Saturday, 27 September 2014

Cleethorpes Town 1 North Ferriby United 2

FA Cup, second qualifying round
Attendance: 321

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside especially if there’s a tasty cup tie on offer. And on paper this one was as tasty as fish and chips on the beach: Cleethorpes, lowest ranked side still in the competition, against local rivals, North Ferriby, who made the Conference North play-off final in May. There are currently 74 (count ’em) places and a large river between the sides. The Battle of the Humber, I call it.

The build-up to the tie started inauspiciously when Cleethorpes had their goalposts nicked on the day of the draw. A benefactor soon stepped in to pay for some new ones. That’s far from the club’s only FA Cup story. In the previous round they were 1-1-2 down to Carlton Town then got an equaliser in the 84th minute and the winner deep into injury time. Similar scenario in the preliminary round against Gresley. Cleethorpes scored in the 90th minute of normal time to make it 4-4 and then grabbed the winner in the last minute of extra time. Their extra preliminary tie (4-1 against Borrowash Victoria) was notable even before from the kick-off as it was the club’s first ever outing in the FA Cup. So the portents were there for a sizzling encounter.

Cleethorpes actually play in Grimsby while Grimsby famously play in Cleethorpes. The geography gets more complicated for me when I’m diverted on my way to the match through the petro-chemical town of Immingham. I enter Grimsby behind two coaches of supporters heading to Grimsby’s match against Chester in the Conference. (Cleethorpes tried to get their match switched to Friday to avoid the fixture clash but Ferriby wouldn’t have it). The road is lined with pawnbrokers, boarded up shops, tattoo parlours, tanning salons and gloomy, grey pubs. Bet it got a bit feisty in the days when Hull City came to town. I have an ice cream on Cleethorpes pier then head to Bradley Park which is shared with Grimsby Borough, also of the Northern Counties East League.

The place looks like a sports centre and inside I expect to see a couple of groups of lads in bibs playing five-a-side on astroturf. Entering through the single turnstile what I find very much has that feel. The pitch (there’s barely a stadium as such) is surrounded by a rail, enclosed by a wood and steel fence and has two small, flatpack stands beside it. That’s it. The playing surface is immaculate and the facilities look first rate but for the football grounds enthusiast Bradley Park has absolutely no features of interest. It reminds me of recently reformed Dinnington Town.

Ferriby are clearly the stronger side right from the off. But, completely against the run of play, Cleethorpes take the lead when a clearance from the edge of the box by the Ferriby goalie is swiftly lobbed into the net. Tragically for the hosts moments later another goalkeeping aberration puts Ferriby level. A Cleethorpes defender scores a superb own goal as he nods back a cross to his goalie not realising he’s already come out for it. The Cleethorpes goalie, Beattie, plays very well throughout and keeps his side in the contest on several occasions.

Ferriby get what turns out to be the winner on 54 mins. Jarman cuts in from the left and after a twirling, rubber-legged run fires home from the edge of the area.  Great goal (see clip, above). Cleethorpes continue to battle but I can’t remember a single shot on goal in the second half.
“Daddy! Daddy!” calls out a young child held by her mother who is standing next to me as the players leave the pitch. Over comes Dad, the Cleethorpes gaffer (love that lingo). He has a chat with her and kisses her head. A lovely tender end to afternoon of macho cut and thrust in the spirit of Ossett Albion in the last round. Didn’t quite live up to the billing for me, this one. Still, I enjoyed a tiddly-om-pom-pom on the prom beforehand.

Star turn: Ferriby included in their line-up Adam Bolder, ex-Derby and QPR among others.

Faces in the crowd: Batman and Robin put in an appearance today. Seven spectators watched the match from outside the ground over the fence. For goodness sake, lads: it’s only a fiver to get in and the money goes to a community club! Mention also to the Cleethorpes physio who looked like he needed treatment himself as he traversed the pitch to tend to a player like a limping Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards.

Player of the round: It has to be Iyesden Christie of Halesowen banged in a remarkable double hatrick at his side pasted Ellistown & Ibbstock 7-1 away. Brings to mind Ted MacDougall’s nine goals for Bournemouth in their 11-0 win over Margate in the FA Cup in 1971.

In the picture: My favourite sports pics are those which show the action in context with the spectators and environment. That’s what I try to capture for my blog – and what Tom Jenkins so expertly captured in this pic from the Ryder Cup published in today’s Guardian.

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