Saturday 15th January
Northern Counties East League Division 1
AFC Emley 1 Leeds Carnegie 2
Tea hut purchase: Tea 70p
Weather: Rain, wind, hell
Parking: Club car park, easy getaway
I'd promised the wife an extra special day out because she deserved it. It was the first time we'd been able to spend a Saturday afternoon together for quite a while. She was all smiles and excitement as she snuggled into the Match Shed passenger seat, she'd got her new coat on. I could sense her anticipation at what I might have planned for her, was it a nice restaurant meal? perhaps some spa treatment at one of those fancy country hotels? Nope, something much better than that..... I dropped her off in the rain near Huddersfield Outdoor Market as I made my way through West Yorkshire to AFC Emley, "Hurry up, I'm on a double yellow, have you got your brolly, keep your phone switched on, I'll pick you up near here at half past five...bye"! I'm sure she appreciated it (after all I did have a game to get to). I've heard horror stories of groundhoppers being lost for days up on the moors near Emley, usually they eventually get picked up by some Mountain Rescue team having never even seen the floodlights. I found The Welfare Ground quite easy to locate actually, there is some excellent stuff on how to find the place on the Emley website, even pictures and landmarks, mind you, without the aid of the website information I can see why you could easily miss it on the map. I soon had the Match Shed in a nice little getaway spot on the club car park.The weather throughout the morning and into the afternoon had been absolutely PANTS, it had poured down with relentless rain backed up by a swirling gusty wind, the high position of the open vista facing the ground was ensuring man, beast and buildings were all getting the full 'soggy' experience, it was a shyte day for football. Like the other poor souls who blew through the single turnstile, I fought the elements to claw my way through the door into the Sports Bar. And what a superb little place this bar is too, only small, slightly modernist in style but definitely homely and comforting, its bright, snug and dandy with plentiful seating and a big flat screen TV on the wall, the locals seem to like it too, surprising how many of them had official club sweatshirts, bobble hats and windjammers on, it looked just like Turf Moor with all the claret and blue on offer (or, if you are Onion Bag, Upton Park). I sampled a £2.60 pint of lager before a 2.55pm exit for the big match. AFC Emley have never seemed to get going this season, currently they reside in 17th position in the NCEL Division 1 (the one below the Premier division), a few recent home wins were fading fast in the memory as defeats to Barton Town and last Wednesday to Worsborough Bridge (1-3) superseded the mini-revival and focused the attention for valuable points. Leeds Carnegie were more comfortably placed in mid-table but this is a club with high expectations and a respected reputation for quality football, they would certainly be hoping to reach a higher league position before too long, I had the impression the visitors would be looking for all 3 points today. I zipped up the winter clothing and safely stored away my programme (which was only £1.20 and a decent enough read), the wind howled along the terraces and the rain soaked the stand, this was going to be a tough one. I struggled to get a few pictures from behind the nets before joining the hardy bunch of spectators residing in the rear rows of seating in the excellent main stand, any seats further forwards were wet through from the continual wind swept drizzle.Despite the elements the pitch looked in very good order and it certainly held up very well during the afternoon, this is a nice tidy stadium and I can see why so many visitors rate it so highly. The first half was pretty much 50/50 with some nice passages of play from both sides but a slight over reliance on long cross-field passing witnessed many through balls whistling away with the wind. Something which didn't appear to be rectified by the coaching teams. My hopes that the weather would improve as the afternoon wore on were sadly miscalculated, as half time arrived the wind got up even more and soon the rain was driving in with even greater urgency. I hit the Tea Hut built into the side of the stand, different to see a club promoting slightly alternative food in addition to the normal pies and sausage rolls, Emley were also pushing Turkey Sandwiches and Hot Pizza Slices! I'd had my dinner before setting off for the game so I just got a warming cup of tea (reasonably priced at 70p).I attempted to see a bit of the second half from the far end furthest from the stand, I was soon beaten back and high-tailed it back to the rear of the stand pretty well soaked for my efforts. The second half witnessed Leeds Carnegie dominate the proceedings, they won the midfield battle and started to push forward with some fine individual play and interchanging passing moves, they do play some good football and I would expect them to rise up this league if they can keep up the same standards for the full 90 minutes. Emley looked a bit leaden footed and what opportunites they did create were sadly wasted upfront. The visitors went ahead through McGrory in the 72nd minute and it was a surprise when Emley equalised 2 minutes later from Mark Stuart. This seemed to spur on Leeds Carnegie even further and they eventually got their just reward when McGrory got a deserved winner 5 minutes from time. In respect of the dreadful weather conditions this had been a decent enough game of football, I was certainly impressed by some of the football Leeds Carnegie played in that second half.