Result: Lancashire & Cheshire League 3-3 Liverpool County Premier League (North West Inter League Cup)
Venue: Brookburn Road, West Didsbury & Chorlton AFC (Wednesday 18th February 2015, 7.45pm)
Att: Around 30-35 (hc)
On the request of Lancs & Cheshire’s Liam Bennion, here is a small blog about my first ever inter-league game, which ended in dramatic fashion. The game was to be held at West Didsbury & Chorlton’s Brookburn Road ground and was in the North West Inter League Cup, which progresses the winner into the nationwide tournament. The cup is contested by six league from around the North West Region.
The two sides tonight were the Lancashire & Cheshire AFL and the Liverpool County Premier League. The sides are composed of a mix of talent from teams in the respective leagues, so the better the contest in store should be, I figured.
The Lancs & Cheshire League was formed in 1912, with only two leagues in the Manchester area being in existence longer. The longest serving club in the Division in Aldermere, from Flixton, who joined in the first season. They have also hosted today’s host club in the past. The club membership currently stands at 109 clubs & over 3,500 registered players. There are 9 divisions and four knock-out cups, the Rhodes Cup being the first one competed for in 1912, as well as a Veterans competition. On two separate occasions, the league has attempted to grow a youth set up, only for this to be disbanded due to lack of sustained interest.
The League has competed against 22 different leagues in 343 games (prior to this game, according to the programme), utilising 1,709 players over this period. The first game was in 1912 (vs the Leeds & District League) as well as entertaining the Belfast Alliance the year after. The most played contest has been against the Lancashire Amateur League (played 84 times) and will be jointly celebrating their centenary of inter-league football in 2020.
The Liverpool County Premier League is a much newer competition, formed in 2006 following the merger of the I Zingari League 7 Liverpool Combination. They were persuaded by the FA to join forces. The league has quickly established itself and reached the National League System Final, when they travelled down to Guernsey, losing 5-2 to three late goals. Waterloo Dock are the league’s most successful club, with five successive wins from the league’s formation, with Aigburth People’s Hall being the current champions. Currently, they and East Villa are contesting the league title.
The League’s most prestigious cup competition is the George Mahon Cup, with the current holders being Page Celtic, whom Lee Trundle is known to turn out for. Mahon was a founder of Everton Football Club and in his memory, the cup was presented to the Liverpool Combination in 1909.
I arrived at 7.45, to find the game already underway. Yes indeed, the game had began 13 minutes early. Superb, meaning I could get an earlier bus back now. Cheers, Ref! Anyway, the first half was a tightly contested affair with the Lancs & Cheshire League being slightly on top. After braving the chill for a while, I gave in and took refuge in the seating in front of the clubhouse. From here, I witnessed the first goal of the game.
It was the Lancashire and Cheshire League who got it. A cross from the right flank drifting over the head of the despairing, back-peddling goalkeeper and into the far side netting. 1-0 and that was how it remained until the break.
At half-time, I headed into the clubhouse which was showing the climax of one of the EastEnders live series of shows which had gripped the majority of the nation.
The second period got underway, and it was Bennion (honestly, he hasn’t bribed me) who was the dangerman, his pace coming to the forefront and it was little surprise when he doubled the L&C’s advantage just after the break, slotting in a low, accurate shot.
However, the two goal lead was short lived, as the Liverpool League hit back quickly, a defensive header looping over the ‘keeper and into the net. 2-1.
This is how it remained until late on in the game, when Bennion converted from close range after superb work by the #14 to make it 3-1, and when the Liverpool League’s left-back was red carded for his part in a 22-man mass brawl, it looked all over. The referee gave him a great send off, exclaiming “You, Three, GET OFF!!” And he did. With no complaints. In fact, I was making my way to the exit in the second minute of five stoppage time minutes when the Liverpool League grabbed one back, a superb free-kick drilled into the far left-hand corner. This was followed by, what I thought were, hopeful shouts of “Three minutes left” and “We can get another yet!”.
But, from kick-off, the Merseysiders attacked down the right and they produced a low cross that was finished off from inside the six-yard area to secure the most unlikely of points, in the most unlikely of circumstances. The race was on for me at the end, as I reached the bus stop in time for the bus back. I bet you were all in suspense, waiting for that news, weren’t you?! Well, you can rest easy now.
My L&C League M.o.M.- Liam Bennion
My Liverpool League M.o.M.- The #9.