Garforth Town V Athersley Recreation (2/4/16)
I was actually going to Barnoldswick Town today and then travelling to see a friend in Blackpool, stopping overnight. Our great English inclement April weather put paid to that plan at 10 am on the Saturday morning when my travelling companion rang to say the match was off due to a waterlogged pitch. Plan B was Hallam at Sheffield which is y the oldest ground in the World. By the time I had got to Wetherby in the car the reports were that game was off to. Plan C was to try Garforth Town and plan D was to turn around and go home probably ending up taking the wife shopping. I was determined there was not going to be a plan D but the rain was driving down and it did not look good for Garforth. Since I was only 15 minutes away in the car I would push on and hope for the best. Luckily we got to there and the weather was not too bad actually. It must have been on oasis in the middle of Yorkshire that day and was well pleased to find a game that was on.
I had been top Garforth before but that was at their old ground called Brierlands Lane. This was for an FA cup tie against Blyth Spartans in the second qualifying round and Blyth won 1-0.
Wheatley Park is only a few hundred yards form the site of the old ground and no signs of any remain to where it was. The club was formed in 1964 and was first known as Miners Arms playing in the West Yorkshire leagues. In 1978 they changed their name to Garforth Miners then eventually to their current name in 1985. In the 1980.s the club also joined the North East Counties league. In 2007 Garforth progressed to the Northern Premier league and stayed there for 6 seasons until they were relegated back to the North east Counties league.
Garforth Town have had a few famous names attached to the club. Brazilian player Socrates singed and played 12 minutes for them in a match Attracting over 1,300 on the gate. Lee Sharpe also played a few matches and scored 4 goals while another Brazilian international called Careca also played for the Yorkshire club. In 2010 a certain Paul Gascoigne was supposed to take up the managers job but nothing came of it.
The ground can be found after driving through a housing estate of pleasant private houses. You pas the site of the old ground and arrive at a small car park at the ground. Oddly you are immediately met by a burger van on the outside of the stadium as it seems no space is available inside. A social club is attached to the main stand with a bride attaching it to the main stand making it look like the pedestrian walkway at Eldon square.
You enter alongside the main stand which appears quite tall. There is no back to the roof which sits quite high of the seating area. I imagined in winter sitting at the back of the stand would be quite chilly. Two 5 a side pitches are either side of the main stand and these ‘eat into’ the ground somewhat. Behind one of the goals there are a few pieces of corrugated sheets made to form a small covered area for standing spectaotors. Thios is called the Strawberry end as large parts of the area behing the ground are growing our little red friends.
Today’s opponents are Athersley Recreation who come from Barnsley. They were formed in 1979 and I have been there as well. They produced some of the best food I have ever tasted at a football match before. Not just your standard pie, burger and chips but they also had two special meals on. So good in fact I was very greedy and had both they were that good!
Both Garforth and Athersley have had bad starts since the turn of this year and have only both just won one game in 2016. To avoid being sucked into a relegation battle both sides needed a win today. Garforth would also be wanting revenge after getting beat 5-0 earlier in the season at Athersley. The game kicked off and in the first half it looked as if Garforth were slightly the better side.
It took until 50 minutes to break the deadlock with Luke MaCrum scoring for Garforth on 50 minutes. Athersley did not seem tyo offer a lot after that but battle they did. The game was sealed on 75 minutes when Garforth scored again through Curtley martin-Wyatt on 75 minutes.
As I left the ground to go home I wondered what would have happened if Paul Gascoigne had become manager here. Would he have turned the club and his own life around? A question that will never be answered.