Manchopper in….Thackley

ThackleyFCAbbey_Hey

Result: Thackley 2-2 Abbey Hey (FA Cup First Qualifying Round)

Venue: Dennyfield (Saturday 12th September 2015, 3pm)

Att: 86

The FA Cup trail continued for both myself and Abbey Hey on this day, as I made good on my word and made my way over to near Bradford and, more specifically, Thackley AFC of the Northern Counties East League (NCEL). So, on a wet, miserable morning in Manchester (shock, horror), I was trundling along the station approach into my usual transitional point of Manchester Oxford Road, before going through to Piccadilly Station and getting the Newcastle-bound train to my next stop, Leeds. Surely, the weather over the other side of the Pennines must be an improvement. Surely…

Well, no. No it wasn’t. Upon arrival at Leeds, there was an absolute deluge of rain in the process of drenching the Leeds-dwellers. Luckily for myself, I was able to stay under the substantial cover afforded to you at Leeds Station and immediately jumped on the train which would take me the short distance to Shipley where the strange layout means I had to cross over one set off tracks via footbridge, before crossing the car park to get to the other pair of platforms for the hop to Baildon, which was the destination for today’s pre-match ritual. Pub visits!

Buck Wood

Buck Wood

River Ayre

River Ayre

Lock

Lock

Well, that was the plan originally, but having scouted the walk, I decided to head straight for Thackley itself as to truncate the 1.5 mile walk with a couple of much needed “water” stops. After a walk through Buck Wood, along the pedestrian pathway/road which separates the two towns, I eventually re-entered civilization amongst a small housing estate, at the end of which sat the roadway leading to the ground. But, first, it was to the Great Northern for the first half of Everton-Chelsea.

After arriving just as the heavens re-opened, I quickly headed inside and ordered an Amigos, to try to simulate somewhere with a much nicer climate. The experience was improved even more so, as I was first welcomed to use the plugs to charge my phone and watched Steven Naismith put another early dent into Chelsea’s title hopes. Superb. Before too long though, it was time to leave the welcoming, if unspectacular, public house and head to the Commercial Inn, which sits round the corner from Dennyfields. Well, that was the plan, but upon it coming into view, it quickly became apparent that it was closed for a re-fit.

Great Northern

My respite from the rain: The Great Northern

Alternatives helpfully signed!

Alternatives helpfully signed!

Thackley AFC

Thackley AFC

Plans spurned, I decided to head to the ground, having just been passed by the, slightly late arriving, Abbey Hey team bus. So, with the clock standing at 2pm, I figured I’d give Thackley’s clubhouse a go. Having walked up the small lane heading to the ground, past both the town’s cricket club and horse-filled farm, I came upon the unmistakable sound of “pre-match entertainment” emanating from my right, and soon enough Thackley’s ground came into view. From the outside, it didn’t look all too much, but unperturbed, in I headed, purchasing a programme first (£1.50), before heading to the clubhouse, which sits just outside the ground itself.

So, after ordering a Corona for the remarkably cheap £2.60, I got chatting to Thackley supporter, and former Morley rugby player, Jamie, who gave me a fair low down on his adopted local side, as well as regaling me the story of Cyril, a man who followed one of his semi-pro rugby sides as far as Cornwall and Exeter. Some people are just nuts! It was a shame that the story ended with the ever present problem of players not particularly caring for their loyal fans, bar the odd few. It happens in all sports, and some need to have a think about where they’d be without these sort of people.

Clubhouse

Clubhouse

A great combination!

A great combination!

Today's Teams

Today’s Teams

Entering Dennyfield

Entering Dennyfield

Anyway, my chat with Jamie quickly passed the best part of a half-hour leading to kick-off and at 10-to the hour, I bid goodbye for the moment and headed to the turnstiles where I parted with £5 for entry and I was into Dennyfield itself. Contrary to my earlier view, the ground was a gem. A decent-sized benched seater stand sits on the half-way line, and is joined by the tea bar and dressing rooms, which are situated behind a small covered standing area in front of the tea bar, which bears the club’s main sponsor, Superfreight, otherwise you’d probably never even notice it. The far touchline is flanked by an open standing terrace, which runs the length of it, with both ends being open hard standing, with a further small terrace at the far end. Now, here’s the story and the history of the Dennyboys of Thackley…

History Lesson:

Thackley AFC were formed in 1930, spending their formative years in the local leagues before switching the West Riding County Amateur League in 1939, winning it on five occasions before spending a brief spell in the West Yorkshire League, winning it on two successive occasions in 1965-’66 & ’66-’67. Thackley then joined the Yorkshire League, winning its Division 2 in 1974, alongside a further two prior promotions and relegations, before becoming founder members of the Northern Counties East League Premier Division in 1982. Remarkably, the club have remained in the same division ever since, the only club in the NCEL to hold this achievement.

Match Action

Match Poster

Top point is the best.

Come down, but behave!

Main Stand

Main Stand

Terracing

Terracing

The club’s best finish in this league was runners-up, which in they achieved in 1993-’94, when finishing behind Stocksbridge Park Steels. They have, though, won two NCEL League Cups, in 2011-’12 & ’12-’13, allied with the club winning two West Riding Challenge Cups (1964 & ’67), two West Riding County Cups in ’73-’74 & ’74-’75 and no less than 13 Bradford & District Senior Cups. In FA Competition, the club haven’t achieved a huge amount, though they did reach the FA Vase 5th Round in 1980-’81. Last season, the Dennyboys finished in a solid 12th place in the NCEL Premier Division.

Handshakes

Handshakes

Getting Underway

Getting Underway

So, onto the big game then, with over £3,000 at stake as well as a place in the next round of the Cup. Hey were comfortably on the front foot in the early stages, and it was to no-one’s surprise when they took the lead as Bradley Robinson netted with a simple back post tap in after a poor mistake by the Thackley ‘keeper, who let a weak cross squirm through his grasp and to the feet of the oncoming Hey #7.

Early celebrations

Early celebrations

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

This did seem to spur the home team on somewhat, with them forcing Hey back and into a number of errors, but without ever really looking to threatening in the final third. As I made my way to the turnstile end of the ground once again, I came across Jamie and watched the remainder of the half alongside him. Well, I say the remainder. It was about three minutes until Hey doubled their lead through Johnathon Hardy, who had the easiest of tasks to net from six yards, after some questionable defending by the Thackley left-back, who kept retreating into his area and allowed the cross. Jamie headed to the bar, with the prophetic words “Well, we’re always better thus way second half…”

Tea Bar

Tea Bar & Covered Terrace

Anyone for honey?

Anyone for honey?

Upon the break, I headed to the tea bar, where I ordered some chips for £1.20 (a decent portion too and fresh), so well worth it. I headed over to the park benches next to the hatch, but not before the guy in front of me, who’d just got some sort of soup, had it knocked from his hand and all over the floor and “all over (his) new trainers!”. No such qualms for me, as I quickly finished off the fries before heading to the stand to watch the early stages of the second period.

The early part showed no real signs of what was to come. Hey pretty much in control, despite more urgency from the home side with nothing to lose. But, it wasn’t until I headed behind the Thackley goal that it all began to go right for the hosts, and badly wrong for those from Gorton. First, they had a goal ruled out for offside, before Thackley mounted a quick attack which saw the ball crossed in and #9, Mike Garrod, finished off to give the home fans a lot of belief. They, as well as the players, were up for this and for the next five minutes, Hey fell apart.

As such, it was little surprise as the Dennyboys, on the crest of a wave of their own making, found the leveller. I was just about to tweet about the fact Hey had gone close, as an effort rattled the bar and bounced down just in front of the line (definitely no goal) and Thackley went up the other end and went mighty close themselves. Just as I was updating the message to include the latter, up went the decibels and I saw the ball rolling into the net via Craig Bentham. 2-2! The comeback was complete and Thackley, you felt, could go on to win from here.

View from the stand

View from the stand

Match Action

Match Action

Not over!

Not over!

Equaliser!

Equaliser!

But then, Abbey decided they could play football again and completely dominated the last 15 minutes or so of the game and really should have won it on the day, as numerous chances came and went, with sub Ashford Blake, as in the Warrington game, being mighty effective. Not sure why he didn’t start! But, there were no further goals for me today, nor the other 80+ people in Dennyfield to witness, so it meant that Abbey would get another £5 from me on Tuesday night. Fix!

So, upon the whistle, I made my exit and quickly climbed up the hill overlooking the ground, which is home to a tower of some sort. I did get some strange looks off a young couple who were having some serenity up there as I came bounding over the steep incline, camera in hand! They must have been rather relieved when I let them be and headed back through Buck Wood and to Baildon station, before repeating the inbound journey exactly.

The bonus on the outbound leg was the fact that I inherited a table seat on arrival at Huddersfield and thus a further opportunity to charge the necessity of the mobile. Not only that, but I was joined by a lad who was heading into Manchester for a mate’s birthday and who, after waking up late after realising it was in fact today and not next week(?!), somehow happened to inherit a 4-pack of Stella Artois and I was presented with one for the final leg home as he had to get rid of them before getting to Manc. A strange story, but one that I feel may be a watershed moment in my groudhopping tales. We’ll see, as I return to Yorkshire next week…

RATINGS:

Game: 8- Full of drama and action from the off.

Ground: 8- One a really fell for. Something about it I truly liked.

Fans: 8- A friendly bunch, who really got behind the team.

Programme: 5- A fairly average issue, but I liked the simplicity of the cover!

Food: 9- Superb, well worth it, especially for the price.

Value For Money: 7- Can’t fault the club, but not much to the town and the travel was quite steep.

*Incidentally, Abbey Hey won the replay on Tuesday 15th September,  1-0.

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Manchopper in….Abbey Hey

Abbey_Hey Warrington Town

Result: Abbey Hey 3-2 Warrington Town (The FA Cup Preliminary Round)

Venue: The Abbey Stadium (Saturday 29th August 2015, 3pm)

Att: 156

THE FA CUP IS BACK!!!! Well, for me anyway. Best of all, you won’t here me mentioned any sort of sponsor’s name around here. The FA Cup with Budweiser was just about acceptable, but now….

With that out of the way, it’s back onto the day at hand and the game itself. To be honest, quite how I’d contrived not to have blogged Abbey Hey until this very day is something of an error. Hey has always been a club that I have found to be most welcoming, with ground improvements steadily going on, as well as on pitch performances growing over the past few seasons. So, when the Cup draw gave Hey a home tie against last season’s giant-killers, Warrington Town, who famously knocked out Exeter City at Cantilever Park, it was a no-brainer where I was headed. To The Abbey Stadium!

Come the day of the 29th of August, I was at Urmston Station ready to board the 12.20 service to Manchester. having renewed my Railcard for the next 12 months, therefore ensuring cheaper passage for the season, I was looking forward to “starting afresh” as it were. But, not if Northern Rail had anything to do with it. With the Manchester Pride festival on in the city centre, the midday service rocked up full. And, before long, there were passengers backed up to the doors, with me amongst those left stranded for at least a further half-hour. A 2-carriage train was to suffice? Not a chance. Poor and unsafe, in my view.

Eventually, I was on board the train an hour later, but the delay had unfortunately robbed me of the chance to visit the World Monuments Fund Watch List of 100 most Endangered Sites in the World-list (thanks Wikipedia) featured Church & Friary of St Francis, better known as Gorton Monastery. It shares the above list with places such as Pompeii, the Taj Mahal and the Valley of the Kings. Illustrious company! (thanks, again, Wikipedia!).

Ryder Brow Station

Ryder Brow Station

Gorton Monastery

Gorton Monastery

The Abbey Stadium from the neighbouring hill

The Abbey Stadium from the neighbouring hill

Eventually, I had transited through Manchester Oxford Road and Piccadilly and was passing by the monastery before disembarking at Ryder Brow station, which is about a five minute walk from Abbey Hey’s home. Walking straight on down the road, you come up upon the ground on your right, where you are met by a gate, which is manned by a few guys doing the usual jobs: taking money, marking down attendance and programme sales, the latter two within small hutches. The entrance is also the way into the ground for cars, which are parked around the clubhouse side and near-end goal, with one Merc looking decidedly in harm’s way!

Gates of Hey-ll

Gates of Hey-ll

Badge on dugouts.

Badge on dugouts.

AHFC

AHFC

Upon entry, the ground sits on a plateau like area, slightly raised above the road level. The brick-build clubhouse/dressing room structure sits on the half way line, joined by the two benches in front of it. Opposite, the only stand in the ground runs the majority of the touchline and is a mix of benched seating on two sides, sandwiching a standing area. Both ends are open, hard standing. With this set out and me arriving about a half-hour before kick-off, let’s delve into the history of the Hey.

History Lesson:

Abbey Hey F.C. were formed in 1902, under the moniker of Abbey Hey W.M.C. During the periods of wartime, the club disbanded and reformed a number of times. The club started out in the Church Sunday Leagues before progressing up through the Manchester Amateur Leagues during the years between the conflicts, but the club really began to gain a foothold in the 1960’s upon taking players in from the Admiralty Gunning Engineering Dept. following its closure. They went on to win the 1964-65 Manchester Amateur League & two South East Lancs League titles (’66-’67 & ’68-’69) as well as the 1966 South East Lancs Shield and the Manchester United Memorial Cup. Hey also lifted three Manchester Amateur Cups in 1964-’65, ’67-’68 & ’68-’69.

In 1978, the club decided to apply for the Manchester League. Their application was successful and the following season, Hey began playing in the Manchester League Second Division, winning promotion in their first season at that level. Having achieved this, Hey had to find an enclosed ground to host the games at. Due to this, their home became St. Werburgh’s Road in Chorlton. After a deal with a local car company led to the club agreeing to install ground improvements, the company backtracked on the agreement, leading to Hey becoming homeless once again.

After a local councillor had donated land to the population of Abbey Hey, the club took the land as their home for the next 18 years. At this point, the club were informed that they were no longer able to use Godfrey’s, despite doing the ground up from a derelict state and being assured that as long as they were solvent, they would be able to use it. After a short stay at the old English Steel ground in the area, the club acquired the current Goredale Avenue site, with the aid of the council, who were going to make the land part of a compulsory purchase order. As such, the club’s offer was accepted.

After more success in the 80’s and 90’s, including five Manchester League Premier Division titles and a Gilgryst Cup, in 1997 the club applied for the North West Counties League, which was duly accepted for the 1998-’99 season. They immediately achieved promotion from the Second Division as runners-up and after installing floodlights and constructing the dressing rooms/clubhouse structure, they were all set for Division 1.

Clubhouse

Clubhouse

Plaque

Plaque

Stand

Stand

In 2010, the club were relegated from the Premier Division, as the 1st Division was now known, but did win the NWCFL Challenge Cup. After just three seasons, Hey were again promoted as runners-up, back to the Premier Division in 2013. last season, Abbey Hey finished up in 14th place in the Premier Division.

Back onto the day’s big FA Cup contest, now, and Hey were looking to giant-kill last year’s famed side, the yellows of Warrington Town. Both sides came out to a good ovation from the, relatively healthy, crowd in attendance down at the Abbey Stadium, including the vocal Warrington fans in the stand, who gave a rendition of most of their players’ songs. With their Swedish flag now joined by a Brazilian and Polish one, they definitely looked a colourful bunch and with the occasional blow of bubbles floating away from the area.

Ground looking good

Ground looking good

Good game, good game

Good game, good game

Town huddle

Town huddle

Town's fans in fine voice

Town’s fans in fine voice

The game got underway, and it was the visiting Wire who had the better of the opening exchanges with Scott Metcalfe, who gained rave reviews for his performance in that game against Exeter on TV last season, proving an effective outlet for them, whipping in a number of dangerous deliveries, but to no avail. On my way around the ground during the first period, I bumped into Scott’s dad, Ray, whom I know well from Scott’s time at Trafford, back in the day. Always a pleasure to talk to him and good to see you again, if you do happen to see this!

As it was, Warrington looked rather slow up front, pumping balls up to the tall strike force, but Hey coped pretty well and then broke clear quickly. With Town light on the right side of the play, a ball was whipped in and #10, Sam Hind, converted a free header at the back post, before wheeling away in delight. 1-0, and an upset on the cards, perhaps?

Sam Hind celebrates his opener

Sam Hind celebrates his opener…

...before Craig Robinson cancels it out.

…before Craig Robinson cancels it out…

...and celebrates his goal.

…and celebrates his goal.

Hey grew in confidence after their opener and began to look as though they may score again when, slightly against the run of play, Warrington grabbed an equaliser. A left wing corner was whipped in and skipper Craig Robinson, brother of MK Dons’ manager Karl and hero of the game against Exeter, glanced a header inside Hey ‘keeper Jonny McIlwaine’s left hand post. 1-1.

It looked as though it was two on the stroke of half time to the Wire, when McIlwaine appeared to drop the ball into his own net from another left wing corner. Despite there being no obvious foul to my, or indeed many other, eyes the referee decided he’d seen an infringement on the ‘keeper, much to the bemusement and anger of the Warrington players and management, including Shaun Reid, who stormed into the dugout to vent his frustration!

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Disallowed!

Disallowed!

But, it was one-a-piece at the break and I headed upstairs to the clubhouse, where a pie, cider and copy of the 2nd edition of Non-League Magazine was purchased for a total of about £8.50. Pie was very good and quickly disappeared from the plate, before the second period was about to get underway and I headed back down to pitch level for the next stanza. And there was immediate drama as Warrington struck the crossbar soon after the restart, when a fizzing drive cracked off the top of the bar and over.

But, again, it was Abbey Hey who’d take the lead, when a good, quick move ended with pacey #9, Ashford Blake, coolly placing the ball beyond Town ‘keeper Karl Wills. This prompted Hey’s manager to ask how long they’d played, which he was disappointed to learn was only 10 minutes! But there was some relief when the assistant pinged the  ball across the pitch, prompting one on the bench to shout “You’ve not kicked one like  that in your life!”

Ashford Blake restores Hey's lead.

Ashford Blake restores Hey’s lead.

Match Action

Match Action

Physio at the ready.

Physio at the ready.

5 minutes later, it was three. A horrible moment for Town defender James McCarten saw him and Wills have a miscommunication, and his pass back roll beyond the glove-man and into the bottom corner. 3-1 and the underdogs definitely fancied it now!

But, they were pegged back soon after, when sub Steven Gillespie seemed to have an age to nod home via the underside of the crossbar for 3-2, and it was game on once again! It was now that I met twitter legend Breezeblock, who I was told very helpfully by football spoon that he resembled a building block. As it was, he didn’t, and I spent the remainder of the game chatting with him along with the occasional input of McIlwaine.

Late pressure...

Late pressure…

Late pressure

…and even more…

But Hey hang on to spark celebrations

But Hey hang on to spark celebrations

Despite late pressure by the visitors, including having the ‘keeper up for a late corner, McIlwaine didn’t really have a save to make, and Hey greeted the final whistle with scenes of jubilation, with manager Luke Gibson running onto the pitch to embrace his players. I bid goodbye to breezeblock and headed back inside to wait until it was time to head home.

After getting another Strongbow and speaking football to a couple of Abbey Hey committee members and congratulating and commiserating Hey’s Sam Freakes, who’d had another good game as he usually does (and no, I’m not giving him preferential treatment as I know him previously!) and Warrington pair Metcalfe and Ally Brown, who again I know from his time at Trafford. Good to see all the lads again before I left for Ryder Brow station and learning of some, rather amusing, shenanigans elsewhere!

I then had the best of return journeys possible, straight into Piccadilly, over to Oxford Road and making the train home a half-hour earlier than I should have. Makes up for the Fail’s troubles en route, I guess. Thanks to Abbey Hey for a good day yet again, down at the Abbey Stadium. Plan to see you again at Thackley in two weeks!

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RATINGS:

Game: 8- Entertaining cup contest with an upset too.

Ground: 6- Simple, but very tidy.

Fans: 6- Decent backing.

Programme: 5- Average for the level.

Food: 7- Pretty good and decent priced.

Value For Money: 8- Cheap day overall, £11 in clubhouse, £5 in, £1 programme & £2.60 travel.

Manchopper in….Didsbury (Bedians AFC)

1434404908 Abbey_Hey

Result: Bedians 0-2 Abbey Hey (Pre-Season Friendly)

Venue: Millgate Lane (Saturday 4th July, 3pm)

Att: 25 (approx.)

So, after a month of chasing the game of leather and willow around the North West, it was back onto what this blog is mainly about, football. It seemed barely six weeks since I’d been to a game and indeed that’s what it was. Summer breaks in football don’t really exist, do they?

My first journey was originally due to be at Cadbury Athletic, but when that fell by the wayside due to them not playing the fixture at Bourneville, and due to me returning to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix the following day, I decided to stay local and find a game that was easily accessible. This proved to be trickier than I’d expected, with a distinct lack of football in the area and it looked like my cricketing sojourn would be extended for another week.

Indeed, Dan, who’d once again be joining me on another trip, had seen a game featuring “St.Bede’s” on the NWCFL site  that I’d expected to be played somewhere near the playing fields near Maine Road’s ground in Whalley Range. But, by chance, I came across Bedians twitter and saw it was in fact them who were to entertain Gorton side Abbey Hey, on this early July day. So, that was decision made and problem solved. Off to Didsbury I was.

After originally planning to get there early and sample the town, I was put off by the lure of F1 qualifying so put this off for another time, perhaps, and headed down in the company of Dan and reached Didsbury with little trouble about 30 minutes prior to kick-off. After, somewhat unsurprisingly, getting lost near some herb bushes in Fletcher Moss Park, we eventually re-found Millgate Lane and were back on the track to the home of Bedians, with the warm-up shouts of players becoming increasingly prevalent as we walked. Incidentally, the herb bushes also featured recommended dishes they could be used in. So, my football “tours” as I will now refer to them not only feature football, but also education and exercise. A good “FEE”.

So, after spotting a small  blue sign pointing towards the ground that you’d be lucky to see, considering its folded state, we crossed over the Mersey flood basin and upon us came a large sign reading “Old Bedians” and the impressive clubhouse, which would be visited later in the day. As we arrived, the game was around 3 minutes in and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the scoreline remained at 0-0.

Early signs...

Early signs…

Arriving at the ground

Arriving at the ground

The flood basin, no threats today.

The flood basin, no threats today.

Bedians ground/pitch is a barred off area, with little to nothing else to speak of, bar a couple of pub-like tables situated behind the near end goal. There is also a tree which hangs over the corner nearest the car park, which you walk though upon entry. The pitch being used today was the nearest one to the clubhouse, and was seemingly rather short. There is another barred pitch to the rear of the fields, beyond the egg-chasing pitches. Now it’s time to venture into the history of Bedians AFC….

History Lesson:

The club was founded in 1928 by ex-pupils of St.Bede’s College, Whalley Range, under the name of Old Bedians FC. For their first season, the club entered into the Palatine Amateur League and the club originally played on the Hough End Fields, Chorlton. However, in 1963 and with the club now open to all players rather than just ex-pupils of the college, the club moved the Turn Moss Playing Fields in Stretford and soon played in the Lancashire Amateur League.

In the LAL, the club’s highlight was a semi-final appearance in the Lancashire Amateur Cup, where they were vanquished by Salford City. The stay at Turn Moss was fairly brief, and the club moved to its current Underbank Farm home and were joined by the Old Bedians Rugby Union club, who moved from Brookburn Road, now the home ground of West Didsbury & Chorlton.

Bedians' club crests

Bedians’ club crests

Club snippets

Club snippets

Now as Bedians, the club returned to the Lancashire & Cheshire League in 1978, where they still compete to this day in the Premier Division. During their tenure, the club have become the most decorated L&C League side, achieving more league and cup honours than any other side. Last season, the club reached the semis of the Lancashire Amateur Cup once again, where they were defeated by Carnforth Rangers and finished in a solid eighth place in the Premier Division of the Lancs and Cheshire League.

It was a pleasant day with the pitch being kept cool by a steady breeze, and it was evident to anyone who may not have known, whom the higher opposition was. This is not to say, however, that Bedians were poor. Far from it in fact. They battled, competed and kept going for the full game with a small pool of players and kept Hey honest, without creating too much, with many offsides probably coming from the fact they aren’t used to having assistants in the L&C.

The game was a real pre-season affair though, with not much to talk about on the whole, in terms of action. Bedians’ keeper Sean Chappell was kept busy throughout the first half, making a number of good stops, including a one on one where he stood up for as long as possible to thwart the attacker. But, Chappell was arguably at fault for the first goal, when a strike by Hey’s #11, Steve Yarwood, burst through his hands and snuck under the crossbar and nestled into the net. 1-0. I also caught up with Hey’s midfield maestro Sam Freakes who’s returned to the club after a brief stay with Glossop North End at the end of last season, until he was called back to warm up. The action continued with Chappell’s aforementioned one-on-one stop and a couple more smart saves and Hey also rattled the bar as the Counties side dominated, but went in just one goal to the good.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

First goal sneaks in.

Steve Yarwood’s shot sneaks in.

At the break, it was off to the clubhouse, where Dan and I and a couple of other guys encountered a young lady surrounded by various boxes of drinks and chocolate, as well as a pile of the Holy Grail, the first ever programme produced by the club! With a programme and a Magners purchased,  it was quickly read (a decent effort putting everything into perspective) and it was back outside ready for the second period.

Clubhouse

Clubhouse

Cider and programme combo

Cider and programme combo

The half followed the first closely in terms of action points with Hey dominated the play and Bedians sole forward being caught offside multiple times, along with the number 3. But it was Hey who scored again to secure an early win in their schedule as #9, Nico Collins, shot into the top corner. Hey continued to press without causing much further alarm, bar a couple of dangerous crosses, as they saw out the game with a clean sheet. Credit to Bedians, though, who looked a strong outfit for the league they will be competing in.

Match Action

Match Action

Last Ditch Defence

Last Ditch Defence…

....and more!

….and more!

Goal-Kick

Goal-Kick

After the game, it was a case of retracing our steps, without the detour of the old St. James’ churchyard and park, sticking to the roadways and getting to the top just as our carriage pulled in to whisk us back for a BBQ in the sun. A great way to end the first football weekend of the season. Football is back.

RATINGS:

Game: 5- Usual friendly contest, little action.

Ground: 4- Very basic, but one of, if not the best facilities in their league, with the sad demise of Whalley Range’s clubhouse.

Fans: 3- Not sure if “fans” per se exist down at that level.

Food: N/A.

Programme: 5- A very basic issue, but fair play for them to bother issuing, and it’s better than some at Step 4 for a friendly.

Value For Money: 8- £4.10 travel, £4 drink/programme.

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