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Saturday 27th January 2018 ko 14.00

West Riding County Amateur League Premier Division

SALTS 2 (Pleasance 53 59)

BRITANNIA SPORTS 0

Att c50

With an honourable mention to Salts 4th’s 4 Horton FC 1 on the adjacent pitch!

Entry FREE

Programme £1

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land.

Blake. “And did those feet in ancient time”

Maybe when William Blake wrote what eventually became the hymn “Jerusalem he had Bradford in mind. The area was famous for being the wool capital of the world and the Industrial Revolution saw rapid expansion and industrialisation. The city grew unchecked during the early 19th century and that growth came without any thought to workers rights, or or the lives they led in or out of the workplace. The result was terrible living conditions with horrifying mortality and morbidity figures among the dark Satanic Mills but local mill owner Titus Salt chose to do something about it.

He’d made his fortune by firstly seeing the potential of wool made from the Alpaca then devising a means of economically spinning the notoriously difficult wool. He bought 3 acres land adjacent to the River Aire then funded a model village in which build a new mill, house the workers, and provide all necessary amenities.

Now I’m sure here there was an element of business imperative. Salt had run out of space in Bradford, and the likes of George Cadbury and Robert Owen had built model towns at Bourneville and New Lanark for their employees. What sets Saltaire apart is the sheer ambition of the place. The name is an amalgam of Salt and Aire but the Bradford-based architect partnership of Lockwood and Mawson Italianate Classical design even after over 150 years still stands out in terms of both form, function and ambition. You can imagine Titus Salt evoking Milton and literally building Jerusalem here in his patch of England’s green and pleasant lands.

The village football team plays near to Roberts Park, another facility provided by the far-sighted Salt. The Salts Sports Club is the classic Victorian multi-sports facility, designed to encourage use rather than to provide any great spectator facilities. There’s tennis, bowls but the star of the show is the quite wonderful cricket pavilion. The pavilion used to double as the changing rooms for the football, but clever use of lottery money has seen the football club build a new set of changing rooms removing the rather awkward walk across the outfield to the pitches.

You may just about remember the ground if you’re a Monty Python fan. Salts was used in 1979 in the Michael Palin/ Terry Jones series “Ripping Yarns” as the ground of the fictitious Barnstoneworth United. Around 4 years ago the club’s footprint was extended to provide 2 pitches with one stand for each pitch. Nevertheless for those of a certain age you do still feel you’re visiting Barnstoneworth, albeit minus the “Eight-Bloody-One” defeat!

Neverthless the view from Salts’ pitches is an inspirational one, with the chimneys of Salt’s old and new mills and the dome of the United Reformed (formerly Congregational) church clearly visible. It gives a nod to the 3 elements of Titus Salt’s contribution to the area-The village, its church and its mill.

We caught Salts riding on the crest of a wave, assuming you opted to watch the first XI and not the game on the adjacent pitch. It’s not a given to find a programme for sale at the seventh level of non-league much less the same programme covering a simultaneous game in the lower reaches of the off-pyramid Craven League.

The sign of a good side is the ability to not play especially well, but still find a way to win. Here it took time on a heavy pitch but Salts dug (almost literally at times) deep and once Joe Pleasance’s free kick sneaked in at the near post they ended up winning in that state of unconscious competence that all should aspire to.

We bade our farewells but it would be remiss of me not to recommend the pub we visited after the game. Titus Salt designed Saltaire as a village without pubs or indeed any alcohol at all, but time plays its own games. While Fanny’s Ale and Cider House on Saltaire Road, isn’t an original feature, it is a superb pub with a wide range of beers and ciders. This blog isn’t a good pub guide, and I’m sure Titus wouldn’t have approved, but it was a fine coda to a fine day at a fine club.

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