Result: Whaley Bridge 1-0 Eagle Sports (Cheshire League Premier Division)
Venue: Horwich Park (Saturday 14th May 2016, 3pm)
As the season runs down to the last few, or possibly last, weekend for myself I had put forward the idea of a return to the Peak District for an end of season jaunt, in the shape of last season’s very…different…trip to Chapel-en-le-Frith and Chapel Town FC. Eventually, after a few different things were thrown out there too, it was settled between myself and the ever famed Matt of LostBoyos, that we’d be off to Whaley Bridge.
Matt was going early via New Mills and the tow paths of the canal up to Whaley Bridge, whereas I would be pulling the lazy card and heading straight through to the town on the train, with the full intentions of getting there and visiting one of the number of pubs the town plays host to. I’d been before (though, I didn’t mention this quite as much as in Garforth), so I had a fair idea of where to head. Or so I thought.
Arriving in Whaley Bridge during the late morning, I made the short walk down to the high street, only to find all the pubs still shut and I began to wonder if there wasn’t some strange ruling that there could be no pubs open on May 14th. around here. Anyway, as I crossed the road to investigate the Goyt, Matt pounced upon my unaware self, arms flailing in a desperate attempt to make himself clearly visible to me, which was apparently very humorous to someone at the roadside.
Anyway, now something of Brothers in Arms against the quietness, we went on a lap of the town, after Matt had already completed a few earlier in the day. Then, we did another. And another. And another. And…well, you get the picture. With no sign of life coming from within any watering holes, we decided to head for cock. Come on now, you know I meant THE Cock Inn. Mercifully opening at the quickly approaching midday, we’d found our starting place.
After a couple in here, including a Hawaiian beer by the name of “Big Wave”, which had taken my interest for the reasons of its origin, we headed back down the main road and past the quaint Shotguns and Rifles shop, eventually arriving at the White Hart, which sits on the curve of the road and right in the line of any speeding cars. With only a quick stop in here and with little going on, we headed back on ourselves and up to the Shepherds Arms, which didn’t open up until the strange time of 2pm.
The Shepherds was a nice, little place with the barmaid asking just what we were doing here, and showing off some decent enough knowledge of Whaley Bridge FC and the Cheshire League as a whole. Though, when she said that she was hoping to get the club to adopt her pub as their base, maybe there’d been some homework getting done. Anyway, with local poetry and sheep posters seen and enjoyed in equal measure (not so much the latter personally, nor the former for that matter) it was time to head for the ground, via a stop in the Co-op for Matt to purchase some Buds for the game, on account that there was no bar at the ground according to our new found expert.
After heading back under the railway and up and over the reservoir, we eventually came upon Horwich Park which stands within the town’s war memorial park. Basically all the ground is is a barred off pitch within the confines of a public park, with a building at the rear housing a small food bar, toilets, changing rooms etc. Not much to it then. As for Whaley Bridge as a football club, though, there is a little more to write about,…
Football has been played within Whaley Bridge for over a century, with the current club tracing its real roots back to Horwich End, who played in, and won on numerous occasions, the Buxton League during the 1920’s and at the current site since 1926. The current named club formed following the Second World War and took to playing in the New Mills & District League, which was won in 1948 & ’49.
1951 saw Whaley win the local Hospital Cup and Derbyshire Medals and 1955 saw them add the Stockport Shield to their cabinet. Following that success, the club switched to the Manchester League Division 2, finishing runners-up in 1962, whilst winning the league’s Murray Shield. The Division 2 was won in 1964 and after a short spell in Division 1, a switch to the Stockport League followed.
The Stockport League title was lifted in 1968 and again in 1969, with the Derbyshire Cup following the next year. 1971 saw success continue, a third Stockport League title being won alongside the Haslam Cup. The 1970’s continued to be a fine decade for the club, with 1973-’75 seeing the Derbyshire Cup won thrice more. 1975 also saw the club, now playing in the Hope Valley League, take that title along with the Lawrence Cup in a “treble” winning season. The decade was rounded off with a successful Hope Valley League defence in ’76 & a Dore Shield success in 1977.
1981 saw the third Hope Valley title arrive at Horwich Park and also a second Lawrence Cup, before a further Derbyshire Cup was won the year after. After a few years of disarray on the field (and possibly off too), the club settled after relegation from the top flight of the Hope Valley League, and soon returned. 1992 sees a second Dore Shield achieved, before success later in the decade sees the ’97 & ’98 Hope Valley titles arrive, the latter season also sees a further Derbyshire Cup win.
2000 sees another Hope Valley title and Lawrence Cup before the league title is successfully defended the next year as the team became more dominant. The rest of the 2000’s see a further title in 2007 along with further Dore Shields (’02, ’03, ’04, ’09) and Lawrence Cups (’04, ’07). Bridge win the 2010 title and Derbyshire Cup, before winning all 4 of the above trophies the next year as they left for the Cheshire League on a high, success continuing into their first season, 2012, which sees Whaley win both the Cheshire League Division 2 & the Division 2 Cup. Last season, the club finished up in 5th and currently sit 3rd in the Premier Division.
Bridge were entertaining Eagle Sports today, who have become, as regular readers will know, something of an adopted club of mine, following the day in Glan Conwy a couple of years back now. With the game underway after some greetings, I’d begin to give some description of what went on. Unfortunately, the game was a stereotypical end of season game, with next to nothing to speak of happening. The first half featured a low save by Eagle’s ‘keeper Craig Clare, and a resulting clearance off the line, but little else.
After Matt had been trying to compare the home ‘keeper to the one-time Liverpool custodian Doni and a trawl of the memory banks to remember his first name (Alexandre, thanks pointless football knowledge!), we were back underway, with Eagle assistant (and late sub) Mark, complimenting Whaley Bridge on their usage of china mugs and not he plastic shite you usually find at clubs all over the country.
The second half was a vast improvement on the first, with Whaley taking an early lead, through a close range finish by Dan Christie. This spurred Eagle on somewhat and they had the better of the chances for the remainder of the game, but failed to take any that came their way. Whaley’s Will Bailey, not Bill as I originally thought, was brilliant in the centre of midfield and ran the game for them. Matt’s highlight was the big sub Raymond Dwolitka who came on and proceeded to just be a nuisance for the most part. “Ray”, though, had made an impact on us that’s for sure. Full-time, 1-0.
So it was back over the reservoir and to the Goyt Inn. The Goyt resembled more of a small house than a pub from the outside, but inside it was a compact, traditional little bar. With our final drinks in Bridge ordered, we whiled away the time through to our return train back to Piccadilly and the Tap for one final stop. Afterwards, Matt headed off to indulge in some Eurovision and I walked over to Oxford Road and, for no apparent reason, just died on the platform as you do….
Game: 4- Pretty poor game overall, not much excitement.
Ground: 3- Pitch and the facilities building. That’s it.
Fans: 4- Meh.
Food: N/A (confectionary available)
Value For Money: 6- Decent day overall and cheap travel make up for it, even despite death.