Yorkshire Amateur v Worsbrough Bridge Athletic
Bracken Edge / North Counties East League Division One / 19th September 2015
“You’ve dropped your knife mate.”
“Oh! Cheers for that mate.”
These were the closing comments of me and Tom’s conversation with some fairly welcoming and friendly Leeds United-supporting youths in the Wetherspoons housed within Leeds train station. We found ourselves in there after Swansea lost 2-1 at Leeds back in 2011. All were welcoming, but fair to say the dropped knife on the floor unnerved us just a tad, especially considering we were in our Swans shirts and massively outnumbered by the Leeds natives around us. Nevertheless, the young lad seemed genuinely appreciative of Tom pointing out that he had indeed ‘dropped his knife’ and he continued to repeatedly express his thanks. For the first time since that moment, I found myself occupying the very same Spoons, although this time on a Saturday morning, the place was devoid of knife-carrying youngsters. Just Gibbo and his uni mate Ollie today.
So why Leeds today? Well, I suppose why not? Me and Gibbo had the usual ‘so where shall we go?’ discussion at the start of the week and for whatever reason the city of Leeds appealed to both of us. It’s a little rough round the edges, but I’m a big fan of the city of Leeds, yet my visits have usually only been fleeting. Gibbo had never properly been to the city either, so all the more reason to go. To quench our thirst for a spot of Leeds there was one club which stood out on the fixture list like a sore thumb: no, not Leeds United – I’m talking of the mighty Yorkshire Amateur FC obviously.
I met up with Gibbo and Ollie in the aforementioned Wetherspoons more out of convenience than a burning desire to visit this Spoons. As I said earlier, I’ve been here before and even with knife-wielders aside, I’d still call it a pretty shit Wetherspoons. I had placed Gibbo in charge of our pub itinerary for the day, so whilst I enjoyed a pint and Ollie and Gibbo had tea, my Athertonian pal ran us through his plan for the day. I was excited to hear what Gibbo had in store for us the day. Where was he taking us first on our magical mystery tour of Leeds? Another Wetherspoons…
Two Wetherspoons to start the day was not exactly getting my pulse racing, but at least our second Spoons of the day, Becketts Bank, was a finer example of the Spoons chain. It also gave Gibbo and Ollie time to get some breakfast and for me to enjoy some beautiful orange beer, Cask of Glory. A beaut of a drink.
Enough of Wetherspoons, Gibbo had us crossing through the heart of the city and heading to a pub featured on the Guardian’s list of ‘hip bars’ in Leeds: North Bar. What a bar too! This was more like it! No generic lagers on sale here and instead you are presented with a whole host of cask ales on tap and a wide selection of continental lagers bottled behind the bar. I liked the sound of the peach IPA, Melba, so I opted for that. Once again, I had to picked well: peach and beer goes well together it seems. I’d had beer with orange in it earlier and now beer with peach in it – I debated whether these counted towards my 5-a-day. I’m guessing not.
Our journey to Yorkshire Amateur would involve a short bus journey to an area away from the city centre and on noticing that our bus stop was across the road from North Bar, we opted to find one more pub in the centre before heading northwards to Bracken Edge, The Ammers’ home.
We soon found ourselves in the Horse and Trumpet (I love those sort of pub names), where we enjoyed some more ale, whilst watching Diego Costa-related controversy unfold in the Chelsea v Arsenal game on TV. We decided that we had had enough of the Premier League Prima Donnas on our screen and so we headed outside, hopped on the number 12 bus and onwards we rolled towards Yorkshire Amateur FC.
Gibbo had virtually scouted out the area on Google Earth beforehand and so he recognised the high street we had to alight at, before heading through the streets branching off up to the ground. The bus journey had taken 10 minutes and the walk up to the ground took the same. And ‘up’ is definitely the word with the residential area round the ground being very hilly. But eventually, after navigating the streets of red-bricking housing, we found a small sign saying ‘YORKSHIRE AMATEUR’ greeting us to humble Bracken Edge.
The ground is slightly hidden away with it being tucked in the middle of a large residential area. After paying my £5 entry (Gibbo paid the same and was not happy that the club didn’t offer tax-dodging student prices) we were straight into the ground and the first thing I noticed was how compacted the place seemed to be. On the side of the ground that you enter via, you’ll find the large clubhouse building with bar and food hatch; next to this is a small sheltered area attached to another building housing the changing rooms; and then further along to this is a small seating stand (more on that later). The rest of the ground is open with lots of trees enveloping the place and some sort of large generator in the corner.
Now for a spot of history on the club…
Yorkshire Amateur were founded in 1918 and were then one of the founder members of the original Yorkshire Football League in 1920. In between these years, the club handed over their old ground to one of British football’s most favourite institutes. Before joining the Yorkshire Football league, Yorkshire Amateur solely played friendlies at their ground, Elland Road – yes, the very same. They inherited the ground from the defunct Leeds City FC ( a club wound up after the FA discovered irregularities in their accounts), but on realising that the ground wouldn’t serve them appropriately they decided to sell the lease to another club for a measly £250; that other club was the newly-formed Leeds United A.F.C.
The early years of Yorkshire Amateur do offer a few interesting stories with the club originally seeking to take on the professional teams of the north. Strangely, the club became the first British club to tour Estonia and Latvia, although it’s most famous day was to come.
By 1922 the club had moved to the current home of Bracken Edge and it was here that the Ammers took on Wimbledon in the FA Amateur Cup Quarter-final 10 years later; amazingly, it was played in front of 3569 fans at Bracken Edge – this after the club had initially earned a replay at Wimbledon in front of 12,000. Yorkshire Amateur won the replay 5 – 2 – this coming after they had beaten Wycombe Wanderers in the previous round.
Whereas Wimbledon (and AFC Wimbledon) and Wycombe Wanderers propelled themselves into the Football League from their lowly non-league surroundings, Yorkshire Amateur have definitely not – not that we cared though. Today, we would be watching Yorkshire Amateur take on the equally exotic-sounding Worsbrough Bridge Athletic in the North Counties East Division One, but first, the bar…
What a bar! The bar is definitely as good as any bar you will find at this level of non-league football and even better than a lot of bars you’ll find at higher levels of non-league. Excellent facilities with the walls holding various Premier League footballers’ shirts; the shirts ranged from a Luke Young Charlton shirt to a Arjen Robben Chelsea shirtamongst many others. I’d find out later where they had come from, but for now beer was needed. The bar was virtually empty on our arrival apart from our fellow groundhopper Sean, who had arranged to meet us in the ground. Over beer, Sean informed us that he had arrived at 2pm and had been made to feel very welcome by everyone at the club and as the day unfolded we would also learn that Yorkshire Amateur are indeed a very friendly and welcoming club.
We headed pitchside for kick-off with the teams now out and ready to get underway. Yorkshire Amateur were in their white shirts and navy shorts combo with Worsbrough in a blue and white number – I commented that it was like watching Bolton and Wigan, yet, dare I say it, the football today was potentially more entertaining than watching the two Lancashire clubs.
From the off, both teams were attacking and neither really relented. It was also notable how both sides were fairly small and quite young and so the majority of the football was played on the ground. Always good to see.
It would be the home team who would take the lead and probably deservedly too. The goal was an easy one-on-one, which the Ammers attacker finished simply under the keeper. 1-0 to YAFC.
By now, we had decided to go exploring the ground and take some photos of our surroundings. Undoubtedly, my favourite discovery on our lap of the ground was a lone table. It sounds a bit shit, but that was the point – this ordinary table just seemed to stand on a raised platform by itself looking out over the action. What was its purpose? What was this table’s story? Was this Yorkshire Amateur’s abandoned press area? Who knows, but the table was certainly enigmatic. I even received a tweet from our Doncaster-supporting pal Tony Greenall asking was the table still there, after he had become in enraptured by the magic of the table when he visited Bracken Edge a few months earlier. It seems to be a stalwart of the ground and a NCEL cult hero. What a table!
Moving away from tables, I’ve also stated on these pages before how much I like a banking within a football ground with Turton FC and Congleton Town housing football’s finest bankings in my eyes. Well, Bracken Edge does have a fine mound soaring up alongside the big generator thingamajig. From atop the banking we watched the remainder of the first half. I did ditch the action for a bit as I went to explore within the trees, where I found a hidden entrance to the ground (not that I endorse this secret entrance – please use the allocated turnstile entrance and give Yorkshire Amateur your money).
From our vantage point, we witnessed one of my favourite goals of the my travels so far this season. A ball over the defence fell to the home team’s forward, who controlled brilliantly before bending his shot into the far corner of the goal from an angle inside the box. A superb finish.
And that was it for the first half.
Half-time: Yorkshire Amateur 2 – 0 Worsbrough Bridge Athletic.
We had been distracted by the small hill, so we still hadn’t completed a lap of the ground. This meant that we were now heading through the stand and I think it is fair to say that the stand could do with a bit of TLC. The seats look like they’ve been beaten to a pulp and to get back across to the bar, we had to navigate our way through stingy nettles growing from the stand’s roof.
Sting-free, we made it to the bar and soon me and Sean were chatting to the two lads behind the bar, Sean and Mark, and a gentleman wearing a Fabregas shirt alongside us at the bar. The lads chatted to us about the club for the a large portion of the half-time interval and explained to us that the shirts on the wall all came from Micah Richards, as his dad is actually the chairman of Yorkshire Amateur. Cool! The topic of football shirts led to Sean and Mark heading away from the bar for a few minutes, before they returned with a Yorkshire Amateur shirt, which was then given to me! What a gesture! What a club!
So engrossed were we in conversation, that we almost completely forgot to head out for the second half. When we did head out, the teams were already at the centre circle ready to get the second 45 underway.
We watched the second half from the sheltered area in front of the bar and just like the first half, it was an entertaining affair. It wasn’t long until the home team had furthered their lead too. A lovely passing move saw a through ball played into the striker, who sidefooted the ball past the keeper to make it 3-0.
Yorkshire Amateur had been the better team, but I felt 3-0 was a bit harsh on Worsbrough, so it was probably deserved when the away team pulled a goal back – and they pulled it back in style too. Worsbrough’s impressive number 10 sped forward from out on the left, darted past a couple of players, before suddenly changing direction and jinking past a couple of defenders in the box and nestling the ball in the back of the net from 6 yards out. A quite brilliant goal which led Gibbo to dubbing the no.10 ‘t’Lionel t’Messi’ – Yorkshire’s answer to the mercurial Argentine.
We watched on with Sean and Mark as Yorkshire Amateur properly wrapped the game up when they added a simple 4th goal in the closing minutes.
Full-time: Yorkshire Amateur 4 – 1 Worsbrough Bridge Athletic.
A brilliant game and a great advert for the North Counties East League. The home team had played some excellent football on the pitch, but I’d also like to praise the club off the pitch for their welcoming demeanour, especially Sean and Mark who were great company. After saying our goodbyes to Sean and Mark in the bar, all 4 of us left singing the club’s praises.
We headed back through the streets down to the main road, but not before I decided to serenade Cuba-loving Sean (wearing a Cuban hat) with my own rendition of The Beatles’ Revolution; although I did forget the words after about two lines much to my embarrassment, so I blagged the rest by just chanting the tune.
Soon we were back on the bus into Leeds city centre, but only once I had had my hairline mocked by Gibbo as the bus stop stood in front of a shop selling wigs. More pub visits were planned before my 19:51 train back to Manchester.
On alighting, Sean left us to head back to Manchester and so we were left with just 3 again and once again we turned to Gibbo and his ‘pub map’ on his phone to guide us to the next drinking hole. I was overjoyed to learn that we were off to a BrewDog bar.
I absolutely love BrewDog, so I was excited as we headed into the Leeds chain of the ‘punk beer’ bar. I headed up the spiralling staircase with a pint of Five AM Red Ale in hand (I’ve fallen in love with red beer over the past few months) and up here I was greeted with a joyous sight. In one of the booths, there was a group playing some sort of game on the TV; when I realised what they were playing I actually let out a little squeal of joy: GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64 – the greatest video game ever made and a focal point of my childhood. Sadly, the crowd obviously loved the game as much as me as they didn’t leave the Nintendo 64 alone and so I never got to relive past glories of pretending to be James Bond.
There was only one pub left on our list, but there was still plenty of time until my train back to Mancunia, so I decided take the pub-choosing reins from Gibbo and pick one at random. Then, I spotted a particularly insalubrious-looking establishment and I uttered the line which has slowly become one of the my catchphrases over the past months: “This place looks shit – let’s go in there.” We did.
The establishment in question was The Duncan – an old-school, tough, grubby, city pub if ever there was one. This was my sort of place, apart from one factor: the pub was covered in Leeds United badges. I’ll be putting it lightly if I say that I’m not really a great lover of Leeds United Football Club (just like most outside of Leeds I’d imagine), but I figured I better keep that fact to myself. Gibbo on the other hand was delighted as the pub sold his beloved Taddy Lager – easily the cheapest lager you’ll find on sale in pubs across the north. Whilst me and Gibbo drank away at our Taddy Lager (and he sung ‘Tad All Over’), Ollie had gone in search of a cash machine and didn’t return for a while; we feared the sinful city of Leeds had devoured him so we were quite relieved when he came strutting through the door eventually.
One more pub left: the wonderfully-named Tapped – a pub run by the same people who run the brilliant Euston Tap in London and the Sheffield Tap (in Sheffield if you needed that pointed out to you). This bar was huge and busy on this clear evening in West Yorkshire. We found ourselves a table and enjoyed one final pint in Leeds in the shadow of the huge beer filled tanks behind us.
I was ready to head home when I did have a slight wobble when Craig, who has recently moved to Huddersfield for uni, phoned asking did I fancy a night out in Huddersfield since I was already in Yorkshire. I did debate it for a good few minutes as the minutes counted down until my train left for Manchester, but after initially excitedly saying ‘yes’, I couldn’t be bothered working out the logistics of getting to Huddersfield and so common sense prevailed and I said ‘no’; it’s definitely on the cards for another time though.
I said goodbye to Ollie and Gibbo and headed for Leeds train station at the end of the road. My train journey, although seeming to stop in every town in West Yorkshire, flew by. I even befriended a couple of Manchester-based Watford fans who were travelling back from watching their side win at Newcastle; obviously, this presented me with the opportunity to relieve my horrific day out in Watford from the Saturday before.
My day out finished in Corbeirges (an underground bar in Manchester – literally underground) with my pal Rob, who was drowing his sorrows after watching Manchester City lose at home to West Ham in the late evening kick-off.
A top day in Leeds and the day proved as a reminder that I need to visit Leeds more often. Undoubtedly, the real winners on the day though were Yorkshire Amateur FC: a modest, but pleasant little ground, a good football team and, most importantly of all, good people at the club. I type this whilst I wear my Yorkshire Amateur shirt and I guess for the gesture of giving me a shirt, that’ll make them my team of choice when it comes to the North Counties East football. Cheers YAFC!
Highlights: love Leeds as a city, North Bar, pleasant little ground (great mound and table), good game of football, good goals, getting a free BrewDog, BrewDog, Tapped…in fact, all the pubs were great.
Low Points: a bit too much Leeds United merchandise cropping up throughout the day for my liking, didn’t get a chance to play Goldeneye.
See all my photos from Leeds and Yorkshire Amateur here.