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Frickley AFC
Frickley AFC

There’s only one F in Frickley - Part 2

By: Chris Smith
Date: 30/07/2009

BACK to the game, and the crowd was diminished a bit by the terrible weather and the announcement on Wendy’s site that they would be bringing an academy side. However, a fairly healthy crowd had assembled with quite a few away fans.

It is a sign of how I've mellowed that I didn't want to spontaneously gag at the sight of their strips. When I first started watching the Town, Wendy were the team to hate. Many years later, I worked in Sheffield for a year or so and enjoyed the company of both Blades and Owls and so resisted the temptation to sing "Always p*** on a Tesco carrier bag", another sign of progress. I also reflected on the first time I had seen Wednesday as an away team, when 7,000 of them sang "We hate Grimsby and we hate Grimsby..." At West Ham!

Eddie turned up ten minutes before kick off having not been so lucky with the weather and then got the grub in which was well worth waiting for. I normally wear the pie and peas here as they put so much in the tray. Whilst not quite up to Goole’s standard, it was nonetheless a handsome repast and led us nicely up to the game, and surprisingly a pea free pair of jeans. I'm sorry-I couldn't resist it.

Frickley did take the game to Wednesday and took the lead with a well taken goal, drawing out the goalkeeper and calmly slotting past him. I'm not thinking it this season, but last year I would have seen something like that and wondered why Town couldn't do it. In between watching the game and swapping some distinctly un-pc jokes, Eddie was telling me how Halifax RLFC, who he supports, had adapted a few of our songs and were now happily belting them out at games. I managed to come up with some tasteless suggestions and suddenly half-time was upon us.

After nipping to the bar, we moved to the opposite stand and watched the game standing up. I've only been over this side once before as I prefer the main structure which can really make some noise when the home fans are on form and surprising considering 250 would be a reasonable gate. The second half was all Frickley in my book and they were unlucky not to give Wednesday a good hiding. One shot rattled a post and the away keeper made a point blank stop without probably knowing what had hit him. A few shots flew high and wide but the second and final goal was a very well struck shot and we knew we'd had our money’s worth. It'd be nice to think Frickley could have a good season as times have been hard since finishing runners-up in the Gola League (now the BSP) in 1985/6. Relegation followed soon after and the fallout of the 1984/5 strike was felt.

I'm always impressed with how these pit village teams have survived the last few decades. If you want to see the reality of hard right Tory politics, walk up to the top of Westfield Lane and turn left towards the ground. There are rows of rubble where neglected Coal Board houses were torn down although there is one house standing at the end of what used to be each terrace. There has never been enough money to make good the devastation of Th*tcher’s time and coming here always reminds me of why I hated everything she stood for. I was told South Elmsall had the cheapest housing in the UK and I could believe it, but I like the place. If you ever come up here, there is a great café near the railway station, although I can’t comment on the pubs as an ex-drinker.

The club run well-supported fun days with entertainment for the kids and plenty of ale for the adults although the bad weather has dented crowds in the last few seasons. It has the feel of a tight-knit community club, the sort of thing we can lose touch with as we largely take it for granted we have a professional team. I did my bit for the coffers and got half a dozen Donny Rovers programmes from last season for a read on my journeys to and from work. All in all, a good first visit this season. I spoke to my Luton friend after the game (forgetting I was wearing a Town away shirt from the 1990s that looked like Watford’s home strip), as he was taking the nets down. He’s off on holiday in October and his family’s absence will make a big dent in the volunteer workforce for that week. You have to like people who care about a football club that much and not for any financial reward. Again, this ground reminds you of all that is good about the game and is the polar opposite of what we often experience in the overpriced Division 4.

To round off the evening, I bumped into John, a Blades' season ticket holder and a major contributor to the very funny Flashing Blade fanzine which I pick up whenever I take a friend’s son to Bramall Lane. John comes to Frickley whenever he can and was obviously delighted with the win. He didn’t need to tell me, a miasma of ale told me all I needed to know. We caught up a bit on the train back to Donny, when the noise from the world’s first successful brain donor chavs allowed. John always enjoyed a trip to Grimsby and likes our fans.

Great night out. Roll on Winterton on Saturday. I’ll be there.

Chris is a regular contributor to the Grimsby Town Supporters Trust web site

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