Result: Greenalls Padgate St.Oswald’s 2-3 Eagle Sports (The Hallmark Security Cheshire League Premier Division)
Venue: Tetley Walker’s Club (Tuesday 14th April 2015, 6.30pm)
Att: 50-55 (approx.)
Adding to my list of grounds visited is always a bonus, and the end of season period is usually a golden time for building up amateur grounds to the portfolio, after the postponements over winter and the subsequent rearranging of fixtures. Thus, when the opportunity to travel just down the railway from me to Greenalls PSO was offered to me, it wasn’t one to be passed up. Especially so when the game was to feature my adopted Cheshire Premier side Eagle Sports! So, at just before 5.30, I was on a Northern Rail train which was so full it wouldn’t look out of place in the documentary clips you see of Indian railways. Luckily, my journey was just 20 minutes, and I was soon released from captivity and into the wilds of the town which neighbours Warrington.
At this point, Google Maps was to be main help because, as usual, I had neglected to actually plan out a route. Hey, ho. A route was plotted and I was off. Well, I was, for about a minute, when it turned out you couldn’t actually walk down the road given on the planner. Superb. So, after a scenic route through a small housing estate, which I am lead to believe was a small WWII RAF station, I was soon heading towards my first objective, the Orford Green roundabout.
10 minutes later, I was rocking up outside the Tetley Walker’s club. If this name seems somewhat familiar, it is because a club played under this name in the North West Counties in the early nineties and earlier, until the need for floodlights stopped them dead. But more on the history later on. As it was, I walked through the bowling area and through the entrance gate and into the ground itself. The structure that grabs your immediate attention is the one and only stand that looms above you to your right. To be fair, it isn’t much more than a slightly raised standing terrace, but it’s still something of a novelty to see a decent stand in an amateur ground. A hark back to the days of Counties football, I guess. The rest of the ground features a slim pathway, serving as hard standing. Now, it’s time to delve into the history of Greenalls Padgate St.Oswald’s….
The first club at the venue, as alluded to earlier on, was Tetley Walker FC, who competed in the North West Counties League Division 2 from 1994-’95, strongly, with a best finish of 2nd in their final year of competing, when I imagine they were denied promotion and folded in 2001. Tetley Walker also reached the 4th round of the FA Vase in 1997.
The club in question, previously known without their Greenalls prefix, were founded in 1997, competing in the Mid-Cheshire League Division 2. They won this division, and promotion, in their second season before being relegated back to Division 2 for season 2003-’04. They immediately bounced back, again as champions, before changing their name to Greenalls Padgate St.Oswald’s for the following season, as they returned to Division 1.
Under their “new” name, the club have remained in the Division 1, through the league name change (dropping the “Mid” part), never finishing lower than ninth, which they have done for the last two seasons. They won the title once, in 2010-’11, before finishing runners-up the next season. Unfortunately, details on further honours are thin on the ground, though I did see they won the Warrington Guardian Cup at the end of 2013, beating, now defunct, Runcorn Albion 2-1. Then I got bored on account of it being almost 00.30 am.
So, onto the game. I arrived just as the teams had arrived onto the pitch. The referee was the same ref who had officiated at South Liverpool six days earlier, and I think is Leighton Baines’ brother, John. Regardless of famous siblings, we were underway and it was frenetic from the get go, with Greenalls having the better of the play, especially helped by Eagle having the sun glaring into their faces. But, they couldn’t blame the celestial body for the first goal. A free-kick was awarded about 35 yards out. Eagle switched off, the ball was played short into the feet of the striker, Ben McWilliams, who turned and fired past the ‘keeper. 1-0.
And it was soon two and a sense of deja-vu was clearly felt. Another free-kick, more poor defending and another goal, albeit in differing circumstances. So not very deja-vu-like then…. Anyway, the free-kick was drilled under the wall and into the net via the hand of the unlucky Eagle ‘keeper who almost kept it out. Phil Harrison it was with the goal and the not-quite-relegation-contenders had a 2-0 lead over their title chasing rivals.
That is until a few minutes before the break, when Eagle were denied what looked a “stonewall” penalty when an attacker was taken out in the build up, before a low cross was forced home by Jon Shakeshaft, against his former club. 2-1 at the break, and with no immediate sign of food available, I decided to stay outside and remain in the sunlight. Of course, you have to take advantage in England, as you never know when it will be back….
With the sun still shining brightly into the far end goal, it was now the Greenalls ‘keeper who had to contend with it. Though it has to be said, despite Eagle having the majority of the play, they failed to test him on a regular basis as a result of resolute, robust defending and poor pass selection. The game also became somewhat niggly as Leighton seemed to lose his grasp on control, which was a shame as he was pretty good at Liverpool the previous week. As time ticked on, it looked as though Greenalls would gain a vital 3 points. How wrong that view was…
With around 5 minutes to play, Eagle finally drew level, and deservedly so. A long ball into the box was contested by the striker and the ‘keeper, with the Eagle number #10, Ged McAllister, getting the better of his combatant, and tucking the loose ball home. 2-2! Fair pay to the ref, though, for allowing a challenge on the ‘keeper.
Then, it was three, the turnaround complete. It did appear that the striker had just fallen over, but the ref awarded the free-kick anyway, and #12 Lee Boardman, who had just come on, stepped up. He drilled a low effort that flew past the seemingly wrong footed goalkeeper and into the bottom right hand corner. 3-2, management genius and that was that, even with an Eagle player imploring me to hurry up, after forgetting that his side were in the lead and was still thinking about being after the win. Oops. Don’t worry, no names here….
So, the full time whistle went, and it appeared I had broken my spell of poor games with this one, which was quite the exciting tussle. 3-2, and I headed into the club for a half hour wait until I made my way back to the station. Here, I had seen that pies had been available, judging by the sign behind the bar, but I wasn’t too upset. As for Greenalls, I quite liked the ground, mostly for it’s stand and bushes at the back that wouldn’t look out of place at Aintree. Anyway, despite the lack of a programme (as is to be expected in this division and most others at this level), it was a thoroughly good trip, and I got a lift back too off Eagle player Owen, who dropped me off at Birchwood after sharing memories of games against Broadheath Central. You know, as you do. Cheers for the lift mate, and to everyone for sorting it out. Appreciated.
The only problem was my ears were ringing with the shouts of FOUL, FOUL, WHEEYYYY!!! come the end!
My Greenalls Padgate St.Oswald’s M.o.M.- Ben McWilliams
My Eagle Sports M.o.M.- Jon Shakeshaft
Game: 8- Entertaining contest, 5 goals. Can’t complain.
Ground: 6- Not a bad one for the level.
Fans: 6- Vocal, which is something different. Maybe as it was a derby game.
Value For Money: 10- After all that paying, it had to be!