Manchopper in….Crewe (Crewe F.C.)

Result: Crewe 1-3 Eagle Sports (Cheshire League Premier Division)

Venue: Cumberland Arena (Saturday 20th April 2019, 3pm)

Att: 25 (approx.)

The second of the three game days of Easter saw me heading to the town of Crewe and the Cumberland Arena for the second time this season, although this would only be the first successful venture of the dual goes I’d attempted. I awoke surprisingly fresh after the previous day’s exploits at Field Mill and the surrounding area however I was quite thankful, for the couple of extra hours of rest during the morning to get everything together for the short hop through the Cheshire countryside.

After stopping at pretty much each an every stop on the slow route to Crewe, I finally arrived at a little before midday and after completing the fifteen minute or so walk from the station, arrived into the town centre which the Cumberland Arena is pretty much right next door to. After finding the Duke of Bridgwater closed, I continued further into town and eventually came across the decent looking Albert’s Corner, whilst trying to located where the much lauded Hops Belgian Bar was over a pint of Moretti (£3.70).

Albert’s Corner

Old church across from….

….Hops!

I eventually located it a short walk back on myself just across the way from a ruined, yet quite intact, church which provided something of a village feel to the outskirts of the centre. The cottage like buildings within what the Hops bar is located also give off this impression and, once inside, I opted to try the Sparta lager (£3.40) which was very decent and a nice pint to enjoy out front in the balmy Cheshire sunshine. Soon enough, though, it was time to head back into the hustle and bustle of the centre proper.

Following on from a swift visit to the war memorial, I headed for the nearby trio of pubs – namely the Cheese Court, Crown and Grand Central. They were all solid, if unspectacular affairs, with the former two being traditional style boozers, whilst the latter was more widespread inside and had one of the stranger “beer terraces” I’ve been on, with it pretty much just being an iron walkway. A pint in each, Amstel & Coors (both £2.50) and Dark Fruits (£2.70) as the refresher were supped away, before it was time I made my way a little more towards the ground. But not before a couple more stops, of course!

Crewe town centre

Cheese Court. Football & beer – a good duo

Crown

A short walk away from the centre is the duo of the Borough Arms and King’s Arms, whereupon I opted to maintain my now cider-related focus by having a Thatcher’s (£3.70) in the former whilst having a bit of a chat with a local propping up the bar here, prior to crossing the road to the King’s for a second Dark Fruits of the day, this one setting me back £2.75. Not too shabby, all in all!

On my way to the ground via the roads opposite, I came upon Tom’s Tap hidden somewhat within an unassuming industrial estate. Inside I came upon a small, narrow bar area and a few taps on. With time at something of a premium and actually being somewhat sensible for a rare moment, I opted to just have a half of the Mango Cider (£2.10) out front in the beer “garden” before finally completing my walk to the Arena, where I paid in my £2 entry and was duly allowed entry.

Grand Central

Borough Arms

King’s Arms

Sadly, the programmes here were long gone and I made do with a couple of pics of the team sheets that were kindly offered and, even though I’m not that anal in that respect, I felt it rude to say no. The Cumberland Arena is little more than an athletics track, though does have a smart pavilion building with food and drink on offer. The area within the track is roped off, meaning you are pitch side rather than miles away, which is always a bonus. Not much more to say, so here’s the history of Crewe’s ‘other’ club….

History Lesson:

Crewe Football Club was founded in 1998 and immediately joined the Mid-Cheshire League, where they have spent  their entire existence to date. Their second season saw the club achieve promotion as Division 2 runners-up to the Mid-Cheshire League’s Division 1 and remained there until 2005 when they were relegated after finishing up bottom. A return to the top division would have to wait until 2012 when Crewe again finished as Division 2 runners-up and they have since gone on to stay in the division through its name change to the Cheshire League Premier Division in 2014, though they have faded a little over the past two seasons after a strong start to their return in the previous couple of campaigns – the 2014-’15 season seeing Crewe record their best finish of 4th.

Arriving at the Cumberland Arena

Last time out they finished up in 13th position out of 16 and this season has been a story of two-halves, an underwhelming start was rectified around the turn of the year and they look to have a decent shot at equalling that best finish of 4th place, behind the runaway title rivals Pilkington, Alty Reserves and opponents today, and rivals for 3rd place on the day, Eagle Sports.

The game got underway in the balmy temperatures us in Crewe were being treated to and it quickly looked to be set to be an open contest with both sides looking to gain the points, the visitors knowing a win would secure third-place, whilst Crewe had to win to keep in the race for the position. Indeed it took only a few minutes for the deadlock to be broken and it was the visitors who grabbed the opening goal as Chris Quirk fired in. Quirk then nodded just wide shortly afterwards and it looked like the hosts had ended the season a little early.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Crewe did grow into the game slowly and after both sides had seen sights of goal blocked off by each’s respective defence, Eagle ‘keeper Liam Marlow had to be sharp to keep out an effort by (I think) Crewe’s unreal form man, and captain, Nathan Southern. Eagle would again go close through dangerman Quirk who beat the offside trap before firing over the bar and they were made to pay for this miss as skipper Southern fed Nathan Tickle and the latter bent an effort off the post and beyond Marlow to level up the scores.

That was pretty much that for action during the first half and, at the break, I ventured inside the pavilion building to have a peruse, having seen that there was some refreshments on the go during my pre-match visit. Indeed I soon found that there was some hot food on which was a welcome sight and I opted for a hot-dog (£1) thanks to it being pointed out by a board outside. Decent enough and thanks to the leagues at this level not being fond of lengthy half-times, we were soon back underway.

Inside the pavilion

The second half was largely dominated by the visitors and it began strongly for them as Quirk latched onto a long ball and managed to knock the ball beyond the ‘keeper and into the net to ensure the lead was Eagle’s once again. Despite being on top, though, there wasn’t a glut of action in the second period and if it had been a mid-winter’s game, it would likely have been quite a struggle to keep somewhat attentive to the action!

Match Action

Match Action

However there was a chance as the half wore on, but again the effort on the home goal went awry and over the bar from a good position, but Eagle would be given the golden chance to all-but secure the points as a clear trip in the area was duly penalised with a point to the spot by the man-in-the-middle and skipper Adam Coleman duly stepped up to confidently fire home and secure the win and third-place for his side. Full-time came around shortly afterwards without any further real action of note and the score remained as 3-1 Eagle.

Coleman converts from the spot

The Rising Sun

Vics represented!

Post-match I headed off to the Rising Sun (which seems to serve as the unofficial Crewe F.C. clubhouse) for a pint of Stella (£3.50~) and, I was told, fish and chips would be around too. Sadly the latter would end up coming a bit too late for me and I left the Eagle lads to finish up their hospitality and returned back to the station – though I did end up accidentally boarding the stopper service in my haste to jump on a train bound for Manchester, though I was able to rectify this via a change at Wilmslow onto an express service to get me home earlier and without any further issue, thankfully!

As for the day as a whole, it had been a surprisingly decent one with the town centre of Crewe being somewhat a more pleasant experience overall than the parts around Gresty Road in my opinion. The weather allied with a decent game was an added bonus and the hot dog at the ground was fine as well. Onto Monday and I finally complete a league with a second visit to Stoke in as many weeks. Scenic….

RATINGS:

Game: 7

Ground: 4

Food: 5

Programme: N/A

Value For Money: 8

Manchopper in….Great Sankey (Eagle Sports FC)

Eagle SportsBADGE_400x400

Result: Eagle Sports 3-3 Poynton (Cheshire League Premier Division)

Venue: Thornton Road (Monday 28th March 2016, 3pm)

Att: 30 (approx.)

After having been spurned about seven times in attempting to watch my adopted Cheshire League side this season at various venues, the weather looked as though it was on its way to change my course of action once more and deny me a visit to watch Eagle Sports again. After a text through to match sec/player Danny to see the prospects of play (50/50), I decided I might as well risk the trip to Sankey and with a fall back of Warrington Town on the cards too, I was likely to get football of some sort this Bank Holiday Monday.

Eventually, as my train rattled its way over to Cheshire, the sun began to shine through the clouds and this was a more than welcome sight, especially as I disembarked at Sankey station to see the worst of the weather had looked to have evaded the area. All things were looking rosy as I headed onto the main road through the area and to the first stop of the day, the Chapel House.

Arriving in Sankey

Arriving in Sankey

Chapel House

Chapel House

Bit of Sankey History.

Bit of Sankey History.

It was dead in here as I arrived, with the barmaid still going through the dusting process. After politely interrupting her task with a request for a Corona, I quickly downed it and couldn’t wait to be out of there as I always find it a bit awkward to be the only one in a pub. Just to make things worse, I discovered the game had reverted back to a 3pm kick-off and not a 2.30 as I had expected. Sigh.

I figured that The Woodlands would be a better bet and there would be people about in there, so I set off down the road and found myself being passed by a coach having an identity crisis, as it’s window HUD display read “Choo, Choo. I’m a train”. Hmmmm. Anyway, into the Woodlands I went to find a sole punter and little else. Not long after I’d taken on board a Desperado, my companion from a distance left me again with barmaids cleaning their hostelry and as such I was fed up enough to head for Thornton Road a full 2 hours before kick-off. Can you imagine what atmosphere awaited me?

Yep, dead. Of course it was. The only good news was that the game was confirmed to be going ahead and the pitch looked in fine nick considering. So, I nursed my pint of SanMiguel for a full hour while listing to MTV pumping out classics like “Can’t Touch This” and “Gangster’s Paradise”. I was somewhat intrigued, though, by the ever increasing noise emanating from the next room, so after a trip to explore the facilities, I went for a look and found an indoor bouncy castle and a room full of kids and parents, here for the club’s “Family Fun Day”. I was missing out, though I felt a bit awkward being the creepy one standing at the door, so I headed outside for a look at the pitch from a closer viewpoint.

The Woodlands

The Woodlands

Arriving at Thornton Road

Arriving at Thornton Road

Eagle Sports Club

Eagle Sports Club

I’d not been out there too long when I was greeted by the Eagle management team Rob and Mark. “This the only game on today?” I was asked, before explaining that I really “had been trying to watch them this year, honest”! After a quick chat, I left them to their duties and headed back inside where I found a few of Eagle’s injured crew. After spending the rest of the time in here watching the terrible Mark Noble Testimonial, it was mercifully time for kick-off. But before we get into the game…

History Lesson:

Founded in 1928, Eagle Sports began as a works football team for Electro Hydraulics. After this company merged with another company, they relocated to the Warrington area and played at a ground on Hood Lane during their formative years in the town, before competing in the Warrington & District League from 1941 and moving to their current ground shortly after.

Now known as Eagle Sports FC, the club gained a reputation as a successful one in the Warrington and District League, with numerous league and cup honours heading their way. 1993 saw, arguably, the club’s best achievement to date, as they lifted the Liverpool Junior Cup, a year after being beaten finalists.

Rob asked for the new equipment to be included!

Rob asked for the new equipment to be included!

Heading to the Family Fun Day.

Heading to the Family Fun Day.

The club only left the Warrington & District League in 2004 to join the Mid Cheshire League. They were renamed Penketh & Sankey Eagle upon their beginning in their new league and went on to win the Division 2 in their first season. Now in Division 1, the club reverted to the Eagle Sports FC name, but were relegated in 2006. After a period of struggle for a couple of seasons in Division 2, the club appointed player (and current manager) Rob Hope as boss and he saw them return to Division 1 in 2009 with a last minute goal giving them promotion as runners-up.

2012 saw the club record a successful season, with the JB Parker Cup being won for the first time and this was joined by the Warrington Guardian Cup. The next season saw Eagle retain the JB Parker Cup (I was at both finals) and they also finished up as Division 1 runners-up as they did at the end of the next season (2013-’14).

The 2014-’15 season began with Eagle winning the Cheshire League Memorial Cup at the beginning of the season (having been beaten the previous two years) and ended it with a Liverpool Cup win over Byrom. Read the blog from that game here. They recorded a 3rd place finish come the end of the last campaign.

The sides line up

The sides line up

The game got underway and was pretty quiet for the most part during the early stages. Eagle had been weakened by the loss of a few players and it definitely showed, especially in the defence, with Poynton looking especially dangerous through the middle. But in terms of chances, there was little to speak of until just before the break when Eagle took the lead, with Chris Quirk slotting in after finding himself free, 15 yards out.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Goal Kick

Goal Kick

After the break the game really got going and Poynton were soon level with a close range headed finish by Conor Glass after a corner wasn’t cleared. A scrappy goal, but the Poynton team and supporters certainly didn’t care one bit. They then found themselves on the back foot, though, as Eagle pressed on and had a goal ruled out for offside, before Owen Ellis’ headed effort restored their lead as he rose, unchallenged, to power home from a corner.

At 1-1 I thought “whoever scores next will win this”, with the wind blowing across the open field behind the pitch. But oh, how wrong I was. Poynton found an extra yard to their play and soon found themselves level once more. A clear penalty for a pull in the area was awarded and up stepped the forward, Joe Knight, to level confidently, sending Eagle ‘keeper Craig Clare the wrong way from the spot. 2-2 and all to play for once more.

With both sides looking for the next goal, it was a real pulsating game but it looked more and more likely that the team most likely was Poynton and this proved true when a lovely low, curled effort from Knight found its way just inside the far post. A fine strike, 2-3 to Poynton! (Thanks to Steve for the scorers for Poynton!).

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Poynton's Knight levels from the spot

Poynton’s Knight levels from the spot

But from then on, Poynton seemed to sit back and try and take their win, which was a puzzling decision if true as they were well in the ascendancy. This gave Eagle all the momentum they needed and after coming close on a couple of occasions, sub Stuart Wellstead hammered home a last minute equaliser after fine work from Quirk to create the chance. Eagle could have won it late on too if they had kept their cool in the final third, but 3-3 it finished and a fair result on the day. Credit to both teams.

After the game, it was back into the clubhouse for a final Kopparberg and a quick greet before heading back out and to the station for the train home, which wasn’t the best of journeys for one reason or another!

Final drinks

Post-Game drinks

Damn Northern Rail but alas, this will be the last time your damned name features on these pages. Is anyone mourning their loss? No, thought not. Hopefully Arriva do the job much better and give me lots of free journeys. Worth a shot…

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RATINGS:

Game: Really good game, especially second half.

Ground: 5- Nice clubhouse/social club, but otherwise just a barred pitch.

Fans: 5- As I said in the Nelson blog, 5/6 for everyone until this rating dies for next season.

Programme: N/A, though one used to be produced, so hopefully it returns!

Food: N/A

Value For Money: 8- Definitely worth the entry fee (free!)