Result: Prescot Cables 0-3 Warrington Town (Evo-Stik NPL Division 1 North)
Venue: Hope Street/Valerie Park (Saturday 19th March, 3pm)
Going back a few weeks to the New Mills trip, “pitchsidepints” Paul had floated the idea of heading to Prescot Cables’ beer festival. With it tying in nicely with the visit of title chasing Warrington Town, it was as close to a no brainer as you can get. As such, it was confirmed earlier in the week that we were indeed going to visit the town that sits just within “Merseyside”.
After also persuading the Slovakia-bound “lostboyos” Matt to join us and exorcise some of his previous Prescot demons before his travels to the continent, Saturday morning arrived and so did the usual work to the station for the service into Manchester, though I did have to see some kids from school whilst waiting, which is always a bit of a strange occurrence, especially as I don’t think I ever saw any of my teachers out of school and indeed think I thought they lived in the building until I was about 7.
Anyway, enough of my early life stupidity. After transiting through Oxford Road, it was onwards to Wigan and a further ticket onwards to Prescot, the split ticket saving a fiver! Happy days. After a half-hour wait in the pie capital of the world, I eventually caught the stopper over towards Cables’ home.
Around a half hour later, I arrived in Prescot and after getting slightly lost in a housing estate, eventually found my way into the town itself. After heading through the Cables Retail Park, I took the uphill walk towards the Wetherspoon’s where Matt had already informed me he was indulging in the delights of the local customs.
The ‘Spoons in question was The Watch Maker which is, unsurprisingly, watch themed. This is, apparently, harking back to Prescot’s heritage as a timepiece making town. Famous figures that have lived in the town include the former F1 doctor, the late Sid Watkins and even the current 007 (according to Wiki, so God knows if it’s true). Anyway, I did find Matt here, indulging in some Einstok Icelandic beer in tribute to his beau, Gylfi Sigurdsson. After some slight persuasion, I joined him, but not after some hard work helping the bar staff to locate it I the fridge.
We eventually decided that we wanted to head to the ground for the start of the beer festival at 1pm. But, with the ground no more than three minutes walk away, we figured we could squeeze in a further stop en route and with the cleverly named Hope and Anchor sitting on the corner of Hope Street, this was our temporary abode for the next 20 minutes or so.
The Hope had that horrible bleachy aroma filling its air though, which I absolutely despise and I couldn’t wait to leave, even if the people in it were good sports, with the barman in particular providing some light entertainment. After Matt had enquired if they’d be showing the Swansea game later in the day and the Everton-supporting man seeing his side go one down to Arsenal, he declared to the lady behind the bar with him without warning, “Right, I’m off to Dublin. See you in a couple of days”. And he was gone.
And so were we not too long after, heading down the neighbouring street and down to the end of the road where the ground sits, only to find we were too early for the turnstiles and so headed for the players’ gate. After being told all the ins and outs of admission for the double header of entertainment for the day, we decided to plump for the easy option and just pay to get in (£7), before paying a further £2 for the very good quality programme. It must be one of the best in the league, no doubt.
As we were heading in, the gateman shouted over to us that the guy who’d done Cables’ graffiti art had also done the Eagle at Benfica’s Estadio de Luz too, which is quite a bit different you’d imagine? With that great bit of trivia in our minds, we headed into the clubhouse, which sits under the large, old-style stand. It really is a beaut and Matt was rather taken with it. I, having seen it before, was slightly less so, but it is nonetheless a good one.
Having also paid a fiver for four halves of the ales/ciders/beers in the barrels included in the fest, we began to indulge and were soon joined by Wycombe fan and full-on ‘hopper Russ. From the clubhouse, we also saw a long line of flags being erected behind the far end goal, which I immediately recognised as the impressive calling card of the Alfie Lund Fund. The fund is named after 6-year-old Alfie, who has the very rare medical condition MECP2 Duplication syndrome. But, not ones to be put off by something like this Alfie, along with Dad Mark, roam around the country watching football and have a scarf train measuring up towards 3 miles long (or 5 tractor wheels, according to Mark).
After having a chat with Mark about his travels and his and Alfie’s fundraising (as well as Alfie having a go for my half of beer), they headed off for their next engagement, having also added Russ’ Wycombe scarf to their collection which he kindly donated. Read more about the fund here. & see Matt’s blog for pics.
After receiving a call from Paul about where we were at, he finally arrived to join us at gone 2pm, having made a late decision to join us and make the trip over from Liverpool. So, with four of us now swelling the ranks, we kept on supping our way through the ales and soon it was time to head outside ready for kick-off, with both teams lining up ready to get the game underway. Speaking of getting underway, here’s how Prescot’s story began…
Prescot Cables FC was formed in 1884 originally named as simply Prescot. The “Cables” suffix came from the largest local employer: British Insulated Cables, and as such the Cables name is one that is frequented around town.
Cables joined the Lancashire League in 1927, taking over Fleetwood’s record upon their resignation. In 1932, Valerie Park hosted over 8,000 fans for a game against the brilliantly named (to me anyway) Ashton National. After winning numerous local cups: 3x George Mahon (1924, ’27, ’37), 4x Liverpool Cups (1928, ’29, ’30, ’49) a Liverpool Non-League Senior Cup (1953) and two Lancs Combination Cups (1939 & ’48), the club won the Lancs Combination in 1957 and managed a further six runners-up spots, as well as managing to win the Second Division in 1952. The club achieved their biggest win (18-3 vs Great Harwood Town in 1954-’55) and also reached the FA Cup First Round twice, losing to Hartlepool Utd & Darlington on respective occasions.
After adding further silverware in the shape of another two Liverpool Non-League Senior Cups (1959 & ’61) & a Liverpool Challenge Cup (1962), the club joined the Mid-Cheshire League which they won in 1977 and won another Liverpool Challenge Cup the next year. 1979 saw the club join the Cheshire League as founders of Division 2, which they won in 1980 to mean promotion to Division 1.
1983 saw Cables become founder members of the North West Counties League and in 1987 they achieved promotion to Division 1, having played in the bottom division since its formation. 2002 saw Cables win the NWCFL League Cup and finish runners-up in the league. The following season, 2002-’03, saw the club finally make it up to the Northern Premier League as champions and play in Division 1. 2004 saw Cables playing in the NPL Premier after changes to the pyramid and made the play-offs, losing to Workington.
2009 saw the club drop out of the Premier Division and return to Division 1 where they remain, largely as a lower mid-table team. Last season saw Cables finish up in a lowly 20th place though, but under fairly new manager Andy Paxton, results have picked up and Cables currently sit in 15th place after a sticky start.
As I have previously mentioned, Prescot’s ground is a nice one, even if it is a little run down. But for me and I’m sure many others, this just adds to the charm. In addition to it’s large raised Main Stand, it also houses a covered terrace behind the Hope Street end goal, which appears to have been shortened at some point, with the terracing outside of the roof showing some forms of old stantion settings. The other two sides are open standing, but with the far end providing a slightly raised view and the far touchline being home to a grass mound giving a similar option.
The game got underway in front of people on all sides. The game, to be honest, wasn’t all that exciting and never really was. So, we kept ourselves entertained by setting off on a lap of Valerie Park, which led to Matt even being papped (yes, he really is that famous now). We headed round to behind the “Safari Park End” goal where we met Prescot’s “one man band” Rod, who bugles and bangs his drums throughout Cables’ games and photographer Dave.
It was while we were having these conversations that the first goal finally arrived, Ged Kinsella heading home a pin-point right wing cross by full-back Ally Brown. Following this rare moment of excitement, Paul and I left Matt to continue his duologue and headed round to the clubhouse to get some of the club’s brilliant chicken curry, but not before Ciaran Kilheeney had doubled the Wire’s advantage over the Cables, slotting home from inside the area. 2-0, half-time, beer festival time!
After finishing off our fine foods, it was time to head out for the second period and we had decided to save the best until last. So we headed up the stairs and into the Main Stand itself for the second half, with me just about to start off a game of “Spot Russ” when he arrived on cue behind me to mean Matt won the first, and likely only instalment of this which I imagine won’t take off as “Where’s Wally” did.
After Matt had unleashed his “I’d rather be a Cable than a Wire” chant which he’d debuted to me earlier on and we both decided we were going to support Scott Metcalfe (after his times with our local clubs), we settled in to watch the second half, but unfortunately there was little happening once more until, with around 10 minutes left on the clock, Warrington earned themselves a penalty and with it the chance to absolutely put their stamp on this game. Kilheeney stepped up and confidently struck the ball into the right-hand side of the net. Three goals, three points.
So, we headed out of Hope St with Russ heading on his way back towards Wycombe and the rest of us to the Royal Oak, which Matt had had recommended to him numerous times on twitter as he strove to find the best place to watch the Swans. Unfortunately, I’d had my fill of beers by this point, allied by having been up early watching the travesty that was the F1 qualifying session and also the prospect of being up at 4.30am for the race the next day, though Paul found it rather amusing that I had kept a half going for the best part of an hour and a half.
At 7 I decided to bid farewell with the Swans at 1-0 against Villa and headed back to Prescot station for the return journey over to Wigan and back onwards home. I quite enjoyed my experience of Prescot itself and certainly its football club, which I’d always found a nice club previously and this view was cemented and improved upon ten-fold. If you get the chance to visit, then do. You won’t be disappointed. Oh, and try and get the beer fest in too….
Game: 5- Poor game in truth (especially for the neutral) but at least there was goals.
Ground: 8- A proper non-league ground if ever there was one.
Food: 9- Lovely. Quite cheap too if memory serves me right (under £3)?
Programme: 9- As I said earlier, has to be one of the better, especially if you like stats.
Fans: 8- Mostly on Ron!
Value For Money: 8- Great day, great club, game a bit meh, but I’ve seen much worse.