Manchopper in….Daisy Hill

160px-Daisy_Hill_FC_badgethCAMJDCAE

Result: Daisy Hill 1-3 Salford City (Pre-Season Friendly)

Venue: New Sirs, Daisy Hill, Westhoughton (Saturday 5th July, 3pm)

Att: Around 180.

After last weekend’s trip to Croston Sports & to Mottram Hall for the Cheadle Town v Dinamo Bucharest friendly, my third venue of pre-season 2014-15 was a new ground, that of Daisy Hill’s New Sirs.

The plan was to get the train via Deansgate (Manchester) to Salford Crescent and onwards to Daisy Hill. However, the wonderful service of Northern Rail and others put a spanner in the works of this, as the train heading for Bolton I was scheduled to get, managed to arrive 12 minutes late, 2 stops into its journey. As such, contingency plans were needed and fast!

By the time I arrived at Salford, kick-off was around 35 minutes away. any more delays would be almost fatal in my quest to get to the ground at a respectable time. Happily, the Southport Train arrived nicely on time and arrived into my alternative station, Westhoughton at 14.57. I now had to cover a distance of about 1 and a half miles.  Armed with my phone’s unreliable Google Maps, I was soon navigating my way through the town on the outskirts of Bolton.

After passing over Daisy Hill station, where I should’ve arrived a good 25 minutes earlier, I was greeted by a green sign bearing the message “Welcome to Daisy Hill”. Daisy Hill is a small village making up a part of the town, and is located about 5 miles from the Reeb…sorry, Macron Stadium, home of Bolton Wanderers. After getting lost in the sports ground’s car park, which it turns out the football club is not part of, I was turning up a small lane leading to the ground. Strangely I was behind a girl in dance uniform. Was this a new feature of some sort the club had on at half-time? No, it turns  out there is a dance school right next door.

To the right of the dance school is the building which serves as the clubhouse, which looks a little rickety and oozes character. Emblazoned in blue, the building features large doors covered by a somewhat ornate alcove proudly displaying the message “Welcome to Daisy Hill, members of the North West Trains League”. The fact this, and the old admission boards are still up is a nice hark back to a few years ago.

Just to the right of this is the clubhouse, and after grabbing the gateman’s attention, I handed over my £5 admission, plus £1 for the programme (which had £1.50 on it. I later found that some were in colour, so I wondered if they’d printed off black and white extras in case of this?)

Upon entering, New Sirs is your typical counties ground. The clubhouse has seating in front of it covered by a roof which looks to have given many years service to its cause, and another small covered terrace behind the dugouts to the right of the pitch. The far end behind the goal is open, as is the tree border-lined left hand side, though there is hard standing available all around.

One noticeable oddity was the sight of a boom microphone near the dugouts. There were also a couple of TV cameras dotted about. It was then I remembered the promise of a “special guest appearance” from Paul Scholes and G-Nev. As it happens, on my tour of the ground, I also spotted a familiar figure in sunglasses. It was none other than the Welsh Wizard himself, Ryan Giggs. It was like The Three Amigo’s, just without any calamities or violence.

As Salford begin on a new chapter in their history after the purchase of the club by the “Class of ’92”, here is a brief history of Daisy Hill Football Club, who haven’t quite attracted the attention of Jay-Jay Okocha and Ivan Campo just yet!

History Lesson:

The village of Daisy Hill has seen football recorded in the vicinity since 1894-95 (Daisy Hill FC’s first season), though it’s likely that the sport was being played in the area before then. The club’s first honours came in 1896-’97, the club winning the Wigan and District League and Westhoughton Cup without losing a game.

The club moved into New Sirs around the time of the First World War, and competed in the Leigh & District Sunday School League. During the 20’s and ’30’s the club competed in the Westhoughton League, winning a number of honours. The period leading up to WWII is largely undocumented, but from the club’s reformation in 1951, the club rejoined the Westhoughton League, known as a strong local league at the time, playing at the St. James’ Recreation Ground. They returned to New Sirs in 1957, when given an offer to.

The move allowed the club into the Bolton Combination, and ground improvements were steadily undertaken. During their time here, the club won the Combination’s Premier Division on four occasions and won to Lancashire Amateur Shields during the period of the ’60’s and ’70’s. In 1978, the club was accepted to the Lancashire Combination and soon after, the Non-League pyramid came into being, with the Combination merging with the Cheshire County League to create the new North West Counties League (NWCFL).

Further substantial ground improvements were undertaken in 1982, and in 2005-’06 floodlights were finally erected to allow the club to remain at Counties level (and above) and compete in FA Competitions.

The club’s honours number the following:

3x Lancs Amateur Shield (1961-62, 71-72, 86-87)

1x Wigan & District League Title (1896-97)

1x Westhoughton Cup (1896-97)

4x Westhoughton Charity Cups (1901-02, 23-24, 24-25, 56-57)

Westhoughton League Division 1 Titles (1921-22, 23-24)

2x Westhoughton League Tonge Cups (1921-22, 23-24)

1x Westhoughton League Challenge Cup (1952-53)

1x Westhoughton Medals Competiton Title (1953-54)

1x Bolton Infirmary Cup (1931-32)

1x Bolton Hospital Cup (1985-’86)

4x Bolton Combination 1st Div/Prem Titles (1962-63, 72-73, 75-76, 77-78)

4x Bolton Combination Jackson Cup/Premier Division Cups (1959-60, 61-62, 71-72, 72-73)

1x Bolton Combination Brown Cup/Division One Cups (1957-58)

1x Hindley Green Medals Competition Title (1921-22)

1x Chorley FC Amateur Cup Competiton Title (1963-64)

1x Atherton Charity Cup (1994-’95).

*Thanks to Daisy Hill’s Programme & Editor for the reference points for the above details*

So, with the game already in full flow, and after meeting up with Joe Gibbons, emblazoned in bright luminous orange Bolton Wanderers kit, and Matt Harrison emblazoned in leather flat cap of some age, it was on about 25 minutes that Daisy Hill took the lead, and caused a slight stir with their opponents’ all-star owners. A ball downfield found a Daisy Hill frontman  who lashed past Salford ‘keeper Andy Robertson.

However, their lead was to last all of two minutes as Nicky Platt controlled the ball before finishing off with aplomb. Soon after, the white and tangerine-clad visitors were leading as, following patient build-up play, Sam Madeley was released into the box and he slid the ball across the goalkeeper and into the far corner.

The highlight of the half followed soon after, when a Salford player was tackled by Hill’s captain, #4 who, in a strong Scouse accent, firstly asked if he was OK, then exclaimed “Look at the size of those feet! They’re HUGE!!!” If the rumour of the big feet is anything to go by, then we all know what he’s hung like!

After Matt’s pint had narrowly survived a graze of the ball being returned from behind us by someone, the half-time whistle was sounded, as was the cue for the “Class of 92” to be surrounded by autograph/photograph hunters. As G-Nev and Scholes posed for pics, the latter seemed the more comfortable in doing so, Giggs quietly slipped out the back way largely unnoticed. Insert your own joke about Giggs and his misdemeanours of the past here.

The second half saw Salford on top for the main part, though the game was stop-start due to the number of substitutes being used, but Gareth Seddon, the ex-pro, put them 3-1 up with a smart low finish. Daisy Hill’s number three had two great chances to pull one back, but somehow managed to take neither, as Salford held on easily for their first win in their first outing in front of the press and their new owners, though it appeared they’d left before the end. It’s only a friendly after all, but good on them for getting themselves down. It’s not the first time, and hopefully for the Ammies (are Salford still keeping this as their nickname?), not the last. it brings great publicity and coverage for the game at the level whether you agree with what is happening there or not. I am certainly in the former category.

After popping into “The Daisy Hill” with Joe, Matt, Rob who supports Warrington Town and Daisy Hill press officer Ben, I watched the majority of the Argentina v Belgium quarter-final in Brasil, before having to leave 10 minutes before the end to catch the train back to Hindley, and backtrack to Manchester and home. It was a good day, despite the public transport disaster at the start of it, but with another ground ticked off and a largely warm, summer day, there weren’t many negatives. Silverstone beckoned on Sunday, all that remained for me to wonder was, “Where’s my F1 ticket?!”

My Daisy Hill M.o.M.- The #10 (again, failed to grab his name)

My Salford City M.o.M.- Sam Madeley

RATINGS:

Game: 6- A number of chances, and was pretty entertaining.

Ground: 6-  A character filled ground, and one that endeared itself  to me, despite its lack of stands.

Programme: 4- Was published for Salford really I think. Mostly about them, but why not do one!

Food: N/A- Matt got the last pie in the ground.

Fans: 7- Was quite a few who cheered the Hill’s goal, so hopefully they may keep a few on?

Value For Money: 5- Admission normal, cheap programme and not bad for travel.

Referee: 7- A case of pick a number, any number really.

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