Chairman’s pride at ‘fantastic occasion’

Bridlington Town v Scarborough Athletic
Bridlington Town v Scarborough Athletic

ONE of the highest non-league crowds of Easter Saturday enjoyed a fantastic battle between Bridlington Town and Scarborough Athletic.

A crowd of 1,247 witnessed a thrilling encounter which see-sawed back and forth, eventually ending 3-3.

Bridlington Town v Scarborough Athletic

Bridlington Town v Scarborough Athletic

As well as the goals, the supporters saw a red card for Town captain Tom Fleming and an ambulance called for defender Frank Belt after he suffered a dislocated elbow in an innocuous-looking tackle late in the game.

The attendance was easily the biggest gate at a game between the two rivals, and was part of the Groundhoppers weekend for non-league enthusiasts.

Bridlington chairman Peter Smurthwaite said: “It was a fantastic occasion and it passed off without major incident.

“It’s an occasion that we are very proud to be able to host. When you look at other games around the country, I believe this is the biggest derby at Step Five anywhere in the UK.

“To put it into context, there was only one attendance in the Conference North and Conference South which was higher, and two of the crowds in the Blue Square Premier were smaller than ours.

“It was a really good, enjoyable occasion with a standard of football that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a higher division. I believe the league has received a letter from a visitor who was impressed with the match and the set-up.

“Apart from the injury to Frank Belt, everything went off extremely well. The day was a credit to all our staff, both permanent and the temporary stewards we brought in from Hull City.

“The police were more than happy with the organisation and, of course, it was a financial boost to our club.

“On the pitch I thought it was one of our best performances of the season, so let’s hope that the people who came along to have a look will stick with us.”

Town manager Mitch Cook added: “It was a great advert for the league with such a big crowd. They saw two good sides playing really good football and showing respect to the opposition.

“In my eyes, it was a throwback to the good old days. From a personal point of view it was good to see so many people there who don’t always come and watch the game.

“There was plenty of banter, but nothing malicious, just normal football behaviour and all in a good manner as far as I could see. No-one likes to see it get personal and silly.

“But both clubs, and their supporters, should be proud of the day.”

The result leaves Town third in the NCEL Premier Division table, with Scarborough now favourites to lift the title, after following up Saturday’s draw with a 2-1 win over Barton Town Old Boys at Queensgate on Tuesday night.

Bridlington will try to keep the pressure on when they travel to Barton on Saturday, kick off 3pm.

Reports and pictures from Saturday’s derby on pages 76 and 77