Saturday 4th September
FA Vase First Round Qualifying Tie
Silsden 1 Tow Law Town 2
Programme: £1.50 (Very history based edition)
Tea hut purchases: A round steak pie £1.10 & tea at 60p
Weather: Fair, mild and dry
Parking: Overflow car park round the back, easy exit
This looked tie of the round to me. Silsden back home with a nice new set up, (plus they seem to have a decent squad for this campaign) facing that famous club from the might of the Northern League 'Tow Law Town', I can still remember that great FA Cup run they had in the late 60's, the name just oozes character.
The Match-Shed kicked free of the traffic and hit the dual carriageway just as it passed the Lawkholme Lane ground of Keighley Cougars rugby league ground, a stadium where Silsden had been (expensive) paying-guests for the past 7 years. A few miles up the road lay the nice little town of Silsden, famous for a Gordon Ramsey 'TV hatchet job' on a local restaurant and the home of the kings of Formula 1 Stock Car Racing 'The Wainmans from Wainman Farm'. The Match Shed jousted with second hand 4x4's as 'Mill Town Hikers' hurried to get an afternoon in The Dales. I was soon at the club car park just by the cricket ground entrance, unfortunately a game was taking place, "Sorry mate, you'll have to take the Match Shed round to the overflow car park" (Ok, he didn't actually call it a match shed but I bet he was thinking that). He clocked my Tottenham Hotspur sticker and pulled a Yorkshire type face, the kind of face only a local Yorkshire person could pull, it was a look of remorseful pity. I parked up and walked back through the cricket ground towards the single turnstile for the football ground, not many watching really, players wives and screaming under 5's mainly. I received a pleasant enough greeting as I paid my football admission, the officials looked like kids at Christmas with a big new toy, they are obviously mighty proud that they've succeeded in getting a bright fresh home together after some tough miserable years at someone elses rugby ground, well done to them too, they certainly had some sterling efforts from supporters, colleagues and local helpers in making the dream happen. I came over all emotional and bought my first ever golden goal ticket (24 minutes?).I went over to the picnic table outside the new match centre complex and signed the Ground Hoppers visitor book, what a great idea, Silsden is like a fly-trap for various kinds of Hoppers at the moment, some more normal than others if you know what I mean (no disrespect intended but I can't get my head around the half mast pants, white socks and accompanying plastic bag fashion). The match centre complex houses a bar, function suite, changing rooms and toilets. It spans part way across the main road end of the ground looking elegant and stylish in a bright sandy stone finish (very posh). The rest of the ground is made up of 3 types of structures all on the cricket ground touchline, first comes the wooden main stand with a few rows of seating, then there is a portakabin which contains the all important Tea Hut, finally you also get a small covered terrace which will doubtless get packed on the usual wet and windy Saturdays prone to these parts in the bleak winter months. All other sides of the ground contain hard standing with various advertisement boards attached to the railings. They've also got new floodlights available for those atmospheric 'cobbydaler' night matches (who needs Anfield, I'd sooner come here). I lasted 8 minutes before I was magnetically dragged to the Tea Hut.There appeared to be a formation dancing team of mature ladies hurtling around the confines of the hut all multi-tasking. I got the attention of one of them in mid manoeuvre and purchased a tea and a surprisingly round steak pie (looked just like a meat and potato). They had peas and mint sauce if you wanted that kind of action. I had the great idea of taking this wonderful looking pie and placing it on the pitch side fence just to the side of the nets. I could then take an artistic photo of it with the green backdrop of the pitch adding that charasmatic touch of class to the image. I carefully placed the paper plate with the pie on it on top of the fence, took a few steps back, focused the camera and.......... paused in abject horror as a gust of freak wind took the paper plate up in the air, and slow-motion-horror like tossed my pie up into what turned into a kamikaze nose dive onto the hard concrete, it sickeningly rolled over a few times upon impact before ending at my feet 'crust-up' covered in crud. My whole life shot past me in a flash, I couldn't believe I'd lost my pie! I immediately tried to save it. It was touch and go at one stage, and I did have to remove half the lid but I was so relieved to still be able to eat it. I'd been lucky, it could have been a lot worse. It was now time for some action on the pitch. I must say you do get real value for your admission money at Silsden, never mind the football, it was worth 5 quid to just to look at the most attractive female Physio in World Football... and the size of her tiny shorts, wow, fantastic stuff indeed. No wonder quite a few Silsden players kept hitting the deck for no good reason. There was also a big scrum of blokes watching the game just to the side of the dug-outs, they'd got there early to get a good spot. The Tow Law bench looked on in envy especially as their Physio looked like he'd just got back from a 2 week all inclusive holiday in a chippy.The actual football was a bit of a let down after all that, My hopes for flowing end to end quality cup tie drama never came to fruition. It was all very scrappy, disjointed, fragmented football, both sides spluttered through the proceedings with little cohesion or calculated passing taking place. Tow Law took a Matthew Scott 1-0 lead into the half time interval and it looked like this could very well be the final score, chances were few and far between. When Silsden got a second half equaliser it was a surprise.When Lawrence Hunter put in a lobbed effort which the visiting keeper seemed to misjudge we were then pre-empting extra time even with 30 minutes left. For the first time the game seemed to open up a bit and one or two moves started to flow, Tow Law looked the more dominant and they snatched back the lead through Hamilton in the 75th minute.The visitors shut up shop after that spending as much time as possible down at the corner flag. Silsden didn't have the keys to unlock the cupboard and even with an abundance of injury time, they simply didn't get close enough. The expert official on the microphone wished Tow Law well in his congratulations at the final whistle which was a nice touch befitting a friendly and homely little club. I had hoped to spot Rob Grillo at the match, the match announcer said he was in the ground, I've got his excellent book 'Anoraknophobia', I couldn't place him though, its not easy when you're not 100% sure what people look like, he is obviously well thought of in these parts (rightly so). The big Wearsider coach company vehicle already had its engine running as I got back into the Match-Shed, apparently it was taking the Tow Law Town supporters onto a stop-off sampling the pubs of Harrogate before its final North Easterly destination. Doubtless there would be a few pints being downed in honour of cup glory and a home tie in the next round against Pontefract. As for Silsden, Wembley will have to wait until next season.