By Chris Connolly
This season’s York Corinthian Charity Veterans Cup final between Ilkley and Harrogate was held at Ben Rhydding sports club on Sunday.
The eagerly-awaited finale to another competitive season certainly didn’t disappoint, with seven goals scored, the final score being Ilkley 2. Harrogate 5.
Each team were reduced to ten men in the second half of this pulsating match.
Despite being without stalwart captain Shankland at the heart of the defence Ilkley started the stronger team and after good attacking play from the strike force of Wood and Hannaford, the resulting Dyson corner kick was converted at the back post by Lofthouse, with a stunning over-head bicycle kick.
Unfortunately this seemed to rattle the visitor’s cage a little and they were back on level terms within a few minutes after a drilled free kick took a deflection off a Harrogate head and wrong-footed the unlucky Stubbs in the Ilkley net. The Ilkley defence was then under the cosh for the next 20 minutes and despite great efforts by centre halves Potts and Davey, backed up well by full-backs Clarkson and Lookgood, the inevitable happened when one of the Harrogate attackers was felled in the box and the resulting penalty was dispatched, although in fairness to Stubbs he went the right way and nearly managed to get there.
Two quick goals either side of the break meant that the result was probably beyond Ilkley but they continued to battle with central midfield partners Briggs and Quaife covering almost every blade of grass. The latter probably covered most blades twice after countless Cruyff turns. Ilkley did get a goal back with half an hour to go when sub Connolly smashed in a free kick from 25 yards leaving the goalkeeper rooted to the spot or, more accurately, still holding on to the other post trying to organise his wall. Smithson and Mason both made great impacts when they came on with the former going close to scoring and Mace was impressive at the back. Then came the sending offs. Firstly one of the Harrogate centre backs went for two bad challenges on the ever-lively Hannaford. Davey, the Ilkley player manager who is reportedly set to retire from playing at the end of this season, evened up numbers after receiving a second yellow card for felling a Harrogate striker on the edge of the box.
The game was played in a great spirit despite the two red cards and was well supported with more than 200 spectators.
The three officials did a great job and, most importantly, we were able to raise a lot of money for the charities in Africa where the charity league spends the money raised.
Examples of some of the support provided includes funding for a new grain mill for a village in Malawi and the building of a water tower in Mozambique.
Special praise must also go to John Clark and Nick Minto who do all the work behind the scenes.