It was just like the good old days, a spot of lunch before setting off, less than 30 minutes to the ground, just barely enough time to work out our predictions, and in a flash we were there, well almost. Yet again we managed to get lost and ended up in a supermarket carpark before breaking all the rules of the highway code by turning right when we weren’t allowed to. Gosh those car horns were loud around us. Still, as long as we don’t get a letter from those friendly Pontefract Police, we’ll be fine… (or fined!).
Pontefract Collieries football ground is hidden away down a lane opposite the famous racecourse. The car park overlooks the ground and with a decent set of binoculars and a fair size stepladder, you could probably see some of the game for free. With electronic tickets in our possession, we headed down the newly laid yellow chipped stone road towards the turnstiles. The ground was buzzing, it was only half past one.
The club was formed back in 1958 having taken on the mantle of representing the town from previous clubs who had competed at different locations as far back as the 1880’s. The club has competed in the Yorkshire League and in more recent decades, in the Northern Counties East Leagues. The ground has a capacity of around 1400 with 300 seats, some of which were acquired from Manchester City’s former ground at Maine Road. The club currently complete in the Northern Premier League, East Division.
Inside the ground, refreshments were available just next to the turnstiles, the seats were filling up and the music was at full volume. There are two stands, one either side of the halfway line with around 150 blue seats each. The opposite touchline had the dugouts beneath one of the many railway lines in the area. The pitch looked decent but had a slight slope, from one goal to the other, and whilst the top end had some covered standing, the bottom goal was open to the elements.
The first half was even, not many chances, but a low warm sunshine made it difficult to see clearly up to the other end of the ground. Pontefract were direct with some long throws and free kicks into the box. On occasion, they came close to getting the final touch inside a crowded box. The Shaymen also had chances, the linesman’s flag twice signalled for offside as the ball crossed the line. It was goalless at the break.
The second half was more of the same, the Shaymen had much more of the possession. The bar was clattered, a shot flew just wide of the upright and the linesman’s flag waved for a third time as the ball hit the net. The crowd was noisy, and there was little space to move as both sets of fans mingled four or five deep behind the railings all around the perimeter of the pitch. In the end a crowd of just over 1400 was announced as their record attendance. The final whistle generated good applause from the locals for a job well done.
Leaving the ground and everyone was in good spirits, the music was booming once again, the home fans celebrated as the home players enjoyed their achievement of earning a replay against the odds. The travelling Shaymen were appreciative too of their team’s efforts. The game could have gone either way but the result means that nothing is lost and both teams are in the draw for the next round.
Driving back and we were home before dark, perhaps for the last time this autumn. It wasn’t a great afternoon but equally it wasn’t a disaster. Respect to Pontefract, they performed well and can be proud of their day. Both on and off the pitch, everything went well for them, and that’s what the FA cup is all about.
Goals on the road six, Miles 2318, C’mon Shaymen!
Read more posts by Rob Brown