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An Occasional Series written by Andrew Marsh at Garforth Town and friend of BEHiND THE FLAG

GTFC visit Holker Old Boys

The coach set off at 10:15am to go to Holker, near Barrow-in-Furness. We stopped at Hartshead Service station on the M62, not because we needed the toilet already, but because we were meeting some of our players there. We waited for them for around 15 minutes; they said they were walking there, not sure how they did it though  !! A couple of hours later, we stopped at Burton-in-Kendal service station. Me, Kev and Gull Monty were wondering around the shop when Kev spotted some soft-toy-sheep. There was a huge one for about 20 and Kev wondered if we could club together and buy one for a laugh. Then Gull Monty saw a smaller one for 9, him and Kev clubbed together and bought it. I think Monty liked it because when you pressed its leg, it made a high bleating sound. We showed it to the rest of the gang and this set off the usual sheep and lonely shepherd jokes. As we walked back to the coach, Monty asked "What shall we call it?". I suggested it should be a llama instead of a sheep and we should call it Clifford (after Simon Clifford). Monty wanted to call it Flossy, a few other names were mentioned, the funniest coming from Keith who suggested Dalai Llama .
 
We were supposed to turn off the M6 at junction 36, however Jimmy Martin (Manager) received a phone call from a couple of players who were making their way up by car, they said they had turned off at junction 36. Now, this being the M6 after Lancaster, junctions are few and far between, we had to carry on another 7-8 miles just to turn round. We all blamed Paul Bracewell ('the navigator') for missing the turning.
 
An hour later we approached Barrow. Once again we missed our turning, and we ended up having to ask a bloke unloading barrels outside a pub to direct us to the ground. I think he thought we had been let out for the day!
Holker, like Hallam, is at the top of a big hill. When we got to the top it felt like we were on the roof of the world. We turned left, then right, then left again into the ground. The entrance to the ground was a bit of a squeeze for the coach, but the driver managed to get through without any help. We came into a small car park and wondered how the coach would be able to park there, but fortunately there was a small road going round the back of the clubhouse to a bigger car park.
 
The ground looked ok, there was a wide covered standing area (bit like the one at Denaby) and a small stand 'behind the goal'. Except, it wasn't actually behind the goal. It was built in a position where one end was next to the corner flag and the other end was just short of the goal, which was a bit strange. I suppose in the end it was a good idea, as it rained constantly while we were there (well, it actually rained from when we crossed the border into Lancashire! ) and the stand was at the clubhouse side of the ground.
 
We arrived at about 2:15, by the way. We had been in the clubhouse about 10 minutes when Chris (website / programme editor) came in and announced that they were now selling programmes. The programme was a 1, and was full of statistics, the sort of thing you'd find in an Arnold programme.
 
The away supporters decided to invade the 'wide covered standing area'. We draped our flags over some of the seats and hung a couple up from the roof. We had brought around 5 flags, unfortunately the Brazillian flag was missing today.
The match started and we made a lot of noise. We got to half-time and it was 0-0. On 50 minutes Garforth took the lead through Lee Ryan. However, we do not hold leads very well (that means 1-0 often turns into 1-1, btw ) and Holker equalised on 56 minutes and took the lead on 61 minutes (we were used to that happening last season). Sometime during the game, one of the home fans shouted something towards us, I don't know what he said but it ended with 'daft pricks'. On the moment they scored, he shouted "thats how you score!" but Scott Ryan scored on 75 minutes to make it 2-2. That shut him up anyway. Holker were playing the Harrogate Railway tactic, the 'long ball into the corner' game. They always looked dangerous on the break and 3 of their 4 goals happened like that. The 3rd goal, on 87 minutes, came from a Garforth corner, when Mick Prica lost the ball. Holker broke with the ball and they scored via a nasty deflection. The words "jammy b******s" (usually used between the words 'Borrowash' and ' Victoria') were heard a few times (mainly from me) until pretty much the last kick of the game. Garforth were awarded a corner, the ball was brilliantly swung in to the goalmouth, the ball bobbled around for a bit before Scott Ryan put the ball into the net!!!!! The Garforth faithful jumped around like lunatics (including me), and I almost lost my voice . The ref blew the final whistle straight after the restart. 
 
Extra time started, and Holker were awarded a strange penalty on the 4th minute. Holker's number 9, Robert Bruce fell down in the penalty area. The ball wasn't even in the area, yet the ref awarded a penalty!  The Garforth fans were mystified. Holker scored from the 'penalty'. The ref had been making strange decisions for most of the game, however we stopped complaining in the 119th minute when the referee gave us a penalty. Once again, in the last minute, we rescued the game, and took the turn of being jammy b.....
 
It was unbelievable how we rescued everything in the last minute, not once, but twice! I suppose not all teams are nasty like Sheffield, who we held for 90 minutes in the NCEL cup match at The Toad And Seahorses ground back in March. Sheffield scored 3 goals in extra time  It was a great match on Saturday, two good sides battled it out for 120 minutes, in constant rain. It was end to end stuff and the most exciting match I have seen for a while.
 
For a better match report than mine, go to www.garforthtown.com in a few days and Tony Clough's report should be on there.

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Thought I'd tell you about our trip to Carlton.
 
The entrance to the ground was like Glapwell's, ok for cars, but a nightmare for coaches. The coach driver had to try and squeeze us through the gate. We eventually did it (via a few hedge branches) and drove into the car park.
 
The first thing we saw was a pitch with a couple of dug-outs at the opposite side and 4 plastic chairs on the near side. We were thinking "Oh my god, is this it?" Fortunately we turned right and saw another ground, enclosed by a fence. Through the turnstile (at least they have one, Maltby didn't) we went and arrived in the ground. Now, I had printed Carlton's details out from the NCEL site before Saturday and it said there was a 20 seater stand. I think they were lying. Over at the far side of the pitch, there was basically an extended bus shelter (I think they call it 'the shed'). Most of the ground work seemed to have been done recently, there was hard standing all the way round the pitch, and a clubhouse. You could say it was good, because some clubs in the Premier Division don't even have that! (I'm sure you can think of one that doesn't have hard standing all the way round - its not too far away from Dronfield!!!) Overall it was pretty basic, but it wasn't depressing (like soem nameless NCE Prem Div clubs) and there was room for development. A lot of hard work had gone into it. 
 
The clubhouse was a decent size, although I think the beer was expensive, Mark (Clough) said the Lucozade was 1.25!! Also, the programme was 1, making it a bit of a rip-off - it wasn't a bad programme, but 50p would have been a better price. It wasn't really worth a full pound.
 
Just before the game started, the Garforth players presented their opponents with a framed thingy (I think Chris Mather made it) that said something like "presented to Carlton Town by Garforth Town and their supporters on their first visit. Good luck in the future". I thought it was a nice gesture.
 
"The few" (as we sometimes call ourselves) walked round into the stand and we started shouting like lunatics (nothing's changed since Premier Division days!). After 3 minutes Garforth had a goal disallowed, don't you just hate it when you start cheering and going mad only to find the ref has disallowed the goal? I have absolutely no idea why the goal was disallowed, I fear the ref didn't know why either!!
 
Carlton were caught offside many times during the first half. When we had goal kicks their number 10 kept hanging around and trying to intercept. We all shouted at the ref as he was offside, causing some Carlton loudmouth stood near the clubhouse to shout "He's running back you pillock!!" We started cheering at him and he shouted "Get back in your shed". We shouted "Its YOUR shed!!"
Now, everytime a Carlton player was caught offside, we shouted "He's running back you pillock!!"
 
The disallowed goal seemed to affect the players. We never got going after that. There was very little to cheer until the end.
 
Carlton scored on about 60 minutes and the usual "lets all cheer and smile at the Garforth fans" thing happened, especially from that idiot who shouted at us in the first half who not only cheered and looked at us, but also pointed at his a*se. We conceded a penalty (something we do very frequently - we have done it 3 times already this season) and they scored again.  
 
We are really inconsistent at the moment and our performances vary considerably. The first game of the season (Maltby Main), we started off ok but by the end we were a shambles. We lost 3-0 and I booed at the final whistle (not constructive, but hey!). 
 
We now have a new manager, Jimmy Martin.
 
There were a few people at Garforth who said this season would be a walkover but I have always shared (and still do) the view of Kev Strangeway (GTFC supporter since 1985), that it would be very hard to go back up again. He says Division 1 is of the same standard as the Premier Division.
 
I now run the club shop, so if you want any merchandise then send me an email. We don't have any Garforth badges at the moment. The Garforth club shop is actually run by the supporters club (and raises money for us), so we are sorting out whether we have enough money to place the order. We are going to Holker Old Boys on the 20th September for the FA Vase and a coach is going to be expensive! (unless the FA pay some of the money).
 
Bye for now,
Andrew
 
"The NCEL premier isn't the same without us!"

Garforth Town Supporter Andrew Marsh writes for BEHiND THE FLAG