Result: Cheadle Town 7-1 Hartlepool (Pre-Season Friendly)
Venue: Park Road (Saturday 14th July 2018, 2pm)
Att: 28 (hc)
After a week’s hiatus from the silliness of these pages whilst England continued their run through to the semi-finals of the World Cup via victory over Sweden, it was back on the road once again with a return to Cheadle Town’s Park Road. It would be my third visit to Town’s home but this one was a little more attractive of a proposition. With a North-East side providing the opposition, a tour of the town in the offing and the sun shining (which was certainly a little different than my last visit here!), all was set fair for another good trip to begin the new season with.
After heading into Manchester during the late morning, my intentions to sort out tickets for the first few weeks of the season “proper” were spurned by large queues within the ticket office, so it was off to the platform for a slightly earlier train over to Gatley station instead, Gatley being easily the closest stop to reach the ground by if travelling by rail. With the short journey taking just around fifteen minutes, I was soon somehow managing to get lost despite, as I said earlier, having visited twice before. Things never change, do they?!
After going the right way, then the wrong way, then the right way again, I eventually found myself at the foot of Cheadle ‘village’, with the bells of the 16th century (Henry VIII) Tudor-era church ringing out over it as a bride and groom entered, having struck lucky considering the weather! As for me, I was bound for next door, which just happened to be, by pure chance of course, a pub by the name of the White Hart. Who’d have thought it? The Robbie’s filled pub had a decent range of ales on and I opted to sample the local brewery’s finely (yet also quite poorly punned) named Obi-Hops Kenobi. No, me neither.
On Cheadle itself, the area can trace its roots way back to pre-historic times, with tools and evidence of occupation dating back to the Iron Age Celts, who occupied Britain at the time. Later, Cheadle also saw itself become home to the Brigantes (a large Northern English tribe centred largely in Yorkshire) before the Roman colonised the area within the first millennium. This period also saw the area begin to gain the basis for its current name, when St. Chad visited in the seventh century to preach to the people of the area. A stone cross dedicated to him was unearthed close to the nearby meeting of the Mickerbrook and River Mersey in the 19th century, with the area becoming known as Chedle, a corruption of Chad Hill.
Prior to this, the area was noted in the Domesday book as “Cedde” (from the Celtic for wood) and was held by the Saxons who would become the de Chedle family. The area was later split into two, with Chedle Bulkeley (now Cheadle) to the North and Chedle Holme (now Cheadle Hulme) to the South. The town later played host to the armies of the Scot “Bonnie” Prince Charlie, as his forces marched through the area upon his uprising before becoming growing largely in becoming an important Industrial Revolution stopping point for travellers heading into Manchester. However, the ‘village’ did lose its own train station in 1964, when the Cheshire Lines Committee station was closed (now a pub which you can see a little later on) with another having been closed earlier in the twentieth century, having previously stood near the still-standing railway bridge within the village centre.
I spent a fair amount of time in here whilst trying to come up with something of a plan of action with regards to which pubs to visit when, before continuing on just across the way to the surprisingly spacious Crown Hotel. I say surprising as you’d never think it was anywhere near as big inside as it appears from the narrow exterior. It’s not huge by any means, but certainly wasn’t cramped with space freely available with only a handful of punters in at this early part of the afternoon. A pint of Amstel (£3.50) kept me company in here whilst watching a bit of the cricket, where another wedding was entering its first stages. Aw, it must have been in the air!
After a stop off in the café-bar Lounges chain by the name of Brezo Lounge for a pint of their session Goose IPA (of which I’d already braced myself for the £4.85 price tag) where the staff were really friendly, so props to them, I continued the zig-zag nature of the crawl down the main road through the village, popping into the James Watts which, surprisingly considering the name, wasn’t a Wetherspoons. Instead, it was something of a crafty bar with a good range of ales and the like on, though with time beginning to go against me, I played safe with a Thatcher’s Haze and headed up onto the rooftop terrace out back to take advantage of the sun. A good spot to see some of the arrivals into Manchester Airport too and no I’m still not sad, ok?!
From there, it was off to Park Road where I was to meet regular blog appearance maker, Dan, making his season’s debut. Speaking of Dan, he even had the experience of seeing a pure doppelgänger at Alty the following midweek too which may already be giving an indication that another strange season is on the way! Anyway, without wishing to get sidetracked, we met up at the turnstiles and handed over our £5 entrance fee as Dan finally got the Park Road “local ground monkey” off his back. No Hartlepool pun intended.
With kick-off already imminent as the clock struck 2pm, we headed up into the fairly unique stand the ground plays host to, which is also the only covered area. The remainder of the ground is open, hard standing only, with a small 3G pitch to the far side of the stand and the clubhouse/food bar and other club buildings standing in the gap between it and the turnstiles. The changing rooms are located within the stand with the players entering from underneath, on the half-way line. Interestingly, the ground has previously played host to the Portuguese national side during the 1966 World Cup and also hosted a ‘soccer school’ run by the Brazilian legend, Jairzinho. Anyway, that’s Park Road in a nutshell and this is the history of Cheadle Town FC….
Cheadle Town Football Club was founded in 1961 under the name of Grasmere Rovers, their formation can apparently be traced to a 14-year-old asking a neighbour to help him and his friends form a side. Crazy. Anyway, this all came to fruition and the club took their original name after the street they lived on. They originally competed in the Sunday afternoon Manchester Junior Football League (on account of the lads’ ages, of course) which they won in 1968 prior to moving into Saturday football and the Manchester League in 1972 and winning the Manchester and District Cup in season 1972-’73. The club had moved from their original home in Belle Vue to Glossop North End’s Surrey Street ground and were growing ever stronger, becoming a force in the Manchester League which eventually saw them lift a quadruple of the Manchester League Division One, the league’s Gilgryst Cup, the Manchester County Amateur Cup and the Derbyshire Junior Cup all in season 1979-’80.
After finishing runners-up in each of the following two seasons in the Manc League’s Division One, Grasmere Rovers moved to Park Road for the 1982-’83 season and, rather interestingly, the club played Al Sadd in their first ever game at their current home, with the Qatari side running out 4-1 winners. The end of that season would also see the end of Grasmere Rovers, as they became Cheadle Town F.C and joined the North West Counties League for the 1983-’84 season, taking a spot in Division 3. 1987 saw this division absorbed into the Division 2, with Cheadle going on to spend much of their existence since within that division, the highlights of their first stint before promotion being runners-up finishes in the 1990-’91 Lamot Pils Trophy and the 1995-’96 NWCFL Division One Trophy.
Upon the 1998 promotion to Division One after a 4th placed finish, Cheadle went on to spend three years in the top division before being relegated back to the Division 2 again in 2001, after finishing bottom. Since then, the club have failed to escape the Counties’ second-tier, though are now a Division One mainstay since the “Premier Division” rebranding in 2008. They are still to win further silverware since their golden 1979-’80 season, with a final appearance in the NWCFL Division One Trophy for a second time in 2010 again ending in disappointment. The reserves have lifted the Stockport DFA Cup since then though (when they also finished runners-up in this competition), winning it in 2013 and 2017. Last season, Cheadle Town finished up in 12th in the Division One, prior to its regionalisation split for this coming season.
On a side note, Cheadle Town are a well-known touring side when venturing abroad. Under the name of AFC Manchester, they have travelled over 200,000 miles whilst competing in 96 games covering 30 countries. They have played seven national sides, became the first (and, apparently, to date only) English side to play in and against Cuba in 1975 whilst having also graced the turf of the legendary Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. They also own the infamous honour of being defeated 0-22 by a touring Russia u-19 side as the Russian youngsters warmed up for a game against their Northern Irish counterparts at the Mottram Hall Hotel where, incidentally, I watched Cheadle entertain Dinamo Bucharest a few years back now too.
We were soon underway and it was soon apparent that Cheadle were going to be on top. They quickly stormed into a two goal lead, the first arriving courtesy of Luke Hincks who met a Chris Sherrington cross to head past the Hartlepool GK Elliot Coils. The second came via the boot of that famed journeyman A. Trialist (later found to be Rhys Webb), who finished nicely, tucking the ball away in the corner. A strong start by the North West Counties South outfit against their Wearside League opponents.
Hartlepool did grow into the half as it went on and grabbed a goal back after around half an hour when striker Jamie Tumilty – last season’s Wearside League top scorer don’cha know – took a good touch, turned and swept the ball into the corner from twenty yards. However, they would soon find themselves two down again before the break when Webb added a third, his shot from the edge of the area finding its way underneath the Coils for 3-1. The ever busy Hartlepool ‘keeper did pull off a good save soon after but, just before the whistle, the fourth Cheadle goal arrived via Luke Cotton before the sides headed in. Meanwhile, I headed off to the BBQ out the front of the clubhouse for a burger. Really good too, so kudos to the chef(s)!
After Dan and I had watched the very early stages of England’s ill-fated 3rd-placed play-off against Belgium in the clubhouse, the teams were back out onto the field and were back playing once again. A few subs had been brought on here and there, but this did little to disrupt Cheadle’s flow and they swiftly added a fifth through the second trialist of the day. Through a bit of digging, I’ve found this may have been Jake Ambrose, but whatever the case may be, it was certainly another member of Mr. and Mrs. Trialist’s extended family.
Cheadle’s domination of the game continued unabated as it continued on past the hour mark and they added two more strikes before the end of the game, Webb converted a corner at the near post to secure his hat-trick (though it may have easily been the one before that he scored, I don’t know) before Tom Ratican rounded off the scoring, arriving at the back-post to finish a good ball across goal. So it was seven-one with a good ten to fifteen minutes to go, but that was to be that in terms of goals, though both sides did have late chances to add to the score-line. A very entertaining but, fairly obviously, not close game came to its conclusion with the hosts running out easy winners, but as we all know, it’s not about the result in pre-season….unless you win I guess! Fair play to Hartlepool though, who continued to play against what I assume is still a higher-ranked side, but just couldn’t fashion as many chances.
Post-game, Dan and I re-traced our steps back along Park Road itself, passing by the adjoining cemetery and the park at the end of the road once more prior to heading over the road and into the Red Lion for a bottle of Bud and a pint of San Miguel respectively. We took advantage of the long-term sunshine of the day and took a table out on the decked area to the rear before continuing on back the short distance to the centre of Cheadle and the George and Dragon, a pub that has one of the more impressive pub signs I’ve seen in a while! I’d scouted this out as the best place to watch the remainder of the England game and it definitely seemed to be the case, giving an opportunity of an easy journey back our respective ways afterwards. A round of Moretti and Foster’s came in at around the £6 mark, so not too bad at all to be fair.
As England well and truly saw their World Cup campaign come to an end, so did Dan’s first visit to Cheadle Town. He headed back for his bus back home, whilst I continued on up the road back towards East Didsbury station, via a stop off in a bar within an old station house by the name of the Cheshire Line Tavern, the name reflecting the long-gone line the building once served. This visit was slightly delayed, however, as I came across the Ashlea pub just underneath the railway bridge and I reckoned it’d be rude to miss it out. However, the £4 bottle of Corona made me think it may have been for the best after all.
The pub was decent though, so I wasn’t as aggrieved as I might have been, though my stay was a short one as I wanted to get up there in decent time to hopefully still catch the train at just after six. A fifteen minute walk later saw me descending the steps from the road down to the ex-station where I was soon handing over a cool £4.50 for a pint of Heineken (I was less bothered at this as it was at least an interesting place) prior to again taking the opportunity to sit out front on the large patioed area. An extra bonus came along soon after when, having resigned myself to missing the aforementioned train, a check on the lifeline that is Maps revealed that the walk was a fair bit shorter than I thought and so I swiftly finished up before making haste towards Parrs Wood to close off the day with the connections going oh so smoothly. I hope that’s a sign of things to come too!
So there ends the first true game of the new season, and the last home Cheadle game with this badge (they have a shiny, new one with a bull on it and have gone all red). It had been a good one too, with a hatful of goals being seen and a nice day in Cheadle being enjoyed (bar the getting lost for a half-hour bit). All was priced ok I guess – helped out by knowing what to expect, whilst the ground and food were all good too as my last visit to Park Road had been before the upgrades to the clubhouse. They had a caravan instead (which you may have seen in the other blog linked to earlier on). So the pre-season period rolls on into another week, whereupon I’ll be enjoying a large Lancastrian windmill. No, not like that. Honestly…..!!!!
Programme: N/A (see other blog for (I assume) a fairly reflective rating)
Value For Money: 7