Result: Gamesley 2-1 Eagle Sports (The Hallmark Security Cheshire League Premier Division)
Venue: Melandra Park (Saturday 18th October 2014, 3.00pm)
A further dip into the Cheshire League was on for this Saturday, a trip to Gamesley FC as they were due to entertain my, somewhat adopted, Cheshire League side Eagle Sports. My previous trip to Gamesley was truncated right at the close of last season. They were due to host Rudheath Social, but torrential downpours resulted in rivers running down roads and water seeping through clothing and, unsurprisingly, the game was postponed. But, the weather was set fair(er) for today’s game, and we were all set.
So, at just before 12pm, I set off to catch the train to Sankey and my pre-arranged lift from Eagle’s Thornton Road home, courtesy of their midfield dynamo, James Maher.
After a 20-minute delay, the rattler eventually pulled into the station and I arrived at Sankey with around 15 minutes in which to undertake a 20-minute walk. I made it in the nick of time, after jogging the first half of my time of foot, and was soon in the car with a few of the side heading up to the ground.
After passing through the Stockport area, and the picturesque Glossop area of north Derbyshire, we soon entered a, somewhat out of place, council estate with a backdrop of rolling hills. Somewhat surreal. From the outside, the ground itself, Melandra Park, on Melandra Castle Road (which sounds quite Welsh to me, though I’m unsure if there actually is a castle), doesn’t look too pretty, with a green cage surrounding the barred-off playing area and once inside, the legacy of a few young people’s drinking looks to have been left via Carling cans and an upturned bench.
On the plus side, the club itself is quite decent, with the portakabin serving as the clubhouse serving hot food (chips, barms, hot-dogs) and an assortment of cold and hot drinks, which is pretty good for the standard. The changing rooms are housed in a brick structure to the right as you enter from the side of said building. Though, along with a toilet and the two dugouts on the far side, this is all there is of note in the venue. All four sides are open, with just one offering hard standing (the one on the entrance side), the other three being grass, which was rather sodden this afternoon.
So, after purchasing a 70p Coke, and having a bit of a chat with the guy, who I think was the chairman (?), behind the “bar” about my previous, abandoned, trip as well as catching the second half of the Man City-Spurs game on Freeview Radio, I made my way outside for the kick-off. Which reminds me. I best kick-off the history section. Hey, Hey, see what I did there?!
Gamesley F.C. were only formed in 1991 and, after initially joining the Manchester Amateur League, went on to win the Premier Division on three consecutive occasions, along with cup wins in the Derbyshire, Gosling & Petite cups. The club then joined the Manchester League in 1996, competing in Division 1, where they remained until the millennium, with 2 Murray Trophies and a runners-up spot to show for their efforts.
After a season without a league in 2000-’01, the club joined the Hope Valley League, and finished as runners-up & winners in their two seasons as well as being beaten finalists in the Dore Shield. Then, following ground improvement works, Gamesley joined the Mid-Cheshire League in 2003. In 2006, the club were promoted from Division 2 to Division 1 (now Premier), and the following season, the League took up its present identity.
Since then, the club have established themselves as an upper-mid-table side, with a best finish of fifth, and last season achieved a 7th place finish. They have also started the current season strongly, in fifth place and entertaining fourth-placed Eagle, it was set up to be a tight contest. Which it was.
Though Eagle had the majority of the play during the first period, they made very little and were punished on the counter. Though the home side had been slightly on the back foot, they always looked dangerous on their forays forward, and they took the lead on the half-hour when the #3, “Scowey” or Darren Scowcroft, burst forward, beat two men, inside then out before firing beyond Eagle ‘keeper Neil McDermott, and into the far corner. 1-0.
The game continued on the same path, with the Eagle #10 guilty of spurning a couple of good positions despite good work in the centre by Maher and player/manager Rob Boardman. Most of Eagle’s attacks were being kept out by Gamesley’s dominating skipper, wearing the #4 shirt, who won anything in the air. Half-Time came with Gamesley holding their slender advantage, and me holding a plat of chips, which were top notch and for just £1, a bargain!
After catching the half-times around the country and the unfolding television story at St.James’ Park, the second half was soon upon all of us in attendance, and with a strong scent in the air(!), we were back underway.
The game continued the same path, but Eagle did pull a goal back, deservedly, just after the break, as Chris Quirk burst clear and rifled his effort into the roof of the net. 1-1. Game on!
By now, the rather weak officials had began to get under the skin of both sides,, and their supporters, with tensions rising, players being offered out by home fans, and Gamesley’s #2 getting right into the face of the ref having felt unjustly treated. Though he may have had a case, you can’t do that and, justly, he was booked. But, this seemed to spur on the home side and they grabbed a late winner, when the assistant adjudged the ball to have been poked on by a visiting foot to an offside Jordan McGrath who wheeled clear and calmly slotted in past the advancing ‘keeper to give the hosts the points. It was a clear offside, regardless (which the liner even admitted to after the game, when the circumstances were conversed about, the ref pointing out the error, apparently), and the visitors were, understandably, irate. The sort of decision had been brewing, and thus had occurred. 2-1, and that’s how it finished. Not a great game, but dramatic!
After the game, we visited the nearby Bluebell pub, with a flat-tired mini-bus barring a “Hen-Night” banner in the back window in the car-park. After encountering a few locals who were the worse for wear after an afternoon (and probably morning) out on the ale, and a Jagerbomb (thanks to Stuart Bruce, again for that), Amigos Tequila beer and a can of the hard stuff, Stella, on the way back that the centre-back, who shall remain nameless, definitely did not down any of. Definitely.
So, after being dropped off back at the top of the road from the ground and saying my goodbyes to the couple of lads still remaining in the Beemer, I headed back to the station for my train(s) back to Warrington and onwards home. Another good day out with the boys from the Eagle club, and I’ll be seeing them again soon for the Xmas night. Jesus. I also greatly enjoyed meeting the few people I spoke to at Gamesley, who seem a thoroughly good club, especially off the pitch. Only a few people, like it is at the vast majority of clubs at this level, striving hard to do their best, which is always greatly admired. Especially the chips. Phwooar!
My Gamesley M.o.M.- Shaun Chapman
My Eagle Sports M.o.M.- Rob Boardman
Game: 6- Not a great game, on the whole.
Ground: 5- Very basic.
Food: 8- Nice, tasty and well worth getting.
Programme: N/A (Free Entry though).
Fans: 5- Anyone who offers a player out, without good reason strongly lowers the rating.
Value For Money: 10- Free entry, not much to travel, and cheap refreshment. Can’t go wrong!
Referee: 3- Inconsitent and lost control. Not helped by his assistants, who added to the tensions.
*Thanks to James Maher for the lift up to the game, much appreciated mate.*