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Match Details: Parkgate 2 – Hall Road Rangers 2 (FAC PR)
Pre-Match Build Up: With the FA Cup into its second stage today, this afternoon The Dribbling Code visited The Roundwood Sports Ground in Rawmarsh, home of Parkgate FC, to see the home side take on Frickley Athletic Old Boys FC (more commonly known as Hall Road Rangers). Continuing the countdown to the final which we started with Thackley v Askern Villa in the Extra Preliminary Round a fortnight ago, today’s opponents have by my calculations just twelve more consecutive victories needed to reach the FA Cup Final at Wembley next May.
Destination: Roundwood Sports Complex, Green Lane, Rawmarsh, Rotherham, South Yorks, S62 6LA
Competition: FA Cup, Preliminary Round
Programme: £1.20 (16 pages / 5 of ad’s – bit thin on content perhaps for the price, though the cover is really nice and must use a lot of ink! Has all the basics though, including home fixture list and an opposition profile)
Club Background: Parkgate formed in 1969 as a works team of the local steelworks under the name BSC Parkgate. After playing in the Sheffield County Senior League and the Yorkshire League, they were one of the founder members of the NCEL in 1982 and have remained there ever since. The 2006-07 season saw them win the NCEL’s First Division and with it gain promotion to the Premier Division for the first time in their history. Since then they have more than held their own in the NCEL’s top tier, finishing runners-up last season which is their highest finish to date.
Off The Pitch: Even before the match had started, the infamous Parkgate tea hut ‘Walk Of Death’ had already claimed its first victim of the afternoon. Whether the poor chap was an unsuspecting away fan, maybe a neutral brought in by the offer of free entry for season ticket holders of League clubs on annual Non-League Day, or even just a home fan who should have known better is uncertain. But no sooner had he managed to take the first couple of steps from the refreshment portacabin with a mug of steaming hot tea and WHACK! A mis-placed warm-up shot connected with him full pelt and the contents of his cup were suddenly redistributed down the front of a previously pristine jacket – not a good start to his afternoon! Overall, Parkgate is a fine footballing venue, but it does have one serious design flaw – that of positioning the tea hut behind and just to the side of one goal. To compensate for this, they do have a few feet of mesh fencing in front of the hatch, so at least while you’re getting served there’s no danger of a ball connecting with either the back of your noggin or decapitating one of the serving ladies. But once you’re clear of the protective cover, it’s like playing Russian roulette with hot drinks. You can spot the regulars as the ones who hold their cup at arms length, then check for oncoming player pot-shots before making a quick dash and ducking down in the adjoining stand behind the seats to sup their brews in comparative safety. Even at half-time you’re not safe though, as home subs warm up with a wicked glint in their eye to practice their shooting skills…
Tiswas-style splash attacks aside though, Parkgate’s Green Lane home is a nice location to watch non-league football at. This is especially the case on a sunny afternoon, when you can get a clear view of the valley below, while watching the game from the raised terracing which runs along the top side of the pitch. There is also a seated stand for around 150 people at one end, and a small amount of narrow hard-standing at the opposite end behind the other goal. The remaining longer side has a 6-foot high hedge a metre from the touchline, so is out of bounds and makes the ground effective a three-sided one for spectators. You’ll certainly get a warm welcome from the staff and volunteers at the club too, and with buses running past the ground every few minutes from Rotherham and taking just ten minutes, it’s a ground which is easily accessible by both public and private transport. Which brings us on to…
Directions: Situated next to Roundwood Golf Club, the Roundwood Sports Ground has quite a big car park – though for Saturday afternoon games this can fill up quickly with golfers, people playing bowls, etc. also using the facilities. If this happens then you should find nearby street parking easy to come by though. Being a couple of miles north of Rotherham, public transport users are advised to get a train to Rotherham, then a bus from Rotherham to Rawmarsh. The bus station is a right turn out of, and then almost directly opposite the railway station. Going out to Rawmarsh you want the 109 bus, which takes ten minutes and runs every ten minutes or so during the day. The bus will drop you on Green Lane practically opposite the sign for Roundwood Golf/Sports Complex where the road bends. One thing to bear in mind is that as the bus does a circular route, on the way back the service going in the opposite direction is the 108 rather than the 109.
Parkgate attempt to confuse the fcuk out of Hall Road’s forwards by setting up three sets of goals at their end!
On The Pitch: Today’s FA Cup Preliminary Round game paired together two NCEL Premier Division sides who in recent times have been of fairly equal quality, making an evenly matched contest likely. Parkgate had finished runners-up in the league last season, while Hall Road were just below mid-table, but under ex-Frickley boss Billy Heath are always likely to give any side a good game. Heath has assembled a competitive side which includes several former Frickley players who he knows he can rely on to deliver the goods. Accordingly, Hall Road started the match like a rat up a drainpipe, and within 25 minutes had already gone 2-0 up, thanks to clinical finishing from Adam Crane and Neil Towler. Meanwhile, the home side looked far too lethargic and devoid of invention. With the away side practically camped in their half at this stage, as a neutral I was just hoping Parkgate could hold out till the interval and maybe try and get back into the game after some half-time reorganising. However, manager Doug Shelley was not willing to wait that long, and had clearly seen enough to decide that changes had to be made before that. With barely half an hour on the clock he made the bold move of making a double substitution, bringing on Adam Shepherd and Jake Outram. The move paid off, as Parkgate gradually came into the game more, then got a vital goal back right on the strike of half-time. The impressive Ashley Worsfold nipped in between the Hall Road goalkeeper and last defender to slot the ball home from six yards out and give his side a lifeline. After the break, Parkgate made up for their first half performance with a much more competitive edge, and began to marginally shade things in midfield. Hall Road did their best to restrict the home side to long distance speculative shots, but on the hour a penalty was awarded after Keir Hannity was brought down, and though Adam Nicklin went the right way, he could do nothing to keep out a perfectly dispatched spot-kick from Chris Wood. Billy Heath brought on another experienced ex-Frickleyite, Ben Chapman, to sure up the defence for the remainder of the match, and though each side had a couple of half-chances, a draw was the fairest result in my view from today’s showing. With the replay taking place on Tuesday, I reckon I would make Hall Road the slight favourites with home advantage. But if Parkgate can replicate today’s second-half performance for the whole game then they will certainly be in with a shout of making the First Qualifying Round, where the winners of this tie will face Whitby Town at home.
Today’s game was fiercely contested in midfield. Meanwhile, note the crafty kids in the background on trampolines managing to circumvent the league’s ruling on viewing over the outside fence!
Hall Road manager and non-league legend Billy Heath combining his two favourite passtimes: football and shouting.
‘Please may we have our ball back missus?’ (note bloke on ladder retrieving wayward defensive clearance from neighbouring garden)
Two former Frickley players, a bloke with a dog, and a dead hedgehog – it must be National Non-League Day!