Manchopper in….North Ferriby

Result: North Ferriby United 0-4 Gainsborough Trinity (NPL Premier Division)

Venue: Grange Lane (Saturday 23rd February 2019, 3pm)

Att: 314

My late season “vulture job” of getting to grounds whose very existence is in some doubt continued for a second weekend with a trip to the outskirts of Hull and the small village of North Ferriby, where I was to pay a visit to North Ferriby United’s Grange Lane ground. This would mean going against my usual standing of not giving money to owners who are (in my distinctly humble opinion) running a club into the ground for whatever reason (which is why Hull, Charlton and Blackpool have remained off limits, though the Tangerines have recently been thankfully rescued and I only did the Ricoh for a cut-price game, but with many seemingly still happy to give money to the club, it seemed OK morally to do the same.

Now, I’m sure many of you with any sort of internet access/non-league knowledge had heard of the recent goings on surrounding the club and its swift fall from grace and I’m not going to speculate on what may or may not be going on, as it really isn’t my place to do so. Plus, with what happened during the game, I really don’t want to risk any future bans that may cloud any return visits – be that at Grange Lane, Dunswell Park or anywhere else… *suggests one-off game at Craven Park, selfishly*. Anyhow….

Setting off into Manchester, the local train delays returned, meaning I had a full hour to waste in the surroundings of the Manchester Piccadilly concourse. To make this a little more bearable, I headed up to the mezzanine and my favoured in-station haunt of the Hourglass where I was forced into breaking my 11am rule – though 10am was close enough I figured! A pint of Boddies was bought to accompany me through the wait until the next Hull-bound train, as I looked to figure out some kind of trip/plan to get over to North Ferriby from Brough station – where the train has its penultimate stop. With a few little villages along the way, I reckoned I might as well go that way and stop off here and there on my way over to the ground, rather than fork out the unbelievably costly £6+ return bus ticket for what would have been about five minutes. No chance, guys and girls.

Following an hour and a half’s journey, the train eventually pulled into Brough and I set off on the hour-and-twenty-minute walk to United’s home. Foregoing Brough’s own watering holes (on account of them having their own based club there which I’ll likely visit at some point too), my first stop was in the nearby village outpost of Welton. Here, I found a pub by the name of the Green Dragon, and what a find it proved to be – this being the very pub that the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin was apprehended in during the 18th century. Well worth the effort to get there for sure, as was the pricing and overall setting – a pint of Amstel costing £3.65 and the pub and village itself being highly pleasant on a fine, sunny day.

Welton

Green Dragon

Melton’s Sandpiper

From there, the long and winding old road to Melton was undertaken, crossing a footbridge en route to the Sandpiper – a new-build modern food-based chain pub. Having been pressed in this way with a lack of overall options for the day (not that it was a surprise), I was more than happy to drop in for another Amstel (£3.65) before deciding to forego a pre-match visit to North Ferriby’s one-and-only pub, the Duke of Cumberland, as I’d come up with the idea of maybe heading towards the Humber Bridge post-match for a little bit. Also, I’d said I’d pop to say “Hello” to Matthew, one of the lads involved with the North Ferriby fanzine known as ‘View from the Allotment End’, which has gained a little infamy over the last few days. Having done so and gave a bit of money to both he and the guys collecting for the homeless charity outside, he said to me they’d be congregated around the dugouts during the game. Of course, as it turned out, that wouldn’t happen as Matthew would be banned from Grange Lane minutes later for apparent comments in said fanzine, so I’m watching my tongue here too in fear of more reprisals against independent writings!!!

North Ferriby is a village and civil parish in the Haltemprice area within the East Riding of Yorkshire and stands on the North bank of the River Humber and is where the oldest boats ever found in Europe were discovered – dating from the Bronze Age estimated to go back to the region between 2030 BC-1680 BC. Iron Age and Romano-British archaeology has also been discovered in the area, suggesting that the settlement continued to exist through these times too, prior to the arrival of the Danes around 900 AD, with each ship arriving apparently setting up their own settlement and amongst these was the modern territory of North Ferriby (derived from the Danish ‘Ferja bi’ meaning place by a ferry, with both North and South Ferriby linked by said transport).

North Ferriby

North Ferriby

During the medieval period, Ferriby was home to a Ferriby Prior – belonging to the, somewhat infamous (whether in truth or exaggerated fiction), order of the Knights Templar. The abbey, dating from c.1160, was founded by Lord Eustace Broomfleet de Vesci and remained standing until the dissolution in 1536 with the village having passed through the hands of the families of the Mortimers, the Poles and the Barons, with mansions being added by merchants from Hull from the mid-18th century. It’s All Saints Church is Grade II listed and is recorded in the National Heritage List for England and maintained therefore by Historic England. The village also hosts part of the Transpennine and Yorkshire Wolds walkways, with the former being where the three Ferriby boats were discovered on the banks of the Humber. For a small area, they have a pretty impressive list of alumni including:- Alex Deacon (BBC Weatherman), Zara Holland (Miss GB and of Love Island fame (apparently in the case of the latter!), Phil ‘team talk on the pitch’ Brown and, most impressively, the anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce.

Paying my £5 entry as a student (nice bit of saving there), I headed inside Grange Lane and over to the club shop where I’d been told by Matthew I could find the programmes for the game today. £2 for that and 20p for a teamsheet (because I might as well for that), the game was soon upon us and the teams heading out of the tunnel. Grange Lane itself is a bit of a strange ground on the basis that apart from its “Main Stand” there is little to suggest it has ever hosted Conference-level football, though this allows it to retain its charm. Despite this, it is a pretty smart set-up and there seems little reason for the relocation in any way, shape, or form that would be beneficial in the long-run on the face of things, though I could just as easily be wrong.

Anyway, back to the day at hand. The near-side plays host to all facilities, a food bar flanked by the club shop and a raised, rather strange-looking disabled viewing area, which the dressing rooms are located to the rear of. A further hospitality building, and what I assume is the clubhouse, though I couldn’t actually ever locate it myself, is situated towards the far end, which itself is open, hard standing and features a couple of steps of terracing, as does the opposite end. The Main Stand backs onto a railway embankment (with trains running above the stand for those interested) and houses all seats in the middle, these flanked by small amounts of covered standing at each end, which I suppose were planned to have seats installed in the future too, had the need come around. A second snack bar is located next to the old away end turnstiles. That’s Grange Lane in a nutshell, and this is the story of North Ferriby United….

History Lesson:

North Ferriby United Football Club was founded in 1934, first taking part in the local East Riding Church League, winning the Division 1 title in 1938. After WWII, the club was admitted to the East Riding Amateur League and Ferriby went on to enjoy a successful period with various pieces of silverware being brought to the club’s trophy cabinet. In 1969, North Ferriby stepped into the Division Two of the Yorkshire League in 1969 and won the title at the end of their second season in the division, winning promotion to Division 1 in the process, and also added the East Riding Senior Cup title the same season. 1975 saw Ferriby lift the Yorkshire League Cup with a 2-0 triumph over Lincoln United before finishing Division 1 runners-up the next year.

In 1982, the Villagers joined the newly formed Northern Counties East League and immediately finished as runners-up in Division One North, though promotion was declined due to ground issues. This setback was soon rectified and 1986 saw Ferriby win the Division One title and with it promotion to the Premier Division. 1990 saw the club reach the FA Vase semi-finals, losing out to Tamworth in the semi-finals, before going on to achieve a “what might have been” moment in defeating the following year’s Vase winners, Guiseley, in the 1991 NCEL President’s Cup. A cup double was secured too, as the club lifted the East Riding Senior Cup. Ferriby reached the 1997 FA Vase Final after overcoming Guisborough Town in the semi-finals, but their day at Wembley would end in disappointment at the hands of Whitby Town. Two further consecutive NCEL President’s Cups were won in both 1999 & 2000.

Arriving at the ground

Myself & Matthew ft. the ‘trouble-making’ fanzine!

The 1999-‘2000 season also saw the Villagers take the NCEL championship and were duly promoted to the Northern Premier League’s Division 1 and the following season’s East Riding Senior Cup triumph ensured a fifth consecutive win between 1997-’01. A sixth straight East Riding Senior Cup duly followed in 2002 and the next season saw Ferriby make the NPL Division 1 play-offs, losing out to Radcliffe Borough, before breaking Hull City’s record for consecutive East Riding Cup wins with a 7th to offset the disappointment a little (they’ve since won 19 between 1971 and 2014). They would achieve promotion in 2005 to the NPL Premier Division, foregoing the play-offs on this occasion to take the title and immediately had success, being long-time Premier Division leaders until fading a little and finishing 5th, losing out in the play-off final to another village club:- Farsley Celtic.

Spending the next seven years in the Premier Division and winning a pair of NPL League Challenge Cups (2012 & 2013), Ferriby would eventually secure promotion in 2013, again as champions, after defeating Ashton United on the final day of the season to ensure a place in the National League North. They immediately finished as runners-up, narrowly missing out on promotion, but the next season would see major silverware won in the form of the FA Trophy, the club’s ‘return’ to Wembley this time being a successful one, as the club eventually saw off Wrexham on penalties after a 3-3 draw. The next season saw yet more success for the Villagers, as they went and got promoted to the National League, defeating AFC Fylde at Grange Lane by 2-1 AET. However, it’s all gone downhill from there, with two straight relegations seeing the club return to the NPL and it’s about to become three – likely within the next few weeks – a number of managerial changes and changes in ownership failing to arrest the slide, it seemingly more akin to a downhill slope.

The game got underway following a minute’s silence for a long-standing home supporter and it was a fairly evenly matched first ten minutes or so, though it wasn’t long until I heard a bit of a something going on at the gate and rumours of a banning order began to go around between some in the NFU supporters’ ranks. Back on the pitch, it was the hosts who had the first clear chance when Alex Knox saw his shot parried away and the acrobatic overhead follow-up was clawed away by the recovering GK. However, Gainsborough steadily took control, and after left-back Ben Gordon had shown good persistence to drive into the box, his pull back found Alex Byrne, who could only fire wide.

Match Action

Match Action

Watching on….

But the visitors would break the deadlock shortly afterwards when Anthony Wilson showed a good touch before feeding his strike partner Ashley Worsfold who confidently slotted home. They went close again soon after when Will Longbottom curled a free-kick narrowly wide of the Ferriby goal, and despite the hosts coming back into it and fashioning a couple of good sights of goal, Trinity’s #11 Longbottom would be denied by a fine double stop by the Ferriby GK Lewis Exall, but the visitors would strike again just before the break, when they were awarded a penalty and Worsfold doubled his and his side’s tally – hammering the spot-kick down the middle. 2-0, half-time.

Worsfold nets from the spot

Spending half-time munching away on a decent portion of chips, mushy peas and gravy, the second half soon began and it wasn’t long until Gainsborough killed off the game. Within a couple of minutes of the restart, Anthony Wilson found space just outside the area and curled a fantastic effort just inside the angle of the far corner woodwork. A fine strike. That goal ended Ferriby’s hopes of salvaging anything from the game in truth and their heads seemed to drop as Gainsborough took full control and pretty much peppered the home goal from then on in, only for a combination of wasteful finishing and good ‘keeping at times to keep the score down.

Match Action

Match Action

NFU ultras branch

Byrne and Longbottom continued to create problems and both saw shots fly over, before Shane Clark should’ve really done better when he capitalised on some indecisive defending to nip the ball away from the home defence, but saw his shot eventually saved, as did Longbottom, seeing another well hit free kick kept out by Exall. Wilson then scrambled the ball against the post after a quick break, before the game settled somewhat until the final throes saw sub Damian Reeves slot home number 4 and add gloss to the scoreline. Full-time, 0-4.

Post-match, I bid farewell to the ousted Matthew still positioned at his gate viewpoint (though I have since seen that it was actually someone else involved with the fanzine and not him, which just shows the disconnection from the top) and headed back to North Ferriby high-street and to the Duke of Cumberland, which was packed full and is clearly the centre of the community. Luckily, I managed to just beat the evening rush and so was able to secure a seat with a pint of San Miguel (£3.40)whilst trying to figure out with the trip to the Humber Bridge was truly worth it, over an easier (and earlier) trip home. I reckoned that, no, it wasn’t, and so after wasting the best part of the hour’s wait in the pub, I headed through the evening foggy haze that was beginning to fall over the village.

Duke of Cumberland

The Buccaneer in Brough

On the way to the station, I ended up being startled by one guy coming out of his driveway without any sound whatsoever. I began to ramble something, thinking he had seen my startled brief stop, but it soon became apparent he hadn’t and so I assume I seemed like a crazy drunk from out-of-town! That’s usually correct, so I wouldn’t blame anyone assuming this! Anyway, upon grabbing the hourly local stopper the one stop down the way to Brough, I had a good hour’s connection here too and so I was enforced to visit one of the local hostelries, the nearest to the station being the Buccaneer – seemingly an aircraft with a connection to the old airfield just across the tracks.

After milking the pint of Amstel whilst watching Wales overcome England in the Six Nations, it was finally time to head back to Manchester – a trip which was going well until my local connection was allowed to leave before a slightly delayed train for once and I ended up back on the bus home, a circuit I’m well versed in after the last six months or so! A good day had been had on the whole, and I sincerely hope that the problems at Ferriby are sorted through one way or another, as long as the club survives as it has been able to for years to this point. The village and surroundings are lovely (some of the houses wouldn’t look out-of-place in the Hollywood Hills) and the pubs I managed to visit were all decent too. Game was fine until the third killed it off, the ground nice to visit too and everyone about around the club I met seemed very welcoming too, which is always the way around these parts I find. On to another weekend we go and, hopefully, no banning this time….on or off the field!

RATINGS:

Game: 7

Ground: 7

Food: 6

Programme: 6

Value For Money: 7

Manchopper in….Gainsborough

Result: Gainsborough Trinity 5-4 Altrincham (Skrill Conference North)

Venue: The Northolme (Tuesday 7th January 2014, 7.45pm)

Att: 300

The week began without me having a game planned, this was until the Monday, when I made the somewhat strange decision to undertake the 2hr plus journey to north Lincolnshire for the Skrill North contest between Gainsborough Trinity & Altrincham. Having finished work, I made my way to the first pick up point for the Altrincham supporters’ bus, the Vine Inn on Washway Road, Sale, and was soon boarding the coach which would server us for this evening, although as it was to turn out, quite unreliably!

After further pick ups at Moss Lane & the Fox & Hounds in Altrincham, the journey was soon underway, and within half-an-hour we had arrived in Sheffield. I should point out at this point that it was a half hour due to my visit to the land of nod on the way…. After a short pit-stop at a McDonalds on the outskirts of the South Yorkshire city, the trip entered its second phase, and continued onwards towards the borders between the counties of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire & Lincolnshire, passing by Robin Hood airport, which serves the amp; South Yorkshire area.

Soon after the coach exited the darkness of the country lanes and into the lights of the town of Gainsborough, access being served by a bridge crossing over the River Trent, and past a petrol station, where the team coach which had carried the Robins side at some point earlier today, was currently stationed. After a short time within the lanes of the town the coach had undertaken a right turn and was immediately alongside Trinity’s home, Northolme.

After 35 minutes or so sat in the ground’s social club, which was decked out in beams, it was time to make my way to the turnstile, where I parted with the decent price of £11 for admittance, and a further £2.50 for the somewhat underwhelming programme. As you enter from the turnstiles, you find the refreshment building on your right, and a large covered terrace on your left. Opposite you on the far end of the pitch is an open terrace, both of which run the full width of the playing area. Along the near side runs another covered terrace, which covers the majority of the side, and opposite is the Main ‘Ping’ Stand, which is all seater and accessible for a further £1. In front of this is where the dugouts are situated, either side of the players tunnel which protrudes from the bowels of the stand. The Northolme is quite the impressive ground, and quite similar to Moss Lane in terms of size. It can hold a capacity of 4,304 supporters, of which 515 can be seated within the Main Stand.

*The club have played continuously at the Northolme since their inception meaning the ground has been in continued use for over 140 years, making it one of the oldest grounds in the world. Former chairman Peter Swann had announced plans for a new 4,000 seat stadium in 2009, but by 2012, Swann had abandoned the plans and stepped down at the end of last season, to become Chairman at Scunthorpe United.

History Lesson:

Gainsborough Trinity have a long and distinguished history, having been formed back in 1873 as Trinity Recreationists, which gave rise to the present suffix, and the nicknames ‘Trinity’, and ‘The Holy Blues’, which sounds like an unsuccessful American group from the mid 1950’s. In 1889, they became founder members of the Midland League, which was won in 1890-’91. After a couple of runners-up placings in 1891-’92 and ’95-’96, the club applied for the Football League and achieved election via third place in the ballot, ahead of existing members Port Vale & Crewe Alexandra. Placed in Division 2, they finished their inaugural league season 7th, 1901-’02 saw the club finish bottom, needing re-election to remain in the League, which they duly received,  and just three years later achieved their best League finish, 6th place. In 1912, the club finished bottom, this time failing to be re-elected missing out to county rivals Lincoln City. The club thus returned to the Midland League, and after a third and a second place finish in the next two seasons again applied for the league, but were rejected.

When the Football League created the Third Division North in 1921, Trinity again attempted to join, but were again knocked back. 1928 saw the Midland League title lifted for a second time, and the following season, the club claimed a League scalp in the FA Cup, beating Crewe 3-1, before losing to Chesterfield in Round 2.In ’31-’32, they again beat the Alex, before  losing out to Watford, and in ’37-’38 defeated Port Vale, before crashing back to earth due to a defeat to fellow non-leaguers Yeovil & Petters United. The following season saw Trinity take another League scalp, this time Gateshead, before Doncaster Rovers again stopped them in Round 2. Following the war years, a third Midland League title was won in 1948-’49 but, despite remaining in the league, this was the last silverware the club was to win, before the league disbanded in 1960. After a single season in the Yorkshire League Division 2, a return to the newly formed Midland Counties League beckoned, and the league title came in ’66-’67, before the club became founder members of the Northern Premier League (NPL) in 1968.

In 1975 & 76, Trinity applied for the Football League again, but failed on both occasions, only attaining one vote on each occasion.  When the NPL created a second division in 1987, Trinity were placed in the Premier Division, where they remained until 2004, when they became founder members of the Conference North. During their time in the NPL Premier Division, the club lifted the League Challenge Cup on two occasions, in 1982, and again in 1997. In 2011-’12, the club finished in P4, and in doing so qualified for the play-offs. After beating FC Halifax Town in the semi-final, Trinity suffered heartbreak in the final, losing out to Nuneaton Town 1-0. Last season saw Trinity reach the semi-finals of the FA Trophy for the first time ever, where they lost out to the eventual winners, Wrexham.

Tonight’s game saw the Cheshire-based Robins enter as favourites, chasing as they are the play-offs at least, whilst Trinity are in the lower reaches of mid-table. Altrincham were also giving a second appearance to their newly signed centre-back, ex-Manchester United, Derby County, Sunderland & Stoke City man Danny Higginbotham. This would turn out to be the last match of the Gibraltar international’s illustrious career.

The teams entered into a biting wind, and the game began at pace, perhaps with both sides trying their best to ward the cold off, and they definitely were doing wonders for the spectators, when after just three minutes winger Liam Davis fired home a sweet strike from 20 yards.

Altrincham fought back immediately, and should have been level when Damien Reeves was put through one-on-one with Trinity ‘keeper Phil Barnes, but the usually clinical frontman dragged his effort wide of the mark, much to the surprise of many in attendance. A warning for the home side, but one that was not heeded, as just five minutes later, former Lincoln City & Tamworth man Kyle Perry was this time give the one-on-one opportunity via Nicky Clee’s ball, and unlike his strike partner, found the net as he fired over Barnes and into the roof of the net.

You’d have put money on the Robins from there, as they were in the ascendency and playing with confidence, apart that is from the defences. As the score-line was to show, it was one to forget for the two respective back-lines, however it was Trinity who went ahead for a second time. Bradley Barraclough competed hard, and after beating two players fed the ball inside, for a shot that was blocked by Higginbotham, who scuffed his clearance, with the rebound only going as far as Jamie Wooton and he fired past the helpless Stuart Coburn.

2-1 with 30 minutes played, and it looked likely to be all square again, when Reeves was again sent clear. He would surely score this time….wouldn’t he? The answer was no, as Barnes came rushing off his line, and pulled off a wonderful save to deny the ever more frustrated frontman, and this stop proved crucial, as Trinity broke and went two goals clear, when more good approach play by Barraclough saw him force his way into the area, before lifting his effort over the onrushing Coburn, before Barnes had to be on hand five minutes before the break to deny Reeves once again, and ensure his side went in at the break with a healthy cushion.

At the break, I decided the lure of the smell of chips was too good, and after purchasing a very tasty, and decent size portion for £1.50, I retook my position at the top of the covered terrace behind the near goal that Alty would now be attacking.

The game seemed to have settled somewhat for the first 15 minutes of the half, that was until Barraclough again created havoc within the beleaguered red & white striped defence, and Simon Russell ran onto the pass, rounded the stranded Coburn, and slid inside the far post whilst showing good composure. 4-1, game over. Or so it seemed….

Having nothing to lose, Altrincham poured forward, bringing on the likes of the two James’ Lawrie & Walshaw, (h latter of whom Lawrie replaced not too long after his introduction due to injury), and it was the former who gave his side the slightest glimmer of hope with around 15 minutes to play, when he put the ball across the six-yard line and Perry slammed home from close range. However, it seemed too little, too late until the major flashpoint occurred on 89 minutes. An innocuous challenge involving Perry and a home centre-back ended in a 22-man handbags contest after the two aforementioned players squared up and Perry was pushed over in the resulting melee by Liam Davis. After consulting his assistants, the referee correctly gave Davis his marching orders, with both Perry and the CB receiving bookings for their parts in the scrap. The Trinity man could consider himself fortunate to have only received a yellow, having only done the same offence Davis had been dismissed for.

Anyway, at 4-2 and with tails up, Altrincham sensed an opportunity and on 91 minutes it was 4-3, when a ball was pulled back to edge of the box where Carl Rodgers met it to powerfully thump an effort into the top corner, grazing the underside of the crossbar as it travelled. Alty’s assistant Neil Tolson was then sent off for pitch encroachment, when he decided that Trinity custodian Barnes was taking liberties with the time, and ran, collected the ball, and place it on the six-yard lane for him. And whilst pouring forward, Alty always gave Trinity the opportunity to catch them on the break, which they duly did after 95 minutes, when they cleared the ball forwards, Barraclough ran onto it unchallenged, and fired home to spark jubilant scenes from the home support. Even then the scoring was unbelievably not over, when immediately from the kick off, Nicky Clee fired home from 30 yards, but this proved to be the last meaningful kick of the game, as the referee brought the curtain down on what really was a dramatic performance, and, as previously mentioned, for one player, it proved to be the final curtain call.

My Gainsborough Trinity M.o.M.- Phil Barnes (Crucial saves allowed side to score twice immediately afterwards)

My Altrincham M.o.M.- Nicky Clee

RATINGS:

Game:10- Quite unbelievable. Crazy scenes!

Ground:9- Old, character, traditional setting, and smart.

Programme:5- Not enamoured by it, maybe because it was midweek?

Food:8- Good price, taste & portion size.

Fans:8- Good exchanges with the Alty fans, and kept behind their players throughout.

Value For Money:10- Do you have to ask?!

Referee:8- Missed the red card at the end

TEAMS:

GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY: 1.Phil Barnes, 2.Josh Wilde, 3.Dominic Roma, 4.Ciaran Toner, 5.Mike Leary, 6.Callum Howe, 7.Simon Russell, 8.Alastair Taylor, 9.Bradley Barraclough, 10.Jamie Wootton, 11.Liam Davis. SUBS: 12.Darryn Stamp, 14.Josh Batty, 15.Josh Williams(p) 16.Lynton Karcach, 17.Josh Lacey.

ALTRINCHAM: 1.Stuart Coburn, 2.Shaun Densmore(c), 3.Adam Griffin, 4.Danny Higginbotham, 5.Gianluca Havern, 6.Tom Marshall, 7.Jake Moult, 8.Carl Rodgers, 9.Kyle Perry, 10.Damien Reeves, 11.Nicky Clee. SUBS: 12.James Walshaw(p), 14.Matt Doughty, 15.James Lawrie(p), 16.Greg Wilkinson, 17.Adam Reid(GK)

Referee: Mr. D. Richardson