Manchopper in….Ellesmere Port (Vauxhall Motors)

VAUXHALL-ING LOGOGlasshoughton Welfare

Result: Vauxhall Motors 5-0 Glasshoughton Welfare (FA Vase First Qualifying Round)

Venue: Rivacre Park (Saturday 5th September 2015, 3pm)

Att: 64

The first weekend of September saw the return of the FA Vase and, as such, threw up a number of different possibilities of where I may be headed. Due to the fact I was completely set on a Vase game, I therefore decided to do a random draw, throwing in all sorts of competitions. As you do. Luckily for me, Vauxhall Motors, now of the West Cheshire League, came out last from the tub and for me it was destination Rivacre Park.

So, I was off to Liverpool Lime Street station during the late morning, arriving in Merseyside at around about 12.30. After the short walk through to the lower level part of the station, I had a 25 minute wait until the train onwards to Birkenhead and Ellesmere Port. This would have been fine had the tube-like system not been more akin to a F1-style windtunnel, sending cold air down the tracks, thus making this fairly un-pleasurable.

Arriving at Hooton

Arriving at Hooton

Puuuuuubbb!!!

Puuuuuubbb!!!

Inside The Hooton

Inside The Hooton

Happily for me, the time seemed to pass quickly and soon I was through Birkenhead and rattling through the towns of Spital and Bromborough amongst others, before I decided to check Google Maps for the best place to disembark. The ever reliable(!) Maps gave me the suggestion of Hooton, a small town just to the north west of Ellesmere Port, and this seemed to have a couple of decent pubs on the way to the ground. So, Hooton it was!

After disembarking here, it wasn’t long until I came across my first port of call, The Hooton Hotel. This was a very smart pub, with a nice atmosphere, though it was quite empty in the bar area with only a few patrons dotted here and there. Still, I plumped for a pint of Warsteiner, and nursed it away whilst watching some not too engrossing rowing on TV. I’d have much preferred some F1 quali action, but alas the Beeb sold us out long before, meaning this wasn’t happening today and why I refuse to watch their coverage.

The Chimneys

The Chimneys

Sol

Sol

Heading the right way

Heading the right way

Anyway, enough of F1-based moaning, and onto the ever interesting details of walking down a few country roads towards Vauxhall’s Rivacre Park home. After being well directed by the barman at the Hooton upon my leaving, it wasn’t too long before I was at the next place of rest, The Chimneys. This was another nice establishment and after purchasing a Sol beer for a pricey £4, I quickly downed it and was on my last leg of the journey, which looked fairly easy simple on Maps. I wasn’t quite that simple.

After dodging oncoming traffic from both sides down both Old School Lane and Rivacre Road, which runs adjoining the motorway, I eventually arrived, fully intact, at Vauxhall Sports Club and Rivacre Park. The ground itself sits on the left of the complex, alongside the Vauxhall Social Club, which sits just outside the ground’s confines and is neighboured by various other playing areas of differing surfaces, with one looking as though it may host West Cheshire League football.

Safely arrived!

Safely arrived!

The Social Club through the leafy approach

The Social Club through the leafy approach

Rivacre Park

Rivacre Park

Any ideas what these are?!

Know where the turnstiles are?!

Anyway, upon reaching the ground, the turnstile relieved me of £3 ( well, the man on duty there did the turnstile itself hadn’t become animated) and I had entered just as the sides made their ways onto the field for the pre-match pleasantries and eventually, the kick-off in the big FA Vase clash of the day, Vauxhall Motors vs Glasshoughton Welfare, of the Northern Counties East League.

Rivacre Park is still a good ground, with it still looking in good nick, despite the levels of self-imposed demotion. Two covered terraces stand next to the other on the right-hand touchline, with the opposite side taken by a covered seated stand. The goal that you enter behind is accompanied by the dressing rooms and all other services, with the far end open, hard standing backed by a wooded area.

When I last saw Glasshoughton (at Shaw Lane Aquaforce), they lost 9-0. They had to improve, surely?! Before that, though, here’s the story behind the Motormen…

History Lesson:

Founded in 1963, originally as the car plant’s works team, Vauxhall Motors originally plied their trade in the local Ellesmere Port League and then the Wirral Combination. By the 1970’s, the club had shown dominance in these leagues and switched to the West Cheshire League whilst playing at the factory-owned Hooton Park and they remained there until 1987, when the club opened their own ground, Rivacre Park.

In the West Cheshire League, their first silverware came in the shape of the Division 2 Bowl in 1968. the club won the championship in 1986, this being joined the same year by a first Wirral Senior Cup. These successes led the club to apply for the North West Counties, which was ultimately successful and they joined for the season 1987-’88. Their second season saw the Second Division won comfortably, and won the NWCFL League Cup in 1991. But, at the cessation of the season, the club made the decision to step back down to the West Cheshire League.

The stay back in the WCL was a short one and they were soon back in the Counties after both Firsts and Reserves won both divisions in the ’94-’95 season. Upon their NWCFL return, they again won the Division 2 easily, before failing to achieve too much until 1999 saw Vauxhall reaching the 5th Round of the FA Vase, finish 3rd place in Division 1 and win the NWCFL League Cup for a second time. This success was bettered the following season reaching FA Vase semi-finals, winning the League Cup again and finally won the title and in doing so, achieved a spot in the Northern Premier League Division 1.

A hark back to higher times.

A hark back to higher times.

Memorial to late Motors player Martin Pearson

Memorial to late Motors player Martin Pearson

In their first season, Motors won promotion again, this time to the NPL Premier Division as runners-up. This was also matched by the achievement of reaching the FA Cup 1st Round, where the club defeated QPR before losing out on TV to Macclesfield Town and the following season saw the club finish high enough to earn a place in the new Conference North for 2004-’05.

During the early part of their stay here, the club struggled for the most part and would have been relegated in 2008, where it not for the folding of Nuneaton Borough and the demotion of Boston United.’08-’09 saw the club dodge the bullet once again, this time thanks to the misfortune of Farsley Celtic (resigned) and the demotion of Northwich Victoria. After a few seasons of slightly better finishes, the club eventually announced their intention to resign from the Conference North due to costs, dropping back to their safety net of the West Cheshire League in order to stabilize the club and rebuild again, which is a much smarter decision than some others have taken in similar positions.

Main Stand

Main Stand

Dressing Rooms/toilets (where you can stretch and still watch the game!)

Dressing Rooms/toilets (from where you can stretch and still watch the game!)

Terraces

Terraces

After a season out of first team competition, the club returned for the 2014-’15 season, taking their reserves place in the Division 2, which they immediately won, earning promotion to the First Division for this season, in which they have started strongly, challenging at the top of the table during the early stages of the season.

Back onto the game then and, well, remember when I said that surely Glasshoughton could only get better? Well, the scoreline did. But that was all. Everything else was just as bad, or worse. They were absolutely hammered by Motors who were the supposed underdogs from a division below. This wasn’t the case though, as they proceeded to rip the Welfare apart during the vast majority of the first 45 minutes. Indeed, it took them just two minutes to open the scoring, as captain Jordan Brierley stepped up to whip a low free-kick into the bottom corner.1-0 and the Motors were driving forwards. Yes, yes I know….

This was soon doubled by striker John Atkinson, who confidently finished off from inside the area after great work by his strike partner, Jamie Matthews, who looked a real threat all game with his pace allied with strength and height. A great combination and certainly a player who looks as though he should still be at a higher level. But enough about Matthews for the time being, as Atkinson soon added to his first. After Motors’ winger Kal Herbert had had his shot well saved by the ‘keeper, Atkinson was there to slot home the rebound. 3-0 with under a half-hour played and you felt game over.

Atkinson, just about to tuck away his first

Atkinson, just about to tuck away his first…

Before netting his second soon after.

…Before netting his second soon after.

He's joined on the scoresheet by Matthews

He’s joined on the scoresheet by Matthews

Glasshoughton were being smashed (yes, another terrible pun) and Motors soon hit another gear. This time it was Matthews who deservedly got his name on the scoresheet, as a slick move saw him clear of the defence, and he slotted past the beleaguered Welfare ‘keeper for 4-0. Luckily for Welfare, the break wasn’t far away and Motors seemed to take their foot off the pedal for a while, enticing their visitors forward. This was almost costly, as a low strike hit the foot of the post before the whistle went and it was food time.

After heading into the nice café/bar area, I ordered a meat and potato pie and was asked to sign  piece of paper. It was only in hindsight I realised I had no idea why I had been asked to do so and thinking I really should have, just for the sake of knowledge. The only other person on said sheet was a fella from Pontefract, so I hope they didn’t think I was a Yorkie. God help me! (I’m a Lancashire Cricket member, hence my anti-Yorkshire stance!).

Café/Bar

Café/Bar

Match Action

Match Action

Rivacre end.

Rivacre end.

So, after doing the above and catching the half-times with Jeff Stelling and friends, it was back onto the terracing with a fine pie fully devoured. As it was, Vauxhall continued to hammer away at the Welfare, with Matthews having a goal ruled out for a tight offside decision, though the ‘keeper was also forced into a couple of saves, one of which was a mighty fine effort, as he tipped one away as he looked beaten for all money.

Soon though, Matthews had his second when Atkinson returned the favour for Matthews’ assist for his own second goal and the big man finished easily. There was still time for a late penalty and a chance for a consolation goal for the Welfare, when a blatant push in the box was punished with the spot kick. Glasshoughton #4, Louis Penty, stepped up, but his strike was kept out by John Rushton between the sticks to ensure a clean sheet.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

SAVED!!!

SAVED!!!

There was one quite humorous moment when the ball found its way over to the far corner and with no-one near it, the ref decided that, at 5-0, now was the time to stop Motors from time-wasting! Cue the next time it went out, I chased it and was immediately met with “COME ON, QUICKER!” by a Motors player, in full jest mode by now and accompanied by fans. Top stuff. Full-Time, 5-0 to the Motormen.

And so it was over and I now faced  a dilemma. Did I walk down the roads back from whence I came, or did I follow a local down towards Overpool and civilization. I plumped for the latter figuring localised knowledge must be best. But, my God, it was worse. More traffic dodging ensued, before I was kindly offered a lift to the station by a few Vauxhall people, who, after enquiring where I was from and upon my answer replied “Oh, are you that Man-Chopper?”. Yes, yes the innuendo still works wonders!

The Levitating Man!!

The Levitating Man!!

A welcome as I leave

A welcome as I leave

Overpool Station

Overpool Station

After conversations about the local area around me and the past living arrangements of the lady in the car, who knew where I live after living nearby for some…well, I won’t say… I was dropped off at Overpool where I had a short wait for the train  back into Lime Street. Cheers again for the lift and it showed even more to me just how good a club Vauxhall Motors are. If you do get the chance to go, then do it.

Anyway, I was soon back in Liverpool and had a half-hour to wait next to a bronzed Ken Dodd. Well, a statue of the comedian and not the man himself fresh off the sunbeds! After helping a few people find their way onto their respective trains like a volunteer National Rail employee (I will be seeking payment), I was on my way back through the Cheshire countryside and back into the outskirts of Manchester. Another good day, a good advert for the West Cheshire League’s strength and, most importantly, a good club. Vauxhall Motors. It’s teREVic. Ok, I’ll stop now…

DSC00385

RATINGS:

Game: 7- One sided, but a good quality played, on a fine surface.

Ground: 6- A decent ground, which is obviously not quite at its best. But still, fairly tidy and for the level, quite superb.

Fans: 7- Humorous, especially when joining in with the players on retrieving the ball!

Programme: N/A – Sadly, the Rivacre Review appeared to be withdrawn.

Food: 8- Very decent, well worth the purchase and the £2-odd.

Value For Money: £10 travel, £10 refreshments and £3 in. Not bad at all.

Manchopper in….Otterspool (South Liverpool)

wpid-img_20150413_170705.jpgwpid-img_20150413_170723.jpg
Result: South Liverpool 2-0 Hale (Carlsberg West Cheshire League First Division)

Venue: North Field, Jericho Lane (Wednesday 8th April 2015, 6.30pm)

Att: Approx.55.

I only saw that this game was being played on the previous evening, as I alluded to in the AFC Monton blog. As such, I though there was unlikely to be a better time to get in the visit to the famed South Liverpool, mostly because I knew that they issue a programme, one of the rare things to  be seen within the amateur ranks. So, after looking at the train times and seeing it was relatively simple, off to Jericho Lane I was.

Today's Game

Today’s Game

Programme

Programme

Boarding at just before 5pm on Wednesday evening, I was soon rattling on towards Liverpool &, more specifically, Hunts Cross station. So, after passing through Warrington, Widnes amongst others I soon arrived at the yellow-clad Merseyrail station at Hunts Cross. Here, I had a short wait for my connecting train onwards to Aigburth station, which was under 10 minutes away, and I arrived here at just before six o’clock and with 15 minutes until kick-off and a 25 minute walk (so Google told me). In fact, it would turn out to be nearer 15 as I chose to jog to get there, making it just in time for the supposed scheduled start. But, as I arrived and read the match poster on the car park gate, the time read 6.30pm. In addition, the match referee was yet to arrive, so my sweaty arrival was not required. Not happy.

Hard Standing

Hard Standing

Dressing Rooms

Dressing Rooms

Looking towards the Car Park End

Looking towards the Car Park End

As it was, I picked up my programme for £1 along with the sentiments of “Enjoy the game!” and took a seat on the only benh in existence, just in front of the refreshment/dressing room area. With five minutes to go to kick-off, the ref finally rocked up, rock-and-roll style and we could get underway. But, not before a description of the ground. Well, there’s a barred-off pitch, dugouts on opposite sides, the changing rooms and not very much else. The only part of hard standing is a slim line of paving down the side to the right of the pitch. Even then, it only extends to half way, from  the dressing room building at the far end. So, very basic. However, South Liverpool’s ground wasn’t always this small. Here is the history of that and more on the club’s past…..

History Lesson:

The accepted beginnings of South Liverpool FC start in the late 1890’s when a side called Africa Royal relocated to Dingle south of the city and changed its name, before re-locating again in 1921 to become New Brighton AFC. As such, a new side was created, in 1935, and this is the current club. This South Liverpool originally played in Holly Park, Garston and joined the Lancashire Combination, immediately winning it three years on the trot, from 1937 to 1939. The “two” South Liverpool’s competed against each other on occasion, until 1983 when New Brighton folded.

The idea in the 1930’s was for South Liverpool to join the Football League, applying on no less than 10 occasions. However, despite winning four honours in 1939 including the Welsh Cup over Cardiff City, the club only attracted five votes (in comparison to Hartlepool’s 38 & Accrington’s 28). They never were elected. Apparently, thousands welcomed the side back from their Welsh Cup victory at 2am! After WWII began, the club joined the Western Section of the Cheshire County League and one season was played before the cessation of football.

After the war, the club remained in the league until 1951 when they re-joined the Lancashire Combination in the Second Division. In September 1949, the club competed in the first match in the UK to be played under permanent floodlights. They entertained a Nigerian X1 and was commentated on by Ken “they think it’s all over” Wolstenholme. The attendance 13,007 for a 2-2 draw.

The 1951 season ended in promotion to the Division 1 but dropped back to Division 2 in 1960. Two years later, they were back in the top flight, winning the title in 1966. During the 1960’s, the club were relatively successful in the FA Cup, reaching the First Round on no less than eight occasions and the second round once, where they lost out to Brighton & HA in a replay. In 1967, the 40-year-old legendary Hungarian Ferenc Puskas competed at Holly Park in a fundraising match. In 1968, South were invited to join the new Northern Premier League, where they utilised players such as Jimmy Case and John Aldridge who went on to have good careers at Liverpool. Here, they won two honours, the 1984 NPL Challenge Cup and 1988 President’s Cup.

The club remained in the NPL until 1991, when the limited company folded, causing the committee to take on the club as South Liverpool AFC. After a season out, the senior team merged with Cheshire Lines to create the imaginatively named Cheshire Lines South Liverpool. This side competed in the Liverpool Combination Division 2, immediately gaining promotion. After one further season, the clubs decided to split into separate entities.

The club's former Holly Park home.

The club’s former Holly Park home.

Back as South Liverpool solely, the club had to drop back to Division 2 for 1995-’96, but again immediately won promotion. For the next decade, the club remained in the Liverpool Combination, winning the 1997 Liverpool Junior Cup and the George Mahon Cup in 2002. In 2006, the club’s former Holly Park home was demolished and is the current site of Liverpool South Parkway station. Also, the league merged with the I Zingari League to create a new Liverpool County Premier League, and due to the club’s 11h placed finish, they were placed in Division 1, the second tier, though won a further George Mahon Cup in 2009 and an I Zingari Cup in 2011. The following season saw South move to the West Cheshire League and had to join the Division 3. The following two seasons saw immediate promotions from Divisions 3 & 2, the latter as champions and both times with the club achieving a 100% away record. Last season, the club finished in fourth place in the 1st Division. The club have also recorded four Lancashire FA Trophy wins (1937,’38,’39,’84).

Flag Action

Flag Action

Injury Action

Injury Action

This season, the club are pushing for the title, with their rivals coming from “across the water” in the shape of Cammell Laird Reserves. As such, no less than a win this evening would do. Their opponents, Hale, occupied 5th place, with Liverpool top. Hale looked a solid outfit, though, with their goalkeeper and skipper looking particularly impressive, despite not being happy with the size of the gloves he was wearing he commanded his box well. As such, chances were at a premium, with Hale having the best chance within the first minute, as the South goalkeeper charged down a low shot. On the stroke of half-time, the deadlock was finally broken as star striker Alex Woodcock used his pace to sprint clear and slotted confidently into the far corner. 1-0. Half-Time.

I had a sausage roll/pie thing (I was told it was a pie in a sausage roll pastry) and the mention of pies certainly got a member of the South committee excited, though he was disappointed when told their indeed were none, as he was told. SO, after handing over £1 for my pastry, I quickly ate it before the second half began pronto.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

This carried on in the same vane as the first, with both goalkeepers having little to do in terms of saves but both sides having a game of good quality. South began to drop back on their lead as the light dimmed and the game drew towards its close. They also began to bring on target men to hold up the ball a bit more, and this certainly worked. James Kelly replaced Woodcock with stoppage time looming, and within seconds he’d put the ball in the back of the net from just outside the area, with the helpless ‘keeper rooted to the spot.

Watching the game

Watching the game

Kelly celebrates his late strike

Kelly celebrates his late strike

A deserved three points for the home side, who were done a favour by tonight’s opponents on the following weekend as they defeated Laird’s reserves to render their game in hand somewhat obsolete. South are a big club who find themselves languishing down in the local leagues, sadly. The fact that the admission is free and they do a programme is testament to them as a club who know the priority is to get people in to watch, and the more than decent attendance for the level is proof. Hopefully, they can regain their position in the higher reaches one day in the future.

I was soon back to the station at Aigburth after a 25 minute stroll. And when I say stroll, I mean the slowest walk ever seen. As such, I was still in time for an earlier train, and I jumped off at South Parkway, but I could have got over to Hunt’s Cross and “paid” for the whole journey. Still, at least I had been to both their new and old grounds (sort of) within the same day. Remember the history that was made around you next time you are on the platform at South Parkway…

You can view some old pics of Holly Park here: www.clubwebsite.co.uk/southliverpoolfc01/photogallery

My South Liverpool M.o.M.- Alex Woodcock
My Hale M.o.M.- The ‘keeper

Ratings:

Game: 6- decent quality, not many chances
Ground: 5- Basic.
Food: 5- Not bad, at least there was something to review. And it was cheap.
Programme: 7- A really good effort, good read for £1.
Fans: 7- Quite a few turned out for this one.
Value For Money: 6- Only thing was travel. Almost a 10….