Destination: Belle Vue Stadium, Doncaster Road, Wakefield, West Yorks, WF1 5EY
Competition: Evo-Stik (aka Northern Premier) League, Division One North
Attendance: 57 (official attandance; though there seemed to be around 100 people actually watching the game)
Programme: £1 (a tad thin at just 12 pages plus adverts – but at least there was some welcome original content to read)
Pre-Match Build Up: This was a real bottom-of-the-table West Yorkshire derby. With Garforth propping up the league having gone down 6-2 at third-from-bottom Goole last time out, but their hosts being in even worse freefall and having got tonked 10-1 at Curzon in their last game. Only 1 team gets relegated this year, which meant that Garforth had 7 games to claw back the 6-point gap between them and Ossett Albion who sit directly above them.
Off The Pitch: Having been forced to move out of their now bulldozed and rebuilt College Grove home two years ago, and groundsharing last season at Ossett Town, 2012-13 has seen Wakefield FC relocate to Belle Vue – better known as the regular home of Wakefield Wildcats Rugby League Club. It provides a bit of a surreal atmosphere when sub-100 crowds are the norm in such a big stadium, but I kinda like the freedom it allows. All four sides of the ground are open to spectators, so it also provides a nice opportunity to wander round this ground when near-empty (though some of the main stand seats are roped off). Not sure where Wakey are hoping to play next season though, as I forgot to ask. The only real downside is Superleague-prices for food and drinks, with tea and coffee kicking in at £2 a throw. Mind, at least you get a nice plush bar area with windows and patio overlooking the pitch to eat and drink it in.
Directions: If travelling by bus, then any Wakefield bound, or Wakefield leaving, bus which travels up Doncaster Road will stop right outside the ground (less than five minutes’ journey time from the bus station). Otherwise, the nearest rail station is Sandal & Agbrigg on the Leeds-Doncaster line, which is about a five minute walk from the ground and has trains roughly every half hour serving it. There is also a club car park which has ample space for non-league football sized crowds. The stadium is set slightly further back from the road than the adjoining Superbowl building.
On The Pitch: The first half was very evenly matched – neither side looked like obvious relegation fodder, although Wakefield in particular did seem a bit aimless and lacking in confidence. With no goals yet as the second half progressed, Garforth seemed to be the side who realised it was shit or bust time, and started throwing on subs and trying to force the game. It worked, and two well-taken goals – the first from skipper Chris Kamara and the second from sub Dan Sherrife) combined with Ossett Albion losing mean that they are now just 3 points from safety (or 2 points and a minus 47 goal difference!). Wakefield themselves are only 9 points above Garforth so aren’t out of danger yet either, and need to get their act together if only to give their increasingly disgruntled regular supporters something to cheer about. Garforth grew in confidence and played some nice football towards the end, while I suspect the home side wouldn’t have scored if they’d gone on till midnight. Probably around half the crowd was made up of away fans (including a small group of young lads who single-handedly made up the atmosphere by singing throughout the whole game), and they certainly got their rewards for travelling today.