Result: Rylands 1-2 Eagle Sports (Cheshire League Premier Division)
Venue: Gorsey Lane (Tuesday 5th April 2016, 6.15pm)
Att: 35 (approx.)
As the season winds down for most clubs, for me it is just reaching its peak. The early kick-offs in the Step 7 leagues mean nice early finishes and grounds in the leagues that are easy to reach and thus are best saved for midweek. Rylands became the first of what will be an ever growing number of these and so to Gorsey Lane I went.
After a 20 minute train ride, I alighted at Padgate station and headed straight for the ground, having a half-hour only before kick-off. After a further 20 minutes walking down Padgate Lane, I eventually arrived at Orford Lane and was soon heading down the small alleyway between the Rylands Recreation Club’s rugby pitches and found myself at the rather attractive Tudor-facade large social club.
But that was for later in the day and for now I was continuing on past it and to a small set of gates where the Rylands FC pitch stands behind. On guard for today were a few squad members etc and after £1 entry (plus programme), I was into Gorsey Lane itself and meeting up with Paul Rowan once more, whom I’d given this attractive proposition to the previous week. Of course, it wasn’t one to be turned down.
Soon enough, the two sides were heading from the clubhouse/social club and over the car park and onto the pitch, and after a few greetings from some of the Eagle players, (if you don’t know by now, Eagle have become something of my adopted Cheshire League club after the Glan Conwy episode and I visited them again on Easter Monday), we were all set to get underway. But before we get into the game itself, here’s a bit of the story behind Rylands:
Rylands FC were formed in 1911, and won their first silverware in 1928 in the form of the Depot Cup, before winning the Starkey Cup in 1953. The 1950’s saw Rylands dominate the Warrington & District League winning the title in each of 6 consecutive years from 1954-59, the latter of which was joined by the Liverpool Challenge Cup and Warrington Guardian Cup in the cabinet.
The silverware success dried up for the most part in the ’60’s, but there was a second Guardian Cup won in 1967 ajead of a move into the Mid-Cheshire League for 1968-’69. The club won the Guardian Cup & President’s Cup double in 1972 and defended both the next season, as well as adding the Lancashire Amateur Shield and J.E. White Cup to the ever growing list of trophies won. They lifted a third President’s Cup in 1975. 1979 saw Rylands lift the Mid-Cheshire League Cup before they achieved, arguably, their biggest achievement to that point by winning the Mid-Cheshire title in 1981, which was again won three seasons later.
After a 2008 merger with local rivals Crosfields to form Crosfields/Rylands FC, a name which lasted just 2 years before reverting to Rylands FC once more, their next success (according to the website which I’m at the mercy of and has no data through the ’80’s & ’90’s) was last year’s Guardian Cup which was won over Eagle thanks to a late winner (at a game I attended).
Rylands have also competed in the FA Vase, back in the day, with their best result being the third round on a couple of occasions (1981 & 1984). The latter of these would have actually seen Rylands reach the 4th Round, but an undersized pitch saw them replay a 4-1 win over Rainworth Miners Welfare, with the replay seeing them fall 1-0.
Away we went then, and it was the orange-clad visitors who were on top throughout the early stages. Rylands, in turn, were struggling to get out of their own half and it was little surprise when it appeared that the Sankey-based side had taken the lead, Chris Quirke tapping in a low cross, only for the linesman’s flag to deny them what would have been a deserved opener.
Paul and I, by this point, decided to head off on a lap of the ground and have an impromptu kick-around with a flat ball. That’s my excuse for my performance anyway, and highly doubt that I’ll be getting trial offers anytime soon! The lap also meant we could go and see the caravan community behind the goal and sink into the long grass around the unkempt railway end. The railway did get us excited, though, as everyone likes a football pic with a train rolling past. Don’t they? No? Meh.
Indeed it took Rylands around half an hour to really find their feet with their big Congolese striker Odi Koubemba causing issues just with his size and bringing others into play around him. Then, with no less than a minute until the break, came the controversial moment of the tie. Rylands’ Dan Sisson picked up the ball in the vicinity of the half-way line and the liner duly raised his flag to signify he was in the opposition half and therefore offside. “GET THAT FLAG DOWN!!!” bellowed the ref as the Rylands midfielder continued on before coolly sliding the ball back for Koubemba to finish confidently. 1-0 and Eagle weren’t happy.
It turned out at the break that most in the ground, even of a home persuasion, were sure it was offside (not that they were complaining!) and the liner who was overruled said the ref had “tracked the players’ run”. If that was the case, we are sure to see him in the Euros as one of the best refs in the country, if not the continent and maybe the world.
Anyway, the second half was soon upon us and the visitors, spurred on by the apparent miscarriage of justice, were again well on top during the first clashes and they soon were on the board, Owen Ellis’ header looping over the goalkeeper, who had one of those awful mini-ponytail hairstyles going on, and into the net. Indeed, his early rantings prompted one of his teammates to say he was unhappy as he was missing his favourite bobble!
The game continued at one-one and, as with any derby, began to get “competitive”. After a skirmish had resulted in a booking for a player from each side, there was a small 50/50 in the middle of the pitch that the ref awarded a free-kick to the home side for. Again, this prompted a bellow from the official of “BOTH SKIPPERS PLEASE!!!!”. No idea why as it had all settled down really and the challenge was nothing of note and no-one reacted to anything. I think someone had been watching too many Mike Dean DVD’s.
Both skippers came and went and the game continued. After Koubemba had been denied when one-on-one by Eagle’s ‘keeper Craig Clare, then came the second controversial moment. I had long said after the Rylands goal that the ref would even it out in some way. This seemed to prove true as dangerman Koubemba had a header ruled out for a push only for Eagle to take a quick free-kick, break away and Ellis’ pull back struck the Rylands Dave France on the shin and looped into the net. 1-2 and cue more arguments!
But that was that, as the Eagle defence comfortably held firm to secure the three points and continue to climb up the table as they look to catch all the other teams in the league on games played. As for me, I bid goodbye to Paul as he headed back towards Liverpool, and now I had an hour and a half until the train back and as such it would be rude not to pop in the social club for a Kopparberg and to watch the first half of Barcelona-Atletico Madrid and Fernando Torres’ hero-to-zero performance.
Soon enough, it was time to head back out and thanks to Mark for sorting me a lift with Owen again back towards Padgate. Indeed, thanks to Owen again for dropping me at the Farmer’s Arms pub for one last drink and so I could interrupt a quiz night unintentionally before the train home, as I really didn’t want to sit on the platform at a dead station for half-an-hour. It all ended up pretty cheap too….
Game: 7- Pretty entertaining game, combative derby.
Ground: 5- Railed off pitch, no stands etc. Nice social club.
Fans: 5- Almost the end now. Almost.
Programme: 6- A decent little issue considering everything and at least Rylands bother to produce.
Value For Money: 9- Really cheap travel(!), £1 entry and a fiver on “extras”. Can’t complain!