Monday, 25 April 2011

Colne 1 Barnoldswick Town 1

North West Counties League Premier Division
Attendance: 216

Colne and Barnoldswick are five miles apart on either side of the Lancashire/West Riding of Yorkshire border so I suppose you could call this match the Pendle derby or, if you really wanted to big it up, a war of the roses. In all other respects, though, there’s no escaping the fact that the encounter was a bread and butter step five fixture. Pretty hardcore in groundhopping terms, in fact.

So why go? Well, the Colne ground sounded worth a visit from this recommended blog, it was a nice, sunny day, and I fancied a walk with my boy around nearby Wycoller Country Park. That done we proceeded to the match.

From outside the Holt House ground looked worryingly plain: just a low-level corrugated iron compound but inside it has idiosyncracies aplenty. You enter via a single turnstile that looks older than all the other fixtures and fittings put together. The first thing that then strikes you is the pronounced slope of the pitch. The highest corner flag is 15ft higher than the lowest. The accommodation is the usual combination of rickety mismatched wooden stands some echoing like staging blocks when you walk through them. The main stand has numbered seats which you can’t quite imagine people fighting over and is so enclosed that it feels a bit like being aboard a boat.

The nautical theme is echoed by the obligatory shipping containers around the touchline, one housing the bar. There are plenty of opportunities to watch matches for free by looking over the fence and you can pass through it via a little door to spend a penny (as we saw one lad do). My favourite features, though, are the entrance to the home dressing room which looks like a sentry box and garden bench fixed to the top of a short section of terracing.

The views are great too. Roofs of terraced houses stretch into the distance on the diagonal behind the downhill goal while St Bartholemew’s Church and the clocktower of the Victorian town hall poke above the main stand and below the imposing Boulsworth Hill. Through binoculars on the far side of the valley I could make out Walton’s Spire near the summit from which (on a bike ride last month) I’d first espied Holt House.

The match was as keenly contested as you might expect from such local rivals next to each other in the league table but, in the first half, there were very few chances. The main action was concentrated in the final quarter. Barnoldswick failed to break the deadlock when a penalty was blasted over the bar and out of the ground. Shortly afterwards on 74 mins, Colne took the lead when a corner was cleared only as far as the edge of the box and Heyes shot home in front of the sheep (and I got my best goal pic of the season, below). Barnoldswick deservedly equalised six minutes later when Jordan knocked a cross in and should’ve won it at the end when Hollindrake was clean through but committed the classic ‘head in hands’ miss.

My last match of the season was very similar to my first: low-key but, as ever, providing the core of a pleasant day out. None of that protracted play-off nonesense for me (unless Reading reach Wembley, of course). Summer starts here.

Programme notes: Five new(ish) babies are announced on p18 – in a spot titled ‘Colne crĂȘche’. Guess that’s what you call a family club. The programme also reports how two ex-players are now competing in the US for New Orleans Jesters and West Virginia Chaos, both seemingly named for the benefit of headline writers.

The rise and fall of Colne Dynamoes: Talking of great names, Colne’s previous club (which also played at Holt House) was called Colne Dynamoes. In the late 80s, backed by millionnaire chairman Graham White, they won the FA Vase, reached the semi-final of the FA Trophy and – fielding ex-Liverpool European Cup winner Alan Kennedy – secured the Northern Premier League. They were (to use my favourite football clichĂ©) knocking on the door of the Conference but it didn’t open because the ground was inadequate. That summer White closed the club amid suspicions that the money had run out. Crawley Town take note. For the full story click here.

Breakfast with the stars: I followed local Pendle hero Chris Eagles down to breakfast on Saturday. My family and I were staying at the same hotel as Burnley FC ahead of their 4-2 win at Derby.


Anonymous said...

Barnoldswick is now actually officially in Lancashire.

Reynard The Fox said...

Nice report and pictures. Ground added to the list; nice views too.

Alex said...

Enjoyed that, particularly the words of warning for Crawley at the end...