Result: Bedians 0-2 Abbey Hey (Pre-Season Friendly)
Venue: Millgate Lane (Saturday 4th July, 3pm)
Att: 25 (approx.)
So, after a month of chasing the game of leather and willow around the North West, it was back onto what this blog is mainly about, football. It seemed barely six weeks since I’d been to a game and indeed that’s what it was. Summer breaks in football don’t really exist, do they?
My first journey was originally due to be at Cadbury Athletic, but when that fell by the wayside due to them not playing the fixture at Bourneville, and due to me returning to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix the following day, I decided to stay local and find a game that was easily accessible. This proved to be trickier than I’d expected, with a distinct lack of football in the area and it looked like my cricketing sojourn would be extended for another week.
Indeed, Dan, who’d once again be joining me on another trip, had seen a game featuring “St.Bede’s” on the NWCFL site that I’d expected to be played somewhere near the playing fields near Maine Road’s ground in Whalley Range. But, by chance, I came across Bedians twitter and saw it was in fact them who were to entertain Gorton side Abbey Hey, on this early July day. So, that was decision made and problem solved. Off to Didsbury I was.
After originally planning to get there early and sample the town, I was put off by the lure of F1 qualifying so put this off for another time, perhaps, and headed down in the company of Dan and reached Didsbury with little trouble about 30 minutes prior to kick-off. After, somewhat unsurprisingly, getting lost near some herb bushes in Fletcher Moss Park, we eventually re-found Millgate Lane and were back on the track to the home of Bedians, with the warm-up shouts of players becoming increasingly prevalent as we walked. Incidentally, the herb bushes also featured recommended dishes they could be used in. So, my football “tours” as I will now refer to them not only feature football, but also education and exercise. A good “FEE”.
So, after spotting a small blue sign pointing towards the ground that you’d be lucky to see, considering its folded state, we crossed over the Mersey flood basin and upon us came a large sign reading “Old Bedians” and the impressive clubhouse, which would be visited later in the day. As we arrived, the game was around 3 minutes in and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the scoreline remained at 0-0.
Bedians ground/pitch is a barred off area, with little to nothing else to speak of, bar a couple of pub-like tables situated behind the near end goal. There is also a tree which hangs over the corner nearest the car park, which you walk though upon entry. The pitch being used today was the nearest one to the clubhouse, and was seemingly rather short. There is another barred pitch to the rear of the fields, beyond the egg-chasing pitches. Now it’s time to venture into the history of Bedians AFC….
The club was founded in 1928 by ex-pupils of St.Bede’s College, Whalley Range, under the name of Old Bedians FC. For their first season, the club entered into the Palatine Amateur League and the club originally played on the Hough End Fields, Chorlton. However, in 1963 and with the club now open to all players rather than just ex-pupils of the college, the club moved the Turn Moss Playing Fields in Stretford and soon played in the Lancashire Amateur League.
In the LAL, the club’s highlight was a semi-final appearance in the Lancashire Amateur Cup, where they were vanquished by Salford City. The stay at Turn Moss was fairly brief, and the club moved to its current Underbank Farm home and were joined by the Old Bedians Rugby Union club, who moved from Brookburn Road, now the home ground of West Didsbury & Chorlton.
Now as Bedians, the club returned to the Lancashire & Cheshire League in 1978, where they still compete to this day in the Premier Division. During their tenure, the club have become the most decorated L&C League side, achieving more league and cup honours than any other side. Last season, the club reached the semis of the Lancashire Amateur Cup once again, where they were defeated by Carnforth Rangers and finished in a solid eighth place in the Premier Division of the Lancs and Cheshire League.
It was a pleasant day with the pitch being kept cool by a steady breeze, and it was evident to anyone who may not have known, whom the higher opposition was. This is not to say, however, that Bedians were poor. Far from it in fact. They battled, competed and kept going for the full game with a small pool of players and kept Hey honest, without creating too much, with many offsides probably coming from the fact they aren’t used to having assistants in the L&C.
The game was a real pre-season affair though, with not much to talk about on the whole, in terms of action. Bedians’ keeper Sean Chappell was kept busy throughout the first half, making a number of good stops, including a one on one where he stood up for as long as possible to thwart the attacker. But, Chappell was arguably at fault for the first goal, when a strike by Hey’s #11, Steve Yarwood, burst through his hands and snuck under the crossbar and nestled into the net. 1-0. I also caught up with Hey’s midfield maestro Sam Freakes who’s returned to the club after a brief stay with Glossop North End at the end of last season, until he was called back to warm up. The action continued with Chappell’s aforementioned one-on-one stop and a couple more smart saves and Hey also rattled the bar as the Counties side dominated, but went in just one goal to the good.
At the break, it was off to the clubhouse, where Dan and I and a couple of other guys encountered a young lady surrounded by various boxes of drinks and chocolate, as well as a pile of the Holy Grail, the first ever programme produced by the club! With a programme and a Magners purchased, it was quickly read (a decent effort putting everything into perspective) and it was back outside ready for the second period.
The half followed the first closely in terms of action points with Hey dominated the play and Bedians sole forward being caught offside multiple times, along with the number 3. But it was Hey who scored again to secure an early win in their schedule as #9, Nico Collins, shot into the top corner. Hey continued to press without causing much further alarm, bar a couple of dangerous crosses, as they saw out the game with a clean sheet. Credit to Bedians, though, who looked a strong outfit for the league they will be competing in.
After the game, it was a case of retracing our steps, without the detour of the old St. James’ churchyard and park, sticking to the roadways and getting to the top just as our carriage pulled in to whisk us back for a BBQ in the sun. A great way to end the first football weekend of the season. Football is back.
Game: 5- Usual friendly contest, little action.
Ground: 4- Very basic, but one of, if not the best facilities in their league, with the sad demise of Whalley Range’s clubhouse.
Fans: 3- Not sure if “fans” per se exist down at that level.
Programme: 5- A very basic issue, but fair play for them to bother issuing, and it’s better than some at Step 4 for a friendly.
Value For Money: 8- £4.10 travel, £4 drink/programme.