Match Details: Liversedge 1 – Hallam 2 (NCEL Prem)
Destination: Clayborn Ground, Quaker LAne, Cleckheaton, West Yorks, WF15 8DF
Competition: NCEL Premier Division
Kick Off: 3 pm
Programme: £1.50 (36 pages / 16 of ad’s)
Other items purchased: ‘Liversedge AFC – The First 100 Years’ book £7; Club crest pin badge £3
Directions: This is definitely one which is easier for car drivers than public transport users, and quite close to Junction 25 of the M62. Although your new-fangled sat nav may suggest otherwise, the easiest approach is via Hightown Road if coming off the A649, and then turn right approximately halfway down this road onto Quaker Lane. Via public transport, the best way is to get a 268 bus to Cleckheaton from Dewsbury (which takes 20 minutes and runs a few times an hour), and get off at Cleckheaton bus station. Exiting the bus station bear right (walking past a park immediately on your right), and then left at the main road onto Westgate. After walking about 100 yards down Westgate, turn left onto Hightown Road. About 500 yards up Hightown Road is a left turn for Quaker Lane – it’s a very narrow lane which looks more like someone’s driveway, but there is usually an advertising board for the football club to stop you missing the turn off. The walk from the bus station should take about 10 minutes and is about half a mile or so in distance.
Off The Pitch: Liversedge’s Clayborn Ground is one of those absolute gems that you only really get at non-league level. Situated within a rural landscape in between the towns of Liversedge and Cleckheaton, Quaker Lane is a narrow track which looks like it leads nowhere, then all of a sudden you glance to the left and find a football ground set in a bowl in the hillside. Although it might not be the cosiest of grounds on a wet Tuesday evening in November, on a nice day like today its idyllic setting and overall feel of completeness are priceless qualities.
Liversedge are this season celebrating their centenary, and for many years the pitch at Quaker Lane was notorious for its baffling slope which seemed to head upwards in all directions. Since 2005 however, the land has been levelled and now it is a bit bumpy maybe, but nothing like it once was. With hard standing round all four sides of the pitch, three sides also have some variety of grass banking, with a seated stand and a terraced stand also present. Near the ground’s entrance are situated the club house, the players and officials changing rooms, the much-revered ‘Half timers’ tea hut, and the most cramped gents toilet in the whole of the NCEL. The latter is a small price to pay for what is overall a reet bobby dazzler of a football ground.
As well as purchasing a programme on the way in, also available and hot of the presses this week were copies of a new book which celebrates the club’s centenary, and is well worth a read. I had a brief chat with one of its co- authors, who would like to encourage people to read it as slowly as possible in order to reflect the amount of hard work that went into researching it! I’m taking his advice so have only flicked through it thus far, but it has a good mix of stats and historical info, augmented by a focus on various members of the local community who have helped keep the club going behind the scenes.
On The Pitch: Today’s game was one which still had something riding on the result. Hallam were playing in the last chance saloon of the NCEL Premier Division – second from bottom, and needing a win from today’s game (plus relying on third-from-bottom Arnold to lose), in order to have any chance whatsoever of avoiding the drop. Liversedge, on the other hand, were pretty much safe. Two places above Hallam in the table, although their website did suggest that the club was unsure if the NCEL might need to relegate three teams if it was forced to accept an extra team from higher up in the non-league pyramid during the close season. So to be certain, they were looking at finishing above both Hallam and Arnold, and thus were also keen to get something out of today’s game too.
As expected, it was a cagey affair to begin with, with any hope of keeping things tight and under control thwarted by the hard, dusty end-of-season pitch. So instead we had a rut of passes going astray, and players frustrated in the heat. Hallam took the lead on 24 minutes, thanks largely to the home side charitably leaving a gaping hole in the centre of their defence, with Aaron Moxon finishing off an attack by gratefully slotting home unmarked from near the penalty spot. Sedge came back fairly quickly though, and were on level terms in the 39th minute when Lamin Colley was upended in the box and Andy Philp coolly sent the Hallam goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot-kick. The second half was then very much nip-and-tuck, with Hallam’s collective temper in particular getting increasingly frayed as the match wore on and they searched for a potentially season-saving goal. Sedge came close to scoring on a couple of occasions, when Hallam had to rely on some latch-ditch defending to scramble the ball away from the goalmouth. The decisive moment though, came little more than a minute before the end, when Hallam’s Aaron Moxon hit a long speculative shot towards the Liversedge goal. It dropped just inside the far post – cue all around the Hallam contingent of players, officials and the small amount of travelling fans going mad with delight. Soon after, the final whistle blew – and with it came the news that Arnold had lost 3-1 at home to Tadcaster. Meaning that Hallam can stay up if they can beat Arnold on Tuesday, and that Liversedge are safe in fourth-from-bottom spot, and have thus achieved the aim when Billy Miller took over as manager in November with the club rooted to the foot of the table.