Result: East Manchester 2-2 Wilmslow Albion (FBT Manchester League Division 1)
Venue: Wright Robinson Sports College (Saturday 12th December 2015, 2.30pm)
Att: 8 (hc)
Rain, rain, go away. Truer words were never spoken, at least in non-league football circles. Another Saturday dawned and games fell by the wayside by the dozen as the wet stuff fell ever harder throughout the morning. With the Buxton farce still fresh in my mind, I went for the safe option and looked for a game on an artificial surface. My saving grace was to be East Manchester FC of the Manchester League Division 1. East, who play on a 4G surface at the Wright Robinson Sports College were all set to go whatever the weather (bar heavy snowfall) and, as such, off I went.
I arrived in Gorton by the usual method, transiting through Manchester’s stations and connecting onwards for the short six-minute journey over to the suburb. Before alighting, I decided I’d try and get off using the door on the opposite side to the platform, much to the amusement of the couple nearby. Smooth, George. Real smooth. Anyway, faux pas over, I headed out of the station and through the only turnstile-like construction I’d pass by today, the ticket office (see below). On from there, I eventually ended up on the main road and the first stop of the day was the Lord Raglan pub, which was to prove something of a temporary sanctuary from the weather.
Upon entering, I was soon in ownership of a Holt’s Smooth and this accompanied me through some of the strangest couplings you’d ever imagine. In this, somewhat dingy, pub was a jukebox which was playing Oasis at the time I arrived. Nothing out of the ordinary there, you’d say. Then it all changed as Norwich vs Everton was switched on the TV just as Romelu Lukaku netted the opener and someone decided this was time to unleash country music on the punters. Needless to say, the bar soon emptied! Never did I imagine such a pairing of location and musical tastes.
At half-time I the Premier League game, I headed outside again and braved the elements with my intention being to visit the Inn Grove, on account of its one good review on Google Maps. Alas, the pub was a further walk than it was stated on the map and, therefore, a change of plan was required. This change was to head for the Oddfellows Arms, which we can all agree is a great name for any institution. The Oddfellows was like another Raglan, just with everyone seeming to know each other in there, not that it was one of those that you felt uncomfortable in entering, quite the opposite in fact. It was actually fairly welcoming (as was the Raglan to a point) and after a quick half was downed in there, I met up with Dan once again and we undertook the 10 minute walk up to the college, passing the Hare & Hounds which actually looked better than the two I’d visited, but sadly didn’t show on Google. Cheers.
Despite this setback, it was onwards to the college, where we discovered there was now a chip van parked next to the pitch East previously used on my prior visits here. But, after using the facilities, the van was packing away and there was no potato-based treats to be had at today’s game. There are, however, chocolate bars and hot & cold drinks available in the atrium of the college building though at 70p, though I chose not to partake on this occasion.
With the clock quickly approaching 2.30, we entered the pitch areas through a gate at the side of the college and made our way down the pathway through the cages to the far end, closely followed by today’s visitors from Wilmslow. There was already a river forming on the path and the rain showed no sign of relenting and today was certainly one of those that the people pushing for more artificial surfaces in the game will point to as reason. Anyway, with both sides on the pitch and the game about to begin, now is the time to take a look at the history of East:
East Manchester FC was formed in 1960 as the works team of the Ferranti engineering factory and competed in the local Chorlton League initially, winning it immediately. They then switched to the South East Lancashire League and changed their name on a few occasions, from Ferranti to ICT to ICL and finally to East Manchester in 1983. Before that, however, as ICL the club won the SELL Division 1 in 1971 and added to this a number of further titles and cups, including a league and cup double in 1976. Further success resulted in the club joining the Manchester League for 1981 onwards. This also meant a ground move from their original home at Mellands to the GMB club in Gorton.
Winning the second tier title at the first attempt saw the club promoted to the top division of the Manchester League, whereupon the current name was adopted. Further success followed in 1988, when East won the Manchester Amateur Cup and they achieved another double, with the League and Manchester FA Challenge Trophy arriving in 1992. The club then moved venue again, to Kirkmanshulme Lane, where they were able to enter the FA Vase, beating Cheadle Town in their first game in the competition, but they were soon forced to leave their new home and were on the move again, with Dave Pace allowing the club to play at Droylsden’s Butcher’s Arms ground until 2006.
After a short return to the GMB ground, East moved on to the Wright Robinson College campus, where they currently still reside, currently in their eighth season at the venue. In March of 2014, the club won their first First Team honour for over a decade, when they were able to win the Manchester FA Challenge Trophy once again. Last season, East were relegated from the Manchester League’s top flight, but look a good bet as it stands to bounce back up immediately, as they currently lead the Division 1 table.
The game got underway and following the first ten minutes, the rain began to become more of a deluge which was unrelenting for the vast majority of the game, meaning that, due to a lack of cover and excess wetness and possible hypothermia, I haven’t really taken anything in when it comes to reporting the match action. It was a very good game, though, especially when you take the conditions into account and there were a number of chances at both ends, with East having the better of them, with one drive bouncing back off the bar. 35 minutes in, the pitch was beginning to flood, but East still took the lead, Sam Jones slotting in. Half-time 1-0.
East looked like scoring first, so it was no surprise when they did. But, Wilmslow continued to press forwards too and gained their reward just after the break, when a poor defensive mix-up allowed the striker in and he had the simplest of tasks to roll the ball into the empty net. The game then got tetchy as both teams began to get riled up over petty incidents and the referee, who’d had a good game prior to this, didn’t help matters by telling all and sundry to “go away” and “shut up”. The home manager also got two “last chances” which didn’t help his cause either. It was all silly and with all the players getting more upset in the wet they began, understandably, telling him to get on with it.
By now, Dan and I had been joined by fellow groundhopper, Mark in our makeshift stand. The “stand”, in this case, being a goal’s crossbar by the side of the pitch. I have only found out Mark’s name in lieu as I neglected to learn it during the day as my brain had shut down. Good to meet you, Mark. Back to the game now and East struck again soon after all the shenanigans, with Brad Byrne clinically finishing off from inside the area. Then came the moment of the game (sorry, keeper). From kick-off, a Wilmslow player picked up the ball just inside the East half and had a go. The East ‘keeper must have misread the flight of the ball, as it bounced just in front of him and skidded on through his legs and into the net. Needless to say, his team-mates weren’t best pleased and we were offered something, I won’t say what though on here, in response!
After a few further chances, but no further goals, both sides earned a point which I think all would agree that, on the day, both deserved considering all that they faced! Mark wasted no time in heading to his car and Dan and I were faced with a walk back through the elements and past the famous “East house”. This comes from our first visit to East, when we got slightly lost (surprised?) and headed backup a side road, only to be met by a young-ish man running out of his house, arms waving, in a housecoat screaming “AAAAAHHHHH”!!!! as he met some visitors to his abode. Weird, no?
Eventually, we returned to the main road, where I left Dan to wait for his bus back to town and I returned through the dark for a further 10 minutes back to Gorton station, splashing through, now camouflaged, puddles all the way there. The return journey was, surprisingly, superb with next to no waiting time between services. Is this what is to come, now Abellio and Serco are soon to be no more? If so, then bring it on! As for East, I always somewhat enjoy my trips, especially now the new pitch is four sided and barred off, with floodlights too. Well worth a visit, just hope there is some cover one day! I did get home weighing about six stone heavier when fully clothed though….
Game: 7- Good contest, with a number of chances. Considering the conditions, it was a very good game and credit to both sides.
Ground: 5- Nothing to it, bar the pitch, but at least they now play on a four sided ground.
Fans: 1- Errrrrr…..
Value For Money: 6- Would have been a lot more considering I paid about £5 all day, but the rain…