Saturday 4th April 2015 ko 10.30
Northern Counties East League-Division One
AFC EMLEY 0 Jerome sent off (dangerous play) 57 Flynn missed penalty 90
HEMSWORTH MINERS WELFARE 3 (Connolly 45 Blair 51 Guest 60)
My regular reader will now be aware that the first thing I do on any day of any hop I’m organising is to dash to the nearest window to check on the weather. Except on this occasion I checked for snow, yes that’s right snow! Two years ago Emley were due to be the first game on the Easter Hop, but 6 feet of drifting snow put paid to that idea, and we at GroundhopUK were grateful to Atherton Colleries for taking on the game. The postponement came in no small part to Emley’s altitude so it was fitting that as a coach party we paid a visit to the Emley Moor transmission tower. Its 330 metres tall, weighes 11,200 tonnes, is taller than the Eiffel Tower, and is Britain’s tallest free-standing structure.
We’d passed Emley’s Welfare ground in the way, and the club’s preparations were in full swing, aided no doubt by the beer festival starting just down the road. Two PCSO’s were trying to look busy overseeing it all, but in all honesty they didn’t look needed. It was obvious that Emley had spent the last two years planning. Chris Berezai and I went through the turnstiles and there were two mugs of tea waiting for us!
Whilst Emley’s planning and preparation was all coming to fruition we were worried. We knew that our 3rd game was at Shaw Lane Aquaforce but their ground is shared with rugby union, and is very prone to waterlogging. The wet week had left the pitch in a poor state and so the game was in doubt. League chairman Dave Morrell had been in contact with the club over the previous day, and made another fretful call now. Thankfully the pitch had been worked on, and a tarpaulin placed over a problem area, and the news soon came back, “Good to go, providing no more rain.” I glanced skywards and I swear the clouds cleared!
Emley worked at their day as hard as any club I’ve worked with. The bacon and mushroom rolls sold like hot cakes, the teamsheets were snapped up as fast as they could print them, and all the while the turnstiles simply kept clicking. If helped that both sides are pushing for promotion, and another side in the mix, Pontefract Collieries also had both players and fans there. They were playing in the evening at Penistone so Emley was a good stopping off point for them.
The one part of Emley’s day of course that didn’t work out for them was the result, and ever since social media has been agog at Ashley Flynn’s “Best/Worst Penalty Ever!” If you hadn’t seen it yet, here’s Andrew Wilson’s footage of the worst attempt at a “Panenka” you are ever likely to see.
But let’s put it into some perspective. Firstly it wasn’t the only missed penalty, Jason Yates’ penalty for Hemsworth, was conventional in its execution, but the result was exactly the same. Secondly Emley were 3-0 down, and had lost Ruben Jerome to a red card for a quite awful challenge. A similar challenge a few minutes later from Flynn saw a lengthy conflab’ between referee and linesman before a yellow card was issued.
So, its the final minute, and you are 3-0 down and you have a penalty. It was only ever going to be a consolation so why not go for something a little different? The trouble I suspect, is that there’s more footage on YouTube showing Flynn taking a penalty, and yes its the same “Panenka-style” effort. Had keeper Jack Bentley seen the footage and expected the attempted chip?
I’m sure in groundhopping folklore that penalty will be what Emley’s day will be remembered for, and Ashley Flynn will certainly never live it down! However that would be to do AFC Emley a massive disservice, this was for example their highest attendance for a competitive game since reformation. They were a pleasure to work with and I for one will look forward to seeing them as an away club on our next visit to the Northern Counties East. Just one thing chaps, please make sure Mr Flynn isn’t on penalties!