My trip to Farsley will be overshadowed by the blustery conditions that allowed no football to be played whatsoever. So much so, that it went down as the second worst match that I had the misfortune of watching in the 2013/14 campaign. Fortunately though, some sand blew into my eyes meaning that I couldn’t see the horror that unfolded in front of us.Nevertheless, it was an important win for Curzon who took a big step closer to becoming league champions.
When I saw that Curzon Ashton were playing Farsley, I earmarked it as another excuse to spend a weekend in my favourite city; York. After finishing college on the Friday afternoon I caught the train up to the walled city before having one of our usual nights out. Joe, Tom and I woke up relatively early on the Saturday morning and combated our hangovers before setting off to Farsley, a town found six miles west of Leeds city centre.
Farsley Celtic FC was set up in 1908 and moved to their Red Lane ground opposite the local cricket club in 1920’s. By the end of the second world war, the club had relocated to their current home, Throstle Nest. They purchased the ground from the local council and played their first match there in 1948, against Frickley Colliery.
In 2003/04, Celtic finished third in the NPL First Division, meaning they gained promotion into the Northern Premier League Premier Division. Just two seasons later and a further promotion followed when they beat North Ferriby United in the play-off final.
The FA Cup saw MK Dons arrive at the Throstle Nest for the 2006/07 season after Celtic had overcome Cambridge United in the previous round. Farsley held the Dons to a 0-0 draw in front of a crowd of 2,200. The replay saw Milton Keynes win 2-0, with a double from Izale McLeod at the National Hockey Stadium. Meanwhile, in the league, a dramatic play-off final against Hinckley United saw Celtic promoted yet again, this time into the Conference.
This was the highest league the club performed at, and the minnows found themselves just two divisions lower than neighbours Leeds United, and one lower than Bradford City. However, this was as good as it would get for Celtic as they were relegated at the end of the 2007/08 campaign. Financial irregularities led to a ten point deduction in the Conference North and the club folded in 2010 after amassing debts of £750,000.
A phoenix club, Farsley AFC were formed in time for the 2010/11 season and they began life in the NCEL Premier Division. The club were crowned champions in their inaugrual season and gained promotion into the NPL Division One North.
Farsley found themselves in fourth place going into this match, sitting in a play-off place having played more matches than Lancaster City and Darlington 1883 who were also in the mix. Curzon were seven points clear at the top of the table, and a win would take a massive three points back to Tameside.
We winded around the suburban roads of Leeds and came to what appeared to be a housing estate. A sharp left turn and we were in the car park of the Throstle Nest. It all seemed a bit peculiar, but then a lovely old stand emerged around the corner.
The capacity of Throstle Nest is 3,900 with 400 seats being found in the Main Stand and in the shed behind the near goal. The rest of the ground is made of hard standing and uncovered terracing. The clubhouse is found in the corner as you enter the Nest, and it accompanied by the refreshments area called “Growlers Pies + Pasties”. I had often heard pies referred to as “growlers” at Atherton Collieries, but never quite believed the term was as universal as was claimed. I turned out to be wrong.
In desperate need of some energy after the previous night I headed to the bar to purchase a Lucozade. I don’t think I’d been in need of a glucose boost so much in my life before, but that was my own fault. I was impressed with the clubhouse which was modern and comfortable. One of Micah Richard’s framed shirts was hanging in another room, a reminder that the Manchester City defender was part of the Farsley Celtic set up when he was younger.
With around twenty minutes to go until kick off, we went outside to set up the Curzon Ashton flags. It took a while, and by the time we had arranged them in a presentable manner the teams had come on to the field of play. It was only inevitable that the Curzon skipper Sam Walker won the toss and opted to shoot the other way. In hindsight, we should have guessed that the winner of the toss would opt to shoot with the wind behind them in the first half.
The match was a peculiar one to watch. Any ball that was hit long either flew out of play, or spun backwards. There was one occasion where the Farsley goalkeeper punched the ball away from goal at the edge of his area, it then looped up and bounced out for a corner kick.
Despite shooting into the wind, it was the home side who had the first clear cut chance of the match. Robbie O’Brien eventually firing across the face of Hakan Burton’s goal.
Curzon’s first effort on goal came on nine minutes through Ryan Brooke. Matty Warburton flicked the ball into the area after receiving from a free kick. Ryan Brooke steered the ball towards goal, but his effort was turned behind for a corner.
The next Curzon chance didn’t arrive until midway through the half. Brooke capitalised when Farsley played the ball across the back. Brooke broke through and set up Warburton who saw his shot blocked at close range.
The only goal of the match came on 24 minutes after Sam Walker won a free kick around 25 yards out. He was fouled in a manner that wouldn’t have been out of place at a Leeds Rhinos rugby league match. Walker curled the ball in towards the back post and Simon Woodford was on hand to apply the faintest of touches to help the ball into the back of the net.
The visitors had the ball in the net again just a minute later, but Niall Cummins was adjudged to have pushed the Farsley defender when competing for the header. Half time arrived and we headed to the clubhouse to save ourselves from following Andy Watson’s shot over the fence into Bradford.
For the second half, Curzon Ashton found themselves camped in their own half, and I was forced to watch the remainder with just one eye in use after a sandstorm had hit the terracing. In fact, I missed the first ten minutes of the half as I was stuck in the toilets trying to clean what felt like half the Sahara out of my left eyelids. When I did eventually emerge from the toilets, I found it unsurprising that I hadn’t missed anything.
Gibraltarian international Adam Priestley was brought on, and I instantly regretted not bringing my Gibraltar shirt which I picked up whilst on holiday. I had seen Gibraltar take on Portsmouth a couple of years ago at the Victoria Stadium, and had followed UEFA’s newest club ever since. I’ll get a photograph with Priestley at some stage on my travels.
The only real chance of the second half fell to Curzon when Cummins picked up Matt Dempsey’s mis-kick. Through one-on-one, Cummins fired straight at Tom Morgan who saved with his legs. and bearing down on goal, but Tom Morgan blocked the shot with his legs. In the end, Curzon took three three points and created a club record of five successive clean sheets.
Overall, nothing entertaining happened before, during or after the match. There was an old bloke who had a lovely pink bag that entertained us for a while. I think it speaks volumes for Farsley as a club, the fact I found nothing to ridicule or moan about the place. Throstle Nest is a clean and well run ground, with a set of fans who are friendly enough, but tend to keep themselves to themselves. I hope to return one day, in nicer weather, hoping that I see a far better match.
A special mention to Neil Parsley, manager of Farsley – Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
- DISTANCE TRAVELLED TO GROUND: 47 miles
- ADMISSION: £4 as a student
- PROGRAMME PRICE: £2