Evening football on Emley Moor.

As you drive north on the M1 in the dark you will notice two sets of red lights climbing up into the sky. One is the Emley Moor Grade 2 listed, built of concrete, transmitter that began transmitting in 1971 and the other is a temporary metal structure put up in 2018 to be used whilst the older transmitter has the technology changed at the top of the mast. This should have been completed by the end of last year but has been delayed.

My reason for the interest is that I was headed for Emley village just a mile west of the towers to see Emley AFC play Knaresborough Town in a Northern Counties East Premier Division encounter. You drive up the hill to the village and you soon notice the floodlights welcoming you but there seems no way to get to the ground. Having driven up and down twice I noticed a car cut down between two houses and low and behold there is a very small notice on the wall for the car park. Once through the gap it opens up to a good sized area with easy parking.

The entrance to the ground leads in to a table selling tickets for a traditional meat raffle, this one made up of a breakfast tray. I haven’t seen a meat raffle at a ground for over three years and my ticket was just five off the winner that keeps up my run of never having won one. My contributions to football clubs by now must have reached a tidy sum. If I wasn’t committed to a match this Saturday the ticket sellers promise that at this Saturdays game there will be a tray of a full stake dinner may have tempted me.

On entering you immediately notice a large covered seating area down one side which is complemented by some covered standing behind one goal with the other end being open. What is unusual is that one side is completely fenced off which comes down at the end of the season for the adjoining cricket club. The club house under the stand was cosy and modern and a food bar located at the far end.

I sat in the stand which was pleasant with an outside temperature of 11 degrees but for the next 10 minutes a fine rain swept horizontal across the ground. The rain stopped as soon as it came but was a precursor for a stronger cold wind. You can get four seasons in a match up here not in a day

The pitch looked as if it had been cut short and where the pitch had been rolled earth was visible. The pitch looked like it drained well with the slope from right to left goal mouths.

Emley has seen local football since 1903 and the original team reached as high as the Northern Premier League, an FA Vase final and a match at West Ham in the FA Cup. However a move to Wakefield to further their dream that looked hampered by a ground grading issue did not work out.

In 2005 a team based on Emley reserves who had continued to play in the village was formed to play at the Welfare Ground.

Just one season in the West Yorshire League and they were elevated to The Northern Counties East League. By 2019 Emley had reclaimed their name but they were also unusually moved to the North West Counties League. After two seasons they campaigned to return East and the recent reorganisation of Leagues and their performances in games in the second Covid curtailed season meant they were relocated into the Premier Division of the NCEL where they sit today.

The opponents Knaresborough Town FC have a long history going back to 1898 when there was a team called ‘Trinity’ which changed its name to Knaresborough two years later. Reformed in 1945 as Knaersborough Rovers they have played in various local Yorkshire Leagues and are enjoying their highest level of competition having been promoted to The Northern Counties East League Division One in 2012 and to the Premier Division in 2017.

Emley AFC 4 Knaresborough Town FC 0

Tuesday 8th February 7.45 Kick Off

Fantastic Media Welfare Ground, Emley, The Pewits v The Boro, 16th v 17th

Emley: Claret Shirts with blue sleeves and white shorts, Knaresborough: All bright yellow strip.

Both sides had early chances but as the game continued Emley looked the stronger. On 36 minutes Callum Charlton found himself to be onside, to the amazement of the 173 supporters, as he burst through with just the goalkeeper to beat. He duly stroked the ball into the corner of the net for Emley to take the lead which they held till half time.

Having a walk round the ground at half time the wind was playing a tune through the netting behind the open end of the ground.

Emley had the advantage of the slope in the second half but failed to take advantage until the hour mark when Doyle threatened on the left and as he passed the defender he was brought down. The penalty was expertly put into the right hand corner of the net by Joe Jagger to make it two nil.

Knaresborough did not give up but the luck was certainly not with them when with 10 minutes left Doyle seemed to have an easy chance to score but his miss kick hit Craig Hall and the ball sailed into his own goal. It was all over now and made easier for Emley with two bad injuries to Knaresborough players that due to previous substitutions left them with only 10 men on the pitch.

Emley duly scored again in the last two minutes for a game winning 4.0 when despite the diving keepers best efforts he could not keep out the strong Joe Jagger’s effort.

Emley have now won three in a row and are now almost clear of any relegation worries while Knaresborough still have more to do that has been made harder by their injuries.

It was great getting back to some good chips which were hot, crispy, firm and tasty but soon cooled in the wind. A good score of 78.

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