Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Cack-Handed Away Guide IX: GUISELEY AFC.


Nethermoor Park
Otley Road
LS20 8BT

The Lions

But we call them

Disguiseley, Harry Ramsden AFC

Billy basics

Managers: Steve Kittrick, Chris Holland
Founded: 1909
2010/11: 5th, Conf North
2009/10: 1st, Northern Premier League
2008/09: 4th, Northern Premier League
Highest position: 2010/11: 5th, Conf North
Average attendance 2010/11: 472

Who are Harry Ramsden AFC?

Harry Ramsden AFC didn't just form for the halibut. Oh no, they were really salmon else, an amateur team formed by local "enthusiasts" and full of that non-league sole. Skate-ing from the Wharfedale League to the Leeds League right over to the West Riding County League in the first few decades of the 20th century. They kept a brill-iant record in the various West Riding leagues, winning championships and the local Wharfedale Cup nine times out of ten in the '60s. The whiting was on the wall for the West Yorkshire league when they caught a whiff of the Yorkshire League, finding a plaice in its top tier in the late '70s, hooking up the West Riding Challenge Cup thrice in a row.

In 1982 they scampi-d off to the newly-formed NECL Premier League, taking a couple of pikes at the promotion spot before getting there fo' real in 1991. They reached the FA Vase final in '90, '91 and '92, and were squids in when they won it on their promotion season. Success abounded and the Guiseley faithful were clam-ing for more. It came when they won promotion to the top tier of the Northern Premier League in 1994. Haddock they reached the end of their boundless success? Oh my cod, of course not! In their first NPL season, dab-handed Guiseley earned an FA Cup 1st Round tie against Carlisle United at Valley Parade in front of 6,548 fans, but were battered.

Guiseley then flounder-ed in 2000 when they were relegated back to the NPL Division 1 North, but fans couldn't be too trout-faced when league restructuring saw them in the Premier again in 2004. The Conference North promotion bid had begun, but something started to smell fishy. The fish smell turned out to be one of burning: their main stand was subject to an arson attack in 2008 that would've cost something to the tuna £20,000 to mend. The ruined stand clearly needed a good sturgeon. It didn't take long for Guiseley to confront the problem and mullet over; a replacement 300-seater stand was built in 2009.

Guiseley got their latest bite of success in 2010 as they perch-ed at the top of the Northern Premier League on the final day of the season, and became a minnow in the Conference North. This lowly status was a red herring: they earnt a 5th place in 2010/11, bowing out of the play-offs in the final at AFC Telford United's plaice (you've already done that one - Ed.). Guiseley continue their search for an umpteenth promotion in the 2011/12 season, and are currently preparing their home-bass for Conference National standard football. Tinpot? Guiseley frankly don't give a pollock. They're officially the second most threatening Conference North team in West Yorkshire.

The ground

Sources 1 2
Enough with the fish puns (the only reason being I've run out of them). The idea of Guiseley's ground being in the Conference National in its old form would blow claims of Throstle Nest being a garden shed straight out of the water. The new main stand is a smallie of course, and a temporary stand beside it has been added, as well as a few steps behind the adjacent Railway End. With this in mind it's all-systems-go at Nethermoor Park for competing in a national league for the first time in their increasingly-successful history.

The town

You guessed it—Guiseley is home to Britain's best-loved and largest fish and chips restaurant: big ol' Harry Ramsden's. Where else would you go? Guiseley itself is a Leeds 'burb in all honesty, the ground located on the Otley Road that goes straight up from the University. That's more or less it. The ground is just up from the station with frequent trains from Leeds, as well as buses.

Will we need to segregate?

With just 200 or so stuck in a corner of the New Bucks Head on their big play-off final day, it seems as if our nearest Conference neighbours won't be prepared to pack out San Shayro.

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