Destination: Welfare Ground, The Glasshoughton Centre, Leeds Road, Glasshoughton, West Yorks, WF10 4PF.
Competition: Northern Counties East League, Division One
Weather: Fine but fairly f’ing freezing
Programme: £1 (also available, enamel pin badges £3.50 from the bar in the clubhouse)
Pre-Match Build Up: As local derbies go, they don’t come much bigger than this. The first leg of the Ponte ‘n’ Cas el Classico (the El Cas-ico?) a week earlier on Boxing Day had seen a 2-2 draw played out at Ponte Colls’ ground. Today, things moved two miles down the road to Glasshoughton Welfare’s Leeds Road stadium, for what was now set to be the decisive game between the two clubs, sitting currently in second and third spots in the NCEL Division One table – indeed, a win today for either side would be enough to see them temporarily go top, due to current leaders Albion Sports’ scheduled game at Eccleshill already having fallen foul of the weather. So it was with mucho anticipation that I joined the queues at the turnstile – most of whom looked like they were setting off on a 6-month journey to the antarctic rather than a football match, such was the array of thick wool and technical ‘big coats’ on display today.
Off The Pitch: Once upon a time, Glasshoughton Welfare’s Leeds Road location was a typical miners welfare set-up, where cricket, football and bowls sat side by side. Now it has been tarted up thanks to grants from the likes of Coalfields Regeneration, the Lottery Fund and Sport England, renamed The Glasshoughton Centre, and on the face of it looks to be one of the most well-equipped complexes of this kind in the district. The huge brick building which spans more than half of the near side of the ground is certainly impressive, housing a clubhouse with a bar, refreshemnt cabin and large seating area, and several individually named ‘function suites’. Still home to the local bowls, cricket and football teams (a recent addition is a hireable 3G 5-A-Side pitch), now it also promotes itself as a ‘healthy living, learning and leisure centre’. The toilets were also very spacious, with colour piss charts on display for self-checking the health levels of your urine. Mine was so good I allowed myself an extra pint than usual, and I expect to see a similar initiative adorning the walls of Thackley and Eccleshill’s bogs next time I visit.
As well as the Ikea flat-pack ‘Freddy Football Clubhouse’ structure, the pitchside set-up at Glasshoughton also includes two covered areas for watching the game from. These being a small amount of stepped terracing directly behind one goal (pictured above), and a slightly larger seated stand which straddles the halfway line (pictured below). The latter used to have just wooden bench seating in it, but now (presumably due to grading regulations which sadly don’t seem to like bench seating) has mostly plastic tip-up seats, augmented with a bit of bench seating and some other plastic seats at the front (again, presumably in order to make up numbers and tick the grading criteria?).
On The Pitch: Apart from a slight lull midway through the second half, this match fully lived up to expectations and was hugely entertaining to watch. As expected, we got a hard-fought battle between two local rivals, but it never threatened to cross over into anything too unsporting. Glasshoughton looked the better team in the early stages, taking the lead after just five minutes, when a free-kick hit the post and centre-half Jack Nodder was first to pounce and head the rebound into an open goal. Though Ponty got an equaliser ten minutes later following an adjudged handball in Glasshoughton area, the home side still looked the most likley side to go on and win the game. Things swung in the away team’s favour though in the five minutes before half-time, with two goals in quick succession coming Ponty’s way courtesy of brothers Scott and Greig McGrory, refugees this season from the former NCEL side Leeds Carnegie. The second half saw both sides cancel each other out for most of the time, with neither able to create anything clear-cut enough to alter the scoring. Then, just as the game looked to be petering out, Glasshoughton managed to bag a second headed goal thanks to Paul Sykes. However, by this stage there were less than five minutes left on the clock, and much as Glassy tried to apply some added pressure on the away goal, Colls managed to hold out for a hugely important 3-2 victory, which promptly took them to the top of the Division One table. A great advert for the NCEL, and particulalry for its second tier, with the football on display today ranking up there with the quality of mid-table NCEL Premier Division sides at least. And that battle at the top of the division looks to be warming up really nicely now.
Above: A delighted Jack Nodder sees his close-range header go in to open the scoring for Glasshoughton
Above: Five minutes later though, Liam Ormsby equalised for Ponte Colls from the penalty spot
These pigeons are from Barcelona, tha knows!