Result: Old Altrinchamians 1-1 Wythenshawe Amateurs (FBT Manchester League Premier Division)
Venue: Crossford Bridge (Wednesday 26th August 2015, 6.30pm)
Att: 56 (approx.)
The second of the Manchester League double header this week saw me follow my Tuesday night trip to Prestwich Heys with a hop down the road to Crossford Bridge in Sale. Here, I would revisit the scene of my first ever Manchopper blog, so it’s a venue that I hold some affinity for. Therefore, when I saw the game pop up, it was one I wanted to do.
Originally, however, I’d agreed to join Dan at Chorltonians vs Old Trafford & Gorse Hill in the Lancs & Cheshire AFL. But, when circumstances meant that this was no longer able to happen, I realised that the Old Alts visit was back on and I didn’t need any more of an invitation to head to the ground, bordering the River Mersey. Crossford Bridge sits between the towns of Stretford and Sale, and is pretty much on the ancient border of Cheshire & Lancashire and being on a main route from Cheshire to Manchester, it is an easy one to reach.
So, I boarded the 245 service which drops you off immediately outside the playing fields which you walkover to reach the main pitch at the rear of the area. I’d arrived with around 15 minutes to kick-off, and both sides were still going through their last warm-ups prior to the start on the adjoining pitches. As such, I walked up to the barred off pitch and awaited their reappearance from the changing rooms, which are located in a separate pavilion like building, which is also housing the Sale Harriers athletics team.
Before long, the sides came out in dribs and drabs, before the officials came out and created their own imaginary tunnel in the corner of the pitch. From here, the players made their grand entrance onto the field of play, before going through the usual pleasantries that occur before kick-off. Now is usually the time I’d describe the ground to you, but Crossford Bridge isn’t really a “ground” per se, it’s a barred off pitch surrounded by trees and other assorted undergrowth, with the athletics club on the near, right hand touchline. Running almost right alongside is the M60 motorway, which is surprisingly quiet from pitch level. Now onto the history of Old Alts…
Old Altrinchamians were founded back in 1920, as part of the Altrincham Grammar School for Boys Association, (former school of Ian Brown & John Squire of The Stone Roses) and have just celebrated their 95th birthday a few months back. Following a spell in the Altrincham & District League, their recent history has seen the club have playing in the Manchester League, being promoted from Division 1 to the Premier Division in 2003-’04, as runners-up. They only lasted a couple of years, before resigning from the league mid-season, but soon returned after a year out.
In 2007-’08, back in the Division 1 again, Alts finished 5th, before again finishing runners-up the next season and achieving promotion. They finished their first season back in the Premier Division in 3rd place, matching their previous best finishes, before regressing back into mid-table, before they were relegated again at the end of 2014-’15. After just one season back in the Division One, last season, they returned to the Premier Division for this campaign as champions, only failing to win five of their 22 games.
Old Alts have also competed in two seasons of the FA Vase, in 1974-’75 & ’75-’76. Losing out to the evening’s opposition in Round One in the former season, the latter was much more successful, with the club reaching Round 3, defeating Milton United and Milnthorpe Corinthians on the way, before bowing out, in a replay, to Prescot Town, 2-1 at home.
Back onto the present day and today’s game and, well, the less that is said about the first half the better, really. With next to nothing happening bar a couple of optimistic shots from range and a tame header, it was something of a surprise when the opener came after a half-hour, courtesy of a fine free-kick by #7 for the hosts. He curled the shot over the wall and past the Amateurs keeper for 1-0.
The lead, however, lasted all of 90 seconds, as Amateurs got down the other end from kick-off and the ball was converted from close range, from what I could gather, as I was still tweeting the previous goal and recovering from the fact something had actually happened. But the, rather large, contingent from Wythenshawe were happy with this and it was 1-1 and that’s how it remained until the break, unsurprisingly.
With nothing to do at the break, it was a browse online and a call home before kick-off came again ad more midfield battling ensued. The closest we came to a goal in an overly improved second period was when Old Alts had a header ruled out for offside, but it could have just as easily been a foul in the area too. Wythenshawe looked to lack any real spark up front, pumping the ball into the channels for the big forward to chase, for the most part, but looked dangerous on occasion, with Alts’ keeper forced into a couple of decent stops, with former Man City academy man Jamie Tandy always a threat.
The Amateurs’ keeper almost cost his team, when he dropped a regulation cross, but he recovered in the ensuing scramble and the game eventually petered out into a draw which, as last night, was the fair result on this occasion.
So, on the whistle, I had about 45 minutes to waste until the bus ride home, as they say on Bullseye, and I wasted some time in picturing the pavilion and basically taking the longest I could to get to the stop, such is the ever exciting life of a groundhopper. Still, I’d seen another, arguably, two goals and a game for free, so I couldn’t complain too much. An added bonus was the rain had stayed off throughout too. Onwards to Saturday then, and the FA Cup at Abbey Hey. As for Old Alts and Crossford Bridge, I still love you.
Game: 3- Poor overall quality.
Ground: 3- Barred off pitch, little else of note. Picturesque with trees though.
Fans: 4- Mostly away support, but a few for the home side too.
Value For Money: 8- Only £4.20 journey to pay for.