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Kinsley Boys v Harworth
By: Chris Smith
KINSLEY Boys versus Harworth Colliery Institute opened this year's Central Midlands League ground hop. Both clubs kindly agreed to schedule this fixture on a Friday night with four games to follow elsewhere on the Saturday and the kick-offs staggered to ensure all could be attended.
For someone who has visited plenty of non-league grounds even before Grimsby Town's demise, this was strangely the first time I'd been to a scheduled ground hop game and given that we only decided to go to Kinsley three hours before, I rang Andy the club's match secretary, and asked him to save us a couple of match programmes. I don't feel as though I have to touch the match ball to participate, or view the game from all four sides as some of the more obsessive watchers of the game do, but I do like to have the programme. Andy kindly agreed to save a few although it turned out they had printed plenty, including 180 for those who were doing all five games this weekend.
With breathtaking hypocrisy, I can demonise the really dedicated groundhoppers as real ale supping social misfits who can be identified by the fact that they always carry a bag to the game and take various notes during the game. Anyway, I got my bag sorted to keep the programmes neat and put my jotter pad in (so I could also take notes, thus demonising myself) and my brother and I headed off to West Yorkshire. Of course, being a Grimsby Town fan qualifies me as a social misfit but I draw the line at real ale which compared very unfavourably to the delights of White Lightning and Safeway strong cider in my day.
As I said, I do the dedicated groundhopper a disfavour. A groundhopper is engaging and not on a par with the sad anorak real ale **** as caricaturised in Viz comic. Talking of booze, Kinsley Boys had an impressive stock of cans in the bar, which is currently work in progress, and I was pleased to see various supporters supping cider though I always regarded Strongbow as shandy-like in strength. It was good to see fans able to partake of their alcohol by the pitch in the much more relaxed atmosphere of football at this level. I was also impressed with the lad who answered the ground announcer's call at half time to pose with others for a photo-call for the benefit of the local Hemsworth Express newspaper. Still clutching his drink, a friend exasperatedly yelled out "Well get that f******* can out your hand!" probably recognising that boozing on the pitch might not send the right cultural message.
Kinsley is situated a mile north of Hemsworth whose club, Hemsworth Miners Welfare, play a mile further north in Fitzwilliam village (also known as Fitzbilly or Fitzie to concise speakers). It is impressive that in a distance of just a few miles, there are the two clubs already mentioned as well as Frickley Athletic and South Kirkby. A Frickley fan who recognised me told me that there was no love lost between Kinsley and Hemsworth MW, although he put it somewhat more forthrightly. Whilst tonight's game looked like a possible record league attendance for Kinsley, apparently 500 had previously attended a local cup game between them.
As my brother wryly pointed out, perhaps there are so many amateur clubs locally because they don't like each other!
That said, the reception at the game was very friendly and the organisation of the club was absolutely first class. Harworth CI had a stall and I was persuaded to buy a club badge by our friend Robert from our visit there last November. The home side were also selling souvenirs and another badge was added to my collection. Several groundhoppers were also picking up their 5 match advance tickets and programme bundles. The cost of the groundhop including transport to and from games was a bargain £25.
The tea bar did a roaring trade and I was pleasantly surprised to have a choice of beans or peas with the pre-match pie which went down very nicely thanks.
We bumped in to Ponte Mariner, a Scarborough fan, Keith, who I'd bumped into in Malta the previous week (and I found out he was the reason I always have to get an hour earlier to games involving Scarborough as he pre-orders about 40 programmes for each away game-sometimes the home clubs' entire print run. Not any longer, I'll ask him to make it 41) and Colin, an ex colleague and drinking partner from my Heathrow days and a visitor to over 650 non-league grounds to date. As Rob Hornby, a groundhop organiser and contributor to last night's programme pointed out, these events are an opportunity to catch up with old friends as well as take in a game.
Having positioned ourselves along the side of the pitch nearest the entrance, we settled down to watch the game. I remembered Harworth as a decent footballing side from the game I'd seen there in November before floodlight failure intervened but Kinsley made plenty of running, largely attacking down the left although chances and shots on target were limited. Harworth weren't able to get out of their half after a promising start and were struggling to make an impression.
The post came to the assistance of Harworth on one occasion along with a good headed clearance off the line. The game really could have done with a goal and a penalty was awarded to the home side just before half time with Gareth Lewins converting. The goal was a fair reflection on the balance of play with Harworth's best chance coming from a shot with the home keeper out of position but fortunately blocked.
Half Time - Kinsley 1 Harworth 0
The second half seemed to take a bit of time to get going as far as action went. Mark Latham, the Harworth keeper, did well to block a shot from Neil Towler on a one-on-one. Lewins was then to break into the area but didn't have quite have the poise to steady himself for a chance and the hesitancy meant a good chance to seal the game was missed. Kinsley nearly paid for this when shortly afterwards, a good Harworth cross into the Kinsley area was met by a header only for the ball to come back off the bar. The quality of the cross deserved better. Harworth had some chances in the second half but at the other end, Latham again saved well from Towler to keep the visitors in the game. Mark Latham had a good game, and given his own stature against the size of some of the Kinsley forwards, acquitted himself well although he appeared to have picked up a knock at some point.
There were no further goals and I think the final score was a fair reflection of the game.
Full Time - Kinsley 1 Harworth 0
Again, thanks to both sides for agreeing to play this game on a Friday night and what good value for £3. The attendance was announced at half time as 237, a very good crowd for the Buckingham Insurance Supreme Division of the Abacus Central Midlands League which represents Level 7 of the non-league pyramid. Whilst Kinsley had put in a lot of effort to ensure everything smoothly, credit to Robert and friends for coming up to the game to raise funds for Harworth with their stall despite the apathy of their own village to their team. Harworth CI deserve better. Good luck to both teams in the future.
Harworth sit in mid table with Kinsley placed in the higher regions though Sheffield Parramore (who also play at the Don Valley Stadium) are walking this division.
Both clubs would welcome a visit from you if you are in their areas. A warm welcome is assured.
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