The groundhopper, hotly anticipating a tasty bit of weekend action, rocks up for a game only to find the place deserted.
(Having bounced around a minimal number of local-ish lower league grounds I’m not sure I can really claim to be a member of the “groundhopper” elites yet, whose commitment is next level, but I do have a flask so I think I'm on my way.)
And so it is for us at Oxenhope Recreation's phantom West Yorkshire League Division 1 fixture against Otley Town. Which is a shame, because it looks like a neat set-up down there, amidst the sweeping hills of the Bronte Country. (I learn later that the game was played at the grandly named Marley Stadium.)
For a full-on geek day you could combine an Oxenhope match, provided they rock up, with a trip on the KWVR, just down the road. Did it once, got absolutely spannered while the train trundled up and down the line to Keighley and back, before a good tea at the Hawthorn on the cobbled Haworth high street. Great days.
Anyway, I’m not sure of the rules of this groundhopping malarkey but, regardless, I’m ticking it off as a new ground visited despite witnessing zero football being played. They all count.
And that includes a park, too. Keen not to waste the photo opportunity afforded to me by having stopped off at the Farm Shop to get pie’d up in advance, we identify an alternative match nearby.
It’s pissing down with rain by the time we get to Foster Park to soak up the second half of Denholme United grappling in the muck with St Columbas in the Challenge Cup. A few reticent souls watch from cars, windscreen wipers on rapid, but we go all in, pitchside and hardcore.
No idea what the score is, but we manage to take in a couple of goals - including an accidentally-on-purpose free-kick/deep cross/visionary lob from near the touchline - some tackling we'll describe as 'influenced by the conditions', and the Denholme gaffer fetching stray balls from under the swings.
Pie notes: I’m in the minority here, but the filling's on the dense side, I reckon. Too compact. Needs loosening.