Result: Mill Hill St. Peter’s 1-13 (Thirteen) Padiham (Pre-Season Friendly)
Venue: Queen Victoria Street (Saturday 15th July 2017, 2pm)
Att: 52 (hc)
With a 5am start beckoning on Sunday morning and a 4 hour coach ride down to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix, I’d already decided to be sensible for once and not travel too far for a pre-season game. Even alcohol intake was being put on the back-burner and, as such, I was looking for somewhere to perfectly ally the two, whilst also hosting a pretty decent game and, wouldn’t you know it, Mill Hill offered up such an opportunity.
Heading off towards Blackburn via the interim of Preston, I eventually arrived in the dank and drizzly suburb of Blackburn at just before 1pm, ahead of kick-off an hour later. Upon having a quick check down at the ground that the game was definitely on (nets up seemed to say this was the case), I continued towards the far end of town and the first stop of the day, the Bull’s Head. It was very quiet in here, though the beginning of the qualifying session for the aforementioned race kept me entertained enough,though the Peroni definitely seemed somewhat out of place in a very traditional and cosy pub. Eventually though, a stoppage in the session gave me an out and so I headed off down the high street to what seemed to be the more popular pub of the two, the Witton Inn.
After being kindly granted my request of having the quali put on in here as well, a pint of Moretti (they like their Italian lager around here it seems) along with the thrill of a McLaren going fastest (still wrong that that’s the case) would keep me there up until around ten minutes to kick-off, by which time the drizzle had abated and I could leave. It was a well-timed leave too, as one punter asked if it was ok to turn over to watch a race he had a bet on. With all the times aligning nicely, it was back over to the ground.
I arrived within sight of Queen Victoria Street to find both teams still going through their warm-ups. With me not too fond of hanging around in the mizzle, I instead headed into the Mill Hill Hotel that I originally planned on leaving until post-match. The Hotel stands opposite the ground and provides a sight of the pitch and so I settled on a Carlsberg in here, what with the Italian stuff seemingly not reaching this end of town yet to keep an eye on when the warm-ups were at an end. Before long, I headed upstairs to the toilet declaring “Gents” upon the door. Upon my grand descent, I was accosted by the lady behind the bar for using a private loo rather than the public ones downstairs. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who’s done this, probably due to it not being very obvious to us unschooled visitors!
Faux pas done, it was soon time to head over to the ground. The entrance is found at the end a small access road down the side of a block of terraced houses, with the pitch located within the confines of the river on one side and factories/yards opposite and at the far end (beyond which the town’s other club, Mill Hill FC is located). The ground is a pretty smart one for the level, with a nice clubhouse/tea bar/dressing room building sitting atop the grass mound at the end from which you enter and a small covered terrace stand located in the near corner. The pitch is barred off at both sides, though this is not the case behind the goals. Bar the small covered terrace, the ground is open standing, with the sides featuring some hard standing but both ends are just grass though the mounds here do give a slightly raised view of the action. So, that’s the Queen Vic and this is Mill Hill St. Peter’s…
Mill Hill St. Peter’s were formed in 1898 on the back of a church-related instruction to improve the working and social conditions for the working class of the parish area. The current pitch was used as a butcher’s stall prior to it becoming the home of the club soon after its creation, with one of the founding priests having played against Real Madrid (apparently) whilst studying in Valladolid.
After originally competing in local leagues (mostly the Blackburn Combination), 1927 saw the club win the Blackburn and Darwen Catholic League and numerous other local competitions, whilst being under threat of having the priest/fellow player knock on the door of team-mates (and anyone else in the town it seems) if they’d been absent from mass!
1937 saw the side win the Livesey Cup, which they followed up with the following season prior to the outbreak of WWII. Post-war, the club saw a few players make the step up to the professional game, with its school team arms including Jimmy Baldwin who’d go on to play for Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City in his career. The club also brought through other future pros such as Fred Pickering, another Rovers player and an England international in his time amongst others.
Following the loss of the club’s new(ish) pavilion in the early 1970’s, money was raised via means to replace it including a match that was kicked-off by (latterly Sir) Tom Finney, though that was his only kick! After a long stay in the Blackburn Combination, the club would leave for the West Lancashire League for 1987, though their stay was a short one, with St. Peter’s soon returning to the Combination after just one season away. With more success here in a short spell, the club’s application to the East Lancashire League was accepted in the early ’90’s, where they won the Division 2 in 1993, being promoted to Division 1 as a result. This was then won for the next two seasons.
After passing the club centenary, St. Peter’s re-joined the West Lancashire League in 2001, playing the next eight seasons in Division 2, before being promoted to Division 1 in 2009 as runners-up. They remained in the league’s top-flight until last season, when they were relegated back to Division 2 after finishing up second-bottom out of the fifteen teams.
The game was soon underway as I arrived just as the whistle was blown. Now, when people say there is an all-action goal-fest, they probably don’t usually mean it in quite the literal way that I do! The other problem is that there is no signs of any names of scorers or pretty much anything to do with the game, so let’s just jump into the action shall we?
First off, the Storks almost took the lead as early as the second minute, a rising shot clattering back off the crossbar, before the deadlock was broken soon after, a good move seeing the ball pulled back within the area and a low shot dispatched into the bottom corner by Connor Loftus. There was no sign of what was to come, though, as the hosts struck back fairly quickly. A corner was awarded on the left flank and the resultant ball was nodded down by #9 and, as Padiham appealed in vain for a foul, #8 knocked the ball in at the back post.
From then on in, though, it was pretty much all one-way traffic. Padiham re-took the lead after around 20 minutes, a high cross being knocked back into a dangerous area where the ball was converted by Jay Hart and the visitors would add a further three goals before the interval, Alex Murphy beat the offside trap to fire in for number three, Loftus pounced upon a poor defensive header to convert the fourth before Hart added to his personal tally by heading home to leave the score-line reading 1-5 at the break. It could have been even more, considering the visitors had hit the post on another two occasions! Half-Time and the early part of the second half consisted of a visit to the bar for a bottle of Desperados, what with me having to give something to the club, of course.
Whilst in the clubhouse I, somewhat unsurprisingly by this point, saw another close range chance for Padiham taken by Jake Townsend and it then became clear to me that my first ever double-figure win might just be on the cards. The home-keeper was doing his best to stop this happening, though, and pulled off a number of impressive stops within the siege of his net, including a fine double-stop around the hour mark.
Alas for him, the goals soon began to rain down once more, just as the weather began to do the same. After Padiham’s #4 saw his car get hit by a ball (allowing us all to know this by exclaiming “That’s my car as well!!”) and James Walker hit the woodwork again, Townsend netted the seventh away goal, Dom Craig netted in an instant replay of the former, slotting home a pull-back, before Kieran Pickup added his name to the score-sheet as double-figures loomed.
Another good save by the Mill Hill ‘keeper saw him tip a low shot onto the post and get some much deserved luck with the ball rebounding into his hands, but he was powerless to eventually concede the tenth as #15 released Pickup to net for yet another brace on the day.
That effervescent A Trialist – wearing #11 today – then somehow drove into the bottom corner with a decent strike, before the ref then inexplicably gave a penalty to Padiham, for handball, with five minutes left and the score at 1-11. Skipper Chris Turner did the job, before Pickup secured his hat-trick (in only 40 minutes of play) with the last kick of the game for 1-13 and to round off what is probably the most difficult “match report” I’ve ever had to do. Back to the bog-standard one-nils please guys!
A quick exit from the ground saw me back at Mill Hill station within a few minutes and I was in Preston station’s Hero bar within a half-hour and sipping a Heineken as it seems Moretti has disappeared from its pumps. The price certainly wasn’t a welcome one at around the £4 mark, but it beats sitting on the platform for 40 minutes. Eventually, though, it was time to head off and back home to round off a nice, easy journey and all sights were set on Silverstone.
So what to make of the game. Well, once it gets past the eight mark, I always get a little uncomfortable as a neutral (in a thrashing anyway), though at least they didn’t have “Can You Feel The Force” blaring out as the ninth went in! Padiham did look highly impressive in converting as many chances as they did, though, and you wouldn’t bet against them having a good campaign. As for the hosts, well, it’s hard to gauge much from a game like that. It can’t get any worse that’s for certain and they’ll be hoping that that’s their thrashing done for the season. As for next week, it’s all up in the air…
Food: N/A (seems they do have some usually though, going by comments)
Value For Money: 9