Tuesday 19th February 2013 ko 19.45
Northern Premier League-Division One North
WAKEFIELD 1 (Marsden 75) Grant missed penalty 10
OSSETT ALBION 1 (Tracey 28)
Joni Mitchell once sang “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone,” and I feel that way about the urban football ground. As a small boy visiting Oxford United’s Manor Ground, you felt the anticipation as you walked through the narrow back streets to the turnstiles, often at the end of a cul-de-sac. The rusting turnstile, with the brass plate from a manufacturer from a northern town, and the brickwork painted over time and time again so only a rough pattern remained. A floodlight at each corner, and a stand with a pitched roof completed the painting.
Time, tide and the Taylor Report have seen a general drift of the larger grounds to out-of-town locations, and many of the classic football grounds have disappeared. The same process is happening with Rugby League grounds, but so far Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ Belle Vue ground is still there to be enjoyed. It’s all there, the town centre location, and the narrow side streets, even the oft-painted brickwork!
Wakefield Trinity were formed from men who worshipped at The Holy Trinity Church in the West Yorkshire city in 1873. When the schism between the northern professional (League) clubs and the amateur (Union) south happened in 1895 Wakefield as a city found itself with both an amateur Union club, and a professional club,Trinity. It meant that the club needed its own ground, and Belle Vue was purchased in that year. The club had in fact played there since 1879, and when I entered the stadium via the one open turnstile in the corner I stopped, stood, and sucked in the atmosphere.
This is the football club’s second stint at the ground. Emley FC moved here in 2000 and re-named themselves Wakefield & Emley. When a new club was started back in Emley the suffix was dropped, and around the same time the club moved to the former Wakefield Rugby Union ground, College Grove. The club was evicted in 2011, and spent a season sharing at Ossett Town, before returning to Belle Vue for this season.
Three sides of Belle Vue are the quintessential large football/rugby ground, with the fourth a staple of the rugby ground of both codes, the multi-storey hospitality block. With just 92 present, all sides were accessible, including the bar area in hospitality, assuming you were prepared to pay the high prices for food and drink demanded at professional sport, I was not.
I contented myself with getting a teamsheet, ” No problem mate, I’ll print you one off,” (contrast that with Maidstone!) and walking round and enjoying a generous slice of sporting history. Enjoy it while you can, as Belle Vue doesn’t satisfy future Superleague ground criteria, so Trinity are looking to either move or redevelop.
Behind the goal on the huge terrace a small crowd of young boys shouted their support for Ossett in a game that didn’t quite live up its exhalted surroundings. Two struggling sides took just the one pass too many to create enough impact to force the win. Josh Grant missed an early penalty for Wakefield, and Albion took control of the game, scoring through former Sheffield United forward Richard Tracey. They’ll wonder how they failed to force the win as a defensive howler allowed Tom Marsden to nip in to slide home.
It was one of those draws that seemed to be of little use to either club. Thatr’s a real shame as both club’s have been notably friendly when I visted previously, Ossett Albion at Dimple Wells, and Wakefield at their former home of College Grove. I’ll look forward to seeing them again. Hopefully Belle Vue won’t be paved in favour of a parking lot in the meantime.