The impromptu often turns out for the best. With an evening free I noticed a football match in the Sheffield and Hallamshire County Senior League between North Gawber Colliery F.C. and Wakefield A.F.C.
North Gawber play at the cricket club ground in Darton between Barnsley and Wakefield. The kick off time was 6.15 because there are no floodlights and it was easy to find the ground a few miles off junction 38 of the M1. The car park was full and everyone else was parking half on the verge and half on the road.
The football pitch is in the distance beyond the cricket pitch but I first went in the club house that has an upstairs bar vantage point to watch the cricket. No chips or coffee here so it was a bottle of water.
I walked around the cricket field towards the football ground but the outfield was boggy to say the least which also seemed partially true of one end of the football pitch. The pitch was flat and apart from the softness underfoot looked great for this time of the season. There is a railing around the whole of the playing surface with some grass banking on two sides. There s no hard standing but tufted grass in places and on one side a well tiered stand. The seats have been taken out some time ago but people were happy to sit on the concrete or the bench at the back of the stand. The view from the back was as good as any.
When the game was underway I had time to count the crowd which I believe was at one time over 120. People walking their dogs, families out for a walk or youngsters just kicking a ball wandered over to chat to fiends and relatives. There were a small contingent of Wakefield fans and all in all a very happy atmosphere. The turnout may have been partly due to the glorious evening sunshine but it was heartening to see. The draw of English teams playing in the Champions League Quarter Finals on the television did not register here. It was also interesting that there was no payment to see the game or collection.
There is little history for North Gawber that I could research but I understand they were formed in 2011. They moved to the Sheffield and Hallam League in 2013 from The South Yorkshire Amateur League. They have since then won promotion from Division 1 and won the Premier League Pre-Covid. Where they play was previously the home of Wooley Colliery Road who reached the Northern Counties East League before folding.
It would be wrong of me to look at the history of previous Wakefield teams that have been littered with failed aspirations in this large Yorkshire town. The Wakefield infont of me were only formed in 2019 by a group of local businessmen but a controlling interest was bought out in 2021 by VO2 Capital, a Connecticut based company. VO2 Capital have also taken control of Wakefield Trinity Ladies F.C. to create a women’s team, Wakefield F.C. Wakefield have plans to share Wakefield Trinity Rugby League Club’s, ground when a current upgrade is complete.
North Gawber Colliery F.C. 0 Wakefield A.F.C 3
With both teams still in with a chance to win the League there was some healthy rivalry in the football.
Wakefield started by defending the goal with the sun in their eyes but this didn’t seem to deter them as they looked likely to take control with some fast play from the wings. They had more time on the ball and ideas and should have been ahead on 35 minutes when they hit the bar. The goal did come three minutes before half time when Mason Rubie outpaced the defence on the left and cut the ball back along the ground for Owen Kirman to tap in for a one nil lead at half time.
The half time turn round was only 5 minutes but time enough for the managers to give their views. Just in front of the stand the North Gawber manager urged his team to give greater efforts in the second half. The reply from one of the team was they train two times a week, we go to the boozer.
But the talk had a good effect because for most of the second half the home team rallied and kept puting continual pressure on the Wakefield defense. With time running out a Wakefield corner deflected to the far post for Brad Swaine to head a good goal. This seemed to drain North Gawber’s resistance and just as time was up they added a third through Bruno Baggi who took advantage of a ball that rebounded after some Valliant stops on the line with the goalkeeper stranded.
Wakefield’s 3 points mean they are up to second, 5 points behind Swinton with a game in hand and a meeting between the two before the season closes. Too close to call.
For me and the good crowd this was football at its best in the evening sun.
With five minutes left a bus ‘ luckily with no passengers could not get down the road with vehicles parked on both sides. He had to wait but as I drove away he was going back with ‘not in service’ on his head board. Perhaps he just wanted to see the end of the game.