw the Bob Wedgeworth Trophy won for a third time, which ended up being the final silverware Brighouse would won as an amateur outfit.
The 2008-’09 season saw Town make the step into the semi-pro game with the club joining the Northern Counties East League, competing in Division One. They spent two seasons here before winning promotion to the NCEL Premier Division as runners-up, and Town remained in the NCEL top-flight through to 2014, when the club won the NCEL title with the triumph coming in the club’s 50th anniversary season. A few seasons of consolidation followed as the club found their feet at NPL Division One North level, with last season seeing Brighouse finish up in a solid 9th place, with new manager Vill Powell taking the reigns for the current season, taking over from Paul Quinn, the newly-appointed Shaw Lane boss.
We were soon underway with Brighouse gaining the upper-hand over the early stages. Indeed, the home side almost took the lead within the first ten minutes, only being denied by Jamie Forbes’ superb goal-line clearance, the Colls defender hooking the ball clear from off his goal-line with the ball seemingly destined to find the net. From the on, the visitors began to gain a foothold and the game became a slightly turgid affair for the next twenty minutes or so, with little in the way of action to speak of, before a Ben Hardcastle drive struck the foot of the post for the visitors.
Having taken up a spot with Rob and Zach within the travelling Colls numbers for the earlier part of the half, my decision to go for a lap may have been one they wished I’d have continued to extend for the rest of the game. No sooner had I began the circuit than Colls took the lead. A corner from the left was flicked on to the arriving Chris Lynch at the back post and the right back completed the task of knocking the ball home from a few yards.
From then on, the Lancastrian side took control of the tie to more of an extent and thus it wasn’t much of a shock when they doubled their advantage eight minutes later. The ball found its way out to he dangerous Hardcastle on the left side of the area and he cracked a drive (it looked a half-volley from the far end) across the goal and into the far corner. The rest of the half passed with little of note, the sides heading in with the score reading nil-two.
The second half began in much the way of the first, Colls looking comfortable with the hosts struggling to really create any clear-cut chances. I said as much to Rob, who was still unconvinced at the 2-0 advantage, stating that Town wouldn’t find the net. Obviously, this would prove correct and this doesn’t happen often, so I’m definitely taking the chance to milk this prediction coming to fruition!
The lights took more and more effect as night began to descend ever more around West Yorkshire, with the Emley Moor mast’s warning lights becoming ever more prevalent in the distance. And darkness soon shrouded any chance Brighouse had of rescuing something from this game as the quicksilver Colls sub Jordan Cover raced clear and pulled the ball back to the arriving Danny Lambert who finished confidently beyond Town stopper Chris Butt, who’d earlier pulled off a great stop to deny a Colls effort.
Following a further strike being ruled out for off-side for Colls, Brighouse almost gained themselves a consolation in the closing minutes, substitute Marcus Day seeing his effort crash back off the same upright earlier struck by Hardcastle, but this mattered little as the referee brought proceedings to a close shortly afterwards with the visitors running out deserved winners.
After saying goodbyes to both Rob and Zach, I headed back down through the night (now thankfully pretty much all downhill) before taking refuge from the chill in the previously mentioned Black Bull. Again, Dark Fruits was the order of the day and again was far from bank-breaking. After watching a little of whichever Championship game was on (I have a feeling it involved Preston), it was onwards to the ‘Spoons where I plumped for the old school Hooch, before spotting Zach on a table across the way and proceeded to ruin the next forty minutes or so of his quiet evening, which involved a swift stop at the station neighbouring Railway.
The quick hop over to Huddersfield was completed with little issue, delays all feeding into each other, meaning no problems were really forthcoming. Back at Hudds, Zach headed back to his York abode whilst I had a little longer to wait for my transport back into Manchester, being joined by a rowdy group at the centre of the world that is StalyVegas.
So that’s that for Brighouse and, all in all, it had been another decent day. A cheap-ish journey and town is always welcome and the game itself was decent enough too. The ground was solid if unspectacular, somewhat reminding me of New Mills without the old buses over one side. The only downside was that bloody League offer rearing its ugly head yet again! I do truly despise it as, despite understanding why it exists, there are definitely better, more universally encompassing ways, of attracting people in. In my view anyway, but what do I know? Anyway, before going too much against my earlier promise of not ranting, next week sees me afforded a trip down to the smoke via the kindly Mr Nobody. Only when I arrive somewhere will I know where I’m going! So, until then, adieu….
Value For Money: 7