Brighouse Town v Atherton Collieries
St. Giles Road / FA Cup / 29th August 2015
You know you are probably not in for something too awe-inspiring when a town’s most famous sons are Embrace. I actually really liked Embrace (yes, I even really liked the Official World Cup 2006 song they did for England), but the band actually turn me sick these days. Why? Well, it’s a strange tale of feeling really sick in my teen years and asking my Mam to pick up their new album for me from Asda. I listened to it during my sickness week and now I always associate the band with feeling ill. I promise it’s not a revulsion to your soft rock ways lads. Anyhow, I decided enough time had passed and I decided to listen to some Embrace, whilst I rode the train to Brighouse. So as Danny from Embrace once sung, ‘all you good, good people listen to me’, whilst I tell you the tale of my trip to Brighouse and Brighouse Town FC with Atherton Colls.
To put you at ease geographically, today saw me head to the small town of Brighouse in the West Riding of Yorkshire, located just 4 miles east of Halifax. It will probably not blow your mind to learn that the name Brighouse comes from…yes, you guessed it, an old building that acted as a ‘Bridge House’ over the River Calder.
I arrived into Brighouse (via a train change at Huddersfield) shortly after 11am and on my little wander of the town…well, there wasn’t too much to see really apart from a canal; it was hardly Yorkshire’s answer to Venice either. To Wetherspoons!
Cider-loving groundhopper Russell ‘The Wycombe Wanderer’ Cox had proclaimed that Brighouse Wetherspoons, The Richard Oastler, is one of his favourites of the famous pub chain. I have to agree with him that it is a fine Spoons and seems to sit within some sort of old chapel. Still, it doesn’t pip Darwen’s branch as my favourite Wetherspoons in the country. Tuborg drunk and onwards back into the streets of Brighouse.
After jinking through the streets, I found myself back at the canal and so I headed into the rather fancy looking Jeremy’s – a Tapas restaurant/ bar on the canal. It was all very plush and even had a piano sitting in the middle of it – that’s fancy in my eyes anyway. Speaking of music, I was also loving the fact that John Lennon’s Just Like Starting Over was being played on the radio – a song that brings back many happy memories for me, as it was the song my radio alarm woke me up with the day of Swansea’s triumphant Championship play-off final win.
I was enjoying a beautiful pint of Saltaire Blonde when I received a phone call from Gibbo telling me that the Colls lot had rolled into town and were hitting Spoons. So back over to Spoons I headed.
I found Spoons much fuller now, courtesy of the large following Colls had brought with them today. For a team in the NWCFL, the number of support they bring away is quite awesome. The service at the bar was remarkably slow but eventually I walked away with a pint of Elland Brewery’s Pale – a grapefruit/ citrus beer. And oh my days was it is good! 6.5% and only £2.35 too!
In the beer garden, I found the core of the Colls contingent as well as my Colls-loving groundhopping comrade Gibbo. Also, joining us on our table was groundhopper and Colls fan Sean, Lee and a stranger.
“Guess whose brother that is?” asked Gibbo as he pointed at the young stranger. I gave him a strange look and after some prompting for Gibbo, I worked out that it was the younger brother of Colls captain Brad Cooke – Gibbo’s idol. Gibbo and Lee had been left with the responsibility from Brad to look after his younger brother, Zak, for the day. Maybe not a good idea. Within minutes Zak was phoning home and when asked where we were by his mother on the other end of the phone, Lee said ‘a brothel’ only for the young lad to repeat words to his mother before realising what he’d actually said to her. We were really not a good influence on the lad. I did give him a Lost Boyos, which prompted him to ask ‘What they I do with it?”‘ When I told him to stick it somewhere, I didn’t actually mean on himself, but fairplay to him for wearing the Lost Boyos brand for the duration of the day.
Much merriment was had in the beer garden of Spoons and after braving another pint of the 6.5% Pale, we opted to head towards the ground – more specifically the Dust Miller pub we had heard about down the road from the ground.
There was no way we were walking the long haul to the ground located north of the town, so we voted for taxis instead. However, it seems Brighouse has the weirdest taxi ordering system ever. We turned up at the taxi company with a few Colls fans and on ringing the door bell there was no answer. Instead we found ourselves having a conversation with a gentleman in the top window; it was like we were getting Rapunzel (a more masculine, balding Rapunzel) to sort out our taxi. Soon enough though we were speeding through the streets and hills of Brighouse with Bangra hip-hop banging in our ears.
We were at the Dusty Miller within minutes – it’d have been a hell of a walk if we opted for the walking option instead. The Dusty Miller is a great little pub and we enjoyed a good 45 minutes or so out the front there, before we figured we better go get our football fix.
The ground is actually quite hidden away on a quiet, sleepy housing estate, but we spotted the place easily after seeing a ‘EVO-STIK LEAGUE’ sign enveloped in the bushes at the end of a quiet road. Soon we found ourselves underneath the sign above the turnstiles declaring that we had indeed arrived at the Dual Seal Stadium – but you know we won’t stick to calling the ground by its sponsor-orientated name on these pages and so we’ll be calling it by its more traditional name, St. Giles Road.
The ground itself is pleasant enough without being too awe-inspiring either. Brighouse’s home is largely open with one sheltered stand running down one side of the ground – half of it a small standing terrace, the other half seating. I will say that the club bar was very impressive though and, as always, that was our first port of call on this warm, yet overcast, day in Yorkshire. In fact, with beer purchased and the sun (sort of) out, we headed back outside ready for the teams to come out from the changing rooms, located a short walk away from the pitch.
Today’s hosts, Brighouse Town FC, were founded in 1963 and started life in the Huddersfield Works League, where they played until 1975 – the year they moved to the West Riding Amateur League. The club would only join the North Counties East League in 2008 and soon found themselves promoted from the First to Premier Division. The club plied their trade at Step 5 until they eventually won the Premier Division in 2013/14 with a record 100 points and thus moved up the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One. I had actually seen the team play at my local ground, Salford City’s Moor Lane, last season, as I really wanted to see their star name in action: former Swansea City striker (amongst many others) Jason Price; sadly, Pricey was injured on that cold Tuesday night. Gutting.
Back to today, we soon had the teams walking onto the pitch with Brighouse in a Luton Town-esque orange and Colls in their brilliant yellow away kits – think a Lancashire version of Borussia Dortmund. We headed over to the terrace to join a full-voiced Colls away following.
Colls were up against opposition in the league above them today, but the opening exchanges hinted that Colls were more than a match for Brighouse today.
As Colls started well on the pitch, it’s fair to say that the fans were excelling off the pitch and the atmosphere created by the away fans was superb. The noise seemed to be spurring on the lads on the pitch with the away team having two good chances to open the scoring in the opening 15 minutes, but, against the run of play, Brighouse grabbed the lead.
In the 22nd minute, a header from a corner was well saved by Colls goalie Danny Taberner, only for Leon Henry to have the easy task of tapping home the rebound from close range. Harsh on Colls.
The goal seemed to give Brighouse a huge boost and they had their chances to make it 2 – 0, most notably just before half-time when Taberner did well to stop Brighouse scoring when they were through one-on-one against the Colls stopper.
Half-time: Brighouse Town 1 – 0 Atherton Collieries.
Another trip to the bar was due, before the players were soon back out on the pitch. With the away team behind, they took the game to the home team.
Ben Hardcastle had had a couple of sights at goal early in the second half and eventually it would be the winger who would grab the equaliser. A long ball from the skipper Brad Cooke fell to Hardcastle, who tapped the ball under the goal. The Colls fans went wild…not that I was part of them, as, rather predictably, I was in the bar buying a drink, watching the ball go in from the bar’s open door.
Brighouse were still in the game, but it was generally Colls going for the win now and they were very unlucky to grab it in this cup tie. First they were denied a goal thanks to an offside flag, before moments later they had a shot cleared off the line by a Brighouse defender.
For a moment, it looked like Colls substitute Gaz Peet was going to recreate his own version of Ryan Giggs famous FA Cup goal v Arsenal, but the sub failed to pull the trigger and Brighouse cleared.
There was still time for Brighouse to have a last-ditch freekick, which was saved well by Taberner, but that was it for today’s FA Cup action.
Full-time: Brighouse Town 1 – 1 Atherton Collieries.
I felt Colls were the better team overall, but they now had a replay back at their place 2 days later on Bank Holiday Monday. To the bar.
The Colls party all headed back to the club bar, after clapping off the players, and much fun was had as we indulged in the Brighouse bar. More excitingly, some of the Colls fans won the raffle. What was the prize? A big box of fruit and veg – I love non-league raffle prizes; although nothing will ever beat the huge bag of meat I won at Atherton Colls last season. Before we left, we did make sure that we apologised to Brad too for possibly corrupting his younger brother, but Zak seemed to have enjopyed his day anyway.
Speaking of corruption, I had arrived into Brighouse on the train, but Gibbo talked me into hopping on the Colls bus back to Atherton and I thought why the hell not. What I hadn’t banked on was spending the whole night in Atherton.
I’m a big fan of the Rope and Anchor pub next to Colls’ Alder House home, but Gibbo had told me repeatedly that I had to experience one of his famous raucous drinking sessions there. Fair to say, I have now experienced one and a great night was had. I finally tried the Guinness Golden Ale that Gibbo is always raving about, danced around to the band that was playing and even got to practice some more German with Emil’s dad, who it turned out was practically fluent in the language.
Next thing I knew, the clock had ticked past the last train back to Salford and I soon was staggering through the streets of Atherton back to Casa del Gibbo, as my groundhopping pal had kindly agreed to let me stay at his so I could take advantage of a Rope and Anchor night properly. Clearly, the beer hit me hard though as I was a bit confused to where I was when I first woke up on the Sunday morning. A snoring Gibbo on an inflatable bed on the floor below me reminded me where I was.
As always, another top day with the Atherton Colls lot – they certainly always know how to have a good time! Brighouse seemed a good club too, even if it wasn’t the most exciting ground I’ve ever been to. Sadly, the Colls lost the replay 1 – 0 back at their place, so I suppose it’s now good luck to Brighouse on the rest of their FA Cup journey.
Highlights: good Wetherspoons, Hoptimiser Pale beer, the Dusty Miller, good club bar, great away following from Colls, not a bad 1-1, night out in Rope and Anchor.
Low Points: didn’t seem much to the place Brighouse, fairly basic ground, shame Colls couldn’t win.
See all my photos from my day at Brighouse Town here.