Football in Goole is having a mini-revival over the past few months. After the club was reformed a few years ago, the crowds have started to return the VPG. The club is several divisions below their true place and this actually helps the entertainment - Goole have won by over five goals on several occasions.
Football in the dizzy heights of the Midland Supreme Division has its own special charms. You might get a brilliant atmosphere seeing Leeds United play at Elland Road for your £25, but the £3 spent at Goole AFC offers far better value for money. Plus you can turn up to the match at 2.55 and leave by 4.50 without the hassle of a large match.
The idiots from the old Gooligan days have gone (Mrs Thatcher once wrote to Goole thanking them for wrecking her old home town when Goole played at Grantham). In order to show newbies what's involved with a Goole AFC match, and for overseas surfers to see what the atmosphere is like, here is a scrapbook guide to a Saturday afternoon at the VPG.
One of the traditions in Goole is to nip to Jacksons on Boothferry Road to buy a newspaper to read during the boring bits and some crisps to keep you going until the half-time burger. From the shop, walk down Carter Street toward the Victoria Pleasure Grounds. You can see the stand and floodlights as you walk down which adds to the anticipation. You'll notice the people walking towards the ground and the dads taking their kids to the match. You'll also notice that everybody else is carrying a Jacksons bag. As it was cold we decided to pop into the Victoria Club for a swift pint, but it's not compulsory.
When you reach the ground, walk past the little kids playing football in the street, give the nice man your £3 and go through the turnstile - Welcome to the VPG.
The Victoria Pleasure Ground is a shadow of its former self. There is only one stand and a rather decrepit running track around the pitch. Notice how people living on Dunhill Road are watching events from their bedroom windows and the little group of kids playing with a football by the side of the pitch. If you're lucky you'll hear music played from the tannoy. If you're unlucky you'll just about hear the music from a ghetto-blaster at full volume.
At first glance there appears to be alarmingly few facilities. There is a small car park on the grass for players and officials, a burger van for half-time, and a club shop the size of a toilet. However the hidden gem - the bar - is round the back of the stand. Buy a programme, buy a scarf and head for a drink. On the way to the bar, one of the spectators, thinking we were visiting fans told us that there would be mince pies after the match if we wanted to hang around. That made a refreshing change. At Leeds if they think you're a visiting fan, you may get a fist through your forehead.
Next is the easy part and actually watch the football. If you're lucky, Goole will win by several goals, however this will get harder to do as they progress onwards and upwards. Ensure you queue for the burger van early. The "Monster Burger" is particularly pleasant.
After watching the team win, nip back to the bar for a pint and watch the football results on teletext.