Manchopper in….Rossington

Well, I was expecting this trip to be a long one, but I didn’t bank on the dramas around the roads of Yorkshire!

The day started with a trip to Chorlton, on firstly, my least favourite bus of all time the 245 service (I get this bus everyday to work and it’s just awful), and disembarked at Stretford for a connection through to Chorlton. Within a few minutes the 23A pulled in and I was off on my next step of the journey (for a £4 hit on my pocket, my first being free due to my weekly ticket). I arrived in Chorlton 45 minutes before the Coach was due to leave, and so I thought it would be a good idea to go and pick some Haribos. After a couple of minutes browsing, and with some SuperMix and Goldbears in my bag, I began the short, familiar walk towards West Didsbury and Chorlton’s ground at Brookburn Road, that I have visited many times, or more exactly, the Bowling Green pub.

After making my way through the affluent, leafy area known as Chorltonville, I arrived at the pub, with a nice half-hour in hand. Unfortunately, the inn was shut up, and I had to waste away my time by sitting on a wall. My other option was to look at the gravestones in the old cemetery next to the pub, but I didn’t fancy that on a Saturday morning!

So, after around 20 minutes, our aquamarine? coach pulled up from its Moston depot (im very observant!), and was soon follwed by my fellow joint Trafford fan/groundhopper the mysterious Football Spoon. He is to groundhopping what the Stig is to motoring and shall remain incognito. Some say he lives in a restaurant….

Anyway, after all the players had turned up in force (including a familiar face in Gaz Thomas and Gail, his mum who watches him wherever he plays, the coach set off up towards the M60. The journey itself was spent discussing matters of Trafford and other footballing issues, such is the life of a fan. After a slight detour near Brighouse, to avoid a traffic build-up caused by roadworks, the scourge of many, we rejoined near the head of the queue, and the rest of our journey was quite serene.

As we came off the A1(M) towards Rossington, which is situated just south of Doncaster, not too far from where my last blog featured, we passed by `Council House Roundabout’, and into the seemingly very tidy town, which is far removed from what you’d imagine a former colliery town to be like, before turning into the Miner’s Club entrance, and doing a bit of offroading over a couple of football pitches, whilst circuiting around a couple of accompanying rugby pitches, before pulling up at the fenced off, somewhat hidden away, Oxford Street ground, home to Rossington Main F.C.

The history of Rossington Main F.C. began in 1917, with the formation of Rossington Colliery F.C. However, this venture lasted only briefly, but returned in 1919, and has continued ever since. They began in the Sheffield Association League,  playing at the Colliery offices, before moving to Oxford Street in 1921, and in 1924-25 reached the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round, their best effort so far. They were eventually knocked out 3-0 at Lincoln City. The club played as Rossington Colliery for 30 years, and at the end of WWII won both the Doncaster Senior League and Cup (1944-’45).

When the mines were nationalised in 1948, the club was enforced into a change of name to Rossington Miners’ Welfare, and whilst playing under this name, lifted the Doncaster Senior League Cup once again in 1974. They then went on to change their name to a third moniker, this time their current name of Rossington Main F.C.

The club then went on to become founder members of the Central Midlands League in 1983, and were immediately promoted to the Premier Division, as runners-up. The following year the club did the league and cup double.

In 1991, the club played Leeds United to celebrate the inauguration of their newly installed floodlights and Main Stand, in front of a crowd of 1,200. The club then entered the Northern Counties East League, and have remained in Division 1 ever since, merging with neighbours Rossington FC along the way.

This club, formed as Station FC, a Sunday League side, were very successful, progressing rapidly to Semi-Pro football and the Central Midlands League. They even won the Division 1 title in ’87-’88. Unfortunately, in 1998, the club struggled with the financial strain required to compete in the league, and despite its youth setup, elected to resign from the league, which started the ball rolling for the merger.

In 2008, extensive ground improvements were carried out, and to celebrate, the club played host to their Football League neighbours Doncaster Rovers. Each summer the improvements have continued, including the building of the clubhouse, ‘The Main Bar’.

In 2010-11, the club reached the final of the Wilkinson Sword Trophy, and the next season enjoyed their most successful, breaking the points and goalscoring club records to finish in 7th, the fact they had lost no less than 11 first team squad members along the way, makes this an outstanding effort.

During the close season, Doncaster once again visited, attracting a record crowd of 1,245, at an even more updated ground, and last season the club finished mid-table.

*Thanks to the programme editor for helping me along with these notes by including an extensive history in the magazine. The programme has won both league and national awards in recent times.

Upon arrival we were greeted by the wonderful news that a West player was in desperate need of an, ahem, no.2 , which we were all very pleased to have been party to, and were guided along a small trail through to the main entrance and turnstiles by a Main committee member. Now, when I say main, he isn’t more important than others, i’m referring to the name of the club. This could become very confusing, as it did when I arrived inside to find ‘The Main Bar’, and genuinely thought to myself `Hmmm where’s the other one then?’. Shocking!

So, after paying £4 for admission,a further £1.50 for the programme, The Main Issue, (it isn’t the main issue, you see, it’s named after the club!) we entered the aforementioned Main Bar, where I was greeted with one of the best sites I’ve seen in a clubhouse, and I have seen some! But this was of a paper-based kind. There was a stack of old programmes at the back of the room, including old Rossington ones, and other clubs around the Yorkshire area. I enquired to a member of their commitee about whether these were for sale. They then went out of their way to find the secretary, who made his way over to ask for £3 in return for 12 programmes. This really endeared the club to me! Also, a shout to the West commitee man who lent me a pound. I did give him it back when I got some change! This really showed the niceities that exist in the Counties levels of football. I also spotted (how could you not!!), the wonderful old-school floodlights the ground is home to, that I had forgotten about, as I had seen them on Main’s website when researching the game. They really add character to Oxford Street.

So, after watching a bit of the England Womens’ side’s 6-0 thrashing of Belarus, inbetween more footy talk, and a Lucozade (original, which is now the best flavour since they messed up with the orange one last year.), we made our way outside for the beginning of the game.

The two sides entered the field to `Enter Sandman’, bringing back memories for me of ECW wrestling, and the announcer re-christening West’s left back Richmond Botchey, Rickmond Blotchley, much to the amusement of the away side’s playing staff. The handshakes and the toss took place, and the wonderfully named referee Hristo Karaivanov got the game underway.

For the first half, the game was a quite one-sided affair with West being mostly on top from the start, but apart from a few Botchey long range drives, never really threatened particularly, despite having a lot of possession, and Main hardly forced West custodian Ben Simpson into a save of note. That is a nice story of Simpson, a keeper who was with the club during their Manchester League days, and is still their number one in the Counties Prem.

The pitch at Oxford Street appears from the terraces to be a wonderful surface on which to play, and it did appear to aid West’s passing style, and the more comfortable the home side got against their higher-ranked opponents, the more comfortable they got to play it around a bit more too. Credit to the groundsman for this.

The second half however, was a fantastic advert for non-league football. West had the ball in the net just after the restart, after Lewis Schofield’s drive was wonderfully tipped onto the post by Main’s keeper, and Tre Baldwin-Willis tapped home the rebound. However, he was denied, correctly, by the assistant’s flag. But he wasn’t to be denied soon after, when he gave the Manchester side a deserved lead, when the keeper was sold an outrageous dummy by his own no.8 and Tre ran through, after the unfortunate nutmeg of the no.1, to smash in from on the goalline. This was accompanied by the news that Trafford had taken a shock 3-1 lead over Rushall Olympic, just to improve my day.

This, however appeared to only serve to wake the home side up a bit, and they really began to push on, striking the crossbar with a thumping header, and Simpson making a wonderful full stretch save to deny another header, destined for the far corner, before in the 88th minute, substitute Adam Wisdom was released in the inside left channel, and fired across Simpson and into the far corner, to set up extra -time.

Or so we thought….

On 91 minutes, dangerous build up play, following a strong, but fair, challenge by Gaz Thomas led to Lewis Schofield picking up the ball running across his man, before striking a left-foot shot past the despairing Main keeper, to send the West bench into delirium. And, despite the home side’s comeback after the goal, it was little more than they deserved.

The final whistle blew soon after, and there was to be no upset in this tie. But both sides treated all the 50-odd souls who could be bothered to turn up to support their local side(s), and good on them, to a wonderful game of football.

After the game we returned to the Main Bar (no, I’m not going there again!), where the West fans caught up with other Vase results, before we departed the way we’d come.

But unfortunately, we got to just outside Rossington, where our coach decided we deserved a break, which required us to pull into a Shell petrol station garage. Much to the chagrin of the players, we all disembarked at the driver’s request, and he quickly got to work, whilst wearing West’s green ‘keepers kit!

One saving grace for the lads was that this was one with a Subway, so a few took advantage of this, before our hero appeared from under the bus, to announce he’d solved the problem. He was then christened as West’s new number 1, whereupon the manager was urged to sign him up! However, when we all boarded the coach, it was realised that Scott Mason wasn’t present. The team’s close-knit community was shown when one said, “Just leave Scott. It’s not as if we need him is it?!” Tongue-in-cheek of course!

We continued to travel on home, until we reached the White Rose service station, where we pulled off the motorway once again. However, a shout of “There’s a Travelodge”, was greeted with rapturous cheering, and a Little Chef, which it was noted, probably didn’t host a Heston Blumenthal menu.

As it proved this was just a temporary water stop, and we were soon on our way, third time lucky and uninterrupted back to Chorlton, whereupon  I said my goodbyes to the Spoon and made my way home on the 23 bus, which was late. Again. I hate buses……

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