Manchopper in….Manchester (Manchester Central FC)

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Result: Manchester Central 1-2 Beechfield United (Manchester League Division 1)

Venue: Manchester Regional Arena (Saturday 31st December 2016, 1pm)

Att: 28 (hc)

The last game of the year comes on the last day of the year. Who says football has to stop at all? Not me, that’s for sure! In fact there shouldn’t be multiple leagues, there should just be one huge division where every club plays each other at their own behest, whenever and wherever they want. No, I’m just kidding. But could you imagine the utter carnage? Oh, er, where was I again…? Ah, yes! The Regional Athletics Arena was the NYE party venue of choice. The event? The reborn Manchester Central versus Beechfield United in the Manchester League Division 1.

With an early afternoon kick-off (1pm) scheduled, thus an early-ish start was needed. After beginning the journey on the much-loved replacement bus service into Manchester Piccadilly, my first task was to secure tickets down to London for next week. I’ll leave you in suspense regarding the destination for now, just for the drama. Anyway, with tickets eventually sorted, I headed out onto the mean streets of Manchester City Centre before taking refuge in the, previously infamous, B Lounge.

To the City

To the City

'B Lounge'

‘B Lounge’

The Bank

The Bank

After being nice and changing my order as to not rush a barrel change, I soon downed a Coors ahead of moving down towards Market Street where I was to meet Dan. Before leaving though, I was wished a “Happy New Year” by one of the bar staff which, incidentally, was the only time this happened during the day. So, cheers for that!

Next stop was The Bank which, you may have guessed, is housed within an old bank. The big plus point in here though, wasn’t the décor. Nor was it the carpets as, you know, it’s not a Wetherspoons. It is, however, a free house and there was Punk IPA on draught. Oh, the joys! The £4.80 price tag was actually not that bad, considering what I was expecting but there was little going on here and Dan had informed me he’d arrived in town. However, I’d be slightly delayed in meeting him due to the spotting of a ‘Spoons right next door to the uni buildings. The Waterhouse actually had Asahi, the Japanese beer, on and so it was third time lucky in getting a pint of it, following two previous failed attempts. It wasn’t bad either but, sadly, there wasn’t much time to enjoy it.

Manchester

Manchester

He's still there!

He’s still there!

The Waterhouse

The Waterhouse

After meeting Dan over in Market Street, I decided I’d be nice and give him the option of where we should visit next. The choice was the historic Mr. Thomas’ Chop House or the underground bar Corbières, which had last been visited almost a year to the day previously as part of a Lost Boyos-inspired tour of the city ahead of Manchester United vs Swansea City. Anyway, Dan plumped for the latter only for us to soon discover it was still shut for another 20 minutes. As it happened, the Chop House was just round the corner and…well, you can probably guess what happened.

Of course, after a quick pint of Amstel in the Chop House, I still reckoned it’d be polite to honour Dan’s decision and head to Corbières. After assuring Dan there was nothing dodgy on his horizon, we headed down into the underworld for a couple of halves. With time against us, though, we had to be swift and headed back to Piccadilly for our respective transports; me on the tram, Dan on the bus. A mini Top Gear-esque challenge was on! Not the shitty new version ones though.

Chop House

Chop House

Corbieres

Corbieres

As it happened, I was defeated due to the walk up from the stop and arrived at the Etihad Campus with around 10 minutes to kick-off. The Regional Athletics Arena sits right alongside its more famed big sister and currently plays home to Manchester’s ‘third’ club. It had been the home of Northwich Manchester Villa over the last season prior to their demise. Some fun was had with Gibbo exploring unknown indoor arenas during a visit there earlier this year!

The Manchester Regional Arena must be the largest amateur ground in (at least) the area, as I think the likes of Millmoor and the Withdean are still used on occasion. It is an all-seater, multi-purpose ground that was previously home to the Manchester City Women’s team and some youth teams before the construction of the Academy. It does have an athletics track surrounding the pitch, but this doesn’t really matter as you can pretty much walk around as you please. Three stands, the two sides and left hand end, are of similar size, with the right-hand stand being the large and offering good views over the pitch. As for Manchester Central FC…

History Lesson:

The name of Manchester Central was originally used by a club playing at Alexandra Park during the late 1800’s. According to Central it is, therefore, unlikely that Newton Heath did, in fact, consider the name for their name change prior to becoming Manchester United and there is no real factual evidence to say they ever did, only written hearsay from later historical pieces. The original club folded around the turn of the century.

The more famed Manchester Central were originally formed in 1928 by a Manchester City director and the owner of Belle Vue Leisure Park, with the pair feeling East Manchester needed a League club following MCFC’s departure from the area. The club played at the Belle Vue Athletics/Speedway Stadium and originally joined the Lancashire Combination. After a 7th placed finish they applied for the Football League, but failed to achieve a place.

History

History

After finishing as ’29-’30 Combination runners-up another failed Football League application followed, this despite the fact the club were getting crowds around the 8,000 mark at times. The following year saw a third application be unsuccessful and the club pulled out of the Combination to focus on the Cheshire County League, where their reserve side was competing.

But drama followed. After later being accepted for a Third Division North place later that close season following Wigan Borough’s resignation, they were subsequently denied once more by a complaint by United and City, who said a third Manchester club would be detrimental to the overall support. Following this, the original Central resigned from the Cheshire County League after a single season and folded soon after.

They're back!

They’re back!

Central then went missing from the history books through until 2015 when the club “reformed” as a youth-based outfit, fielding u21’s as the top age group. Their first fixture for 84 years was against Irlam in the Cheshire u21 League. After largely playing at Platt Lane during their first season, the club decided to move into the Regional Athletics Arena, alongside the City of Manchester Stadium, and enter an open-age outfit into the Manchester League Division 1. They currently sit in 4th.

New club, familiar venue

New club, familiar venue

After heading through the gate, I was immediately greeted with the non-league dogs duo (minus dogs this time, shockingly) which is always a good bonus, especially when it comes to being awarded a sticker! The game got underway and it isn’t much of an understatement to say the first half was the better of the two. All the action came during it, beginning with Central taking the lead fairly early on, Cory Knight coolly slotting beyond the visiting GK. 1-0.

Around five minutes later and we were all square once more. Beechfield had begun to really get going after a sluggish start and earned a free-kick. The resulting ball in was headed into the net from the centre of goal by Kurtis Lee and it was all to play for again. Despite the equaliser, though, it was Central that looked to be the more likely of the two sides to retake the lead.

Early Stages

Watching intently…

Match Action

Match Action

Pen save

Pen save

However, with around 35 minutes played, it was Beechfield who would turn it around, Lee’s second of the game securing them the lead at the break. This was despite the fact Central missed a great chance to level the scores right at the end of the half, a penalty being fairly comfortably kept out by the Beechfield #1. Half-Time: 1-2.

To be honest, it was mostly a case of Beechfield being really solid and taking their chances, with Central guilty of being wasteful in good positions. However, the second half saw little of anything in the way of chances. The only two of note I can think of was an effort flying over for the hosts and a fine save by the Central ‘keeper with around 15 to play to keep his side in the contest.

From a distance

From a distance

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

As it was, there was to be no addition to the score-line and it was the Salford-based club who ran out the deserved victors in this clash. After bidding goodbye to NLD, Dan and I headed back into Manchester, once again in competition with myself coming out on top on this occasion due to our journeys taking us back to Piccadilly for more ticket purchases. This one is for a Scottish team who have, in their old guise, played in England before folding. Any guesses?

Anyway, that was that. A good day out and about around Manchester and a half-decent game to boot. It was then swiftly home ahead of getting ready for the celebrations later in the evening. Next up on Monday is a trip to wherever the weather allows…!!

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RATINGS:

Game: 5

Ground: 6

Programme: N/A

Food: N/A

Value For Money: 4

Manchopper in….Shaw (Heyside FC)

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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”.

First stop in Shaw, the Blue Bell

First stop in Shaw, the Blue Bell

Bar rules.

They don’t take kindly to Armenian cash up here!

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.

They Shay Wake

They Shay Wake

Looking down on the town

Looking down on the town

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?

Final pre-match stop. The Black Horse.

Final pre-match stop. The Black Horse.

Cosy.

Cosy Horse.

Stealing a pose.

Stealing a pose.

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…

History Lesson:

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.

Current home.

Current home.

Crompton House

Crompton House

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.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

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!

Half-Time

Half-Time

Dan's first tea for "20 years".

Dan’s first tea for “20 years”.

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.

Here comes the snow!

Here comes the snow!

Match Action

Match Action

From up on high.

From up on high.

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!

The players trudge up to cover

The players trudge up to cover

Heyside CC. Bad light may be an issue.

Heyside CC. Bad light may be an issue.

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….

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RATINGS:

Game: 6

Ground: 3

Food: N/A

Programme: N/A

Value For Money: 9.

 

Manchopper in….Greenfield (Uppermill FC)

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Result: Uppermill 3-2 Heywood St. James (Manchester League Division 1)

Venue: Churchill Playing Fields #2 (Saturday 13th August 2016, 2pm)

Att: 20 (approx.)

After the heights of the FA Cup last weekend, for this very weekend , I was to return to the exterior of the pyramid and back into the Manchester League with a trip into the hills. Greenfield was to be my destination, but the club I was to visit did not share its based town’s name. Indeed, I was off to watch Uppermill FC play Heywood St. James in the First Division of the League, with both teams seeking their first triumph of the new season.

But first, as is the norm on most trips, the first leg of the journey consisted of the transit through Manchester, with the next change over being at Stalybridge. Upon arrival, it was discovered I’d have around 50 minutes until the train onwards to Greenfield. So, very unfortunately, I was forced into another visit to the Buffet Bar on the station. A pint of Punk IPA was a fine accompaniment, despite the £4.50 price tag and enforced plastic “glass”.

It was handy that the train left from the platform directly outside the bar, so there was no rushing whatsoever. Eventually, though, the clock ticked round to ten-past one and it was time to move on to Greenfield, which sits next along the line from Mossley. On arrival in the town, I bypassed The Railway, which the group behind me headed for and headed onwards to the Marstons-chain pub, The Kingfisher.

One of the better waiting rooms

One of the better waiting rooms…

Greenfield

Greenfield

The Kingfisher

The Kingfisher

Greenfield seems a pleasant little town, with hills towering above it in all directions. But, with only 40 minutes until the scheduled kick-off time, there was little time to explore and so the Kingfisher would be my pre-match stop-off point, which proved a good decision, as my pint of San Miguel was soon joined by a free third of a pint which, I assume, was the remainder of the barrel. Either way, cheers!

With 15 minutes to kick-off, I made my way towards the Churchill Fields, passing by the site of an old, now non-existent, mill (any guesses what it is now?) arriving just as the home team were making the way out onto the field. As the game was about to begin, the attendance stood at a staggering two. This thankfully raised up, through double figures and into a more normal figure, discounting those who passed by the ground only watching a couple of minutes and the kids practising bike riding. They don’t count, and I’m sure sleep will be lost over this.

A nice bonus

A nice bonus

Churchill Playing Fields

Churchill Playing Fields

The Churchill Playing Fields is, pretty much, just what the name suggests. The barred-off pitch sits nearest the access road and dressing rooms, with the ground lying next to a, rather large, hill and below the railway line (just visible for those who like that sort of thing). It is quite picturesque with the other side being bordered by banks of trees. Other than the two dugouts, there isn’t much else to describe here. Before we get to the game, here’s a little bit about the history of Uppermill FC…

History Lesson:

Uppermill FC was founded in 1923, with their first “major” honour I can find coming in the shape of the Ashton District League’s Birkby Cup in 1951-’52. This was soon joined by the League title in 1956, before a switch into the Huddersfield & District League was undertaken and the Division 4 title arrived in 1963, followed by the Division 3 the next year. They then appear to have yo-yo’d between the divisions, winning the Division 3 on a further two occasions prior to the 1990’s (1978 & ’86) & were also Division 2 runners-up in 1980.

The 2000’s & 2010’s have been fairly kind to Uppermill, with the club winning a number of honours over the past decade-and-a-half. 2003 saw Division 3 won for a third time, with the Division 2 being won for the first, and so far only, time in 2005. The momentum continued, with Uppermill becoming Division 1 runners-up in 2008, before finally lifting the title in 2013, with this being a precursor to a switch into the Manchester League.

Leftover from the old track

Leftover from the old athletics track

The club’s first season in the Manchester League saw Uppermill playing in the Division 1, where they finished up in a respectable 9th position. The following year saw them achieve promotion as Division 1 runners-up, but their one season stay in the Premier Division, last season, saw the club have a major struggle, finishing bottom with just eight points and one win to their name.

Soon after my arrival, the referee got us underway, with the away side attacking the “Children’s Centre” End. During the early stages, Heywood had all the play and it seemed as though they would be dominating this game, with the home ‘keeper’s question of “Who’s the new guy in midfield?” being answered with “If you don’t know, just shout new guy!” probably showing their slight disjointedness. This view seemed to be cemented somewhat when Heywood’s #10 curled a lovely effort into the top corner with Uppermill’s Hari Woski-Cawthorne rooted to the spot. 0-1.

This seemed to awake the home team from their slumber and they began to create chances and put pressure on their visitors. Eventually, this paid off with Nick Warhurst knocking in the rebound, following a save from the initial shot. Uppermill were level and appeared to be in the ascendancy. But, on the stroke of half-time, a collision between HSJ’s #10 and Woski Cawthorne in the area led to a free-kick for Uppermill and, unfortunately for the former, a suspected broken ankle. The referee shrewdly called for half-time and the sides headed in all-square with an ambulance on its way for the stricken player.

Evasive

Evasive

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

During the break, I got talking to Yorkshire-based ‘hopper Malcolm, who was a veteran of all sorts of levels of football and had tasked himself with getting through the remaining grounds of leagues around this level ASAP and I was able to give him a few new ones to add to his list, following the usual pre-season ground switches. Malcolm was also pleased with his cheap entry ticket towards the end of last season at Chesterfield and recommended there to me, so guess where’s on the hit-list now?

Following the injured player’s removal from the pitch to a place in the line of fire of his own goal, we were back underway and even the ambulance got caught in the questionable placing trap, as it pulled up directly behind the onion bag, but luckily wasn’t hit until its departure. Back on the pitch, the action continued with Uppermill going ahead through apparent “new guy” Danny Mills’ finish, following a ball through the middle.

With the home team winning 2-1, this seemed to spur on Heywood and they began to come onto the front foot in the match once more. They drew back level as a corner from the right flank was hit towards goal, with the #14 making absolutely sure, poking the ball into the roof of the net. 2-2 with fifteen to play.

Leafy...

Leafy…

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

For the remainder of the game, I re-joined Malcolm and shared the view that a draw was the probable fair result and that seemed to be the way the game was meandering as it approached its 90th minute. But, a late spell of pressure saw Uppermill hit the crossbar, before winning a succession of corners. The latter of these saw a ball in from the left flicked on by skipper Nathan Boote and his header proved the vital touch as it went straight through the gaggle of players in the area and into the far corner of the net. 3-2, full-time.

Following the game, I bid goodbye to Malcolm and headed off along the canal passageway, this time, opting for this more scenic route than that of the house-lined roadway. After heading back past the Kingfisher and its adjoining narrow boat-mooring I arrived back at the stairs leading back up to street level and headed uphill to the aforementioned Railway Inn for a final drink before jumping on the train back to Staly-vegas. The pint of Millstone’s Tiger Rut was a beaut and I implore you to try it. If you don’t like it, then I never said that last sentence, ok?

Down the river

Down the river…

Over the locks

Over the locks…

...To The Promised land

…to the Promised land. The Railway Inn.

After a cosplay gaggle of golfers/polo players entered the Railway, I took that as my cue to leave, though I’m sure it wasn’t a hallucination. After having to show my ticket to both guards on the platform (one didn’t care, the other OTT), the train back eventually arrived a little late, but this only made the connection slightly shorter back at ‘bridge. Thus meaning that the whole journey back was trouble-free and quick, for once, so let’s hope this is something that continues through the season and isn’t a false dawn.

Closing Thoughts- All in all, for some reason I can’t really figure out, Uppermill/Greenfield was one of my favourite days out that I’ve been on for a while. Whether it was the laid-back feel of the whole day and the easiness of the trip, I’m not sure, but it just seemed to be one that registered well with me, other than the unfortunate injury of course. I echo my sentiments to the guy at the time and wish him all the best in having a quick, full recovery.

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RATINGS:

Game: 7- A good game, plenty of chances and a late winner to add to it.

Ground: 4-  Very simplistic, as expected, though the hills around add a nice background to it.

Food: N/A

Programme: N/A

Value For Money: 7- A few quid travel, free game so most expenditure goes on those ever present “extras”…

 

 

Manchopper in….Atherton (Atherton Town FC)

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Result: Atherton Town 4-2 St. Helen’s Town (Pre-Season Friendly)

Venue: Butler Park (Tuesday 2nd August 2016, 7.15pm)

Att: 45 (approx.)

As the clock ticks down to the competitive season getting underway, so it means that the pre-season friendlies come to an end and the teams should know their best line-ups. As such, this Tuesday evening signals the end to my pre-season programme too, with a return visit to Atherton Town’s Butler Park. Town were to be facing a St. Helen’s Town XI, with the Saints also sending a side up to Hesketh Bank on the same evening.

As for me, I set off at around 5pm, with the plan being having around an hour in Atherton prior to the game. Alas, the Greater Manchester public transport system was having none of that and having had two delays of over 25 minutes each, it was something of a relief to actually just arrive into Leigh at just before seven and be just a short bus route up to the ground. Unfortunately, this too went wrong with my Maps waypoint apparently being off and meaning I got off far too early and was now faced with a walk up to Howe Bridge Leisure Centre. Oh, the fun.

Finally...

Finally…

Welcome

Welcome

I eventually arrived at the entrance to Butler Park just as the referee’s shrill whistle signalled the beginning of the game and after passing underneath the “Atherton Town sign and past the food bar, I was through the entrance gap in the perimeter wall and into Butler Park. Atherton Town’s home is probably one of the better grounds in the Manchester League, i.e. it is fully enclosed and has a small amount of hard standing around the pitch. There is also a small bike hutch which serves as a stand.

History Lesson:

Slightly truncated due to a distinct lack of easy to fins information, Atherton Town have a fairly long history in the Manchester League winning the Division 1 in 1993 and achieving promotion. They remained in the Premier Division until 2011 when they were relegated back to the Division 1, but this return to the lower echelon was a short one with Town returning to the Premier Division in 2014, as runners-up, after a three-year stint. They have been a lower half side during their current stay in the top-tier, with finishes of 13th & 14th (out of 16).

ATFC

ATFC

Food Bar

Food Bar

With the game already in its early stages and horses once more looking on through the gate from the adjoining fields, it didn’t take long for the first goal to be scored and it was the visitors who struck. A good through ball allowed Matt Davidson to be free from the defence and he rounded the stranded goalkeeper to slot into the empty net. 0-1.

St. Helen’s were dominating the early clashes, going close on a further pair of occasions, forcing the home custodian into a couple of saves but Atherton did begin to grow into the game as the half progressed and looked dangerous on the break, but were wasteful when it came to getting a shot away. Half-Time arrived and it was off for a hot-dog which, at just £1 was great value especially when it was decided to put two on the roll. Great stuff!

Going up

Going up

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Hot-dog done and it was back outside and to Butler Park for the second half. If Atherton were guilty of being slightly on the iffy side in front of goal during the first half, then Connor Critchley was certainly putting that right during the first minutes of the second. First, he picked up the ball 20-odd yards out before hitting a fine effort into the top right corner, before repeating the trick moments later, this time rifling a low effort into the bottom corner of the same side. Game changer!

The youthful-looking St.Helen’s side were on the ropes a little through the first half-hour of the second period and weren’t providing too much of a threat going forward, but they did level with around 15 minutes to go, when a corner was only half-cleared and the resulting cross was tapped in from close range by Saints #3 Dean Curtis.  But, parity was short-lived as Critchley completed his hat-trick almost immediately from the restart, nipping in when there seemed minimal danger, as I pretty much missed it, only seeing the ball hitting the net.

The Bike Shed

The Bike Shed

At Close Quarters

At Close Quarters

Match Action

Match Action

A fourth Atherton goal was added shortly afterwards. Tom Armstrong beat the Saints ‘keeper Liam Bowyer for the ball, which allowed him to tap the ball over the line for the final goal of the evening, though it could have been five late on, were it not for a fine stop by Bowyer. So, full-time arrived with Atherton Town coming out on top in what was a highly entertaining contest.

So, it was back off for the buses and hoping that they’d be kinder to me on the return leg than they were on the outbound journey. The first, short hop into Atherton was fine and the one back into Eccles arrived pretty much on time so all looked good and pretty easy. But, this wasn’t taking into account the pure and absolute snails pace that this driver wanted to drive at and as the minutes ticked on, it looked less and less likely I’d arrive on time for my final connection and be left stranded. Brilliant…

Dogs like football...

Dogs like football…

Horses watching the game at Atherton Town

…and so do horses (they were here last time too!)

Yes! I thought, as I arrived into Eccles with a couple of minutes to spare only to once more trust the Maps on my phone which was an error with almost awful circumstances. The thing told me to go down this innocuous side road, which I did, but this looked less and less like the roads I imagined. Indeed, as I rounded the corner and over a bridge, I found myself faced with the M602 which definitely wasn’t where I should have been. By now, I was 5 minutes late and resigned to my fate and chuntering all the way back to the town centre (which I navigated to myself, shock horror), I came upon the bus stop only to find my bus rocking up late for a shockingly positive late arrival. Public Transport, don’t you just love it?…

Closing Thoughts:- Atherton Town looked a solid team, under new management, and look set for a decent season. St. Helen’s, of course, were a mixed side so I’m not really going to judge on them just yet. And buses are still sh*t.

DSC02736

RATINGS:

Game: 8- Really entertaining watch, end-to-end with regular chances and a few goals.

Ground: 5- Simple ground, not too much to speak of, though the food bar is smart.

Food: 6- Normal hot-dog, cheap with extra point for the double up!

Programme: N/A

Value For Money: 9- £6.20 all evening. Can’t complain with that, can you?

 

Manchopper in….Stockport (Stockport Georgians FC)

stockport georgiansCammell_Laird_FC_logo

Result: Stockport Georgians 0-1 Cammell Laird (Pre-Season Friendly)

Venue: Cromley Road (Saturday 30th July 2016, 2.30pm)

Att: 35 (approx.)

It’s the final weekend before the season truly begins in earnest. Yes, the pre-season friendlies for the majority of clubs come to an end and the final countdown to the opening day is on. So, where was it to be?

Well, it wasn’t until late on Friday night that I finally made my mind up. After flirting with a few other grounds and matches, namely Royton before deciding it’s best left for the Winter months, I came upon a ground that I’d set foot in briefly once before, but been denied a match on that occasion. That ground was Cromley Road and it plays host to Stockport Georgians FC of the Manchester League.

Come Saturday morning, I was delivered the relatively bad news of some train delays to failures around Manchester Piccadilly, meaning my train onwards from Manchester to Stockport was delayed by around 20 minutes. Great start. It could have been worse, though, as at least it wasn’t one of the journeys cancelled. Eventually, the train rocked up and I was en route. I’d not yet been around Stockport despite visiting both County and Town, so Georgians gave a third chance to do it. Unmissable!

From the viaduct

From the viaduct

Stockport

Stockport

'Spoons

‘Spoons

After the short 15 minute trip, I was detraining at Stockport and immediately heading towards the Wetherspoons for another Punk IPA. This combination isn’t so much out of choice than because it’s fairly cheap, but I’m certainly not complaining. Anyway, the Calverts Court was pretty uninspiring so I quickly finished off in here and headed off towards the market area.

With the market in full swing, it certainly lent a good atmosphere to surroundings, though the knock-off football scarf stand left something to be desired. A positive was the fact the lauded Baker’s Vaults which sits around the site where Stockport’s Norman Castle once stood. I never knew that there was a castle here so, you see, the hunt for beer is informative and cultural.

The Vaults was a lot smarter and just overall more interesting than the ‘Spoons and a pint of Veltins provided a decent change up from the usual offerings. The barmaids were even being given free entertainment by the elder guy next to me in the shape of magic, i.e. disappearing coins. These techniques had them stumped and on the note of disappearing things, I soon exited too and headed back downhill towards the shopping centre.

Market's on.

Market’s on.

Baker's Vaults

Baker’s Vaults

The Chestergate

The Chestergate & The Plaza Theatre

After almost getting lost within the labyrinth of shops, I found my way out and to the Chestergate Sports Bar, where I figured I’d be able to catch the majority of the F1 qualifying session. My instincts were spot on and I settled in along with a bottle of Tiger until it was time to head back up to the station for the train onwards to Woodsmoor, in which the ground is located.

After another short delay, the 5 minute hop down the line was completed and with little to visit in Woodsmoor, it was straight to the ground with the kick-off time looming. As I alluded to earlier, I’d negotiated the streets to Cromley Road once before, but was spurned a game due to pouring rain and instead found solace and action at a soggy, quagmire-like Linotype Cheadle HN. Today, though, the weather was set fairly….well, fair and we were all set for action.

The visitors to Cromley Road for the friendly contest were Cammell Laird of the North West Counties League. They currently compete in the Premier Division of that league, which is two steps higher than where Georgians currently find themselves. Today looked set for a decent contest and it’s always interesting to see how Manchester or Cheshire League sides get on against Counties sides, be it only in a friendly.

 

What everyone wants...

What everyone wants…

Flowery Field?

Flowery Field?

As for Cromley Road, it’s a simple ground, yet a pretty smart one. It only features one stand, which is a small covered standing area named the “John Mannion Stand”. Next to this stands the dressing room building, which backs onto the cricket pavilion and ground, the entrance to which sits between the two structures. The sides and near end are open standing, with the far side being the only one not paved in any way. The near end also features the clubhouse building, which appears to double as a food bar, though no hot food was present today. As for Georgians themselves….

History Lesson:

Stockport Georgians FC was formed in 1908 as St. George’s Church Sunday League side in Heaviley. Following WWI, the club became St. George’s (Stockport) Athletic Club in 1923 and the way to qualify as a member of the club was to be an attendee of the church and a member of Men’s Bible Class. Hard times.

The club played in the Stockport League through the 1920’s, winning the ’26 & ’27 titles, following on from their acquisition of the current location and in 1931, they were elected to the Lancashire & Cheshire League, where they remained through to the outbreak of WWII with little success. Following the end of hostilities, the club competed in Division 3 of the L&C league, before finding their way through the divisions, winning the Division 2 in 1964. After a deterioration of the pitch and an arson attack, the club were forced to play elsewhere for the early 1970’s.

SGFC

SGFC

You've been warned...

You’ve been warned…

In 1987, the club merged with Adswood Amateurs which meant a greater pool of players to choose from and resulted in the 1988 Manchester League title. They have remained in the Premier Division of the Manchester League since then and have added a further two titles to their tally, coming in 2002 and 2015, adding the Norman Noden Cup to the latter.  Last season, Georgians finished up in a lowly 13th out of 16 positions, though they were beaten finalists in the Cheshire Amateur Cup.

The game got underway and….well, there wasn’t really anything of note to speak of. The first half was fairly watchable, despite the lack of goalmouth action. A few wayward shots were all that could be fashioned on the whole as the sides went in level, though I did say a quick greeting to Georgians full-back Sam Halligan, who I know a bit from his time at Trafford when I was a full-time supporter there.

During the break I, along with a few others in the John Mannion Stand, had the idea to go and take advantage of the cricket match going on and to see a few overs of that. There wasn’t much going on here either though so maybe it had something to do with me, this lack of action. Eventually the referee gave his signal to the sides to return to the pitch via the medium of a bell, which was very reminiscent of one of the shrill school bells that signal the end of a period and the beginning of another. Which was, in effect, what it was doing and the second period was soon underway!

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Again, there really wasn’t much happening on the pitch to maintain much interest and it was looking like I’d be getting a lovely pre-season 0-0 to add to my tally. There was a couple of chances around the 25 minute mark, one a decent stop by the visiting ‘keeper and another effort fired onto the cricket pitch, before the Birkenhead side finally broke the deadlock. A corner from the left flank was swung in, only half cleared and the resultant cross was turned home by the Laird #5. Not pretty, but a goal nonetheless. 0-1.

That was with 15 to play and despite some late Georgians pressure, there was to be no equaliser and the game came to a close to give Lairds a solid win heading into their season and FA Cup tie the weekend after. Georgians, though, competed just as well and look to be a good, solid outfit this season as they look to return to the upper echelons of the Manchester League Premier, after a fairly disappointing campaign last time out. In summary, an ok game to watch, but not very exciting.

John Mannion Stand

John Mannion Stand

Match Action

Match Action

So, it was back through Woodsmoor and onwards to Manchester again as per usual to end the day. It was good to get Cromley Road done this time, with rain staying off for this one, thankfully. A nice ground that’s worth a visit. Next week sees the return of competitive football and straight into FA Cup action. What a farce, which again shows how out of touch the FA is with lower level football….

DSC02716

RATINGS:

Game: 4- An okay game of football, but little in terms of action.

Ground: 5- Simple ground, but what’s there is well kept.

Programme: N/A

Food: N/A

Value For Money: 8- Good day around Stockport finally, £3 travel and free game. Not bad.

 

Manchopper in….Irlam (Irlam Steel AFC)

Irlam Steelwestburyclubbadge

Result: Irlam Steel 3-2 Westbury Sports Club (Manchester League Division 1)

Venue: Irlam Steel Recreation Ground (Tuesday 17th May 2016, 7pm)

Att: 20 (approx.)

As my season runs down to its end, it just so happened that one of the closest, and easiest to get to, grounds was still hosting matches at this late stage. Yes the Irlam Recreation Ground, home of Irlam Steel, was still one that had alluded me despite the fact it was a 10 minute train ride and a further 10 minute walk from there. Of course, when a venue is so close it tends to become one of those “I’ll go at some point, but not right now” places, but with Steel hosting Westbury Sports Club on a fine Tuesday evening in mid-May, all excuses had run their course.

So, after said short train ride, I arrived at Irlam around 5pm to join Matt and Aaron in the station’s 1923 café/bar. The bar sits in the old Irlam station house which, until 18 months or so ago, sat as a derelict eyesore. Now, it is restored to its former glory and hosts a museum too. Not a bad transformation. After a pint in here, Matt had wanted to take us on a jaunt into a proper Irlam pub and so to the White Horse it was.

Arriving in Irlam

Arriving in Irlam

1923

1923

The White Horse

The White Horse

The White Horse was exactly as he’d said, one of those where the locals look a bit “intrigued” by any visit of one outside the inner circle. With one woman hogging the jukebox and unveiling some dubious dance moves, we settled at the bar with Matt’s “Things usually happen at the bar” reasoning again proving true, as he and I began to be taken into dialogue by a parent of someone in his school. After, I felt, doing a decent job of feigning interest, we were joined by Gibbo and his mate Ollie. Before too long, though, it was approaching the magical 7pm and so we made a swift exit, the dancing woman exclaiming something as we did so.

Having been thwarted on a couple of occasions when I’ve planned on visiting Steel earlier this season, I was fairly familiar with the location of the ground, as was Aaron who’d ref’d there a couple of times in the past. So, upon arriving with little fuss (bar the others having some car related issues), we were rather put off by the fact that the gam was seemingly in full swing and began to (somewhat) worry that the game had been a half-six start instead. These fears were soon allayed, though, when another probable hopper was told he’d only missed a few minutes. Apparently, this was a good thing.

Here we are

Here we are

In the stand

In the stand

According to the mysterious Mr B, who’d set up shop in the big stand at the far end, the game had been rather dire during the early stages and we were lucky to have gotten away with not witnessing the first skirmishes. This certainly seemed to ring true as very little happened for the first 15 minutes we were there for either, with the stand looking like it was on fire (it was actually from a field just behind) and a hopper in the bushes being highlights. Anyway, before I get into the game in earnest, here’s a little about Irlam Steel AFC’s ground and history…

Ground/History Lesson:

There’s a big stand. A very big stand. There’s also the cricket pavilion which serves as the changing rooms for the players. Other than some bushes, that’s pretty much it. The club joined the Manchester League four seasons ago and have competed in Division One in each of these years. They have recorded finishes of 5th, 5th, 9th & (eventually) 7th this season.

Prior to their stay in the Manc League, they competed in the Lancashire & Cheshire League, in whose Division 1, they were largely a mid-table side, until they won the Division in the season before switching leagues. A couple of weeks before this very blogged game, Steel lifted the Manchester Saturday Challenge Trophy, with a penalty shoot-out victory over the much-lauded Cheshire League side Wythenshawe Town.

Irlam Steel were chasing one of the two play-off places available in the Manchester League Division 1, but certainly looked to be second best in those early minutes, with their lowly rivals Westbury, who do the “reverse Boreham Wood” in their name, with the place they hail from actually being West Bury, whereas Boreham Wood is actually Borehamwood as I’m sure you already know. Interesting, eh?

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Anyway, with Westbury starting off so well and taking the game to Steel, it was little surprise when the visitors struck first with a through ball finding the striker who slotted home comfortably, though not without some suspicions of offside! There was also a comical miss from the Westbury side too, who somehow cocked up a three on two chance from 15 yards but it remained 0-1 at the break.

Most of the entourage headed over to the bar which sits back on the road and well away from the ground during half-time, but with myself having been used to the workings of the Manchester League and their five minute half-times, I stayed in the vicinity of the ground along with “B” and was rewarded for doing so almost immediately, as Irlam broke clear and the forward finished off from the centre of goal easily. 1-1.

After a text alert was sent out to the absentees, they soon returned with beers in hand and took advantage of the cricket outfield onto which the football pitch adjoins. The second half saw Irlam in the ascendancy and they took the lead through a barnstorming strike by the, I think, #7 who lashed home a half-volley from 20 yards that left the ‘keeper with no chance. Even the Irlam Steel tracksuit-clad guy was surprised by the strike stating that he “usually clears the trees”…

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Get under it

Get under it

2-1 and the game was really livening up now, as games at this level tend to do during the second periods, and the visitors soon found themselves winning a right-wing corner down at the far “new build housing estate” end. The corner itself was floated in and met by a commanding header from close range, that found its way over the line via the upright. 2-2 and game on once more!

The last goal, though, was to reflect the ebb and flow type of contest the game had become, with the home side grabbing it. After spotting the corner taker placing the ball about 5 yards outside the quadrant, we proceeded to let him know his plan had been spotted. Of course, the referee didn’t care and neither did anyone else, apparently. This didn’t stop the winger from whipping in a good ball which was eventually bundled in from close range which he seemed very pleased with, judging by his celebration, as were we for some strange reason as we all cheered as though life-long Steel fans!

Soon enough, the referee brought the game to a its terminus and after a short debate to what the plans were next, Gibbo and Ollie headed back from whence they came, whereas Aaron and I took on Matt’s suggestion of the Ship Inn, the closest establishment to the ground. With 40-50 minutes to our respective trains back and with an apparent bikers meeting going on, it seemed like an interesting choice.

Follow, Follow, Follow...

Follow, Follow, Follow…

To The Ship

To The Ship

There were no bikers, really, to be found inside despite a large banner claiming their presence. After being quite intrigued by the bottle of “Jager-like” Messer Schmit spirit in the fridge, it was thought better of as we stuck with the tried and tested amber nectar. After stories of Crewe, prior Wembley trips, trying to figure out where our respective 92 totals now stood and Matt’s questionable, occasional Snapchat friend’s postings(!), it was time to head off for the train back home. After bidding goodbye to Aaron, whose train departed a little later than ours, Matt and I headed into the drizzly Salfordian evening comparing our respective knowledge of flags of the world. This, dear readers, is what I reduce the “cool” hoppers to….

DSC02446

RATINGS:

Game: 7- A slow burner, but it exploded eventually.

Ground: 6- Mostly due to the big stand! Nothing else to speak of really.

Fans: 5- ……

Food: N/A

Programme: N/A

Value For Money: 8- Free game, cheap travel, just “extras” were paid for.

 

Manchopper in….Failsworth (AVRO FC)

avro fcstockport georgians

Result: AVRO 3-2 Stockport Georgians (Manchester League Premier Division)

Venue: The Lancaster Club (Tuesday 3rd May 2016, 7pm)

Att: 22 (hc)

Despite being a regular contributor on the Manchester League’s weekly podcast, I’d sort of neglected the league’s games and had hardly watched one all season. But, this was to be somewhat changed with a midweek visit to the Lancaster Club in Failsworth and AVRO FC.

After another bus filled journey with little of note except that some of the driving around the streets of the Manchester outskirts was questionable to say the least, I was dropped off outside the Lamb Inn pub on Manchester Road, the main road which the ground sits just off of. I had also spotted another pub pretty much next door, but as this one was closed and therefore not a likely place to find a non-fatal drink, I headed for the Robbie’s Lamb for the pre-game beverage.

Yet again, my beer choosing was off, as my option was again no longer available. I’ve honestly lost count of how many times this has now happened to me this season! Rather fortunately, though, Beck’s was served in a bottle instead and so I plumped for that to keep me company for the next half-hour. After slowly nursing this over the period and trying to help out fans with info for Saturday’s game at Accrington (despite not knowing much myself), I found the clock approaching 6.30 and so headed over to the Lancaster Club for the game.

Lamb Inn

Lamb Inn

Arriving at The Lancaster Club

Arriving at The Lancaster Club

After a 5 minute walk, I arrived at the road leading down to the ground itself, confirmed by a sign with, unsurprisingly, a picture of a Lancaster Bomber on it. (By this point, I must apologize for just how boring this has been so far, even more so than normal!) The pitch(es) sat at the end of this and beyond the car-park adjoining the club itself and despite the 7pm kick-off time noted on the website, it looked as though a game was getting underway at 6.30 instead. Turned out this was an u-17’s contest, but this provided some great entertainment with AVRO & Elton Vale playing out a 5-3 win for the visitors.

I was joined by the “agent” Mr B for this game which is always great, especially when he tells of his plans to run off to Narnia with corner flags and to collect them by ripping them off their poles then pleading ignorance. (Legal note: This is said in jest. Honest.) Anyway, after the AVRO players had carried the goalposts over to the back pitch and they were set up we were all ready to go. As are we for the…

(Brief) History Lesson:

An AVRO FC have played at the Lancaster Club since just after the Second World War, having been founded by employees of the aviation company’s factory in Chadderton. The club is the former Failsworth Hall, which was purchased by the company’s founder A.V. Roe in 1938 and has been used as a sports venue since 1950.

The current club was formed, joined the Manchester League and won the Division 1 Championship in 1989 but lasted just three seasons in the Premier Division before being relegated in 1992 and departing the league in 1995, before embarking on what appears to be a three year sabbatical before re-joining the league in 1998. They again won Division 2 in 2004 but were again relegated after three seasons.

After just one season, though, AVRO returned to the Manchester League’s top-flight as Division 1 runners-up and have since won the Premier Division on two successive occasions, in 2010 & 2011. Last season, AVRO recorded a third place finish in the top Division.

Setting up

Setting up

Handshakes

Handshakes

We got underway with the sunlight opposite proving something of an obstacle that we were unused to. Of course, I always cover all eventualities and had shades and gloves just in case and unbelievably it was only the former that was required. Things are hotting up just as the season ends. Sod’s law.

Anyway, on the field it was a pretty tight affair during the early stages, until the AVRO ‘keeper had a rush of blood, came charging out of his area, missed the ball and allowed the Stockport #10 the easiest of tasks to roll the ball into the empty net. 0-1 to the visitors, who were still not completely safe from relegation despite winning the league the previous season!

From then on, though, it was all AVRO as they began to put all the pressure on the visitors defence, but could only really muster a couple of shots from range which were easily saved. Apart from that, the game was mostly a midfield contest and there was little of note. Half-Time arrived with the score at one-nil.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

After engaging in some necessary pitch encroachment to get around from the back of the pitch from the steep ravine side, where the pitch drops away from the plateau it sits on, we were ready to get going with the sun now being a little less troublesome for both spectators and players alike as it set behind the houses beyond Failsworth’s answer to the Grand Canyon.

Soon enough, the home side grabbed a deserved equaliser when a poor pass allowed AVRO o steal possession and play in the forward who slotted home comfortably. 1-1 and all to play for, apart from the fact the home ‘keeper decided he wanted to repeat his trick from earlier in the game, straight from kick off and again gifted Georgians’ #10 an open net that he couldn’t miss from. 1-2.

But, again, it seemed that Georgians were happy to sit on their lead, but they never looked comfortable in doing so. It looked inevitable to both me and Mr B that the equaliser would arrive and it duly did, a header from a right wing delivery being nodded home from close range. From here, to be honest, it looked like there would only be one winner, with the AVRO gloveman confining himself to his area after berating himself after his second erring.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Starjump

Starjump

Indeed, the winner did arrive and it was for the home side. Again, Georgians conceded possession poorly in the midfield and AVRO worked the ball through to their skipper who slotted home with confidence to secure his side the three points, which they held onto easily enough. 3-2 and that was full-time.

So for me and B, it was time to head off home to our shared township and after swaying the “agent’s” decision to join me in the lovely surroundings of the Mancunian bus services over the Metro, we were soon headed back towards the city centre and the connection onwards home. That was, until we reached Stretford and things became much more exciting. The race was on, almost like a Top Gear race, but with buses and not super cars. Ok, nothing like it then…

So, it was on! Mr B on the 256 vs me on the 23 plus a 5 minute delay. After the nerves and the sweat I arrived home (I presume) victorious! The re-match will happen sometime during season two*. But as for the evening, it was ok, decent game, good to see Mr B once more and now it’s onwards to Saturday and the small matter of a possible promotion…

*probably won’t happen.

DSC02351

RATINGS:

Game: 6- Decent enough game, but not as exciting as you’d imagine a 3-2 to be. But maybe I’m having football burnout.

Ground: 4- Barred off pitch (apart from behind the goals). All grass surround.

Fans: 5- Yeah.

Programme: N/A

Food: N/A

Value For Money: 9- Free game, only paid £5.20 travel plus £2.60 “extras”. Not a bad exchange then.