Result: Heyside 4-0 Govan Athletic (Manchester League Division 1)
Venue: Crompton House School (Saturday 19th November 2016, 2.30pm)
Att: 13 (hc)
“Here comes the rain again” goes the song and it couldn’t have been more in-fitting with the Friday evening ahead of this weekend’s round of games. As it was, it didn’t matter all too much to me, as I had already decided to have a close to home visit for Saturday, but what it did accomplish in doing was to decimate the choices that I had on my list. As all the grass-based clubs fell, one-by-one, by the wayside, I was left with only a few 3G pitches to choose from. So, where was it to be? I’ll leave you in suspense for now (so long as you didn’t take too much notice of the title or first line off this blog. Hmmmm…
Anyway, with fairly regular blog appearance maker Dan having had his shift working at Ewood Park cancelled and confirming his place on this grandest of tours, we set off on our way into Manchester Piccadilly and to the Gardens’ Wetherspoon’s, where our fate was to be decided. Upon arrival, the Spoons was, as expected, packed with United fans ahead of the early kick-off vs Arsenal, but the bar staff were swift in their work and I was soon in possession of a Blue Moon, much to the chagrin of some around me I presume.
So, with beers in the process of being consumed, we decided we should hastily decide our destination. Now, our first random number decision came up with Royton Town, but then I thought ‘Heyside do follow me on twitter so perhaps we ought to go there….’. Random decision soon cast aside, Heyside’s twitter was soon contacted to confirm their game was 100% on and we were on the 182 bus up towards Oldham. Unfortunately, my jeans were claimed by one of many large, muddy puddles along the way, so I just hoped it was devoid of any “dodgy substances”.
45-minutes or so later, we were de-bussing in the small town of Shaw, which sits about a 15 minute walk from the Crompton C of E school where Heyside play their games at the present time. With the Utd-Arsenal game having just kicked-off, Dan and I agreed we should probably look for somewhere to at least watch the first half. Fortunately, right opposite us was the Blue Bell, a large, rather old-looking pub and so for there we headed. A purchase of two bottles for £4.80 went down well too, though the game was a bit of a dud, with only the pretend argument behind us providing much entertainment.
With the half-time whistle having blown, I decided, rather selfishly, that I would like to squeeze in the town’s Wetherspoons, The Shay Wake. It was a pretty standard, modern yet smart ‘Spoons and they had been bloody active in getting their Christmas decorations up! In a continuation of the surprise revelation of the day, I had now visited two Wetherspoons while resisting the urge to have Punk IPA and instead plumped for the Icelandic Einstok. An extra quid, but it’s worthwhile. Well, I think it is. Punk though.
Our quick visit here was soon over and it was time to walk up to the ground. Luckily, though, we discovered we could get a bus up to the ground and be extremely lazy, though these feelings were somewhat allayed when we encountered the steep incline whilst on said transport! After initially missing our intended stop, we soon backtracked and found ourselves outside the Black Horse. Oh, what an unintentional mistake (very serious voice, clearly). We figured with us being here, we might as well go in and it was a good decision. The Black Horse is your quintessential country-style pub, decorated as you’d probably imagine and with a good pint of Lees’ beer for £3-odd. The stranger thing was, though, the array of aftershaves/deodorants being offered in the toilets! I guess the pulling game must be strong in here during the evenings?
Anyway, the time was quickly heading towards 2.30 and therefore kick-off for today’s game. Heading pretty much just over the road, we followed the road down through the mud on the rugby pitch, as we unintelligently decided that going on the grass would be a good option and eventually back to the solid concrete. After heading round to the steps, the game go underway as we entered into the cage. So, Heyside vs Govan Athletic in the Manchester League Division 1 was the contest and here’s a bit about the home side’s story…
Heyside FC was formed in 1975 as Heyside Juniors (the current full club title). After initially playing in local leagues, they have swiftly risen through the Huddersfield & District League since joining in 2004(?). After being relegated to Division 4 in 2009, they were swiftly promoted the next season, as runners-up and again the next season as they reached Division 2. After three seasons, they were promoted after finishing third for the second consecutive year and after one season in the top division, finishing third again, the club switched into the Manchester League for this season after winning the Barlow Cup.
An interesting side note is this: In 1984 the club answered an add in a European Football Magazine from a club called VV Alverna in the Netherlands, asking for an English Club to tour. A long-term relationship was formed with the two teams visiting each other once every two years. Many friendships were formed and when some of the organising committee from Alverna moved to AWC, the loyalty moved with them. The first trip to AWC took place in 2004 as Heyside Angels took a team over for the first time.
The game was a bit of a slow burner early on, with both teams not really threatening each other too much. A nice touch was Heyside’s manager Geoff coming over to thank us for coming and sorting us out with a free cup of tea each during the break. Cheers Geoff! It was very welcome on this day too! After around 15 minutes of the first half, Heyside took the lead out of the blue, James Leonard getting up highest at the back post to nod home. 1-0.
Despite a few breaks here and there, neither team really made too much else and the game became a bit of a turgid affair, with little to choose between the teams, despite the two being at opposite ends of the table. 2nd placed Heyside, though, looked the more comfortable and they saw out the rest of the forty-five to take in a slender lead at the break.
During the half-time period and with rain beginning to fall, we headed inside to the Women’s section of the hanging rooms (which were being used for everything today, for some reason) and we were directed to the room where the teas were being served up. With more friendly people being found behind each door it seemed, the choice of coming up to Crompton School seemed a wise one, even if I do say so myself. It was also the first time I’ve been handed my tea by the match referee too, so there’s one to tick-off the bucket list!
With half-time out-of-the-way, we headed back out to the “stand” (over hanging roof), raised up above the pitch and giving a pretty decent view of the game. After finishing off our tea, we briefly headed inside where we were given some info on latest scores before quickly heading back pitchside. Again, this was only a brief stay, as the rain showers turned to snow and so we beat a hasty retreat back to shelter for the remainder of the contest.
The second half was, again, fairly evenly matched with Heyside just about looking in a better position. Indeed, this became much more comfortable when, during a spell of five minutes, they netted three times to put the game to bed. Firstly, Gary Schofield lashed home from the edge of the area after good work down the right, which the committee guy stood next to us said was “his first for three years”! Not a bad finish if that was the case! Then, almost immediately from kick-off, Heyside broke and the ball eventually reached Leonard to chip it over the ‘keeper and notch his second of the game.
Just before the fourth, another man came out from the depths of the school’s sports section and asked was it still 1-0. His mate answered it was as we, ever the mischievous ones, stayed silent, as the dubious information went as far as a penalty save having occurred in the man’s absence. It was only when number four flew in, Kevan Thorpe’s free-kick catching the ‘keeper out and drifting over his head, that the truth came out!
From there on in, Heyside controlled the game and saw out a clean sheet. The full-time whistle blew and the sides headed back up the stairs with one home player fairly commenting that the result “flattered us”. It was an accurate summary of the game as Govan were far from four goals worse. Despite this, you couldn’t say Heyside didn’t deserve the three points. So, having been offered to join the team after the game back at Heyside Cricket Club after the game, we thought it rude to say no. We were duly offered a lift. What a club!
After a short drive, we were soon dropped off in the car park of the sodden cricket club. Inside, however, the place is very smart and looks good. Soccer Saturday on the TV was a bonus too and I purchased a bottle of the Manchester Pale Ale to accompany me through to our bus in around 45 minutes, though this was soon joined by a half of Coors, as myself and Dan were bought a drink by Geoff. Cheers mate, it was very much appreciated. As was the free pie and chips a little later! Crazy stuff.
Unfortunately, it was soon time to head outside for our carriage back to Manchester and after bidding goodbye to Geoff and a few of the other Heyside guys, we headed out into the darkness. Soon enough we were on our way back, concerning people on the top deck as we unveiled a few Heyside-themed songs on the way. Is this the first time this has happened? Possibly. But anyhow, we were soon back in Manchester and stuck on Oxford Road for as long as the journey back from Heyside took. Great roadworks guys.
All in all, what a day and what a club. I have to say, when I got underway that morning, I didn’t expect anything like what we were afforded at Heyside. It’s truly appreciated by us both when a team is so hospitable and goes out of their way as happened throughout. Cheers guys! Next week, it’s back (hopefully) into the semi-pro ranks and the FA Trophy. Here’s a clue: a steam train may be featured….
Value For Money: 9.