From my base in Preston it's an easy route: a straight through train to Leeds, followed by a bus. Bus being optional and on a nicer day I would have walked the 2.5 mile trip to The Southerns Stadium, but having already got drenched on my walk from my house to the Preston train station, I decided not to risk it for a second time in one day! This also gave me a bit more time in Leeds to allow me to 'tick off' my 109th bowling alley (Roxy Lanes). Plus, it was forecast 'thundery showers' for the whole day, with a high per cent chance of rain. Luckily, once having reached the ground it stayed mostly dry, though unfortunately very grey and dark. Not all that good for photos.
I arrived at the ground in good time. This allowed me to take my usual pictures of the stands before the spectators arrive and get a feel for the place. My favourite stand was the seated one- well to look at- I didn't actually sit it in. I think my pictures will describe it more eloquently than I can, so without further ado:
I saw an image of the ground online last season and thought it looked attractive, but in real life it's even better. Well, depending on your taste, of course.
To the left of the seated stand were the two dugouts and players tunnel, with the changing rooms in a building behind. You could also stand between the two dugouts and be covered as well. Next to this was another stand. It was more of a covered hard standing section, though there were some benches dotted along. Directly behind this was the clubhouse.
Around the rest of the ground was uncovered hard standing. It was quite different than most of the grounds I've been to recently, because the rail was set quite far back from the pitch. This was especially apparent at one of the ends behind the goal and coupled with the large net to stop the ball going over, it made for quite distracting viewing. Of course you don't have to stand there, in which I only did to take a few photographs before moving on. As I made my way around the pitch, I noticed facing that goal you could see some of the tall buildings in Leeds city centre. On a nicer day the view would have been more clear, but it still was a pleasant surprise as I continued with my lap.
The entry was free- always slightly disappointing as I would happily pay entry to any game I go to. I don't think charging even one or two pounds would have turned away any of the 52 person crowd attending, but I suppose free entry means all welcome, whatever income you are on. There was a very friendly atmosphere about the place and I would really recommend a trip here if you haven't previously been.
The visitors, who play in the North East Women's Regional League, took a lead nine minutes in over Yorkshire Amateurs who play a step below in the West Riding Women's League. Hartlepool scored another thirteen minutes after. The hosts defended well for the rest of the half and didn't concede any more before the half time whistle.
Mirroring the first half, Hartlepool scored early (nine minutes), though nothing again for a while letting Yorkshire have a couple of chances, but not managing to hit the net. With Yorkshire failing to put on enough pressure, they conceded a further two in quick succession (thirty nine and forty mins), with the guests confidently securing their place in the next round. It's always sad to see the host team you're visiting lose especially when the club were so friendly, though from a perspective of a neutral Hartlepool were overall the better team.
I wish both clubs the best for the rest of the season. You can follow Yorkshire Amateurs on Twitter here and Hartlepool United WFC here.
Full photo set here.