Journey – 9 A nice little drive over the M1 from Sheffield and we were well on our way to Athersley Rec for their first league game since lockdown against fellow Yorkshire club, Yorkshire Amateur. Passing by the Alahambra centre (Or as we call it “The Alejhandro centre” #LadyGaga) on our way, we arrived at our destination within 20 minutes. Although that certainly wouldn’t have been the case had we had to use public transport. If you are not careful you can miss the entrance to the ground as it is a small passageway between two houses. The car park was full and thankfully a sign blocked the passageway informing us of this which meant we didn’t have to play a game of Tetris to navigate ourselves out of the car park to find street parking. There was plenty of street parking available but as always, we made a point of making sure our parking was considerate of neighbors of the football club.
Welcome – 8 Walking through the car park we found the turnstile just to our right. We prepared our smart phones to do some scanning of QR codes which were clearly displayed and meant this part of entry of the ground was seamless. We were then asked at the turnstile if we were on a list, to which we responded “No” as when we toyed with the idea of heading to this game we found it difficult to find any information on booking tickets on the clubs website or social media to assumed we were ok to pay on the gate. Thankfully we were correct and after confirming that
we had not travelled from Leeds as part of any away support (banned under current restrictions) we paid our entry fee and headed into the ground. After emerging through the turnstile we were greeted by another volunteer who handed us a team sheet ready for the game. I always appreciate a friendly face greeting you as you enter the ground, as it allows any newbies to ask questions about where the facilities are or where you can purchase programmes, badges etc. We asked the gentlemen about food and drink and he pointed us in the right direction.
Ground – 9
Now, this is a ground which we feel is a real hidden gem amongst non-league! It has four separate stands (two on one side of the ground) and seating behind both goals which is certainly a rarity at this level of football. The main stand to your right as you enter also has a covered wheelchair area for disabled supporters which is fantastic. The longer terrace located along the left side of the ground is rather modern and pays homage to club legends Adam White and Ryan White, including their statistics for the club. Next to this is a stand known as the “Rec In Crew” stand which we could only describe as “cute” with just eight seats on it. Opposite this stand are the two dugouts which remind me of a garden shed (I mean this in a nice way) they look compact, neat and because they’re painted in the club colours they really don’t look out of place! The PR system was booming out some classic tunes before the game which always gives you that feeling that you’re at a game that means something. We’d also like to give a shoutout to whoever constructed that playlist because that deserved a pat on the back! (Check out our pictures of the ground at the bottom of the page!)
Clubhouse – N/A
Now you may think this is not applicable because of the current ban on clubhouses hosting fans however Athersley had to deal with an incident with the roof of their clubhouse collapsing. This meant the club has not been functioning with a clubhouse for a good while now. However, all is not lost, if you take a look at the club’s facebook page you can see the superb progress that is happening in making sure the club has a clubhouse they can be proud of. As you can see, we really rate this ground so a brand-new clubhouse just feels like the missing piece to make it one of the best places to watch non-league football in our area.
Programme – N/A
There was no programme available on the day, but on this occasion I think that is perfectly understandable. These clubs are just getting back on their feet at the moment after another suspension of their season, and the teamsheet was a great bonus to allow us to identify scorers of what were some wonderful goals during this game.
Beer – 7 Again, we couldn’t visit the clubhouse so getting hold of a pint you’d think would be a difficulty. Cans at the snack bar however really did fit the bill. There was a range of beers available and we opted for a John Smiths. It genuinely felt great to be able to enjoy a beer with friends whilst watching the football again. This pandemic really has brought home how much non-league means to people and the social aspect of it really is part of the heart of non-league. The lady behind the snack bar who served us our beers (and lion bars) was a delight too and she was as pleased as we were to have football back at Athersley. Food – 9 Chip Butties are back! We ventured to the food hatch at halftime to grab something to warm us up on what was a very cold afternoon and we were not disappointed! I must say they were more like “French fry butties” but we were not complaining! A proper breadcake (we’re not getting into that debate!) with a bit of sauce and chips really did the trick and the portion size was very decent for just £2! It was just the tonic for warming us up for what proved to be a very entertaining second half in this game. Well done to the staff in the hatch too who made sure everyone was served quickly and efficiently with some top grub! We were really pleased that the hatch was open as it gave the club another revenue stream for the day which we know these clubs really have missed out on over the second lockdown.
Match Quality – 8 This was a top of the table vs bottom of the table clash but still made for an interesting contest as we pondered if the second lockdown would have killed Yorkshire’s momentum or may have stopped the rot for a young Athersley side. After just a few minutes of the game it seemed like Athersley were back to their familiar ways with an early goal conceded courtesy of Amateur’s Adam Priestly who impressed throughout the afternoon. Amateur then doubled their lead on the 37th minute before a well struck Athersley free kick by Lee Garside gave the hosts some hope. It was at this point of the game where the next goal was going to be really important and the spectators started to believe that Athersley could get a result out of today’s clash. A lack of pressure on the
crosser however cost them with Priestly firing home his second of the game after Athersley were unable to clear the ball just before half time. Now, we’ve made a point of including the following link for you. Here it is. https://twitter.com/AFCAmmers/status/1340643569464451072 Click on it. Because whatever we write will not do this goal justice. Roy Fogarty, who was a handful all game for Athersley, found space in the penalty area and caught the ball with a sublime volley. It really was one of those finishes that made you look at your fellow spectators and say “Chuffin’ hell, what a goal.”. We’ve already decided it’s our non-league goal of 2020 and we will not be persuaded otherwise. All in all we enjoyed 6 goals, plenty of effort from all on the field but the Ammers were just too much for this young Athersley side on the day. A great game enjoyed by all.
Admission – 10 A perfect score as Athersley offered all of the above hospitality and football entertainment for just five pounds! A bargain in a non-covid world, but an even bigger bargain when there is little leisure opportunities elsewhere under tier 3 rules. The only thing I would have liked to see would have been more spectators making the most of this fantastic offer, and I guess that further highlights the purpose of our website in the first place. To spread the word and to get more folk heading to these grounds, experiencing a great day out at a very reasonable price. Thank you for a great afternoon of football Athersley, we look forward to returning when the new clubhouse is
ready and writing up another review!