Friday 14th April 2017 ko 11.00
Northern Counties East League Premier Division
GARFORTH TOWN 0
STAVELEY MINERS WELFARE 0
It all felt like a well-oiled routine. The 4 star Cedar Court Hotel in Wakefield, GroundhopUK’s base for the entire hop, the mountains of bacon consumed in a buffet breakfast, but this time our party had company. There were 3 coachloads of pensioners staying there too, on a coach tour of Yorkshire. We only really saw them at breakfast, and they seemed rather fascinated with us. I actually got asked whether we were playing or watching football? Well, I’m 46 and overweight, I don’t think I’m up to playing!
Of the 13 host clubs in this hop I suspect that Garforth had the highest profile. A lot of that was due to late Brazil legend Socrates turning out for the club in 2004. It was something of a publicity stunt organised by then Garforth owner Simon Clifford, and the 50-year-old managed a 13 minute cameo. He may have made little impact on the pitch but the publicity was priceless.
But if you’re a groundhopper I suspect it’s Wheatley Park that grabs the attention. The club moved here in 1998, and that “Floating” Roof can be seen for miles around, even as I discovered later, it doesn’t actually keep the weather off! It’s the little touches that appeal more, such as the bridge linking the social club to the stand. It acts as a hospitality area, and the area underneath it shelters is where the team bar is.
With a fair number of hoppers having missed the Campion game there were quite a few programme packs to the be distributed, which made Garforth’s staging to be appreciated. I wondered whether the teamline-ups had been posted, just as the the secretary came round armed with a sheaf of teamsheets. I’ll never take good practice for granted, we do preach it, via club meetings and the infamous GroundhopUK briefing notes. But I’ll always appreciate quiet efficiency, and when all Chris Berezai and I had to do was count the crowd, you can take it as read that Garforth did themselves and their league proud.
But the game, I hear you ask. Ah yes, that. Well there are exciting nil-nils the type of games that have the lot except for a goal. Well, this wasn’t one of them, and it soon degenerated into a dour midfield slog, with the goalless draw inevitable from early on.
Where was Socrates when we needed him?