Wakefield AFC v Parkgate, Tuesday 6th December 2022, 7.45pm

I’ve not been to many mid-week games lately as I’ve just about exhausted my options for new grounds that I can get to in under an hour or so driving. However, Paul had a spare ticket for The Cure in Leeds and as Jen is a fan we decided to head down with the plan that she would attend the gig whilst I occupied myself elsewhere.

I could have watched the Portugal-Switzerland match on the telly in the hotel but live football is always better and so I drove the twenty-odd minutes to Featherstone to watch Wakefield take on Parkgate in the tenth-tier Northern Counties East Division One.

The Millennium Stadium is primarily a rugby league ground but Wakefield get to use it in the rugby off-season when Featherstone Rovers aren’t playing. They might play there during the rugby season too, but I haven’t checked as there’s a limit to how much research I’m willing to do for these posts.

What I did find out is that the ground is a lot older than its name would suggest, assuming that it refers to the second millennium and not the one just before King Harold had his eye out. It dates back to 1908 with the main stand having been built in the fifties and two of the smaller stands recycled from Scarborough when they switched grounds twenty years or so ago.

It was a fiver in and as usual I bought raffle tickets. Less usually, I actually won. I popped up to the bar at half-time and was given the choice of a Wakefield beanie or scarf or a trucker’s cap supplied and branded by the sponsors, Lucas Oil Products. I’ve never driven a truck, but on the off-chance that I might do someday I selected the cap.

In addition to the drinks options available in the bar there was also a burger van open. The chips in curry sauce washed down with a Bovril worked well in temperatures not far above freezing. I was glad of my Russian coat, but did think that long johns might have been a sensible addition in the circumstances.

There was a decent turnout of 211 for a game at this level, particularly with World Cup football on the telly. Many of them nursed a pint of lager which didn’t seem like the greatest choice of drink. It was the sort of evening where hot toddies or mulled wine might have been big sellers if available.

Wakefield took the lead in the opening few minutes and then added a second mid-way through the first half. They were well on top throughout the opening forty-five minutes and missed numerous chances as well as having one disallowed for offside. It’s no exaggeration to say that they could have gone in at the break six goals to the good.

The standard was decent, higher I thought than the equivalent level Northern League Division Two, on a pitch with grass that needed an inch or so trimming off it. Maybe it’s kept that way at the request of Featherstone Rovers.

The game looked over when Wakefield scored from a Panenka penalty early in the second half, a move that had the Parkgate keeper chasing after the scorer in a rage. It might have turned into a rout at that point but Parkgate stemmed the pressure and pulled one back midway through the half. From that point the game got increasingly niggly culminating in a home player seeing red for exacting some retribution off the ball. The visitors scored from the subsequent free kick to set up a frantic last few minutes. However, Wakefield managed to see the game out with ten men to take the points that had looked to be in the bag just half an hour earlier.

I’m told The Cure were very good, but I think I made the right choice with my evening’s entertainment.

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