Result: Tempest United 1-4 Lostock St. Gerards (West Lancashire League Richardson Cup 3rd Round)
Venue: Tempest Road (Saturday 3rd December 2016, 1.30pm)
Att: 45 (hc)
As the final month of the year begins, so the run towards 200 grounds nears its conclusion. Yes, with Tempest United chosen as venue 198, the bicentennial ground has been chosen (no spoilers as yet) with Port Vale filling the 199th spot the following day. But, for this Saturday, it was a local trip to just past Bolton and the small town of Lostock for some West Lancashire League cup action. Let’s hope there were no STORMS brewing. Ah, tempest..storms..? Ah, go away.
After setting off on a much delayed Northern train (shock, horror), it soon became apparent that delays and on-train crushes would be the order of the day. Having disembarked at Deansgate station off one sweat-inducing service, I imagined my ordeal may be over. This dream was shattered, however, when the Blackpool-bound connection arrived with just two carriages, both full to the brim and with people with pushchairs forced to stand within the toilet just to get on. Great service.
Mercifully, my journey was only a 20-minute further hop from town and I was quick to make my exit, careful to not stand on any of the kids around the doorway. Safety at a premium here! Anyway, this was to be my last train-related issues for a couple of hours at least as thoughts turned towards football and the second of three clubs along Tempest Road.
Indeed, having already visited the closest of the three to the station, Ladybridge FC, for my first game of this season, Tempest are the furthest down. But in being situated there, it gave me the chance to visit the only pub in the town, as far as I’m aware anyway, the Duke of Wellington.
It only takes around 15 minutes to walk there, with the ground a further two minutes on. Not too taxing, though the slice of lime I received in my Corona was the driest I’ve ever seen and so was not utilised on this occasion. After watching the remainder of the first half of Manchester City-Chelsea in here, it was soon time to head over to the ground.
Tempest Road is a simple ground. The pitch is barred off on two-and-a-half sides with only the clubhouse side having open, hard standing. The far side of the pitch is home to a very small mound, which gives a slightly raised view of the ground, as does the extreme ends of the clubhouse side. The road end of the ground is just an open expanse of grass, with the occasional ball striking cars as it clears the hedge. That’s pretty much it for the ground, so here’s a bit about the history of Tempest Utd…
Tempest United FC was formed in 1946 in the village of Chew Moor in Lostock and had a good initial existence before disbanding. During their first form, the club were nomadic playing on “various farmer’s fields” in and around the village, though they did manage to lift their, to date, only Westhoughton Charity Cup.
During the late 1950’s, the current ground was converted by Bolton Council from allotments to a football pitch and funds from the previous incarnation of the club went towards reforming it. The changing rooms at the ground have seen some…different locations, namely a garage and cottages, the latter with tin baths and coal fires as upgraded facilities!
Initially playing in the Bolton Combination, Tempest won both the Second and First Divisions within the first three years of joining the league, but silverware soon became hard to come by. However, they soon came by a timber chicken shed to be used as a clubroom/changing rooms from 1979, with a bar added some time later. The late 80’s saw the club given funding to build a brick extension for the clubhouse, enabling the shed to become changing only facilities.
Following a further Bolton Combination divisional win, the club also lifted the league’s Open Cup in 1991. The following year, the club applied for the West Lancashire League and were subsequently elected, with Tempest having remained there ever since. After joining the ‘old’ Division 2 initially, they were promoted to Division 1 in 1996, but were relegated after one season in the top division. They did, however, go on to win two Bolton Hospitals Cups after this in 1998 & 2000.
Following re-organisation in 2000, Tempest were promoted to the new “Premier Division” but were immediately relegated once more. It took another six seasons for the club to return, but they did as 2009 Division One Champions. But, after a further five seasons of struggling away in the top-tier, they returned to Division One for 2014-’15, but were promoted again last season after finishing up in 2nd place behind champions Turton.
After the away side were made to walk over to the “tunnel” (two ropes and some cones) through the car park and make their way onto the pitch from this side and following the usual pre-match pleasantries the “different Lostocks derby”(not its actual name, unsurprisingly) was underway. The home side looked to be on top through the early stages, but it was to be the visitors who would strike first, Joey Mullen doing well to beat two Tempest defenders before firing past the ‘keeper.
The game continued in the same vein, with Lostock being put under pressure by the home side, but Tempest were wasteful in good areas and struggled to test the Lostock GK. Their misery was being compounded by some questionable officiating from the assistants especially, who had pretty poor days it has to be said. Both sides were affected by this, though it seemed to get to Tempest and affect their performance as, just before the half hour, Adam Clare found the ball at his feet following an advantage in the area and he finished unerringly. A plus for the ref, who I felt had a decent game, but was affected by his assistants overall.
The home side found themselves further behind at the break, Clare netting his second after beating the offside trap and finishing off confidently and it looked all over bar the shouting. A small shock was on the cards in the Richardson Cup, with the Divisions 5th-placed side trailing to its 14th.
For the break it was to the smart clubhouse with the “Famous Shed” changing area behind, which is referred to numerous times around its location. In here is to be found the bar and the small food hut where I purchased chips for a £1. Not too bad either and most welcome on a fairly chilly day.
Soon enough, the sides were back out on the field and the second half was underway, with questionable offsides being the order of the day still (there was at least three I was completely in line with that were given off when they weren’t for both teams). Despite this, the home side continued to be the more dominant force overall, but just couldn’t create in front of goal. However, they were given the chance to get something of a lifeline when a blatant trip in the area was awarded with a rightful penalty. #3, Sean Rothwell, stepped up only to see his pen kept out, fairly comfortably, by the Lostock GK. But only the home team will know how they failed to net from the rebound!
Then came the goal of the game and what a cracker it was. With the away side getting forward, the ball was half cleared out to Jon Wilding a full 35 yards out. There looked to be little danger, until Wilding unleashed a fizzing, rising drive from all of 30 yards which flew past the despairing ‘keeper and into the top corner. A great strike and that, without any doubt, sealed St. Gerards’ place in the next round.
There was still time for Tempest to press on and force another penalty, #11 this time taking responsibility, but again the Lostock ‘keeper guessed correctly to keep out the shot. Just as it looked like he’d earn a deserved clean sheet, Rothwell received the ball just outside the area and hit an effort into the far bottom corner. 1-4 and full-time arrived not too long after.
Having seen a really entertaining game, I left Tempest Road pretty pleased, considering the whole day had cost less than £8, which is crazy really! Alas, the train services had not improved and after further delays and crushes, I arrived at Deansgate just in time for my connection home which was, in another shocking twist, delayed and full to the door where I was situated. Ah Northern, after Sunday, that’s me done with you for the year, methinks. Let’s hope 2017 is a much improved year. As for Tempest: it’s a nice little ground and a decent all-round club which is well worth a visit if you find yourself in the Bolton area and are looking for a cheap game option. Just CMB to go to complete the trinity of Tempest Road….
Value For Money: 9