Manchopper in….Liverpool (Brasil vs Croatia)

Result: Brasil 2-0 Croatia (International Friendly)

Venue: Anfield, Liverpool (Sunday 3rd June 2018, 3pm)

Att: 42,000

*Just a quick note to say that I know the correct spellings of most of these players will be wrong, due to the amount of accents included, but due to the fact I don’t know how to get the correct ones up, this isn’t possible to do. So, apologies for this, but I’m sure it’s understandable! Anyway, on with the show….

It finally arrived! The final day of the season was finally upon me and what a way to end it off. After eleven whole months and spanning over 80 matches, I was finishing up at Anfield, having started at the start of July at AVRO’s shiny, new home, the renovated Whitebank Stadium in Oldham. Indeed, that game featured the visit to Manchester of Lower Breck F.C, whose Anfield Sports Club home is located a short walk from its more famous neighbour, somewhat bringing a tidy end to proceedings. To Liverpool it was, but it was for an interesting friendly contest, pitting the 5-time World Champions Brasil against the talented Croatian side including the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mateo Kovacic, amongst others.

With my Mum being a mad Liverpool fan, and having a wide interest in the game as a whole, I brought up this game to here and she was immediately interested in joining me on the trip, even going as far as paying for both our tickets (thanks, Mother!). My Dad also found his charitable side(!) and offered to drop us off, and with the Liverpool-Manchester line undergoing works, this was more than welcome as well. A problem-less hour’s drive later and we were being dropped off outside the famous Kop End, but there wasn’t so much of the Liver Bird on show today, as the yellow, blue and green of the Selecao and the classical white-and-red chequered shirts of the Croats. Both nation’s flags were on display widely too (be that by natives of both countries, or neutrals with an interest in either), though my Mum was understandably attracted by the Red flags adorning the outer walls of the Twelfth Man pub, and it was here our day began in earnest.

First stop, the Twelfth Man

The flag-adorned ceiling of the Albert

Finding out my phone had gone walkabouts upon entering, a call to my Dad was required to reunite me with said necessity, which had attempted its escape. I’d have been lost if I was alone! Panic over, I could enjoy my pint of Hop House, whilst my Mum carried on her new-found liking of Strongbow’s Dark Fruits. With the pub getting ever busier thanks to an influx of supporters of both countries, we exited and headed onwards to the outside of Anfield, but we weren’t headed for the ground just yet my friends, oh no. Instead, it was to The Albert, a large Victorian pub which sits right alongside the Paisley Gates and in front of the Kop. It was packed in here with both sets of supporters again mixing superbly and getting on well together, which was a theme of the day. With it being so full and space at a premium, the pint of Carlsberg (it had to be, didn’t it, with the Liverpool connection!) went down quickly prior to us continuing on slightly away from the ground and to our next venue, The Sandon or, more accurately, its neighbouring matchday bar, Dodd’s.

Dodd’s was nice enough too though, once again, it was full of fans of all persuasions enjoying a pre-match beverage or two. Its archway-filled interior gives it a cool feel and it has a sort of clubby vibe to it I felt, which lends it something of a different look. Anyway, Coors in hand, we found some space up near the pool table and latterly secured a table which were certainly at a premium, with it seeming to be the case that there was no outside area. Sadly, it turned out there was as we departed around the corner, the car-park area full with even more punters and rocking. A shame, but the final pre-match stop was calling.


The Arkles (turrets just visible)

…and inside

The Arkles was up next and despite it having some suspiciously Evertonian-looking turrets adorning its steps, is another staunch Liverpool pub it seemed, with the Reds’ memorabilia being far more obviously on show. You can guess who was in here by what I’ve said before, so don’t want to bore you with a repetitive theme! Anyway, with time ticking down to kick-off and me wanting to get there in far better time than I’d ended up doing the previous day – at Wembley for the England-Nigeria game – I finished off my pint sharpish and navigated our way the long distance back to the ground and the Shankly Gates. Just kidding, they’re about a minute away!

Following a standard visit to the touching memorial to Hillsborough, decked out as ever with loads of tributes to those so tragically lost in such a terrible way, we continued on to the Kop’s turnstiles and, following the standard bag check, were swiftly inside – Anfield seemingly far better organised than Wembley in this case, regardless of the difference in crowd size. Scanning our £30 tickets (my Mum found this rather tricky, being not as versed in the recent, more technical ways of ticketing….sorry Mum), we quickly cut the crowds and headed up the steps, finding our seats in the middle of one of the Kop’s many rows….despite having picked out seats on the edge of the row whilst buying online. Hmmmmmm…..

Arriving at Anfield’s Shankly Gates

To the Kop. VVD’s a bit shorter in the flesh!

Anyway, we still had fine seats for viewing the game from, just off from centre and slightly to the left of the goal as you look from the stand in question. The sides soon emerged from the tunnel and after the Brasilian fans next to us belted out their national anthem loudly and proudly, the Croatian fans – largely grouped together down the far end in the Anfield Road stand, had their turn too. Both anthems were respectively received by their opposite numbers (and everyone else too) and we were all set to go. Brasil’s talismanic forward, Neymar, would be starting from the bench today, continuing his recovery from injury. Indeed, this wouldn’t be the first time I’d seen him, though the previous time was a far closer affair. Are you sitting comfortably….?

It just so happened I was lucky enough to work security for a short time during the 2012 Olympic Games, guarding the hotel where the players were staying when playing at Old Trafford. Brasil happened to be one of the teams (along with Spain, South Korea, Japan, Egypt and Morocco(?), whilst the USA and Canadian women’s sides also stayed prior to their clash). I’d make a point of saying ‘Hello’ to all about (as you couldn’t do much else) and so that was how I managed to get a thumbs up from him, along with a full conversation with Leandro Damaio, prior to them playing ping-pong together. I hope Neymar’s improved his skills on that front!

The game pitted the five-time World Champs against Croatia, whose best World Cup performance was a third-placed finish at the 1998 tournament in France, the first I can remember watching! Whilst the Croatians have a less than impressive record in terms of honours, winning only the Hassan II Trophy in the 1996 tournament (besting Morocco, Nigeria and Czech Republic) and the 1999 Korea Cup (the 23rd and last edition of the competition), contested against South Korea, Mexico and Egypt. They also finished as runners-up in the 1997 Kirin Cup, finishing behind hosts Japan, but ahead of other competing nation, Turkey. A more dubious “honour” is the fact that Josip Simunic was shown three yellow cards in a match against Australia by Graham Poll in the World Cup of 2006, but wasn’t sent off as, apparently, Poll thought he was an Aussie due to his Australian accent. Yeah, we all believe that, it’s easy to get confused when they’re wearing the same…oh.


The Paisley Gates

Meanwhile, Brasil’s record is nothing short of exemplary. Alongside their 5 World Cup titles (1958, ’62, ’70 & ’94 & 2002), they have also finished runners-up twice, in each of the 1950 & 1998 tournaments. They have also lifted the Confederations Cup on four occasions (1997, 2005, ’09 & 13), finishing runners-up in 1999, and have won the South America Championship (now the Copa America) on eight occasions, these coming in 1919, ’22, ’49, ’89, ’97, ’99, 2004 & 2007 and have finished runners-up on no less than eleven occasions. They also added two Panamerican Championships to their long list of honours, these coming in 1952 & ’56, whilst they were losing finalists in the 1960 tournament too, meaning the competed in each of the three finals during the competition’s tenure.

In addition to these more major honours, Brasil have also won numerous friendly tournaments during their glittering history. Their multiple title wins include 11 Copa Roca’s/Superclasico de las Americas (between 1914 & 2014), seven Copa Rio Branco’s (between 1931 & 1976), eight Taco Oswald Cruz titles (between 1950 & 1976) and three Taca do Atlantico titles in 1956, 1970 & 1976. In addition they have won one each of the Taca Independencia (1972), USA Bicentennial Cup (1976), Rous Cup (1987), Australia Bicentenary Gold Cup (1988), Umbro Cup (1995), and the 2005 Lunar New Year Cup. They have also won four Gold Medals at the Pan-American Games – these coming in 1963, 1975 (shared), 1979 and 1987, two Silvers (1959 & 2003) and two Bronze (1983 & 2015). In the Olympics, Brasil have taken just a single Gold Medal – in their home 2016 Rio Games, whilst winning three silver medals (1984, ’88 & 2012) and two Bronze (1996, 2008). However, the CONCACAF Gold Cup has eluded them, with Brasil finishing runners-up in both the 1996 & 2003 tournaments whilst also finishing third in 1998.

Teams line up for the anthems

Enough of the nostalgia trip (also known as blowing my own trumpet) and let’s get on with the game. From kick-off, it was definitely a slow burner, however this didn’t mean it wasn’t still highly watchable. The first twenty minutes was largely interrupted with a number of fouls and offsides, before Dejan Lovren nodded the first true chance of the game narrowly wide on his home turf, before Andrej Kramaric forced Brasil’s ‘keeper Allinson – who may also be soon playing at Anfield on a regular basis if rumours are to be believed – into a fairly comfortable stop.

Match Action

Match Action

Luka Modric was running the midfield for the Croatians, with Ivan Rakitic providing good cover for the defence at times, whilst also transferring into a more attacking role when required. However, it was Phillipe Coutinho, returning to his former club’s home ground, who had the next attempt, firing high and wide into the Anfield Road End behind Danijel Subasic’s goal. After this, there was little between the sides in the way of chances, with only a few blocked efforts for Willian and Paulinho being seen prior to the break. Half-Time and the majority of the crowd around Anfield were hoping for the appearance of Neymar to spice up the contest.

The break saw the fans treated to the appearance of a bird mascot kitted out in a full Brasil kit, who went on a lap consisting of posing and keepy-ups which lasted the whole 15 minutes. Finally, his display was at an end and he received a warm reception for his efforts, as the bird (which obviously isn’t a man dressed up, for the assurance of any kids) made his way back off the pitch. He was soon replaced by the 22 players and officials, with Neymar indeed being introduced for the second forty-five, entering the field to loud cheers around the ground.

The bird loves it….

….as do the fans!

The vast majority of the Selecao’s play during the second half went through Neymar, whose influence on the game grew quickly and impressively, considering it was only his first game back after injury. Both full/wing-backs Marcelo and Danilo saw shots fly off target (the former’s a fair bit closer), before Neymar’s first attempt was at least on target, forcing Croatian gloveman Subasic into a low stop. Modric departed the scene soon after this, being replaced by Mateo Kovacic and this seemed to lessen the attacking forays Croatia embarked on. At the other end of the pitch, Roberto Firmino (or “Bobby” to his friends around here) was introduced on the hour to a similar reception to that of Neymar fifteen minutes before, replacing today’s skipper, Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus, who’d toiled away for little reward up front.

Nine minutes later, the opener finally arrived and, of course, it was the South Americans’ talismanic #10 who grabbed it. After receiving the ball at the end of a move involving Willian and Coutinho, he forced his way into the box, beat a couple of defenders, and absolutely smashed the ball beyond over Subasic and into the roof of the centre of the net. A fine goal and one that bodes well for him and his side’s chances, if he’s not at full sharpness yet.

Match Action

Neymar celebrates his opener

Match Action

A fair period of quiet followed, with little occurring in way of chances. After Rakitic (who’s one of my current favourite players out there) was replaced, only his team-mate Duje Caleta-Car, who’d earlier replaced the veteran Vedran Corluka at the back, had a chance up towards the end of the game, his header from a free-kick flying wide of the mark. Neymar’s late free-kick flew comfortably wide as Brasil looked to add some gloss to the score-line, before Firmino went on a late quest to grab the rare opportunity to net for his nation at the home of his club.

Which is the better #11?

Firmino scores. He wasn’t flagging!

After going close twice in the lead up to stoppage time, he got third-time lucky as he ran onto Casemiro’s through-ball and fired beyond Subasic to wrap up the game with the very last kick. A nice moment for him, his smile revealing his set of very bright teeth, which were visible even to us half-way up the stand! Full-Time, Brasil 2-0 Croatia. A decent game!

After the game, we popped into the Park Tavern across the way from the Kop and after a final drink in here, hopped onto a bus (£2 single) and headed back to the city centre, whilst the Brasilian and Croatian fans continued their respective parties outside what seemed to be one of the most popular venues on the day. Soon back at Lime Street station, I came up with the idea of finding the recently saved Lion pub, which had been under threat of closure after the brewer pulled out. Sadly, it ended up being a little too far for us to be bothered too much on this day, and so we decided to leave that for another time and deviated instead onto Mathew Street and the famed Cavern Club.

My Mum couldn’t miss a chance for a pic in the Kop…

….nor out front with Bill & Bob!

All fans together in the Park

After paying the £2.50 p/p entrance fee, we descended down several flights of stairs before finally arriving in the….well, cavernous bar where I spotted a group of Brasil fans that I was sure had been in at least two other pubs while we had been there too. Crazy. Anyway, my first experience of the Cavern was a cool one and after a couple of pints down in the depths of Liverpool, whilst enjoying the live music on offer, we headed back up onto the streets and met my Dad who’d kindly offered to pick us up again. Of course, it’d be rude for us not to include him in the tour somewhere along the way, and so a final one was had in the large, impressive-looking Crown, just over the road from Lime Street, before we embarked on the journey back home.

So, there ends a trip that was a little bit different, and brought back memories (somewhat) of the strangeness of the Qatar-Northern Ireland trip a few years ago, where Matt Harrison’s (of Lost Boyos fame) dancing came to the rescue. I’m sure he’s not had to repeat the trick as of yet! All in all, it had been a fun trip and very economical as my Mum pretty much paid for everything bar the final round!! No programmes or food were tested (saving that for a Liverpool game in earnest) but the pubs were all fun and I look forward to returning soon.

Day ended off back in Liverpool

…and its famed Cavern Club!

The Cavern “proper”.

Thanks for reading my silly tales this season one and all, I really appreciate the support in what has been a difficult period. This has been my outlet from the real world, somewhat, and your kind comments, support and the massive jump in views has helped me to continue on through. So, once again, thanks to you all and see you again in….well, about 4 weeks (Jesus!)….well, if you’re not interested in my silly cricket sojourn over the summer, that is. Also, keep an eye out for my highly prestigious end-of-season awards too, which will be put up at some point. 2018-’19, you’ve got a lot to live up to….


Game: 6

Ground: 8

Food: N/A (didn’t sample)

Programme: N/A

Value For Money: 10 (I pretty much didn’t pay for anything!)

Manchopper in….Walton (Liverpool County FA HQ)

Result: Eagle Sports 3-0 Byrom (Liverpool Challenge Cup Final)

Venue: Liverpool County FA HQ, Walton Park (Tuesday 28th April 2015, 6.30pm)

Att: 120

This was a game I’d planned to attend, ever since Eagle reached the final back in March. Finally,  the evening had arrived, and after finishing work at around about 4pm, it was straight to the station for the train towards Liverpool. Well, I say train, it was more akin to a battery farm, how everyone was crammed in. Anyway, after enduring these conditions for around 45 minutes, I hopped off at Edge Green, before embarking on the walk up to Walton.

However, I soon found out I had massively underestimated the walk, and it turned out to be a good three-four miles! This in addition to getting lost (shock) and ending up near Tue Brook. As such, I decided to make the most of a bad situation and go on a football tour of Merseyside, walking past both Anfield and Goodison Park. Amazingly, it was the first time I’d ever seen Goodison in my life.

The Kop

The Kop



Famous Stanley Park

Famous Stanley Park

After heading past Stanley Park and heading up Walton Road, I finally found myself at the entrance to Walton Park and the Liverpool “Soccer Centre”, as it was advertised on signposts. What a dreadful word, soccer. Before I set off on a rant, I will carry on. I handed over my £2 admission fee, receiving both entrance and a programme for my money. Upon entering, it struck me just how little there is featuring inside the pitch being used today. There is one stand, a slightly raised covered terrace, the changing rooms are built into the rear of the main building and there are some hedges. But apart from that, that was it. And it was very much the same story for the twin ground next door too. For me, there has to be a better place to host a final.

The Stand

The Stand

The Hedge End

The Hedge End

Clubhouse End

Clubhouse End

The game, featuring Byrom of the Liverpool County Premier League and Eagle Sports of the Cheshire League Premier Division was underway around 15 minutes of me arriving. Almost immediately, it was obvious that it was going to be a largely one sided affair, a Eagle gained the upper hand, which they were never to truly relinquish.



It's all kicking-off

It’s all kicking-off

It did, however, take them 20 minutes to finally break the deadlock. A free-kick was won on the left flank, the delivery wasn’t cleared and skipper Richard Chinn volley home to give his side the advantage.

Byrom were still recovering from this knockback when Eagle grabbed their second two minutes later. Again, it was an attack down the left that caused the danger, before a vicious strike was wonderfully tipped onto the post by the Byrom goalkeeper, who was rather unfortunate that the ball rolled along the goalmouth where Ged McAllister arrived to slide into the gaping net. 2-0, and game over, you felt.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

At thebreak, the  score remained the same, and I headed for the small refreshment window at the side of the main building, which seemed to be housing a referees course. They could do worse than to watch  the ref in charge tonight, who I thought officiated very well. There were a couple of minor errors, which are to be expected,, but nothing too major. Anyway, I managed to grab the last pie on offer, a Steak variety, for just £1. It was delicious and definitely worth the quid. So, with pie in hand, I headed back to the ground for the second period, which was soon underway.

The second period saw Byrom unleash their secret weapon, a quicksilver winger/midfield player wearing 14. He absolutely single handedly caused Eagle problems and looked like he might just give the Merseysiders a fighting chance. Apparently, he is a player for Skelmersdale Utd in the Evo-Stik League, and his class was showing. Unfortunately for him, the rest of his side weren’t up to it and Eagle’s Lee Boardman applied the finishing touch to the final with 15 minutes left on the clock. Boardman collected a through ball before delightfully chipping the ball over the onrushing GK and into the net. A fine finish. 3-0.

Soon enough, the final whistle blew to signal Eagle’s win and first silverware this season,, whilst Byrom left empty handed, having never posed much of a threat. The celebrations began and after the champers was sprayed and the trophy was lifted it was onwards home.

Eagle's Chinn lifts the cup

Eagle’s Chinn lifts the cup

The champagne is finally sprayed!

The champagne is finally sprayed!

I hitched a lift back to Sankey on the Eagle team coach, as to aid my trip home. After a quick drink back at the club on Thornton Road, and a win on the football card to the tune of £20, I left to my own fanfare and headed into the night around Warrington and arrived at Sankey station, in a much more able state than usual! 20 minutes later, I was disembarking back at Urmston and back home after two cup finals in two nights. Next up, the May Day weekend, and a trio of matches…..

My Byrom M.o.M.- The #14, didn’t catch his name sadly.

My Eagle Sports M.o.M.- Richard Chinn.


Game: 5 – A one sided contest.

Ground: 4- Very simple and not great facilities for a final.

Fans: 7- All round effort.

Food: 8- Pie was very good. And cheap too!

Programme: 4-More of a teamsheet.

Value For Money: 8- Cheap travel, admission and food makes for a happy hopper!

Manchopper in….Leyland (Lancashire FA Headquarters)

Result: Blackpool Wren Rovers 5-2 Prestwich Heys (Lancashire FA Amateur Shield ‘sponsored by Thornton Sports’ Semi Final)

Venue: The County Ground (Wednesday 19th February 2014, 7.30pm)

Att: Around 140-150 (headcount)

A slightly different take on my blog for this one, as with their being no club to feature as a home club, it becomes more or less a match report, and a description of the ground & town, which I unwittingly saw a large amount due to me getting lost…again!

After beginning my journey at Urmston Train Station at a little after 5pm, I switched trains at Deansgate, and was soon on my way upwards to Lancashire, and the town of Leyland. Leyland plays host to the headquarters of the Lancashire County FA, who have a relatively large complex in the town, featuring a couple of 3G surfaces, (though it may have been the same one from different angles whilst lost), and a grass pitch, which was to be in use today. I arrived at Leyland Station at around ten-to-seven, and had around 50 minutes to kick-off. I was bemoaning my decision therefore to get this train, and not the one due about 20 minutes later, as I knew where I was going. Or so I thought…

After heading down the main road and through the town centre and past a Wetherspoon’s which I planned to visit when I had found the ground entrance, I approached the ‘British Transport Museum’ which had floodlights clearly visible tucked in behind it. However, as I started to walk up the road towards the lights, it became clear to me there was no way in this way, so I continued on. And on. And on. And on some more. For 45 minutes, I traipsed around the dark streets and back alleys of the town, desperately lapping the ground many times, the floodlights mockingly remaining in view, yet out of reach.

At 7.20pm, I finally found the entrance, through a car park. As I approached the turnstiles, I crossed the road to see right next to it the Transport Museum I had seen a half hour earlier. It could have been oh so much easier, but it wouldn’t be a manchopper trip without getting lost in some way. If you live near a football ground, and you do ever see someone walking past your house, ranting at their phone screen, it is more than likely me!!

After paying £5 entrance, and receiving a team sheet which still advised the game was at Bamber Bridge’s home, Irongate, where the tie was originally planned to be staged  until the weather forced a switch, I entered the ground just as the two teams exited the tunnel. Wren Rovers from the Squires Gate area of Blackpool, and Prestwich Heys, from the Bury area of Manchester. Wren Rovers ply their trade in the strong West Lancashire League, so where considered favourites by many, despite having just come off the back off a long period of inactivity due to the weather. Prestwich Heys play in the Manchester League and hadn’t played on grass for a while, with previous few weeks of game being played on various 3G venues.

A look around the ground shows a large brick building on the left of you as you enter, and the players tunnel and refreshment bar on the right. Next to these, and behind the right-hand goal is a small stand, almost perched up against the wall of the Museum directly behind it. Behind the left hand goal was a small terraced area and a 3G pitch which was in use tonight, so created illuminations that would make the Blackpool side feel right at home. The far side opposite you as you enter, is a rather impressive, smart all seater stand bearing the letters LFA in white seats amongst a red seat background.

After a minutes silence in memory of the late, great Sir Tom Finney, the game began at a frantic pace, Wren Rovers starting on top and they really should have took the lead after five minutes when Ric Seear, fired wastefully wide from close range. Even he looked shocked and bemused by his miss as he covered his face with his hands.

The afro-sporting Heys right-winger Erike Sousa then stung the hands of Wren Rover ‘keeper Andrew Speight, and Heys were made to pay for this miss soon afterwards as a good team move from a Wren Rovers corner ended with Oliver Crolla finishing with aplomb past Heys’ ‘keeper Rob Sadler. At this point, I realised that Wren Rovers’ number 5, looked remarkably like Shane Watson, the Australian batsman, although maybe this was just the lights? I later found out this was Ant Pearson, and he prefers to be known as Pirlo!!

A few minutes later, the impressive Ric Seear attempted a delightful chip over Sadler but the ball dropped narrowly wide of the near post, but this miss only served to help Seear get his radar right, as a minute later he repeated the trick, only for the ball to find the far corner on this occasion. It was a terrific bit of skill by the front man.

Heys tried to fight back against an ever more dominant looking Rovers, with Paul Tierney’s backheel being held on the line by Speight, and then Mark Drew had to be denied by the Rovers ‘keeper, diving away to his right, as Heys began to seize the initiative back from the boys from the seaside. And with 10 minutes of the half remaining, their pressure told. Shaun Johnson was played in by Jon Lyons, and had time to pick his spot, which he did, despite appearing to panic slightly, from 20 yards.

It got even better for Heys. On the stroke of half-time, the Manchester side won a corner on the left-flank after a free-kick was deflecting just wide of the far post with the ‘keeper rooted. The corner was beautifully whipped in and centre-back Luke Hodson rose highest to power a header past Speight from 8 yards. 2-2 at the break.

With drizzle beginning to fall, the players made their way to the dressing rooms, and the fans made the trip to the refreshment bar for some hot stuff. Behave. I decided to get a hot chocolate, for 50p (it was quite small), and a bag of Aero Bubbles, orange flavour, for £1. At this point, word got round about Stoke City’s Charlie Adam being in attendance tonight. Not sure why, but must have been from his Blackpool days?

The second half began with questions to be answered. Were Wren Rovers starting to struggle with lack of match fitness, could Heys complete a comeback, and an upset? The answer was to be no on both counts.

Three minutes into the second period, and Rovers regained the lead, as a mistake in midfield gifted possession to them and the ball found its way to Lee Tobin who proceeded to within 20-yards of the Heys goal before firing in an effort reminiscent of Heys’ first.

It was all Rovers from this point, and Tobin almost added to his tally soon afterwards when he found himself unmarked 12-yards out, but he was thwarted by a wonderful save from Rob Sadler in the shadow of the museum wall, however the let-off was only temporary for Heys, as Crolla received the ball on the right, cut inside and unleashed a superb effort from range past the helpless Sadler, for a knockout punch his namesake Anthony would have been proud of, if it was an actual punch of course….

Out of bad puns, and back to the game. With Heys now pouring forward and throwing the proverbial kitchen sink and more at Wren Rovers’ back line they were hit on the counter with just under 10 minutes to play, as Seear added the icing on the cake when he was released clean through, and he slotted past Sadler via the post to make it 5-2 and send his side into the final. Despite the best efforts of Heys’ defence on the line, the assistant gave the goal to no complaints.

The scoreline was somewhat harsh on Heys, who weren’t three goals worse than their opponents on the night, although the result was the correct one as the better side won through. No complaints from either team, who both put on a great display of football to show great credit to both their clubs, and the leagues they were representing. A shout here for the referee too, who I thought was exceptional, he got everything right for me.

I was soon back on Leyland Station Platform 2, and getting wetter by the minute as the rain teemed down, before I got on the train to Buckshaw Parkway, where the wind was whistling through like sound of a phantom conductor whistling. It was eerie to say the least, and I was happy to be on the train to Deansgate, before any ghost trains came through!

*The final will be between Blackpool Wren Rovers and the winners of the tie between Thornton Cleveley’s and Rochdale Sacred Heart, in another clash of West Lancashire League vs Manchester League. This tie is to be played this Wednesday (26th Feb), a 7.30pm kick off.

My Blackpool Wren Rovers M.o.M.- Oliver Crolla

My Prestwich Heys M.o.M.- Mark Drew


Ground: 8- Simple, yet effective and tidy. Nice set up.

Game: 9- I really enjoyed the game, two teams going at it, but a little one sided second half.

Food: 7- Small Hot Chocolate, but Aero Bubbles in orange helps the rating!

Fans: N/A- Not a home ground so I can’t give a rating.

Programme: 1- Token team sheet, nothing more, and venue was still wrong. Boo.

Value For Money: 8- Good value all round really.

Referee: 10- Really impressed. One of, if not the best refereeing performance I’ve seen this season. 


BLACKPOOL WREN ROVERS: 1.Andrew Speight, 2.Lewis Cook, 3.Nick Greenall, 4.Conn Methven(c), 5.Anthony ‘Pirlo’ Pearson, 6.Danny Pickering, 7.Mark Fiddler, 8.Mickey Clark, 9.Ric Seear(2),10.Oliver Crolla(2), 11.Lee Tobin(1). SUBS: 12.Kurt Bradley(p), 14.Nick Corless(p), 15.Ryan Willetts, 16.Fran Donaghy(p), 17.Steve Creelman.

PRESTWICH HEYS: 1.Rob Sadler, 2.Darius Photiou, 3.Phil Woodcock, 4.Shaun Johnson(1), 5.Gareth Walsh, 6.Luke Hodson(1), 7.Erike Sousa, 8.Jon Lyons(c), 9.Paul Tierney, 10.Mark Drew, 11.Chris Mackay. SUBS: 12.Greg Wills(p), 14.Martin Love(p), 15.Conor Landers(p).

OFFICIALS: REFEREE: Mr. Mike Barlow. ASSISTANTS: Mr. Paul Turner & Mr. Ian Claridge. FOURTH OFFICIAL: Mr. Peter Simm.