Manchopper in….Marple (Mellor FC)

Milton fc

Result: Mellor 1-1 Milton (Lancashire & Cheshire AFL Premier Division)

Venue: Wood Lane (Saturday 17th August 2019, 2pm)

Att: 11 (hc)

A week without Cup football rolled around early on in the season and, as a result, I didnt have much of an idea of where to head for. This feeling was exacerbated by the, at times, torrential downpours in the days leading up to Saturday, meaning games further down the leagues could be in a bit of bother. As a result, it was better to head for somewhere that had a confirmatory twitter account etc., correct? Well, this is me you’re on about….

As I said earlier, with not having any concrete plans laid out, I headed into Manchester during the morning and allowed my own feelings to guide my decision. To be bold and travel a fair bit yonder, or be lazy and remain close to home. Well, after asking for a few ideas and coming across some myself, I narrowed it down to a couple of options – Heywood St. James of the Manchester League or Mellor of the Lancs & Cheshire League and the opening day up in Marple. One had a good, working account and it was there I wasn’t headed. I balanced risk for reward and plumped for it, after a, Hyde was there as a fall-back!

Finishing off my wait-covering pint of Boddies in the Hourglass within Piccadilly, I paid the due visit to the ticket office for tickets to the Rose Hill station that Marple plays host to, with this being a short walk away from the ground. You see, I’d decided to be my own match official for the day and carry out a personal pitch inspection….yes, I really am that sad! However, the train journey overall showed that the rain and ground wetness had greatly reduced to next to nothing – that is until we arrived into Marple, where it was puddle central. Either there’d just been a brief downpour just before my arrival, or the place doesn’t drain overly well. Whatever the case, I was beginning to think Hyde’s plastic offering would be on the cards.

Marple Park

Marple Park, ft. Stocks!

Making my way along the Middlewood footpath that takes you from the station to the ground and beyond, I dodged many a manure pile and more than enough puddles to get to the ground and *squelch, squelch, squelch*. The grass around the pitch was sodden but, to my surprise, the playing area itself was pretty solid and I expected football – after all, there was still 2 hours to kick off…well, one actually, as it turned out it was a 2 o’clock start, which I only found out in checking the full-time site as I settled in at the far end of town with a first pint. Brilliant scenes. At least both the Navigation was a decent boozer to begin with and I opted for a pint of the Robinson’s Helle Lager, though the price tag of £4.50 was quite surprising. Having said that, the £4.70 Stella in my second stop, the Bull’s Head, was similar but, again, it was a nice enough place to wile away the remaining time.

Marple is a small town in the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport in Greater Manchester and lies just to the south east of the hat-making town. Historically a part of Cheshire, it lies upon the Peak Forest Canal which hosts the Marple Aqueduct and Roman Lakes lie to the North. The Middlewood Way runs along the old rail line from Rose Hill Marple to Macclesfield, some 9 miles away. The first time Marple was mention was as Merpel – believed to be derived from the Old English maere pill. meaning ‘the stream at the boundary’. The area is believed to have been inhabited for several millennia, with nearby standing stones and tumuli and further excavations around Mellor proving this.

However, despite being within the Macclesfield Forest area for the most part, it was not mentioned in the Domesday Book and wasn’t until an 1122 land deed. It remained rural through to the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, with farming, linen weaving and hat making being the larger industries, before Samuel Oldknow brought in lime kilns and mills in the late 1700’s. Around the same time, by the English Civil War, Marple had become the dominant force in the area, with the Lord of Marple Hall and Lord President of the High Court of Justice, John Bradshawe, being one of the first signees of King Charles I’s death warrant.

Navigation

Bulls Head within the precinct area

These, in turn, led to the growth of Marple through terraced houses for workers and a village centre with private businesses springing up within it. Oldknow also introduced aspen trees to the area and was influential in the building of both the Macclesfield and aforementioned Peak Forest canals, whilst the 1800-built Aqueduct carries this over the River Goyt and was the work of canal and railway building pioneer Benjamin Outram, but cost the lives of seven workers. These fell into disrepair as a result of the railway’s later arrival and growth in the 1920’s, but have since been restored as part of the Cheshire Ring, for narrowboats etc. Frequent bus routes from the cotton centres of Stockport and Manchester continued Marple’s growth as an urban district, and it annexed the Derbyshire parish of Ludworth and Mellor in 1936 into its Cheshire-based location. It has also been home to the late Manchester music mogul Tony WIlson, as well as Timmy Mallett. The more you know.

Speaking of Mellor, the village lies between the Marple Bridge area and New Mills. It, along with its fellow Marple Urban District members, joined the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport in 1974 and, in turn, Greater Manchester. Its name is uncertain, though may come from the Celtic dialect for ‘bare (or rounded) hill’ and wasn’t listed in the Domesday Book, despite nearby Ludworth (as Ludeourde) being so, and it is possible both were part of the same settlement before splitting at a later date. The Iron Age settlement there saw a 7th or 8th century Saxon church added to the south and St. Thomas Church has the oldest wooden pulpit in Britain (possibly the world), dating from the early 1300’s, whilst its font is 12th-century too. Local legend has it that Mellor Hall was built upon pre-existing foundations of a Norman nobleman and a 13th century hall was found during Iron Age hill fort excavations. William Radcliffe, a name in textile machinery industry is from the area, whilst Mellor superseded its neighbouring Moorend whilst growing from a few houses in the Victorian era to encompass it as a part of itself.

Mellor church

A still functioning, independent cinema!

I began the journey over to Wood Lane early as to ensure that there was actually a game and, as I began to approach the Marple Tavern just up the road from said footy stadium, I could hear what I thought (or more likely hoped) were the distant shouts of footballers. Question was, were they 5-a-siders at the nearby college, training or actually getting ready for a game. I approached the gates with a degree of trepidation…only to see two teams decked out in kit and going through their pre-match routines. WE HAD FOOTBALL! To the Marple Tav to celebrate!!

This pub does seem as an estate-looking type from outside, but is more pleasant and open within, and a decent offering on the go too. As such, my celebratory drink was a pint of Hop House, but before I had it in hand, a guy at the bar informed me that the barmaid had gone to fetch a ‘keeper’s jersey for “that big game up the road”. I then informed him that it was to there I was bound for, though did assure him that it said a lot about myself rather than anything else!! I finished up shortly after and made my way back to Wood Lane for a third and final time – but this time safe in the knowledge the journey, and money, hadn’t been wasted.

Marple Tavern

Arriving at Wood Lane

The ground itself is part of the Marple RUFC grounds, though for some reason it is only to football ground that hosts any furniture, being barred off on three sides, with dugouts on the far side of the field of play. It is also closer to the clubhouse building too than it’s slightly larger counterparts and has a fair grass banking running along the pathway side opposite the dugouts, though watch out for the boggy surroundings if it was anything like today! Also, the area immediately around the clubhouse is flat, hard standing, with the roof providing some slight cover behind the near end goal you enter from behind. That’s Wood Lane and this is the story of Mellor FC….

History Lesson:

Founded in 1923, Mellor Football Club was the brainchild of members of the Hambleton family, who hailed from the village just outside Marple, where the club currently find themselves at home. They have played at a number of grounds over the years, having originally come out of Gibb Lane, Mellor, though spent many a-year at Brabyns Park within Marple, prior to a link up with Marple RUFC and a local 6th-form college in the 1990’s, which allowed a move to the club’s current Wood Lane home. After originally having to change within the college campus, 2002 saw the clubhouse/changing rooms building added, allowing for a far easier time of things in that respect.

On the field, the club moved out of local competition and to the Lancashire & Cheshire League in 1962 and have since remained there to this day. However, success has been somewhat few and far between on the silverware front, with the mid-1980’s proving something of a “golden era” for the club as they went on to win the 1986 & 1987 ‘double’ – winning the Division 3 & Division 2 in successive years, whilst also lifting consecutive Rhodes Cups alongside their league successes. However, little else was to follow and, despite having reached the semi-finals of the 1999 Stockport Senior Cup, Mellor almost folded in the close season, but a merger with local Stockport League side Friendship Romiley – who themselves had ambitions to reach the Lancs & Cheshire League – was agreed, with the Mellor F.C. name continuing, with the proviso that the ‘Friendship’ name continue to be emblazoned on the shirt, alongside a new badge.

In the clubhouse

This merger would be short-lived in some ways, as some ex-Friendship players departed to create a new side and so Mellor F.C. continued on further into the new millennium and achieving greater success as they did so. Mellor would lift the Stockport Senior Cup in 2005 & 2014, the Rhodes Cup in 2012, 2015 & 2017, the latter ensuring another ‘double, as the club also lifted that year’s Premier Division title for the first time, having finished runners-up the year before and despite having spent a number of years away from Wood Lane, at the Stockport Sports Village & Newall Green in Wythenshawe. Last season saw them finish in a rather underwhelming 9th place in the table (out of 12) and lost out in the Stockport Senior Cup Final to High Lane.

We got underway and both sides shared early chances:- a header flying over for the hosts, whilst a fine last-gasp challenge denied a Milton forward an effort at goal. However, Mellor would grab the lead fairly early in proceedings; a fine bit of ‘keeper distribution allowed #9 in down the left and he advanced on goal before sliding across the visiting stopper and into the far corner. He then almost made it two, but was denied by a good save with feet by the ‘keeper this time around, the rebound being headed harmlessly over the bar. Milton would respond around the half-hour mark with their best chance of the half seeing a big goalmouth scramble around the six-yard line, with the visiting players just unable to force the ball into the net and it was eventually claimed by Mellor and cleared from danger.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

This missed really ought to have been punished just before the break when a poor back-pass was latched onto by the home #2 and he advanced to be one-on-one with the ‘keeper, only to horribly scuff his attempted shot and the ball was gratefully clutched by the Milton gloveman. Half-time duly arrived a couple of minutes later and after paying a quick visit to the clubhouse (showing the England-Wales rugby union game but with nothing on the go) for a look around – whereupon I met a very friendly large, black dog – it was back out for the second half.

As in the first half, I was again heading off on a lap of the ground, whilst Mellor started brightly and again ought to have doubled their lead early in proceedings, when some good play allowed a low cross to be sent across goal, but the effort at the back post was fired into the side-netting. Milton again responded, #3 firing off two efforts – the first a fizzing drive from 25 yards which flew straight at the home GK, before his second narrowly avoided the crossbar on its way into the car-park. The preceded what could quite possibly be the worst throw in I’ve ever seen live when a Mellor player attempted to take said throw, only to send it backwards in throwing it forwards. Brilliant stuff.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

The second-half wasn’t the best of halves it has to be said, but the visitors would grab an equaliser around ten minutes from time, as a loose ball eventually rebounded its way into the path of #14, Sam Johnson, and he finished from close-range to set-up a grandstand finish that never came to pass. In fact, neither side really created a winning chance, the only one that did come would be from a free-kick AND would end up in the net, #10 knocking in from a couple of yards, but would be ruled offside. To be fair, this was nothing more than the original save the rebound came from deserved, the Milton GK pulling off a superb stop to deny #15’s hooked effort. Full-time and a fair 1-1 draw saw a point a-piece to begin the season for both teams.

Post-match, I headed back on the same way I’d travelled to the ground, but this time took a detour out through the surrounding suburban area to find the cut through to the canal side. This was done without issue, until I got there and found it was actually a steep incline up to the towpath and not flat at all. I gambled on scrambling it and, for once, this went well and a couple of minutes later, I arrived at the Ring O’Bells, just the other side of the bridge across the canal itself. I took advantage of their beer terrace too, though seemed to quickly empty it upon arrival – I must be gaining a reputation or something – but nonetheless, I sipped away at an Amstel for a while in the warm mid-afternoon sun before heading back into the town centre itself, just a few minutes down the road.

Along the canal

Ring O’Bells

Samuel Oldknow

Once back there, I sought out the Samuel Oldknow which is clearly a Wetherspoons-type place, right? Wrong! Instead, and this is how I completely missed it the first time around, the pub is a tiny ale house with a downstairs area too though, having unknowingly order a Seacider at 7.3% (I thought it’s “Hardcore” tagline was a different drink I consciously avoided), I thought I’d best not attempt to explore down them! Following on from here, I continued the short distance back towards the train station for a visit to the I did plan on also popping into the Beer Traders place on the High street but couldn’t spot it quickly (I’d have had to backtrack slightly) and with time running down to my planned train home, I instead made haste for the station-neighbouring Railway back at Rose Hill.

Hatters Arms

The Railway

A quick Sol was enjoyed before grabbing the train back for the short journey to Piccadilly and the onward connections were, of course, no issue – though the conductor on the way back got me just as I was about to get off and couldn’t find my actual ticket quick enough. “Make sure you have the right one next time he said, clearly thinking I was bunking paying. Alas for his thoughts, I came across it seconds after he’d returned to his office and so could flash him on the way off. No, not like that, honestly….

RATINGS:

Game: 4

Ground: 4

Food: N/A

Programme: N/A

Value For Money: 5

Manchopper in….Whalley Range

wrfcold-ashtonians

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.

Chorlton

Chorlton

First stop: The Sedge Lynn Spoon's

First stop: The Sedge Lynn Spoon’s

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!

A bit different inside too.

A bit different inside too.

Inside Dulcimer Bar

Inside Dulcimer Bar

Final S-tap! Great pun work eh?

Final S-tap! Great pun work eh?

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…

History Lesson:

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.

Arriving at Range. The banner has disappeared.

Arriving at Range. The banner has disappeared.

Dog doing the warm-ups

Dog doing the warm-ups

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!

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Ashtonians take the lead!

Ashtonians take the lead!

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.

Match Action

Match Action

Martial Arts in the box

Martial Arts in the box

Match Action

Match Action

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…

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RATINGS:

Game: 5

Ground: 6

Programme: N/A

Food: 10

Value For Money: 7

Manchopper in….Parrswood

parrswoodmoston

Result: Parrswood Celtic 2-2 Moston Brook (Lancashire & Cheshire League Premier Division)

Venue: Rushford Park (Wednesday 6th April 2016, 6.15pm)

Att: 10 (approx.)

 A third game in three days for myself, following on from the Manchester Utd u21 & Rylands games previous. To complete the trifecta of games, I was to tick off a random long term target of mine, only due to me having passed by the ground on numerous occasions on trains while venturing on to other places. Yes I was off to finally tick Rushford Park, the home of Lancs & Cheshire League side Parrswood Celtic.

I decided to head into Manchester on the bus (being the cheapest way) and after making a couple of musical purchases from the HMV in the Arndale (I’m very anti-download and prefer the physical disk), I headed off down Wilmslow Rd to visit a couple of nearby pubs prior to the game, namely the Wetherspoon’s, The Great Central and the Friendship Inn which is just over the road. The latter though was an afterthought visit, as I thought it rude not to pay a short stop. You all agree I’m sure?

My purchases, a little later on.

My purchases, a little later on.

The Great Central

The Great Central

Friendship Inn

Friendship Inn

Anyway, after a small stay in these two pubs and dodging the heavy showers which were blowing in, I eventually headed off towards the ground and headed past the old Fallowfield Station building, which is now a Sainsbury’s as I did so. 25 minutes or so later, I was just about to arrive at the ground when I received a text off usual accomplice Dan which read something along the lines of “I’m at the ground, there’s nothing here”. I then had that horrible thought that there had been a late change of venue, but I wanted a look for myself.

I arrived at Rushford Park to find players putting nets up and a sure fire game in the process of being readied. I also noticed that Dan was nowhere to be found. It turns out he had ended up at another playing fields on a different road, having been sent to a nursery prior to it. That’s his story anyway!! But, eventually we struggled along to get the right direction to allow him to arrive at the ground just in time for kick-off.

There isn’t much to Rushford Park in earnest, with the ground just being a barred off pitch squeezed between the two lines out of Manchester Piccadilly. There is a small building which houses boxing and other activities in a small, community hall like area for sports and that’s about it. But anyway, here’s some history about Parrswood Celtic FC…

History Lesson:

Parrswood Celtic FC was formed in 1963 following a conversation by the two founders in the Parrswood Hotel. The club initially competed in the South Manchester & Wythenshawe League, playing at Fog Lane, Didsbury.

The 1970’s saw Celtic move to Hough Lane until their next move to the Ducie High School, where you could overhear the cheers from Maine Road, such was the close proximity of the school to the old ground. The club, by this time, were competing in the Lancashire & Cheshire League where they achieved promotion to the 1st Division in the late ’80’s.  After a yo-yo period of promotion/relegation through the ’90’s and a further change of home to the Parrswood High School (surrounding a 2-year period at the Manchester University Sports Complex), the club found themselves down in the L&C Division 3.

Entrance to Rushford Park

Entrance to Rushford Park

Changing Rooms

Changing Rooms

2005 saw them promoted back to Division 2 and the next year saw a return to Division 1 as runners-up. They were eventually promoted to the Premier Division in the ’13-’14 season after a 3rd place finish. Last season, Celtic finished up in a respectable 5th place, but this season they are currently sitting in a lowly 10th. At some point they switched to play at Rushford Park, but I can’t find details of when.

Handshakes

Handshakes

Kick-off

Kick-off

Both teams eventually made their way onto the pitch in dribs and drabs and we were soon set to get started. It was a quick start to the action as well, as Parrswood took the lead after just a couple of minutes, #7 breaking clear and finishing from close range. That was the good news for him. The bad news was that, in the process of scoring the goal, he’d pulled his hamstring and had to go off. Impact.

But Moston soon found themselves on level terms once more, as a free-kick was curled into the top corner, giving the ‘keeper no chance. After this, we set off on a lap of the ground where little happened on the pitch, bar a tame shot being cleared off the line for Moston, but that was that in terms of action really in the first half as it all petered out and into a 1-1 half-time score line.

Match Action

Match Action

Equaliser flies in

Equaliser flies in

After a short 5-minute break in between the two 40 minute halves, we were back underway but only for a short time as a heavy hailstorm blew through forcing the teams off the field for no more than a minute or so, before all cleared and the sun shone once more over Rushford Park. As for the game, we got back underway and the action stepped up. It was Parrswood who netted again next, with a low free-kick flying past the statuesque Moston ‘keeper. 2-1 to the home side with around 25 to play.

As it was, this proved to spur Moston on and they were awarded a penalty with around 15 to play, as a push right on the edge of the area was correctly, it appeared from reaction, to have been adjudged inside. Up stepped the taker, but he thumped his strike well wide. A poor penalty and the Brook remained trailing by the odd goal, though the guys in the car pitch side who beeped their horn as the kick was taken looked mighty happy with their tactic!

The heavens open

The heavens open…

...but it soon passed

…but it soon passed

Match Action

Match Action

But, the miss was soon to be rendered somewhat obsolete just minutes later, as Moston did grab their second equaliser of the evening, with a good finish ensuring that both sides would share a hard earned point on the evening, which I’m sure both would suggest was the fair result. Anyway, that’s that, no further action happened and after a boring journey back I could take stock ahead of a return to the big leagues on Saturday. The Etihad awaits…

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RATINGS:

Game: 6- Decent game, definitely had worse.

Ground: 4- Just a barred off pitch, though there is an inside community sports space.

Food: N/A, though there may have been snacks at the bar.

Programme: N/A (Leaflets available!)

Fans: There was only 7 people, I don’t think a rating applies!

Value For Money: 8- Pretty cheap day. Free game, £4 travel and £4.50 “extras”!

Manchopper in….Didsbury (Bedians AFC)

1434404908 Abbey_Hey

Result: Bedians 0-2 Abbey Hey (Pre-Season Friendly)

Venue: Millgate Lane (Saturday 4th July, 3pm)

Att: 25 (approx.)

So, after a month of chasing the game of leather and willow around the North West, it was back onto what this blog is mainly about, football. It seemed barely six weeks since I’d been to a game and indeed that’s what it was. Summer breaks in football don’t really exist, do they?

My first journey was originally due to be at Cadbury Athletic, but when that fell by the wayside due to them not playing the fixture at Bourneville, and due to me returning to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix the following day, I decided to stay local and find a game that was easily accessible. This proved to be trickier than I’d expected, with a distinct lack of football in the area and it looked like my cricketing sojourn would be extended for another week.

Indeed, Dan, who’d once again be joining me on another trip, had seen a game featuring “St.Bede’s” on the NWCFL site  that I’d expected to be played somewhere near the playing fields near Maine Road’s ground in Whalley Range. But, by chance, I came across Bedians twitter and saw it was in fact them who were to entertain Gorton side Abbey Hey, on this early July day. So, that was decision made and problem solved. Off to Didsbury I was.

After originally planning to get there early and sample the town, I was put off by the lure of F1 qualifying so put this off for another time, perhaps, and headed down in the company of Dan and reached Didsbury with little trouble about 30 minutes prior to kick-off. After, somewhat unsurprisingly, getting lost near some herb bushes in Fletcher Moss Park, we eventually re-found Millgate Lane and were back on the track to the home of Bedians, with the warm-up shouts of players becoming increasingly prevalent as we walked. Incidentally, the herb bushes also featured recommended dishes they could be used in. So, my football “tours” as I will now refer to them not only feature football, but also education and exercise. A good “FEE”.

So, after spotting a small  blue sign pointing towards the ground that you’d be lucky to see, considering its folded state, we crossed over the Mersey flood basin and upon us came a large sign reading “Old Bedians” and the impressive clubhouse, which would be visited later in the day. As we arrived, the game was around 3 minutes in and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the scoreline remained at 0-0.

Early signs...

Early signs…

Arriving at the ground

Arriving at the ground

The flood basin, no threats today.

The flood basin, no threats today.

Bedians ground/pitch is a barred off area, with little to nothing else to speak of, bar a couple of pub-like tables situated behind the near end goal. There is also a tree which hangs over the corner nearest the car park, which you walk though upon entry. The pitch being used today was the nearest one to the clubhouse, and was seemingly rather short. There is another barred pitch to the rear of the fields, beyond the egg-chasing pitches. Now it’s time to venture into the history of Bedians AFC….

History Lesson:

The club was founded in 1928 by ex-pupils of St.Bede’s College, Whalley Range, under the name of Old Bedians FC. For their first season, the club entered into the Palatine Amateur League and the club originally played on the Hough End Fields, Chorlton. However, in 1963 and with the club now open to all players rather than just ex-pupils of the college, the club moved the Turn Moss Playing Fields in Stretford and soon played in the Lancashire Amateur League.

In the LAL, the club’s highlight was a semi-final appearance in the Lancashire Amateur Cup, where they were vanquished by Salford City. The stay at Turn Moss was fairly brief, and the club moved to its current Underbank Farm home and were joined by the Old Bedians Rugby Union club, who moved from Brookburn Road, now the home ground of West Didsbury & Chorlton.

Bedians' club crests

Bedians’ club crests

Club snippets

Club snippets

Now as Bedians, the club returned to the Lancashire & Cheshire League in 1978, where they still compete to this day in the Premier Division. During their tenure, the club have become the most decorated L&C League side, achieving more league and cup honours than any other side. Last season, the club reached the semis of the Lancashire Amateur Cup once again, where they were defeated by Carnforth Rangers and finished in a solid eighth place in the Premier Division of the Lancs and Cheshire League.

It was a pleasant day with the pitch being kept cool by a steady breeze, and it was evident to anyone who may not have known, whom the higher opposition was. This is not to say, however, that Bedians were poor. Far from it in fact. They battled, competed and kept going for the full game with a small pool of players and kept Hey honest, without creating too much, with many offsides probably coming from the fact they aren’t used to having assistants in the L&C.

The game was a real pre-season affair though, with not much to talk about on the whole, in terms of action. Bedians’ keeper Sean Chappell was kept busy throughout the first half, making a number of good stops, including a one on one where he stood up for as long as possible to thwart the attacker. But, Chappell was arguably at fault for the first goal, when a strike by Hey’s #11, Steve Yarwood, burst through his hands and snuck under the crossbar and nestled into the net. 1-0. I also caught up with Hey’s midfield maestro Sam Freakes who’s returned to the club after a brief stay with Glossop North End at the end of last season, until he was called back to warm up. The action continued with Chappell’s aforementioned one-on-one stop and a couple more smart saves and Hey also rattled the bar as the Counties side dominated, but went in just one goal to the good.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

First goal sneaks in.

Steve Yarwood’s shot sneaks in.

At the break, it was off to the clubhouse, where Dan and I and a couple of other guys encountered a young lady surrounded by various boxes of drinks and chocolate, as well as a pile of the Holy Grail, the first ever programme produced by the club! With a programme and a Magners purchased,  it was quickly read (a decent effort putting everything into perspective) and it was back outside ready for the second period.

Clubhouse

Clubhouse

Cider and programme combo

Cider and programme combo

The half followed the first closely in terms of action points with Hey dominated the play and Bedians sole forward being caught offside multiple times, along with the number 3. But it was Hey who scored again to secure an early win in their schedule as #9, Nico Collins, shot into the top corner. Hey continued to press without causing much further alarm, bar a couple of dangerous crosses, as they saw out the game with a clean sheet. Credit to Bedians, though, who looked a strong outfit for the league they will be competing in.

Match Action

Match Action

Last Ditch Defence

Last Ditch Defence…

....and more!

….and more!

Goal-Kick

Goal-Kick

After the game, it was a case of retracing our steps, without the detour of the old St. James’ churchyard and park, sticking to the roadways and getting to the top just as our carriage pulled in to whisk us back for a BBQ in the sun. A great way to end the first football weekend of the season. Football is back.

RATINGS:

Game: 5- Usual friendly contest, little action.

Ground: 4- Very basic, but one of, if not the best facilities in their league, with the sad demise of Whalley Range’s clubhouse.

Fans: 3- Not sure if “fans” per se exist down at that level.

Food: N/A.

Programme: 5- A very basic issue, but fair play for them to bother issuing, and it’s better than some at Step 4 for a friendly.

Value For Money: 8- £4.10 travel, £4 drink/programme.

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Manchopper in….an Inter League Game

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Result: Lancashire & Cheshire League 3-3 Liverpool County Premier League (North West Inter League Cup)

Venue: Brookburn Road, West Didsbury & Chorlton AFC (Wednesday 18th February 2015, 7.45pm)

Att: Around 30-35 (hc)

On the request of Lancs & Cheshire’s Liam Bennion, here is a small blog about my first ever inter-league game, which ended in dramatic fashion. The game was to be held at West Didsbury & Chorlton’s Brookburn Road ground and was in the North West Inter League Cup, which progresses the winner into the nationwide tournament. The cup is contested by six league from around the North West Region.

The two sides tonight were the Lancashire & Cheshire AFL and the Liverpool County Premier League. The sides are composed of a mix of talent from teams in the respective leagues, so the better the contest in store should be, I figured.

The Lancs & Cheshire League was formed in 1912, with only two leagues in the Manchester area being in existence longer. The longest serving club in the Division in Aldermere, from Flixton, who joined in the first season. They have also hosted today’s host club in the past. The club membership currently stands at 109 clubs & over 3,500 registered players. There are 9 divisions and four knock-out cups, the Rhodes Cup being the first one competed for in 1912, as well as a Veterans competition. On two separate occasions, the league has attempted to grow a youth set up, only for this to be disbanded due to lack of sustained interest.

The League has competed against 22 different leagues in 343 games (prior to this game, according to the programme), utilising 1,709 players over this period. The first game was in 1912 (vs the Leeds & District League) as well as entertaining the Belfast Alliance the year after. The most played contest has been against the Lancashire Amateur League (played 84 times) and will be jointly celebrating their centenary of inter-league football in 2020.

The Liverpool County Premier League is a much newer competition, formed in 2006 following the merger of the I Zingari League 7 Liverpool Combination. They were persuaded by the FA to join forces. The league has quickly established itself and reached the National League System Final, when they travelled down to Guernsey, losing 5-2 to three late goals. Waterloo Dock are the league’s most successful club, with five successive wins from the league’s formation, with Aigburth People’s Hall being the current champions. Currently, they and East Villa are contesting the league title.

The League’s most prestigious cup competition is the George Mahon Cup, with the current holders being Page Celtic, whom Lee Trundle is known to turn out for. Mahon was a founder of Everton Football Club and in his memory, the cup was presented to the Liverpool Combination in 1909.

The Match Programme

The Match Programme

I arrived at 7.45, to find the game already underway. Yes indeed, the game had began 13 minutes early. Superb, meaning I could get an earlier bus back now. Cheers, Ref! Anyway, the first half was a tightly contested affair with the Lancs & Cheshire League being slightly on top. After braving the chill for a while, I gave in and took refuge in the seating in front of the clubhouse. From here, I witnessed the first goal of the game.

It was the Lancashire and Cheshire League who got it. A cross from the right flank drifting over the head of the despairing, back-peddling goalkeeper and into the far side netting. 1-0 and that was how it remained until the break.

At half-time, I headed into the clubhouse which was showing the climax of one of the EastEnders live series of shows which had gripped the majority of the nation.

The second period got underway, and it was Bennion (honestly, he hasn’t bribed me) who was the dangerman, his pace coming to the forefront and it was little surprise when he doubled the L&C’s advantage just after the break, slotting in a low, accurate shot.

However, the two goal lead was short lived, as the Liverpool League hit back quickly, a defensive header looping over the ‘keeper and into the net. 2-1.

L&C League vs LCP League

L&C League vs LCP League

This is how it remained until late on in the game, when Bennion converted from close range after superb work by the #14 to make it 3-1, and when the Liverpool League’s left-back was red carded for his part in a 22-man mass brawl, it looked all over. The referee gave him a great send off, exclaiming “You, Three, GET OFF!!” And he did. With no complaints. In fact, I was making my way to the exit in the second minute of five stoppage time minutes when the Liverpool League grabbed one back, a superb free-kick drilled into the far left-hand corner. This was followed by, what I thought were, hopeful shouts of “Three minutes left” and “We can get another yet!”.

But, from kick-off, the Merseysiders attacked down the right and they produced a low cross that was finished off from inside the six-yard area to secure the most unlikely of points, in the most unlikely of circumstances. The race was on for me at the end, as I reached the bus stop in time for the bus back. I bet you were all in suspense, waiting for that news, weren’t you?! Well, you can rest easy now.

My L&C League M.o.M.- Liam Bennion

My Liverpool League M.o.M.- The #9.

Manchopper in…Old Trafford (Gorse Hill AFC)

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Result: Gorse Hill 1-2 Signol Athletic (Lancashire & Cheshire AFL Division 1)
Venue: The Cage, St. Bride’s Playing Fields, Old Trafford (Saturday 15th November 2014)
Att: 10 (hc)

A short blog this one, which is just to do a small log for a small local club. Gorse Hill, who feature in my Whalley Range AFC blog from last season, have been my mate Dan Watkinson’s local side for a while now, as he lives almost next door to the St. Bride’s playing fields (formerly home to Old Trafford FC And known as the “Field of Dreams”!) on which they now play, having previously played on Turn Moss fields in Stretford. For a fair while, he has been pressing me to visit them, and with me on an economy drive this month, I figured “Why not?”.
So, I was soon heading down towards the ground, situated in between the City Centre & Old Trafford’s more famous sporting homes and not far from The Whalley pub, which has now closed. After hopping off the 255 bus, I quickly undertook the five minute walk along a couple of side roads and up an alleyway whereupon I could begin to hear the sounds of a football match being battled out. A good sign!

Arriving at "The Cage".

Arriving at “The Cage”.

After firstly spotting a kids training session, I soon spotted Dan watching the game on an adjoining pitch. The pitches, marked out on what becomes Old Trafford Cricket Club in the summer months, are situated within a large metal cage (hence the name), which surrounds the whole turfed area. That is all there is to see in the ground, as it is just a field, but I feel compelled to do a blog anyway and go against my usual rule of not blogging about grounds with no barred off playing area.

Looking across to the far "warehouse" side.

Looking across to the far “warehouse” side.

Towards the "Dan's Apartment" end

Towards the “Dan’s Apartment” end

So, there’s not much to talk about there, and with the game a couple of minutes old as I arrived, but still goalless, Dan ensured me there would be goals. I’d seen that Signol had earlier racked up a rather impressive 12-1 win at Santos FC, but also been on the receiving end of a 10-5 defeat to Newton Heath. Gorse Hill, meanwhile, had recorded a 7-1 victory over Chorltonians Rovers plus an impressive penalty shoot-out victory over Wythenshawe Town’s Reserve side. With both sides towards the top of the table, a good game was in order.
I had previously watched Gorse Hill twice, once in a cup final at the Regional Athletics Stadium (the ground that neighbours the Etihad) and in the aforementioned Whalley Range game last season, where they attained a more than respectable draw with the six-time straight winners of the Lancs & Cheshire League. Signol probably just edged the early stages and took the lead when a shot by #14 from just outside the area found its way past the keeper. That’s how it stayed until the break, despite both sides having great chances to add to the score-line.

Rushing for a corner.

Rushing for a corner.

The "school" end

The “school” end

The near side touchline.

The near side touchline.

After catching some strange scents not usually found in football grounds, and finding out the players have to walk from the pitch, across he fields, cross a road and walk through a car park to get to their changing facilities, the second half was underway. Gorse Hill drew level on the hour, when a long ball was won by the forward who retained possession long enough for support in the guise of Hill’s #8 (or #3) to arrive and lash into the far corner.
It looked as though there would be further goals, and it seemed inevitable on many occasions, but it took until the 87th minute for a winner to arrive, and it was the visitors who grabbed it. A good, quick attack down the right saw the ball pulled back to #10 who shot low. Low enough in fact to go underneath the ‘keeper’s dive and into the bottom corner. Not the glove man’s finest hour, and the side from Stockport saw out the remaining minutes to take the points and the victory.
After the game, Dan and myself headed back towards the Main Road, past a burnt out transit van and onwards. Dan headed home whereas I headed to Chorlton for the second half of West Didsbury & Chorlton’s home game vs AFC Blackpool, which ended 0-0 incidentally, with Blackpool’s ‘keeper having a superb game from what I saw and, by all accounts, before that too!
So, a good day’s football with another “ground” ticked off. Always good to get a step closer to finishing a league and to give a local side some support.