Tuesday 19th April 2016 7.45pm
East Midlands League
Graham Street Prims 4 Kimberley Miners Welfare 2 ht: 2-2 att: 27
Dallison 6, Tyson J 8, Rushby J (pen) 55, Fitzhugh 65: A Player 30, 42
from The Asterdale Sports Ground aka Baytree Cars Arena
Is it time to start questioning your sanity when you’re watching a football match between Graham and Kimberley? Rather than a strange mixed-sex head to head, the Graham and Kimberley refer to a street in Derby and a town in Nottinghamshire, respectively. Not the butchest sounding name for a former coal-mining town.
The Prims have been a long time coming for me. They’ve sat top of my closest to-do grounds list for seasons, stubbornly clinging on like a tag-nut, as grounds of a similar distance and further are wiped off around it. I’d done their twin, Borrowash Victoria, four and a half years’ ago, so I’d parked on their shared car park; but only now was I revisiting and turning left to the Asterdale Sports Centre, rather than straight on to Borrowash’s Atkinson Construction Bowl.
GSP were founded in 1904 from a Primitive Methodist Church, hence the Prims moniker. Graham Street is a street in Derby near their old Baseball Ground. They were disbanded in 1914 due to the war and resurrected in 1953. They won the Derbyshire Cup seven times and the League eight times, before again disbanding in 1991. In 1995 they rose again. They had problems with vandalism at their old Railway Ground in Longbridge Lane, Derby before Borrowash helped them out by leasing some land next to their ground at the Asterdale Sports Centre. Since then they have installed lights and fencing around the ground.
For some reason, I didn’t have high hopes for the ground, probably based on the derelict Asterdale House that fronts the ground. I was pleasantly surprised though, and really liked the venue. It reminded me of Holker Old boys, with the positioning of the stand in the corner behind the goal, and a skeletal frame of a stand down the side of the terrace. It had an overhanging electricity pylon, which is a mandatory requirement for EML grounds, apparently. The quirkiest feature of Asterdale (or the Baytree Cars Arena, as the sponsors will have it) is the goalnets. Comically large, they must be world record holders. If anyone can find me a picture of nets strung further back, I’d be shocked. Just look at these:
There’s more netting there than on a Grimsby trawler. I reckon they go back about 14 feet – someone call Guinness.
Despite signs proclaiming it a dangerous building, overgrown weeds and bits of broken glass scattered round it, the abandoned building fronting the Asterdale Sports Ground had a certain charm; it had a kind of art-deco feel to it, and once inside the ground, you can see an appealing clock sitting atop the rear-side of the edifice.
Once again the East Midland League delivers on all fronts. The programme wins my cover of the season, adorned with a picasso-esque cubism-meets-pop art red and white striped player. It’s not often art meets football, but I reckon GSP have fused the two disparate disciplines with their publication…(or maybe it’s clip art, I’m no art critic).
In my previous six EML games this season I’d seen 31 goals and at least six electricity pylons. There were another six and one respectively, tonight. Taking my run back to all 11 EML grounds I’d visited ever, it was 55 goals, with only two teams not scoring. There never seems to be a lack of entertainment on offer. The first half of tonight’s game was the best half of football I’ve seen all season. Both teams attacked and were positive. It was end to end stuff, riveting to watch – I didn’t want it to end. The difference between the teams was little – but occasionally GSP’s movement and interplay was outstanding.
Their first was a perfectly timed and weighted through ball that Dallison slid under the keeper. Within a few minutes, Kimberley were undone with a primitive method of attack, when a cross from the left of the area was met with a sliding foot, six yards out, for 2-0. The Prims continued to dazzle with some really classy moves but missed a few good chances. Meanwhile Kimberley were by no means out of it, and creating problems for the Prims defence.
A penetrative cross from the left was met in the area, with a finish hooked over the Prims’ keeper for 2-1. Just before half time another cross wasn’t cleared and was fired back across goal into GSP’s unfeasibly long net. A really open game finished 2-2 at the break to set up a mouth-watering second half.
Unfortunately the second half fuse fizzled out when, an exquisite GSP move led to a one-on-one with the Kimberley keeper, who upended the attacker and was duly sent off. The resultant pen was dispatched for 3-2 but this kind of killed the game as a contest. The last 30 minutes was a bit painful as GSP missed some absolute sitters, against the stand-in outfield goalkeeper. If they’d put the easy chances away that your grandmother could’ve finished, it would have been 9-2. Mind you, I don’t feel able to complain at a 4-2, and the first half was good enough for both of them. Shame for Kimberley re the sending off, as I reckon they had a chance with 11 players, although Prims’ sudden bursts of inspired play probably would’ve edged it.
Great evening on the first of those wonderful light warm midweeks where you mourn the beginning of the end of the football season. The Prims seem like a thriving, positive club, with sales of club mugs and badges on plain view, a fat programme and decent facilities.