Result: Glossop North End 2-2 Dunston UTS; AET. (FA Vase Quarter Final)
Venue: Surrey Street (Saturday 14th February 2015, 3.00pm)
Valentines Day, the day where love is spread amongst people the world over. However, there was to be no love lost on the football fields of the country and nowhere was this more the case than at Surrey Street where Glossop North End, of the North West Counties League, would be playing host to Northern League side Dunston UTS.
As for myself, I set out on the journey into the High Peak at just after 12.30 pm, transiting through Manchester Piccadilly where I had appeared to have missed the majority of those travelling to games around the area. At just before half past 1, I was on the Northern Rail service to Hadfield.
On arrival into Glossop station, the train meets a dead end, despite this not being its terminus. Glossop is a one platform station, so therefore the trains are sent on their way both ways from the buffers. A stranger set up. The original plan was to have a drink in one of the nearby pubs, either the Friendship Inn, just down the road or one of a selection in the town centre. However, due to the expectancy of a larger crowd than usual dawned upon me, I thought it would be wiser to head straight for Surrey Street itself, if only to ensure a programme would be safely obtained.
So, after making my way up the slight hill climb down the side of the station and down a few side roads, I passed the aforementioned Friendship, which looked packed with what I reckoned must have been a number of visiting fans from the North East. Not being too familiar with the immediate area, I was grateful for the marker of a large steel chimney which towers above all around it and is located directly next to the ground. So, if you make the trip to GNE in this way, you have a sure fire way to get there that will also save on your phone battery life!
After passing by the rubble covered wasteland surrounding the chimney, I arrived at the turnstile at Surrey Street. I was informed that there was no Student Concession (which I can now use due to my NUS). Not to worry, though, I more than happily handed over my £6 entrance fee and once through the gate purchased my copy off “The Hillmen” programme for a further £1.50, which was celebrating the recent 400th game of club stalwart & captain Dave Young. Not a bad effort that! I trusted they were to be harder to find than the holy grail today so it was safely kept away in my bag.
First, I headed for the clubhouse which was showing the second half of the West Brom vs West Ham game. Of course, it would be rude to stay there and watch without contributing to the bar wouldn’t it? I figured it would, so with Strongbow purchased, I settled in to watch the final half an hour of the game and flick through the programme I had just bought. Not a bad read at all, including flashbacks and the game a few years ago between the sides that ended in a 1-0 win to North End thanks to Danny Yates’ goal as they eventually reached Wembley. There used to be a mural at the rear of the clubhouse celebrating this achievement, but this seems to have gone by the wayside at some point within the last 12 months or so.
As the clock passed a dentist’s favourite time, 2.30 (I’ll get my coat), I made my way outside into what was a rather pleasant afternoon in the High Peak area of Derbyshire and walked over to the Main Stand and took a seat within it. I was soon to be joined by a rather, vocal, group of young Glossop supporters and a few Dunston fans too. More on this later on. For now, Surrey Street. The ground consist of three stands. The Main Stand is the only one that offers seating, and is situated on the far touchline, from where you enter, in the final third of the near end. To the left, behind the goal is a covered terrace called “The Trenches”. This is where the Glossop flag bearers congregate, and they certainly have a decent amount to show. Continuing on behind the near end goal is the dressing rooms, clubhouse and food hut. The near touchline is accompanied by a covered standing area, to the right of the turnstiles and behind the far goal is open standing and a grassy area which today was playing host to some kids football games. Surrey Street holds a capacity of 2,374. Now onto the, rather colourful, history of the club…
Formed in 1886, Glossop North End originally competed in local amateur friendlies at various local grounds, before settling at North Road. The club joined their first league, the North Cheshire League, in 1890 before switching allegiance to the Combination in 1894 and turning professional.
After two seasons, the club joined the Midland League, remaining there for a further two seasons until they were elected to Division 2 of the Football League for 1898-’99. They immediately won promotion to Division 1, as runners-up to Manchester City, when they also changed their name to Glossop, dropping the North End suffix to avoid confusion with Preston (?). The following season was to be their only season in England’s top flight, as they were relegated. The following 15 seasons were spent in the Second Division with the club reaching the quarter finals of the 1909 FA Cup. At this time, the club were backed by Sir Samuel Hill-Wood, the man who would later go on to hold the position of chairman at Arsenal.
After World War One, the club failed to be re-elected to the reformed Football League and, as such, they joined the Lancashire Combination for a season, before dropping into the Manchester League, where they won one championship (1928) and four Gilgryst Cups.
1955 saw Glossop relocate from North Road to their current home at Surrey Street. In 1957, Glossop joine the Lancashire Combination, again, this time spending nine seasons in the league before joining the Cheshire League as founder members, following one season back in the Manchester League. In 1981, Glossop won promotion to Division One of the Cheshire League in 1981 as runners-up and upon finishing sixth in Division One the following season, the club became founder members of the North West Counties League due to the merger of the Cheshire League and Lancashire Combination. The club played in Division Two of the Counties initially, winning the Division 2 trophy in 1991. After almost folding during the 1991 close season, the club soldiered on to be promoted to Division 1 the following year.
Now in Division 1 and back under the original Glossop North End name, the club began to challenge for honours on a regular basis, winning their first back as North End at Old Trafford, the Manchester Premier Cup with a victory over Trafford, before retaining it the following year by defeating Radcliffe Borough at Maine Road. They then lifted the 2001 Derbyshire Senior Cup, beating Glapwell.
2009 featured the club’s most famous day for decades, when they reached the FA Vase final at Wembley. Sadly, for North End, they were vanquished by Whitley Bay, who were to make the Vase their own for a short period. In late 2013, current boss Chris Willcock took the reigns from Paul Colgan and his first full season ended with Glossop finishing third, their highest league finish since 1980. This season, they’ve gone from strength to strength and are strong contenders for the NWCFL title.
Back onto the present day now, and the sides came out to be welcomed by a large crowd, each expectant for their own side’s progression in the competition. A tight first period saw no goals and little goalmouth action but, in truth, the game itself was of a decent standard. Of the pitch, the standards were a little lower. The younger group of Glossop fans, aforementioned, began to get a little too rowdy with a female member of the Dunston following. The lady may not have exactly been helping matters, but the case is that some of the language being used shouldn’t have been directed at them. In addition, there was a family from the North East who had travelled down to watch the game and felt the need to move as to protect their youngest daughter from the language being spewed. Not a great impression to give off and I got the feeling a number of the “longer standing” Glossop fans were just as unimpressed with the goings on. They were also responsible for letting off a smoke bomb later in the game (after the second goal, I believe) where a Glossop committee member had to ask them to stop. I’m all for the support of younger people at games, but it can be done in a more respectful manner.
Now that that’s out of the way, we can get back onto the pitch. Or, in fact, due to the lack of meaningful action, I’ll remain on the terraces and more pinpoint, the food hut and the famed Glossop pies. I had been given the tip of a Steak pie by the “Football Spoon” the night before at Atherton LR and I decided to take his word on this one. And my word was he right. The legends are true folks, and I can certainly say that I add my words onto the celebrations of Glossop’s pie industry!
Second half, and it was Dunston, the 2012 Vase winners, who came out of the dressing rooms the sharper of the two sides. It was little surprise, therefore, when they took the lead when Andrew Bulford swept home from inside the area. They were ahead for just two minutes, though. Glossop forced a free-kick on the right flank. The ball was floated in and met by the head of Jason Carey whose guided header gently placed itself into the far corner pat the rooted ‘keeper. 1-1.
Now it was all to play for, and the momentum was with the home side, and when they forced a penalty with 15 minutes to play, when Lee Blackshaw was tripped, it looked a good bet they would be progressing. It looked even better odds when the Dunston #4 was harshly dismissed, in my view, for the foul leading to the penalty as I felt there were covering players and he wasn’t the last man. That’s how it looked from my place, but then, the pitch is the best place to see the action. Tom Bailey took responsibility and coolly rolled the ball into the ‘keeper’s right hand corner, sending him the wrong way. 2-1.
But Dunston refused to lie down and caught Glossop unawares. With just under 10 minutes remaining, Dunston had possession on the left flank, and the ball came to Gary Ormston who fired low, under Glossop ‘keeper Greg Hall to spark wild celebrations from the visitors from Gateshead-way. Extra-Time to follow.
The Extra-Time came and went with little alarms for either side, and I spent most of the second period having a chat with GNE’s Danny White, who was banned for the game I learned. Glossop, as you would imagine, had more possession but struggled to truly break down the well drilled Dunston back-line, and so the final whistle blew to ensure the teams would meet again, the following Saturday (21st).
The extra-time had ruined my best laid plans to have my drink in the Friendship on the way to the station and indeed made me get a march on to get to the station in time, but I managed it just as the long, purple cylinder entered into the station. Taking my place alongside it, we passed back through the darkness and over the viaduct & sheer drop near Dinting station onwards back to Piccadilly and Oxford Road. Back on the train home, I ended up sitting with Amy who teaches at the same school that I work at, but I chose not to regale them (mostly) with the news of my ventures. I felt I would keep this Manchopper under wraps.
My Glossop North End M.o.M.- Tom Bailey.
My Dunston UTS M.o.M.- Daniel Halliday.
Game: 8- Good, entertaining contest
Ground: 8- Good mix of the old and the new with some photogenic backdrops.
Fans: 5- Takes a drop for the reasons mentioned above. Otherwise, very courteous and polite, especially a couple of the junior side who were mascots.
Food: 10- Definitely the best pie I’ve had in a long time, possibly ever. No surprise is it really?
Programme: 8- A good, solid read. Better than some at higher levels. Interesting content.
Value For Money: 8- Cheap travel (£3-ish), okay admission, programme standard price. Good pie & cider too.