Destination: Welfare Ground, Fourth Avenue, off Welfare Road, Woodlands, Doncaster, DN6 7PP
Competition:Northern Counties East League, Division One
Programme: None Issued
Other Items Purchased: Tea / coffee (70p)
Directions: Normally this is a fairly easy one to direct to – turn off the main A638 Wakefield-to-Doncaster road at Welfare Road in Woodlands – just past the Woodlands pub. Then first left into Fourth Avenue cul-de-sac, and the ground is directly through the metal gate on your right (if driving, then most spectators seem to use the Miners Welfare car park just before this). However, today when I arrived at just gone half-past-two, the metal gate was locked shut and with no other obvious route to the ‘snicket’ on the other side, I had to ask a nearby resident who was busy sitting in his car while his dog exercised in circles round it. Thankfully he was able to oblige with knowledge of a second metal gate, located round the back of the Miners Welfare, which led me to where I needed to go. One thing about this ground, is if you’ve not been before, it’d be best to note down some directions first – as there’s absolutely no signage nearby to help you. I also noticed that the only sign outside the Miners Welfare building these days was for some kind of gym or other which must be located within it. If travelling by public transport, then there are plenty of buses from Doncaster to Woodlands. Or the nearest rail station is Adwick (on the Doncaster-Leeds line), which is a 10-15 minute walk away.
Off The Pitch: At the moment the club is run not so much on a shoestring as on half a frayed shoestring – they don’t have much, but are happy to share what they’ve got with you and are a friendly enough set-up. Broddy have also suffered lately from the dreaded vandalism – meaning that the turnstiles have been wrecked beyond use, and the sole metal door in operation is currently used for both players/officials and spectators alike. Programme Collectors and Tea-Hut enthusiasts should also proceed with caution: the previous snack bar sits empty and surrounded by no-go signs, and with average home crowds of less than 50 and a lack of volunteers, Broddy are also known for not always issuing programmes. Instead though, what you get is a warm welcome from a select few hardy souls who have to do several jobs at once on matchdays – if anyone lives near enough and is looking to help out at a non-league club, then I know for a fact that they would love to hear from you. As a kind of make-do-and-mend alternative, at the moment they have two portacabins set up – one for visiting officials and one for spectators. Inside these are a few chairs and some basic refreshment facilities (crisps/chocolate, and very welcome hot drinks).
Once you get beyond this area, the playing surface looks in good condition – and is fully railed off by a solid concrete perimeter – and there are two covered areas. The first one you get to is an old-style brick structure behind the dugouts, with wooden bench style-seating. And then behind the far goal is some covered standing, with stepped terracing inside it. Each of these two stands has room for around 200 people in it, with the seating area being of a slightly higher capacity than the standing one. Official ground capacity is listed as 3,000. I don’t know what Brodsworth’s all-time record attendance is, though in recent times it must surely be when 1,251 witnessed FCUM’s visit in 2006 in the FA Vase. Having seen pictures of that game, I wouldn’t like to try and pack another 1,749 inside the ground!
On The Pitch: For anyone who hasn’t been following the NCEL First Division this season, Brodsworth Welfare currently sit very firmly at the foot of the table, with just two draws and no wins to their name so far this season (and with a goal difference that is now into minus-three figures!). Having been thwarted twice when trying to get to Broddy earlier this season due to the bad weather, I then earmarked today’s game as I thought this may have been their best chance of a win this season against next-to-bottom opponents, Appleby Frodingham (basking in the comparative luxury of 4 wins and 14 points themselves). Both sides fielded a fair few kids today (and only 5 subs between them), with Brodsworth seeming particularly reliant on players who must not be long out of junior level. However, for the last few games, they’ve only been losing by the odd goal, rather than the 5 or 6 that was previously all-too common, so are now competative at least.
Today, Broddy got off to a good start and had probably the better of the opening 20 minutes. Added to this, App-Frod’s first-choice keeper went off injured after just 2 minutes, so this must have given them a psychological boost at least. I don’t know whether the replacement goalkeeper was a regular keeper or just a jack-of-all-trades, but he certainly had a good game and kept a clean sheet. The away side started to get the better of the game as the half wore on, and came closest to opening the scoring with Broddy saved only by the woodwork.
With no score at the interval and not a lot to separate the two teams possession-wise, the mood in the packed tea cabin was optimistic. Someone else enquired about programmes, which saved me the bother of annoying them, but proves that they would have sold at least two copies had they done one.
So instead it was back out into the increasing cold, and 45 minutes left to see if the home side could give their small faithful something to cheer. Sadly though, it just wasn’t to be Broddy’s day. As the game wore on, Appleby Frodingham seemed to have the slight physical/fitness advantage, and eventually they managed to fashion out a gilt-edged chance. Paul Reilly found himself one-on-one with the Broddy keeper just a few yards out, and perfectly executed a simple finish into the bottom corner of the net. Bouyed by their goal, the away side continued to create the better chances, and could have easily increased their lead with slightly better finishing. Brodsworth never gave up, but lacked that extra bit of invention in the final third by this stage, and App-Frod held on for a cherished rare league victory. As to where both teams will be next season – I think this may depend on whether the NCEL decides to increase the number of teams in its two divisions from 20 to 22. If so, then even Brodsworth, with as disappointing a season as they’ve had, may not face ‘relegation’ to another league. And just maybe, they will be able to build on their improvement in the latter stages of this season in the same division.
Match Photos: *Click on individual pics to embiggen them*
Update: 2.4.11 – Thought I’d add a couple more ground pics from Brodsworth – the first one below looks more like an MFI store yard than a football ground, & I’m still not sure where all the doors lead to (given that the other side is the perimeter wall). The second one shows the sad state of the old ‘snack bar’ – or ‘tea hut’ to us northern types. These sort of bulidings should have preservation orders placed on them and receive copious amounts of lottery funding – a non-league ground without the smell of something frying in the background just ain’t right!