It's been a bit of a slow month for me for football what with a couple of games I'd been planning to see being called off. I'm not usually free on Tuesday nights, but this week I was so I was able to select something from the available games.
I've been meaning to get to Silsden AFC for a while - they're the only one of the Bradford District teams at Level 10/Step 6 or above that I hadn't visited. They also present a bit of a geographical anomaly (which of course appeals to the geographer in me) in that they are one of only two Yorkshire teams that play in the North West Counties Leagues which is predominantly made up of teams from Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire and Staffs. This means that although they're only 8.2 miles away they play completely different group of sides to the other local teams (Thackley, Eccleshill, Campion, Albion Sports etc.) at Level 9/10. Tonight they were hosting Bacup Borough, relatively near neighbours from just over the border in That Other Place.
Silsden are top of their league, and looking good for promotion. Overall they seemed a class apart in this match, constantly testing Bacup with runners and pace. Yet it remained a close match in terms of the scoreline. Silsden took a first half lead through a penalty but then had a player sent off, before Bacup equalised from a rare corner. The second half was tense. Silsden had a series of free kicks just outside the box but couldn't convert. Things were evened up when Bacup also had a player sent off. Finally Silsden secured a second goal with just a few minutes to go and were deservedly the winners.
One final highlight to mention was the flypast of a large flock of geese mid-way through the second half. The ground is right next to Silsden Ings which is an important spot for wintering birds, Airedale providing one half of a cross country flight route through the Pennines. I'd heard the geese circling in the dark for a couple of minutes, but then they suddenly appeared out of the gloom directly above the pitch and then disappeared just as quickly. It was also fun listening to the river in the dark as I headed back to the train, and then again as I got off at Saltaire at the other end and wandered back over the river again.
Traipsing around to football grounds all over the place is as much about getting out and visiting and exploring places as much as anything else. Sometimes the highlight is the match, sometimes the journey and sometimes incidental things that happen along the way. And sometimes all of those.