Saturday 19th November 2011
Blue Square Conference North
Guiseley 1 Stalybridge Celtic 1
Tea Hut Purchase: None (some big bloke had it all)
Weather: Sunny, then misty, then sunny, then cold
Parking: Got the Match Shed right near the turnstiles.
Must say we are getting some jolly good days weather-wise for November, today started bright, mild and sunny, such welcoming conditions even made the Outer Beirut ring road around Bradford a scenic picture of tranquility. You cannot go wrong if you head east out of Bradford for some top tucker in the curry department, some of the takeaways and restaurants put the local Yorkshire Fisheries cabin type fish and chip shops to shame in the presentation stakes. However, i've had a dodgy stomach all week so I was being extra careful today, I gave the Chicken Dansak a miss. Despite a couple of missing road signs I managed to get the Match Shed on the Harrogate Road and finally the A65, the shift in affluent property and environment is startling once you're a few miles out of Bradford. I was doing the game solo today, Frugal Glenn is still serving a domestic ban for spending part of the shopping money on Football Manager 2011 (it was 10 quid cheaper than the 2012 version).
As I arrived at the ground I was surprised to find a few pools of mist floating around the place, already it was taking some of the warmth of the sun away. As I prepared for the turnstiles a big cream and red Maynes coach arrived through the mirk, it was packed with ale hungry away fans from Stalybridge, the steward by the gate took his Leeds United bob hat off and shoved it inside his coat. I've been to Guiseleys ground before and have always admired the big orange Pukka Pie sign hanging outside the Tea Hut. Like a carpet tack to an industrial magnet I was drawn 'zombie-like' towards it. Unfortunately I arrived as some big bloke in a Stalybridge coat ordered everything going (the greedy bloater), it was estimated that it would take 15 minutes for re-stocking?
As regards todays match, Guiseley are well known battlers and have a reputation of being a very hard side to beat. In fact, they beat Stalybridge Celtic only a few weeks back at Bridge's place in the FA Cup. This would be a tough challenge for the visitors but if Celtic want to be there where it counts in the league table they had to get something from this fixture.
As kick off approached I took up a seat with a view in the nice little main stand, it was a bit of a struggle to get past the OAP Guiseley season ticket holders as they grumbled about having to re-position their tartan woolly knee rugs and all the flasks and madeira cake slices. The ground was a bit empty as the teams came out but a mass exodus of bar-room ale heads soon had the terraces clogging up.
There are some excellent match report details on the Stalybridge website so I'm not going to go into massive depth about the game but I will clarify that both these sides played some dandy passing football today. It was gung-ho box to box stuff, obviously both clubs wanted 3 points and they were giving it a really good go. What was lacking was the quality and the control of the final ball, both sides created openings but neither set of forwards could capitalise in that first half.
With the scores 0-0 at half time the second period continued much the same as the first, it seemed each side would have a 10 minute 'golden' period where they exploited possession and applied pressure, then the other side would fight back and have a go themselves, it was entertaining stuff. Guiseley got the all important opening goal in the 53rd minute when Michael Brough somehow got the bobbling ball past outstretched keeper and the post sending dozens of Yorkshire flat caps up into the darkening November afternoon. The old timer next to me almost choked on his Werthers Original.
Could Guiseley hold on and shut the door? They certainly tried. Stalybridge immediately went up a few notches in urgency and the game became stretched, the Bridge supporters got behind the side but the referee wasn't helping momentum, he'd been easily fooled all afternoon and I was getting fed up with all the interuptions. With 9 minutes left on the clock Stephen Brogan floated over a Celtic free kick from the edge of the Guiseley box and it seemed to just hang there before unbelievably drifting into the top right hand corner of the nets! GOAL!!!
Whether it was a cross or an intended strike on goal remains open to debate but it had a dozen Stalybridge officials in snazzy Blue Square car coats running up and down the pitch side hard-standing in wild jigs of giggling delight!
1-1 and everything set up for a grandstand finish....except....... the referee didn't get a copy of the script, he ruined the last bit of the match by shamelessly bottling a banker Stalybridge penalty and then needlessly sending off one of the Guiseley full backs (the ref had a stinker). All in all I reckon a draw was a pretty fair result, two decent sides had fully contributed to a hard fought match which was played the right way all the 90 minutes.