Wednesday 25th November 2015, Gloucestershire FA Challenge Trophy 3rd round
Post-punk band Half Man Half Biscuit once referred to Yate as "the kind of town that referees come from". Unless you are a South Gloucestershire native you can't really hope to appreciate how bang on a statement that is. Yate was one of those towns that most likely had more cows than people until it was randomly selected in the 60s to be crammed full of building projects until it resembled a real place. It's the ends of the earth as far as "greater Bristol" is concerned with sweet bugger-all for miles apart from a place called Chipping Sodbury where I was once, as a child, forced to do an overnight hike and found that I could quite easily nap in the middle of a road for hours without being squished by traffic.
Yate Town are one of the "big boys" of South Glos footy, the other being Mangotsfield United located 8 miles down the road with whom they share a half-arsed rivalry. The first team are enjoying a rather average season in the Southern Football League Division One South & West where they sit in 14th place having exited the league cup in the second round. The reserves play three steps lower in the Gloucestershire County League and are currently 13th.
Bristol Manor Farm on the other hand are having a wonderful time of it of late. They sit in pole position in the Western League Premier Division and have made it to the third round of the FA Vase at a canter. I imagined as I waited for the game to begin with my Styrofoam cup of ludicrously milky tea that the Farm would throw themselves into this one with a decent amount of gusto in the interests of maintaining those ever elusive "winning ways" and predicted a 3-1 win for the Western League side. Eagle-eyed readers may recall that this was a trophy that Manor Farm won last season.
Lodge Road is a quite basic but nice enough ground, even if every structure is made of grey corrugated iron. There is a fairly large seated stand to one side of the clubhouse near one of the goals and a small terrace behind the other goal and the rest is tarmac. A nice feature of the ground is the wall of huge evergreen trees that line the side of the pitch opposite the turnstiles and waft a lovely Christmas tree smell over the whole place. The clubhouse looked decent (even though I only nipped in briefly to use the facilities) with a large bar and plenty of places to sit an watch the scores from the Champions League roll in.
I'm not sure where else I'm going to be able to shoehorn this anecdote in so I'm just going to go for it here. While I was waiting for kickoff by the Manor Farm bench I was treated to the sight of their water boy bringing the bottles over in a FULL BODY BRISTOL MANOR FARM BOILERSUIT. I've let you all down by not taking a picture of this I know but I was so astounded my hands stopped working. If any officials from Bristol Manor Farm are reading this and can tell me where I might purchase a FULL BODY BRISTOL MANOR FARM BOILERSUIT please don't hesitate to get in touch.
|Where Yate are hiding the bodies.|
Still stood by the technical areas I overhear one of the managers scream "DUMMY RUNNER" at his players, which has got to be the single worst way to organise that particular tactic. I decided to move so that this report wouldn't consist solely of ridiculous things I overheard managers say.
A mere 10 minutes had passed before the first goal, a stonking strike from just outside the box by Liam Farmer, a player I always think looks particularly decent when I've seen him play for the Farm. The action didn't stop there and in the 13th minute a defensive mistake from a Farm player caused the ball to go airborne, the keeper committed too late to the catch and it was an easy tap-in for a Yate forward. Yate 1 - Farm 1.
Amazingly it only took Farm another 3 minutes to reply when a glaringly unmarked Jordan Metters caught a cross and fired it in, once again from outside the box. Yate seemed to be defending way too deeply and had serious trouble dealing with crosses and corners, which Dean Stamp used to his advantage in the 41st minute when he gently rolled in a third for Manor Farm from a low cross. Yate 1 - Farm 3, half time.
My previous inkling that Manor Farm wouldn't take their foot off the peddle when it came to this game was given a lot of credence by Mr Stamp's inclusion in the squad. The big man has been enjoying a spectacular run of form, scoring 29 goals so far in all competitions. A doff of the Partizan Bristle cap to him.
Half time provided me with a chance to get my food on. I hadn't eaten since 10 that morning and I was getting grouchy. Luckily Yate can provide you with a burger and a decent portion of chips for a mere £4.50 from the friendly old man in the static caravan. And you can have onions. If your club doesn't have onions then it's tinpot.
I figured I'd grab a place on the terrace behind the Yate goal because I could see it would be getting most of the action for the rest of the game. Due to it's close proximity to the pitch this was quite a scary place to be when the absurdly well spoken ref awarded Stamp a free-kick on the edge of the box, causing everyone to shuffle down to the bottom step. This set-piece came to nothing but minutes later Stamp powered through two defenders to slot home his second. What a man. He could even rival Pete Sheppard in my affections one day. Yate 1 - Farm 4.
I should point out that although this report sounds like the game was one-way traffic, Yate weren't without their moments and forced a number of saves from the Farm goalie including a powerful effort that curved strongly, producing a fantastic diving save from the man in net. The plucky gaggle of teenagers were finally rewarded with a second goal in the 79th minute with a shot so powerful it ricocheted off all three goal posts before going in.
Despite this brief comeback it took Farm only seconds to reply. Again exploiting Yate's weakness against crosses the ball was rolled across the face of the goal to a player who made a short pass to Metters in the centre of the penalty box for him to nutmeg the Yate goalkeeper and end the game. Yate 2 - Farm 5.
I stuck around to clap off Manor Farm who I am developing a bit of an affinity for and took my leave feeling pretty good that I'd just paid 28p per goal. Viva non-league!
For a less stupid more tactically astute write-up of this match, may I suggest this one by Jack Davies.
|Maybe next season lads.|