Picture the scene. It’s just after six o’clock on a sunny Saturday afternoon. You are sat in Farsley AFC’s West stand with a cold beer. Your company for the day has been the co-editor of In Bed With Maradona and all-round top guy David Hartrick.
You have just watched the home team win 3-1 and receive the Northern Counties East League Championship trophy and now you’re watching what looks like a French Academy Youth side take on Bradford City youth with John Hendrie in charge. Do Saturday’s at the football get any better than this?
Setting off as always from Morley station, the signs were good when I spotted a Bobby Robson look-a-like on the train, and of course took a sneaky picture of him like the skilled spy that I am. A quick change at Leeds station and I was New Pudsey bound.
Off the train and standing in the car park the plan was to meet David and go for a pre-game drink. There is always that awkward moment when you meet a blogger and you have no idea what they look like. There was a man standing by his vehicle in the car park, looking over at me with a glint in his eye. Either its David or New Pudsey train station is where you go for some dogging….unfortunately it was David.
A quick pint of Becks Vier in “The Farmers” while watching Man United beat Everton and we headed towards Throstle Nest the home of Farsley AFC. David was acting as companion and tour guide for the day. Previously he had lived just across the road from the ground and in his words “the club gets under your skin.”
Splashing out a measly £5 for a ticket and £1.80 for a programme seemed both great value for money. There was a wonderful feel about the club. Sunshine and promotion two things that go beautifully hand in hand. A mixture of adults who would have followed the club through the good and bad times, woman, teenagers and a great amount of children that will be the future of the clubs support.
Once inside we head towards the clubhouse at the back, walking past the homely kitchen serving up the food that would be sampled at half-time. The clubhouse was basically a full sized pub split into two sections one where your beer is poured into plastic cups for consumption outside.
With a pint in hand there was a quick visit into the very friendly club shop. I purchased a club badge as I am known to do….”unfortunately it’s £3.50 sir.” Nothing unfortunate about it as the Frickley badge cost me £6….still I need to add them to my collection.
The game had just kicked off as we took our position round the back of the Farsley goal. Lincoln started much the better team and looked up for the game. Farsley already champions looked a lot like a team who knew they were champions and Lincoln had the hallmarks of a team trying to do one over on the champions.
Only three minutes on the clock when Lincoln took the lead. Nathan Adams heading home after a superb corner was whipped in from the number 7, the second excellent cross he had delivered in the opening moments.
Then there was some non-league football confusion, Farsley scored a superb goal, a good 15 yard volley across the keeper, but flagged offside. Then there was a goal scored before half time, the cheers went up the scorers name was announced and to myself and David it was 1-1…or so we thought.
At half-time David and I walked around the ground basically for me to get some pictures and of course the obligatory panoramic shot. We watched the players come out the tunnel for the second half and headed quickly for the bar.
Inside the clubhouse there was definitely a few people in “good” spirits…songs were being sung the “ENGERLUND, ENGERLUND, ENGERLUD” chant slightly worried me being Scottish and all, the queue wasn’t going down so the mission was aborted and back to the football I went. Once outside David informed me Farsley had scored, we thought 2-1 others thought 1-1…who knows!
Just as the game got under way I popped to the pie stall to be told I had a choice of only two; “Steak pie or pork?” Easy decision! Steak being my favourite. What a great choice I made, a delicious steak pie topped with gravy, just what you need on a hot day.
Farsley were much the better team in the second half. The threat of Lincolns number nine had gone, no longer was he allowed the space and time to dictate the play as he did in the first half and the home side dominated the rest of the game.
Standing behind the goal we had a great view when Roy Stamer hit a wonderfully looping shot over Marco Ziccardi from all of 30 yards. Gareth Grant then sealed the 3 or 4-1 victory when he raced through down the left and beat the keeper low to his near post, a nice finish after a great run.
The referee’s whistle brought the game to an end and the celebrations could commence. Medals handed out and the trophy held aloft, the team went round the ground as the fans cheered them on. Being a fan of Ligue 1 in France I recognised a song a small group of fans seemed to be chanting. Why were there French football fans at Farsley?
Obviously after drinking a few beers the French contingent were in good voice, one got onto the pitch, tried to swap jerseys with Farsley’s number four. He then took it upon himself to lift the trophy above his head before the stewards lead him away. He meant no harm and like me was clearly enjoying his day out at Throstle Nest.
David had gone to the bar during the celebrations and handed me another cold beer so we perched ourselves on the fence and chatted away only to see a Bradford City youth team arrive with ex-Middlesbrough player John Hendrie in charge.
They stood around looking at the pitch and after a good 20 minute inspection of the penalty area they wandered off. A young French team jogged onto the pitch and began a pretty organised warm up. They could only have been around 13-14 years old. The number six was leading the training keeping the other players in check. I looked around to see who was in charge of these kids; the only adults in sight were the four drunken French men that had been in the stands.
Not sure how happy the parents of the twenty or so young French players would be if they knew the chaperones taking their kids to England were running around Farsley’s ground pissed up. They always say player development in England is not as good, now we know why!
During the warm up the French showed guile, skill and great technique. Bradford’s warm up involved running across the pitch mainly without the ball. David and I had the French as pre-match favourites. At half time we made our leave, the French 2-1 down and with two players substituted due to the tough nature of the Bradford boys. Maybe the British methods aren’t that bad after all.
We made our leave; it had been a fantastic day out at Farsley. Great little ground with a lovely atmosphere around the club. I look forward to returning next season when they embark on their attack on the Evo-Stick First Division North.
PRICE: 9/10 – Can’t beat £5 for football
FACILITIES: 8/10 – Bar..tick, Food..tick, Club shop..tick
ATMOSPHERE: 8/10 – the French fans added to the sound
FOOD: 8/10 – Lovely steak pie.
OVERALL: 8.5/10 – Wonderful day highly recommended.