Result: Northwich Manchester Villa A-A Stockport Town (NWCFL Division 1)
Venue: Manchester Regional Arena, Etihad Campus (Wednesday 30th March, 7.45pm)
Att: Probably around 65-70.
A blog which should have happened the previous week for the visit of Bacup Borough to the Manchester Regional Arena was put off due to reasons beyond my control. With another game the following week, I reasoned “Ah, no bother there then”. Of course this was going to end up well, wasn’t it?
I set off into Manchester with time in hand and visited the Piccadilly Wetherspoon’s as to mirror my steps from the prior Wednesday. After a highly uneventful stay here, I decided it was best to head over to the Etihad Campus and to the stadium which stands in the shadow of its more illustrious neighbour, the City of Manchester Stadium. After a short 10 minute bus ride onwards, I arrived at Gate 11 of the Etihad and made my way along Citizens Lane to the next in a line of short term homes for the NM Villa.
I was so early, in fact, that I was the first paying customer through the gate (it actually is just a gate) and as such secured myself a programme which is much sought after, as this is the one and only season of the club under this name. I now have both a Northwich Flixton Villa and Northwich Manchester Villa programme in my possession, as well as a programme from a Northwich Villa/Woodley FC Cup Final appearance. The full quota!
So, after handing over £5 plus £2 for the full colour programme, bearing the club’s current name alongside the subtext of their next identity of Manchester Diamonds which is to bring the senior side in line with the junior section ahead of their next move into Tameside. I won’t say where though, under vow of silence….
The other two things of note in the programme where the bit where they apparently took over from Woodley Sports in 2005 (though I’m sure I went there in 2009 and then I’m sure it was Stockport Sports after that, prior to Town’s creation, which comes to the answer that Villa is actually spawned from Woodley FC and before that, Woodley Sports Reserves. Oh, there’s a JFK quote in there too, as we all know JFK loved his non-league football.
After a while and with kick-off approaching, I was joined by Gibbo and Ian from the Counties, who had travelled up together to clearly take in the hospitality and the strange sight of the officials getting themselves readied inside the tea bar. The Villa team eventually joined their counterparts from Stockport out on the field after a short time, but Gibbo was restless after his lap of photography and decided to go on a discovery mission. Invited along, it would be rude to decline.
This is where everything started to become even more surreal. In the process of looking for a toilet/bar, we ended up discovering, through a Narnia-like door, the expanse of the indoor athletics centre and the National Squash Centre further to the rear. This is certainly not something you find everyday when you head to watch football! After a lap around here and finding a tactics board in a meeting room, we re-joined the footballing folk who were completely unaware of our magical transportation.
Gibbo was then put back somewhat by the sight of former Wigan player Jason Jarrett in his officials outfit heading out onto the field, and was quite amused when it came about that he was tonight’s official. It was certainly shaping up for one of those mad days where everything that was happening was trying to “one-up” the previous occurrence in terms of utter weirdness. Anyway, the sides were soon on the field, with Villa including Mohamud Ali and Socrates in their side, clearly harking back to the era in history of ’80’s heroes. Speaking of which…
Founded in 2005 following the link up between Woodley FC and Northwich Victoria, Woodley FC/Northwich Villa took up a place in the Second Division of the Mid-Cheshire League an finished runners-up at the end of their first season at that level to be promoted to Division 1.
After winning the Cheshire League in 2009 and finishing as runners-up the following year, the people behind the club decided that it was best for them to begin to climb the pyramid, or at least to compete in it and as such successfully applied to join the North West Counties League for the season 2011-’12. Since their joining, Villa have been mostly strugglers and after a spell at Flixton along with apparent unofficial “parent club” Vics under the Northwich Flixton Villa banner, moved to their current abode for this season having again changed name, now to Northwich Manchester Villa. They managed a club-best finish of 11th last season.
As for the game, well, it was underwhelming and that’s being kind. I honestly can’t actually remember anything of note happening during the first half at all, and we were already confident that this was a stonewall 0-0. There was no way anyone was scoring tonight, though I can now claim to have made a successful pass to Socrates. It doesn’t matter if his surname is Martins, we can forget that bit can’t we?
Anyway, half-time thankfully arrived to break the monotony of the football and Gibbo and Ian headed for the hospitality area/tea hut/officials waiting area, while I headed for the back of the Main Stand and got talking to the West Didsbury/Alty supporting pair of Jonny and Danny. After a short talk about just what the fuck was going on at all around here and why there was a small buggy doing laps of the pitch for no apparent reason (despite Gibbo’s x-rated possible explanation). The guys on the gate where even trying to still charge full price at half-time to get in, apparently. This doesn’t exactly endear yourselves especially when, to use the eternal phrase “you’ve got no fans”.
Anyway, negativity out of the way, the second half began and I rejoined Gibbo and Ian for what was looking to be the next 45 minutes of action, until the unfortunate incident which caused the abandonment arrived around an hour into the action. It was nothing but a 50/50 challenge in the centre circle, but the unfortunate Stockport player Sam Scott came off much the worse and ended up with a broken leg. The stretcher was called for.
It the became apparent that there was no stretchers to be found. Nada. Zilch. Whether or not this would have aided him in his predicament is unclear, but it certainly isn’t a great showing when a game is going ahead short of usual medical equipment. So, the stricken Scott was left in the centre circle “chillin'” according to the quote from a Villa player (NB: this wasn’t meant in a nasty/mocking way whatsoever). Of course, after a half-hour delay and still waiting for the ambulance, the ref had no option but to abandon the game and we all emptied out into the darkness with the player still awaiting proper medical aid (which eventually arrived an hour after the injury occurred). This is what the cuts do, it seems.
So, that was that, and after a quick lap of the ground it was back out into the Manchester evening and onwards home on the bus routes. Best wishes to Sam on his recovery and hope all goes well and he’s back playing in the quickest time possible.
Game: 2- Poor, nothing happened.
Ground: 5- Nice ground, but the facilities are non existent (beyond club’s control for the most part).
Fans: 3- Well, it’s improved since the ‘5’ at Valley Road a few years ago!
Programme: 5- Basic, but randon JFK quote gets a point.
Food: N/A (though there are snacks).
Value For Money: 0- No value really was there!