FA Cup, preliminary round
‘Did you mean Google?’ Well no, I didn’t, actually. It’s as if the world’s favourite search engine can’t imagine that anyone would be seeking information about Goole, a town in the East Riding of Yorkshire, rather than Google. For today, at least, Goole meant more to me than an e-spelling error although I will never forget (courtesy of Wikipedia) that people who come from the town are, indeed, called Goolies.
The quaint sounding (but not quaint) Victoria Pleasure Ground (VPG) is a one-shot stadium but what a shot. It is dominated by a pair of water towers, nicknamed the salt cellar and pepper pot. Built in 1926, the former also looks like a giant phallus and the latter is the largest water tower in Europe. I haven't been so enthralled by stadium-side towers since the (now demolished) giant drill bit at Glossop North End.
The pitch is surrounded by a four-lane running track, the outer lane partially covered in moss, which is never an ideal arrangement for watching football as I’m sure West Ham fans will come to realise in seasons to come although, admitedly, the Olympic stadium is a long way from the VPG.
This is not a place I’d like to come on a wet winter’s night as the wind whistles across the surrounding docks and plains. The noise of an excavator grinding and groaning in the docks drowned out the calls of the players. One chap watched from this back garden, leaning on a wall comprised of concrete planks and topped with barbed wire like a cross between Kilroy and an inmate in a prisoner of war camp. Razor wire protected the press box from interlopers.
The VPG contains two conundrums. What happened with the ‘g’ in the ‘no parking’ sign, my son Bertie wondered, and why is there a row of numbered seats facing away from the pitch (see below)? Perhaps their orientation is to facilitate prayer. There isn’t exactly a great clamour for accommodation at the VPG and certainly not for this sort of vantage point. These must be the most needlessly numbered seats in the world. Nearly as superfluous is the formidable caging around the tunnel (see earlier pic). The tune played from the tinny PA as the teams came out – that old non-league standby, ‘Eye of the Tiger’ – was the only wild thing about this encounter.
The second half was much better than the forgettable first. Staveley (from Derbyshire) took the lead on 55 mins when a striker burst through on the left and squared for Barraclough to stroke home. The visitors then looked much the stronger side and clipped the bar (see mini-movie, earlier). Meanwhile, Goole had an effort nodded off the line and then, largely against the odds and three mins from time, Martin of Goole blasted home from the edge of the box. Drat: there goes my intended witty last line about about ‘no gools’ from Goole or something like that.
Programme notes: ‘Big Mal’, editor, describes the fame that FA Cup first round glory can bring, citing a notable Cup runs for my local team: “For that season every football supporter in the country knew the name of Harrogate Town and this in turn brings notoreity to the town of Harrogate”. Mmm, err. It was Harrogate Railway, Mal. Perhaps it didn’t make their name quite as well known …
Yorkshire Waterways Museum which also runs boat tours of the docks. Goole is the furthest inland port in the UK and was purpose-built to serve the docks in the 1820s.
Star turns: Ex-Reading and Birmingham hotshot Nicky Forster and ex-Blackburn title winning defender Ian Pearce turned out for Sussex-based Lingfield in the Cup today. See here for some footage.
Ground hopper to island hopper: So much for Man U 8 Arsenal 2. The only result I heard last weekend was Frimley Green 0 Guernsey 5. I’d tuned into Radio Guernsey to hear the weather forecast while staying on nearby Alderney. The island’s football team play – or, it looks like, used to play – at his beautifully located ground. Alderney finished bottom of the 14 teams in the recent Island Games. Opposition in the group stages included Gibraltar and the Falklands. Greenland v. Menorca must’ve been a cracker.