Manchopper in….Warrington

Warrington Townprescot

Result: Warrington Town 6-1 Prescot Cables (Evo-Stik NPL Division 1 North)

Venue: Cantilever Park (Saturday 19th April 2016, 3pm)

Att: 1,411

I’d been to Cantilever Park on numerous occasions back in my days of watching Trafford, but never had a game at this ground had so much riding on it. That’s because, today, Warrington Town had the big chance to secure their place in the Evo-Stik Premier Division for next season after dominating the North section. Could they do it? Well, if you’ve somehow missed the “result” line above or missed the result via the numerous media outlets, let me keep you in suspense.

As for myself, I set off into Warrington at just before 11.30, arriving just 20 minutes later. From there, it was into the town centre and firstly to the Hop Pole pub, which is the first one you come to after leaving Central station. The Hop Pole would serve as a base for me to figure out where to head before making the walk to the ground and in the company of a Corona and the off-putting sight of George Michael looking to be singing to “Hotel California” (a radio/TV channel mix), I laid my plans for the foray around the town.

Heading into Warrington

Heading into Warrington

Warrington

Warrington

Plans set, I headed out of the Pole, and slightly out of the centre to one of the two Wetherspoons that Warrington plays host to. The Looking Glass was apparently the better of the two so I’d heard, so I decided to follow the tips and head for that. A good decision, as the Looking Glass is certainly an interesting building, set out over two floors and with a distinct architecture to it.

But alas, as I sat down with an IPA, it wasn’t long until one of those people with a most annoying, high volume laugh began to unleash it upon the other unsuspecting punters in the pub. It was so annoying, in fact, that I just couldn’t stay in there as it was ongoing and I don’t think I was alone, as quite a few people took their leave at the same time as me. Coincidence? Possibly, but it was a bit inconsiderate to be so loud.

Luckily, the next pub on my list was right next door and is a slightly famed one. The Lower Angel’s claim to fame is a picture that hangs on the wall in the bar area of the 130-year-old pub. Yes, as the “Famous Grouse” plaque states, the picture shows a Victorian-time man and boy with a “ghostly face” looking at them through a window. Spooky. But, not to be put off, I remained in there and ordered one of the guest ales the pub had an offer today, an Elizabeth Rose from the Ossett Brewery. Pretty decent too.

The Lower Angel

The Lower Angel

The Feathers

The Feathers

Unfortunately, my stay here had to be a short one, as I had to keep making progress towards the far side of the town centre and thus towards the ground. So, the next stop was The Feathers, a craft ale pub that has apparently been reopened as such quite recently. But it’s certainly not cheap, with my pint of San Miguel costing me no less than £4.20!! So, having been sufficiently put off having another one by pure inflation, I nursed the pint whilst watching the first half of Norwich-Sunderland.

Eventually, though, it was time to leave and head down the long main road alongside the River Mersey to Cantilever Park. After 20 minutes I was arriving at the big Union Flag house that signifies your turning point. Not a bad marker as you can’t miss it! A further five minutes or so from here and the home of the Wire comes into view in earnest. Upon arrival and getting the usual strange looks while taking pictures, I had to then find the steward who had my ticket to gain entry.

After sorting this out, the gate steward headed off to speak to Town’s chairman Toby Macormac whom I’d sorted the arrangement with. Eventually, the steward came back and said “in you come!” Can’t beat a name on the gate happening! Cheers!! I also have to say that everyone was very helpful, so again thanks!

Arrived!

Arrived!

Busy turnstiles

Busy turnstiles & a very Swedish welcome!

Cantilever Park is a nice little ground, featuring three stands and is overlooked by the bridge which lends its name to the ground. The “main” all seater stand is situated on the far touchline and sits on half-way. A covered terrace sits behind the far goal and another sits alongside the clubhouse, snack bar and other facilities on the near touchline and is located towards the far end too. The social club roof also provides a small amount of cover. The near end is open and is home to a 3G pitch. The changing room/hospitality building sits towards the near corner, between the turnstiles and social club.

With an hour still to go to kick-off (I arrived early so not to get in the way of the stewards etc), I headed into the function room area within Warrington’s social club. I wasn’t having another drink just yet, though, and instead had a look through the impressive, glossy programme which is certainly a fine effort. Eventually, though, time was ticking by and I headed back out to now find the ground pretty full. As such, I decided this was the time to find some food and so the snack bar was sought, as was a £2 steak pie, which was well worth it.

Soon enough, the players were finishing their warm-ups and heading inside the changing room building for their final pep-talks. But, before kick-off, there came the biggest moment seen so far…A BOAT!! Yes, a boat just appeared behind the main stand on the far side and trundled its merry way along the river. As you can tell from this, I’m very easily pleased/impressed! Enough of the boat now, and as the players make their way back onto the field for kick-off, along with the Warrington Legend, who, earlier, I did see unmasked (controversy!), here’s a spot of history about the Wires…

History Lesson:

Warrington Town FC was founded 1949 as Stockton Heath Albion and played in the Warrington & District League until 1953 whereupon they moved into the Mid-Cheshire League. 1953, ’54 & ’55 saw the club win three straight Mid-Cheshire League Cups and 1960 saw Albion win the Mid-Cheshire League title. The club also featured a player by the name of Roger Hunt during this period, but I doubt anyone’s heard of him….

1961 saw the club adopt the Warrington Town FC name and they became founder members of the Cheshire County League Division 2 in 1978, before becoming founders of the North West Counties League Division 3 upon the CCL’s merging into it in 5 years later. After earning promotion as runners-up in the first season, they remained in Division 2 until 1987 when another runners-up placing saw Town promoted to Division 1. The Wire also reached the semi-finals of the FA Vase in 1986 and the final of the competition in 1987, losing to St.Helen’s Town.

WTFC

WTFC

Today's Teams

Today’s Teams

1990 saw Town promoted as champions to the Northern Premier League Division 1 and reached the 1993 FA Trophy quarter final. The club also sold Liam Watson to Preston North End for a NPL record £60,000, but were relegated in 1997 back to the NWCFL Division 1 and were again relegated the next season to find themselves back in the NWCFL Division 2.

2000 saw Town win the Second Division Trophy and 2001 saw the club back in Division 1 after winning the Second Division. As part of restructuring, a 5th place finish in Division 1 in 2004 was enough tho ensure Wire a place in the NPL Division 1 after the creation of the regional Conference Divisions and upon the NPL Division 1’s own regionalised split in 2007, Warrington were placed in the Southern section. This only lasted a season, though, as they were quickly switched to the North Division.

Here they have remained as a largely mid-table side, but in 2014 Town did finish third and compete in the play-offs, but lost out to Bamber Bridge. 2015 saw Warrington feature in the FA Cup 1st Round and their famous win on TV over Exeter City thanks to Craig Robinson’s early goal. Later that season, Wire lifted their first silverware for 14 years by beating Farsley on penalties to lift the NPL Challenge Cup and this season has, of course, seen the club’s push continue and despite the mid-season departure of Shaun Reid, Warrington have gone on to march towards promotion regardless.

Non-League Boat!

Non-League Boat!

A Busy Cantilever Park

A Busy Cantilever Park

After the usual pleasantries and both teams’ pre-match huddles were completed, we got underway and it soon became apparent that there were little to no nerves within the Yellows’ camp and if any did exist, they were soon tempered as league top-scorer Ciaran Kilheeney slotted in from close range, to send the vocal Warrington support behind me into raptures. They were soon off once more as Scott Metcalfe rifled in from the edge of the area with his right foot, which Scott himself later said “Don’t get many like that with my right”. Not exactly a quote, but along those lines!

Anyway, there wasn’t much to cheer for the travelling Cables support but at least at 2-0 they were still in the game. Well, they were for another 17 minutes, before Ged Kinsella lashed home from point blank range right in front of me, which prompted a younger Wire fan to say he “thought it was coming straight through the net” and hit him in the face. But that was Kinsella’s last action, as he was immediately replaced. This certainly didn’t affect the home side though as they went into the break at 4-0 up. Chris Gahgan, a long-term favourite of mine in the non-league circles, knocked the ball in from close range to all but secure Warrington’s promotion.

Celebrating the opener

Celebrating the opener

Metcalfe nets #2

Metcalfe nets #2

Pick that out

Pick that out

So half-time came and went though I did come across Scott’s dad Ray (I know both from Scott’s Trafford days). Ray was still being ultra cautious and saying if Cables get two back they could wobble, though there didn’t look too much threat in that category, though when Cables pulled one back through Rob Doran’s wonderful free-kick, the thought did cross my mind!

But Warrington were having none of it and set about on the offense once more and they soon restored their four goal advantage through Daniel O’Donnell (no, not the 50-something Irish crooner). O’Donnell had received the ball from a cross after a short corner to thump past the helpless Burgess in the Cables goal for 5-1 and only a couple of minutes later came the Yellow’s sixth, Kilheeney converting a rebound, prompting the shout “We’ll be running round Latchford with the cup!” from a Wire fan. (Latchford being the area in which the ground is situated).

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

The vocal Wire fans

The vocal Wire fans

After a brief meeting with Rob who was on his photography missions, the game wound down to its conclusion and the final whistle sounded to ensure that Warrington were going up and cued the celebrations, with the players being joined by their kids before the champagne was sprayed of course(!), all to the soundtrack of the usual “We are the Champions” and the lesser used “Movin’ On Up”. But that wasn’t before a pitch invasion and impromptu kid’s football game was curtailed by the PA blaring “Please stay off the pitch until after the presentation!”.

Celebrations about to begin

Celebrations about to begin

Champions!

Champions!

Spray the bubbles...

Spray the bubbles…

So, on the conclusion of the trophy being lifted and the bubbles being sprayed, I headed into the clubhouse once more, but this time into the smaller of the two rooms that wasn’t open beforehand. Another San Miguel was had for the much cheaper price of £2.60, before I eventually realised that most of the goings on were in the other room and I made my way over to say a well done to Scott and to Ally Brown too, another ex-Trafford man.

Soon after, though, it was time to exit the ground and head back towards the town and Warrington Central station. With the bright sunlight continuing unabated, I wondered when the last time was I’d worn sunglasses for the entirety of a game and most of the day in general, you know, ’cause I’m so interesting like that. Before long, my very interesting self pondering was ended upon my arrival back at the station where the guards who’d checked my ticket on arrival, didn’t care at all on the way back. Must have been too upset at missing the game.

So, here ends our tale. It will be good to see Warrington up in the Prem of the NPL next season and I hope they do well as I always remember that time a few years back when I lost my college pass along with some money and it was all handed in together. Things don’t go forgotten and as such I really wish Warrington all the best in the higher division as Champions….

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RATINGS:

Game: 7- One sided, but still entertaining with goals raining in.

Ground: 8- Always liked Cantilever and it’s nooks and crannies.

Food: 7- A pretty nice pie, nothing to go overboard on, but definitely OK for £2.

Programme: 9- Has to be one of the better at the level and all presented well too.

Fans: 9- One I can rate finally! Good vocal support and all round decent fan base I always find.

Value For Money: 9- Come on, how can it not be this high?! Bar the overpriced beer in town…

 

 

 

 

Manchopper in….Prescot

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Result: Prescot Cables 0-3 Warrington Town (Evo-Stik NPL Division 1 North)

Venue: Hope Street/Valerie Park (Saturday 19th March, 3pm)

Att: 376

Going back a few weeks to the New Mills trip, “pitchsidepints” Paul had floated the idea of heading to Prescot Cables’ beer festival. With it tying in nicely with the visit of title chasing Warrington Town, it was as close to a no brainer as you can get. As such, it was confirmed earlier in the week that we were indeed going to visit the town that sits just within “Merseyside”.

After also persuading the Slovakia-bound “lostboyos” Matt to join us and exorcise some of his previous Prescot demons before his travels to the continent, Saturday morning arrived and so did the usual work to the station for the service into Manchester, though I did have to see some kids from school whilst waiting, which is always a bit of a strange occurrence, especially as I don’t think I ever saw any of my teachers out of school and indeed think I thought they lived in the building until I was about 7.

Anyway, enough of my early life stupidity. After transiting through Oxford Road, it was onwards to Wigan and a further ticket onwards to Prescot, the split ticket saving a fiver! Happy days. After a half-hour wait in the pie capital of the world, I eventually caught the stopper over towards Cables’ home.

Around a half hour later, I arrived in Prescot and after getting slightly lost in a housing estate, eventually found my way into the town itself. After heading through the Cables Retail Park, I took the uphill walk towards the Wetherspoon’s where Matt had already informed me he was indulging in the delights of the local customs.

The ‘Spoons in question was The Watch Maker which is, unsurprisingly, watch themed. This is, apparently, harking back to Prescot’s heritage as a timepiece making town. Famous figures that have lived in the town include the former F1 doctor, the late Sid Watkins and even the current 007 (according to Wiki, so God knows if it’s true). Anyway, I did find Matt here, indulging in some Einstok Icelandic beer in tribute to his beau, Gylfi Sigurdsson. After some slight persuasion, I joined him, but not after some hard work helping the bar staff to locate it I the fridge.

Prescot

Prescot

The Watch Maker

The Watch Maker

The Pub's Cables Wall!

The pub’s Cables Wall!

We eventually decided that we wanted to head to the ground for the start of the beer festival at 1pm. But, with the ground no more than three minutes walk away, we figured we could squeeze in a further stop en route and with the cleverly named Hope and Anchor sitting on the corner of Hope Street, this was our temporary abode for the next 20 minutes or so.

The Hope had that horrible bleachy aroma filling its air though, which I absolutely despise and I couldn’t wait to leave, even if the people in it were good sports, with the barman in particular providing some light entertainment. After Matt had enquired if they’d be showing the Swansea game later in the day and the Everton-supporting man seeing his side go one down to Arsenal, he declared to the lady behind the bar with him without warning, “Right, I’m off to Dublin. See you in a couple of days”. And he was gone.

Hope & Anchor

Hope & Anchor

Today's Game

Today’s Game

Graffiti

Not bad…

And so were we not too long after, heading down the neighbouring street and down to the end of the road where the ground sits, only to find we were too early for the turnstiles and so headed for the players’ gate. After being told all the ins and outs of admission for the double header of entertainment for the day, we decided to plump for the easy option and just pay to get in (£7), before paying a further £2 for the very good quality programme. It must be one of the best in the league, no doubt.

As we were heading in, the gateman shouted over to us that the guy who’d done Cables’ graffiti art had also done the Eagle at Benfica’s Estadio de Luz too, which is quite a bit different you’d imagine? With that great bit of trivia in our minds, we headed into the clubhouse, which sits under the large, old-style stand. It really is a beaut and Matt was rather taken with it. I, having seen it before, was slightly less so, but it is nonetheless a good one.

Having also paid a fiver for four halves of the ales/ciders/beers in the barrels included in the fest, we began to indulge and were soon joined by Wycombe fan and full-on ‘hopper Russ. From the clubhouse, we also saw a long line of flags being erected behind the far end goal, which I immediately recognised as the impressive calling card of the Alfie Lund Fund. The fund is named after 6-year-old Alfie, who has the very rare medical condition MECP2 Duplication syndrome. But, not ones to be put off by something like this Alfie, along with Dad Mark, roam around the country watching football and have a scarf train measuring up towards 3 miles long (or 5 tractor wheels, according to Mark).

Cables' Clubhouse

Cables’ Clubhouse

Beer Fest!

Beer Fest!

After having a chat with Mark about his travels and his and Alfie’s fundraising (as well as Alfie having a go for my half of beer), they headed off for their next engagement, having also added Russ’ Wycombe scarf to their collection which he kindly donated. Read more about the fund here. & see Matt’s blog for pics.

After receiving a call from Paul about where we were at, he finally arrived to join us at gone 2pm, having made a late decision to join us and make the trip over from Liverpool. So, with four of us now swelling the ranks, we kept on supping our way through the ales and soon it was time to head outside ready for kick-off, with both teams lining up ready to get the game underway. Speaking of getting underway, here’s how Prescot’s story began…

History Lesson:

Prescot Cables FC was formed in 1884 originally named as simply Prescot. The “Cables” suffix came from the largest local employer: British Insulated Cables, and as such the Cables name is one that is frequented around town.

Cables joined the Lancashire League in 1927, taking over Fleetwood’s record upon their resignation. In 1932, Valerie Park hosted over 8,000 fans for a game against the brilliantly named (to me anyway) Ashton National. After winning numerous local cups: 3x George Mahon (1924, ’27, ’37), 4x Liverpool Cups (1928, ’29, ’30, ’49) a Liverpool Non-League Senior Cup (1953) and two Lancs Combination Cups (1939 & ’48), the club won the Lancs Combination in 1957 and managed a further six runners-up spots, as well as managing to win the Second Division in 1952. The club achieved their biggest win (18-3 vs Great Harwood Town in 1954-’55) and also reached the FA Cup First Round twice, losing to Hartlepool Utd & Darlington on respective occasions.

After adding further silverware in the shape of another two Liverpool Non-League Senior Cups (1959 & ’61) & a Liverpool Challenge Cup (1962), the club joined the Mid-Cheshire League which they won in 1977 and won another Liverpool Challenge Cup the next year. 1979 saw the club join the Cheshire League as founders of Division 2, which they won in 1980 to mean promotion to Division 1.

1983 saw Cables become founder members of the North West Counties League and in 1987 they achieved promotion to Division 1, having played in the bottom division since its formation. 2002 saw Cables win the NWCFL League Cup and finish runners-up in the league. The following season, 2002-’03, saw the club finally make it up to the Northern Premier League as champions and play in Division 1. 2004 saw Cables playing in the NPL Premier after changes to the pyramid and made the play-offs, losing to Workington.

Going up!

Going up!

Ron, Cables' one man band

Rod, Cables’ one man band

2009 saw the club drop out of the Premier Division and return to Division 1 where they remain, largely as a lower mid-table team. Last season saw Cables finish up in a lowly 20th place though, but under fairly new manager Andy Paxton, results have picked up and Cables currently sit in 15th place after a sticky start.

As I have previously mentioned, Prescot’s ground is a nice one, even if it is a little run down. But for me and I’m sure many others, this just adds to the charm. In addition to it’s large raised Main Stand, it also houses a covered terrace behind the Hope Street end goal, which appears to have been shortened at some point, with the terracing outside of the roof showing some forms of old stantion settings. The other two sides are open standing, but with the far end providing a slightly raised view and the far touchline being home to a grass mound giving a similar option.

The game got underway in front of people on all sides. The game, to be honest, wasn’t all that exciting and never really was. So, we kept ourselves entertained by setting off on a lap of Valerie Park, which led to Matt even being papped (yes, he really is that famous now). We headed round to behind the “Safari Park End” goal where we met Prescot’s “one man band” Rod, who bugles and bangs his drums throughout Cables’ games and photographer Dave.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

It was while we were having these conversations that the first goal finally arrived, Ged Kinsella heading home a pin-point right wing cross by full-back Ally Brown. Following this rare moment of excitement, Paul and I left Matt to continue his duologue and headed round to the clubhouse to get some of the club’s brilliant chicken curry, but not before Ciaran Kilheeney had doubled the Wire’s advantage over the Cables, slotting home from inside the area. 2-0, half-time, beer festival time!

After finishing off our fine foods, it was time to head out for the second period and we had decided to save the best until last. So we headed up the stairs and into the Main Stand itself for the second half, with me just about to start off a game of “Spot Russ” when he arrived on cue behind me to mean Matt won the first, and likely only instalment of this which I imagine won’t take off as “Where’s Wally” did.

After Matt had unleashed his “I’d rather be a Cable than a Wire” chant which he’d debuted to me earlier on and we both decided we were going to support Scott Metcalfe (after his times with our local clubs), we settled in to watch the second half, but unfortunately there was little happening once more until, with around 10 minutes left on the clock, Warrington earned themselves a penalty and with it the chance to absolutely put their stamp on this game. Kilheeney stepped up and confidently struck the ball into the right-hand side of the net. Three goals, three points.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Kilheeney nets in front of Alfie's flags!

Kilheeney nets in front of Alfie’s flags!

So, we headed out of Hope St with Russ heading on his way back towards Wycombe and the rest of us to the Royal Oak, which Matt had had recommended to him numerous times on twitter as he strove to find the best place to watch the Swans. Unfortunately, I’d had my fill of beers by this point, allied by having been up early watching the travesty that was the F1 qualifying session and also the prospect of being up at 4.30am for the race the next day, though Paul found it rather amusing that I had kept a half going for the best part of an hour and a half.

At 7 I decided to bid farewell with the Swans at 1-0 against Villa and headed back to Prescot station for the return journey over to Wigan and back onwards home. I quite enjoyed my experience of Prescot itself and certainly its football club, which I’d always found a nice club previously and this view was cemented and improved upon ten-fold. If you get the chance to visit, then do. You won’t be disappointed. Oh, and try and get the beer fest in too….

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RATINGS:

Game: 5- Poor game in truth (especially for the neutral) but at least there was goals.

Ground: 8- A proper non-league ground if ever there was one.

Food: 9- Lovely. Quite cheap too if memory serves me right (under £3)?

Programme: 9- As I said earlier, has to be one of the better, especially if you like stats.

Fans: 8- Mostly on Ron!

Value For Money: 8- Great day, great club, game a bit meh, but I’ve seen much worse.

 

 

 

Manchopper in….Droylsden

DroylsdenthCAMJDCAE

Result: Droylsden 3-2 Salford City (Evo-Stik NPL Division 1 North)

Venue: The Butcher’s Arms (Thursday 1st January 2015, 3.00pm)

Att: 208

New Year’s Day and, to be honest, last thing the night before I still had no real idea of where I was to be heading for my first venture in 2015. Wherever it was, it promised to be a rather wet one as the rain steadily fell throughout a dreary morning in Manchester. I decided at just before 11am that my destination would be the wonderfully named The Butcher’s Arms, home of Droylsden FC, “The Bloods”.

So, after checking for confirmation via twitter that the game was pretty much certain to go ahead, I was on the rattler into the City Centre. From here, I was to get a bus from Manchester Piccadilly Station towards Ashton-under-Lyne. Eventually, one turned up which enabled me to avoid any traffic heading to the Etihad on the afternoon.

It worked a treat as I rolled into Droylsden at just about 25 to 3. After quickly cutting up Ashton Hill Road, I was soon on Market Street and with the floodlights blazing through the rain right in front of me I arrived at the turnstiles at around about 10 minutes to kick-off. However, my day was to take a hit when I was struck with the setback of no programmes being left! Shocker! I like to collect one, especially for blog games so I wasn’t best pleased. But it’s happened before and will happen again and we all know why it happens so I won’t be too harsh.

After being relieved of my £8 entrance fee at the turnstiles, I took a place in the Main Stand for the first time in any of my previous three visits to the ground. This was, for the most part to escape both the, now heavy, driving rain and swirling wind surrounding the Tameside ground. The Main Stand is one of three in the ground, with the dressing rooms, hospitality, press box and seats all housed here. Opposite is an old covered standing area which looks a bit rickety and behind the near end goal is a new, smart looking covered terrace, with the clubhouse & food bar situated in between it and the Main Stand. The opposite, far end is open hard standing, and goes back a fair distance.

Heading to the Butchers

Heading to the Butcher’s

The old stand.

The old stand.

Before long though, the two sides made their way out onto the field for the customary obligatory handshake before the game got underway in earnest. Before that, however, we will delve into the annuls of history of Droylsden.

History Lesson:

Originally formed at the invitation of the landlord of the Butcher’s Arms Public House (no longer standing) in 1892, the club played in friendlies and local league football amidst a number of disbandment, reformations, the club began life after WWI in the Manchester League. It was at this time the club adopted their current colours and their nickname. They twice entertained Hyde United in 1921, attracting over 15,000 attendees. Their first silverware was the 1923 Manchester Junior Cup.

After winning two Manchester League titles in 1931 & ’33, the club joined the Lancashire Combination in 1936. They became a “nursery club” for Manchester City which allowed surplus City players to turn out for the club, but disqualified the Bloods from the FA Cup. With the beginning of WWI, the club joined the Cheshire League. The club were soon struggling though, and four years after finishing as Cheshire League runners-up were not re-elected and saw their ground lease sold on to Belle Vue FC who became Droylsden United.

The Bloods, therefore, moved to a nearby ground known locally as Pork Park. With the town being considered too small to support two clubs on unfriendly terms, a merger was negotiated, with Droylsden returning to the Butcher’s Arms in 1952.  The pitch had been turned round 180 degrees too and the ground newly renovated. They went on to compete in the Lancashire Combination for a further two decades, but returned to a depleted Cheshire League after the creation of the Northern Premier League.

League form never got going for the Bloods during their time in the Cheshire League, but they did win three Manchester Senior Cups in 1973, ’76 & ’79 and reached the FA Cup First Round twice (’76 & ’79) losing to Grimsby Town & defeating Rochdale before being defeated by Altrincham in the Second Round. However, this successful side soon broke apart and so did Droylsden’s fortunes as they finished bottom of the Cheshire League First Division in 1982. They were spared relegation, though, due to the merger of the league with the Lancashire Combination to create the North West Counties League, with Droylsden placed in Division 2 of 3. 2 seasons later, that league was won with the club skipping the Counties 1st Division due to the creation of the NPL’s 1st Division after a successful application.

In 1990, the club were promoted to the NPL Premier Division as runners-up and remained there until 1996 when they were relegated back to the Division 1. During this season, the club also conceded a 148 second hat-trick in the FA Cup at Nantwich Town, the fastest. For 1998-’99, after Dave Pace was installed as dual Chairman-manager, the club rebuilt and lifted the Division 1 title and achieved promotion pairing this with an NPL President’s Cup. They also won the NPL Challenge Cup in 2003. In 2004, the Bloods were invited to join the newly created Conference North. They achieved a play-off final in 2006, but lost out to Stafford Rangers on penalties. In 2007 the club won the Manchester Premier Cup (won 13x by the club), beating Flixton 3-0, and three days later beat Harrogate town and in doing so secured promotion to the Conference National as champions. However, the club lasted just a solitary season in the “Blue Square Premier”, being relegated at the first attempt.

The following season saw the Chesterfield FA Cup escapades with two abandonments before Droylsden shocked their Football League opposition 2-1, Sean Newton scoring both goals. But, it was then discovered Newton was ineligible for the competition & thus, the Bloods thrown out & Chesterfield re-instated. You couldn’t make it up. They did jointly win the Tony Downes Memorial Cup with Chester though, so it wasn’t all bad, I guess.

In 2010-’11, the Bloods again played League opposition, this time Leyton Orient. After leading 2-0 after about an hour at Brisbane Road, they capitulated to an 8-2 defeat. From here, it’s all gone downhill. Relegation from the Conference North at the end of 2012-’13 season saw Droylsden compete in the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division, where they finished bottom, thus finding themselves in today’s division.

The open end

The open end.

I told you it goes deep.

I told you it goes deep.

Back to today then and the game got underway as the rain continued to make the pitch more treacherous by the minute. A minute was all it took for Salford to find the net through Gareth Seddon, but his sliding effort was ruled out for offside. They weren’t denied for long, though, as Danny Webber classily guided a volley into the bottom right hand corner of Russell Saunders’ goal.

20 minutes in and it was all square once again, though, as Ben Deegan (I knew it was him, not Ciaran Kilheeney) beat Salford custodian Daniel Lloyd-Weston to the ball to nod home. 1-1. Soon after, Salford were denied, what looked to most, a stonewall penalty when Seddon was brought down in the area by the onrushing Saunders. The referee waved away the protests confidently though, much to Seddon’s disbelief.

The Main Stand w/ match action.

The Main Stand w/ match action.

Match action

Match action

Blurred in the rain.

Blurred in the rain.

It was to be costly for Salford as Droylsden took the lead for the first time. A counter attack down the right ended with Kilheeney receiving the ball inside the area before coolly slotting past Lloyd-Weston. 2-1 it looked to remain until the break, but Seddon had other ideas. With the pitch now cutting up terribly in the awful conditions, he this time avoided Saunders’ onrushing frame before neatly finishing from a tight angle. A really good finish, and that signalled “chip muffin time”. The two people in front of me ordered one, so I figured “Why not?”. Turns out it’s a chip barm.

Refreshment bar.

Refreshment bar.

So, after returning to the shelter of the main stand, I quickly ate the barm/muffin and soon enough the second half was underway. The fifth goal arrived almost instantly, Kilheeney grabbing his second and the Bloods’ third, knocking home from inside the six-yard box following a bit of pinball.

The new terrace close up

The new terrace close up

And from further away

And from further away

With a brief respite from the weather, I set off on a lap of the ground for photograph purposes. One thing I’ve noticed is there are some flowers placed in a certain spot, just to the right of the home dugout. I don’t know why but it intrigues me. I’d only made it half way round when it began bucketing down again. The pitch really was sodden by now and was becoming pure mud in places and the game became scrappy and disjointed with players struggling to just keep their feet, never mind do anything meaningful with the ball. Salford were unfortunate to have a second ruled out for offside when Madeley finished smartly late on against his former club. He wheeled away in delight, only for his celebration to be cut short, to the delight of the rather noisy home fans. The visiting contingent also created some backing for their side, thus creating a decent enough atmosphere, as Phil Neville arrived early during the second period.

But that was that, and Droylsden held on for a big three points, which makes Salford’s title chances hang by a thread. Droylsden are right up there in the play-off mix too, and look a strong outfit. The game also ended up being Salford boss Phil Power’s last in charge, as he was dismissed a couple of days later.

I headed for the clubhouse after to shelter for a while until the bus was due. As soon as I had to leave, I did. Not anything to do with the clubhouse, which is lovely and welcoming and very nicely decorated, but more to do with the weather which seemed to be worsening. It may be a new year, but one thing remains the constant in Manchester. The weather!

The Butcher's Arms. Great Ground!

The Butcher’s Arms. Great Ground!

My Droylsden M.o.M.- Adam Morning
My Salford City M.o.M.- Martyn Andrews

RATINGS:

Game: 7- Considering the conditions, it was a great game.
Ground: 7- A smart ground, with new and old intertwined nicely. One of my favourites.
Programme: N/A- (Ran out!)
Food: 6- It wasn’t bad, but it’s a barm.
Fans: 8- Make noise for their team, and it’s good to see fans return still after the struggles last season.
Value For Money: 7- Travel £6, Food £2, Admission £8. All in all, not too bad.