Result: Ossett Albion 4-0 Bamber Bridge (Northern Premier League Division One North)
Venue: Queens Terrace/Dimple Wells (Saturday 21st April 2018, 3pm)
As the season begins to reach the end of the road, so also does the run of Ossett Albion as a senior outfit. If you haven’t already heard (and where have you been if not?!), the Unicorns’ open-age side are to merge with their cross-town rivals, Ossett Town, to form a new united club under the name of….well, Ossett United. This, in turn, will also spell the end for Queen’s Terrace as a ground within the footballing pyramid and so, with Dimple Wells being one of my favoured grounds ever since my first trip way back in 2009-’10, I figured a final jolly to the Unicorns was in order.
Indeed, the game would also see the final game played by Albion at the ground before their departure though, pleasingly, it will remain in some guise with a 3G being installed which will see it continue to be the home of the side’s development and women’s teams going forward, with United playing at Town’s Ingfield ground right in the centre of Ossett itself. As a result, I decided to leave the main area of the town alone for now and instead see what the “South Ossett” area had to offer instead. Sadly this wouldn’t include the Ossett Brewery’s own pub, with it being a little too far out-of-the-way this time around.
Anyway, having headed into Manchester during the mid-morning, I caught the train over from Victoria to Dewsbury in the nick of time before heading up through the Roses county border towns of Hebden Bridge and its fine, traditional station, Todmorden and Mytholmroyd, eventually arriving into Dewsbury station at just before midday, in good time to complete the short walk over to the bus station to catch the carriage over to Ossett. It was bloody hot on that thing too. What is this sorcery?!
Having headed just past the current home of Albion, I got off just down the road from my first two stop-offs of the day, situated towards the far end of the town. First up was the Weaver’s Arms which is a really unassuming, old-school pub. It doesn’t look particularly overly welcoming from the outside but inside the feeling is well and truly different, with locals happy to chat about the footballing matters both in Ossett and up in the Prem too, fed by the West Brom-Liverpool game on TV. There was even a guy in here who was visiting from Perth, Australia for the game but, before you think groundhopping has gone too far, he was a friend of someone high up within the Unicorns’ ranks!
Having finished up my pint of Kaltenberg (which at less than £3 was a huge bargain), I bid goodbye to the guys in here and continued onwards back towards the first pub I’d passed en route, the Old Vic – though I did go back a slightly longer way round, as I wanted to have a look at the old Christ Church just around the corner. Eventually arriving back at the Vic, I was soon in possession of a pint of Coors in here whilst I concocted my plan of getting a pair of programmes early, as it was likely these would sell out considering the magnitude of the day. I’m not usually too fussed about them per se, though I do like to pick one up if possible and certainly so if the game is more meaningful than is often the case. BTW, the Vic was a decent little pub too, with a wide range of exotic (and otherwise) empty bottles lined up in one corner of the room. The Coors didn’t come cheap, though, coming in at around £4.
From here I headed off across this part of town, foregoing the Park Tavern for now and instead venturing through a slightly more estate-y area to the Prince of Wales. This was ok enough for a quick one, though I didn’t remain in place all that long, another Coors in here setting me back £3.50~ before I returned down the same road and back towards the ground.
I didn’t seem to be the first person who’d had the idea of getting a programme early doors as the turnstile operator didn’t seem to set aback by my request and I soon had possession of two programmes at £2 a pop, with Dan still on his way down to join me. It was something of a shame that he wasn’t there already, as I soon made what I believe is my biggest faux pas of the season so far, and one I’ll have to go some to best at all. Having popped around the corner and to the Dimple Wells Lodge, I came across a wedding reception in the garden. However, there was nothing to state that the hotel’s bar was affected by this and having headed through the main doors and into the empty bar area, nothing seemed to point towards this being the case.
I was wrong. Having informed Dan of where I was, we were soon approached by the manager of the hotel who informed us that the whole place was indeed booked out for the function, meaning that we were, officially and unquestionably, gatecrashers, albeit completely accidental ones! She was very nice about it, saying we should have really been told earlier (I’d been there a good 25 minutes at this point!) and that we needn’t rush what we had. Of course not wanting to outstay our unwanted welcome, we did just that and headed, rather sheepishly back through the guests and back towards the ground for kick-off. I’d wanted to seek out the groom, who was happy enough for us to finish up we were informed, and apologise for the oversight, but couldn’t spot him so I’d like to offer him & his new wife the opportunity to return the favour as when and if the roles are reversed….and I’m serious too!
Soon arriving back at Queen’s Terrace, we headed around the boundary of the adjoining cricket ground and to the turnstiles were we were relieved of our £7 entry fee before we immediately beared right and dived into the “tea bar” where I opted for cheesy chips and mushy peas for £2. These were bloody good too and kept me busy for the first ten minutes of the match, which had gotten underway soon after our arrival to Dimple Wells. Speaking of the ground, it is a lovely, ramshackle (and I mean that in a positive way) ground, hosting three stands.
Firstly, the Main Stand is located on the far side of the ground and straddles the half-way line. The far end hosts a newer covered standing area, with a little extra uncovered terracing located at either side. The near end houses another covered terrace, with this being set back slightly from the pitch and so the views aren’t the best from here, though the more vocal section of the home support call this place home, perhaps due to the close proximity of the clubhouse which stands within the gap between the turnstile/tea bar and the covered terrace, and also has a few outside tables upon a raised patio area, which is a nice place to be on a day such as this was. The near touchline is a couple of steps of open, hard standing, which runs the length of the pitch, though the bit behind the dugouts is rather pointless as you can’t see a thing unless you are around 6’6. Be that as it may, I love Queen’s Terrace. That’s the ground in a nutshell and this is the story of Ossett Albion….
Ossett Albion Association Football Club was founded in 1944 (which must be a rarity in that they were formed in wartime) as a junior outfit before eventually becoming a senior team and after initially joining the West Riding County Amateur League for a short spell, Albion joined the Yorkshire League in 1957, taking a place in their Division 2. The club would be promoted at the end of their second season here, finishing as runners-up, before immediately finishing as league-runners up the next year, to Farsley Celtic.
They remained in Division One through to 1972, a period which encompassed three West Riding County Cup wins in 1965, ’66 & ’68, before they were relegated at the end of the 1971-’72 season after finishing bottom. They then spent just two seasons back in Division Two before again finishing as runners-up and returning to the top division. They would then become the Yorkshire League’s 1975 champions as they immediately won the title in their first year back but quickly dropped off into mid-table and were relegated just three years later, though did see more cup success, with two Yorkshire League Cups being won in 1976 & 1977. However, they would spend just a season back in Division Two before being promoted, this time as winners in 1979.
Their return would be short lived and they were relegated back, once more, after just the one season and they continued to yo-yo between the two divisions, being promoted at the end of the next campaign, as Albion won the Division 2 for a second time. The following year would be the club’s final in the Yorkshire League, as Albion would take a spot in the newly formed Northern Counties East League’s Division One North for Season 1982-’83, with the Yorkshire League having merged with the Midland League to create the new NCEL. After spending two seasons in the North Division, reorganisation saw them move into the short-lived Central section for 1984 prior to being allocated a place in the regional Division One for 1985 following a 4th placed finish. The club would go on to spend a further two seasons in the Division One prior to winning it in 1987 and being promoted to the NCEL Premier Division.
After finishing bottom (but avoiding relegation) at the end of both the first two seasons and finishing second-bottom at the end of their third, things began to take a turn for the better and the Unicorns began to rise up the table slowly, firstly establishing themselves in mid-table before reaching the higher echelons and then finally lifting the NCEL title in 1999. Unfortunately, the club were not promoted to the Northern Premier League’s Division One due to issues with regard to the changing rooms not being big enough and so Albion had to remain in the NCEL for another two seasons, eventually being promoted in 2001 when, after finishing as runners-up to Brigg Town, Brigg were the club this time being denied promotion. However, their stay in the NPL Division One lasted just a sole season, the Unicorns finishing bottom and thus returning back to the Counties East.
A further two season spell back in the NCEL (which saw the NCEL League Cup won in 2003) was ended when Albion won their second championship after beating Eastwood Town to the title on the final day of the 2003-’04 season on goals scored only. The club therefore returned to the NPL’s Division One and would cement themselves as a solid mid-table outfit, remaining in the Division One through its separation into a North/South divisional split in 2007, with the club finishing 6th at the end of both the first two seasons following. However, their form soon dropped away and the club became perennial strugglers for the next six seasons, finishing a best of 17th in 2015, having already narrowly avoided the drop with 2014 seeing only a late reprieve keep their NPL status intact. After a 10th placed finish in 2016 saw a relieving upturn in form, Albion returned towards the wrong end of the table last season, finishing 18th, with this season seeing them safely hovering in the lower mid-table under ex-Sunderland midfielder Andy Welsh, ahead of the impending merger with Ossett Town.
With the game already underway, it wasn’t long until the first chance came around. In fact it took just six minutes for the visitors from just outside Preston to come close, Adam Dodd seeing his well struck shot parried away by Brett Souter between the Albion sticks and Brig continued their bright start soon afterwards when Alistair Waddecar’s free-kick was deflected rather wickedly and duly forced Souter into a second good stop of the afternoon.
Dodd would again go within a whisker of giving his side the lead some fifteen minutes later when he saw his effort hit the outside of the upright and it was this close-call that seemed to awaken the hosts from their slumber. In fact, just a few minutes later, they themselves would strike first with something of a goalmouth scramble resulting in the ball finding its way to the feet of Scott Metcalfe and the winger made little issue of sweeping the ball home from close range. One-nil to the Unicorns!
Waddecar then went close a second time, seeing his effort clear the bar and the terraced stand behind the goal, before Albion would double their advantage just after the half-hour when Tom Corner was left totally unmarked at, rather fittingly, a corner-kick and he thumped his header beyond Brig stopper Lloyd Rigby and into the net and it looked like the fans of the hosts would be saying a fond farewell to their home & current club with a win. Half-Time; 2-0.
Half-Time was largely spent being amused by a group of young Albion fans who were quite happy to show their idolising of Derek Ubah during the warm-up. Indeed, Ubah definitely seems a cult hero in these parts, getting his own cheer when entering the field during the second-half, so he must be a certainty to keep his place in the new United team for next season, otherwise there could be rioting afoot in these parts. Be warned!
The second half was soon a-go and it didn’t take long until Bamber Bridge were laden with a huge setback when a ‘robust’ challenge by right-back Macauley Wilson on Albion’s Josh Grant resulted in tempers flaring here and there as players swarmed in from all over the field. However it would be Wilson only who would be given his marching orders though to be fair to him, he seemed remorseful and knew it was a bad one, checking on Grant before heading from the field.
Things soon settled down and Albion would assert their numerical dominance quickly with Aiden Chippendale going close and James Knowles hitting the crossbar. They would eventually add their third on 70 minutes when Gibraltar international Adam Priestley latched onto a long ball forward from ‘keeper Souter before squaring the ball to Chippendale who slotted home.
Souter would soon be forced to leave the field having been caught in a fair 50-50 challenge meaning sub ‘keeper Owen Brooke received an unexpected appearance but this proved to have little effect on Albion as they added a fourth late on when a terrible mix-up between a defender and Rigby led to Adam Priestley nipping in between them, knocking the ball over the ‘keeper and nodding into the empty net to complete a fine win for the hosts and ensure that a fitting farewell was given to Ossett Albion Football Club at Queen’s Terrace.
After a quick visit into the bar for a Bulmers post-match, Dan and I continued just up the road and to The Tap pub which stands pretty much opposite the ground’s access road. It was here that I was faced with the beautiful sight of Blue Moon on tap (unsurprisingly, I guess) and I didn’t hesitate in handing over my £4.20 (ish) for a pint of the lovely American, Belgian-style wheat beer. However, soon after joining Dan – who once again disappointed with a Carling – I had a realisation. I’d forgotten about the Park Tavern and that would have been a bad showing to miss out one place alone. So I swiftly finished off here, left Dan to finish off that….stuff and jogged on over to the Park for a quick bottle of Bud (not the dilly dilly version) before catching the bus back up to Dewsbury where I was to meet Dan for the train back, which featured the highlight of a Gibbo in the wild, returning from watching his beloved Colls along with his girlfriend. Needless to say, he quickly made sure he escaped our grasp!
After stopping at each and every station on the way back, we eventually pulled back into Victoria where I bid goodbye to Dan and headed back on over to Oxford Road for the train back, the walk being highlighted by a guy doing his very best George Michael’s ‘Carless Whispers’ on his saxophone in “Sexy Sax Man” style. What a way to end off the day, wouldn’t you agree?!
So that’s that for both the day and Ossett Albion in their town. A fine day and game combined well to make for a good trip, with programme, food and pubs all being fine additions to the day too. The journey both up and down was pretty much trouble-free (bar making the train with seconds to spare en route) but that was it. Anyway, all the best to the two Ossett’s on their new beginning and hopefully they can tap in to the rather large catchment area they are no doubt within. Anyway, onto next week and the, by time of writing, NPL North champs….
Value For Money: 7