Football Comedy – Ripping Yarns, Golden Gordon (BBC 1979)

BBC4 started re-runs of the classic comedy series from Michael Palin and Terry Jones, Ripping Yarns, last night.

Episode two of the second series of Ripping Yarns is ‘Golden Gordon’, a loving parody of a non-league football fan and Yorkshire football in general, filmed around Barnoldswick and Keighley.

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It is 1935. On a stereotypically cold, wet, windswept and bleak West Yorkshire hillside sits the Sewage Works ground, home to Barnstoneworth United. Once a mighty team in the Yorkshire Premier League, they have now fallen on hard times.

Barnstoneworth United haven’t won a match in six years. After losing 8-1 to Brighouse, depressed United superfan Gordon Ottershaw comes home and smashes the furniture in his house in fury (my Dad, half-jokingly, used to say that he came home and kicked the cat, Lofty [named after Nat Lofthouse] when Bolton lost). His wife Eileen (Gwen Taylor) quietly accepts this. She keeps trying to tell him that she’s having a baby, but he seems not to notice.

“Eight One – Eight bloody One! – And even that were an own goal!”

Ottershaw has been teaching his son (who’s first name is Barnstoneworth, middle name United) every detail of the club’s results, players and statistics (again, my Dad has an almost preternatural ability to recall the scores of every match he’s ever been to, dating back to the mid 1950s). Over dinner, having memorised the 1922 side perfectly, his father chimes in at the end, sighing as he speaks:

” Won none. Drawn none. One cancelled owing to bereavement. Lost 18.”

A die-hard supporter, Ottershaw laments the clubs latest troubles over his custard pudding:

”Centre forward’s off with boils, two half back’s are going to a wedding and the goal-keepers got a cold. Chairman’ll sort it out.”

The Chairman in question will definitely sort it out. He plans to sell the club to a scrap merchant and walk away from it all with some brass in his back pocket. His only opinion of Gordon Ottershaw is that:

”It’s a form of madness you know, wearing your scarf in bed.”

Barnstoneworth are in dire trouble. On the training ground you’re more likely to hear ” He’s got my shorts on”  and ” Can I go at half past six?” than you are any sounds of encouragement or tactical nous.  But Gordon has a brain wave. He will round-up all the best surviving ex-Barnstoneworth players for the coming Saturday’s cup tie against Denley Moor Academicals. That will save the club!

The idea comes to him when he’s visiting (nay pleading) with the scrap dealer not to buy Barnstoneworth United and sell his beloved club down the river.  The subject of when Barnstoneworth last won a game comes up… Quick as a flash superfan Gordon has the answer:

“October 7th, 1931. 2-0 against Pudsey.“

“Haggerty F, Ferris, Noble, Codren, Crapper, Davis, Sullivan, O’Grady, Kembell, Hacker and Davitt*. Davitt scored twice, once in 21st minute, once in 28th minute…”

”Davitt, he were hell of a player.” says the scrap merchant. ” He were bald weren’t he? Head like stainless steel.”

“That’s right. He once scored with the back of his head from 28 yards against Barnsley reserves in 1922.”

Saturday comes, and the Cup tie against Denley Moor Academicals kicks off. United only have four players (and three pairs of shorts), whereas the captain of the Denley Moor team is the famous Eric Olthwaite. Things look bad, but Gordon arrives with the old team who take to the field. Davitt opens the scoring with his bald head, and, shock of shocks, Barnstoneworth eventually win 8 – 1.

“8 BLOODY 1!”

‘Golden Gordon’ ends with Gordon smashing up his own home in celebration this time. Clock, photos, radio go flying out through the window as the Match of the Day theme plays. And it still hasn’t registered with him that his wife has been trying to tell him she is pregnant throughout the entire episode.

*The mighty Half Man Half Biscuit named their third album McIntyre, Treadmore and Davitt in tribute to this episode, and the front cover is a still from the programme.

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See also A Visit to Gordon Ottershaw’s House, by Merrick Cork, which talks about the Yorkshire footballing inspirations behind the episode.

Yorkshire Groundhopping: Brighouse Town’s Dual Seal Stadium

Our kid invited me to go and watch Brighouse Town play Tadcaster Albion last Saturday in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division – a mere 5 minute walk away from his house. With my nephew in tow, and suitably wrapped-up against the strong and bitterly cold wind, I paid my £5 to get it at the turnstiles.

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The DualSeal Stadium has one main standing/seating area and a variety of huts, housing the toilets, changing rooms and club house.

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There is a very friendly club dog who has free rein to roam around the ground.

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The club house is warm inside, but the facilities aren’t on the same scale as BPA’s Horsfall Stadium:

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BPA’s game was called off due to a waterlogged pitch, so some familiar faces from the Horsfall were here for the Brighouse match.

The pitch is very exposed, and the recent bad weather had turned much of the playing area into a quagmire, but at least the game was on.

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The recent high winds had also demolished one of the dugouts, with the other one shored up with rope!

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The wind was blowing a gale, and wind-assistance played a big part in Town’s early goals.

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With Town 5-0 up at half time the game was over as a contest, and the Albion players were dejected and frustrated. They were reduced to abusing the officials and each other, and I have honestly never heard so much swearing from football players at any game I’ve been to. Not that I was offended, but it wasn’t too cracking in front of my 13-year old nephew who will have learnt a few new words!

One of the Albion players was booked for calling the lino a c**t, the last swear word in a long stream of invective.

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At the half time break, we left the touchline and made our way over to the Main Stand.

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The standing/seating area does provide some shelter from the wind and is warmer as a result, but when the rain comes in sideways, blown in on the wind, in the second half you still get wet.

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The view was decent, only obscured by the scaffolding poles keeping the stand up!

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Albion did manage to score a (scant) consolation goal, with Town ending up 8-1 winners.

Verdict:A friendly club with a decent little ground, but desperately in need of funds for much-needed improvements. Probably best to visit there in the Spring or Summer!

WHO ARE YA? Roy Mason, Steeton AFC Manager

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Roy Mason, Manager of Steeton AFC

1) Who are ya?

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Steeton AFC crest

Roy Mason, manager of Steeton AFC, I am, despite the youthful looks, 44.

My role as manager involves much more than the running of the club. I get involved in the commercial side, website updates and helping write the clubs programme – non of which the Premiership managers would dream of, but it’s part of the job at this level. As manager I need to generate my own funds to push us on more professionally and also help publicise the club at any opportunity. Those who know me would say I never miss an opportunity to get the club into the local media!

2) Who do you support?

I support Bradford City, a club that has had its ups and downs. I was there on that fateful day on May 11th, 1985 [GM – the terrible Bradford City fire tragedy, where 56 men, women and children lost their lives] and the bond the supporters have with the club is second to none. Last season was a just reward for all those who have stuck with the club throughout the years. They are the most local club to me and I firmly believe you should support your local club.

I also take a keen interest in all West Yorkshire’s non-league sides.

3) What was your first game?

It was a home game against Walsall in the early 80’s. Bobby Campbell was the main man in those days. It was a 0-0 draw but enough for me to go back and the next game saw them beat Wigan 7-2 and I was hooked!

4) What do you do for a job?

I am a footwear buyer for a mail order company; my job takes me all over the world and has allowed me to see the odd game abroad. I’ve visited Barcelona, FC Porto, Fenerbache & Fiorentina to name a few clubs. So, I’ve sometimes been able to combine my work with hobbies. I’ve done a bit of TV guest presenting with work and this has caused much amusement from my players over the years!

It can be hard juggling both jobs and sometimes you leave yourself with no spare time!

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

Not professionally, however I played for Steeton before I became manager, and Keighley Phoenix as well as a couple of Keighley’s succesful Sunday sides, Druids Arms and St Annes Celtic.

6) How did you get into it?

I’ve always been interested in off the field activities as well as those on the field. I became assistant reserve manager, before taking on the position of player/manager with the reserves. After a season doing that I then took over the first team and have guided them to become one of the top WRCA Premier Division sides and in my tenure with the help of a great backroom team we have transformed the club.

7) What do you get out of it?

I love being involved with grass roots football and working with people who feel the same and devote a lot of hours for nothing. I live in the village [of Steeton] and I’m proud to be putting something back into the community as well as pushing myself to be the best I can as a manager.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

Go for it – local clubs are crying out for help at all levels. Get involved you will make so many friends and get a great deal of satisfaction from it and you have no idea where it could take you.

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

Not a lot really – a broken leg at 24 cost me 18 months out of the game and if I could wind the clock back I would have ridden the tackle instead!!!

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

Playingwise, it’s Stuart McCall – a man who gave 110% in everything he did. He was a fine example to any player in always giving your all for the club. I was very disappointed when it didn’t work out for him at Bradford City when he returned as a manger. Maybe he was too close to the club…

Managerwise, I admire Bill Shankly and Brian Clough a lot for their grasp of the basic principles. Their method was keep the game simple and be honest and upfront with players.

In the modern day, Jose Mourinhio seems to have a great man management style and the players want to play for him.

Many thanks, Roy.

You can follow Steeton AFC at www.steetonafc.co.uk

Near post – Ale & hail at the Horsfall!

I spent a pleasant but stormy afternoon at the Horsfall Stadium for Bradford Park Avenue v Gloucester City.

Avenue were running a small-scale but decent beer festival in the Club House, with around 20 different beers and 7 ciders.

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After buying a fiver’s worth of beer tokens, enough to buy two pints, and downing one pint of gunpowder plot-themed Treason ale before the teams came out, I then headed for the stands.

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I found a seat, which wasn’t difficult as the crowd was sparse, took more pictures and watched the game.

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At half time I got my second pint, then moved to the other side of the ground to watch the second half from the far touch line with the die-hards in the rain.

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Avenue won 3-1, but the closing stages of the second half saw thunder and lightening followed by a hail storm.

The ground emptied at the final whistle as the few hundred hardy fans headed home or to the warmth and dryness of the Club House, but I hung around to take photos under the floodlights.

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The rain then turned to hail which sent me scurrying into the main stand:

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The intense hail storm stopped after five minutes or so, so I was able to come out from the cover of the stand and get some shots of the hail stones:

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Taking advantage of a window in the weather, I made my way out of the ground and headed for home.

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