Skrill Conference North
BRADFORD PARK AVENUE 6 WORCESTER CITY 1
Tea Hut Stuff: Not paying 3 quid for chips and gravy!
Weather: Dull, grey and cold
Parking: Cemetery Road 100 yards from the turnstile
I took the Match Tank on the high trans-pennine route into Yorkshire, dense fog spread over the hill tops as I crossed the border at Blackstone Edge and headed A58 eastbound through Sowerby Bridge, Halifax and beyond. Down in the valleys it was slate grey, miserable and cold. I thought about stopping for award winning jumbo fish and chips boldly advertised as only £3.50 in a place known as 'Shelf' a few miles from the ground but I stuck to the task and ploughed on regardless towards the Horsfall Stadium on Cemetery Road. I've been to Bradford Park Avenue before, the first thing I noticed on this trip was that the distinctive big pub at the top of the road had shut, it looked like somebody's house now? I got the Match Tank parked a little further along from what must have been the designated Worcester team coach, it was a big flashy red job sign written as the official team bus for Kidderminster Harriers? The nearby lights from the adjacent stadium were already making a visible impression on a significantly grimy afternoon. BPA's Horsfall Stadium has a running track around it and you need to prepare for this in advance. The fact is the action is quite a way from any respective viewing point so you definitely need the extra strong specs with the jam jar zoom lenses. Saying that the place is a lot better than other athletics type stadiums doubling up for football, there is a genuine passion and enthusiasm provided by the loyal BPA staff and supporters which takes the edge off vista infinity views of the weather hammered pitch which can initially appear to be a short bus ride away.
If you come here looking to have a moan about it you can fill your boots, I'd much rather focus on the positives that this is a great little club who have fought back to hack out a credible respected position in the Conference North and the clubs name alone is one well known to football fans the world over. Its not so bad an environment when you acclimatise to the layout and you don't even really notice it after a short while. I edged into a busy club shop for a match programme, two blokes who seemed to know each other were having a row in front of the counter. Bloke No.1 with a Huddersfield Town bobble hat on was ridiculing Bloke No.2, who must have been a Leeds United supporter for not being at Rochdale for Leeds FA Cup tie that afternoon. The Leeds fan defended himself by saying he couldn't get a ticket. After some derogatory gloating from the Huddersfield fan stating "there's nothing worse than a part timer" there was a short pause before the Leeds fan hit back with a cutting backhand enquiring that if the Huddersfield fan was so against part-timer antics "why wasn't he at bloody Grimsby Town then" where Huddersfield had their cup tie the same afternoon. The insults got a bit more personal after that and a queue was building up, the chap behind the counter took it in turn to carry on with sales over and around the two West Yorkshire football fans as if he'd seen it all before. I next ventured to the Tea Hut to check out the chips and gravy that had been recommended in a visit report blog by 'Manc hopper'.
I had to double check the price list when I saw they were asking 3 quid? I don't care if I was a tad hungry or not I'm not paying 3 pounds for chips. You can get a pie thrown in at most non league grounds for that kind of dosh (I think Pie, Chips and Gravy is just over 2 quid at Mossley FC for instance)? Somewhat insulted I left for a seat in the big green and white grandstand in a bit of a huff (I wasn't carrying emergency rations either). Having had a look at the programme I'd calmed down a bit, a nice glossy publication with good content and pictures, some good information on the visitors as well, a recommended decent read for £2.
Avenue were on a bad losing streak coming into this game, if you include an FA Trophy tie they'd lost 6 on the bounce and they currently held a mid table position. Worcester City themselves were having an even worse season just one place off the bottom of the league. There were a good few groans from the locals when Worcester went 1-0 up early in the game. Despite some terrible weather in this part of the country recently the pitch seemed to hold up reasonably well but obviously it would cut up more and more as the game went on.
This didn't stop Avenue playing some fine attacking football as they set about getting back in the game and they gradually turned things around to command a 3-1 half time lead. I was most impressed with the quality of play, even Worcester had played some good stuff in response. I took a wander around the running track during half time and got a closer look at the changing rooms on the far side of the pitch which always looks like a big Brewers Fayre pub restaurant from a distance.
Upon a close up inspection the enticing mystery of the place is quickly eroded. Especially with the shipping container bogs either side of it. I was looking forward to another half of fast paced entertaining football but the second period failed to live up to expectations. Worcester dug in and scrapped their way back into contention but couldn't got the ball in the net, a more sedate BPA still got the ball forward and eventually netted 3 more goals to underline their superiority with a slightly flattering 6-1 scoreline. Avenue were the better team of that there is no doubt but I'm not sure if it warranted a 6-1 'tonking' classification. It appeared most BPA supporters were having a double celebration when news filtered through on the air waves that Rochdale were beating Leeds United 2-0 with minutes left to play, old rivalries die hard in these parts, this is Bradford after all, perhaps the bloke having that row in the club shop earlier on was mighty glad he couldn't get a ticket for Spotland after all?