Glasshoughton Welfare v Barton Town Old Boys
Leeds Street / North Counties East League Premier Division / 17th February 2015
There seemed to be plenty of football on this Tuesday night and with it being half-term and no work for me the next day, I thought it’d be rude not to venture somewhere. There were a few options to ponder, but when York fan Ben mentioned on my Saturday out in York that he was heading to Glasshoughton Welfare, I mentioned that that was one of my options. I knew very little of Glasshoughton apart from that it was somewhere near Leeds, so I thought I’d text fellow Welshman and Castleford-based Tom, who was also on a week off from teaching Maths. It turned out, randomly, that he plays football Tuesday nights in Glasshoughton and that he in fact only lived 5 minutes away from there. He declared he would sack off his 6-a-side football to show me the joys of Glasshoughton.
Click on Glasshoughton’s Wikipedia page and a large portion of the very small entry is about what you can find on the main retail park, which perhaps sums up the thrills (or lack there of) on offer there. The area does however boast the an indoor ski slope in the Xscape complex for those Yorkshire folk into skiing.
More interesting for me was the last paragraph of the Wikipedia entry which noted one of the biggest events to ever strike Glasshoughton; well, I’m just assuming this as no other event is chronicled on the page. What was the greatest moment ever to strike Glasshoughton then? Only Bruce Grobbelaar once making one appearance for Glasshoughton Welfare FC! That’s right, the wobbly-legged former Liverpool goalie made one appearance for the club in a fund-raising match for the struggling club in 2007 as he was a former resident of the area. Good on you Bruce! Grobbelaar was only six minutes short of keeping a clean sheet too.
I arrived into Glasshoughton 20 minutes after changing train in Leeds and Tom was at the station already waiting for me. Literally next door to the station is the rather fancy Xscape leisure complex with all the usuals, Cineworld, Nando’s etc. as well as a few bars and the aforementioned Sno-zone ski slope. Our first port of call was the Lloyd’s Bar located on the corner of the centre. I was content in here as two pints of Tuborg cost less than £5. Great stuff.
“Do you want to go have a beer and watch some snowboarders fall over then?” queried Tom. Of course, my answer was yes. We headed through the centre until we got the ski/snowboard racks of Xscape, where we veered upstairs to the viewing area. This was certainly I different way to spend prematch. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to witness anyone make a comical tumble, apart from me actually slip on the stairs up to the bar. Apparently, even this whole facility was once closed down as Justin Bieber visited the slope for a spot of snowboarding. Undoubtedly, like myself, he probably enjoyed a pint of Becks here and then headed to go watch Glasshoughton Welfare FC too.
Being in Glasshoughton, I thought it only right that we went in the rather trendy-looking Glass Room bar; I was determined to come up with some sort of ‘Glass’ pun in here, but I didn’t get past a very poor ‘It’s smashing in here’ joke. I will try harder next time.
We then headed back to Lloyd’s to meet Gibbo and Ben, who were arriving into Glasshoughton station shortly. However, when they did arrive they wanted to go watch snowboarders fall too, so whilst me and Tom finished our pints, they went off to watch snow-based calamities.
Once we did meet back up with them, we began our walk towards the ground – a ten minute walk from the station to the ground itself. We found ourselves approaching the complex, which holds Glasshoughton’s ground, a sports centre and a 5-a-side pitches, but instead we stuck on the opposite side of the road and headed into Glasshoughton Working Men’s Club to sample a bit more authentic Glasshoughton culture. As we sampled the culture, Gibbo and Ben headed to get some money before heading into the ground…or so we thought. Gibbo came crawling back in looking depressed saying that he didn’t have enough money to get into the ground. This was a new low for Gibbo. We chipped in for the £3 entry for him until he got to the bottom of why he had no money. For those worried about him, you don’t need to donate money to ‘Gibbo Aid’ quite yet – he has money now. Just a clerical error denied him money.
With minutes to go until kick-off, we headed across the road to ground. I was slightly enraged as I was the only one to pay full price with Maths teacher Tom only paying £3 as the turnstile operator seemed to think he was a student. What I could have done with that extra £2 I could have saved!
Glasshoughton Welfare were formed in 1964 as Anson Sports, before they changed their name to their current one in 1976. The club played in the West York Association Football League until they moved to the North East Counties League in 1985, starting in Division Three. After league reorganising, Welfare have spent the past 20 years going between the NCEL First and Premier Division with them playing in the Premier Division today; however, on our arrival into Glasshoughton, the club found themselves at the bottom of the division having conceded 107 goals and scored only 19 in 28 games.
As for the ground…well there isn’t much to it and quite frankly it is a bit shit. The ground is very open with just two small stands: one sheltered standing error behind one goal and a small seating area on the halfway line. Down the other side of the pitch is the leisure centre itself, which holds the ground’s changing rooms, toilets and bar/food area. The official NCEL page states that the attendance was 39 on this Tuesday night, but we are adamant that there was more players on the pitch than people watching on.
The teams headed out onto the field with Glasshoughton in the blue and white stripes and Barton Town in orange and soon the game was underway. The game…it was bad. Really, really bad. Neither team seemed to be able to string two passes together with the home team being particularly bad and looking every bit a team who are bottom of the league with just 12 points and 3 wins all season.
We completed a lap of the ground, whilst trying to the enjoy the game, but it was really hard going. Amazingly, it took Barton Town, who were playing slightly downhill in the first half, 40 minutes to score past a hapless Glasshoughton. The game was so bad that that, mixed with the beer consumed, has actually led to me struggling to recall the goals scored during the game as I write this the next day. So I resorted to messaging Ben, Gibbo and Tom on Facebook for their recounts of the goals and soon Gibbo was back to me with brief summaries of each goals (which did trigger recollections of them in my head). So here is goal 1 of the evening, copy and pasted from that Facebook message and brought to you by Joseph Gibbons:
“First goal, the cross came in from the right and evaded everybody before the tall striker got the faintest of touches with his head to steer the ball past a professional goalkeeper.”
That last ‘professional goalkeeper’ part is a bit tongue in cheek, but more on that later.
Half-time: Glasshoughton Welfare 2 – 0 Barton Town Old Boys.
We headed into the very nice, yet canteen-like, club bar where I enjoyed a lavish half-time meal of two 50p sausage rolls and a can of Fosters, as well as having the opportunity to watch some of the Paris Saint Germain v Chelsea game on the TV.
It was hard to get ourselves fired up to watch the second half, but we got out there and headed behind the goal in which Barton were attacking as we guessed that that was where most of the goals would be going in in the second half. It also provided us with the opportunity to join the very small gathering of Barton fans mocking the goalie’s inability to take goal kicks and instead leaving the responsibility to the centre back. One particular mocking led to the keeper seriously claiming something along the lines of “I’m going to turn professional soon,” much to the uproarious laughter of those of us behind the goal.
It took until the hour mark for Barton to make it 2 – 0 and once again we’ll turn to Gibbo for how he saw the 2nd goal:
“The second goal was a back post header by the same player (as the first) – I think.”
Cheers for that Gibbo. On to more cutting edge NCEL Premier Division football…oh wait a second…
The game continued to be a diabolical showing, but we were now seeing the funny side of it and laughing at every misplaced pass. Glasshoughton had pretty much given up and, despite playing uphill now, Barton were attacking constantly. The ball virtually never left the half the away team were attacking and the 76th minute brought the 3rd goal of the game. So over to Gibbo:
“Third one was a close range header at the front post.”
More incisive match reporting from Gibbo there.
The laughable Glasshoughton showing continued, but somehow Barton couldn’t add to their tally. We decided to start making our way towards the exit and as we did this finally a bit of class struck; plus, a goal I can recall vividly. A frustrated Barton attacker decided that the ‘passing the ball into the box’ tactic was not providing goals and so instead he launched a 25 yard rocket which flew in. Then the whistle went and we were done. Finally.
Full-time: Glasshoughton Welfare 0 – 4 Barton Town Old Boys.
This season, I have turned my focus to completing a chunk of ‘The 92’ in the final months of being a ‘Young Person’ and having the privilege of holding a ‘Young Person’s Railcard’. It had occurred to me earlier in the day that I had only been to two non-league games in the past 3 months and even one of those was a trip to previous Football League stalwart in Bristol Rovers. I had been looking forward to returning to the more humble pastures of non-league football, but this wasn’t exactly the greatest ‘Welcome Back!’ party I could have had. A dire display of football – although we did find entertainment in the slapstick of it all in the second half.
What positives will I take from the evening? Oh, the ground did have very plush toilets. Very nice indeed. There you go.
Highlights: eeeh, struggling here…having prematch drinks by an indoor ski slope (different), good toilets, 50p sausage rolls.
Low Points: very basic ground, very poor game despite the goals.
You can see all my photos from my evening at Glasshoughton here.