Result: Litherland REMYCA 1-1 West Didsbury & Chorlton (Pre-Season Friendly)
Venue: Litherland Sports Park (Wednesday 22nd July 2015, 7.45pm)
Att: 35 (approx.)
Another day, another game, another new ground. This time, the venue for me was the Litherland Sports Park, home of Litherland REMYCA of the North West Counties First Division. I had heard many good things about REMYCA, so when the chance came up to make the trip and dodge public transport in doing so, it was a no brainer. Off to Liverpool then!
I was to be picked up at Stretford by West’s committee members Rob and Rob. After a wait for a West player to arrive to join us on the journey, we set off on what was to turn out to be, a frustrating, traffic-filled journey. After what seemed an age of encountering tailbacks on both the motorways and the East Lancs, we eventually escaped the queues and arrived, with visitors kits in tow, at the LSP.
The Sports Park isn’t much more than a glorified sports centre, which just happens to house a North West Counties side at this point. The only mentions of the club in the atrium came in the form of small posters/signs informing of where to head if a player/coach or spectator, and locations of toilets etc. All these were accompanied by a club badge, otherwise you wouldn’t really know you’d arrived at a match.
This is of no criticism to the club, of course, as they have to play where’s best at the time, having to construct stands off their own backs just to pass grading. I always feel it’s difficult for a club to attract people in these surroundings, despite best efforts to do so, it just isn’t conducive to watching a game. Again, this is no criticism of REMYCA, but more of the “sports park” itself. I’m just not fond of them.
Anyway, personal grievances aired, it’s onto the game at hand, and after placing a few quid into the bucket at the good gestured “pay what you can” game, I was inside the ground, accompanied with a bag full of “The Non-League Magazine”. After struggling to locate any member of staff, Rob eventually relieved me of the duty and handed them to the tea bar. By now, kick-off wasn’t too far away, and the pitch looked in good touch. Unfortunately, it is surrounded by a running track, which isn’t ideal, but doesn’t really bother me as much as some others. The two stands, one a covered terrace area, the other a small seated stand, stand together on the far touchline, and provide the only cover for spectators and is rather open to the elements. Both are of a decent enough size, considering the club funded them itself on little budget.
With the players making their way out of the “tunnel”, now comes the usual look back into the history of the club at hand, Litherland REMYCA.
Litherland REMYCA began life in neighbouring Seaforth as St Thomas FC, in the Church of England League, later becoming the Bootle Church Lads Brigade, which sounds rather aggressive for a church. Close links were soon formed with Bootle YMCA, who provided a base and training facilities for the club, and in 1967, the club again changed its identity, this time to REM Social. After just one year under this title, the club again changed names, now being known as REMYCA Utd. The name derives from the REM part of the former name and social club, and the YMCA which provided the base. United entered the I Zingari Alliance League Third Division, and immediately became champions. After further successive championships, the club were accepted into the I Zingari League.
1975/’76 saw REMYCA lift the I Zingari Challenge Cup, After a formation of a Premier League, better facilities were required, forcing REMYCA to leave their Moss Lane home and move to Maghull High School. REMYCA went on to lift the 1988 Championship and in 1991 won the prestigious Lancashire FA Amateur Cup. This signalled a successful decade, which featured League and Cup doubles in ’93-’94, ’94-’95 & ’95-’96, as well as a further Challenge Cup in 1999. Following this success, REMYCA looked to join the Liverpool Combination, but following a loss of manager and players, the club return to the I Zingari shortly afterwards.
However, upon its return to the league, the two leagues mentioned previous merged to form the Liverpool County League. The club, as a result of its untimely switch, had to work its way back up, winning the Division 2 in 2007, before winning the 2009 Fred Micklesfield Cup. After just missing out on a further promotion the next season, the club eventually were competing in the top tier, enabling it to look towards the NWCFL.
In 2013, the club added the Litherland part to the name, to reflect the club’s current base. After achieving the funding required for the 50-seater stand, the club also applied to join the football pyramid, playing within the North West Counties, and were accepted for the 2014/15 season, following a fifth placed finish in the Liverpool County Premier League. Its first season at this level saw the club achieve a respectable ninth placed finish, along with reaching the Semi-Final of the Reusch Division 1 Cup, where they lost out to the dominant Atherton Collieries. REMYCA also competed in the Liverpool Senior Cup for the first time, bowing out to Skelmersdale United, but overall, Litherland have set a strong base on which to build.
So, with the story of Litherland now told, it’s onto the game. Sadly, it was a bit of a non-event for the majority of the first half, with West Didsbury having the better of the chances, being denied what seemed to be a clear penalty, and forward Jonny Poizer rattling the woodwork, before forcing a decent stop from the REMYCA goalkeeper. However, that was it for the action, in the main, and it was off to the “lunchbox” for a cup of tea, as there was no food to be had tonight, nor a programme on offer. A shame, but not out of the ordinary for midweek friendlies.
After handing over £1 for the cuppa, the sides were backout for the second period, with REMYCA this time having the better of a substitution interrupted half. As many games are in this period, iit became very bitty and broken with little quality on show as players try and gel among numerous changes. With both sides having fixtures the previous evening, tiredness may have become a factor too, but a fine bit of skill looed to have separated the sides on the night, when West lost possession in the REMYCA area and Litherand attacked quickly. The ball eventually found its way to James Colburn, who was given all the time he wanted to bend a perfectly placed shot around the replacement West ‘keeper and into the back of the net. His celebration showed how much he enjoyed the strike.
Unfortunately for him, though, his effort was to be cancelled out almost immediately. Player-Manager Steve Settle showed class to pick out a through ball following a return pass and Ben Steer, ahem, steered the ball beyond the flat-footed Litherland ‘keeper to level the scores. Pardon the earlier pun, if you will.
This signalled the end of the game and both sides will have been satisfied after a tough game and a good workout. From what I saw tonight, Litherland look a solid outfit, a bit shaky at the back, but look good going forward. You could say the same about West Didsbury, too, though they looked the more solid of the sides, but this is to be expected, as they do play a division higher than their hosts.
After a short wait back in the atrium, I was soon joined by the two Rob’s and we set off back to the Urmston pub, where I was forced into drinking a couple of pints of Strongbow. It was certainly not what I wanted to do, honestly….. Ok, maybe just a little, then. After talking about all things West and a few other football related issues, it was time to go, as we were politely hurried up by the barmaid and kicked out the door. I bid goodbye to the pair of Rob’s and I set off on the short walk home. Last thoughts on Litherland: solid club, didn’t really interact with anyone from the club, but I hope they get out of the “Sports Park” soon. I hate those places….
Game: 5- Average friendly.
Ground: 3- Stands ok, but very basic, with running track and set in a Sports Centre. Not my cup of tea.
Fans: 4- hard to judge on friendlies, but at least some showed to support.
Value For Money:8- Free travel (cheers, Rob), £3 in and £1 fish…er, tea. Very, very cheap….