Evostick Northern Premier League – 15th January 2011
I’m a bit worried whenever anything is called a “Stadium” at non league level. Sure, certain grounds can call themselves stadiums such as FC Halifax’s Shay Stadium – which it shares with the Rugby League , but by and large they are often no bigger than normal, renamed stadiums usually because of an act of sponsorship. I understand why it’s done, and I don’t begruge any club in doing it, but I’d like clubs to not call them stadiums after the company. Go for Park or Ground, please.
In either way, it was with great trepidation that I headed to the Horsfall Stadium in Bradford to watch the Mighty Mighty Seagulls play Bradford in the league. It was the third time the teams met this season, with a stonking 2-2 draw at Llanelian Road followed by a 2-0 win for Colwyn Bay in the FA Trophy, the Bay fan in me was confident. As well as the game, I’d also be meeting a friend of mine, who was a fan of the Bradford teams, for the game & a curry after the match. I was really looking forward to the day.
Unfortunately, Northern Rail’s slow line from Manchester to Leeds via Bradford – specifically a mile long tunnel – had other ideas. “Something fell on a train in the tunnel”, they said (after half an hour stuck at Smithy Bridge station), “so we need to make sure it’s safe”. A noble cause, but we were stuck in Smithy Bridge – the arse end of nowhere – for an hour. Meaning that by the time we got to Bradford (they checked the tunnel, found nothing there), it was 10 minutes before kickoff.
On the plus side I’m entitled to compensation, we’ll see about that.
We got in & took our seats in the only stand. The Horsfall Stadium is – actually – close to being a stadium, but unfortunately it has a running track around it, meaning it’s a lot bigger than it should be, which explains the photos.
The early part of the game was fairly even, unfortunately the weather & the muddy pitch looked like it’d play a part in this game, with balls slipping loose & players falling over. This was realised when a defensive mixup between Bradford’s defenders & goalkeeper, after pressure from Jon Newby, allowed loanee fromRob Hopley to score into an empty net. The lead wasn’t to last long, when the Bay defence were unable to clear a ball swung in from the right wing, and it was eventually converted by the brilliantly named Aiden Savory. At which point the arena erupted, with blasted goal music. The only team that goal music works for in the UK is QPR that I’ve seen play. Worst of all it was Samba music. Please, we were in Bradford, not Brasilia.
In my eyes if you’re not excited that your team scores then you shouldn’t be at the football match.
Back to the game. Bradford pressed, forcing Chris Sanna into two good saves, the latter of which lead to the attacker Adam Clayton being removed from the pitch, before Rob Hopley scored his second when a rebounded shot from Karl Noon landed at his feet & he tapped it in. He’s a poacher! Half time score: Bradford Park Avenue 1 – 2 Colwyn Bay.
Half time arose & as I had missed my traditional eight pre-game pints thanks to Northern Rail, I checked out the clubhouse. Despite being part of a faceless, corrugated building, BPA’s clubhouse is a bit like stepping into the Tardis, with a spacious and rather impressively decorated interior, which isn’t suggested from the soulless entrance. One such wall is dedicated to Len Shackleton – a long term player for BPA – who went onto success with Newcastle, Sunderland &. After a couple of drinks we headed out to the heavily sodden pitch for the second half.
The second half was tremendously eventful, with Colwyn Bay extending their lead after 15 minutes when a ball, whipped from the left wing by Noon, was tapped in, again, by Jon Newby. The conditions made it a culture for tap ins. Bradford pressured & the game opened up, but a controversial (hey! I’m not being biased, the BPA fans agreed with us) penalty was awarded. Justice was served when the spot kick was hit straight at Chris Sanna, keeping the scores at 3-1 – a very pivotal moment in the game, and one Bay capitalised on with Hopley scoring his hat trick from a low shot fired across the goal, probably the best of the bunch. Final score Bradford Park Avenue 1 – 4 Colwyn Bay.
Again we were back into the clubhouse to chat to the fans, who were incredibly approachable & lovely, if a little doommongering. We’re the same to be honest – even though at the time of writing we’re second, I still think we’ll struggle this year. After a couple of drinks myself & my mate headed off for a curry in his favourite restaurant, before dropping me off at the station to head home.
Which took 2 and a half hours.
Bloody Northern Rail.