Manchopper in….Grimsby

Result: Grimsby Town 0-0 Bury (EFL League 2)

Venue: Blundell Park (Saturday 23rd March 2019, 3pm)

Att: 4,375

“Hail fellow, well met!” I really should start a mission to bring that phrase back into mass usage, I thought as I headed over to the East Coast and to Grimsby, where I’d bring up the big 300. Blundell Park seemed a fitting venue for such an honour and despite my bored thoughts delving off into Alan Partridge levels of 16th century welcomes, I was very much up for seeing what the town had to offer. I just hoped that the name wasn’t reflective!

Eventually arriving at about a quarter to midday, I headed slightly out-of-the-way to have a quick peruse of Grimsby “Minster” before walking on through the surrounding gardens and into the centre, passing a striking fisherman statue as I went. Soon enough, I came upon my first stop of the day, The Parity, which is one of those large ranging free houses in the mould of a Spoons. A rowdy group of lads were providing the soundtrack in here as I entered before they were told off by a youngster for doing so and disturbing her dinner. Fair play, though they soon departed and the place quietened down markedly as I supped at a pint of Coors which, at £2.80, provided me with a fair amount of hope when it came to the rest of the day, wallet-wise!

Grimsby

The Parity

The Friary

From there I continued onwards through the centre, passing by the closed Tivoli Tavern as I did so and coming upon my second stop- The Friary. As I approached the bar, I began to see things, crazy things – things like beers costing £1.50. I must have had something I ought to have not, I figured but nope, there was the drinks all lined up with only Stella taking the “normal” price approach. As such, I opted for a Carlsberg for the magical price stated above which came in a pretty attractive glass too. Not too bad so far that’s for sure and I was loving Grimsby!

Speaking of which, Grimsby is a large coastal seaport on the East coast of England and is located in North East Lincolnshire on the River Humber’s South Bank close to the river’s estuary into the North Sea. Titled as Great Grimsby as to avoid any confusion with Little Grimsby, a village 14 miles away, it is neighboured and linked with Cleethorpes and many local villages that are now encompassed within the town’s overall reach. It is located within old marshlands and was originally founded upon islands and low-lying areas within them and the areas of East and West Marsh hark back to this. There is some evidence to suggest a small Roman presence, but the Vikings are far more prevalent, their settlement dating back to the 9th century and, indeed, it is thought that Grimsby comes from a Viking fisherman, Grim, with the suffix ‘by’ meaning village in Old Norse, with mythology suggesting the God Odin would travel in this form whilst in the presence of mortals.

Grimsby

Grimsby did make an appearance in the Domesday Book as a small settlement of around 200 people and transformed into a fishing and trading port in the 12th century and was later granted its town charter by King John in 1201 and its medieval St. James’ Church now serves as the “minster”. However, the 15th century saw the river’s estuary begin to silt up, restricting access and therefore leading to a decline in Grimsby’s fortunes which would last into the late-1700’s. However, upon the river’s dredging around this time, the port was revived and the area boomed once more with new docks created to cope with the new demands. The arrival of the railways in 1848 took some stress off the port and allowed for ease of transport of goods and this allowed the town’s fishing exports to grow in popularity and gain the status it holds. The upturn continued until the Great Depression and the setbacks that came with it.

During WWII, many of the area’s trawlers were commissioned by the Royal Navy into the ‘Patrol Service’, but this came at a cost with over 2,000 crew killed and a memorial alongside the 19th century Dock Tower commemorates those lost. 196 further lives were lost during numerous bombing raids at the hands of the Luftwaffe. Grimsby’s local industries soon fell apart post-war and the closures of many port companies and mines left many redundant, with the food processing apparently one of those that continued to expand instead. The town’s tram system also became redundant in the 1950’s as buses became the better option.

Old Lloyds Arms

The Barge

A few doors down sits the Old Lloyds Arms which seems to be Grimsby’s rock/metal haunt, disguised as an old-school, traditional boozer. A Stella (£3.15) was had here with little to set the pulse racing on offer once more (that’s probably the biggest gripe I had with the drinking holes of Grimsby) and I swiftly dispatched that as my head had been turned by what was across the way. It was a bar, yes, but not as we know it. No, it was on a Barge. An actual canal boat. Scenes were AOTS as I headed up what I termed the “gangplank” and down a fairly sizeable set of steps to the bar area. Again, the beer choices weren’t too amazing, but I did spy Dandelion & Burdock (alcoholic, don’t worry) in the fridge and my mind was made up.

Serving as my designated ‘refresher’ the D&B went down well enough but it was soon time to head onwards and next up was a choice of the Duke of Wellington or the Hope & Anchor. I opted for the latter as it was right in front of me and not about ten seconds walk down the side road. A second Coors of the day was had here as I awaited the bus on towards the Wellington Arms, the very pub that the Mariners were formed in back in 1878. It seemed more akin to a sports club within, and was decorated with many a piece of Grimsby related memorabilia and the like, and again the beer choices sort of reflected this as I had to settle for Coors once again.

Hope & Anchor

Wellington Arms

Blundell Park

As I complained about earlier, this day hadn’t been too adventurous, disappointingly, and I hopped back on the bus to two Blundell Parks in the hope of better things. The ground would come second however, the pub would come first, with the closest thing to Carling (their Black Fruits offering at £3) that will ever pass my lips being chosen due to….well, you know the story by now, before it was finally time to head to the “real” Blundell Park. Ground 300, let’s hope the game lives up to it, I thought to myself. How to get your hopes up….

Blundell Park itself is a brilliant, old school ground. Yes, its views from the away end aren’t superb (and that’s being rather kind), but I’d rather have somewhere with character than one of the soulless new builds that continue to rise up around the country – anyway, I digress. The old Main Stand sits to the right as you look and the middle part of the structure is apparently the oldest bit of Football League stand still in situ in the country. The large, domineering two-tiered stand opposite this towers over the rest of the ground and gives it a somewhat lopsided look, almost akin to that of Gresty Road, whilst the far end features a more modern seated stand. The away end seems to be pretty similar to the Main Stand on the whole and is all but connected to it with the one corner filled in between them. That’s Blundell Park in a nutshell, and this is the story of the Mariners….

History Lesson:

Grimsby Town Football Club was formed in 1878 as Grimsby Pelham by members of the Worsley Cricket Club, though would only spend a year under that name before changing to their current Town name. The club moved into Blundell Park in 1898 after spending time at locations on Clee Lane and latterly Abbey Park, first competing in the Combination from 1888 and, upon the league’s collapse shortly after, applied and failed to join the Football League – instead heading to the Football Alliance. However, their stay here would be rather brief and 1892 saw Grimsby accepted to the newly expanded Football League’s 2nd Division.

The title was won in 1902 along with promotion to Division 1 but after spending two years in the top division, they were relegated and returned to the non-league ranks within a decade. However, their time outside the League ranks was short, the Mariners winning the Midland League title in their sole season out before replacing rivals Lincoln City by virtue of election process. Interestingly, Grimsby and Hull City were the two teams allowed to compete on Christmas Day due to the fishing trade’s demands, though this would later fall out of use as the trade became less of a bind. Meanwhile, the era around WWI saw Town immediately relegated to the new Third Division in the first season post-war, and though 1921 saw the club play against the newly accepted Southern League but an equivalent Third Division North was created the next season with Grimsby subsequently switching.

Small inscription about GTFC’s founding

By 1929, Grimsby were back in Division 1 where they stayed until 1939 (outside of a two season stint out between 1932-’34) recording their highest finish of 5th in Division 1 in 1935. Town reached the FA Cup semi-final in 1936, losing out Arsenal at Huddersfield’s Leeds Road ground. They did so again in 1939, but again were on the wrong side of the result, and this time to Wolverhampton Wanderers in front of a record Old Trafford crowd. Post-WWII, Grimsby were relegated from Division 1 in 1948 and have not returned since, with the vast majority of the 50’s & ’60’s saw the Mariners flit between the Second and Third Divisions, the latter of which ceased to be regionalised during this time. Under Bill Shankly, Town finished as Third Division North runners-up to local rivals Lincoln City in 1952, missing out on promotion due to only one from each region going up at the time. Shankly would later depart, though Town were still promoted as champions in 1956, despite having to apply for re-election the previous season, in doing so, becoming the only club to go from that extreme to the other consecutively.

However, things would soon turn to the wrong side again and by 1968 Grimsby were in the 4th Division and were again forced to seek re-election successfully the next year upon ending the campaign second-bottom. Again things would soon look more rosy for the Mariners and they lifted the Division 4 title in 1972, going on to spend five seasons in Division 3 prior to relegation in 1977,though they would return just two years later. They would take promotion form into a further season as the club took the Third Division championship and returned to Division 2 where they’d remain until 1987 when a horrendous run of form saw them drop from 8th to the drop zone. The following year saw a second consecutive relegation suffered and Grimsby were again back in Division 4. Not only that, but Grimsby also, had to stave off a very real threat of going under altogether. They Would do so happily and continued on to a swift return to Division 2 by 1991.

Heading to the ground

Division 2 would become the Division 1 upon the Premier League coming into being the next year and Grimsby set about setting the ground works to be a steady side in the second tier. They remained there until 1997 she was they were relegated once more, this despite the efforts of the legend that is Clive Mendonca. 1998 was a good season for the team and after a 3rd placed finish in Division 3, Grimsby would make a double appearance under the twin towers of Wembley, and the first of which saw them defeat AFC Bournemouth (not just Bournemouth remember, that’s a different club altogether) to lift the Football League Trophy, having defeated Burnley in the Northern Section final to get there. Their second was in the play off final where they met Northampton Town and again were successful, a 1-0 triumph meaning Grimsby were back in Division 1 – and with a 100% Wembley success rate!

This spell wasn’t particularly good for Town and they regularly battled the drop over their five-year stint, eventually going down in 2003, though they did record victory over holders Liverpool at Anfield in the League Cup. Financial issues were suffered again due to the collapse of ITV Digital (I still remember the silhouette of Monkey, hanging in the background of an ad – imagine that nowadays, though PG tips has Lazarus effects it seems!) and 2005 saw Grimsby relegated back to Division 3, or League 2 as it was, and still is I suppose(!), known. Despite a strong promotion challenge, they missed out on an immediate return after dropping into the play-off places and going on to lose out in the final to Cheltenham Town at the Millennium Stadium. 2007-’08 saw their 100% Wembley record end (though this was at the “new” one) as the Mariners lost out in the Football League Trophy final to MK Dons, though things would still go on to get worse as Grimsby were relegated from the Football League in 2010 after the best part of a century there.

Arriving at Blundell Park

In the Conference for the first time, Grimsby started out in mid-table before finding their feet and reaching the 2013 play-off semi final, losing out to Newport County, the season seeing double disappointment after Town had previously lost to Wrexham in the FA Trophy final at Wembley on penalties. 2015 saw a second play-off place reached, but again the club were defeated on spot-kicks this time in the final to Rovers, as the new Wembley proved less kind than its predecessor. However, it would finally reward Grimsby for its persistence in 2016 as they overcame Forest Green Rovers in the National League play-off final under the arch to return to the EFL League 2 after six years away, despite having suffered a second FA Trophy disappointment months earlier at the hands of FC Halifax Town. They have finished the last two seasons in 14th and 18th as they look to gain a foothold with a view to another rise up the leagues, akin to those that they’ve done before.

The game got underway and there was little in the way of action early on with the first twenty minutes or so seeing just the one shot per side, Martyn Woolford seeing a shot comfortably saved by Bury stopper Joe Murphy in the 9th minute, whilst Jay O’Shea saw his own effort kept out by Murphy’s opposite number, and Grimsby skipper, James McKeown, some ten minutes later as both teams tested each other out.

Match Action

Match Action

As the half continued on towards the half-hour, the game continued to be a pretty uneventful contest in truth (despite the match report on Auntie Beeb trying to convince otherwise) and after Luke Hendrie’s drive was kept out for the hosts, Bury duo Eoghan O’Connell and Jordan Rossiter both spurned chances on goal, with only the former forcing McKeown into any kind of action. The remaining minutes somewhat mirrored those of the early part as the action died out and the half came as something of a relief. 0-0 and it was…..well, grim.

I was lucky enough to spend the second half in the company of Shakers fan Mick towards the rear of the stand where it turned out it mattered even less where you were for this match as even less went on to occur by the seaside. Bury, now attacking the away end, started the half strongly – O’Connell testing that McKeown was alert a couple of minutes in, whilst O’Shea fired over with the Shakers looking to press home their possible title and more likely promotion credentials.

Match Action

Match Action

The best chances of the game would come along during the final quarter, with Bury’s Byron Moore seeing a goal-bound effort superbly blocked on the line and the resultant loose ball cleared away, before Nicky Maynard was well denied by McKeown from close range. However, the Mariners would come on strong as the contest drew to a conclusion – Jake Hessenthaler, Harry Clifton and Charles Vernam all seeing shots fly just off-target, whilst Bury would reply as Grimsby looked to drop in and consolidate late-on, but due to substitute Gold Omotayo not quite having the touch his name promised on a couple of occasions, the sides would deservedly share the spoils in a game that threatened to, but never quite got into full flow.

Having lost my bus ticket somewhere along the way, I set off on the half-hour walk back into Grimsby with the goal of beating the bus – one which I achieved. Splitting the walk up with the earlier missed Duke of Wellington, a decent watering hole, for a pint of Stella (£3.10), I then completed the day with a visit to Grimsby’s ‘Spoons offering:- the Yarborough Arms, which handily neighbours the station. As such, I could wile away the time through to the train back to Manchester without issue whilst sipping at a Punk IPA. No problems it seemed, but then I saw it. Delayed. Cancelled. Trains were falling apart and I had no idea of the cause. As it was, the train eventually pulled in and we set off, seemingly clear of issue….that was until we arrived in Barnetby – a place that is now ingrained in my memory for all the wrong reasons. Despite nodding off two times, both times I awoke saw us still in the Humberside outpost and we were soon informed of likely ‘alternative transport’ that was being arranged. And we all know what that means.

Duke of Wellington

Yarborough Arms

With a Northern service stuck along with us, we soon got the news we were waiting for. After a good hour-and-a-half’s wait, the track was clear and we could proceed. As everyone piled back on, I couldn’t be arsed finding a seat and so settled in on the floor opposite a group of, who I’d later find out to be, Bury fans with conversation certainly not being of normal circumstance from one of these. Upon his disembarkation at Doncaster (if memory serves me correct), I was invited up to join the group, finding out this fella wasn’t part of their group and instead was a randomer they’d encountered whilst in Barnetby. It will do this sort of thing to you, drinks, nil-nils and Barnetby.

Anyway, I’d remain with Joanna, Dave Don, Mark, Mike through the remainder of the journey (including the unwelcome switch of train at Sheffield) though we eventually rocked up in Manchester. I bid goodbye to the guys and girls from Bury and jogged off over to Oxford Road for my connection I figured I could just about make….only to miss it by seconds – I arrived just in time to see it pulling away from the platform. In some sort of slight luck, a bus was due shortly anyway and so I was still home by midnight. It had been a long day for sure, the ground being the highlight, with Grimsby’s beer offerings not being too inspiring and the game being pretty poor overall. At least the pie was decent! Oh, and I just got back my train fare in full too; isn’t it great this delay repay, when it works, that is! Anyway, onwards to another week and it’s back off over the border to a town fame for its castle….

RATINGS:

Game: 4

Ground: 7

Food: 8

Programme: 6

Value For Money: 5 (added point for getting money back!)

Manchopper in….Rotherham

Result: Rotherham United 3-2 Bury (EFL League 1)

Venue: New York Stadium (Saturday 9th September 2017, 3pm)

Att: 7,848

My “92” trail continues at something of a snail’s pace. Having said that, my initial season’s target is still on, though it’s not quite going as I’d planned. You see, my initial plans had me buying a fair way in advance and working my way, within reason, from the South and back up North, leaving both the stupidly dear and easy to reach remaining to do. But these best laid plans were to fall into ruin when I remembered that the first few trips wouldn’t be able to fit the bill, with my railcard running out just prior to this weekend and thus me being left out to dry. But, with this now renewed, these glamour destinations await on the horizon…..in some form.

For this week, though, my Northern stop-gap would be the New York Stadium, current home of Rotherham United. Having already visited their former home, Millmoor, at the beginning of the year in what was something of an eerie experience, I felt the New York Stadium would definitely be more of a standard trip, without overgrown and leaking stands. The weather leading up to the game was definitely testing the latter out though! Anyway, having renewed my card and bought my tickets, it was off the South Yorkshire once more.

Dodging the heavy showers to the west of the Pennines, the East side of the mountain range was experiencing fairer weather, with broken sunshine an improvement on thundery showers as I arrived into Rotherham town centre at just after midday. I was now left with a dilemma. What would I do for the next two-and-a….oh okay, it’s the pubs again, via a bit of a look around near the church.

From the train

Rotherham

After a backtrack, I began  my “crawl” with a visit to the Plough, located near the Tesco and a rather stand-out blue clock commemorating a Coronation (I think, I can’ remember now). The Plough was mad cheap too, a pint of Grolsch in here costing a smidgeon over £2 which, I mused, must be the reason it’s so popular with the punters during an early afternoon. However, I was soon to discover these town-centre prices were common place!

Following dual-watching the Test Match and the Man City-Liverpool game via the well-placed screens, it was time to head onwards and a little closer to the ground, which incidentally must be one of the only new-build’s to be as close )if not closer) to the town centre than the old one. Obviously this negates the need to leave a chunk of time to walk on up to the ground (a la Coventry) and leaves more time for the more important matters of putting money into the local economy. This is how I reason my drinking anyway…

The Plough & lovely “Coronation” Clock

Corn Low

Inside the Mailcoach

Next up was the Corn Low, complete with cash machine for those who need more cash on the fly. Not that this should be a regular occurrence, with my pint of Carlsberg costing about £1.80. Yes a whole one-pound-and-eighty pence. Unfortunately, the ‘Spoons-but-not style of pub isn’t really my thing and so it was quickly polished off before a slight detour off and down the neighbouring road to the Mailcoach which would turn out to be a good choice as this was my favourite pub of the trip.

Despite being open somewhat, the Mailcoach still maintains an air of the traditional to it, helped along by the dim lighting and lamps along the top of the bar. The pint of Somersby at, again, just over £2 also helped matters, but I had little time to enjoy it in here before having to move onwards to tick off the second of the Rotherham ‘Spoons offerings, the Bluecoat, which meant it was back uphill. I was looking forward to this one, with it being housed in an old schoolhouse, so I was intrigued to how this would turn out. Sadly, you’d never have guessed the above, with little in the way of character remaining. A quick Punk IPA sufficed before I swiftly exited. Shame.

The Bluecoat

Cutler’s Arms

New York Tavern

With kick-off getting ever nearer, I felt it was time I’d head down into the valley (you can see the ground from around the ‘Spoons) and towards the New York Tavern, which I felt had to be visited given the name of the ground after all. However, as I approached the end of the lane leading down the hill, I came face-to-face with the Cutler’s Arms, a large traditional pub which is a definite favourite for the home support. After a bit of a wait and with time beginning to beat me, a very, very quick Corona (my dearest drink of the day at £3.20) was downed before a brief visit to the New York to end up the trip, though I did somewhat regret my choice of half an Estrella. Not my greatest choice, as it’s not one I’d usually go for but hey, when in Rotherham.

With twenty minutes until kick-off, I reckoned it was just about time to head for the ground. After being thanked on my way out of the tavern by a guy outside (I assume he runs it and wasn’t just saying it), I got lost near a dual-carriageway before back-tracking on myself by following the crowds which made me wonder why I hadn’t just done that in the first place. Anyway, upon getting to the road leading to the ground, I purchased a programme from the seller here for £3 and headed off towards the away end I’d be populating today, having bought my ticket from Bury (Gigg Lane blog here) the prior week. I was happy I had too when I saw the queue for the away ticket booth!

Scanning in without any issues, I bypassed the food bar for the moment with it being pretty busy and headed up into the seats. Taking up a spot at the back, this provides good views of the immediate area back up the hill and towards the town centre, with the three church spires towering above. Soon after I’d got in, the two sides made their way out from the tunnel on half-way and onto the New York Stadium pitch.

Heading in….

The ground itself is a smart ground and one that feels big enough without being overly so as to leave it devoid of atmosphere. Dating from 2012 when the Millers moved back to the town after a spell at the Don Valley in Sheffield following their departure from Millmoor after 101 years, it houses four all-seated stands. The Main, West Stand houses the boxes and tunnel and all that comes with it, and is the largest stand in the ground. Opposite is the smallest stand, the East Stand, which enables the view mentioned above. Both ends are fairly identical, with a scoreboard housed in a corner at each. The floodlights protrude over the field from the rooves of both sides, with Perspex glass used around the ground to allow for more light to enter. With that out-of-the-way, here’s the story of Rotherham United F.C.

History Lesson:

Rotherham United F.C. was founded in 1925 following a merger between Rotherham Town and Rotherham County, the latter dating from 1870 since its formation as Thornhill F.C. in that year. Rotherham Town, meanwhile, were the leading side in the area, having competed in the Football League while Thornhill (latterly United) were competing in the Sheffield & Hallamshire League. By the turn of the century, however, Town had resigned from the League and folded, with a new club under the same name later forming in the Midland League. Thornhill would go on to greater things, taking on the mantle of the town’s premier club and becoming Rotherham County F.C. The club’s finished first and second in the 1911-’12 Midland League but it became apparent the town couldn’t support two pro sides and the merger duly followed, soon re-elected to the Football League as Rotherham United F.C.

After pre-war struggles (including having to re-apply for the League in 1931), 1946 saw United win the Third Division North Cup before finishing runners-up three times in succession (’47-’49). 1951 saw them take the Division Three North title and 1955 saw them achieve their highest ever league position, third in the Second Division, with only goal average denying the Millers a place in the top-flight after finishing equal on points with Birmingham and Luton. 1961 saw the club lose out in the inaugural League Cup Final (over two legs), despite winning the opening leg versus Aston Villa at Millmoor. They’d go on to lose 3-2 on aggregate.

New York Stadium

Remaining in the Second Division until 1968, the club entered a decline that saw them in Division Four by 1973. In 1975, they were promoted back to Division Three (now nationalised) which saw them able to take the Division 3 title in 1981. After relegations in ’83 &’88, United were back in Division 4. 1989 saw the club take the Division 4 title, but their stay in the third division would last just two seasons. After finishing runners-up in Division 4 in 1992, the club were able to take a spot in Division 2 upon the creation of the Premiership. They’d remain here for five seasons before relegation in 1997, though they did win the 1996 Football League Trophy at Wembley.

2000 saw Rotherham return to Division Two as Division Three runners-up and then went on to be promoted as Division Two runners-up the following season. They’d remain in Division One for four seasons, through to its renaming as the Championship, but were relegated to League One in 2005. After staving off relegation again the next season, a ten-point deduction left the club with a large issue ahead of the following season. 2007 saw the club drop to League 2 and despite spending a large part of ’07-’08 in the promotion race, another ten-point deduction proved fatal to their hopes. A 17-point deduction and departure from Millmoor followed in 2008-’09, 2010 saw Rotherham reach the play-off final at the “new” Wembley, but they’d lose out on that occasion to Dagenham & Redbridge.

The old from the new

2013 saw the club return to Rotherham after their spell at the Don Valley and they immediately achieved success, finishing League 2 as runners-up and getting promoted as a result. 2014 ended with the Millers in the League One play-offs, where they’d defeat Leyton Orient on penalties to return to the Championship. Last season would see Rotherham relegated from the Championship after finishing bottom of the table, returning to League 1 for this season.

The game got underway with it quickly became apparent this would be an open contest. Both sides had early sightings of goal, with the Millers slowly growing in ascendancy, Will Vaulks and Richard Wood both forcing saves out of Bury’s ‘keeper, Joe Murphy, before Ryan Williams forced the visiting stopper to save well from his fizzing drive. It looked only a matter of time, however, until the opener would arrive for the Millers.

Indeed this did arrive after twenty minutes, a long ball forward found Kiefer Moore who looked to have all the time in the world to bring the ball down, control it and set himself before sliding the ball beyond Murphy. One-nil to the Millers and it looked as though it may be a long day for the visiting Shakers fans, a couple of whom got talking about Millmoor and who currently/recently plays/played there. I couldn’t resist a quick plug!

Match Action

Moore celebrates his first

Taylor then fired into the side-netting after being forced wide in rounding Murphy as Rotherham looked to double their advantage, but then, against the run of play, the visitors grabbed a leveller. Ryan Lowe provided the cross from the left-flank and journeyman striker Jermaine Beckford arrived to stoop his header beyond home debutant Marek Rodak, the on-loan Fulham ‘keeper having little chance.

Half-Time was spent in fruitless (or should that be pie-less?) pursuit of food back down in the concourse and, left empty-handed, I headed back up for the second-half, though I did see a couple arrive back at their seats with a couple of said pastries, though I’ve no idea where these were found! Anyway before long the second half was about to start, but not before I got excited by a rainbow and the fact I could only see it whilst in sunglasses. I quickly got a poll going with the guys near me to who could see it with glasses and those without. The results were….all could see it, as could I without the aid of shades. Ah.

Around ten minutes into the second period, the Millers regained their lead, a ball to the back-post finding the head of Moore and he planted his header across Murphy and into the net. Two-one to the hosts and Moore had both of the home side’s goals. After a number of other chances to kill the game off, Rotherham would again find themselves punished for their inability to provide that killer touch.

Match Action

Cameron about to score…

Scramble

Following on from a set-piece, the ball was delivered back into the box and after a flick on, Bury’s centre-half Nathan Cameron found himself in the right place to nod beyond the ‘keeper to once again level up the scores. Two-two and all to play for once again. This time, Bury looked to have gained more of a foothold and the game looked to be petering out into a draw and a point-a-piece for both teams.

Rotherham did go close with around ten minutes to go, when Anthony Forde’s effort looked to be cleared from almost on the line but then, with stoppage time looming, Rotherham grabbed the final, decisive goal. The ball began with Rodak and his ball forward found its way through to Richie Towell. The man on-loan from Brighton then struck a perfectly directed effort that skimmed across the surface of the New York Stadium and into the bottom corner to send the home fans mad. This time there was no time for Bury to respond and it was time to cue New York, New York. Full-Time: Millers 3-2 Shakers.

After finding my way in now blocked off by stewards allied with metal fences, I eventually figured out how to get away from the stadium and headed back for the town. This time, it was straight back to the station….well, almost. With a good twenty minutes until my train back, a visit to the Bridge, just across from the station itself and neighbour to the “Chapel on the Bridge” was called for. A bottle of alcoholic Dandelion and Burdock was refreshing and enjoyed before it was finally time to depart South Yorkshire and head home.

“No Dickheads”

An easy, problem-free journey back was undertaken to end off the day. All in all, it had been a decent day. Rotherham is a decent place, which is easy on the pocket (outside of match tickets) and the ground is a nice one to visit. The game too was entertaining and you can’t beat a late winner as a neutral (sorry Bury fans)! As for next week, it’s back on the FA Cup trail with a rare trip up to the North East, featuring a possible giant-killing against famed giant-killers….

RATINGS:

Game: 8

Ground: 7

Food: N/A (not about when I got there)

Programme: 9

Value For Money: 7

Manchopper in….Bury

Bury_FCLuton Town FC

Result: Bury 1-1 Luton Town (FA Cup 2nd Round)

Venue: JD Stadium (Saturday 6th December, 3.00pm)

Att: 2,790

Another FA Cup weekend was in full swing after Blyth Spartans’ Friday evening triumph over Hartlepool United which sealed Paul Murray’s fate, and my destination was a return to Gigg Lane and Bury FC who were entertaining the recent Football League returnees, Luton Town.

So, after a pre-conceived meeting with Dan Watkinson in Manchester Piccadilly, we caught the 135 bus up towards Bury. The service drops you off a 2 minute walk from Gigg..,apologies, the JD Stadium as it is now known. But beforehand, I had decided that I would finally drop in at the finely named Swan & Cemetery, a favoured haunt of both home and visiting support on matchdays. Today was no different, with both teams being represented within the hostelry. The Swan was decorated with Christmas lights, tinsel and the rest of the usual décor hung from the rafters and the fireplace, giving the pub a warm feeling on a rather icy afternoon.

After a Kopparberg for me and an Orange Juice for me cost-cutting companion, we moved onwards, and down the road to the Staff of Life, located on the junction. Inside was pretty full, with the vast majority watching the latter staged of Newcastle-Chelsea on the TV. We decided to take a table just out of sight of the game and gauge the outcomes on the reactions of those in view. Dan, a Chelsea fan, wasn’t too impressed with the outcome, though, as the Toon came out 2-1 victors.

Swan & Cemetery

Swan & Cemetery

Swan & Cemetery

Swan & Cemetery

Swan & Cemetery

Swan & Cemetery

With Strongbow finished, it was onwards to the ground where, upon arrival, we paid the discounted rate of £10 (as u-23 & student) and purchased a programme, a 130th anniversary issue, for £3. It’s well worth it too.
We had, again, previously decided to complete Gi…JD Stadium, by sitting in the East Stand, meaning that we both will have sat in all four stands of the ground. A little anal I know, but still….
Anyway, we took our seats in the “corner” area that connects the East and South stands, and right behind the corner flag. With just a few minutes to kick-off and a problem-free day so far, I joked the only thing missing was a last minute goal-keeper’s equaliser. It was almost prophetic.

The Main Stand

The Main Stand

The East Stand, our viewpoint for today's game

The Les Hart Stand from our viewpoint

As the teams came out and took part in the “Football Remembers” tribute to the Christmas Truce of the Great War, now seems an appropriate time to delve into the history of Bury FC.

History Lesson:

Bury F.C. were formed in 1885, playing at their current home of Gigg…JD Stadium, since Day 1. The club was formed following the amalgamation of Bury Wesleyans and Bury Unitarians football clubs, and their first match, a friendly versus Wigan Athletic ended in a 4-3 victory. In 1887, the first ‘shed’ was built at Gigg Lane (it’s this from now on!) at the cost of £50, though this was written off & never paid. During this year, the club recorded their highest defeat a 10-0 reverse to Blackburn Rovers. Their first floodlit game took place back in 1889, when 7,000 people turned up to see them lose 5-4 to Heywood Central.

1892 saw the first silverware won, the Lancashire Challenge Cup (LCC), before Bury joined the Football League Division 2 in 1894, which was won at the first attempt, with Bury going undefeated all season, before beating Liverpool in a play-off at Stoke City to achieve promotion to the Division 1, where they were to remain until 1912. Bury’s Football League membership is the (unbroken) third longest, after founder members Preston North End and Notts County. The LCC was won again in 1899, 1903, 1906 & the Manchester Cup was also won around these in 1894, 1896, 1897, 1900, 1903 and 1905. The Lancashire Junior Cup was won for the only time in 1890 too.

1900 saw the club win the FA Cup, with a 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley, and this was won again 3 years later, a Cup Final record win, 6-0 over Derby County, which remains to this day. During this latter run, Bury didn’t concede a goal throughout the competition. In 1906, the South Stand was built, the ground was given to the club as a gift from the Earl of Derby in 1922, and two years later the Main Stand was added.

After their second promotion in 1923, the club achieved their highest ever league position, 4th, in the 1926 Division 1. But two years later the club were relegated again, and have not played top flight football since. After further league decline, despite winning the Third Division in 1961, by 1971 the club found themselves in the Fourth Division for the only time. Further cup successes were attained in the shape of more LCC wins coming in 1926, 1958 1983 & 1987, and Manchester Cups in 1925, 1951,1952, 1962 & 1968.

The club recovered with promotions back to the Second tier but in 1998-’99 they were relegated back to the Third tier on goals scored, only the only side to ever have suffered this fate. In 2001-’02, the club were relegated once more into League Two following a spell in administration. In May 2005, the club became the first club to score 1,000 goals in all four tiers of English Football League. They survived relegation to the Conference in ’06-’07 after a final day 0-0 with Stockport County ensured their place in the league. ’08-’09 saw Bury reach the play-offs but lost on penalties to Shrewsbury Town. In 2009, the club won the pre-season ‘Newsquest Cup’ by beating NPL sides FC United, who groundshare at Gigg Lane, and Radcliffe Borough. In 2011 Bury achieved promotion under Richie Barker to the League 1 via a 3-2 win (and an 87th minute Ryan Lowe goal) at champions Chesterfield.

The season before last, Bury were relegated from League One after losing 1-0 to near neighbours Oldham Athletic, finishing 22nd in the league table. Last season, Bury finished in 12th position in the League 2, including my last League visit here, the “Keith Hill Clapping Derby”, christened as such by LostBoyos’ Matt Harrison due to the lack of other entertainment, between the Shakers and Rochdale.

Football Remembers

Football Remembers

Anyway, it was cup day yet again, and both sides were well matched in a even first half, bereft of clear chances. The best of which fell to Bury at the end of the 45, when a mazy run ended with a shot being almost put through his own net by Hatters centre-back Luke Wilkinson, as his clearance narrowly avoided sneaking inside the post. A heart-in-mouth moment for him.

With half-time looming I set off into the concourse for a pie, at £3.60, it’s very pricey but is a tasty one, made by Pukka Pies. Still as a blogger, it is my duty to inform, so I sacrifice my own money for your knowledge. No, no, it’s fine. Don’t worry about me…

Sufficiently warmed, and by now having christened a new dance craze, the “Rafa Dance” done by doing a strange jogging-type arm movement and Rafa Benitez’s “game over” signal a few seasons ago that he was slated for, it’s sure to catch on. Hell, if Gangnam Style can, anything can.

Match Action, and West Stand housing Luton's Fans

Match Action, and West Stand housing Luton’s Fans

The South Stand

The South Stand

It took just five minutes of the second period for the opener to arrive, and it was the Hatters who claimed it, as a tame effort was somehow allowed, by Rob Lainton, to pass through his gloves and legs, Massimo Taibi-like, and Mark Cullen gleefully stabbed home from a yard. It was a horror moment for the young ex-Bolton gloveman, and one that looked to have cost his side the contest and a place in the 3rd Round draw.

With just five minutes of the game remaining, Luton caught Bury on the break and Ricky Miller was desperately unlucky to hit the foot of the post, and this miss came back to haunt the visitors. The referee had just signalled for four added minutes,  when the Shakers won a corner on the left flank. All 11-men went forward, including subs Ryan Lowe, Danny Nardiello and ‘keeper Lainton,  desperate to atone, in some way, for his error.

The corner was swung in and Lainton challenged. The ball dropped around 8-yards out. From the other end, it was a flurry of legs and challenges flying in, with at least one effort being blocked on the line, before the luminous pink spherical object fell to former Manchester United man Nardiello who rifled into the net to send the home fans into delirium and the visiting Hatters fans behind that goal into disbelief. The game ended soon after with both sides living to fight another day. Sadly, as the centenary of that day on the battlefields of Northern Europe is remembered, we are all too aware there were many young men that didn’t.

The Bury players and fans celebrate their stoppage-time leveller.

The Bury players and fans celebrate their stoppage-time leveller.

Scoreboard confirmation of the scoreline.

Scoreboard confirmation of the scoreline.

My Bury M.o.M.- Hallam Hope

My Luton Town M.o.M.- Ricky Miller

RATINGS:

Game: 6- Not the greatest for long spells. Picked up towards the end, as per a cup game.

Ground: 7- Many don’t like it, but I do. Maybe it’s the old-style nature of it.

Programme: 8- The extended stats & historical pieces are a gem. Loving it.

Food: 8- The Steak & Ale pie was very good but the price knocks it down a bit.

Fans: 7- There was a fair amount of vocal backing, which lent itself to a decent atmosphere.

Value For Money: 7- Cheap travel £5, Pie £3.60, cut-price £10 admission, £3 programme. Cheaper than the Conference

Referee: 7- Honestly, I don’t really remember, I doubt anyone cares so a seven will do!