Saturday, 28 March 2015

Robin Hood Athletic 2 Boroughbridge 2

West Yorkshire League, Premier Division
Attendance: c 40.

Well, it wasn’t supposed to have been like this. For weeks I’d been keenly anticipating an FA Vase semi-final at North Shields but then couldn’t get a ticket, dammit. Plan ‘b’ was going to see Tadcaster at Garforth, a match for which I’d won a hospitality ticket via a competition on Twitter. That game had been re-scheduled and, since my win, the wheels have come off the Taddy wagon so the match wasn’t quite such an attraction. And so to plan ‘c’ ... another pleasant paddle down the backwaters of the West Yorkshire League following similar trips to Shelley and Aberford earlier in the season. This time I followed by local lads, Boroughbridge, to south Leeds for their match against Robin Hood Athletic within the rumble of the M1.

The ground occupies a large, square field bound by traditional terraced houses on one side and new apartment blocks opposite. I soon found it but struggled to gain access. At one point I thought about parking on Middleton Lane and crawling through the hedge. Entry, it transpires, is via the car park of the Coach & Horses pub. I then approached the rail around the pitch and ventured towards what I thought was an official entrance but was actually boarding and fencing protection around the floodlights.

The Coach Ground is a ground rather than just a pitch thanks to its fine stand. It has 10 terraces with four red painted benches at the top and solar panels on the fascia. (Bear with me: I know this bit sounds nerdy). A sign declares it to be the Andy Parker Stand and below the names of club benefactors are displayed. Adjacent is the welcoming tea room (“come in and smell the coffee”) and changing block. All in all it’s a cracking little set-up worthy of higher than step 7 in the pyramid. So clearly embedded in the community, the club has a Northern League feel and I can’t pay a higher compliment than that. Last season Robin Hood won the first division title and they will surely be knocking on the door of the Northern Counties East League before long.

For now they occupy mid-table in comparison to Boroughbridge who have been propping up the league having won only three matches all season. In very windy conditions Robin Hood went two up in 20 minutes but Boroughbridge, sporting bright pink, levelled it and hung on for a point. An enjoyable afternoon out at a club that’s as appealing as its name. Surprisingly large crowd too. Highly recommended whatever the other options.

Some history: Founded in 1952, Robin Hood Athletic took over a fallow field behind the Coach & Horses hotel in 1968. The stand dates from the late 70s. In 2003 the club purchased the whole site under the proviso it was always retained for recreation. Onsite changing facilities were added in 2010 to replace those at the back of the pub and the tea room was extended last December. Further reading about Robin Hood here.

Star connection: Robin Hood’s greatest former player is Huddersfield legend Roy Ellam. Mention of his name instantly brought to mind his pic in my coveted 1970-71 Soccer Star gala collection stamp album. And here he is ...

Starter for 10: I began the afternoon with a visit to Whitkirk Wanderers who are based near Temple Newsam and were playing Thornhill in the division below Robin Hood. To my surprise there was entrance fee but at just £1 including programme I could hardly complain. Sadly what I thought from Google Earth may have been two quaint stands were vandalised shipping containers on a bank. After 10 minutes I made my excuses (almost personally as there were only about a dozen others there) and left.

Mention in dispatches: Three cheers for North Ferriby who beat Wrexham on penalties in the FA Trophy final this weekend. Sounds like a hell of a game.

1 comment:

John said...

Surely that funny little stand needs some sort of comparison? Looks a bit like it levers up and down like the trap door on a space ship. Or a giant metal oyster.