Result: Linotype/Cheadle Heath Nomads 3-2 Garswood United (Cheshire League Premier)
Venue: The Heath, Cheadle Heath Sports Club (Saturday 20th February, 2pm)
Att: 20 (approx.)
A wet morning. Who’d have thought it? I’m sure there wasn’t many people who weren’t shocked to wake up to a blanket of grey cloud lying over their abode. Okay, I’m being sarcastic, but seriously, when will it end? I pondered this very question as I watched my prospective fixture list deplete in front of my eyes.
As my chosen game at Turton fell foul of the weather, I decided to stay local and not risk travel to a game too far out. As such, I thought of Ashton Athletic (RIP pitch) as my possible destination, but having left it too late to get to Bryn in time for any exploring and possibly to divert anywhere too, chose against it. As such, I asked the twittersphere for games and Stockport Georgians responded. Game On! So, Cromley Road was the stage.
So after meeting Dan in Manchester, it was to the train to Woodsmoor and the short walk over to Georgians’ home was undertaken in the relatively heavy rain. As such, I kept saying “game off!” and this was to be a prediction of Nostradamus proportions as we arrived at the gates of the ground to find a pretty deserted ground. Bar the officials on the pitch, no-one was to be seen. It looked ok from off the field, but it must have been a different story when on it and it was indeed “GAME OFF!”
A scramble back to Woodsmoor station for the train back to Stockport for the next one was just about successful as we attempted to come up with a contingency. Dan wanted to play safe and head for the SSV, but I was willing to take a risk and head for the 2pm kick-off at Cheadle Heath Nomads. Considering we only got the train at 1.35pm, it was unlikely we’d make kick-off, but I wanted to give it a go and if it too fell to the weather then Cheadle Town was on the horizon as a possible saviour.
Getting off in Stockport and heading to Edgeley, we boarded the bus to Cheadle Heath and after a brisk walk, we rocked up at the ground with the game only three minutes old. Not a bad effort! With the game still goalless, we headed in and down the side path that’s now in use as I spoke to a guy who’d arrived at the same time about the new updated dressing room building that had appeared at the side of the main pitch. It’s a smart building that doubles as a tea bar and triples as a stand, the latter of which was most welcome as the rain continued to fall unabated.
To say the pitch was wet would be an understatement. The divots were already coming up in their droves and the water was collecting on the surface, especially so on the far touchline, where some tyre tracks had become puddles down in the corner, which the linesman at that end remarked “Lovely isn’t it?”. I answered to the affirmative and said the officials were certainly earning their money today. Unsurprisingly, he agreed with this too.
You certainly can’t apportion blame upon the club, as the pitch actually played remarkably well considering the state which the wear and tear of a 90-minute game left it in. But ‘The Heath’ held up and somehow allowed the full match to be completed, albeit in angry circumstances! Before we explore that, though, here’s the history of Linotype/Cheadle:
One of two sides who merged to form the current side, Linotype FC, competed in the Mid-Cheshire League from 1949 up until their alliance, winning four titles (’60, ’69, ’91, ’94). They also reached the second round of the FA Vase on three occasions, the latter being in 1987.
The other forerunners of the club, Cheadle Heath Nomads, joined the Mid-Cheshire League and immediately won the Second Division and achieved promotion through to Division 1 (now Premier) where they have remained since.
The current side, formed in 2004 after the merger have been a solid mid-table outfit throughout their 12-year existence, only topping it last season with a Cheshire League title.
With the game already underway, Dan and I took advantage of the cover afforded to us, alongside 99% of the rest of those in attendance. It was from here that we were to see Cheadle storm into a two-goal lead. First, the home #9, Leon Grandison, finished well from inside the area and this strike was followed by a pretty quick response by Garswood as their striker finished off a cross that wasn’t cleared.
A brilliant volleyed effort from the Cheadle Heath #8, Nehru McKenzie, restored the home side’s advantage as he placed the ball into the bottom corner and as I braved the rain for a lap of the ground, they went 3-1 up as Phil Yuilley converted from the edge of the area. I then had a quick chat with ‘keeper Aaron Tyrer about the state of the pitch before leaving him to concentrate on his job and continued onwards through the far side bog and had the strange sensation of the whole piece of ground moving as I stepped on it.
Eventually, I made it to firmer land and spoke to another guy about just how mad it was this game was actually on as we marvelled at some of divots that had been created and felt for the groundsman who’d have to deal with this for some time afterwards! After a quick chat with the “man with the brolly”, I quickly scooted round the railway end (with regular trains for those who like that sort of thing) and back to cover. Safe.
After Dean McGregor had struck the post to almost make it four for the home side, it was half-time and the two sides made their way inside and for some respite and indeed Garswood must have wanted to remain in there for a while longer as only one of the visitors’ side made his way out with the Cheadle team. As the rest eventually followed they were still ‘keeper-less. About 30 seconds later he appeared. Apparently, he’d been watching the end of a race but wasn’t in luck as his horse lost. This set the tone.
As conditions worsened, so did the game as a spectacle. Both still tried to play but the ever growing quagmire in the centre of the field was becoming ever wetter and muddy by the second. Eventually, with 10 to play, Garswood got a second after a break down the clubhouse side saw the ball fall to #12, who finished easily into the unguarded net, with the ‘keeper Tyrer still recovering from the initial effort.
But then it all kicked off. As I remarked on how good a game the combative #6 had had, he was crunched down in the corner and thus sparked a 18-man battle royal. As both protagonists were booked for their parts, the ref was called back over by the linesman. The visitors’ keeper was in turn called over by the ref and given his marching orders, much to the disbelief of the #1. It was apparently for a head-butt, and the following “conversation” that followed was pretty…forceful, threatening and generally OTT.
So, if there wasn’t a head-butt (and there likely wasn’t a full blown one at least in the melee, then the outburst was probably earning one anyway). I think it was the Cheadle Heath #8 he got involved with, but I’ve no idea why ‘keepers feel the need to sprint a fair way to get involved in these things anyway. Regardless, head-butt or not, Garswood had 10 men for the rest of the game and left with nothing.
The game ended and the ‘keeper returned to the pitch, via a shoving match with #8 and had a cooler conversation about his dismissal. I reckon he was unfortunate, but you really can’t be saying that on the pitch, even if you are really pissed! As for Dan and I, we left the confines of the Cheadle Sports Club and left for the bus back to Stockport and got the connection onwards with little worry. Bar a guy falling down the stairs on the bus home, little happened and thus endeth our tale.
Oh, and Cheadle Town ended 10-1….
Game: 7-Decent game considering the conditions.
Ground: 5- Basic really, with little in terms of facilities. Clubhouse shut for start.
Fans: 3- Nothing to speak of, unsurprisingly given the level.
Food: N/A (hot drinks only)
Value For Money: 7- Free game, only £6.70 paid. Not too bad…in the end.