Saturday 22nd May 2021 14.00
The Yorkshire Trophy Group 1
Wakefield AFC 0 Brighouse Town 2 HT: 0-2 Ent: £5 Prog £2.50 Coffee £2
from The Millenium Stadium (Featherstone Rovers RUFC)
Wakefield AFC were only founded in 2019 and play in the Sheffield and Hallamshire step seven league. The previous incarnation of the Wakefield club dissolved in 2014. They were know as Emley from 1903-2002, and played West Ham United in the 3rd round of the FA Cup in 1997/98. They played at the wonderful Welfare ground, which is now home to Emley AFC, founded in 2005. In 2002 they changed their name to Wakefield & Emley FC, then Wakefield-Emley in 2004 and Wakefield FC in 2006. This latest name change came with a move across town to share with Wakefield Rugby Union FC and sever ties with Emley completely. However, it was their reserves, whose division was terminated, that became the new Emley AFC, who continued to play at the charismatic Welfare Ground.
Wakefield resigned from the NPL at the end of 2013-14 with a view to playing in the NCEL and groundsharing back in Emley with Emley AFC, but the club was dissolved before the start of the new season.
The new Wakefield continues its predecessor’s nomadic journey, sharing for the moment with the famous Featherstone Rovers Rubgy League club, winners of the league once and challenge cup three times. A lot of rugby clubs such as Featherstone play at grounds that look like lower league football grounds from the eighties, prior to the anodyne explosion of boring boxy new stands, rendering them all variations on a dull theme.
They have grounds that take you back to the days of crumbly terracing and olde worlde stands. This is why this game was such a huge attraction for groundhoppers; that and the fact that no-one was sure how long the reciprocal agreement with their landlords would last. It could be that come the start of the season they’d be sharing somewhere else.
There was potentially only one chance to pick up this venue, as Wakefield played in the post-covid Yorkshire Trophy, that started with a World Cup style group stage; although there were only six teams competing in total. There were two groups of three, playing each other just once.
In Group A was Wakefield (the lowest ranked, step 7), favourites (step 4) Brighouse Town, today’s opponents and Penistone Church (step 5).
In Group B was Golcar and Nostell Miners Welfare (Step 6) and Liversedge (Step 5).
It was great to walk up to Post Office Road or, as it’s now known, the Millenium Stadium. It really was like watching Brighton in the 80s and venues like the Manor Ground, The Priestfield, Boundary Park and Prenton Park. After a strange covid period of little more than pitches, albeit mostly scenic ones with entertaining games, it was nice to be in a real bricks and mortar stadium.
The ground goes back to 1904, has a capacity now listed as between 6,954 and 9,850, although their record attendance was 17,000 for Featherstone v St Helens in 1957.
After you come through the turnstiles you’re met with the back of one of the main stands with an attractive eighties style signage and roof. I love these grounds where you have the terrace of expectation, the 10 or 15 steps leading up to where you first see the ground. To the right it leads on to a sizeable behind goal terrace that sweeps round down both sides for a bit.
The biggest stand sits opposite, in the middle, with a little separate stand sat next to it, like some small offspring. On the near side is a smaller centrally placed stand with similar small box to the side of it that seems to be executive boxes. Behind the other goal is a stand strecthing the full width. Four great corner floodlights would have topped it off nicely but instead there was a slightly disappointing octet of the spindly variety lining both sides.
Unofrtunately the game was as bad as the ground was impressive. With a three division difference between the two sides, the result was rarely in doubt, with Brighouse scoring two first half goals to pretty much ensure they made the quarter finals. Wakefield went on to lose 5-1 to Penistone Church.
In the semis Penistone beat Golcar 3-0 and Liversedge beat Brighouse Town 3-0. Liversedge beat Penistone in the final 4-0 to win the Yorkshire Trophy.