Image Credit [Will Pickworth]
In the first of many Gryphon trips to Nethermoor Park, Sports Editor Cian Fox explores the atmosphere at Guiseley AFC on an exciting Non-League Day
Non-League Day was first set up in 2010 and has grown into an annual event in the football calendar ever since. The day seeks to promote grassroots football, providing a platform for fans of Premier League and Championship clubs to visit their local non-league team during an international break.
For a number of football fans in West Yorkshire, this meant exploring the National League North side, and Gryphon Sport’s featured team for this season, Guiseley AFC. Located in Guiseley, just north of Leeds, the Lions faced Brackley Town, from Northamptonshire, on a blustery Saturday at Nethermoor Park, with 751 fans in attendance.
Storm Callum was to play a factor in the game throughout, with the wind causing two of the three goals, and proving difficult to deal with for players and fans alike.
We arrived early in the day, eager to take in the atmosphere for the first time at Nethermoor Park. From our seats in the press box, we had a great view of things on a typically autumnal day in God’s Own Country. Storm Callum was to play a factor in the game throughout, with the wind causing two of the three goals, and proving difficult to deal with for players and fans alike. Early in the first half, the Guiseley reporter to our left lost his team sheet in the wind, which spiralled out of his hand and into the seats below. We subsequently clung to ours throughout.
The game itself exploded into life soon after kick off, with Guiseley taking the lead through Kingsley James in the 8th minute, who fired a left-footed shot into the corner. However, celebrations were cut short almost immediately, as the wind caused Luke Fairlamb’s corner to curl straight into the top corner, bringing Brackley Town back level a minute later.
The score remained 1-1 at half-time, and we were able to relax after a blistering first 45 minutes of non-league football. We were offered tea and coffee, as well as chocolate digestives, with the hospitality at Nethermoor Park ensuring we remained warm on a bitterly windy day in West Yorkshire.
The second half proved considerably more scrappy, with the wind affecting both teams in equal measure. Play was constantly breaking down, and Guiseley’s strike force of Smith and Odejayi looked isolated in attack against a strong Brackley defence.
It appeared that it would end in a draw, and both teams would have been happy with a point. Brackley could bounce back from a disappointing FA cup exit with a point in West Yorkshire, and Guiseley could earn a valuable point against a team ahead of them in the league.
Nonetheless, Non-League Day and the blustery conditions had one last twist left. Guiseley won a free kick in the 88th minute, and a looped ball from Alex Purver was curled into a dangerous position, with considerable assistance from Storm Callum. The Brackley Town goalkeeper misjudged the flight of the free kick and fumbled the ball into the path of substitute Paul Clayton, who slammed home the winning goal, to the delight of The Lions’ fans around the ground. The frustration on the faces of the Brackley Town players was palpable, especially as they had enjoyed the better of the second half.
It was a classic non-league game, with everything you could hope for. Goals, drama and the unexpected – with the wind playing as much of a role as any player on the field. And you will not get that at Old Trafford or Elland Road.
For those hoping to watch Guiseley AFC, the Gryphon Sport has access to press passes throughout the season, so please let us know on Facebook if you are interested.