The beauty of the FA Cup is that it can throw up some great days out. With the first three rounds all being drawn at the start of the competition, you can start working out the permutations of where you may be watching a game in weeks to come. This season Lewes would enter the competition away to Worthing United, Ashford United or Peacehaven and Telscombe, the last of which would be a big local derby for one of the Ryman League’s newest sides. But before then I had a free northern weekend pass to take in a game in the Preliminary Round of the world’s oldest domestic cup competition. A swift look at the fixtures threw up a few options, but one, or should I say two, stood out. Add in the Hors D’oeuvre of a trip to Elland Road for the lunchtime game between Leeds United and Queens Park Rangers and it promised to be a day up there with my wedding and birth of my first-born.
So after the final whistle blew at Elland Road I was back in the car, did a right out of Elland Road and headed straight down the A653, under the M1, waving at Dewsbury as I passed and finally taking a left into Owl Lane. I was heading to a point that was almost equidistant between the East and West coasts of England. A town that could call Gail Platt, Black Lace and David Peace (author of Damned United) home; a town that had not one but two breweries in and a town that had two non league teams playing at home in the FA Cup on the same day. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Ossett.
What do you mean, where? Ossett, a market town within the boundaries of the City of Wakefield. West Yorkshire, or simply “Up north” to many who live down that there London. The two breweries? The Ossett Brewery, producer of such delights as Silver King, Big Red and Excelsior is the more traditional beer producer, whilst the new upstart Bob’s Brewery has a stable of beers including Sherunkel, Bidazzler, Slayah and of course Erjob (“Made for sipping with Cheddar Ploughmans Lunch, a smoked mackerel fillet or an England Test victory”). And the football teams? Well, welcome to the biggest rivalry in the Northern Premier League Division One North.
There are plenty of cities around Britain that have dual club rivalries. London, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Dundee. But what about the towns? Few have two teams in so the situation in non-league terms in Ossett is quite unique. Two clubs separated by 478 yards across the town centre. It seems amazing that with Emley and Wakefield also within a few minutes drive, the clubs could continue to survive. But survive they do, and for only the third time this season (probably), both Ossett teams would be kicking off at the same time (obviously, the other two are where they play each other!). Initially, it was a case of trying to decide which one to choose for my Road to Wembley. Local football guru and of course, my publisher (I still love saying that), David Hartrick then made a bold suggestion. “A half in each?”. You had me at “. Continue reading