2011/12: Pre-season – Farsley AFC v Leeds United XI
Pre-season friendlies. Love them or hate them, they are part of the build-up to any new football season. For clubs, players, managers and fans they are a mostly a positive thing; however friendlies can have a downside too. Take for instance my visit to Throstle Nest and the Farley AFC v Leeds United XI fixture.
For Farsley this was their last game prior to starting their Evo-Stik First Division North League campaign and therefore a final opportunity to look at prospective players and formations. Leeds too used the game to look at three trialists and some of their young professionals. Given that the opposition were their professional city neighbours, Leeds United, it was a chance of a large attendance and all the benefits this brings in terms of revenue and publicity. The Villagers were also canny enough to move kick-off to 2pm, so as to provide an opportunity for those wanting to watch Leeds United’s opening game at Southampton in the Championship to do so, hopefully at the Throstle Nest clubhouse and therefore putting some additional revenue over the bar.
So far so good. Indeed as the players warmed up and the Farsley mascots played a mini-game on the pitch, there was a relaxed atmosphere amongst the crowd of just over 400. Leeds United included three trialists in their starting line-up as well as the familiar faces of Alex Bruce, Mike Grella and Aidan White.
The game kicked off in drizzly conditions, but before either side had chance to really settle, there was a major stoppage within the first ten minutes. After a Leeds attack, Farsley midfielder David Briggs was left on the ground in obvious pain. Unfortunately Briggs was stretchered from the pitch with what looked a serious leg injury and necessitated an ambulance to take the player to hospital. The Villagers official website reported that, “…Gareth Liversedge (the Farsley physio) commented after the game that Briggs was likely to have broken a bone in his lower leg but it would be confirmed in the next few days as x-rays would have to be carried out to determine the severity of the injury…” Briggs had left Ossett Town to join Farsley and had impressed in pre-season. Injuries are part and parcel of the game, but somehow it seems more shocking that it occurred in a friendly rather than the regular season. As yet the extent of the injury has not been confirmed, but it will obviously have repercussions. For instance, how will this affect his day-job? What impact does it have on his contract with Farsley? My hope is that David Briggs makes a speedy recovery and is back playing as soon as he can.
The injury seemed to rattle Farsley and in the remainder of the half were made to pay as Mike Grella put Leeds ahead and a brace from trialist Felix Luz, gave the visitors a 3-0 half-time lead. The second-half did see an improvement from Farsley but despite creating goal scoring opportunities, Luz completed his hat-trick and added Leeds fourth with 15 minutes to go.
From The Villagers perspective, the loss of David Briggs was a blow, but now have to regroup and focus on the opening game on Saturday at home to Lancaster City. For Leeds, well German trialist Felix Luz will have done his cause no harm with three goals. However, how do Alex Bruce, Mike Grella and Aidan White, see their first team chances after not being included in the squad that travelled to Southampton? Questions, questions – the football season is back!