Monday, 21 December 2015

#17 Bradford on Avon Sports and Social Club, Bradford Town

Bradford Town 4 Brislington 1 
Wednesday 16th December 2015, Western League Premier Division

I thought I was done for the year after my trip to Ashton Gate, the Christmas social schedule left me no weekends and the mass weather-related match abandonments that plague the non-league had lead me to stop looking for games. However this period of blissful laziness wasn't to last as Mrs Bristle announced her intention to host one of those mysterious "girly nights" and banished me from the house. 

As the Partizan Bristle motto goes: there is always football to watch for those who search hard enough and sure enough after only a short meander around the intermanets, I had formed a plan to get from my work in Pilning to the Wiltshire town of Bradford-upon-Avon in less than an hour, just in time for kick-off.

I arrived with ten minutes to spare in the picturesque town, looking lovely in the darkness with it's bridges decked out with Christmas lights. The only problem was finding the place. The postcode given on the club's website was way off so after spending 15 minutes going in and out of people's driveways, I decided to park and walk down Trowbridge road until I was greeted by the familiar combination of white light and people swearing.

One of my "STAND, please use this as the cover for next issue" pictures. 

By the time I'd found the place I was 20 minutes late. The shed-dwelling man who took my entrance fee (£5, with programme) informed me that Bradford were 1-0 up. I hoped that wouldn't be the only goal.

The pithily named Bradford on Avon Sports and Social Club is a little basic but does the job and offers a number of places to sit and stand. Nearest the entrance there is a large metal stand which is half standing and half seating, with room for about 40 or 50 sitters. At the other end of the pitch there is a large wooden shed which was probably quite grand at some point but now cuts a dishevelled figure with it's turquoise paint peeling off and old spotlights dangling uselessly from it's roof. I'm not sure if the steps were designed to be terraces or just provide access to the shack but there were quite a few people huddled from the rain using them as the former. 

In the middle of these two contrasting areas was an even sadder looking brown shed which reminded me of the beach hut my Dad owns and gets really defensive about if someone calls it a shed. One fan (perhaps inspired by Bristol City's famous Eastend shed man) had elected to view the game stood on the steps of this rickety beauty.

Whilst I was exploring the ground, Brislington equalised. I missed the goal because I was busy slipping over on some wet patio slabs in my work shoes. Once again I apologise profusely to anyone who came here expecting a decent match report. 

I finally managed to catch a goal before the half, a lovely shot from distance from a Bradford player that arched over the flailing keeper and into the back of the net.

It was at this point that the batteries in my camera died and I accidentally closed the notes I'd been taking on my phone without saving. This coupled with my inability to find the ground and the rain led me to the inescapable conclusion that our lord and saviour the behbeejeesuz did not want me to cover this match.

He's an excellent servant to the club is Trotty.
Half time came and I thought I'd cheer myself up with some pastry goods. As I was queuing I heard someone directing a man to the "clubhouse" where he could get a pint. I decided I'd better give this the once over in case it contained any decent blog fodder. I followed my eavesdropped instructions and a sign which said "BAR" only to arrive at... 

I cannot at this time confirm or deny the existence of Bradford Town's clubhouse but this is the first instance of a football club groundsharing with a bowls club that I've ever encountered.

Back on the pitch things had turned a little frisky due to a referee that was blowing his whistle for every foul, unheard of in the Western League where I have in the past heard two managers joking about how handballs were only ever called when both hands were used. The ref in question had fallen into the trap of explaining his thought process at length to every player who shouted at him until he eventually snapped and screamed "JUST PLAY FOOTBALL WILL YOU?" In fairness he probably wasn't helping himself by referring to defenders as "blockers" and keeping track of who had last touch by shouting "OFF BLUE/OFF RED".

The patter from the players and managing staff wasn't any less nonsensical. One of these days I'm going to take a hip flask to a Western League game and drinking every time I hear someone shout "time", "turn", "switch-on" or "we go again."

After much fouling and arguing, the home side added to their tally when a Bradford player stopped the ball from going out for a goal kick with a heroic slide, poked it past a defender and passed it into the box. Another blue shirt picked the pass up but scuffed his shot and it was blocked but only to fall perfectly for yet another unmarked Bradford player to drill home.

Not too long after this goal, Bradford got their 4th from a free-kick taken basically from the touchline. In some of the most woeful defending I have ever seen the ball travelled unchallenged along the ground from the touchline and into the goal at the far post, the keeper having understandably set out his stall at the post closest to the man taking the free-kick. There was much laughter from Bradford and Brislington fans alike. Brislington had basically fallen apart by this point and Bradford were only a fraction of a second too late to take advantage of an open-net before the end of the game, a mighty slide tackle by a Brislington defender snuffed out the danger.

This had been one of the better games I'd seen of late (or at least one of the most amusing) and the rickety delights of the BoASaSC were a welcome return to my comfort zone after Ashton Gate 2.0 the month before.

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very merry Christmas. May all your teams get promoted/survive their relegation battles. I'll see you all next year where I hope to see more of the Western League and cover some Rovers away games.

...I regretted finding out.
I had to know what was in this shed...