Pontefract Collieries v FC Halifax Town, Saturday 16th October 2021, 3pm

Jen and I had spent the night before this game staying in Shipley on the outskirts of Bradford for a Boo Hewerdine gig. As usual he was very good and as he so often does was collaborating with someone else. We’ve seen him with Eddi Reader and Chris Difford in recent years and this time it was Heidi Talbot up on stage at the Live Room with him. In addition to their own stuff they covered Tom Waites’ ‘Time’ and Blondie’s ‘Sunday Girl’ which both went down very well amongst the sold-out capacity crowd of 120.

It was also a sell-out at the Beechnut Lane stadium the next day for the FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie between Pontefract Collieries and FC Halifax Town. I’d been looking to keep my FA Cup run going and as this one was pretty much on the way home it seemed an ideal choice.

I’d bought twelve quid tickets online within a few minutes of them going on sale and then watched with interest the build-up throughout the days leading up to the game.

We actually arrived at the ground two hours before kick-off. Not through excitement but because I’d planned to park up and then go for something to eat. Beechnut Lane isn’t really handy for anything though and once were in the car park the best option was probably to get in early and nab a couple of seats.

The plan worked and we ended up in the main stand next to a lady whose son had played for both teams in his younger days. Whilst it was good to have a seat and I’m fine with sitting quietly I’d have enjoyed it more if the DJ had brought enough records to only have to play each one the once. Most of his songs were from the seventies and good as a lot of them were, I didn’t really want to hear some of them three or four times over.

It was a big game for Pontefract and the first time that they had reached the final qualifying round. They play in the eighth-tier, in the same division as Stockton whilst Halifax are a former Football League club and currently third in the fifth-tier National League.

The crowd was a record and not far off fifteen hundred. It seemed as if the whole of Pontefract was there with a mix of lads on the beer, kids scoffing crisps and old blokes wondering why their regular spot on the railings was already three deep with half an hour to go to kick-off.

There was a good turnout from Halifax too, some of them in the seats near me but the majority behind the goal to my left. They also made the most of being allowed to drink at the pitchside, something that I don’t think that they can do at their level.

The size of the crowd put a strain on the tea hut but fortunately I’d got my chips and gravy not long after entering the ground.

Pontefract created some half chances, but Halifax always looked the better side and more likely to create something from nothing. Their pressure meant that the home goalie had plenty to do and he did it extremely well in a man of the match performance.

With the game in added time Pontefract had a man sent off for a second yellow. It was late enough for it not to matter though and they hung on for the goalless draw and a place in the draw for the First Round proper.

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