Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Oakwell – Barnsley F.C.

7th December 2014

Bansley 0-0 Chester

I had hoped to watch this match from the one-hundred-plus year old West Stand at Oakwell, but it was regretfully unused this afternoon – perhaps it no longer is at all?  Instead I took a seat high in the upper tier of the East Stand from which the views of the pitch and indeed Barnsley itself were excellent.

However it was chilly up there - bloody cold, in fact.  Indeed I can barely recall being quite so frozen at a football match, the sheer height of the seats apparently placing me in the path of some insidious marrow-freezing North wind.  All around me home supporters huddled together for warmth, only rousing themselves from their ice-induced lethargy to groan as yet another Barnsley pass failed to reach its intended target.  Which was often; as The Tykes toiled to impose themselves upon their non-league opponents during the first-half.

Wayne Rooney’s younger brother John, I noted was in the Chester midfield this afternoon, but for much of the match he was overshadowed by midfield team mate Kingsley James - a tireless worker who broke up innumerable Barnsley attacks with apparent ease.  Generally his main outlet was his left winger Craig Mahon, who gave Barnsley’s Reece Brown a torrid afternoon – at one point effortlessly gliding past his marker before thwacking a shot off the Barnsley crossbar, via the tips of home keeper Adam Turnbull’s fingers.

Chester went even closer a few minutes later, when home defender Joe Dudgeon cleared Rooney’s corner kick from what looked suspiciously like behind the goal line.

The second period began with more of the same, until Barnsley introduced winger Dale Jennings for the ineffectual Brad Abbott, and almost immediately things began to look up.  For Jennings began doing for his side what Mahon had been doing for Chester i,e terrifying defenders by running at them with the ball.  

Suddenly the home lads began to create chances, Jennings himself firing one just across the goal.  But the clearest opportunity of the second period fell to Barnsley’s Marcello Trotta who inexplicably placed his free header past the post.

And thus goalless did this FA Cup second round tie finish.

The entrance to the East Stand, Oakwell.

The East Stand, Oakwell

Looking along Grove Street, at the oldest part of the ground.

Facade to the Pontefract Road End stand.

Panorama of Oakwell, Barnsley FC

Barnsley v Chester - December 2014

John Rooney - Chester FC

Barnsley's Conor Hourihane on the line performs the needful to clear
Kieran Charnock's (not in picture) net-bound header. 

Barnsley's Marcello Trotta heads past when scoring looked a far easier option.
A number of the Chester defenders look remarkably disinterested in proceedings.

Two thousand plus Chester fans squidged into a corner of the North Stand,

The West Stand at Oakwell - the oldest part of the structure dates back to 1904.

As you can probably tell from a couple of the pictures, for the second half I had decided to relocate down to the lower tier to see if it was any warmer down there. It was not, and I was surprised and not a little shocked to see just how many young kids, often just toddlers had been dragged along to Oakwell to endure the neo-Arctic conditions in inappropriate clothing. 

One chap I saw in tears, his un-gloved hands a bright pink, whilst a young girl in front of me lay across her parents’ laps covered in a thin blanket as her father attempted to keep her shivering form warm by plying her with hot chocolate.  What doesn't kill them makes them stronger I suppose.

The same could be said for Chester ‘keeper Jon Worsnop who, we learned later had not only cracked a cheekbone but lost a tooth during a fifth minute collision.  But had played on regardless.

What a guy.

The Old and The New - floodlight pylon adjacent to one of the stairwells in the East Stand.

This rather rickety old TV gantry obscures what looks like a rather neat gable.

Panorama of Oakwell, Barnsley FC

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