Arnold Town, Chris Freestone, Clayborn, Football, Gary Briggs, groundhop, groundhopping, Liversedge, Martin Carruthers, northern counties east league
Friday 6th April 2012 ko 4.45pm
Northern Counties East League Premier Division
ARNOLD TOWN 1 (Burton 43)
Entry & Programme Hop Ticket
The village of Liversedge lies between Cleckheaton and Heckmondwike in the Spen Valley near Bradford. In 1812 it was the scene of a Luddite riot at Rawfolds Mill when the local weavers attacked Edmund Cartwright who was in the process of developing his new power loom. So dominated by its suroundings the village, that apparently there’s only one signpost directing you here.
We didn’t see the sign either, turning off the A62 at Cleckheaton and heading down to the Clayborn ground. Its tucked away amongst the houses, and when you arrive, the vista opens up. The ground has a wonderful view of the Spen Valley with Dewsbury in the background. Running into the distance is the old railway line, now a footpath curiously adorned with metal sheep!
The Clayborn ground was notorious for it slope, but the club has spent much time and effort in levelling the pitch, but it does mean that the clubhouse is now substantially above pitch level and the view from the seats in the main stand rather low down! There’s also a covered enclosure behind the near goal, featuring telegraph poles as pillars. That was taken over by the Arnold fans.
For me the ground meant one thing. Liversedge was where my boyhood hero Gary Briggs started his career. A “No-nonsense” centre half, he played for Middlesbrough before making his name as Oxford United rose through the divisions to win the League Cup and play in the top flight. He played the last years of his career at Blackpool and Chorley. It turned out he never actually played for Liversedge’s first XI presumably leaving before he had the chance!
Arnold also had links to the professional game. Player manager Martin Carruthers played with distinction for the likes of Stoke, Peterborough, Southend and Scunthorpe. On the bench was Chris Freestone who’s returned to Arnold following spells at Northampton, Hartlepool and Shrewsbury.
Off the field, this fixture was the proof that to guarantee a programme you need to buy an advanced ticket. We sold 73 “All-fixtures” tickets, plus a few “Some fixtures” tickets. The club printed 250 programmes and sold out the lot well before kick off. Witness hoppers trying every trick they knew to get a copy, when all they need is to do is buy in advance! They get a discount too!
The game failed to live up to the surroundings. There was no lack of effort on the part of either team but the sides cancelled each other out. Thankfully there was a goal, Arnold’s James Leggitt stabbing home at the back post from a right-wing cross but this wasn’t a game to remember.
Chris and I thanked the club for their efforts, and in particular the girls in the tea bar who’d coped with huge demand with efficiency and good humour and headed back to Godfrey and the coach.