FA Cup Second Qualifying Round
Bradford Park Avenue 4 Harrogate Town 0
Tea hut purchase: Tea £1
Weather: Warm sunny day, not a cloud in the sky
Parking: Roadside, 200 yards from the entrance, easy getaway
How fitting that the famous Bradford Park Avenue play their football opposite the cemetery because they absolutely buried Harrogate Town today. Although Town play in the Conference North which is the league above Bradford, one could forgive the unsuspecting visitor the mistake of getting this fact the wrong way around. This beating was so brutal, so total and so telling that it was only sullen ghosts that got back on the Harrogate team coach for the short trip to oblivion. The Unibond and beyond beckons the fallen and the grave looks to be already dug.
The small bunch of Harrogate fans had the look of dead men walking when they trudged into the main stand just before kick off. Their Asda-price sponsored replica shirts failing to ward off the stigma of a season already in tatters. This was todays cup shock banker and from the overheard tell-tale-terrace-talk they already knew it before a ball was kicked. They weren't attending a cup match this was an invite to a funeral.
I've seen quite a bit of Conference North football but never witnessed a member club play so poorly as Harrogate Town did today, they were terrible. To get away with only the 4-0 beating was kind on their suffering supporters who'd paid good money for nothing and were left to leave the stadium in the ashen reality of despair. It is wrong to focus too much on a hopeless Harrogate, it is proper and correct to praise the superb attacking football Bradford Park Avenue provided today. They played total-football with clean, accurate passing, endless energy and the sheer confidence that they were going to win this cup tie and win it well. They had their supporters in dreamland, this wasn't just a good win it was a rout, a slaughter, a massacre. Bradford will be eager to find out who they get in the next round as they enjoy the cup-ride of drama, intrigue and suspense, but pray spare a thought for the others, those left to walk the shadows. As the mist forms over the terracing back at Harrogates little ground, the undead train and miss-kick footballs beneath the floodlights, time for an exorcism murmurs the local priest......or face the slippery steps of lower non-league torment in the darkness of the tomb.