Result: Daisy Hill 0-2 Seaham Red Star (FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round)
Venue: New Sirs (Saturday 15th September 2018, 3pm)
For the second week running I found myself out in this part of Lancashire. Having been at Atherton Colls fruitless FA Cup clash with Kidsgrove the previous weekend, this Saturday saw me just a couple of stops down the line at Daisy Hill. Of course, with the trains still in mayhem, this would be another journey undertaken by that fine medium that is the bus. If you can’t tell, I was being sarcastic….!
Anyway, I was indeed off to Daisy Hill for their FA Vase meeting with Seaham Red Star of the Northern League, a league which always prompts thoughts of a difficult tie for any club a member comes up against, so I was expecting goals as I caught the bus back to the Trafford Centre (a la last week), but this time headed off via Bolton on the express service, prior to catching the bus onwards 25 minutes or so to the far end of Westhoughton high street, where I would be having the majority of my pre-match bevvies today, what with there being very little in the immediate area around the ground and the fact the club once carried the town’s name.
Daisy Hill is located within Westhoughton, a town which was traditionally a coal producing, cotton spinning and textile making area during the Industrial Revolution. However, it does date back to around 1210, its name deriving from West and the Old English for “haugh/halh” – meaning nook or corner of land, and “‘tun” – farmstead or settlement. Starting out in 1210 as Halcton, it then became Westhalcton in 1240, then Westhalghton 1292, Westhalton ten years later and finally Westhaughton and Westhoughton through the 16th century.
In 1315, a group of men including Sir Adam Banastre, met in the Wingates area the town now occupies, the meeting would go on to organise violence against Sir Robert de Holland of Upoholland and, indirectly, the Earl of Lancaster. This would go on to become the Banastre Rebellion, but wouldn’t end well for most of the protagonists, as they would wind up meeting their maker. During the Civil War, in 1642, Lord Derby’s Cavalier forces met the Parliamentarian army, with the latter 163 men forced into surrender by the 1,000-plus Royalists. It is also believed that it was in Westhoughton that Prince Rupert massed his troops ahead of the attack and massacre of Bolton in 1644. Further activity is believed to have occurred at the nearby Hunger Hill and Chew Moor areas.
During the Industrial Revolution, Westhoughton Mill was burned down by Luddites, the leading perpetrators sentenced to death and duly hung at Lancaster Castle. 1910 saw one of the worst mining disasters take place at Pretoria Pit as 344 men and boys lost their lives in an explosion. This is the third worst mining accident in history, behind only the Barnsley Oaks and Senghenydd Colliery disasters. It now has its own town council, which was achieved in 1985.
Having arrived in the shadow of a church and alongside a mining memorial garden, I found the first pub along shut for what I later found out was a refurb, so instead headed on a few doors down to the Beer School – I just wish those were actually real, back in t’day! This was very much your modern real ale/craft beer place, complete with bottle shop, so all bases were covered! I opted to start off with a pint of the American Pale Ale that was on, which came in at £3.30. Not a bad start either. With the bar over the way also still shut, I finished off in here and made haste to the Wetherspoons here, the Robert Fuller. A modern, fairly boring affair, there’s little to report. Punk IPA was had and I was out of there and found the Victoria a few doors further down.
The Victoria was….a local’s pub, shall we say. It did seem to be one rarely visited by those from outside the local area, but it wasn’t a bad place overall. However, XFactor repeats being on TV weren’t conducive to my idea of a good time and so it was quickly onwards and over the road to the final pub on the High Street, the White Lion. This was a really traditional pub, with the bar being so low you have to duck under the stained glass windows running over the top to get served, if you’re tall enough anyway. A pint of Crystal was on the cards in here, whilst watching the Spurs v Liverpool game and getting regular updates on Lancashire’s ill-fated T20 semi-final from a table who’d set up their phone to have it on too. A cool place, and well worth a visit, in my opinion. From there, it was off around the corner and to the bus stop, though it did turn out there was one right outside that was used, so that went well…..
Having got the bus down to Daisy Hill station, I hopped off for a final one in the Rosehill Tavern, which also allowed me to catch the end of the game at Wembley in the company of a pint of the Bootleg IPA, one of my favourites (take a note everyone :)). Soon enough, though, it was time to continue onwards to New Sirs for the game, the ground located around five to ten minutes on from the station, depending on your speed. Being a fairly quicker walker, I was soon at the turnstiles and, after handing over my £5 entrance fee, was onto the ground to meet Dan, who’d arrived bright and early (well, around 45 minutes earlier) which allowed me more time to drink. A good man, is he!!
New Sirs is a fairly simple ground, but is also a quintessential non-league ground that sits nicely between Counties and Manchester League standard. It comprises 2 stands, a largely all seated affair behind the goal, which also plays host to the food bar, clubhouse and changing rooms, whilst the other is a small, covered terrace, where you really do need to watch your head, or you will knock it, as Dan found out to his cost! The rest of the ground is open, hard standing, bar the far side, which is out of bounds anyway. That’s New Sirs in a bitesized amount and this is the story of Daisy Hill FC….
Daisy Hill Football Club was founded in 1894 and joined Wigan & District League, winning the title in 1897, prior to adding that year’s Westhoughton Cup to their unbeaten, double-winning campaign. By World War One, the club had moved into their current home at New Sirs, though had moved into Sunday football at the point, taking part in the Leigh & District Sunday School League. They moved back into the Saturday game in the Westhoughton League, winning a number of honours during their period here, though the original club would fold at some point pre-World War Two, reforming in 1951.
Returning to the Westhoughton League in that year, Daisy Hill found themselves playing at a new venue, namely the St. James Recreation Ground, where they shared with a local cricket side. They would return to New Sirs in 1957, acquiring the ground’s lease and entering the Bolton Combination, where the club enjoyed considerable success over the next two decades, winning two Lancashire FA Amateur Shields in 1962 & ’72, four Bolton Combination titles (1963, ’73, ’76 & ’78) & also added four of the Combination’s Premier Cups to their cabinet, these coming in 1960, ’62, ’72 & 1973 respectively. After their final Bolton Combination title, Daisy Hill moved into the Lancashire Combination, where they remained for the next four seasons prior to the league merging with the Cheshire League to form the North West Counties League. Daisy duly took a spot in the new league’s Division Three, upon which a clubhouse was added to the ground and 1986 & 1987 both saw silverware lifted, in the form of the Bolton Hospitals Cup and a third Lancashire FA Amateur Shield respectively. The latter season also saw Hill finish up fourth in Division 3, with the division then merged with Division Two at the close of the following season.
1989 saw the club begin a short stint under the name of Westhoughton Town, though the name change brought little success and they reverted back to Daisy Hill come 1994. The club would go on to remain in the Division Two for the next 14 years, only “leaving” when it was re-designated as Division 1 in 2008. The club did finish in a relegation spot in 2014 and were due to drop into the local leagues, but were reprieved as Leek CSOB and Formby both handed in their resignations from the league. Last season, Daisy Hill finished up bottom of the Division One, but were again given a reprieve as the league added to its numbers overall, adding a second, regional division to its ranks.
The game got underway and, to be honest, it was a very dull first half. Despite that, Seaham were the dominant force, having a strong penalty shout turned down, before the resultant shot was saved. The visitors followed this up by finding the net, only to be denied by the offside flag. Seaham continued to be on top for long periods of the first half, Paul Gardiner firing well over from around 10 yards and Lee Hetherington hitting his effort straight at the ‘keeper, though Daisy Hill grew into the game during the last 10 of the half, Nick Hepple firing over after an effective counter attack, before his strike partner, Ryan Farnworth, clipped the outside of the post just before the break. Half-Time duly arrived, the score remained goalless and I headed for the food bar for a very fine pie.
The second half was soon underway and, just a few minutes in, a fairly clear trip on a Seaham player resulted in a penalty, with Daniel Wilson duly converting from the spot to give his side what was, in truth, a deserved lead. His own striking partner, Vincent Gash, then went close, forcing the Daisy Hill stopper into a low save, before he doubled his side’s lead on the hour, getting clear of the defence and rounding the ‘keeper to slip home. 0-2. Daisy Hill did respond with some late pressure in the last 20 minutes or so, and did find the net through Adam Owens, only for his goal to be cancelled out for offside. Jack Iley then fired just wide and sub Alex Guest hit the bar, but it just wasn’t to be for the hosts, the visitors running out deserved winners over the 90 minutes and progressing to the next round.
Post-match, it was off to to the pub again surprise, surprise, but this time it was off to the Grey Man, a pub just off the beaten track, accessed first by cutting down a small alleyway and then through a housing estate, of sorts. The Green Man is then found just on the left of a crossing, which is handy enough, without even mentioning the fact that there’s a bus stop right outside which takes you back to Bolton. Heading in, I opted for a pint of Stella, whilst Dan went for the very exotic option, Carling. Deary me, he just won’t learn that boy….
Afterwards, it was back off to the bus stop and to Bolton. Upon returning, a swift one was had in Spoons before we popped over to the bus station once again for the express service which again proved a fruitless endeavour as it proved to not exist at such a time. As such, it was another hour long trek home via the long route. A couple more were waiting for me there, though and so it was tolerable!
That was that in terms of the day then. It had been a decent one too, with an OK enough game being preceded and followed by some decent drinks. The day had been pretty cost effective too and the trip wasn’t too bad, ignoring the extended journey home. All in all, it had been good to get back to New Sirs for a second time, and it was off to Glasgow the following Saturday. Well, that was the plan anyway!
Value For Money: 7