Journey – 9
Travelling from one end of the city to the Swall Siro was seamless and we can thank the m1 for that! We came off at junction 33 and eventually were lead onto the A618. A journey of less than 30 minutes meant that we arrived in plenty of time to enjoy the ground before the game. There is plenty of parking outside of the ground in a designated car park but we opted for the main road and there was plenty of unrestricted parking there too which was great. I can imagine that travelling by public transport may be a little trickier and will require a little planning but don’t let the location of this ground put you off! Welcome – 8
Walking through the car park to get into the ground we encountered the first of many volunteers from the club. (The volunteers were in high vis so were easy to find if you had any questions about the facilities etc.) The chap greeted us and pointed in the direction of the turnstile as we were paying on the gate. It’s superb that clubs such as Swallownest have been able to set up an e-ticket system in such quick time and they deserve great praise for this, this e-ticket system allowed this steward to admit the ticket holders without holding up the queue for the paying punters. When paying for admission you could also see the matchday programme, pin badges and raffle tickets all displayed. It’s nice to have all these things in one place as sometimes you find yourself going on a bit of a goose chase in some grounds to get these non-league essentials! On entry to the ground a further volunteer pointed out the track and trace system and this allowed for a quick scan of the QR codes and off we were into the ground! Ground – 6 So here we were at the Swall Siro! Which is by far the greatest name for a non-league ground in our area and
almost the country! (Only bested by “The Dripping Pan” home to Lewes FC of East Sussex) You enter the ground behind the goal and to your left is the main stand. A stand which stretches roughly towards the halfway line, this was well populated as many fans had seen the weather forecast and knew what was coming! (Spoiler alert: We were not so wise!) To your right is another stand with very large steps suitable for both sitting and standing. This raised platform allows for a great view of both goals and this seemed to be where friends of the squad were situated. To the right of the pitch were two five a side goals which were used by some young lads with their dads. It appeared they may have successfully convinced their partner that they could take the young ones to the game as they could have a kickabout there! (Plus the fact that children went in free with a paying adult.) Behind the other goal is fencing and this leads to some wonderful views of the city but unfortunately there is no spectator viewing at that end. All in all a good set up but just lacked that little something to make it stand out from other grounds.
Clubhouse – N/A
The clubhouse is the Swallownest miners welfare club and due to current regulations, this was kept at members only. It’s a shame we were unable to sample the beer and keep warm but rules are rules and these are understandable ones. To be honest we were just thrilled to be able to attend a game under the tier three restrictions in which we find ourselves. This just means that when the time is right we will have to come back again to take a look around! Beer – N/A Same situation as the clubhouse, current restrictions meant that we couldn’t get our hands on a cold crisp beer but given the weather maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing?
Food – 10 Yes! A ten! A perfect score! And you know from our previous reviews that we don’t hand tens out lightly, only in the most exceptional circumstances! On entrance to the ground the food hatch is immediately to your left, this may not be deliberate but it’s a masterstroke as you can’t help but get
that sniff of warm grub that then ensures you end up spending some money on food at the ground. Despite current restrictions the menu was not limited at all, options included chips, pie, hotdogs, sausage sandwiches, bacon sandwiches and more! I was genuinely stumped as to what to have as I really didn’t want to limit myself to just one choice. Our usual routine is to head towards the food hatch in the second half after any half time rush but such was the enticement of the menu that we had to head over just 30 minutes into the game. We opted for the chip butty as this is always a good measuring stick against other clubs and it was absolutely fantastic. The lady in the hatch was a delight and everyone was served quickly, politely and efficiently. It was also great to see a range of bottled sauces (No garbage sachets) available including Hendos! For such a well-loved institution you don’t see Henderson’s that often enough at non-league level! So to summarise a big compliments to the chef as the food really warmed us up for what was to be a very cold and wet second half.
Programme – 5
£1 for the programme and I really did enjoy reading up on the history of both clubs. Was particularly good to hear about both instances in which Harrogate Railway Athletic reached the first-round proper of the FA Cup. There was also interesting information about the opposition players but I would have liked to have heard more about the home side, maybe some opinion on how they’ve started the season or which players I should look out for. There was an advert that felt like it was taking the mick out of us but did make us giggle. (Check out the pictures at the end for that) A decent enough read and I understand the pressures of putting a programme together for many games isn’t easy but there is some room for improvement.
Match Quality – 9 This was a fantastic clash that despite the monsoon like conditions at times, was enjoyed by all in attendance. I can honestly say that this was the first game I’ve seen this season in which there were no moaning players constantly blaming the ref of the linesman for decisions. This may be because the officials had a quiet game for the most part which generally means they did a good job. We actually can’t remember seeing a card given in the game! The game was played in an excellent spirit and this was refreshing to see. The first half was somewhat end to end but both teams rarely managed to threaten the goal, lacking that final key pass to really open up their opposition. In the second half Swallownest started to up their levels and this lead to the opening goal on the hour mark for Alfie Smith. A nicely worked move making for a simple finish to put Swallownest ahead. It was at this point that Swallownest really got a foot hold in the game and took control, this was further rewarded with an 86th minute scramble in the Railway box which lead to Grady finding the net. Cue scenes of delight in the stand behind the goal as it seemed the three points were heading Swallownest’s way. A rare mistake at the back allowed for what everyone could only see as a consolation goal in the 88th minute for Railway but then things took a surreal turn. After a few lumped up balls from Railway were successfully defended by Swallownest, Railway found themselves with a free kick just 10 yards or so past the half way line. The ball was thumped up towards the penalty box bypassing all outfield players. A clear shout of “keepers” was heard by all but suddenly the ball just seemed to carry further and ended up in the back of the net with the keeper missing it completely. Scenes of jubilation from the players just 4 minutes earlier turned to pure shock. Shortly after the final whistle was blown nobody could believe what they had seen. An entertaining and drama filled game but not the sort of entertainment that the Swallownest staff will have had in mind at the start of this game. Admission - 10 A perfect 10! You’ve just read for yourself about the match and we got all of that action for a fiver. All in all we got change from a tenner for our spends today. True value for money, so if you’re not a fan of the new PPV proposals from the professional game then vote with your feet and head to Swallownest for a superb day of non-league football. (Oh and of course that amazing grub!!) Pictures from the day can be found in the slideshow below. (Not the usual number of pictures due to a very wet phone!)