‘Citadel’ noun - a fortress, typically on high ground above a city.
Bit of stretch for Farsley Celtic to call their ground the Citadel, but I suppose it’s all part of the ‘modern’ game. Same as their very US-style new badge.
We were here two years ago for a pre-season. We had half the team sat behind us on that occasion.
This was never going to be a classic but, to be honest, just watching live football feels something of a novelty and one step closer to ‘normal’ life.
There were 5 trialists in the starting 11. Playing ‘spot the trialist’ is an essential part of the football experience for fans in the fifth tier and below. Hannah and I were checking Twitter, Shaymen.net and Google throughout the game.
At halftime I said to her ‘I reckon number 19 is Chris Taylor’. The bloke in front of us turned around and said ’it is, I’m his Dad’. Lovely chap, his Mrs and daughter too. Had a good chat. He really wants him to sign for Town, spoke very highly of Pete Wild, Town’s manager. I’d been talking to Hannah about the pressure trialists must feel. We hear a lot about the stress of playing at the highest level, but imagine taking your boots to Farsley on a drizzly Tuesday night, knowing you’ve got 45 minutes to try and get a contract for a few hundred quid a week. When you’re 34 like Taylor it could be the difference between another season playing the game you love or facing the ‘real’ job market for probably the first time in your life. That’s pressure. You could see he’d played at a decent level. He was getting frustrated at some of the ‘glue boots’ stuff from others fighting for a spot.
Funny how we see a game. We were really impressed with Dom Tear, a product of Huddersfield Town’s academy who debuted last year. Couple of folk next to us thought the same. Bloke behind us ’he’s lost that kid, lost, bloody useless’. Opinions and arseholes and all that.
Second half saw loads of changes. A few more of the full-timers and yet more trialists.
The right back wearing 18 really stood out, Javid Swaby-Neavin. Another one with an Oldham connection like Taylor. Definitely one to sign. Rumour is Matty Warburton is signing next week. Need goals from somewhere and a replacement for Jake Hyde who’s gone to the big money at Wrexham. Hannah thought them having TikTok as their kit sponsor was hilarious. They are already becoming the team everyone will want to beat.
The game ended 0-0. It was just nice to watch one. And to get to chat with the eldest for a bit. Kids have had it rough these last 18 months. They didn’t have the novelty of drinking on a Tuesday afternoon or making up ‘top ten bass player’ lists in Facebook that became lockdown for a lot of us. There were only so many times they could ‘go a for a walk’. She started high school last year as well. And was robbed of so much of what is great about that. Even when they got back in, she had three 10-day isolations to deal with. The last one hit her hard. Never seen her cry like that.
Seeing her smiling eating crinkle-cut chips at halftime (up there with the best we’ve had on our travels) was brilliant. As was having some of the Town faithful recognising us and saying hello. Belonging to something matters. Being around people really matters. You could see that in her face.
I can’t wait for this new season to start. We’re planning a weekend in London for Barnet or Bromley away. Grimsby at home on Boxing Day, Stockport away last game of the season (promotion party, you can but hope).
Favourite moment of the night was walking back to the car. Passed a place where the lady of the house was doing her ironing whilst hubby sprawled on the sofa with no top on in full view of the street. Plenty of people commenting and then Hannah comes out with ‘close your curtains you knobhead’. ’Hannah! You can’t say that’. I could see the confusion in her face. When I asked her what it meant she said ‘stupid’. ‘Yeah, but the knob bit’. She genuinely didn’t know. When I told her she looked mortified ’don’t tell Mum’. We had a right laugh about it on the drive home as she treated me to her current favourite tunes.
Guiseley away on Tuesday night for another pre-season.
Happy, happy days…..