Thursday, 3 November 2016

Pontefract Colleries - Beechnut Lane

Pontefract Collieries FC
Beechnut Lane
West Yorkshire

01977 600818

Ground Number: 642
Tuesday 1st November 2016
Pontefract Collieries 0-0 Penistone Church


Pontefract Collieries were formed around 1958. They played in the West Yorkshire League at first, moving to the Yorkshire League a few seasons before it was amalgamated into the newly formed Northern Counties East League in 1982. Starting in the third tier, they were an immediate success in their new surroundings, winning promotion in their first season after finishing runners-up behind Rowntree Mackintosh. They did even better the following season, lifting the Division 1 title and earning promotion to the NCEL Premier. From 1984 until 1999, they spent 14 out of 15 seasons in the top tier, only returning to Division 1 for a season in 1995/96 when a runners-up spot behind Selby Town on goal difference was enough to see them bounce straight back. It was that period, in the 1988/89 season that they posted their best ever finish of 7th in the NCEL Premier. Since the turn of the millennium however, they've spent all but one season in Division 1, the exception being last season when they were relegated narrowly, with Armthorpe Welfare being the lucky club to survive by a single point. They are looking good for an immediate return, with they and Penistone Church, tonight's visitors, making up the top 2 before the weekend's games. 

In the FA Cup Pontefract Collieries have not had much success, with only the 1st Qualifying Round beaing reached on 3 occasions. It was a feat they matched this season as they lost narrowly 3-2 to NPL side Tadcaster Albion. The FA Vase has seen similar disappointment with the 2nd Round being their best progress when they lost 2-1 at home to Northallerton Town during the 2001/03 season. Pontefract Collieries do have some local honours to their name, the NCEL Floodlit Cup has twice been won, and they have also won the league's Wilkinson Sword Trophy. Other than that they've won the Castleford & District Embleton Cup on 7 occasions, the last win coming in 2008. The club's record attendance of 1000 came in the first floodlit game in 1987 when 1000 turned up for a game against Hull City.


This game was planned the previous week and is a ground that I have wanted to visit for a while, having attempted it on no less than 3 previous occasions. The first of which was on the 15th November 2014 when my hopping pal Anwar was going to Doncaster. However the match was called off at 11am due to a waterlogged pitch and I ended up going to Rossington Main instead. The following January it was a similar situation with me dropping Anwar off at Barnsley. This time I got as far as supping my pre-match pint, only to be scrolling through my Twitter feed and seeing that the game was off. This time Garforth Town were my saviours. On the 3rd attempt at least I was given notice. They were due to play a midweek game in August, though this time it was an FA Cup replay that cancelled my plans. I was beginning to think that I was cursed in my attemnpts to go to Ponte, but the weather for this one looked fine and I had Ossett Town v Scarborough as a backup. I booked a hotel in a village around 10 miles away called Carlton as the hotel in Pontefract had unfavourable reviews on Trip Advisor and was a fiver more expensive.

On the day of the game I woke up at 7.30 and had breakfast. As I'd still not found anything to inspire me for Wednesday night I set about researching Harwich and Parkeston who i'd be visiting on the Thursday. They turned out to have a very interesting history and so it took me a while to start the blog. I'd been having a 24-hour tape to monitor my heart and I was glad when it reached 10am and I could take it off. It itched quite a lot so I was glad to be able to soak in the bath for a bit. I left around 11, stopping at Morrisons to pick up some stuff for my trip away, and dropping the heart monitor at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. It was then a hassle free journey apart from a stretch of roadworks on the M1, and these didn't impact my journey too much. I arrived at my room at The Foxwood Guest House in Carlton at 3.10. It was a nice enough room, certainly for £30 a night and the village was very nice too.

After chilling for a bit, I decided that I was going to use the bus tonight and leave the car at the hotel. They seemed pretty regular and so I got the 3.47 one from the local post office. The day ticket was a fairly reasonable 4.70, about twice what it would cost in petrol, but at least I'd be able to relax and have a few pints. It took around 30 minutes to get to Wakefield and so I had a look around the town before going to a pub called the Hop for a pint of Bad Apple Cider. This was very nice and an American one too that I'd never tried before. From there I went to get my bus to Pontefract, which after a 10-minute walk to the appropriate stop, left at 5.30. I arrived at Wetherspoons in Pontefract at 6.15, meeting up with my mate Eddie and another hopper. I had a large mixed grill which was huge and filled me up for the evening ahead. I was also had a pint of Thatchers Gold and it was good chatting about all the grounds that we had done, as well as future plans. There was still time until kick off, so I had a pint of Old Rosie before we left just after 7.30. 

We got to the ground, paying a very reasonable £5 entry though sadly there were no programmes left due to an extremely limited print run. There was a nice vibe about the place though and so after choosing my spot for the first half got a pint of Strongbow Dark Fruits to have with the game. Penistone had the early running but it came to nothing. The second half descended into a real midfield battle and I knew from about 50 minutes that this would be a spawn of satan 0-0. A second pint during the game numbed the pain somewhat, but it was to be the last of the evening as I just wanted to get back to my room. I was told about a possibility of a digital copy of the programme, and indeed I now have a copy, which I am pleased about.

And so it proved to be. I had to be at my physical best to get the bus with Eddie as he surged through the half mile walk as though he was a contestant on the Krypton Factor. We got our bus well on time though. The connecting bus back to my accommodation allowed me a 10-minute buffer and so I got back to my room with ease. Arriving just before 11 I relaxed watching YouTube videos before going to bed 90 minutes later. It had been a good day, even if a goalless draw had been a disappointment. My other option for the night had been Ossett Town who had won 4-2 against Scarborough Athletic in what seemed a decent game, although I'd enjoyed meeting up with good friends on this trip.


BEECHNUT LANE is a decent ground for step 6 and is probably good enough for a few levels higher. The main stand is a 200 seater affair and has reasonable views from it. There is further cover behind the goal in the form of a reasonable cider and this could fit around 250. The rest of the ground is open standing. The club have a decent range of souvenirs on sale in the bar.

Talking of food and drink, the facilities at the ground look decent. The range at the bar wasn't huge, so I made do with Strongbow Dark Fruits. The situation at the tea bar is a little better, with a decent range at reasonable prices, though I can't vouch for its quality. Further afield, the Robin Hood pub is under 10 minutes away and is probably your best option for drinking with a great range of real ales and ciders. Food wise, the local Wetherspoons, The Broken Bridge is great for food, but not as good as others I have been to for cider. Being a town centre there are plenty of places to suit all budgets and tastes, so you won't go hungry.

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