Wheatley Park, Garforth. 14/4/17

Northern Counties East League, Premier Division. Easter Groundhop 2017

The second game of the Easter Groundhop, we were in Ken’s manor. This was the return fixture of the match we visited back in early November, three goals were scored that night but in truth the game lacked quality and was probably one of the less enjoyable of our adventure. That night was made up by the quality of Inkersall Road, a ground which I would put in the top five of this season.

If the fixture at Inky Road lacked quality, this one certainly did. Some groundhoppers don’t actually tick a venue off if they fail to see a goal, I wonder how many of the 324 present follow that rule. Some goalless draws are action packed, end to end with the goalies and defenders coming out on top, this wasn’t an example of such a game and we added a second 0-0 to our season.

It was my first taste of Garforth’s Wheatley Park home. The ground is situated at the end of a new housing estate, the club ‘moved’ here after the building company bought the land where their old Brierlands Lane ground used to sit. As part of the development, Wheatley Park was built and The Miners played their first game here back in 1998. It is the main stand that ‘stands’ out, the roof looks interesting but does very little. Ken watched a Town game in early May and claims it is the coldest he has been at a football match. The wind blows through the gap between the roof and the stand, today’s weather wasn’t particularly nice and we felt it.

Outside the stand, vendors were busy touting their memorabilia while organisers Chris and Laurence were scuttling around giving out the unclaimed programme packs from the previous evening. I had arranged to say hello Anders Johansen AKA @Vikinghopper, a Norwegian groundhopper with a penchant for English Non League grounds. He had purchased an open ticket and was taking in virtually a game every day of his prolonged stay in the UK. I sought him out in the second half and had a good chat, pity the match didn’t live up to expectations but that’s football for you.

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For me the match will be remembered for being the earliest Kick Off time I think I have witnessed. I remember a Leeds game broadcast on Sky starting about 11.30ish but I reckon this one takes the record.

Not even going to do a report for this as very little happened, not even Garforth Goal Machine Mark Simpson break the deadlock, despite his earlier run of scoring in 10 consecutive games for the Miners.

Luckily, it was only a five minute drive back to Ken’s where the WAGs had bought Good-Friday Fish and Chips, a little sustenance before the journey up to Harrogate for the 2.30pm kick off.

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