Football Books – The Woofits Play Football

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The Woofits were a series of children’s books written in the 1980s by the British television and radio personality Michael Parkinson, best known for his TV chat shows.

The stories featured the Woofits a family of anthropomorphic dog-like creatures who lived in the fictional Yorkshire coal mining village of Grimeworth (based on the real life Cudworth where Parkinson was born and nearby village of Grimethorpe).

The main members of the Woofit family lived in three terraced houses along Grimeworth Street, Grimeworth:

Number 8

  • Grandpa Ironside and Grandma Emily, the heads of the family

Number 10

  • Uncle Athelstone, miner, gardener and leader of Grimeworth Colliery brass band
  • Uncle Gaylord, Athelstone’s brother – a football pools winner who considers himself posh

Number 12

  • John Willy Woofit, son of Ironside and coal miner and plays the trombone in the brass band
  • Lavina, wife of John Willy
  • Elton, son of Lavinia and John Willy, dreamed of being a pop star.
  • Angela, sister of Elton who had ambitions to be a TV newsreader
  • Elton’s pet dog Gershwin

Other characters included Baskerville Woofit (editor of the Daily Woofit), Cluff Woofit (manager of the local football team) and local policeman Sergeant Cox.

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.

WHO ARE YA? Tom Fieldhouse, Media Executive

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1) Who are ya?

Tom Fieldhouse, 23, born and raised in Yorkshire and obsessed with football.

2) Who do you support?

Leeds United

3) What was your first game?

Pretty sure it was when I was about 4 or 5 and my dad took me and my older brother to Elland Road to watch a game. I was so young I don’t remember much other than I got bored and wanted to leave early to my brother’s dismay. We heard the ground erupt as we approached our car. Needless to say we never left early again.

Football passed me by until I was about 8 when a friend of mine’s family kindly took me to watch Uefa Cup matches against the likes of Marítimo. European nights at a packed Elland Road are hard to beat and I’ve been hooked ever since.

4) What do you do for a job?

I’m a media executive at a marketing agency in Leeds called Intermarketing Agency. I plan and buy advertising space in magazines, on TV, Radio, Online – anything really! Really enjoy it and the agency is a fantastic place to work.

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

Played – unless you’re counting Ripon City Panthers/Magnets U14-U18s – then sadly not.

Haven’t worked for a club but would love to work for Leeds someday. Being at a club that’s progressing very quickly (e.g Man City) would be very exciting as well so if ever an opportunity like that came up I’d find it hard to pass up – even with my Yorkshire upbringing.

6) How did you get into it?

I got into marketing because I liked the creative aspect of business, working in media came as a result as searching for a work placement as part of my degree. I didn’t have a clue what went in agencies, and would take any job available in that environment.

Luckily I landed a job I really enjoyed in an agency that was moving in the right direction.

7) What do you get out of it?

It’s great to learn more about the new developments in marketing, and how one subtle change to a marketing budget/campaign can maximise efficiency. I really enjoy being able to work on really creative ideas as well!

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

Work hard and leave no stone unturned when looking for an opportunity. If you can make a process more efficient, do it and prove it works instead of waiting for permission. Most importantly though, be nice and friendly and treat everybody with the respect you’d like to receive in turn. You never know when that intern might finally get that tech startup off the ground and become the next Zuckerberg.

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

Tricky one… It’s got to be: have a proper crack at becoming a musician. And actually spend time practising guitar when I had the time in my teens.

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

From a club perspective it’s got to Kewell. He had it all. As a left footed player Leeds had a great pair of idols for me in Harte and Kewell but Kewell’s skill was immense and his goals weren’t bad either.

Overall though, I can’t look past Henry. For me he changed the way the game was played – brought a style and flair to the pitch I’d never seen before. He optimised Wenger’s brand of football and that’s a style of football I love. It wasn’t simply about winning but winning with style and boy, did they do that.

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!

Groundhopping: FC Halifax Town v Guiseley AFC

Distance traveled: 13 mile round trip (plus detours)

FC Halifax Town

Matt Glennon, Sam Patterson, Scott McManus, Simon Ainge, Matty Pearson, Archie Love, Joe Ironside, Adam Smith, Josh Wilson, Kevin Holsgrove & Lois Maynard

Substitutes: Kevin Holsgrove replaced by (Dan Gardner 45 minutes) Matty Pearson off (Jon Worthington 53 minutes) & Joe Ironside off (Paul Marshall  68 minutes)

Guiseley:

Steve Drench, Andy Holdsworth © Rhys Meynall, Jack Rea, Adam Lockwood, Danny Hall, Wayne Brooksby, Danny Boshell, Alex Johnson, Danny Forrest & Gavin Rothery

Substitutes: Alex Johnson (Craig Dobson 76 minutes)

Yellow cards:

FC Halifax Town: Archie Love 62 minutes

Guiseley: Rhys Meynall 28 minutes, Danny Boshell 39 minutes, Danny Hall 49 minutes

Red cards:

None.

Referee: Darren Handley

Attendance: 935 (98 Guiseley fans)

Read more at http://www.halifaxafc.co.uk/news/article/guiseley-report-1175344.aspx#FygWwStTk0wbP2WJ.99

As part of my new groundhopping quest to visit as many local grounds as I can, I made a short trip to Halifax to go to The Shay for FC Halifax Town versus local rivals Guiseley AFC in the FA Trophy.

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Halifax’s North Bridge and flyover

The afternoon didn’t get off to a cracking start, as I made several wrong turns in Halifax’s nightmare road system. I always seem to get lost when I drive in the town centre, despite doing and passing my driving test in Halifax’s Pellon district, due to the paucity of decent signage and confusing road layout – getting onto North Bridge in particular. I have a bit of an altercation with a bus as a result, and then manage to drive past the entrance to The Shay, necessitating another u-turn.

I get there just after 1pm, planning to take a leisurely look around the outside of the stadium, visit the club shop, and maybe get a coffee on the concourse before going up to the seating areas.

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Car Park Ticket

I know that its £3 to park in the car park, and I’m paying £13 to get in, so I go to pay the car park attendant. I’ve only got a £20 note, which would wipe out the lady’s float of pound coins, so I’m instructed to park up and go and pay to get in, get change, then come back and give her the £3. So, off I trot to the reception at The Shay, explain what’s happened, go into the fact that I’m neither a Halifax nor a Guiseley supporter, ascertain that I’m allowed in the home fans seating area, and hand over my £20. I get my change and I’m told to come back to reception and they’ll let me in.

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Welcome to FC Halifax Town

After duly paying the car park attendant, I take a few pictures of the outside of the ground then head back to reception.

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Shay Stadium Reception

The chap I talked to about 5 or so minutes earlier doesn’t recognise me at first, so I have to explain to him again that I’ve already paid my £13. Expecting a ticket or something, I don’t get one and I’m directed up to the third floor where I’m told I’ll be let out onto the seating area, but I’m not to sit anywhere in the last four rows at the back of the stand as these are “reserved for the sponsors”.

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Reserved seating

I see the steward at the door on the third floor, explain to him that I’m not Press and that I’ve paid to get in, and he lets me through. All a bit of a pallaver but at least I’ve got to see behind the scenes at the club, rather than just going through the turnstiles (which were shut when I got there anyway).

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A gentleman of The Press

The only problem is, I’m now the only person in the stand who isn’t Press, a sponsor, or a club official from either team, and I feel a bit of a tool to say the least. I now also can’t kill time in, and potentially buy something from, the club shop.

It’s an hour and a half until kickoff and I’m sat here on my todd, so I start walking round pitchside looking for things to take pictures of.

The Shay is a proper ground, and you can’t just walk round with access to everywhere. Areas are cordoned off by barriers and manned by stewards, used to dealing with big Rugby League crowds.

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The tunnel, and bin bag

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No Standing

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Yellow steps

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Floodlight and new stand construction

I take pictures of what I can, and a steward lets me get pitchside proper and escorts me there so that I can take a picture of the floodlight for Floodlight Fancy. I thank him and I’m on my way walking round taking pictures again.

I fill a decent amount of time doing this and the ground slowly starts to fill up. I feel less self-conscious, and more things start to happen.

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One life one town

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Fans take their seats

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Non-league chips

Photogenic people take their seats, club officials inspect the pitch, players come out to warm up, and a gaggle of massively hyper little girls start to run up and down the stand steps, screaming, and singing along very very loudly to the music on the PA which has burst into life.

It’s really sunny and warm sitting directly in it, but as kick off approaches the sun goes behind the gathering clouds coming in off the moor tops and the temperature drops.

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Town fans

Many of the Town fans are decked out in bright blue hats and blue and white scarves, and the Guiseley faithful start to sing and clap to warm up, in every sense of the word.

Local kids teams and the Halifax Town mascot, Freddy the Fox, escort the players and officials out and, after the customary handshakes, the game gets underway.

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The teams emerge

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Kick off

The first half sees both sides probing the other’s defences, but with little to test either ‘keeper.

The official FC Halifax Town website described the first half like so:

“With FC Halifax lacking zip in their offensive play, Guiseley probed the channels with Johnson gliding and hustling the make-shift centre-back pairing of Lois Maynard and Simon Ainge. With little leigh-way given by either side, the game’s best opening fell to Johnson who failed to plant a telling header at goal, as it trickled harmlessly to Matt Glennon following neat wing-play by Wayne Brooksby.

“Whilst Johnson was making a noteworthy impression on proceedings Kevin Holsgrove, a summer acquisition from Guiseley, was subjected to taunts by the contingent of away fans. As he twice shot in frustration dragging both attempts wide.

“Up the other end Johnson was becoming an increasing nuisance for Maynard and Ainge to thwart as his persistence drew a foul from Ainge. The resulting free-kick from Wayne Brooksby swirled just past Glennon’s near-post.

“Soon after Maynard tried to sheppard the ball out of play but to no avail as Johnson tenaciously nipped in and drilled a cross-cum-shot at goal.

“Josh Wilson another former Lion produced an intricate lofted through ball for Joe Ironside to latch onto, but custodian Steve Drench performed diligently as sweeper. Moments later and a ripple of applause turned to outrage from the Shaymen supporters as referee Darren Handley waved away claims for a Halifax penalty despite Holsgrove’s pass appearing to brush the arm of Adam Lockwood.”

With the first half drawing to a close, and an expected halftime score of 0-0, fans start to trickle down to the stand concourse for the toilets, food and drink. I head down to the toilet first, and hear cheering from the stands. Guiseley have scored. Typical.

“Just as the final stages of the first-half were meandering into a stalemate Johnson’s tireless application was rewarded with a goal, all be it a fortuitous one.

“Springing away from Ainge, Johnson spun and shot in one movement to see his deflected strike loop over the hapless Glennon and into to the left-hand corner.”

After buying a much-needed coffee to take the chill off, for a very reasonable £1 (I don’t sample the pies or the non-league chips), I head back up to take more pictures.
The kids from before the match are playing min five-a-side, and the fans watching cheer sportingly every time a goal is scored, but I’m slightly disappointed not to hear chants of “Sign him up”.
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Freddy the Fox walks the length of the touchline, handing out sweets to the kids on the other side of the barrier, before chucking the remaining contents of his sweet bucket up into the air and heading back into the changing room for his halftime orange segments (or sports drink, whatever the case may be).
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The teams come out for the second half and the match kicks off again.
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“At the turn of the interval the introduction of Dan Gardner appeared to gee up his below-par team-mates as his first early touches of the ball showed the finesse which was lacking in the first-half.

“Yet Guiseley continued to look menacing on the counter-attacks with Johnson leading the line superbly.

“However Halifax almost restored parity only for the under-worked Drench to acrobatically repel a powerful Ainge header from a delightful Gardner corner-kick. But the match continued to irritate Town as possession lacked incision with chances still at a premium.

“On the other hand Guiseley were churning out opportunities as Rhys Meynall coaxed his way past debutant Sam Patterson only for his curling shot to flash beyond the far-post. Nevertheless Craig Hobson a replacement for Johnson, cannoned the ball against the post with the rebound rolling gratefully into the hands of Glennon.

“The visitors soon gave Neil Aspin’s troops another reprieve as Lockwood could only glance his free header wide of goal much to his angst. As precious minutes were beginning to evaporate for FC Halifax Town.

“Adam Smith’s marauding run ended with a sliced effort on goal, Scott McManus then stroked a delicious low ball across the six-yard box with no colleague in support.

“As fourth official Adam Burgess signalled four minutes of stoppage time a Gardner cross was hacked away by Lockwood along with a dangerous Wilson nod down with John Worthington flinging himself at the loose ball.”

Read more at http://www.halifaxafc.co.uk/news/article/guiseley-report-1175344.aspx#FygWwStTk0wbP2WJ.99

With the home fans already starting to leave, to chants of “We can see you sneaking out” from the vocal Guiseley travelling support (who number 98, we are told when the attendance is announced), the players leave the pitch to sporadic and muted applause. Town fans are not happy, but Guiseley march on.
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I head for the exits, take one last photo of the floodlights in full glare, then head home, once again navigating the tortuous Halifax road system.
I’d like to visit The Shay again sometime, and go to the club shop and go in through the turnstiles, but there are plenty of other grounds to visit in the meantime, not least Brighouse Town’s St Giles’ Road (very appropriate).
See Saturday afternoon at The Shay for more pictures from the trip.

The Old Shay, with speedway track

The Beatles played here…