It was a fairly mild afternoon which was surprising because – and to paraphrase one of Yorkshire’s own – ‘winter was coming’. Yet under the cover of Selby Town’s main stand, it certainly didn’t feel like it. Part of that might have come from the warmth emanating from those other souls who’d dared to brave the great outdoors that day, or maybe I just didn’t feel the chill in the air due to having more important things to think about. After all, it could have been below zero for all I cared, for my attention was completely focused on the action in front of me.
It had been a long time coming; I would guess around twenty-two years give or take a year or two. I’d ventured out with my dad back then, standing on the side of the pitch, not completely sure what was going on or who-was-who. Even then, we probably only went a handful of times, because in those days, Saturday afternoons that weren’t spent playing football in the park were instead spent laid on the sofa, watching the scores update on teletext and listening to a fuzzy, barely audible radio commentary on a brightly coloured tape deck. In those days, the schoolyards were filled with kids wearing Liverpool or Manchester United shirts (often knock offs from the market), and their arguments over who was going to play the part of Roberto Baggio in the lunchtime kick-about (often leading to scraps at the suggestion that the other kids could play as Deano instead). We simply didn’t know anything about football beyond what was on the news – in many ways things haven’t moved on, but that’s a blog for another day. So fast forward twenty-two years, what made me leave the comfort of home and take a drive across town to visit what is now known as the Fairfax Plant Hire Stadium?
It’s hard to say exactly, maybe it was a wayward post on social media that had crossed my path, or maybe something that I’d read in the newspaper. It might even have been some long overdue desire to spend ninety minutes reminiscing of days gone by (mid-life crisis here we come!). Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure: I’ve never looked back.
This blog has two purposes; first of all it allows me to chart the progress of my local football team, Selby Town, and how both the club, and the town in which I’ve lived most of my life have developed and changed over the years. Secondly, I want to use it to chart my own journey into non-league football and the community that surrounds it. The last few months have opened my eyes when it comes to non-league, and I’m excited about the future even if it means all of my Saturdays are now booked up until the end of time. As well as these two subjects, I also want to address some of my other great loves about the game. For instance I’ve always had a great passion for football programmes, with Selby Towns in particular offering a lot of nostalgic joy invoked by the old adverts, and articles in programmes gone by. I was also always a massive fan of football cards and stickers, with sticker books all over the house and piles of Pro Set football cards capable of sinking even the sturdiest of ships. These are just a number of the topics I hope to cover in the future, with plenty more to come. I will confess I’m certainly no expert on non-league or even football in general. But I hope my journey helps to entertain and inspire others to take a closer look at the phenomenon taking place every weekend, and probably on your very doorstep.
Hopefully you’ll stick around for the ride!