It was never in the Yorkshire Football Weekend constitution to return to any ground that had been reviewed in the same season that was until Bradford Park Avenue finished 3rd in the Evo-Stik Premier Division and were paired with FC United of Manchester in the play-off semi-finals.
It seemed only fair that I would return to the Horsfall Stadium and not only give a local team my support but the opportunity to experience the FC United fans was one not to be missed. Straight after work I made my way to the station a quick train and bus journey and I was making my second visit to the King’s Head pub, luckily this time there was no EDL anywhere to be seen.
After waiting for ages to get a pint (or two) I met the infamous South Shields brothers, Andy and Michael Hudson. Both are ground hoppers but also big FC United fans. We finished our drinks and made the short journey down the hill to the ground.
Avenue officials were obviously not expecting the size of crowd that turned up, 1,600 turned up for the league game at the same ground in September, over 2,700 would turn up this evening. With only one turnstile either side of the ground, two massive queues quickly formed. Officials would eventually have to delay kick-off by fifteen minutes to make sure everyone was inside safely.
Standing on the aptly named Cemetery Road tonight would definitely signal the death of someone’s promotion chances (oh yes I went for the obvious pun!). Now there is no point in writing another in-depth report on the game as my report for this game features on the excellent twohundredpercent, Andy wrote one on his site Gannin’ Away and Michael followed suit on The Accidental Groundhopper. All three well worth reading and my report has highlights.
That’s the game covered but we still have important issues to cover. One thing I was surprised at was the ticket prices, I had thought they might have added a few pounds on to cash-in on the fact it was a play-off game with a large crowd expected. Well done to Avenue for keeping the price at £8 not a bad night for both sides with nearly £24,000 brought in with gate receipts alone.
Once inside we headed straight for the pie queue. Last time I sampled the chips & gravy and the pork pie so this time it would be the meat & potato pie drenched in peas. Nice pie but could have done with some gravy, but the sight of the peas made Michael quite jealous, he had plumped for the plain pork pie. Not the best pie ever but a nice fill.
For the first half we stood in with the FC United fans and I had to endear Andy and Michael’s lovely singing. Some of the songs were brilliant; I’ve never heard “Under the Boardwalk” sang that way before. At half-time we walked round the pitch to stand adjacent the only stand mainly so we could take in the views of the fantastic away support.
The game finished 2-0 to FC United, a deserved victory. Bradford Park Avenue didn’t offer much in attack and could only create a few half chances. The fans sang all through the match and continued long into the night, their club now 90 minutes from a place in the Conference North, the division had been in the plans 5 year plan, so not too far behind schedule.
An enjoyable evening but more for the presence of the away fans, it will be a welcome move when Avenue move to Odsal next season. The main stadium at the Horsfall is good but the rest of the ground really lets itself down. With better facilities maybe the few extra hundred fans that were there on Thursday night might return more often.
I will leave you now with a few extra pictures of the night, and there is also a video I took of the game and the fans during the game.
Fans and Flag…
Under the Boardwalk…
Part Two of my Yorkshire Football Long-Weekend coming soon…