Saturday 12th March
Northern Counties East League Division 1
Worsbrough Bridge Athletic 1 AFC Emley 2
Tea hut purchases: Tea 50p, Chips and brown liquid £1.50
Weather: Dull and grey, bit of rain in the second half
Parking: Not easy, slung it on the pavement by the ground
After a few weeks off the road the Match Shed was back on football business, a mixture of bad weather, multi-postponements and a mind sapping job had taken its toll. As the Shed sped ever eastwards it felt good to be going to a game again. Even todays planned procedures had to be amended at the 12th hour, I was booked in to visit AFC Darwen for their tasty clash against NWCL Division 1 leaders Runcorn Town, typically, it was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. I was about to set off over Blackburn way when I spotted the cancellation whilst glancing at the Runcorn Town website, well done to them for communicating it, neither Darwen or the official Vodkat NWCL websites had even bothered! So here I was en-route for Worsbrough Bridge Athletic just a few miles south of Barnsley. The route took me through the South Pennines and Calderdale before cutting across via Huddersfield to meet up with the M1 South beyond Flockton. I was only on the M1 for one junction before pulling off for downtown Barnsley. The Worsbrough Park Road ground is on the A61 heading towards Sheffield (if you are approaching from the North West that is). The main road drops down to a river and a bridge just beside 'The Yorkshire Gas Shop', across the road is the nicely presented ground. The Fire Brigade were in action by the side of the road, somebody had set fire to some grass (not the pitch)? Trying to park at this place is mission impossible, there is a nice big open car park behind the riverside terrace (and the river) but its obviously placed there to capture walkers and nature lovers off on woodland rambles, hence the very steep 3 quid fee to dump your car. The Match Shed doesn't do pay charge car parks unless its absolutely necessary, ten minutes later the Match Shed was slung on some pavement between a lampost and a fence, I was directly outside the gate but it was a difficult tight squeeze and anyone arriving after me would have had little option of free space for parking (it was 2.20pm). When I left the ground after the game there had been a mass outbreak of ridiculously discarded vehicles taking up every square inch of kerbside, village green and residents-only access drives, it would have been a traffic wardens dreamworld, I felt pity for the dozens of blocked in vehicles well deep in the grid-lock. Take note to arrive early if you are thinking of visiting here, and make sure you have a clear exit route when you park. I was hungry and in need of refreshment.I had a wonder around for a short while and realised its a bit of a weird set up at Worsbrough, I could smell that greasy whiff of a deep fat fryer preparing hot chips but I couldn't find a tea hut? It had to be in the clubhouse overlooking the pitch, however, if you go through the turnstile you cannot get access to the clubhouse from inside the ground, this means you have to go back out through the turnstile and enter the club from the entrance beside the main road. Once inside I asked the ladies behind the snack bar type counter for a list of pies on offer, despite it now being just 15 minutes before kick off one of the ladies told me the pies had only just gone in the oven but they would be hot later on? She said they had some pork pies knocking about somewhere and they might be able to get one of those warmer a bit quicker but I was getting a slightly concerning vibe that this may not be the usual tea hut type experience, I said I'd pop back for something later, perhaps at half time? I ended up with a cup of tea which came in a proper nice pot and it was only 50p. I had a read of the programme which was decent enough for a pound and I particularly liked the simple but classic cover adorned with the red and blue club badge on a crisp white background. There seemed to be a good travelling support that had made the short journey from Emley, like Worsbrough they were more or less midtable and both sides needed a win today to have any chance of ending up with a respectable end to the season. Emley supporters always seem to wear the claret and blue club merchandise which is a credit to their following. The Park Road ground offers some good elevated hard standing around the clubhouse end and this extends to a charismatic little stand which provides seating across the halfway line. Moving further down the touchline we come across the tiny cricket pavillion and a scoreboard hut, both employed by the cricket team which uses the field in the summer, the pavillion doubles up as the referees and linesmans changing room. The far end only has some metal fencing behind it which is intended to protect the cricket square. Along the other touchline resides the covered riverside terrace which was built in 2008, this offers a decent enough view for those wanting a bit of space. The teams took the field and it looked a bit like one of those Anglo Scottish Cup Ties from the seventies, this one could have been Sheffield United v Hibernian, Worsbrough had the red and white stripes, AFC Emley had the green. The game took place on a bobbly sloping pitch and it was immediately apparent that 'The Hoof' was the chosen dish from todays specials board. Control was haphazard as ping-pong punting rained from left to right and back again.Shouts of encouragement, derision and anger echoed across the valley as players and coaches yelled incoherent statements littered with four letter swear words, a nice lady in a Marks and Spencers anorak was getting behind her Worsbrough heroes in the only way she knew how, she called the Emley right back a little weasel and a retard (oh dear). People should think about what they shout out before they say it I think, the fullback Max Joice took it in his stride and seemed to laugh it off, he told her she'd be better off at home where she belonged! Within 25 minutes AFC Emley had taken a 2 goal lead with very well taken goals from Dean Wharam and Mark Stuart. Dean went on to get in some very good positions throughout the game but unfortunately his finishing let him down, he could literally have had a sack full. Worsbrough just about held on in the remainder of the first half and they would have that slope in their favour in the second period. At half time I returned to the tea hut come snack bar, the pork pies looked tiny and the normal pies looked like those cheapo jobs from Iceland, I played it safe and asked the lady for just chips and gravy, a big mistake in hindsight, the chips were a stringy tasteless mush and the gravy was more like a chemical spill from a reprocessing plant than the anticipated delights of proper bisto, talk about a brown watery waste, it was truly awful.As predicted, once the second half got underway Worsbrough took the initiative and used the slope to their advantage, more and more pressure was built up and Rob Ward got one back with 16 minutes left. The pity was that Worsbrough couldn't create genuine opportunities and despite a disallowed Worsbrough goal Emley held on for a valuable away win. Perhaps if the visitors had taken their chances they'd fluffed earlier on, this game would have been well out of sight well before the final whistle. Not the best quality game I've seen this season but an interesting venue for a well contested fixture. I made my way out towards the turnstile gate passing the tea hut lady grabbing a crafty fag as she sat on the wall. Looked like she'd had a tough time with the half time rush for those slightly delayed pies. I suppose there is something to say for those punters who bring their own butties after all, it must surely beat what I had?