Interview: Joshua Riggs on West, growing up in Barnsley, Athersley Recreation

When the draw for the FA Cup was made and it was revealed that West would be making a trip to Barnsley, one fan was more excited than most about the prospect of an early August journey to Yorkshire. Joshua Riggs has been in attendance at Brookburn Road for the past couple of seasons, and has become a regular both home and away (he’s pictured above at Atherton Collieries last above) – but his roots lay closer to Saturday’s opponents Athersley Recreation.

In anticipation of Saturday’s tie, we had a chat with Josh to find out more about the town, his feelings about Saturday, and to find out which pubs West fans should look out for when they make the trip this weekend.

So Joshua – for those who’ve never had the joy of speaking to you on the terraces, could you tell us a little about yourself, and how you started coming down to watch West.

Eyup, originally from South Yorkshire I moved to Manchester in 2008, eventually settling in Chorlton. By chance I saw a WDCFC poster in the window of Rob Madden’s shop and decided to take a wander down Brookburn Road. I was quickly hooked on the cheap entry, good quality (pitchside!!) beers and forged friendships with some of the most decent folk about. The rest is history!

You’re originally from Barnsley – what was it like growing up in the town?

Genuinely great. Barnsley is an easy place for a cheap northern jibe, a landscape of decaying pitheads, flatcaps, colliery bands and kestrel flying delinquents.

Whilst it is true that Barnsley has suffered its fair share of deprivation through its recent history – none more so than in the aftermath of the strike – it breeds a tough resilience, and the town has more than its fair share to be proud of.

Barnsley FC, led by local hero Paul Heckingbottom, punch well above their weight. Two Wembley final wins last year resulted in a Championship promotion and our first piece of silverware since the year the Titanic sunk!

We can be proud of literary great, Barry Hines (who needs no introduction) and the Bard of Barnsley Ian Macmillan. There is local fanzine @weststandbogs, run entirely not for profit and have achieved incredible things, including raising thousands for local charities. And local creative type @officeofcraig, author of ‘In Loving Memory of Work’, to name but a few….

Given that this is somewhat of a derby for you, how did you feel when the draw was made?

I’ve made no secret about my excitement for this fixture. I was born and grew up less than a mile from Sheerian Park. My family all still live local; my Gran was a Primary School Teacher at Athersley South and I even went to school with lads who have turned out for the Rec’. For me it’s pretty much a dream fixture!

For the uninitiated, could you tell us a little about Athersley as a club – have you been down much yourself?

Athersley is socially, economically and culturally about as far as it is physically possible to get from Chorlton! Don’t expect any small batch craft ales behind the bar in the clubhouse, and I can honestly say that no one in Athersley has ever eaten quinoa!

That being said Athersley Rec is the same as WDCFC in that it has the same core of dedicated, passionate volunteers who have committed themselves to turning ‘San Sheerio’ into a proper local community football club for all. The unofficial motto ‘Money Can’t Buy You Love’ is very apt when compared to ‘some’ local non-league sides in the area…

And then of course there is the fans, I can’t wait for the Krombacher Ultras to meet the Rec Inn Crew!!

Some West fans will be heading into Barnsley before the game – which pubs should they look out for?

There are some great ale houses int Tarn. We’ve got not one, but two Wetherspoons. And rumour has it the Corner Pin hasn’t had a hoover round it since Barnsley’s Premier League promotion in 96’! The best spot has to be the Old No 7 on Market Hill, owned by the local Acorn Brewery. Iit has a great range of local ales and sells the famous Percy Turner Growlers (Porkpies). I’ve heard good things about the new micropub, the Arcade Alehouse. And if anyone fancy’s sampling the Saturday night life, pack your gum shield and take a wander up Wellington Street (you will soon see where Georgi Hristov’s culture clash came from… http://www.independent.co.uk/news/barnsleys-bonny-lasses-jeer-footballers-own-goal-1137334.html)

Most importantly – what do you reckon is going to happen in the game on Saturday? Will West hearts be broken?

I’m saying nowt!!!

West are putting on a supporter coach to the Athersley Recreation game this weekend, which is £10 return. Find out more here: http://wdcfc.co.uk/athersley-recreation-coach-reservation-details/

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