A week of quality fixtures (28/01 – 03/02)

Yorkshire vs Ellan Vannin (28/01) – International Friendly

York City vs Boro Rangers (30/01) – North Riding Cup

Stockton Town vs Stourport Swifts (03/02) – FA Vase

It’s been a week of quality fixtures in the North / North East of England, and I was lucky enough to have time off work to visit three of them. The exciting prospect of a bit of travel was required, but it was bound to be worth it!

Sunday 28th was the first fixture of this hectic six day schedule, as Yorkshire hosted Ellan Vannin at Hemsworth MWCFC. Despite finishing work at 7am, I made it down Fitzwilliam at 14:30 after a smooth 90 minute drive. There was no way I’d ever miss Yorkshire’s debut on the International stage, so just four hours sleep was a sacrifice I had to make (Red Bull became an absolute god send).

I wasn’t too sure what to expect as I walked through a very smart looking housing estate towards the entrance to the Yorkshire Nu Builds Stadium. As I walked in, I was surrounded by a sea of Yorkshire’s Blue and Ellan Vannin’s Red – As well as countless camera crews from groups such as Channel 4 and even Paddy Power, the main sponsors of this year’s CONIFA World Cup in London.

Yorkshire’s team had only previously trained together once due to the weather, and Ellan Vannin were ranked 4th in the CONIFA world rankings, so I had no idea how the game would go.

The game finished 1-1, with Yorkshire coming from behind to grab a deserved draw. Probably a fair result after the effort both sides had put in, but Yorkshire definitely had the best chances. 627 spectators were in attendance, a few flares were lit, and the atmosphere was bouncing from before kick off until after it. It’s just 28 days until Yorkshire’s next game as they look to win their first game. I’ll definitely be there, but the opposition is yet to be confirmed.

The second fixture I managed to get to was between York City and Boro Rangers in the North Riding Cup on Tuesday 30th. Our sponsored player James Dillon was in action against a young York City side boasting a number of players with first team experience. The Boro Rangers supporters were out in force, with choruses such as ‘Stu Rose on fire’ bellowing for the whole 90 minutes, confidently out singing the York City supporters.

York City ‘Reserves’ won the game 2-1, just. A completely 50/50 game saw both sides have quality chances, with just an unfortunate own goal deciding the tie. Boro Rangers had fought back from a goal down, after York’s Harry Thompson’s header was equalled by Ranger’s Nathan Liddell. Boro Ranger’s Ste Keenan turned an Aaron Haswell cross into his own goal to make it 2-1 to York, and that’s how it finished.

A brilliant advert for the North Riding Football League, and an extraordinary result for the away side who gave it their all for the whole 90 minutes and will be phenomenally proud of what they’ve achieved. James Dillon was given Boro Ranger’s MOTM, and it was thoroughly deserved!

And, finally, in the FA Vase, Stockton Town hosted Stourport Swifts. 663 spectators packed the ground to see which side would get into the last 8 of the competition. Stockton Town, in only their second season in the competition, would have to be at their very best to get past a Swifts side who, despite a quality cup run, are struggling in the Midlands Premier League, sitting 18th in a league of 22 teams.

I’ve been following Stockton’s cup run as much as I possibly could have this season, having previously been at their game against AFC Liverpool – a very loud and purple affair. I missed their game against West Auckland due to work, but I’m determined to follow Stockton on their road to Wembley as much as I possibly can.

A first class performance from every member of Stockton’s side earned them a justified 3-0 win against a Stourport Swifts who never really got going. A place in the Quarter Final awaits Stockton Town, with Marske United also joining them in the draw. 500+ mile round trips await our Northern Sides if they’re drawn away to southern outfits Thatcham Town or Bracknell Town, but I’m sure that won’t put off with the chance of getting into the last four of this national competition at stake!

All in all, a quality six days of fixtures, with some fixtures I’m unlikely to see again. The North of England was exceptionally well represented, with each side giving their all to get a result.