Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Bradford (Park Avenue) 1 – 3 Halifax Town; 24/01/11.


 This morning we'll be singing 1. All Things Bright and Beautiful, 421. He's Got the Whole World in His Hands and 341. He Who Would Valiant Be.

When interviewed on the Shaymen Player interviewed Neil Aspin after our 8–1 win against Ossett, the first thing he let be known was his "mixed feelings." Our manager felt dissatisfied after recording Halifax Town's best ever league win in 100 years.


The Park Ave game was originally intended for a Saturday at the end of November, and I remember fetching my bike late the night before to find it covered in snow. The match wasn't to be, and this meant a lower crowd, though still an encouraging 1000 or so Shaymen. What was worse was the temperature, which throughout winter looks a bit like this on a log (Kelvin) temperature scale:

Click to enlarge.

This made it rather difficult to focus on the match as the molecules comprising my body lost their identity and begun to behave as waves, whose patterns quickly begun to overlap each other at a frantic rate. Besides which, the most impressive-looking stand in the league (besides ours) is a let-down when you get there.

The queue was long but the tea ladies kept it moving, though despite their efforts we missed the first few minutes and therefore Vardy's goal! It was close to worth it for the best chips in the league: the sort of splendour you get in good pubs. Our first seating position is towards the bottom of the stand but as high as we can get due to it being packed, and literally half the pitch is obscured by the dugouts. The meal had to be finished quickly, and stood to the top side of the covered stand a better view was found, still obscured by the stand poles and fairly dim floodlights.

The game was a hard watch for most of us because of how hard it was to play. Rain came a few times and the wind was the most powerful I've experienced in the Tin Pot. This ensured our corners would blow out of play most of the time, though is less a disadvantage when it's going your way. Holland fired a ball at the keeper (a master at fumbling the ball), and it flew almost vertically in the air. As Deano anticipated it coming down, it bounced off the ground and 45º into the top of the net! Its dynamics were closer to a rugby ball. The goal was hilarious and worth the asking price of the match.

We realised that Avenue had actually done an alright job in the second half, because running into the wind billowing from the Buttershaw Estate side of the ground was all but took the footballing experience away. They worked the wind well with their first corner. The ball passed the line for about a nanosecond. The lino and ref disagreed on the decision and most of the players joined in the goal dispute. One of them put it that it's physically impossible for Bradford Park Avenue to score a goal, seeing as they failed to score against Retford earlier this season. The other must have followed the cheers from the stands. Of course, this being the seventh tier of English football, nothing was done objectively. I kid, they rightfully halved our lead. 1–2, and with 40 more minutes of dealing with an impeding wind.

 Top tribute to a top fan. Click to enlarge.

Distance from the net when being behind the goal renders it impossible to properly abuse the 'keeper.

Besides the rugby-like movements of the ball, this signalled the turning point where players started engaging in furious rough 'n tumbles: egg chasing, Super League stylée. Vardy's pulled back in their box and we receive a penalty, thank god. It'd be extremely hard for any team to find the net when the wind would change the most blistering shot into an over-hit dribble. Our man Tom Baker buried it into the middle-right of the net, and the two-goal lead was restored.

This blog prides itself in professionalism, but sometimes I take a picture instead of filming and vice versa.

Dissatisfaction with the ref in both camps increases when Scott Phelan rides two dirty tackles followed by another, a hideous two-footer from Avenue's number 3. You can see his arms wave in protest after the first tackle, so it's no surprise that he appeared to retaliate when the number 3 floored him, and this turned into a four-man pile-on. With the fans chanting "OFF!" at the number 3, the ref misconstrued this and sent off Phelan. Wa-hey! Their player/assistant manager picks up on his team-mate's criminal offense, and lays in with a two-footed tackle of his own. Ever an example to the team he dictates, he's sent to the dressing room.

It's fair to say the sides don't like each other anymore. Our best change comes with a long-range shot that the 'keeper, naturally, fumbles, and there was even room for Hedge to spill a ball towards the end of the match too. The ball flew about on its own accord like a cheap fly-away and to some relief of watching a game bereft of many true highlights, the final whistle came. We're now 12 points clear,  21 goals clear and have scored 14 in the last three games. Seasons are never all the same, but our league seems unassailable. We're definitely starting to eye up opposition in the Blue Square North now, like a lad would eye up prettier lasses after finding that his acne has cleared up.

Bradford (Park Avenue) 1 – 3 Halifax Town; att. 1325
Ground: 6/10
Pitch: 6/10
Programme: N/A
Talent: N/A
Chips: 9/10 (succ-u-lent)

Non-partisan entertainment: 5/10


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