Score: Old Altrinchamians 0-2 Prestwich Heys
Venue: Crossford Bridge
So, this is quite a short article this time due to very little (nothing), interesting happenings occuring on my way to or from Old Altrinchamians vs Prestwich Heys in the FBT Manchester Football League. It is in the Premier Division that both these sides compete, and as such, this was the competition in which the teams would play in tonight.
The game took place a couple of weeks back, on a Wednesday night, at Crossford Bridge. For those who are familiar with the Trafford area, it is the grass fields bordering the River Mersey, opposite the TGI Friday’s restaurant. Old Alts, as they are commonly abbreviated to, play on the barred off pitch at the rear of the fields, near the motorway. The rest of the fields are occupied mostly by Sale United, a local club.
Anyway, my trip began, following work, with a short trip home on my favourite bus of all time, the 245. If you didn’t read my last blog, you will not know this is not entirely true! Afterwards I made my way to the bus stop, to board, yes you guessed it, the 245…..
After a short trip, just over the Mersey, the historical border between Lancashire and Cheshire, as is proudly stated on road signs, I got off and made my way through the gate, and over the park pitches. I had 25 minutes to wait for the game, but this would be worth it, as my favourite Trafford player of all time, Chris Mackay, would be playing for Prestwich tonight.
There was one problem with my plans however. Mackay was injured and not playing, i was informed by the man himself via Twitter, with the match in progress.
So, not a great start. Another former Trafford player, Damien Rooney was also missing from the Heys lineup, due to a horrific double leg break a couple of weeks prior. Jon-Paul Caruana was also absent. For Alts, though, Lee Hargreaves, who made a handful of 1st team appearances, was in the side, at centre back.
The history of Old Altrinchamians is unknown to me in full, but their first season in the Manchester League I can find, is in 1988-89, where they finished 15th out of 17 clubs. They missed out on a promotion to the Manchester League Premier, from the 1st Division, when finishing third on just goal difference, when second was required. They eventually achieved promotion in 2003-04, as runners-up.
However, in 2005-06, they resigned mid-season, and their record, after 4 games, was expunged. After that and one more season, they rejoined the Manchester League, aftera year in the Altrincham & District AFL, being placed, once again, in the 1st Division. In 2007-08, they were promoted at the first time of asking, back to the Premier Division of the Manchester League.
They also featured twice in the FA Vase in the 1970’s, their best effort was reaching the third round, in 1975-76, before being vanquished via a replay by Prescot Town.
The game began at 6.15pm, with Alts making the early running, agaist a Heys side missing 10 first team regulars, thus, they were fielding a young side, with no less than 5 17-year-olds in their line-up! They may have been young, but they were talented, and they really began to come into the game, and took the lead through the Marouane Fellaini haired Erike Sousa, a tricky, pacy right winger.
The home side were the more robust, physical side, boasting much more experience, but they failed to make any real impacts on the visitors, apart from when Sousa was clattered just before half time.
At half time, and with the lack of any facilities or stands, I stayed around the pitch, as did both sides, due to the fact a walk back to the dressing rooms would have taken about 10 minutes altogether!
The second half began, with an attendance now numbering around 50 people,(no admission fee here), and one non-league dog, saw Heys remain on top, and were treated to a stunning strike by left winger Martin Love, who after recieving the ball following good play by Paul Tierney, cracked a drive from 30 yards into the top corner, with Alts’ keeper at full stretch, unable to keep it out. 2-0 on 54 minutes.
Heys were being well marshalled by their sleeve-tattooed midfielder, wearing the 4 shirt, who I believe was Phil Woodcock, and never looked in much danger, with right-back Darius Photiou also impressing, despite Alts maintaining much of the possession play.
The promising-looking Conor Landers went close, before Alts players, perhaps more used to playing at this level, and therefore fitter, began to threaten on a more regular basis. However, debutant keeper Lee Lambert kept the hosts at bay, before late-on Landers and Sousa linked up, before the latter fired wide and had a further effort cleared off the line, but this was to matter little, as the visitors closed out the game with an impressive performance, and the added bonus of a clean sheet, in the late evening gloom.
So, I made my way off to the bus stop for my journey home, safe in the knowledge I had ticked off a ground I’ve been planning to do for a while, and knowing that I will be visiting Heys’ Grimshaw Park at some point this season. And good luck to them in their push to join the NWCFL next season. If only more sides were willing to take the plunge.
P.S. If you ever get the chance to watch a Manchester League game, take it. Don’t be put off by the level, all the players are more than capable, and you’ll be thoroughly entertained!!
My Old Alts M.oM.- Lee Hargreaves
My Prestwich Heys M.o.M- Erike Sousa
Game: 7- Good, entertaining game
Ground: 4- Just a barred off pitch, goalposts and dugouts.
Fans: 10 Heys brought a travelling contingent. Good on them!!
Value For Money: 10- It was free after all!
Referee: 7- Had a decent enough game