Football is coming back in Bangor.

Recently in North Wales I passed the closed ground of Bangor City which has not been used since they abruptly ended their fixtures not even halfway through last season. Bangor City had an illustrious past as one of Wales most successful sides and were renowned for their European nights. But all had not been well at the club, one of the oldest in the UK and one of the founder members of the Cymru Premier (Welsh National League).

Perhaps the beginning of the end was when they moved from their atmospheric Farrar Road ground, that they had used for nearly 100 years, when it was redeveloped as an Asda supermarket and they moved into a new purpose built stadium with views up and down the Menai Straits. The new ground with its provision for 1500 seats would enable Bangor to welcome European games should they qualify as they had always had to play at other North Wales grounds in the past due to their home ground not coming up to UEFA standards.

The club, one of the oldest in the UK, was founded in 1876 and was instrumental in being founder members of many of the premier leagues in Wales as well as the Northern Premier League in England. They took part in the inaugural Welsh Cup and won it on eight times including three back to back victories in 2008/2009/2010 and won the Welsh Premier League three times.

Their new ground was not without local controversy, The Nantporth Stadium (Bangor University Stadium) was built for Bangor Council and leased to the football club for I believe 30 years. It was finally opened in December 2012 having been started in 2008. The Auditor General of Wales review of the lease in December 2020 critisised the councils governance over the lease and recommended that in future there should be proper recording of all meetings where the public and the press are not present and that they should ensure the appropriate advice is taken prior to decision making.

After falling to near the bottom of the Cymru Premier in 2016 the club was sold to a Cheshire based consortium who promised strong investments into all aspects of the club. Members of the Vaughn family were involved in running the club. In April 2018 the Football Association of Wales Club Licensing Appeals Body decided to revoke Bangor’s Tier 1 and UEFA license due to not meeting financial criteria and the club were to be relegated to the second tier the following season. HMRC in June 2018 revoked a second winding up order for non payment of tax as it was paid late but their auditors resigned in October 2018.

In 2019 the FAW charged the club with varying offences which would have resulted in points deductions but the club were eventually successful in challenging all of these. By September of 2019 the owners of the club, VSN, sold their shares to an Italian based musician Domenico Serafino whose son was a Bangor City player.

Serafino brought in Pedro Pasculli as manager whose pedigree included a World Cup medal with Argentina. The Covid restricted season, 2019/20 was based on points per game played before the cessation of the league program and Bangor finished 5th in the second tier. The 2020/21 season was totally scraped due to Covid restrictions but in April the clubs Tier 1 license was refused due to the non provision of accounts and the issue of coaching qualifications. Another new head coach was hired but non payment of player wages was the latest problem and it became known that the same issue had arisen at an Italian club owned by Domenico Serafino, A.S. Sambenedettese that had been declared bankrupt and expelled from their league. The FAW called the club to a disciplinary hearing in October 2021 to put their case and ruled that all outstanding monies should be paid within 31 days. When this deadline passed the FAW fined Bangor City and deducted 3 points for each un played game until 18th February when the club informed them that they had withdrawn from the league. At the end of February a club that was recognised as Bangor City was offered for sale for £1.25 million.

Since then there has been no further published information but the majority of supporters have now switched allegiances to a newly formed fan-led club, Bangor 1876 FC. The new club have been elected to the third tier of Welsh football after finishing fourth in their league last year.

They are playing at the Treborth Ground of the University of Bangor and as they progress maybe one day they may play at Nantporth.

Wimbledon made it back to the English Football League and a ground in Plough Lane, Clapton will soon be back at The Old Spotted Dog ground and Bury F.C. have regained Gigg Lane so anything is possible.

Lets hope that Bangor will once again be involved in European football.

‘The Ghosts of Cathkin Park’

‘The Ghosts of Cathkin Park’ – The inside story of Third Lanark’s Demise

Written by Michael McEwan. Published 2021 by Arena Sport

This book tells the story of the stadium (Cathkin Park) and the club it housed, Third Lanark.

Third Lanark grew up and survived the history of this working class area of Glasgow until its final days in 1967 despite being one of Scotland’s most historic clubs having been a founder member of the Scottish F.A. and the winners of the greatest silverware available in the country.

I visited Cathkin Park and wrote about it on September 8th last year which captured my interest and when I saw that there was a new book it was a must read.

The book is importantly about the players, fans and officials who were there and responsible for the demise of the club and therefore the ground. Although there were board members who appeared to hold most of the blame the book does not give you a definitive villain but you can draw your own conclusions. Where also were the local council and the Scottish F.A. in the plight of the club.

With most of those who were involved no longer with us direct questions can not be asked. What I liked most about the book was the way in which it put the time and place of the crime (the demise of Third Lanark) in context with what was going on in Scottish and European football, local people, local politics, the environment and the world.

While in 1967 Celtic were winning the European Cup, Rangers reached the final of the European Cup Winners Cup and Kilmarnock lost in the semi final of the Inter Cities Fairs Cup’ Third Lanark were drifting away into obscurity. One of Scotland’s proudest football times was tainted by goings on just literally down the road from the national stadium.

Season 2021/22 Chip League

Of the 36 games I watched this last season I tasted the chips at 21 of them with 15 offering no chips at all. This year there is a tie for first place on 85, Kiveton Miners Welfare and Folkestone Invicta so I needed to make a value judgement on who the overall winner was. Folkestone’s fan zone and refreshment offering is one of the best that I have seen in Non League Football but I have given first place to Kiveton Miners Welfare. Where else would I have had great chips cooked for me and brought to me in my seat in the small stand at this Central Midlands League Premier North Division ground. Great service deserves the accolade.

This is the fourth season of this league with Shirebrook Town, twice and Ilkeston Town previous winners. I am having to review whether to have the chip league next year as a recent ‘Wellman’ check has shown up a rise in bad cholesterol and I m trying to remedy this by diet. Hopefully I will be successful and can continue this year. I failed to give Shirebrook and Ilkeston the chance to regain their crowns and intend to do this early in the newly awaited season if possible.

Another highlight of the chip year was going to ‘Fields’ in Esh Winning to try their chips cooked on a coal fired range. Although they don’t look very appetising in my photo they were just like I remember as a child. Coal fired chip shops will most probably not be with us much longer.

Football ClubScoreComments
Kiveton Miners Welfare85
Folkestone Invicta85
Belper Town85
Eastwood Town81
Percy Main80
St Albans City80
Emley FC78
Heanor Town78
Hucknall Town78
Newcastle Town73
Sherwood Colliery69
Carlton Town69
Staveley Miners Welfare62
Lancaster City55
Poole Town53
Tow Law Town50
Spalding United50
Belper Town45
Corby Town40
Spennymoor Town35
Hallam FC0Queue too long
Rossington Main0No Chips, Great pie & Peas
Milton Keynes Dons0No Chips
Burnley FC0No Chips
Rainworth Miners Welfare0No Chips
Dinnington Town0No Chips
Loughborough University0No Chips, Fantastic facilities
Esh Winning0No Chips, Fields in village after game.
Barrow in Furnace AFC0No Chips, Good deep filled pie
Wrexhan0No Chips, Poor food for away fans
Montagu Cup Final0No Chips
North Gawber Colliery FC0No Chips
SJR Worksop0No Chips, No 2nd Half
Chesterfield FC0No Chips, England Under 19 game
Mansfield Hosiery0No Chips, Great hot chocolate

Welsh league football at last

I had seen football in Wales before but never a Welsh League game so it was with anticipation that I drove along the A55 North Wales dual carriageway. The road is a pleasure except on those manic holiday weekends when queues can often cause frustration. There are some huge vistas, castles, sea views, on a late April day Bluebell and yellow splodges of gorse and to finish off Snowdonia.

Llandudno F.C.’s ground was on the edge of an industrial estate behind the town centre and the game was against Llangefni in the Cymru North League which is the second tier of Welsh football. Only one team is promoted from the Cymru North League along with the winner of the Cymru South League. The game was the last of the season for both teams Langefni sitting near the bottom table and Llandudno in second place but with no chance of catching runaway leaders Airbus UK.

There was ample parking just outside the ground and on entering the brightness of the synthetic pitch hits you first. The pitch was mainly flat with a few undulating areas. The pitch was heavily sanded evident by the amount being kicked up by the players warming up. The weather was glorious with blue skies and a few grey clouds but unless you could shelter from the strong coastal wind it felt chilly.

The OPS Wind Arena has low level seating on three sides with hard standing behind one goal and along the areas where there is no seating. There are one strorey buildings behind the goal and on the sides for changing rooms, administration, bars, food, shop etc. Three of the floodlight poles are also telecommunication antennae which may add to the clubs income along with the multipurpose pitch. The crowd was a good mix of all ages and almost 50/50 males and females.

There is recorded evidence that there was a team in Llangefni in 1882 which like many of the time was born out of religious attendance. The Llangefni Town Football Club was founded 5 years later in in 1897. They initially played in the newly formed Anglesey Football League formed in the same year. nearly 100 years later in 1988 they were promoted to the Gwynedd League. There stay here was nowhere near as long as only two years later after a very successful two years they joined the Tyn Lon Volvo Welsh Alliance League. Their success at this time was emphasised when in 1992 they won the Welsh Intermediate Cup, the only Anglesey club to do so. Keeping up their rapid change saw the advent of the new millennium bring a new ground and another move this time to the Cymru Alliance.

The next highlight for the club was in 2008 when they were promoted to the Welsh Premier league but unfortunately having reached the summit of Welsh football they were relegated the a year later. After nearly getting back into the Premier League by 2012 they were relegated back to the Welsh Alliance and due to organisational problems had to start the 2013 season in the Anglesey league back to where they started. By 2015 their efforts had lead them back to Welsh Alliance Division 1 and 4 years later they went up to the Championship North. So after some very static early years you have to say that more recent times have been quite a roller coaster.

Football in Llandudno started 1878 4 years earlier than Llangefni with a club believed to have been called Gloddaeth Rovers formed out of a cricket club.

A Llandudno team were founder members of the Welsh National League (North) in 1921 but the current team were started in 1988 as Llandudno F.C. moving to their current location in 1991. Since then the team have managed to improve the ground with the seating, covered areas, the floodlights and buildings with disabled access all to Cymru Premier League criteria. All in all a herculean effort topped off in 2014 with the addition of the 3G pitch and a year later promotion to the Welsh Premier League for the first time. The dream continued with a first season 3rd place finish and qualification to the Europa League. Unfortunately ups are often followed by downs and they were relegated to the Cymru North in 2019 where they currently play.

Llandudno F.C. 6 Llangefni F.C. 1

Saturday 22rd April 2022 Kick Off 2.30 pm Last League game of the Cymru North Season

With Snowdonia as a backdrop the teams kicked off and it soon seemed obvious that Llandudno were well on top of the conditions Within 1 minute they were ahead when the Llangefni defence were static appealing for offside that left Toby Jones on his own to easily score past the rooted goalkeeper. I hardly had time to settle in my seat and it was two nil after 9 minutes when Mark Williams deflected a ball into the net despite vociferous appeals from the Llangefni goalkeeper for hand ball.

Players had difficulty taking free kicks or goal kicks as the blustery wind refused to let it stand still. Llandudno showed some skill with long pin point passes often from one side of the field to the other and their defensive dominance enabled their right back to threaten as an extra wide player. On the half hour Llangefni were on the score sheet when Phillips curled a glorious ball into the top left of the net from outside of the goal area. However the home team cemented their dominance when Danny Hughes cut back the ball to the back post for Guto Williams to restore the 2 goal lead. which was maintained until half time.

Llandudno playing against the wind in the second half continued the scoring when 10 minutes into the half their captain stalwart Lee Krusty Thomas who was playing his last game for the club ran on to a pass to smash the ball home. Although

Landudno were already assured of finishing second in the league but they did not sit back and made it five with 15 minutes left when another plyer, Neil Ashton, also making his last game for the club used his left foot to volley a good goal.

Five minutes later Lee Thomas, wearing number 99, was substituted for the last time before his retirement and was clapped off by the crowd of 308.

Marc Williams made it 6 with a few minutes left to end my Welsh League experience.

The chips were cooked to order and were hot, golden and fluffy inside but had a neutral taste gaining a score of 70.

England Under 19’s footballers win at Chesterfield

England U 19’s 2 Portugal U 19’s 0

Chesterfield Technique Stadium kick off 7.30 p.m.

UEFA Under 19’s Qualifier

6005 turned up for this England qualifier and filled two sides of the 12000 all seater stadium.

After a few glorious days fans were pleased to have dressed for a wind that was quickly reducing the temperature. Chesterfield’s pitch is perfectly flat and against local reports I was pleased to find that only the immediate goal areas were sanded on what looked a green thick turf.

A win for England would ensure them a place in the finals in Slovakia from the 18th June to 1st July.

The game started fast with Portugal pressing with two quick forewords in Diago Trevasson and Joleson testing the England back line. It was England however who took an early lead when Brooke Norton Cuffey of Arsenal made a great overlap on the right to cut the ball back for Dave Scarlett to place the ball along the ground between a defenders legs.

The pace kept up and just before half time on 40 minutes Devine was brought down by the Portugal goalkeeper and Dave Scarlett stepped forward to take the penalty. Scarlett placed the ball to the keepers right to give England a comfortable lead at the break.

England only had one scare in the second half when a Portugal defender was free at the far post after a great cross from the left. How he ballooned the ball over the bar when almost on the goal line baffled everyone in the stadium. Portugal made numerous changes to try and gain a foothold in the game and were shown 6 yellow cards to England’s 1 mainly due to their frustration at the home sides controlled play. England ran our competent winners to progress to the summer finals. In a fast and furious game the two Aston Villa players of Charney Chuckwuemeka and Tim Iroegbunam stood out as they were effective but seemed to have time on the ball that appeared almost casual.

There are no pictures of the match as UEFA asked that there should be no autographs, selfies or pictures taken of the players.

The sun doesn’t always bring out the best in football.

On a mission to see Keele University play I checked on the journey to find the game postponed, so looking at other games locally I found that Newcastle Town were playing Glossop North End in the Northern Premier league West.

Parking in the centre of Newcastle under Lyme I decided to take the 18 minute walk to the game because the weather although hazy was a beautiful 19 degrees with no wind. With 50 minutes to kick off it seemed a cinch looking at Google maps. I decided to take a short cut through the cemetery but as I entered the cool I lost signal. It was peaceful walking through in the tree lined paths but totally disorientating. After being sent the wrong way by a helpful passer by my signal returned and I found that I had gone totally off piste. After finding my way back to where I started I was running out of time so I quickened my pace and eventually walked through the gate to the ground with a minute to spare.

There was however a ceremony taking place on the pitch which I found out was unfortunately a tribute to Newcastle’s late Chairman, Paul Ratcliffe who had recently passed.

The ground is in a very large park with other sports pitches and facilities and it is unusual because it has a velodrome all around the perimeter and therefore feels spacious but I did not feel that this made it a bit removed from the pitch. The pitch was very flat and green and all around there is hard standing at different heights depending on the curve of the cycling track. In the middle of one side behind the dugouts is a covered standing area and there is a seating area on the other side.

The Newcastle club is believed to have been started in 1964 in the local Sunday League but its present incarnation started in 1986 with the merger with another local club, Parkway Clayton. Initially playing in local Cheshire Leagues they soon progressed the the North West Counties League and as Champions in 2010 were promoted to the Northern Premier League. Newcastle have developed a very strong youth set up and have even been able to create their own multi pitch facility in the area.

You would need a book to describe the history of Glossop North End who were founded in 1886 as an amateur club but turned professional just a few years later and soon climbed the Leagues to be invited to join the English Second Division in 1898 and a season later played for one season in England’s most senior league. Some poor seasons meant that in 1915 they were not re-elected to the League and have since spent many seasons in Non-league football. There have been ups and downs but their most recent success was when they reached the F.A. Vase final in 2015 only to lose to North Shields 2-1 and also win the North West Counties League and gain promotion to the Northern Premier League where the realignment of the Non League structure now finds them in the Northern Premier League West Division.

Newcastle Town F. C. 0 Glossop North End A.F.C. 0

Saturday 26th March 2022 3.00pm kick off: Attendance 211

Northern Premier League West Division: 17th v 13th: The Castle v The Hillmen

Blue shirts with white stripe across the chest and sides, blue shorts v Orange shirts, black shorts.

After 15 minutes I was wandering why the ball had spent so much time in the air with little effect. Newcastle did force 3 corners in a row exerting some pressure but the game soon reverted to kick and rush. Glossop did have the ball in the net on 34 minutes but is was ruled offside and they again came close 3 minutes later with a header.

Both sides remained level at the break and a walk round the pitch to see the rugby match on an adjoining pitch raised the tempo. However the football did drag on with both teams cancelling themselves out. Glossop did up their tempo in the last 15 minutes and Jordon Scott hit the base of the right hand post from 30 yards with 10 minutes to go. Glossop pressure nearly paid off with another shot that grazed the corner of the upright and crossbar just at the end. The referee’s whistle was a relief to the crowd who had enjoyed the sunshine.

Newcastle’s point keeps them just one place outside the play off relegation zone.

A small bar and adjoining food area served up a very large portion of chips ( I asked for small ). They were hot, not greasy, with a little crunch and a good texture earning a score of 73.

Get ready for Non League day.

A trip up the M1 canal which should have led to Shirebrook Town F.C was sunk by a ground inspection that meant a cancellation as a result of the residue of storm Eunice.

With no time to divert to another mooring I went home and looked at some future fixtures. What hit me most was the 26th March which will be ‘Non League Day’ this year after it was cancelled last year due to Covid. There will be fund raising events at many clubs on the day in conjunction with ‘supporting Prostate Cancer UK.

There will be no League games in the Premiership or Championship or other Leagues where players will be away on International duty and all of their fans are encouraged to go to a Non League match to boost attendances, income and to create new fans. It is also important that past fans return and new ones are attracted.

Non League Day is attributed to James Doe who suggested it in 2010 and it has grown every year it has been scheduled. The football authorities and the senior clubs all support it.

Many clubs come up with innovative ideas to encourage people through the turnstiles so look out for your own local teams games on 26th March.

The Farther Corner

The Farther Corner – A Sentimental Return to North – East Football.

Written by Harry Pearson. Published by Simon and Schuster UK Ltd 2020

On holiday in August 2019 I read and reviewed ‘The Far Corner’ a book by Harry Pearson that had been first published in 1994. I summed the books up as, ‘The humour and idiosyncrasies of Football fans shines through, who else would try to find where the Charlton brothers were born and succeed. The holiday was made better by my suppressed laughter.’

I have just read ‘The Farther Corner’ again by Harry Pearson a follow up to the ‘Far Corner,’ 25 years later which is about Harry’s journey through the 2018/19 season. Again the humour just drips off the pages and his amazing knowledge and research into all things football in the North East, the players, teams, history, games, grounds but most enjoyable the people he meets at matches and on his way on the Metro, trains, buses and in the street. Already I had a curiosity for North East football brought on by teams from the area winning the Amateur Cup and FA Vase and knocking St Albans out of the former trophy and this book has reinforced me to visit and learn more.

Harry Pearson’s team of the season was Dunston UTS but there are visits all over. The humour and writing style has not been diminished and I only hope that we do not have to wait another 25 years for the follow up.

Perhaps it will be called the ‘Farthest Corner’.

Esh Winning end up losing this football match.

A trip to county Durham gave me the chance to visit Esh Winning to see them play Bedlington Terriers in the Northern League Division Two at the West Terrace Ground.

The names conjure up a strange coming together of a mystical world playing a dog breed, but this is serious football. The village of Esh Winning comes from Esh, the medieval name for a local Ash forest and Winning the term given when a new coal seam was discovered (A winning).

Esh Winnings ground is outside the village in fact it is on the border of the neighbouring village Waterhouses. The ground was moved there around 1968 when The NCB cleared the Eastern Village and pit buildings selling the current ground to the reformed Esh Winning club.

There was a football team in village called Esh Winning Rangers around 1889 playing locally until joining the Northern League in 1912 and dropping the Rangers from their name a year later. This team folded in 1934 and today’s club can be traced back to 1967 when Esh Winning Pineapple was formed playing Sundays in the Durham League. 1981 saw them step up to the Northern Alliance where they stayed for only one season before joining the Northern League where they play today. At the same time as this move the Pineapple part of their name disapeared.

They have seen an awful lot of ups and downs since then, 2002 up to Division 1, 2006 down to 2, 2009 to 1, 2011 back to 2 where they are now.

Bedlington like Esh Winning has seen football in the town for over 100 years with teams playing around the 1900’s. The current team dates back to 1949 when they played under the name of Bedlington Mechanics in the Northern Combination. They changed their name to Bridlington Colliery Town and then to Bedlington Colliery Welfare in the next ten years joining the Northern Alliance League in 1955. After another ten years they disbanded (1963).

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They were back in business in 1965 reforming as Bedlington Colliery Welfare in the Alliance but by 1971 they left the Alliance League and played in some minor leagues under the new name Bedlington United again being readmitted to the Northern Alliance League in 1980. Two years later they were promoted to the the inaugural season of the Northern League Division Two. By 1985 they were promoted only to be relegated the next year. Promoted again to the top division in 1995 by 1998 they were winning that division, the first of 5 in a row, and a year later their highest peak was reached when they made it to the final of the FA Vase where they lost to the only goal to Tiverton Town. They were close again a season later but this time fell at the semi final stage. Somewhere along the way they were renamed Bedlington Terriers as per the dog breed associated with the village.

The heady days were over and they suffered a decline until finally sucumbing to relegation to the second division in 2016.

Sometimes it’s not the football that is the main enjoyment of the afternoon. Sitting in the stand I met Dec alias Miserable Les a musician of 50 years who now under his alias writes poetry and sings some of his output to paying audiences. He has released some albums one of which is called ‘7 Deadly Songs’ worth looking up but it is an acquired taste. It was the chat about the area, his support for Gateshead, knowledge of the local football scene all in a comical way that made the two halves fly by. Some of the humour was self depreciating, for instance his explanation of how his choice of name, Miserable Les, was a huge error because if you look it up on Google you find pages about Les Mis√©rables before any appearance of himself. Definitely a very poor choice. Thank you Dec for a very amusing and enjoyable afternoon, hopefully our paths will cross again on another of my Northern excursions. Good luck with your music in the future.

Back to the football, the ground as I said was not in Esh Winning but in Waterhouses and is reached down an unmade road through a wood. To enter the ground you go through the club house that was busy with a bar and food area combined, however no chips. Going outside you are greeted by an open ground with good views of the local hills and woods. The pitch sloped from one goal to another and the grass was still thick with little wear even in the goal mouths, perhaps due to the exposed nature of the area and the drying winds which were very evident.

Although overcast it did not feel cold despite only registering only 6 degrees.

Esh Winning AFC 0 Bedlington Terriers FC 1

Northern League Division 2, Saturday 12th February, Kick off 3 p.m.

Esh v The Terriers

Esh Winning looked the liveliest early on but the two very young teams cancelled each other out as the defences took the upper hand. Even the sending off of Bedlington Terriers stalwart defender Shepherd for what the crowd thought was arguing with the referee changed little. The biggest excitement was when Esh hit the corner of the upright and crossbar just before half time.

With Bedlington now playing down hill little changed and it was a defensive error that gifted O’Connor the ball who steadied himself as two defenders and the goalkeeper tried to get in the way before he placed the ball home for the lead. Despite having a man advantage Esh Winning did not get back into the game and posed little threat to deny Bedlington their win.

The result meant that the Terriers moved up the lower half of the table but Esh Winning are now second from bottom only above the winless Durham City.

Interesting that both goalkeepers were young, tall and very competent. This seems a trend in lower league football. It could be that there are now specific goal keeper coaches or perhaps they are no longer sticking the kid that didn’t want to play in goal, Whatever the reason the standard of goalkeeping is definitely improving.

Unfortunately there were no Chips at the ground but I popped into Fields in Esh Winning to try their Chips. Fields have featured on TV programs as one of the last Chip shops to still cook with a gas fired range. It was busy and everything had been freshly cooked and the chips were just as they should be , tasty, hot, slightly greasy. Unfortunately my picture does not do them justice as I took it with them rested on my knee as we rushed off

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.