Result: Whalley Range 2-1 Old Ashtonians (Lancashire & Cheshire League Premier Division)
Venue: Kings Road (Saturday 17th December 2016, 2pm)
Att: 12 (hc)
With the prior few days weather still threatening some fixtures around the Manchester area, so it was that my journey to the Denton Town vs Eagle Sports game was knocked back on a couple of occasions during the morning of his fairly dour, overcast Saturday morning. It was a good decision to do so too. As the clock struck 11am, the game fell foul of the weather and so an alternative was much needed.
Luckily, blog regular Dan had already said he was off to Whalley Range vs Old Ashtonians, a game close by to both of us, due to his work commitments through the early hours and so a decision was quickly made. With the timing now coming into more of a critical stage, I set off on the short bus ride towards the South Mancunian town of Chorlton at just after midday, arriving into the town around 20 minutes later following a swift connection.
With me wanting to ensure I wasn’t about to waste time and money here, I undertook the short 10 minute walk to Kings Road to make certain the game was all set to go. Indeed, the groundsman doing laps of both pitches was a good sign and enough to confirm to myself that we had a match.
After getting back to Chorlton on one of the regular buses that pass the ground which is located across the road from North West Counties side Maine Road’s home, I set my sights, firstly, on the Wetherspoons. The Sedge Lynn is a fairly interesting building, especially compared to a few I’ve been in of late, but I still found myself quickly boring in here and so I swiftly downed my Punk IPA and headed towards Dulcimer bar, which sits on the road heading towards the ground, thus ensuring I was on my way for sure!
After another quick pint of Warsteiner in here and with time conspiring against me, I still figured I had time still for one final pre-match drink, courtesy of the Chorlton Tap. After asking how long they’d been open, the barman informed me that they’d been there for “..over 20 years”, but did confirm they had gone through a rebrand, so I knew I hadn’t lost the plot in never seeing the Tap here before! Alas, I was to find the dearest drink of the three in here, with a San Miguel setting me back £4.50, compared to the £4 Warsteiner in Dulcimer.
Upon my arrival at the black-and-red-clad gates, the traditional colours of Range, which guard the entrance to the ground, there were around five minutes or so to kick-off. Kings Road is probably one of the better amateur grounds, with its barred-off pitch being joined by a decent clubhouse, newly built following a recent arson attack and a small cabin providing hot and cold food. There is also a secondary pitch behind the far goal, running left to right. As for Whalley Range FC…
Whalley Range have been in existence since 1900, and have won many honours during their existence. Playing in the Lancashire Amateur League from 1903, they won 6 titles, 4 Aggregate Trophies and a Challenge Cup title during their time there. They then moved into the Lancs & Cheshire League, and won the second division in ’86-’87 to be promoted to Division 1. After one season in the Division One, they joined the Manchester League where they spent 15 seasons, with a high of third in the Division One, before they left and went back into the Lancashire and Cheshire League.
Since their promotion from Division 2 (which became Division One at the creation of the Premier Division) in 2007-’08 the club have won the league title on each occasion since from 2008-’09 through until ’13-’14. 2014-’15 saw the club finally beaten in the standings when they were beaten into 2nd by Rochdalians. Last season saw them finish up in 3rd place, but they currently lead the way once more this season.
Now, I’m not going to pretend as though I remember a lot from the match outside of the goals, as it’s been over six days, as I write this, and my memory isn’t quite that good. I could make notes, I know, but I really can’t be bothered doing that, as I used to do a few match reports back in the day and it ruined my experience of the match overall. SO this is better! Anyway, on with the show!
The game pretty much consisted of Range attacking the Ashtonians defence, but being very sloppy in terms of overall play and finishing. As it was, they were punished during the first half, with Ashtonians winning a free-kick just outside the area and #8 hit a curling effort that flew past the despairing GK. 0-1.
There was still time for both sides to have further chances, especially the home side, but the visiting ‘keeper was on good form, pulling off a few decent stops to keep his side’s slender lead intact. I also got talking to a guy who was sat watching the game with a can from a precarious position on top of his car bonnet, whilst his feet rested upon the pitch boundary bar. It turned out he had previously turned out for Range, with his Dad having done so and he was now watching his nephew (I think) wear the shirt. Good stuff!
As half-time approached, I headed for the food cabin where I plumped for a chips and curry offering for (again, I think) £2 and my word what a good decision that was! If these aren’t the best food I’ve had at a game this season, then my memory is even worse than I think it is. I need to find out what potatoes they use. There was even chilli sauce just to add to the bliss. Brilliant stuff and lit up what was, in all honesty, a pretty drab game.
The second half got underway and it really wasn’t any improvement on the first. For the second week in a row, however, I did play football Nostradamus and predict that if Range got the equaliser, then they’d go on to get the winner as well. However, it didn’t look like it was their day on the pitch until, with around an hour played, #2 fired in low from a free-kick to level the scores, deservedly, for the league leaders.
After the referee had complained to the Range manager about two spectators who, as far as Dan and myself were aware (and we were pretty much next to them) had done nothing of note, Ashtonians almost retook the lead with the visiting forward spurning a great chance and putting it wide of the home ‘keeper’s goal, before Range again were denied by the skills of the Ashtonians #1.
That is until the 93rd minute of play, when Range forced a throw in on the far side. The ball was launched in and met by the head of the yellow-clad #3 who powered it past the GK to spark scenes of jubilation for the hosts and despair for the lower-mid table visitors. That was the last meaningful touch of the game as the whistle blew soon after: 2-1, full-time.
As we exited the ground and headed round the corner and back to the main road, we got straight onto a bus back to Chorlton, thus meaning our journey home was shortened by at least 30 minutes, so a decent end to the day there! Another good trip to a ground I’ve been too multiple times and the second time in a row I’ve now visited and not been threatened with having my phone shoved up my arse by a striker and his midfield partner in crime about four/five years ago. But we won’t go there again! I always like my visits to Kings Road and its well worth a trip if your around the area and have done the others around. Onto Christmas and New Year then. Oh dear…
Value For Money: 7