Well, here they are…..eventually. The first annual “Manchopper Awards”. No, they are not to reward the best blue movies of the past year, but the best teams, grounds, people and food that I have come across during the past few months, though hopefully the latter was not blue.
Anyway, here goes for the awards. They will be awarded to Best Ground, Pitch, Facilities, Programme, Food/Drink, Goal, Individual Performance, Team Performance, Fans, Most Comical Moment of the season, worst trip of the season and some more I think about along the way so without further ado….the nominees are:
BEST GROUND (Non-League):
BLYTH SPARTANS (Croft Park), ASHTON UNITED (Hurst Cross), MACCLESFIELD TOWN (Moss Rose), CHORLEY (Victory Park), GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY (Northolme)
WINNER: CHORLEY (Victory Park)
Yes, Chorley’s wonderful Victory Park gets my nod of approval for this award. This was a difficult one, as I like all the grounds above (and more) for different reasons, but Victory Park is gaining a reputation as something like a non-league Mecca for groundhoppers. Anyone who has been will attest to how much character the place has to it, and it’s main stand is a treat. So, well done Magpies, I can tell you are very pleased to have won.
BEST GROUND (League):
MANCHESTER CITY (Etihad Stadium), MANCHESTER UNITED (Old Trafford), BLACKBURN ROVERS (Ewood Park), ROCHDALE (Spotland), BOLTON WANDERERS (Reebok Stadium)
WINNER: MANCHESTER CITY (Etihad Stadium)
Yep, Man City’s ground gets my vote here. Good views, well laid out and got to go up the spiral ramp thing they have, so it pips Ewood into 1st place.
BEST PITCH (Non-League):
CHORLEY (Victory Park), CORBY TOWN (Steel Park), TRAFFORD (Shawe View), ALTRINCHAM (Moss Rose), ILKESTON (New Manor Ground)
WINNER: CORBY TOWN (Steel Park)
Was in pristine condition when I visited for an FA Cup tie against fellow nominee Trafford, and let both sides play football “properly” which gave rise to an entertaining game of football.
BEST PITCH (League):
MANCHESTER CITY (Etihad Stadium), MANCHESTER UNITED (Old Trafford), BLACKBURN ROVERS (Ewood Park), DW Stadium (Wigan Athletic), BOLTON WANDERERS (Reebok Stadium)
WINNER: MANCHESTER UNITED (Old Trafford)
Not that it means a lot with a whole group of them doing it, and different surfaces used, but I have to award them something seeing as how I support them no?
HYDE (Ewen Fields), ROCHDALE (Spotland), KING’S LYNN TOWN (The Walks), GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY (Northolme), MACCLESFIELD TOWN (Moss Rose).
WINNER: GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY (Northolme) Smart, old ground, lovely styled clubhouse, and good food too, as well as a good sized shop. For me, this was the best all round experience this season. Very close with Macc though.
BEST PROGRAMME (Non-League):
WEST DIDSBURY & CHORLTON, STOCKPORT COUNTY, WHITBY TOWN, RUSHALL OLYMPIC, GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY.
WINNER: RUSHALL OLYMPIC
A very tough choice for the winner of this one, but Rushall is a worthy winner of this. It has anything you’d want in terms of relevant info and original pieces in it and more. Fantastic for the level, and well worth a purchase if ever you visit.
MANCHESTER CITY, MANCHESTER UNITED, OLDHAM ATHLETIC, BLACKBURN ROVERS, WIGAN ATHLETIC.
WINNER: OLDHAM ATHLETIC
Taking levels into account and the difference in information & staff available, I think Oldham put on a great effort for their game vs Rotherham United.
SILSDEN (Chilli & Chips), AFC FYLDE (Chips), WEST DIDSBURY & CHORLTON (Pie), NANTWICH TOWN (Chips, Mushy Peas & Gravy), STAVELEY MW (Chips & something I can’t remember but was nice).
WINNER: STAVELEY MW.
This was really good quality, and I wouldn’t hesitate in going back there next time for more. Good portion size too and good value for money.
CONNOR BROTHERTON (EAST MANCHESTER vs Wythenshawe Town), ANDREAS PEREIRA (Liverpool u21 vs MANCHESTER UNITED u21), JAMES WILSON (Burnley u18 vs MANCHESTER UNITED u18), LEE FRECKLINGTON (Oldham Athletic vs ROTHERHAM UNITED), SHELTON PAYNE (TRAFFORD vs Frickley Athletic)
WINNER: JAMES WILSON
A wonderful solo effort for the United Youth side at Burnley in the Youth Cup, Wilson beat 4 or 5 players before confidently sliding the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper. A quite astonishing goal, and a pleasure to witness.
BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE:
SHELTON PAYNE (Droylsden vs TRAFFORD), BEN PRINGLE (Oldham Athletic vs ROTHERHAM UNITED), DAVID MARSHALL (Boltonn Wanderers vs CARDIFF CITY), WESTLEIGH RUSH (WALSALL YTH v Altrincham Yth), OLIVER CROLLA (BLACKPOOL WREN ROVERS vs Prestwich Heys).
WINNER: SHELTON PAYNE
Scoring 5 goals in a game is no mean feat, but this is what Payne achieved in an FA Cup tie at beleaguered Droylsden, earning his side Robbie Savage’s Team of the Day on 5Live.
BEST TEAM PERFORMANCE:
Whalley Range 1-1 GORSE HILL, Curzon Ashton 1-1 BURSCOUGH, ROCHDALE TOWN 6-2 Chadderton, TRAFFORD 2-1 Altrincham, ALTRINCHAM 2-1 Guiseley
The NPL side gained an upset against the most one of the most famous giantkillers in the FA Cup. After going ahead, Trafford were pegged back, but got a late winner to send them through.
NANTWICH TOWN (& drum), FC UNITED, WHITBY TOWN, ALTRINCHAM, PRESTWICH HEYS.
WINNER: NANTWICH TOWN
Home and away, were just as loud, although appeared to have the drum AWOL when I visited their Weaver Stadium. Nonetheless, they gave atmosphere where they went. A good group.
MOST COMICAL MOMENT:
WINNER: WATER FALLING INTO A DRAIN AND SOMEONE THINKING IT WAS ME PEEING INTO IT AT WHALLEY RANGE v GORSE HILL.
Not much more to be said really!!
WINNER: GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY 5-4 ALTRINCHAM
GOALS GALORE!!!! Red Cards and the last game in Danny Higginbotham’s distinguished club career, All in all, a very dramatic and entertaining game for the neutral.
WOODEN SPOON WINNER: BURY 0-0 ROCHDALE (NB: No wooden spoon is given)
The game that was only memorable for what Matt Harrison, of Lost Boyos blog fame, termed the “Keith Hill clapping derby” due to Keith’s penchant for, well, clapping. This was directed towards the home fans for getting a player sent off in his opinion.
BEST TRIP OF THE SEASON:
BUXTON, MACCLESFIELD TOWN, GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY, ROSSINGTON MAIN, STAVELEY MW.
WINNER: ROSSINGTON MAIN
A good day out in the FA Vase with West Didsbury and Chorlton, to see them win their first Vase game by 2-1 via a last minute winner. Great cup drama, and a new club to like in Rossington who were very friendly and welcoming.
WORST TRIP OF THE SEASON:
CREWE ALEXANDRA, CREWE ALEXANDRA, CREWE ALEXANDRA, GAMESLEY, CREWE ALEXANDRA.
WINNER: CREWE ALEXANDRA.
CREWE ID. Got to the ground, and refused entry due to having no Crewe ID. Racist. Gamesley the other option where me and Dan Watkinson got wet through. My Wookie didn’t fare well either!
STRANGEST OBJECT SEEN IN GROUND:
EXERCISE BIKE (in Rochdale Town dugout). NAPPY (Maine Road FC, Brantingham Rd), GRIM REAPER (Manchester Utd, Old Trafford), FLIXTON SIGN (At Flixton’s old ground at Valley Road, now home of Northwich Vics), ASSORTED STRANGE RUSSIAN HATS (Rubin Kazan fans at Wigan)
WINNER: GRIM REAPER. Ok, It was a guy dressed up, so not strictly an object, but this was still strange. “I’m coming for you!” Poor David Moyes.
So, what will I see next season. If it’s anything like this one, it will be another special one. No, not like Jose. Although he may feature along the way. Who knows, in this mad world of groundhopping. It’s hopping mad!