the real fa cup

Tales From The Riverbank

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Kitchens and bathrooms. They’re all the rage in Barton upon Humber following the announcement that a big manufacturer is taking over the old nappy factory, the former home of Huggies vacated earlier this year by Kimberly-Clark.

The news dominated the business stories of the day in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, because Barton sits on the boundary and occasionally, when the muddy waters of the Humber get a bit lively, in it.

Everything else in the town, population more than 10,000 and rising, was overshadowed. Even the forthcoming FA Cup tie between Barton Town Old Boys and Nostell Miners’ Welfare, but that’s Barton for you.

It’s a town on the edge. On the edge of the A15 that takes traffic across the Humber Bridge and on to Hull, Lincoln, Scunthorpe, Grimsby but only into Barton if people have a reason to go there. On the edge of the Humber, with a few local wharves dwarfed by the big ports further east towards the North Sea. On the edge of the world, for Barton is only 15 minutes from Humberside International Airport which itself can deliver you to Schiphol in about an hour and then on to any number of exotic destinations.

On the northern edge of Barton Town Old Boys’ Euronics Ground is a railway line that runs from Barton to Cleethorpes, stopping at all points in between but not linked to Hull since the big bridge replaced the ferry service in 1981.

The ferry used to sail between Victoria Pier in Hull and New Holland, just along the riverbank from Barton, saving travellers the long journey round via Goole – the one once driven by those Top Gear petrolheads in a race against a Hull businessman who walked, splished and splashed his way across the estuary at low tide.

It was the preferred mode of transport for Lincolnshire-based Hull City fans who would hop on a boat, cruise across the Humber, watch the Tigers at Boothferry Park and then sail home again. Veteran voyagers tell of the days when they would miss the kick-off and sometimes the entire match when the ferry became stuck on a sandbank, but the on-board bar, open all day at a time when the pubs used to shut at 2pm, softened the disappointment.

These days there are probably rather more Hull City fans – certainly on the evidence of the black and amber shirts on display during a kids’ holiday football school at the Euronics Ground, but they travel by car across the bridge – south to north to watch the Tigers, work in Hull and beyond, north to south to play for Barton Town Old Boys.

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Football Secretary Pete Mitchell says most of the players come from the north side of the Humber. Manager Dave Anderson is from Hull, assistant Mally Parker is from Driffield, a Bartonesque town in the middle of the Yorkshre Wolds.

The revival of the club’s under-19 side is helping to bring in a few more players from the local area, but the Hull link is pretty strong and a few friendly matches by Tigers sides would clearly be appreciated – there hasn’t been one since the playing days of Nick Barmby and Ian Ashbee, although Dean Windass dropped in for a while and scored a hat-trick on his way into retirement. Maybe, just maybe, the fact that Hull City don’t kick off against Chelsea until Sunday will entice a few Tigers fans through the twin turnstiles of the Euronics Ground to watch the FA Cup tie, the only one within about 40 miles of Yorkshire’s only Premier League club.

They could even make a day of it. The team nickname The Swans is a graceful nod to the area’s wetlands and wildlife, the town is also something of a mini-destination for arty cultural activities and it’s a favourite haunt of bikers, whose rallies and festivals undermine any suggestion of geographical isolation.

A few workers at the old nappy factory travelled daily from West Yorkshire, and Nostell, from near Wakefield, will be making a similar trip. They’ll no doubt have their own stories about the struggle for survival of a team built around a colliery which no longer exists, and whoever finds a happy ending on Saturday will be £1,000 better off and looking forward to a Preliminary Round tie at Bootle or Squires Gate, Blackpool, with Worksop awaiting in the First Qualifying Round.

So there’s a long way to go before the Old Boys add to Barton’s list of all-time heroes who include Isaac Pitman, founder of the shorthand system which will assist my match report, and Ted Lewis, whose novel Jack’s Return Home was the inspiration for the classic film Get Carter.

Another Old Bartonian was Chad Varah, founder of The Samaritans, which provides an opportunity to remind us all that it’s only a game.

Barton Town Old Boys v Nostell Miners’ Welfare
3pm 17 August 2013 – Euronics Ground.

Author Phil Ascough’s new book, “Never Mind The Tigers – The Ultimate Hull City Quiz Book”, is published by The History Press and due out next month.

2 Comments
  1. Nice article, went to Barton OB for their Lincolnshire Cup semi v Bottesford last season, nice club and a decent setup.

    They should contact Hull and get them to put it on their website, if they care about their community then they will do it, as it’s no skin off their noses

    • Given what is currently occurring (name change) at Hull, I’m not sure they care much about their own community let alone another team’s!!

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