Result: Gresley 2-0 Trafford (FA Trophy)
Venue: The Moat Ground (Saturday 2nd November 2013)
This was possibly one of the worst games I had ever been too. Quite how I can manage to blog about it, I have no idea. Anyway, i’ll have a go and see how far I get into it until I have flashbacks and have to stop…..
Anyway, no time for negativity here! Well, actually there will be much negativity here, as apart from the pub, there was nothing at all to be positive about. I’m slowly losing the will to live.
After a two-hour borefest of a journey on Trafford’s team coach, I arrived in Gresley. Gresley itself is quite a nice village, however once I set eyes on the ground, I was very surprised by the poor standard of it, considering the size of club Gresley used to be. After arrival I followed Trafford supporter Mike Capp off to ‘The Rising Sun’ public house. Opposite was a small model shop hut which excited me. Hmmmmm.
It was cold, wet and windy by now, and the day was just about giving signs of what was going to occur throughout. However, the Rising Sun was a delight. With Newcastle vs Chelsea on the box, and another box in the far corner, it was looking up a little. Especially when you consider the other box was not a TV, oh no. It was a red Telephone Box. Oh yeeeesssss! There was also a little ancient TV on the wall, along with the bar surface decorated with old George IV coins, and belated Hallowe’en decorations. Horror!!!! A shout out for the landlady of this pub too, who was very friendly and welcoming. If you are due to visit Gresley, make sure you put this in your diary. Great Place!
After a few games of pool, which I won (honest!)* I made my way to the ground with a couple of the members of the younger band of Trafford supporters. After paying the £7 after losing my money for a while, plus a further £1.50 for the programme entitled ‘Taken As Red’. Upon entering the ground, we were greeted by the news that Trafford midfielder Rory Fallon had unfortunately been involved in a car crash on his way to the game. However, most importantly he and his family were ok.
Due to Trafford’s regular match reporter making the game late as a result of the traffic, I was entrusted with the right. So, along with match updates on Twitter, I was doing the official match report. Anyone need a journalist? The pitch was shocking. Quite how it passed is beyond me. The corners out of sunlight were too dangerous, and the game should never have gone ahead. As it was, it did, and all fans were robbed of a good game of football. Not that the home fans cared one bit!
The Moat is a small, quaint ground consisting of four stands. It can hold 2,400. A small terraced stand accompanies the main stand on the near side from which you enter. As you do, the small stand is on the right-hand side, the main on the left. Opposite is a pitch-long bus-stop style stand along the far touchline, and another stand behind the goal, well, just to the right of it The near end goal backs onto a wall. A brick wall. And a brick wall is what we hit for a while, as we delve into the depths of the Gresley FC….
Formed as Gresley Rovers in 1882, the club originally played at Mushroom Lane in the village of Albert, about a mile from Gresley. They played only and cup games in their formative years, before joining the Burton Junior League in 1892-93, winning their first title in 94-95. They soon acquired the Church Street Ground for the 95-96 season. Despite the sides having to change at the Boot Hotel due to a lack of facilities, the club were accepted into the Midland League for 1903-04, At the end of the 1907-08 season, the club were forced to move once more, due to re-development, across the road to the Moat Ground.
Rovers then joined up to the Central Alliance, before moving up further to the Birmingham Combination in 1925. However, despite reaching the FA Cup first round in 1930-31, they experienced financial difficulties which forced them out of the Combination and back to the Central Alliance in 1933. After a couple of seasons, they switched to the Leicestershire Senior League, and enjoyed much success in the post-war years, winning titles in 46-47, 47-48, and finishing runners-up in 48-49.
At the turn of the decade, the club returned to the Central Alliance, but this was only a brief stay, as in 54-55 they joined the Birmingham & District League. In 58-59, they were relegated from Division 1 to Division 2. They switched again soon after back to the Central Alliance for 59-60, staying in it through 1974-75 when the league changed names to become the East Midlands Regional League. Gresley dominated this league, and in the 14 seasons from 61-62 to 74-75 they finished no lower than fifth, winning four titles and a further 4 runners-up places.
At the start of the 75-76 season, they moved to the West Midlands (Regional) League, but in a stronger league, largely were anonymous. However, in 85-86, a runners-up spot was achieved and 6 years later the club had back to back titles in 90-91 and 91-92, supplemented by a runners-up place in 88-89. During this golden period, the club also lifted the Derbyshire Senior Cu on four successive occasions. In fact, 90-91 was the best season yet for Gresley, as they also reached the FA Vase final, at Wembley. They faced Guiseley under the famous twin towers,and it was even touted as the ‘most exciting Wembley cup final ever’ in the national press. In an incredible contest Guiseley were 3-up in 31 minutes, but Gresley stormed back to level, and then lead in extra-time. But Guiseley struck late to force a replay, at Bramall Lane. On this occasion Gresley succumbed 3-1. More disappointment followed at the end of the season, as their application to the Southern League was turned down. But after the 91-92 title winning season, they were successful, and were placed in the Midland League for 92-93.
This season saw a Vase semi-final defeat, but finished as runners-up in the league, gaining an immediate promotion to the Premier Division. 93-94 saw a further Derbyshire Cup win, and a Southern League Cup Final spot. 94-95 saw another FA Cup First Round appearance, a loss to Crewe Alexandra. 95-96 saw a further Derbyshire Cup success, before the most successful season yet in 96-97 saw another Derbyshire Cup win and the Dr. Martens Premier Division was won. Gresley became both the first Derbyshire and village side to win this trophy, but ground grading meant they were unable to go into the Conference. Derby County offered their recently vacated Baseball Ground, but this was rejected by the FA. After this disappointment, many players left, and 97-98 saw mediocrity for Gresley. But worse was to follow, as in 98-99, they were relegated despite a strong start. In the FA Cup 1st Round they met Walsall away, but lost 2-1.
After more seasons of mid-table finishes, financial difficulties saw Gresley Rovers liquidated at the end of 08-09, and Gresley FC was formed. In 09-10, they were placed in the East Midland Counties League Division 1. After finishing runners-up in their first season, they won it the next, but were switched to the Midland Alliance. They also won the Midland Alliance Premier immediately in 11-12, gaining promotion to the Evo-Stik Division 1 South for 12-13.
Also, the Bass Charity Vase has been won 7 times, the Millennium Cup in 99-2000, the West Midlands League Cup in 88-89, and the Coalville Charity Cup in 46-47 have also been won.
Finally, back onto the day, and the game itself. After pretty much nothing happened for 44 minutes despite Shelton Payne and Lucas Harrison doing synchronised skating on the wet mud, Gresley struck twice on half-time, as the impressive Kieran O’Connell netted a drive past Kieran O’Hara, and then debutant Callum Jones put O’Connell’s cross through his own goal.
At half-time, I did nothing but wonder quite what I was doing here, when before I knew it, the second half had unfortunately started. Again not much happened a few shots here and there, until Trafford’s Martyn Andrews was scandalously sent-off for a second bookable offence, by quite possibly one of the worst referees I have ever seen. He really was disgraceful, and this decision underlined it. Andrews pulled out of the challenge, and no-one made anything of it. It was a foul, and nothing more. Mr T. Harty, your card’s marked!
O’Hara pulled off a spectacular save, Shelton Payne made a show of himself by responding to crowd criticism, (arrogant….so-and-so) and then the game, thankfully, ended. Despite the poor game, I was impressed by Gresley who belied their league position, and were well worth their win, and to be fair, could have had four.
Afterwards, I was shown an emergency exit which led nowhere, with ladders going up to a roof. If this wasn’t bad enough, then the sign reading ‘No Supporters Past This Point’ doesn’t bode well. A trip to another pub, The Royal Oak, was in order, but it was closed. As Cappy questioned, why when you have a pub round the corner from a football ground, would you shut now? Crazy! Afterwards, I went on the coach, and collected my football scores from the day with Trafford supporters from earlier in the pub, Ashley and Adam. I will not publicly state what I heard to avoid embarrassment for the latter…. 🙂
The way back was uneventful, apart from 2 pork pies and a bit of Wispa, which snapped off and I caught under my chin (proud of that). I would recommend a visit to Gresley, just don’t expect a great game. My dad was invited to Wembley for the final with Gresley’s chairman too! Nice club! Anyway, onto Maine Road on Monday!!!! And no, not the housing estate!
*I didn’t ok!
My Gresley M.o.M.- Kieran O’Connell
My Trafford M.o.M.- Kieran O’Hara
Game: 3/10- Just awful
Ground: 5- Dated
Food: 6- Pricey, but ok
Programme: 6- Just above average
Fans: 6- Normal fans really, no singing or backing, but knowledgeable
Value For Money: 6- £7, £1.50, Ah, the good old days
Referee: 3- Had a struggle, as shown in rating.
GRESLEY: 1.Ross Etheridge, 2.Mitch Hanson, 3.Lucas Harrison, 4.John Guy, 5.Jamie Barrett(c), 6.Eric Graves, 7.Kieran O’Connell(1), 8.Sam Grice, 9.Jordan Nadat, 10.Rob Spencer, 11.Paolo Piliero SUBS: 12.Dean Oliver, 14.Hayden Johns(p), 15.Liam Guest(p), 16.Dean Withers(p), 17.Samual Kirk
TRAFFORD: 1.Kieran O’Hara, 2.Callum Jones(1o.g.), 3.Andy Smart, 4.Steve Mason, 5.Nia Bayunu(c), 6.Chris Palmer, 7.Shelton Payne, 8.Martyn Andrews, 9.Michael Oates, 10.Jake Parker, 11.Paul Ashton SUBS: 12.Tom Read(GK),14.-, 15.Luke Heron(p), 16.Omar McKenzie, 17.Brett Mbalanda(p)