Result: AFC Monton 1-0 AVRO (FBT Manchester League Premier Division)
Venue: New Alder Park (Tuesday 7th April 2015, 6.15pm)
First midweek blog for a while, since I decided to resurrect it for the closing stages of this season at the very least. The game to be featured was my first Manchester League game of the season and was to be at a new ground for me, New Alder Park, home of AFC Monton.
I had arranged the trip with regular blog appearance maker Dan Watkinson, so we met up in Urmston and got the 22 bus towards Eccles, overshooting slightly, so having to retract to Patricroft. After undertaking the 20 minute-or-so walk down Granary Lane before coming upon the sign which directs you down a track road that ends up at the rear of the pitch, in the car park. Obviously, being an amateur side, the ground is very basic, with a small amount of hard standing in front of the clubhouse/dressing rooms area the latter of which are rather impressive. The far side is populate by junior pitches, and the left hand touchline has what appears to be another pitch next to it. Behind the far end is a wooded area.
Currently under construction is a new complex which will house these facilities, the plans for which are on display inside the atrium and make for interesting viewing. Apparently, floodlights are also part of the plans for improvements. Arriving about 15 minutes before kick-off, we took a seat inside and awaited kick-off. It was here that I discovered the kitchen area, that was selling pies (and more) for an advertised £1.20. A welcome surprise.
Soon enough, the teams were making their entrance along with the three match officials. Fellow blogger football spoon may be interested to know that there was a female official at this game?! Anyway, the pitch itself didn’t appear to be in bad condition overall, with just some tyre tracks from a ground maintenance vehicle (I presume) that had left some churned up ground in the near end penalty area. Both dugouts are on opposite sides of the pitch and are no more than steel boxes, mostly to keep out vandals, again I presume. The interesting feature of the ground is that the Worsley Brook stream runs directly next to the left hand side of the pitch, something which give New Alder Park a bit of character. Here is a bit of background history about the club, based on the Worsley border.
Formed in 1916 as Monton Amateurs, the club initially offered schoolboy football during the war years playing friendly matches, before joining the Eccles & District League in 1922 as founder members and moving to a new venue on Worsley Road. In 1924, the club joined the Lancashire & Cheshire League where they were to remain for the majority of their history, up until 1985 in fact. Their time in the L&C League featured eight League titles, two Aggregate Trophy wins and numerous other League cup wins. Their most successful period came in the 1970’s when the club won no less than 18 trophies, including arguably their highest honour to date, the 1974 Lancashire Amateur Cup, defeating Liverpool side St.Dominic’s 1-0 at Wigan Athletic’s former ground.
In 1936, the club moved to just down the road from their current venue, at the newly built Cleveley Playing Fields and remained here until 1969, when the construction of the M60 necessitated a move to Brookhouse Playing Fields in Eccles. The club, though, wanted a ground of their own, eventually gaining lease on land in Salteye, Eccles and in 1979 constructed new facilities along with joint host Mitchell Shackleton (now Irlam). In 1995, the site at Salteye was sold to Salford RLFC and the club moved to its present site on Granary Lane, New Alder Park. The ground had previously been used by local sides Eccles Town and Winton United. The club lost their original clubhouse to vandalism so replaced it with a building gained from Weaste CC, a local cricket side.
For 1985, the club joined the Manchester League Division 1, gaining promotion to the Premier at the end of their second season. Their main honours in the league are two Open Trophy wins in 1990 & ’92 as well as a Gilgryst Cup in 1998. After a number of years of struggle, the club were relegated back to Division 1 in 2007, before their lack of luck continued with numerous close calls on promotion, before this was finally achieved in 2011. Last season, Monton finished as league runners-up, two points behind defending champions Hindsford.
The game got underway at good pace, and an early strike made it 1-0 to the hosts, as #9, Mike Gill, got clear and shot low into the corner. Despite the frenetic start, not much else happened during the game where the two sides, close together in the table, began to cancel each other out. The next bit of celebrity news, sort of, was the appearance of Brad Howard who is probably somewhat known for being Michelle Keegan’s ex.
A previous North West Counties player in his younger days, Howard is joined in the Monton side by players such as Jamie Baguley (ex-Leigh Genesis et al, current Monton player/coach), Max White (ex-Salford City) and the likes of Josh Bardsley (ex-Salford City and brother of Phil) and Chris Baguley (Ashton Utd, FC United) and Nick Haughton (the Fleetwood Town one?) are all registered to play for the side.
Unfortunately, the game never quite reached the heights, and Dan & I were both somewhat relieved by the referee’s whistle arriving after 41 minutes. Inside, my day was made better by the news of purchasing the last meat pie, for a discounted £1. It was well worth it too, as you get gravy free, in effect. Top notch. After about 5 minutes or so, the sides were ready to resume, so Dan headed back outside whilst I finished off my pie. I went back outside to discover nothing much had happened, and this continued for the rest of the game, and the referee mercifully blew for full-time. A tight 1-0 success for Monton in a very even affair, and I’m sure the manager will be happy with what can be termed a “professional” performance, despite not being in a professional game….
So, after wasting away 20 minutes in the clubhouse after the game, it was time to head back home, via a change at the Trafford Centre (the 68 bus drops you right outside the ground), just at the neighbouring Winton CC. A nice enough evening and a new ground made the game itself somewhat more bearable as a neutral, and I found the club to be thoroughly well run and structured. When I arrived back home, I spotted South Liverpool were at home the next evening. Guess what I’m doing then…..
NO MAN OF THE MATCH. DON’T KNOW WHO PLAYED.
Game: 4- Tight and chanceless for the most part.
Ground: 6- Simple venue, nice clubhouse and brook adds a bit.
Fans: 4- Not many “fans” as such, rather the committee and what have you.
Food: 7- Meat pie was good, well worth the quid.
Value For Money: 6- Only paid £5.20 travel plus £1 pie, so not costly.