The Championship includes a host of teams fallen from the promised land of the Premier League, others trampling over each other to acquire the financial fruits promotion delivers, more happy to prevent the bigger and arrogant clubs from doing so and finally those desperate to avoid the apparent oblivion of Division Three!
Coming into this game after four league fixtures, The Lions sat in second place in the table with ten points, having won three games (1-0 v Leamington [A], 3-0 v Stockport County [H], 1-0 v Worcester City [H]) and a draw (0-0 v AFC Fylde [A]). Visitors Gainsborough Trinity were in seventeenth place with four points after a win (1-0 v Hednesford Town [H]), two losses (v Barrow AFC 3-1 [A], v Brackley Town 3-2 [A]) and a draw (0-0 v Lowestoft Town [H]).
Arriving at the ground an hour before kick-off with the intention of grabbing a pint and having a leisurely read of the match programme, I was greeted by the sight of the East Stand turnstiles not open and people stood outside in the rain. There were puzzled looks all-round as time ticked closer to the 19:45 start with the gates still locked and no communication as to what was happening. Then just before 19:00 some turnstiles were opened, although no explanation was forthcoming as to what the problem was. But hey why should that happen, we’re just the paying customers…
After watching three friendlies this pre-season, it was at last time for some competitive league action and so a trip to Garforth Town for their fixture against Parkgate. I didn’t realise until I checked my records, that this is the third season running that I have attended The Miners opening league fixture. Back in 2012/13 Garforth lost 2-0 to Clitheroe in the Evo-Stik League First Division North in what was to prove a disastrous season for the team, as turmoil on and off the field threatened the very existence of the club. Last season, with a new management structure in place, Garforth hosted Thackley, but went down 2-1 in a game that had a dramatic finish.
The great thing about friendlies is the unlikely pairings they sometimes throw together. Take the fixture last night that pitched Sheffield United from England’s League One against Turkish Champions, Fenerbahce; brought about by Blades Director Selahattin Baki who hails from Turkey. It was arranged to mark the 125th Anniversary of Sheffield United and to raise money for the Turkish Mining Disaster Fund.