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.

Manchopper in….Salford

thCAMJDCAEradcliffe borough

Result: Salford City 2-1 Radcliffe Borough (Evo-Stik NPL Division 1 North)

Venue: Moor Lane (Friday 26th December 2014, 3.00pm)

Att: 246

Boxing Day morning began with a little trepidation, as I logged on to “Twitter” for the usual mid-winter postponement check. Granted, I had some alternatives set up in case my first choice fell victim to the wet and rather chilly weather, but as it happened I needn’t have worried. The news filtered through from Salford City’s Moor Lane that it was game on!

It was soon after that I was venturing out into the chilly, but still rather mild for this tie of year, Manchester air and boarded the 255 service to Piccadilly Gardens. With my leather jacket making a welcome return to the fold, I was feeling rather pleased with my choice as the sun shone through the windows, giving the illusion of warmth. Soon enough, I’d pulled into the bus station and made the short 5 minute hop over to Shudehill Interchange in the Northern Quarter of the city. Once here, I had a 20 minute or so wait for the 98 service onwards towards Moor Lane. Sadly, I decided it wasn’t enough time to warrant a rushed trip to the Lower Turk’s Head opposite, though I was given a small chuckle when I saw some apartments above a kebab shop termed as being “luxury”. This wasn’t quite the word I’d use to describe them, however.

Anyway, now on board my connection service, I was at the junction of Moor Lane after around a 25 minute journey. With little to no public houses within the near vicinity, I had already made the decision to head straight for the ground. With small signposts aiding me, I found myself cutting up the, almost, appropriately named Nevile Road (with the connection to the “Class of 92”, you see, and soon enough was stood outside a pair of gates emblazoned in newly panted “SCFC”. It happens that this is the back end of the ground, there is also a turnstile on the opposite side of the ground, on Moor Lane itself. Anyway, after handing over my £7 entrance fee, and a further £1.50 for the “Red Ammie” programme, I entered into the home of the Ammies.

Turnstile

Turnstile

The gates

The Salford gates

The other entrance, reached from Moor Lane.

The other entrance, reached from Moor Lane.

Moor Lane is a familiar stomping ground for me, having been a regular visitor when following Trafford in both the North West Counties and Northern Premier League. Though Trafford have had the better of the recent times, finding themselves a league above Salford, at time of writing, and having beaten them to the Counties title beforehand, it appears that, sooner rather than later, the positions are going to change.

That is all for the future, though. So, back to the present before we delve into the past. Despite being a familiar ground to me, as I stated previously, Moor Lane has undergone quite the facelift and smartening up process following their famous investors input. It seems I may be in the minority in saying so, but I think that anything like this is good for the non-league game. Not only does it provide much needed publicity for the lower leagues, but it can also help the club in question in turn, and this is clearly shown in Salford’s attendances this season which, I stand to be corrected, are much better on average than last season’s. It still features two stands, the main, old stand and a smaller covered terraced on the opposite side. Both goal ends are open, with one serving as the club car park. Cover your windows! Moor Lane has a capacity of around 1,400.

Welcome To Salford City.

Welcome To Salford City.

Clubhouse, facilities & Main Stand

Clubhouse, facilities & Main Stand

Terraced stand

Terraced stand

With a new, smart clubhouse, changing rooms area (far removed from the old ones in the back of the stand!) and fresh facelift for both stands, Moor Lane is looking resplendent again and is attracting a good atmosphere now, with the larger crowds and much more merchandise on show in the stands. It was the former for where I headed first, and I got myself a £3 Kopparberg, before settling in to watch the latter stages of the Chelsea-West Ham game on TV. With 30 minutes to go to kick-off, and both the bar and ground filling up nicely, and camera crew still filming the upcoming documentary in attendance, it seems the best time to delve into the history of, “The Ammies”, Salford City Football Club.

History Lesson:

Formed in 1940 under the name Salford Central, the club competed in local leagues, progressing up these rather steadily, climbing the Salford City Amateur League as Runners-up’s in Division 2 and 1 (twice) as well as lifting one Challenge Cup, in 1951, their first silverware. The club then switched to the Manchester Amateur League where, under the name Salford Amateurs (where the Ammies nickname derives), they won one honour, the Hulme Celtic Cup in 1964, then the Manchester League where they were more successful, winning the First Division and Murray Shield in 1969 an then lifting four Premier Division titles in 5 years, between 1975 and 1979. On the cup front during this period, the club lifted three Lancashire Amateur Cups (’71,’73,’75), two Manchester Challenge Trophies (’75 &’76) and two Manchester Intermediate Cups (’78 &’79). In 1977, the club also attained the, rather princely, title of “Champion of Champions”.
Leading up to 1980, the club committee put in lots of work to improve facilities, resulting in admittance to the Cheshire League. However, this stay lasted just two seasons, when the hard work paid off. With the amalgamation of the Lancashire Combination and Cheshire League, the North West Counties League (NWCFL) was born, and the Ammies took their chance to progress into the pyramid.
In 1989, and under the Salford City name, the club played at Old Trafford, a forebear of what was to come, as well as installing lights at their home. 1990 saw City play in the FA Cup for the first time, but this celebration of 50 years of existence was tempered with relegation at the end of the campaign. When the league restructured in 1992, the club re-took its place in the Division One.

Despite cementing themselves as regular challengers in the Counties upper echelons, the club found success and silverware surprisingly hard to come by, with only a League Challenge Cup in 2006 to show before, in 2008, they finished as runners-up to local rivals Trafford and were later granted promotion, due to having the best record in the country of 2nd placed sides who’d applied for the step up.

After surviving initial seasons of struggle in the Northern Premier League, the club staged many a memorable survival push, largely thanks to the continued late season signing and goals of Steve Foster.
2013 saw the club vanquished on penalties following an entertaining Manchester Premier Cup Final at Edgeley Park by defending champions Mossley, a game that I attended. Last season, the club finished an inconspicuous 16th place in the Evo-Stik Division One North, before the well publicised investments and take-over by the Manchester United “Class of 92” and latterly businessman Peter Lim, appear to have given Salford the basis to push onwards to the aim of “league football” in the future. The investment also showed in changes on the pitch, the club’s more traditional Tangerine colours ousted in favour of a United-themed red & white home kit, with the away and third also mirroring the Premier League side’s. The club crest was also changed, with the rampant lion changes to a front-facing lions face, to show the forward thinking ambitions of the club.

The Red Ammie Programme

The Red Ammie Programme

The new crest as displayed in the clubhouse

The new crest as displayed in the clubhouse

Formalities

Formalities

Back to today, and the sides came out to a smattering of applause, with Radcliffe having a sizable chunk of support in the terraces. The game began in the bright sunshine, so I took the opportunity to undergo my lap of the ground. I was to be happy that I took the chance when I did, as the rains came down towards the half-hour point and remained set in for the evening. As it was, the first half was virtually a closely fought non-event, with both sides creating little, bar Boro’s quick frontman Bevan Burey sprinting clear of the flat-footed Salford back-line before firing wildly off target. Radcliffe’s goalkeeper, Altrincham’s Josh Samberg, was largely untroubled, with only a couple of efforts flying wide of his uprights. The only time he was called into action was to keep out a tame effort from the left of the area.

Half-Time, 0-0. So I headed to the food hut, located in the same building as the clubhouse, but with its own serving hatch. After purchasing a £2 steak pie, a nice one by the way, I checked up on the “scores on the doors” from around the country, before heading back outside to avoid the painful coverage shown on screen.

Match action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Looking out towards the car park end from the Main Stand

Looking out towards the car park end from the Main Stand

The second period had just gotten underway as I exited the doors, before retaking y place in the gods of the old, traditional-style main stand. It wasn’t long until the breakthrough arrived. Boro’ had started the brighter, and after forcing a couple of corners, just after the hour mark, centre-back Richard Smith nodded home and ran about seemingly not sure of how to celebrate his strike. He looked to have enjoyed it though, against his former outfit.

However, the lead was to last all of three minutes. Salford broke down the right, and the ball was worked into the area where left-winger Sam Madeley met the cross and expertly diverted the ball into the far corner with his head. 1-1. Madely almost doubled his tally soon after when his effort was saved wellby Samberg, but he wasn’t to be denied for long. From a right-wing corner, the ball dropped within the eighteen-yard box where a poke forward was diverted over the line by Madeley for his and Salford’s second. 2-1.

HMS Scrooge. Appropriate for the time of year.

HMS Scrooge. Appropriate for the time of year.

The Kersal end

The Kersal end.

From there, it was rather plain sailing for City, as they comfortably weathered the storm, both on the pitch and from above to secure a much needed three points and keep up the pressure on Darlington and Northwich Vics at the top of the table.

After the game, I headed back into the clubhouse for another quick drink, and after meeting up again with Radcliffe’s Danny White and Salford’s Martyn Andrews, whom I both know well from their times at Trafford, I was soon on my way back towards the bus stop, where I timed it perfectly to minimise my stay in the chilly evening air. Once back in Manchester Piccadilly, it appeared that there was something falling from the sky. Something frozen. Having been a rather “Frozen”-themed Christmas a day earlier (the Disney film, not actual ice), it appeared that Elsa had weaved her way into the real world. Or, maybe it was just the alcohol and Yorkshire puddings catching up with me. Either way, it was a nice ending to a good day and raised a smile from those in the City Centre.

My Salford City M.o.M.- Ash Dunn
My Radcliffe Borough M.o.M.- Chris Mason.

Moor Lane

Moor Lane

Technology arrives in non-league

Technology arrives in non-league

Moor Lane

Moor Lane

RATINGS:

Game: 6- Not the greatest, but considering the conditions, it wasn’t likely to be.
Ground: 7- It’s improving all the while. Very smart, new services and paint jobs.
Programme: 7- A really good effort, lots of original content, which is always good.
Food: 7- Pie was nice, so happy with that. Price not bad too.
Fans: 6- Rather subdued today, probably down to weather and looked low on numbers in the “ultra” section. Still gave a couple of vocal performances!
Value For Money: 7- Cheap ciders, food decent price, regular admission & programme price. £5-ish travel.