Result: Stockport Georgians 0-1 Cammell Laird (Pre-Season Friendly)
Venue: Cromley Road (Saturday 30th July 2016, 2.30pm)
Att: 35 (approx.)
It’s the final weekend before the season truly begins in earnest. Yes, the pre-season friendlies for the majority of clubs come to an end and the final countdown to the opening day is on. So, where was it to be?
Well, it wasn’t until late on Friday night that I finally made my mind up. After flirting with a few other grounds and matches, namely Royton before deciding it’s best left for the Winter months, I came upon a ground that I’d set foot in briefly once before, but been denied a match on that occasion. That ground was Cromley Road and it plays host to Stockport Georgians FC of the Manchester League.
Come Saturday morning, I was delivered the relatively bad news of some train delays to failures around Manchester Piccadilly, meaning my train onwards from Manchester to Stockport was delayed by around 20 minutes. Great start. It could have been worse, though, as at least it wasn’t one of the journeys cancelled. Eventually, the train rocked up and I was en route. I’d not yet been around Stockport despite visiting both County and Town, so Georgians gave a third chance to do it. Unmissable!
After the short 15 minute trip, I was detraining at Stockport and immediately heading towards the Wetherspoons for another Punk IPA. This combination isn’t so much out of choice than because it’s fairly cheap, but I’m certainly not complaining. Anyway, the Calverts Court was pretty uninspiring so I quickly finished off in here and headed off towards the market area.
With the market in full swing, it certainly lent a good atmosphere to surroundings, though the knock-off football scarf stand left something to be desired. A positive was the fact the lauded Baker’s Vaults which sits around the site where Stockport’s Norman Castle once stood. I never knew that there was a castle here so, you see, the hunt for beer is informative and cultural.
The Vaults was a lot smarter and just overall more interesting than the ‘Spoons and a pint of Veltins provided a decent change up from the usual offerings. The barmaids were even being given free entertainment by the elder guy next to me in the shape of magic, i.e. disappearing coins. These techniques had them stumped and on the note of disappearing things, I soon exited too and headed back downhill towards the shopping centre.
After almost getting lost within the labyrinth of shops, I found my way out and to the Chestergate Sports Bar, where I figured I’d be able to catch the majority of the F1 qualifying session. My instincts were spot on and I settled in along with a bottle of Tiger until it was time to head back up to the station for the train onwards to Woodsmoor, in which the ground is located.
After another short delay, the 5 minute hop down the line was completed and with little to visit in Woodsmoor, it was straight to the ground with the kick-off time looming. As I alluded to earlier, I’d negotiated the streets to Cromley Road once before, but was spurned a game due to pouring rain and instead found solace and action at a soggy, quagmire-like Linotype Cheadle HN. Today, though, the weather was set fairly….well, fair and we were all set for action.
The visitors to Cromley Road for the friendly contest were Cammell Laird of the North West Counties League. They currently compete in the Premier Division of that league, which is two steps higher than where Georgians currently find themselves. Today looked set for a decent contest and it’s always interesting to see how Manchester or Cheshire League sides get on against Counties sides, be it only in a friendly.
As for Cromley Road, it’s a simple ground, yet a pretty smart one. It only features one stand, which is a small covered standing area named the “John Mannion Stand”. Next to this stands the dressing room building, which backs onto the cricket pavilion and ground, the entrance to which sits between the two structures. The sides and near end are open standing, with the far side being the only one not paved in any way. The near end also features the clubhouse building, which appears to double as a food bar, though no hot food was present today. As for Georgians themselves….
Stockport Georgians FC was formed in 1908 as St. George’s Church Sunday League side in Heaviley. Following WWI, the club became St. George’s (Stockport) Athletic Club in 1923 and the way to qualify as a member of the club was to be an attendee of the church and a member of Men’s Bible Class. Hard times.
The club played in the Stockport League through the 1920’s, winning the ’26 & ’27 titles, following on from their acquisition of the current location and in 1931, they were elected to the Lancashire & Cheshire League, where they remained through to the outbreak of WWII with little success. Following the end of hostilities, the club competed in Division 3 of the L&C league, before finding their way through the divisions, winning the Division 2 in 1964. After a deterioration of the pitch and an arson attack, the club were forced to play elsewhere for the early 1970’s.
In 1987, the club merged with Adswood Amateurs which meant a greater pool of players to choose from and resulted in the 1988 Manchester League title. They have remained in the Premier Division of the Manchester League since then and have added a further two titles to their tally, coming in 2002 and 2015, adding the Norman Noden Cup to the latter. Last season, Georgians finished up in a lowly 13th out of 16 positions, though they were beaten finalists in the Cheshire Amateur Cup.
The game got underway and….well, there wasn’t really anything of note to speak of. The first half was fairly watchable, despite the lack of goalmouth action. A few wayward shots were all that could be fashioned on the whole as the sides went in level, though I did say a quick greeting to Georgians full-back Sam Halligan, who I know a bit from his time at Trafford when I was a full-time supporter there.
During the break I, along with a few others in the John Mannion Stand, had the idea to go and take advantage of the cricket match going on and to see a few overs of that. There wasn’t much going on here either though so maybe it had something to do with me, this lack of action. Eventually the referee gave his signal to the sides to return to the pitch via the medium of a bell, which was very reminiscent of one of the shrill school bells that signal the end of a period and the beginning of another. Which was, in effect, what it was doing and the second period was soon underway!
Again, there really wasn’t much happening on the pitch to maintain much interest and it was looking like I’d be getting a lovely pre-season 0-0 to add to my tally. There was a couple of chances around the 25 minute mark, one a decent stop by the visiting ‘keeper and another effort fired onto the cricket pitch, before the Birkenhead side finally broke the deadlock. A corner from the left flank was swung in, only half cleared and the resultant cross was turned home by the Laird #5. Not pretty, but a goal nonetheless. 0-1.
That was with 15 to play and despite some late Georgians pressure, there was to be no equaliser and the game came to a close to give Lairds a solid win heading into their season and FA Cup tie the weekend after. Georgians, though, competed just as well and look to be a good, solid outfit this season as they look to return to the upper echelons of the Manchester League Premier, after a fairly disappointing campaign last time out. In summary, an ok game to watch, but not very exciting.
So, it was back through Woodsmoor and onwards to Manchester again as per usual to end the day. It was good to get Cromley Road done this time, with rain staying off for this one, thankfully. A nice ground that’s worth a visit. Next week sees the return of competitive football and straight into FA Cup action. What a farce, which again shows how out of touch the FA is with lower level football….
Game: 4- An okay game of football, but little in terms of action.
Ground: 5- Simple ground, but what’s there is well kept.
Value For Money: 8- Good day around Stockport finally, £3 travel and free game. Not bad.