Manchopper in….Knaresborough

Result: Knaresborough Town 2-1 Washington (FA Vase 1st Qualifying Round)

Venue: Manse Lane (Saturday 31st August 2019, 3pm)

Att: 106

The FA Vase quest began for many clubs and I reckoned it’d only be right to join them on the first stop along the “Road to Wembley”. As I mulled over the rather extensive fixture list and narrowed it down, there was one venue that continually stood out; a long-time target of both a ground and town that I’d been looking at visiting. That ground and town was Manse Lane, home of Knaresborough Town and a day out and about in the scenic, historic town centre was all the encouragement I needed. After heading up through Manchester and Leeds, an earlier than planned train looked as though I could arrive into Knaresborough a good half-hour than expected – too good to be true, I thought to myself.

I awaited for things to unravel, which they then did, as the train from Leeds ‘broke down’ due to, and I kid you not, lighting failure. As a result, I was forced onto the service as far as Harrogate, but avoided a fairly lengthy wait for the next train along by grabbing a regular bus service from the neighbouring bus station up to the entrance of Mother Shipton’s Cave at the foot of Knaresborough itself. However, the various No.1’s did cause some confusion later in the day, as only one stops at the ground entrance – the others following the main road. Anyway, having disembarked after a twenty-minute journey, I made my way to the first pub stop of many during the day, that being The World’s End, just the other side of the bridge over the River Nidd. The clock had just passed midday, and as I sat down with a pint of Poretti(which I learned is Carlsberg’s £4.50 effort at a Moretti clone), I decided to check on the progress of the train I’d have otherwise been on. Delayed by at least 7 minutes? Good decision.

Arriving at Mother Shipton’s & the World’s End

Incline or flat-line?

The Mitre

The rain began to fall just as I exited the pub and began to get rather heavy as I reached the foot of a steep incline that led up to the station and the town centre area of Knaresborough. I had to take this route anyway, but with the weather going on as it was and me not exactly in conducive clothing for it (a t-shirt and jeans alone) meant I decided to take up the option of popping into one of my planned post-match pubs – The Mitre. Upon entering, the bar staff there fairly easily saw my predicament and just why I’d made haste in getting there – I needed some cover! A pint of Black Sheep Pale Ale (£3.50) kept me company here until the rain abated and I could continue onwards into the centre itself; whereupon I discovered another public house I’d not known about prior to that point. Good job the rain had come in when it had!

Anyway, I continued to walk towards the castle area, which itself had been recommended by numerous persons for the views out over the town below, stopping off in The Groves as I did so, as the rain returned once more. I opted for a pint of the REAL Moretti (somewhere around £4) in this slightly modernised, yet still old-looking hostelry, before exiting out into bright sunshine and blue skies rolling in as the clouds dispersed. A cross and a number of statue characters populate the centre, along with many a-pub to choose from. I began with the nearby Blind Jack’s, where I opted for a pint of one of my fave beers, Erdinger (£4.85), before taking a seat in a small room alongside a Union flag – in a new role as a curtain. Really.

The Groves, ft. wet lens

Knaresboroughs Market Square….ft. wet lens

Blind Jack’s ‘different’ curtain….ft. wet lens

Knaresborough is a market and spa town, as well as a civil parish within the Borough of Harrogate in North Yorkshire. It lies upon the River Nidd and was mentioned in the Domesday Book as Chenaresburg, meaning “Cenheard’s fortress” within the ‘wapentike’ of Burghshire which would be renamed the more New Zealand-sounding Claro Wapentake in the 12th century. Knaresborough’s castle dates back to the Normans and around this, through the 11 and 1200’s, the town grew up to include the market (from around 1206) with traders being attracted to service the castle and those within, although the royal market charter wasn’t actually awarded until 1310 by Edward II, with the market continuing to take place today. The parish church of St. John was also built around this period whilst a Lord of Knaresborough was first identified around 1115, with the Honour of Knaresborough being bestowed upon Serlo de Bergh, by the King.  However, it would be the 1158 Lord who would go down in infamy, as the constable of Knaresborough, Hugh de Morville, was leader of the four knights who murdered Archbishop Thomas Beckett within Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. The knights would later return to the town’s castle and enter hiding. Rather cowardly?!

Hugh de Morville would be forced to forfeit his lands three years after the murder, but not because of that deed, but instead due to his involvement in the plot of rebellion against Henry the Young King, according to Early Yorkshire Charters. King John would later take on the mantle of Lord of Knaresborough for himself during the 1200’s, with Knaresborough Forest to the south of the town reputedly one of his favoured hunting grounds. He also distributed the first ‘Maundy Money’ in the town as part of the wider Christian celebration. The castle was later occupied by rebels against Edward II during his 14th century reign, and the invading Scots also burned much of the town during their 1328 raid. Since the death of Queen Philippa, Edward III’s wife, the town has belonged to the Duchy of Lancaster beginning with the Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt, though the castle lost national importance soon after, though remained strong regionally. After the Civil War’s 1644 Battle of Marston Moor, the castle was besieged by Parliamentarian forces and fell with the Roundheads ordering its destruction in 1646, though this was delayed for two years, with much of the stone being looted and re-used in the town’s buildings.

To the castle….

…and from the castle

A commuter town nowadays, the railways arrived in Knaresborough in 1848, and the current station replaced to the original one at Hay Park Lane after just three years. The town did link-up with Boroughbridge until the line’s closure in 1950 and its subsequent dismantling during the 1960’s. In 1974, the re-organisation of the counties saw Knaresborough move from its historic placing in the West Riding of Yorkshire and into the newly-created area of North Yorkshire, and hosts an annual bed race, because why not?! The town is also home to the “Oldest Chemists in England”, dating from 1720 and has landmark caves like the aforementioned Mother Shipton (an early ‘seer’) and St. Robert’s (from the Middle Ages). Incidentally, both the Mother Shipton and the earlier mentioned ‘Blind Jack’ names don’t even appear in the people in question’s names, with the former being named Ursula Southeil and the latter John Metcalfe, whilst other alumni include ex-Simply Red member Tim Kellett, ‘Allo ‘Allo’s René Artois, the late Gordon Kaye, and my personal favourite due to the description – ’18th century scholar and murderer’ Eugene Aram. Not a usual combination!

Around the corner from Blind Jack’s were two neighbouring pubs by the names of Six Poor Følk and the Castle Arms. Whilst the former looked like its beer options may be the more wide-ranging, I decided to go traditional and, of course, I was going to the castle as it was. So the latter it was for a pint of Amstel (£3.90) whilst a black dog near the bar decided it fancied a bit of someone’s drink at one point, though was unsuccessful in its efforts! From one castle to another I went and a brief visit to the former stronghold’s exterior lands, whilst the aforementioned views out over Knaresborough really were quite something. Anyway, with time beginning to run down into the last hour before kick-off, I returned back into the town centre and continued on with the royal theme by stopping off in the Old Royal Oak for my designated “refresher” pint of a Dark Fruits, this setting me back £4.

In The Castle. The pub, that is

Old Royal Oak

Arriving at Manse Lane

As I finished off, it was high time to grab the bus up to Manse Lane. However, this would be easier said than done, as the No.1 confusion set in. I first popped onto the first one (no pun intended) and was genuinely unsure if this was the one I needed, as the bus I was due to catch was due out in a couple of minutes time and there was no other in sight. The driver said it wasn’t his variant I was after and told me to try the one alongside which had just pulled in. I was pretty sure it wasn’t this one, and was soon proven right, as I was directed towards the 1C, which was just pulling in. Finally and safely on board, a short journey down to the ground followed, the stop being pretty much directly outside the gates. Speaking of the gates, I handed over my £6 entry fee, bought a programme (£1.50) from the table at pitchside and turned my attentions to the clubhouse; well, the food bar to be more exact – for pie, peas and gravy. Lovely stuff.

I was just finishing up the last of the pre-match feast as the side’s assembled and began to make their way out onto the field. I joined the exodus from the clubhouse too and exited out into Manse Lane once more. The ground is tidy enough, but without too much to blow you away in truth. It is home to a pair of stands, both of the more modern, kind of at-cost variety, with a covered standing area (and some benches) behind the near-end goal and just next to the turnstiles, whilst a small seating stand is located on the far side, around the half-way line. The remaining facilities are all located in the corner on the other side of the turnstiles to the stand, whilst the near-side is open, hard standing for the two-thirds that are accessible, whilst the far-end should be also, though is rather overgrown at this point, to put it kindly! That’s Manse Lane in quick form and this is the story of ‘the Boro’ from Knaresborough….

History Lesson:

Knaresborough Town Association Football Club was founded in 1902, going on to join the York League and becoming champions at the end of their first season and then retaining it on both of the next two seasons. A fourth title in 1908 led to Knaresborough taking the step up to the Northern League in 1909, before becoming a founder member of the Yorkshire Combination the next year, whilst still competing in the Northern League too. However, these two stints would be short lived, and after finishing bottom of the Northern League in 1911, the club returned to the York League Division One before pulling their side out of the Yorkshire Combination two years later. Things didn’t improve and after a bottom finish in 1913, the Boro were suspended from the league for the following campaign. Harsh!!

After WWI had ended, Knaresborough were readmitted to the league and won it again in 1925, retaining it the next season and lifting it once more in 1929, but success fell away quickly, leading to the club resigning from the league at the end of the 1930-31 season after a second-bottom finish; but their sojourn would be brief and they returned for 1932 whereupon they again lifted back to back titles in 1934 & ’35. However, they would again leave in 1938, not re-emerging again until the 1950’s, with the club taking a place in the York League Division 3B for 1951. This and the Division 2B were both immediately won at the respective first attempts and the Boro were back in the Division One for 1953-54, spending three more seasons there prior to a move to the West Yorkshire League in 1958.

KTAFC

Teamboard

Benched

Their start was a bit yo-yo, with promotion from Division 2 being attained straight off the bat alongside the Division 2 League Cup, but the drop was suffered come the end of their first WYL Division 1 adventure. This was repeated again soon after when, after achieving promotion & the Division 2 League Cup again in 1961, their Division One stay lasted just the solo campaign once more. This time, rather than return back to Division 2, the club took the drop into the Harrogate & District League and in 1965 won the Premier Division which was then successfully defended the next year and was joined in the trophy cabinet by the Harrogate & District League Cup. A hat-trick of title wins was secured the next year and after a second League Cup triumph in 1968, Knaresborough returned to the West Yorkshire League, winning its Division 2 in 1970 and its own League Cup the next year.

But, despite these successes, a return to the Harrogate & District League was just around the corner and this time the Boro remained there for a good while, only in 1993 would they eventually depart once more. They again joined the West Yorkshire League, winning the League Cup in their first year back, though it took some time for further success to return to Manse Lane,  with the Premier Division title being won in 2009, and a runners up placing in 2011 was also secured, with cup successes in the West Riding Challenge Cup and West Yorkshire League Trophy in 2010 being followed by the lifting of the West Riding Challenge Trophy in 2011. However, it would be 2012’s 3rd placed finish that would see Knaresborough finally promoted to the Northern Counties East Leaguen’s Division One, where the club remained until 2018 when they won title and were duly promoted to the NCEL Premier Division and Step 5 for the first time. As an aside, the club have also won the Whitworth Cup on no less than 21 occasions – the first in 1907-’08, and the last of these coming in season 2009-’10.

The game got underway and, if I’m totally honest, it had to be one of the more one-sided, yet close games I’ve seen quite some time. Knaresborough dominated the majority of the contest, but never could fully shake off their Northern League visitors. Their first real chance came from a corner, when the cross was punched wide when under pressure by the away ‘keeper, Ryan Lumsden. However, the Boro really should have gone ahead when Steve Bromley was released, but he proceeded to produce a quite awful finish in putting his shot wide.

Lumsden with the punch

Match Action

Match Action

The Washington’ keeper remained the busier of the two glovemen and he had be sharp in tipping a low shot from Andy Cooper wide, before he then made another good stop to deny Luke Harrop, with Harrop then setting up Dan Thirkell, but the defender could only fire over. Then, just before the break, Cooper was desperately unlucky when his fine chip hit the underside of the bar and bounced out, with the rebound directed goal wards by Brad Walker, though the Washy stopper was again equal to the task. Half-time arrived in a rather cagey first half, though Knaresborough would surely have been wondering just how they had failed to take a lead with them.

An uneventful 15 minutes came and went and we were soon back playing once again. Knaresborough maintained their dominance early doors, with centre-half Gregg Anderson heading over unchallenged from a corner and Harrop firing a long-range drive straight at the visiting ‘keeper. It really did appear as though it was going to one of those days for the hosts as both Bromley and Cooper again saw chances come and go, but finally, just before the hour, the deadlock was finally broken when a ball through found its way to Bromley and he slotted home to give his side, finally, a richly deserved lead. But this still didn’t seem to rouse Washington from their long-time slumber, and after I’d made the acquaintance of Dylan the dog and his dad, they went down to ten-men – Alex Ramshaw was given his marching orders due to something happening off the ball.

From the seats

Match Action

It then got even worse for the visitors when Knaresborough made it two; Harrop got clear down the left, cut inside and coolly finished. By this time, Washy really looked even more out of it than for the previous 60+ minutes and this was almost shown in footballing terms as a try from his own half by dangerman Harrop fell just wide of the post whilst the Lumsden again pulled off a good save to keep his side in with shout, even if it was more akin to one of someone losing their voice. A number of Knaresborough chances to seal the tie would follow each of Ben Cohen (not the ex-rugby player as far as I’m aware), Gregg Kidd, Thirkell & Luke Stewart all went close but they would then be given a setback that would set their nerves rattling.

Both teams would end with ten men when Bromley was sent from the field for, apparently, a challenge on the ‘keeper (though my initial Chris Kamara impression of not even seeing the red was bettered by me then seeing the player walking off and thinking he’d been subbed; the new Anthony van den Borre is now in Knaresborough) and this would then allow Washington a way back into the tie as some good work by Chris Pattinson allowed him to set up fellow substitute Lewis McGeoch, who calmly finished to set up a grandstand last 5-10 minutes.

They then almost grabbed a late, late equaliser but Boro ‘keeper Dom Smith, who’d largely been a spectator throughout, pulled off a great save to tip the ball behind and a counter from the resultant corner saw his side to swiftly head right up the other end, where Cooper had the chance to confirm Knaresborough’s place in the next round, but placed his shot against the post. However this would prove to matter little, as the referee blew up (not literally, of course) to signal to close of a rather strange game which could have been a hammering, but ended with nerves jangling.

Match Action

Manse Action

Post-match, I made haste back up to the main road and the Marquis of Granby pub that is located pretty much halfway between the ground and the town. Upon entering, I discovered the place was a Sam Smith’s place which used to mean only one thing – CHEAP PINT!!!! But no longer, dear reader, oh no! Now it means three: cheap beer and, at the other end of the spectrum completely, no mobile devices or swearing. Honestly. Or, as I was to be informed, the place can be shut down if someone from the brewery was to walk in and see someone breaking this rule. Bloody hell – how pathetic….yet worryingly dystopian at the same time. Oh, the Taddy Lager was £2.80.

From there, I exited into a less dictatorial atmosphere and returned to the town centre square and the Market Tavern for another Dark Fruits (£4 again) before continuing on station-wards and back to the Commercial that I’d only discovered existed when setting eyes upon it. I entered what I later found out is the oldest pub in the town and….oh for God’s sake, it’s a bloody Sam Smith’s. How quick your viewpoint on something can change eh?! Just to show how outrageous the rules are, I actually got my camera out to have a quick check of the pics I’d taken today and was challenged to ensure it wasn’t a mobile device. Really. I do feel for these publicans who have to put up with this shit. Luckily for Samuel, the pint of Arctic Lager was just £1.49….you have another chance Smith; though you’re about as popular with me as your Aussie namesake at this point (not really, I prefer Steve)!

Market Tavern (excuse the blur)

The Commercial & The Crown ‘Spoons

With my train’s arrival getting ever closer, I popped into the town’s ‘Spoons – The Crown Hotel – for a bottle of Hooch to keep me company on the first leg of the journey back home. It did just that and I finished off the last of it as the train pulled into Leeds, whilst the connection over for the service back to the Manchester was comfortable. Unfortunately, a slight delay on the way back cost a half-hour, but on the whole, this was only a small set-back on a fine day out. Knaresborough is a fine town and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit. The ground was fine too, despite being generally unspectacular, with the food and programme therein both being decent offerings too, for their respective prices. It’s back onto the FA Cup circuit once again next week and I reckon I’ve got a venue ‘nailed’ on….

RATINGS:

Game: 7

Ground: 6

Food: 7

Programme: 6

Value For Money: 8

Manchopper in….Daisy Hill

Result: Daisy Hill 0-2 Seaham Red Star (FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round)

Venue: New Sirs (Saturday 15th September 2018, 3pm)

Att: 54

For the second week running I found myself out in this part of Lancashire. Having been at Atherton Colls fruitless FA Cup clash with Kidsgrove the previous weekend, this Saturday saw me just a couple of stops down the line at Daisy Hill. Of course, with the trains still in mayhem, this would be another journey undertaken by that fine medium that is the bus. If you can’t tell, I was being sarcastic….!

Anyway, I was indeed off to Daisy Hill for their FA Vase meeting with Seaham Red Star of the Northern League, a league which always prompts thoughts of a difficult tie for any club a member comes up against, so I was expecting goals as I caught the bus back to the Trafford Centre (a la last week), but this time headed off via Bolton on the express service, prior to catching the bus onwards 25 minutes or so to the far end of Westhoughton high street, where I would be having the majority of my pre-match bevvies today, what with there being very little in the immediate area around the ground and the fact the club once carried the town’s name.

Daisy Hill is located within Westhoughton, a town which was traditionally a coal producing, cotton spinning and textile making area during the Industrial Revolution. However, it does date back to around 1210, its name deriving from West and the Old English for “haugh/halh” – meaning nook or corner of land, and “‘tun” – farmstead or settlement. Starting out in 1210 as Halcton, it then became Westhalcton in 1240, then Westhalghton 1292, Westhalton ten years later and finally Westhaughton and Westhoughton through the 16th century.

Westhoughton

Memorial Garden

Westhoughton High Street

In 1315, a group of men including Sir Adam Banastre, met in the Wingates area the town now occupies, the meeting would go on to organise violence against Sir Robert de Holland of Upoholland and, indirectly, the Earl of Lancaster. This would go on to become the Banastre Rebellion, but wouldn’t end well for most of the protagonists, as they would wind up meeting their maker. During the Civil War, in 1642, Lord Derby’s Cavalier forces met the Parliamentarian army, with the latter 163 men forced into surrender by the 1,000-plus Royalists. It is also believed that it was in Westhoughton that Prince Rupert massed his troops ahead of the attack and massacre of Bolton in 1644. Further activity is believed to have occurred at the nearby Hunger Hill and Chew Moor areas.

During the Industrial Revolution, Westhoughton Mill was burned down by Luddites, the leading perpetrators sentenced to death and duly hung at Lancaster Castle. 1910 saw one of the worst mining disasters take place at Pretoria Pit as 344 men and boys lost their lives in an explosion. This is the third worst mining accident in history, behind only the Barnsley Oaks and Senghenydd Colliery disasters. It now has its own town council, which was achieved in 1985.

Beer School

Robert Shaw

Victoria

Having arrived in the shadow of a church and alongside a mining memorial garden, I found the first pub along shut for what I later found out was a refurb, so instead headed on a few doors down to the Beer School – I just wish those were actually real, back in t’day! This was very much your modern real ale/craft beer place, complete with bottle shop, so all bases were covered! I opted to start off with a pint of the American Pale Ale that was on, which came in at £3.30. Not a bad start either. With the bar over the way also still shut, I finished off in here and made haste to the Wetherspoons here, the Robert Fuller. A modern, fairly boring affair, there’s little to report. Punk IPA was had and I was out of there and found the Victoria a few doors further down.

The Victoria was….a local’s pub, shall we say. It did seem to be one rarely visited by those from outside the local area, but it wasn’t a bad place overall. However, XFactor repeats being on TV weren’t conducive to my idea of a good time and so it was quickly onwards and over the road to the final pub on the High Street, the White Lion. This was a really traditional pub, with the bar being so low you have to duck under the stained glass windows running over the top to get served, if you’re tall enough anyway. A pint of Crystal was on the cards in here, whilst watching the Spurs v Liverpool game and getting regular updates on Lancashire’s ill-fated T20 semi-final from a table who’d set up their phone to have it on too. A cool place, and well worth a visit, in my opinion. From there, it was off around the corner and to the bus stop, though it did turn out there was one right outside that was used, so that went well…..

White Lion

Rosehill Tavern

Arriving into Daisy Hill village

Having got the bus down to Daisy Hill station, I hopped off for a final one in the Rosehill Tavern, which also allowed me to catch the end of the game at Wembley in the company of a pint of the Bootleg IPA, one of my favourites (take a note everyone :)). Soon enough, though, it was time to continue onwards to New Sirs for the game, the ground located around five to ten minutes on from the station, depending on your speed. Being a fairly quicker walker, I was soon at the turnstiles and, after handing over my £5 entrance fee, was onto the ground to meet Dan, who’d arrived bright and early (well, around 45 minutes earlier) which allowed me more time to drink. A good man, is he!!

New Sirs is a fairly simple ground, but is also a quintessential non-league ground that sits nicely between Counties and Manchester League standard. It comprises 2 stands, a largely all seated affair behind the goal, which also plays host to the food bar, clubhouse and changing rooms, whilst the other is a small, covered terrace, where you really do need to watch your head, or you will knock it, as Dan found out to his cost! The rest of the ground is open, hard standing, bar the far side, which is out of bounds anyway. That’s New Sirs in a bitesized amount and this is the story of Daisy Hill FC….

History Lesson:

Daisy Hill Football Club was founded in 1894 and joined Wigan & District League, winning the title in 1897, prior to adding that year’s Westhoughton Cup to their unbeaten, double-winning campaign. By World War One, the club had moved into their current home at New Sirs, though had moved into Sunday football at the point, taking part in the Leigh & District Sunday School League. They moved back into the Saturday game in the Westhoughton League, winning a number of honours during their period here, though the original club would fold at some point pre-World War Two, reforming in 1951.

Arriving at Daisy Hill

New Sirs

Returning to the Westhoughton League in that year, Daisy Hill found themselves playing at a new venue, namely the St. James Recreation Ground, where they shared with a local cricket side. They would return to New Sirs in 1957, acquiring the ground’s lease and entering the Bolton Combination, where the club enjoyed considerable success over the next two decades, winning two Lancashire FA Amateur Shields in 1962 & ’72, four Bolton Combination titles (1963, ’73, ’76 & ’78) & also added four of the Combination’s Premier Cups to their cabinet, these coming in 1960, ’62, ’72 & 1973 respectively. After their final Bolton Combination title, Daisy Hill moved into the Lancashire Combination, where they remained for the next four seasons prior to the league merging with the Cheshire League to form the North West Counties League. Daisy duly took a spot in the new league’s Division Three, upon which a clubhouse was added to the ground and 1986 & 1987 both saw silverware lifted, in the form of the Bolton Hospitals Cup and a third Lancashire FA Amateur Shield respectively. The latter season also saw Hill finish up fourth in Division 3, with the division then merged with Division Two at the close of the following season.

1989 saw the club begin a short stint under the name of Westhoughton Town, though the name change brought little success and they reverted back to Daisy Hill come 1994. The club would go on to remain in the Division Two for the next 14 years, only “leaving” when it was re-designated as Division 1 in 2008. The club did finish in a relegation spot in 2014 and were due to drop into the local leagues, but were reprieved as Leek CSOB and Formby both handed in their resignations from the league. Last season, Daisy Hill finished up bottom of the Division One, but were again given a reprieve as the league added to its numbers overall, adding a second, regional division to its ranks.

New Sirs

The game got underway and, to be honest, it was a very dull first half. Despite that, Seaham were the dominant force, having a strong penalty shout turned down, before the resultant shot was saved. The visitors followed this up by finding the net, only to be denied by the offside flag. Seaham continued to be on top for long periods of the first half, Paul Gardiner firing well over from around 10 yards and Lee Hetherington hitting his effort straight at the ‘keeper, though Daisy Hill grew into the game during the last 10 of the half, Nick Hepple firing over after an effective counter attack, before his strike partner, Ryan Farnworth, clipped the outside of the post just before the break. Half-Time duly arrived, the score remained goalless and I headed for the food bar for a very fine pie.

From the stand

Match Action

The second half was soon underway and, just a few minutes in, a fairly clear trip on a Seaham player resulted in a penalty, with Daniel Wilson duly converting from the spot to give his side what was, in truth, a deserved lead. His own striking partner, Vincent Gash, then went close, forcing the Daisy Hill stopper into a low save, before he doubled his side’s lead on the hour, getting clear of the defence and rounding the ‘keeper to slip home. 0-2. Daisy Hill did respond with some late pressure in the last 20 minutes or so, and did find the net through Adam Owens, only for his goal to be cancelled out for offside. Jack Iley then fired just wide and sub Alex Guest hit the bar, but it just wasn’t to be for the hosts, the visitors running out deserved winners over the 90 minutes and progressing to the next round.

View from the seats

Match Action

Grey Man

Post-match, it was off to to the pub again surprise, surprise, but this time it was off to the Grey Man, a pub just off the beaten track, accessed first by cutting down a small alleyway and then through a housing estate, of sorts. The Green Man is then found just on the left of a crossing, which is handy enough, without even mentioning the fact that there’s a bus stop right outside which takes you back to Bolton. Heading in, I opted for a pint of Stella, whilst Dan went for the very exotic option, Carling. Deary me, he just won’t learn that boy….

Afterwards, it was back off to the bus stop and to Bolton. Upon returning, a swift one was had in Spoons before we popped over to the bus station once again for the express service which again proved a fruitless endeavour as it proved to not exist at such a time. As such, it was another hour long trek home via the long route. A couple more were waiting for me there, though and so it was tolerable!

That was that in terms of the day then. It had been a decent one too, with an OK enough game being preceded and followed by some decent drinks. The day had been pretty cost effective too and the trip wasn’t too bad, ignoring the extended journey home. All in all, it had been good to get back to New Sirs for a second time, and it was off to Glasgow the following Saturday. Well, that was the plan anyway!

RATINGS:

Game: 5

Ground: 5

Programme: 5

Food: 7

Value For Money: 7

Manchopper in….Charnock Richard

charnockrichardBarnoldswick Town FC

Result: Charnock Richard 3-1 Barnoldswick Town AET (FA Vase 2nd Round)

Venue: Mossie Park (Saturday 22nd October 2016, 3pm)

Att: 178

As the earlier rounds of the FA Cup came to an end the previous week, it comes down to the FA’s two non-league competitions to keep the majority of non-league sides still dreaming of a trip to Wembley. Or Boston, if that’s a bit more realistic. Anyway, with the Vase still in full swing, I decided that, having spent a fair amount over the few previous weeks, I’d stay a little closer to home and so perused the fixtures looking for an interesting place to head for.

To be honest, the options were pretty few and fair between but one name leapt out at me more than others and that name was Charnock Richard. The village, famed for being home to the first M6 service station, now plays host to a North West Counties team with the Mossie Park-based outfit having made the step up from the West Lancashire League at the beginning of this season. Also, their striker Carl Grimshaw was even considered worthy of an FA article prior to this round of fixtures and so where else was there to go? Nowhere, that’s where and so to Mossie Park I headed!

Having got the train into Manchester and bought tickets for the upcoming FA Cup game between Westfields and Curzon Ashton (having watched the latter at York in the last round), I was left with a 45 minute wait until the next connection up to Euxton. Having never been in the Hourglass bar in the station’s food hall section, I decided to break that duck and head up there. This proved to be a decent, if fairly costly, idea with the beer costing £4.50, but it was a good pint. There were also some people clad in Wolves tracksuits enjoying the hospitality up here.

The Hourglass

The Hourglass

Eventually, the clock ticked round to past midday and I made my way for the Edinburgh-bound service through to Wigan. This service also had some star power, in the shape of Coronation Street’s Todd. Or at least I think it was him, to be honest I’m not too sharp on soap actors. Anyway, this was as exciting as this journey got and having gotten off at Wigan along with a number of Brighton fans, the train to complete the short hop to Euxton arrived and it was next stop Mossie Park. Well, with a few pit-stops along the way that is…

With a 45-minute walk ahead, I had scouted out only two drinking holes on the way there, so was surprised to be, almost immediately faced with the Euxton Mills pub. A quintessential, traditional-style pub, there was only one punter to be found in here and after a swift Desperados (which has been side-lined somewhat of late), I was back on the march up the long, winding road heading through the fields.

Eventually I came upon the second stop, the Bowling Green, which is a carvery pub, so emanated some pretty welcoming aromas from within. Obviously, it would have been rude to ignore, so in I headed and was soon in possession of a pint of Joseph Holt’s Crystal Gold, priced at £3.30. There was some drama before I had a pint in hand, however, as I was almost served a pint of Coke by the barmaid, much to my horror. After desperately making sure this had been corrected to something stronger I sat down to calm my shaken self.

Euxton Mills

Euxton Mills

Still a fair way off though...

Still a fair way off though…

The Bowling Green

The Bowling Green

With the clock nearing 2.15, I decided it was time to head on over to the ground. With a reported 15-20 minutes still left on my travails, I thought I’d ignore the ‘Baku Lounge’ on the way there despite the interesting name. To be honest, it was a good idea, as the place looked shut-up at the time and the smashed glass on the opposite side of the road didn’t give off the best signs. Also, it was now the boring, generically named ‘Red Door’. The oil funding must have run out or something…

After passing a couple of old churches, I began to see the tell-tale sign of a ground in the midst of nowhere-ville. Cars. To be honest, there wasn’t many cars around apart from this small area, so I took it as proof of Mossie Park having been located. For once I was correct and having spurned the clubhouse, on account of having had a fairly heavy evening the prior night, I headed straight for the turnstile, where I was relieved of £5 and soon had a glossy programme in my possession for a further £1.50.

First sighting of the village. Finally.

First sighting of the village. Finally.

CRFC

CRFC

Flag

Flag. Nice.

The ground itself is a bit of a weird one, as it is fenced in on all sides by those green, metal cage-like structures you see on artificial surfaces all over the country. Luckily, the only 3G here is the phone signals, with the pitch looking in good touch, if a bit sandy. The ground is a simple one, with open, hard standing at both ends and on the far touch-line, with the ground’s only stand sitting to the right-hand side of the pitch, as you enter. The dressing rooms sit adjacent to the turnstile and the building also plays host to the food hut and other facilities. A tidy ground overall. Now, for a look into the story of Charnock Richard FC…

History Lesson:

The current Charnock Richard Football Club was formed in 1955, following in the footsteps of another club with the same title, who competed during the years 1933-’49. The Villagers spent the vast majority of their initial existence in local leagues around the Chorley area, but joined the higher level West Lancashire League in 1993. The club’s old pitch, Mossie Close, is still there too, sitting opposite the new ground and alongside the clubhouse.

Mossie Close ground & clubhouse

Mossie Close ground & clubhouse

Following two promotions within their five years in the league, Charnock found themselves in the Premier Division. They won their first Premier Division title in 2003, going on to repeat the feat on a further five occasions over the span of seven seasons (2009, ’12, ’13, ’14 & ’15). Following a runners-up placing last season, the club’s application to join the North West Counties League was accepted and the club are currently top in their first campaign.

An unfortunate start.

An unfortunate start.

Pre-match pleasantries

Pre-match pleasantries

The game got underway but not before the referee having to pick the match ball up off one of the biggest abominations in football today, the plinth. God, I hate those plinths. Anyway, Charnock Richard’s first ever home Vase tie was a slow burner initially, with little to speak of during the early stages. However, this all changed on the half-hour when a solidly hit drive looked destined for the top corner, only for Barlick’s ‘keeper Jordan Gidley to make a fine save, with the strike looking destined for the top corner.

It then looked like Charnock would take the lead against the side from a division above, as Anthony Hough broke through the defence, rounded Gidley, but his shot was tremendously blocked on the goal-line by a sliding defender. Charnock, the Division 1 leaders, really should have been ahead at the break, but Barlick held on to keep the game all-square as the sides headed in and I headed for chips, a pretty decent portion for £1.20 too, with the food even being brought out to me. I could get used to this royal treatment.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Midfield battles.

Midfield battles.

Second half underway and it was Barnoldswick who came out of the blocks the quicker, with striker John Beckwith firing in a shot that left the ‘keeper beaten, only for the ball to cannon back off the post. From then on, it was the hosts who took the game by the scruff of the neck and again looked the most likely to break the deadlock, with Grimshaw looking dangerous…and angry throughout, but not as angry as the kid with the crutches who, when questioned by a Charnock-badged man, said he’d hit him with said walking-aid. The challenge was welcomed. In jest of course!

Just before the hour, the Villagers were denied on the line once more as, following another fine stop by the impressive Gidley off his own initial effort, the pacey Oliver Evans’ follow-up was blocked and eventually cleared. Barlick were still dangerous on their own forays forward too, with Gidley’s opposite number Adam Halton proving just as good when he palmed away Harry Thompson’s drive.

The game entered the last 10-minutes, with pretty much everyone in the ground, I’m sure, thinking the same as me. HOW IS THIS 0-0?! This was made even more surreal when, from a corner, an overhead kick saw Gidley somehow scramble to his right to claw the ball behind. The mercurial Grimshaw was then denied, once again by a goal-line block as the minutes ran out, but not before Spencer Bibby was, for me, unfortunate to receive a red card. It was a fairly strong tackle but there looked no real malice or threat in it however Bibby was back in the showers earlier than he’d have wanted. Well he was in the doorway spectating, but you know.

Great clearance!!

One of Four!!

Dugout action

Dugout action

Match Action

Match Action

Following the now standard goal-line clearance in the last minute to again deny Grimshaw and one Barlick player remark to his team-mate “How’ve you not been sent off yet?” following a challenge, the referee brought the ninety to a close. 0-0. God knows how, but that was the best 0-0 I’d ever seen. Luckily for all of us paying punters, there was another 30 to go!

Goals, many goals! That was the story of extra-time. Well, actually, the last ten minutes of extra-time, but we’ll get there! Both sides spurned decent early chances during a fairly quiet first period before, finally, the deadlock was broken and it was that man Grimshaw. The “local celebrity” broke clear of the static visiting defence, and slotted beyond Gidley for 1-0. The players, along with the Charter Lane end, went mad!

Scenes.

Scenes.

He's sneaking back on. Slowly.

He’s sneaking back on. Slowly.

Then, Gidley had the moment that can happen to all goalkeepers. Having had an outstanding game up until the 117th minute, he fluffed a clearance which looped up to the opportunistic Grimshaw and he had the simplest of tasks to roll the ball into the empty net. But, Barlick weren’t done as they went immediately down the other end with sub Joe Gaughan receiving the ball around 25-yards out before curling a fine shot into the top corner, leaving Halton no chance. The words don’t really give the strike justice, so hopefully these do for the final, game clinching one.

With Barlick straining for an equaliser, the ball broke out of defence and fell to the feet of Mark Adams. Adams then proceeded to run from his own half, right through to Gidley’s area. Faced with the advancing gloveman, Adams stayed cool, rounded him and with many in the crowd, myself included, expecting him to square it to Grimshaw alongside to allow his hat-trick, he was having none of it and finished a fine solo goal with aplomb. A great goal to end a fine game. 3-1 full-time.

Post-match sign action!

Post-match sign action!

The Talbot

The Talbot

So, having undertook the walk back under the setting sun, I arrived back in Euxton with a good half-hour until the train back and having been underwhelmed earlier in the day by the Euxton Mills pub, decided to look for somewhere on the “other side of the tracks”. Here, I found the large The Talbot and inside was buzzing with many in for the football and a few players from the town’s own club Euxton Villa drinking to either celebrate, or forget, their game today. A quick half of Amstel saw me through to the departure time, before I was back on the platform with the strains of the Match of the Day theme song blaring out from an ice cream van. In late October. That’s optimism.

After a police-riddled train back to Wigan was negotiated, it was plain sailing back home to end the day. A nice ground played host to a great game and you couldn’t have really asked for more for a fiver. A great day’s entertainment was had and ground 195 is done. With 200 fast approaching, where could be a good venue to head for? I’m open to suggestions. Anyway, thanks to Charnock for a good day and all the best in their Vase campaign and, indeed, for their title ambition.

dsc03191

Manchopper in….Irlam

Irlam_F_C__logoSelby_Town_FC_logo

Result: Irlam 1-0 Selby Town (FA Vase 1st Qualifying Round)

Venue: Silver Street (Saturday 10th September 2016, 3pm)

Att: 75

The FA Vase quest got underway on this fine Saturday for the vast majority of teams up and down the nation. For me, the venue was to be one of the more local clubs to my HQ, yet one that had eluded these pages up until this point. However, as Irlam were to take on Selby Town, whom I had a good day out watching during the mid-part of last season. So, with decision made early on and with little in terms of planning required, I looked forward to one of the easier trips, if not the easiest, of this season.

With the trip being so local, it meant that I had time to watch the first half of the Manchester Derby at home before heading over to catch the train to Irlam. A short 10 minute ride later and I found my way heading down the lengthy access road from the station to the main road heading through the town. Having already blogged the majority of the centre pubs of Irlam during my Irlam Steel FC blog, I decided, therefore, to embark on the 1.5 mile walk towards Silver Street and stop off at the only pub near the ground, according to my Maps sources, the Tiger Moth.

Arriving in Irlam

Station museum/café-bar

Heading to Irlam

Heading to Irlam

Tiger Moth

Tiger Moth

The Tiger Moth sits just round the corner from Irlam’s ground, around a 5-minute walk away, so is very convenient as a stopping off point. Unsurprisingly its location within a housing estate, means the Tiger Moth is a decent rough and tough boozer. With it being Derby Day, the pub’s punters were split into two rooms, one full of the blue persuasion and the other the red. I picked the correct one, though the set-up was still unbeknownst to me at the time and spent the last 10 minutes of the game along with a £2.50 Bud.

If I’d had spent long enough in there, my stamp card would have meant a free drink eventually. I did decide to bail out before the end, just in case of shenanigans and headed over to Silver Street ahead of the bigger game of the day. Unbelievably, there was little sign of an FA competition being in town, which is always a shame, especially considering the club had attracted 200+ on the previous Friday evening. Of course, the derby would have had a large effect on this, but it’s always a shame when the majority of locals can’t spare a bit longer for their real local team.

Irlam FC

Irlam FC

Turnstile

Turnstile

Anyway, high and mighty statement out of the way, I arrived at Silver Street with around a half-hour to kick-off. Arriving this early also meant I was able to grab one of the small amount of programmes, situated on the opposite side of the turnstile from the guy collecting the entrance fee. A little thing I always like about Irlam is the fact that, upon handing over your money, you are always thanked for your support. It’s the small things!

I headed straight for the clubhouse and having not eaten yet prior to arrival, I figured this would be a good place to start. Indeed there were pasties & sausage rolls on offer, and I plumped for a sausage roll for £1 and not the 70p which was advertised. This would have been more of a fitting price too, as there really was nothing to it and it was finished off within a minute. I did, however, meet Selby’s twitter-meister Elliot again in here, though the lack of beer on draught wasn’t much to his liking. There was some on offer, though in cans or bottles (I can’t remember which) and this sufficed as we headed out into the sun-bathed ground.

Clubhouse

Clubhouse

Silver Street is a simple ground, and its construction is a bit on the strange side. This being because the two stands and facilities are all located in one corner of the stadium. The “Main” Stand is a combination of seating and standing, with the small covered terrace situated nearer the clubhouse & changing rooms/tunnel. The seating area runs towards half-way and is flanked by a small amount of open terracing behind the dugouts. Behind the goal is a larger covered standing area, with the far touch-line and behind the far goal being open hard standing. As for Irlam’s story….

History Lesson:

Irlam FC was formed in 1969 under the name of Mitchell Shackleton FC, as a works team of engineering firm Mitchell, Shackleton and Company. This club is not connected to the former NPL & Counties side Irlam Town (folded 1995). Mitchells originally competed in the Eccles & District Amateur League in 1970, financed as part of the larger Mitchell Shackleton sports club, but upon the social club’s closure, the football side became a self-financed entity by the time they entered the Manchester League.

The club won Division 3 in 1974 and Division 2 the following year as they swiftly advanced through the ranks of the Manchester Amateur League. Following a league restructure, the club were placed in the interestingly named “Industrial ‘B’ Division”, in which they were runners-up in 1980. 1984 saw the club finish as Industrial Division ‘A’ runners-up, but did win the league’s Gosling Cup. After finishing as runners-up again in 1986, the club moved into the Manchester League for 1989-’90.

After gaining promotion from Division 1 to the Premier Division at the second attempt, the Mitchells remained in the Premier Division until their eventual switch into the North West Counties League in 2008, over a spell of 17 years, only flirting with relegation on three occasions (’94, ’98, ’06), the latter the final year under the club’s then moniker Irlam Mitchell Shackleton, which the side had been known as since 2001. The club was even stripped of the 2003 title due to player issues.

2004 saw the club lift the Manchester Challenge Trophy and after changing their name to their current title in 2006 and an 8th placed finish in 2007-’08, the club made the switch into the pyramid system. A respectable 8th placed finish was attained and from then on, Irlam continued to consolidate their position in the Division 1. Last season saw Irlam achieve promotion as runners-up, coming ever closer to their (sort of) predecessors high point.

Handshakes

Handshakes

Terracing

Terracing

The highlight of the game came before the start as the Selby Town players were making their way off the pitch and one player decided this was the time to unleash his fine pre-match speech “Don’t start f*****g slow, Don’t start f*****g…..” before realising there was no word he’d readied, so after an awkward silence came up with “sh*t!” After seeing me finding this highly amusing, he shrugged and admitted something along the lines of  “I had to say something, otherwise it was going to be slow again!”

With that out of the way, the players returned to the field ready to do battle. Unfortunately, the battle was more of a skirmish and never really got going throughout the 90 minutes. Selby edged the first half on the whole, getting the best of the early changes, none more so when a ball across the area looked destined to be knocked over the line from a few yards, only for the forward to make no contact with the ball whatsoever and the chance was gone.

It continued to look as though the lower ranked side from Yorkshire would be taking the lead, as they forced the home keeper into a pair of good saves, but Irlam’s first real chance, in the 35th minute, showed what can happen when you have an uber-confident striker, Christian Lawlor pouncing upon a loose ball in the area to knock home from around eight yards, much to the chagrin of the Selby defence, who felt that the final through-ball meant Lawlor was in an offside position. The officials didn’t agree and the goal stood. 1-0.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

As I was heading around the ground, I bumped into former West Didsbury & Chorlton boss and all-round footballing legend, Andy Nelson, who was watching the game in an “unofficial” capacity today. This was a good thing for the visitors as if geographical laws fell apart to allow this fixture to be a North West Counties league game, then the cursing between the ranks of the Robins, in particular a couple of players, would have seen them landed in some hot water! As you can probably tell, the fact these things are notable enough to go in the blog shows how little action went on in the game, as the half came to an end with the score remaining 1-0.

The second half was even more uneventful than the first, though this period saw the home side marginally on top, forcing the Robins’ stopper into a couple of decent stops early on. But as was the story of the game, chances were at a premium and little happened for Selby’s webmaster Elliot to keep everyone abreast of on the many media outlets. Selby did have more luck as the game progressed into the latter stages, with Irlam looking to see out the match.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Visitors Represent!

Visitors Represent!

Despite this, they couldn’t fashion any true opportunities and Irlam had a couple of chances to seal the victory in stoppage time, but on both occasions Selby’s impressive ‘keeper Dave Bramley kept them at bay to keep his side in with a slim chance, but it mattered not as Irlam kept their clean sheet intact to ensure their place in the next round, despite the worst excuse for a “fight” on the pitch as one of the home players ran off with the ball, forcing two Selby players to chase him and scrap. Horrible scenes.

Anyway, upon the final whistle, I bid goodbye to Elliot and apologized for my repeated bringing of bad luck on his side (two losses, out of two) and headed off back towards Irlam for the train back. Luckily, the day ended in much easier fashion as Andy pulled up and offered a lift back home, which I gladly accepted. Cheers Andy!

Closing Thoughts: So ends the first step of the Vase venture this season. Next stop sees a return to the Cup trail next week. As for this game, as I said earlier, Irlam is a good club and one that I always like to see have success, I think because I’ve known of their existence for a while, having passed their ground numerous times on the motorway prior to finally visiting for the first time a few years ago. Selby, of course, are a club I like too, having had one of my better all round trips, especially with it being on the fly somewhat. Hopefully, though, the next games will be more action packed…

R.I.P. Dan Wilkinson.

dsc02998

RATINGS:

Game: 5

Ground: 6

Programme: 5

Food: 3

Value For Money: 8

 

Manchopper in….Chorlton (West Didsbury & Chorlton FC)

West_Didsbury&Chorlton A.F.C._logomorpethtownfc-thumb-94504

Result: West Didsbury & Chorlton 4-5 Morpeth Town (FA Vase First Round)

Venue: The Recreation Ground, Brookburn Road (Saturday 31st October 2015, 3pm)

Att:123

On Hallowe’en, it was an almost certainty that someone was going to enjoy a fairly decent treat. This treat, however, wouldn’t have been of a candy nature, but more of a monetary & advancement in a cup one. As such, it was to be West Didsbury & Chorlton & Morpeth Town, who’d do battle to sudden death.

I began my day joined by my West-sympathising parents, who’d kindly agreed to pay for the vast majority of my day today, thus saving me a hit in the pocket for a weekend. This is always welcome, and as it was the day the dead rise again, a visit to the local haunted pub seemed in order. So, after a short taxi ride, we arrived at the Jackson’s Boat pub, a short 10-minute walk over the Hardy Farm trails.

Sadly, the visit was void of any ghostly activity, and indeed that of the living, so we swiftly moved onwards, over the fields and past the Recreation Ground, and eventually arrived in Chorlton Green, the small chic hub of activity around the corner from West Didsbury’s home. First stop here was the small real ale/bistro-style outlet by the name of “The Parlour”. Again, in keeping with the spookfest, a half of Trick or Treat was sampled. Nothing to shout about again and we continued on our pub crawl.

Jackson's Boat

Jackson’s Boat

Chorlton

Chorlton

The Parlour

The Parlour

Next stop was the newly-converted church, Mish Mash. The Mish Mash is, well, a Mish Mash, with doors popping up here and there for no apparent reasons, large mirrors hanging toward the ceiling and more outlandish things dotted about. This was our last of the out of the ordinary bars, before we began to enter the traditional pubs, with the Famous Trevor Arms being first up on the list.

Here, my Liverpool-supporting Mum could watch the remainder of the first period of the game vs Chelsea, within the much more normal surroundings of the Trevor, before next was the Beech, one of the older establishments in the town. Twas in here, that Jose’s team fell apart before my Mum’s ever more joyful celebrations, before the approach of kick-off crept up  on us like a killer from a shit horror movie and it was time to head for the Recreation Ground itself, and the big game of the day in the area, as the ex-Manchester League side hosted the Northern League high-flyers.

The Mish Mash lives up to its name

The Mish Mash lives up to its name

The Famous Trevor. No idea why, though.

The Famous Trevor. No idea why, though.

To reach Brookburn Road you, unsurprisingly, walk down Brookburn Road and head down the small access road at the bottom, which leads you to West’s home. Here, you carry on up the road and are eventually met by a small wooden hut alongside a large metal fence, the latter serves as the car park gate, the former the “turnstile”. The admission today was £6, on account of covering for Morpeth’s travelling fees, which is more than fair enough. I don’t think anyone would begrudge that. After picking up the very decent programme for a further £2, I was into The Recreation Ground.

As some of you will know, I have had a pretty long, if bitty, history watching West, which dates from their time in the Manchester League a few years back, so I’ve seen them rise through the ranks up to the Premier Division of the North West Counties. As such, I do feel a fair affinity for them and always look out for their results on a matchday and you can add into this that I know their Match Secretary, Rob McKay, fairly well too, though I saw little of him today as he was busy on official duties.

West approach

West approach

WD&CFC

WD&CFC

Breaking the rules.

Breaking the rules.

Before too long, I’d tucked into my top quality pork pie, while my Dad was busy announcing the sides to the masses in attendance and the teams had exited the dressing rooms and onto the field of play. I headed round to the newest side of the ground behind the dugouts, where there used to be a wall, before ground grading updates and additional academy pitches at the rear ensured Brookburn Rd became a four-sided ground, rather than a three. The Rec is open standing on this touchline and the opposite one, which also serves as a players car-park. Behind the “derelict building end” is a small covered box which serves as a terrace, and behind the far end goal is the clubhouse, accompanied by a small amount of seating in front, and the “Rob Turley Stand”, which offers more covered seating. It’s a tidy ground, that has seen a lot of history in its time…

History Lesson:

The club was formed back in 1908 as Christ Church AFC and played in the Manchester Alliance League until 1914. It appears the club disbanded during the war, before re-appearing afterwards and renaming itself West Didsbury AFC in 1920, joining the Lancashire & Cheshire League. Here they remained for a fair period, staying consistently at the higher end of the table, finishing runners-up on four occasions and winning the league’s Rhodes Cup in 1932.

After WWII, the club were still competing in the L&C League, but weren’t quite as successful and were relegated in 1952, but were immediately promoted back the following year. In 1960, they were again relegated from the top division and this time took six years to regain their top flight status. However, they were only shortly back at the L&C’s top table, being relegated again in 1969.

Today's Teams

Today’s Teams

Centenary Mural in the clubhouse

Centenary Mural in the clubhouse

After a second Rhodes Cup success the following year, West were promoted again the season following this success, but two relegations in three years saw West playing in the L&C’s Division 3, where they remained until the late ’80’s, despite a Whitehead Cup success in 1977. West then won both Division Three and Two as champions in 1988 & 1989 respectively. In 2003, the club changed its name to its current title, to reflect its 1997 move to its current Brookburn Road site from Christie Fields. In 2006, they entered the Manchester League Division 1, eventually winning promotion, as champions, in 2011 after winning two Murray Shields prior to this. In the 2011-’12 season, the club competed in the FA Vase for the first time, reaching Round 2 and had their application to join the North West Counties accepted for 2012-’13.

They have since been very successful, immediately winning a promotion/cup double, as Formby were relegated allowing 3rd placed West a place in the Premier Division, which they celebrated with an underdog win against Abbey Hey in the Division 1 Cup, a game I attended. Last season, West finished up in a fairly underwhelming 16th place in the NWCFL Premier Division, as manager Andy Nelson bowed out into retirement to be replaced by his assistant, Steve Settle for this season.

The game got underway and it was a competitive start, with both sides creating chances, but it was the North Eastern “Highwaymen” (who are incidentally sponsored by a taxi firm, awkward) who took the lead, James Novak’s left wing cross drifting over West’s custodian Hayden Buckley-Smith and into the net, via the far post. A fortunate goal, but they soon showed they weren’t here to mess about, as they quickly added three further goals to their tally before the break.

10 minutes or so later, Jordan Fry finished off a scramble in the box to double Town’s advantage, and after 25 minutes, you felt they’d sown the game up. Myself and Dan Watkinson had just started off on a lap of the ground as Chris Smailes thundered a header off the bar and the ball bounced down and over the line.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

West go close

West go close

Maisie looks suitably unimpressed

Maisie looks suitably unimpressed

Despite West trying their very best to get back into the game, they, somewhat unfairly, found themselves four-nil down with Michael Chilton poking in. 4-0 at the break it was then, though West were nowhere near four goals worse than their visitors. Take nothing away from Morpeth, however, who’d taken their chances when they came.

I dodged a further drink at the break, due to me trying to nurse the alcohol levels during the game, as the match appeared to be in that nice period where it’s slightly hazy and everything seems great, apart from my Dad shouting abuse at the ref for no apparent reason. Back to the game, and at 4-0, there was no chance of a comeback, right? No chance at all! Well, wait for this.

After an hour, the game still stood at 4-0 and if you were in the Premier League you’d have had people leaving at the point where Matty Kay netted for 1-4. Then, it was 2-4 as Ash Woods slotted in, before Kay made it 3-4 as he advanced into the area before slotting home from an extreme angle. Suddenly, the excitement was radiating from the home support, just as the nerves were from those clad in amber and black winter attire.

Goal Kick

Goal Kick

West celebrate their late, late equaliser.

West celebrate their late, late equaliser.

It looked as though West had used up their energy as the game entered stoppage time, and it looked as though Morpeth would be progressing, despite a scare. But then, probably my favourite Coventry Sphinx-dual registered NWCFL player Nic Evangelinos turned on his skill, released the enigmatic Rick Gleave, who went on a run that Atlas would have struggled to stop, before slotting under the advancing Niall Harrison, and sparking raucous scenes of celebration from those of a West persuasion both on and off the pitch. Extra-Time it was the….oh, hang on a minute..

GOAL! 5-4! But to who? Well, if you’d missed the “result” at the beginning of this blog you’ll be in a minority in suspense right now…It was Morpeth! Kick-off was taken, up the other end went Morpeth and Chilton was the hero of the hour as he rose like the proverbial salmon, to head past the helpless Buckley-Smith and into the corner, to send Morpeth through and break West hearts. In one instance came the proof that football is both brilliant, but dismaying too depending on which side of the fight you are on.

What a game, and the whistle finally went to end what must have been the tie of the round, and full credit to both sides, but especially to West who gave a great account of, not only themselves, but also the NWCFL against the supposed stronger Northern League side. However, I must also give a mention here to all those connected with Morpeth who I came across. If you do come across a more friendly club than these bunch, you’ll do well. Tremendous and I only hope it was easier to reach their ground than it is!

After a quick stop off in the clubhouse, it was off back to Chorlton Green and the Bowling Green Pub, where a large contingent of Morpeth players, supporters and staff were congregated. I again met up with Morpeth’s sub Lee McAndrew, whom I’d pent a brief period speaking to during his warm up and after again disturbing him, this time from buying pints wished him and his side all the best in the next round and going forward, before moving onto the Horse & Jockey for the last stop, where we were called ugly and generally bullied by a group of 7-8 year olds, especially poor Dan, before leaving back in a taxi, before I realised I’d left my bag there and began to go into something of a panic, before having to phone up and explain my predicament and hope it was still tucked under the table. It was….and relax.

Horse & Jockey

Horse & Jockey

Spooky goings-on

Spooky goings-on

So, a great day at a great club, meeting people from another great club, and an absolutely brilliant game that is probably a one in every 500 occurrence. Cheers to all, especially my parents for allowing me to do it for next to nothing!! Thanks again, but it’s back to the big time next weekend, as I continue my FA Competitions with a visit to Coventry City’s Ricoh Arena in the FA Cup. If it’s anything like this game, I’ll be suitably satisfied!

DSC00873

RATINGS:

Game: 10- Had everything. Need I say more?

Ground: 6- Rather basic, but it’s a nice setting.

Fans: 7- A pretty decent bunch down at West.

Programme: 8- A really good production, considering the level.

Food: 9- The pork pie was immense!

Value For Money: 10- I wonder why?!

Manchopper in….Emley

 

AFcEmleyCongleton Town

Result: AFC Emley 3-4 Congleton Town (FA Vase Second Qualifying Round)

Venue: The Welfare Ground (Saturday 3rd October 2015, 3pm)

Att: 139

After much deliberation, out of my hands, to do with the destination for today’s game between Matt, the Lost Boyo, & Gibbo, the birthday boy, the final decision became AFC Emley, after initially being headed for Shaw Lane Aquaforce and later Knutsford for a short while. I wasn’t too enamoured by either of the provisional pairing due to the fact I’d already previously visited the two clubs, so when I received the news that Emley would be welcoming the entourage of groundhoppers, including the duo of Tony 1 Leg and Johnny The Rhino, I was more than pleased. Emley had long been a target of mine, but due to its rather out of civilization placing, it wasn’t one I was in a rush to head for.

But today was the day. So, after eventually managing to escape Manchester Oxford Road and its delays, I met with Matt in the concourse of Piccadilly station, where we were soon joined by the trio mentioned above. No sooner had seating arrangements been sorted out, than the party hats were out and Tony and Johnny got to work on two ladies heading over to Harrogate. Also, a lad sitting opposite our group was soon in possession of a hat of his own, to which he seemed mighty happy about and the other guy he was sat next to even found our conversation interesting enough to remove his earphones to listen in.

Upon arriving into Huddersfield, the 1LegOnTheCup duo were separated from their TransPennine beaus and our two new male friends were also headed separate ways, but in differing states of dampness. The one with the hat made sure he took it with him back to his Yorkshire abode in a very dry state, but the other man wasn’t so luck, as Matt went on to knock his can of Fosters all over the helpless fella’s lap. I was even given praise for not swearing by the (not quite) old woman sat next to me upon our disembarkation, though I’m not sure if this was directed at us all or just me. I like to think it was the group, so I took this idea and ran with it. Anyway, after being dumbfounded by the ticket machine that took my ticket but didn’t release it again, I was into Huddersfield itself.

Arriving in Huddersfield

Arriving in Huddersfield

The Cherry Tree (somewhere)

The Cherry Tree (somewhere)

For when it gets too much in The Wellington

For when it gets too much in The Wellington

Within a couple of minutes, we’d reached our first stop, the town’s Wetherspoon’s: The Cherry Tree. Here, we had our first, much needed, beverages of the day, whilst Tony tried his best to get the barmaid to show him different tattoos on various parts of her anatomy. Nothing sinister though, I stress! Soon after we’d got our drinks in, we were joined by a new Huddersfield import, Craig, a more recent suffering Crawley Town fan, who ha moved to better pastures in the North, though I question his decision to move to Yorkshire. Anyway, Craig recommended a pub somewhere in the near distance, so we headed there. But, in true fashion when I’m in such company as I found myself today, we ended up in a dingy bar hidden behind some roadworks, The Wellington.

The Wellington was much better inside than out, with its interior decorated with the flags of the countries competing in the Rugby World Cup. Otehrwise, there was little to add colour to the interior of the public house, other than a door stating “Warning: Carbon Dioxide”. I wondered whether this is where people ventured when it got a little too much, after watching a game. Soon enough, we were out of the dingy surroundings that didn’t quite live up to the Duke and were heading over to the bus station for the carriage over to Emley.

Craig, after directing us to the station, soon left us after reaching a helpful sign stating “Stands A-Z”, with an arrow pointing to the concourse. Here is where things began to get wild. As the Gregg’s increased its profits due to our arrival, we also found ourselves entranced with the stand specific tannoy system, which stated the tooo-three-tooo’s route. I don’t think the locals were too impressed by our incessant pressing of the Stand G lady’s button, but there we are. To their relief, I’m sure, the 232 soon arrived, and we were boarding the “Yorkshire Tiger” service, decked out in tiger-print seats. I did spot a Tiger-Blue bus too, which sounded like the late-night version.

After around a half-hours journey into the hills and moors of the West Riding of Yorkshire, we were soon nearing Emley,  heralded by the large pole towering above the area. Matt stated he’d heard it was taller than the Eiffel Tower, and was on a mission to discover if this was indeed the case. Meanwhile, I discovered a local delicacy called “German Eggs”. Although, it became apparent tat German Eggs were in fact Gammon, Eggs…This was much to the amusement of the rest of the group and to the local directly in front of us.

Emley

Emley

The White Horse

The White Horse

Interior. The White Horse.

Interior. The White Horse. Horses Heads. Family.

So, now insearch of local facts and German Eggs, we disembarked in the buzzing village of…Ah. Well, there isn’t much at all in Emley. Think Emmerdale, but without the drama or the murders (as far as I’m aware). Anyway, we soon found ourselves within the walls of the White Horse Pub, which has a restaurant that’s rendered obsolete for at least half of the year, due to no food being on offer for the other 6 months or so. The locals were quite the welcoming bunch, more interested in quite what we were doing in their village. After explaining why, they still looked dumbstruck, as were the Congleton fans by their surroundings, who soon joined us in the small bar. Anyway, before long we’d exited the White Horse and headed over the road to AFC Emley’s home, The Welfare Ground.

The Welfare Ground is reached via a small passage, and is neighboured by a second pub, the Wentworth. The two are separated by the club’s car park, which has to be survived to reach the turnstiles, where we were relieved of £5 entry and a further £1.50 for the programme. After entering through, we were all collared for a raffle ticket, with prizes ranging from eggs (German?) to a tin of Haggis, probably donated by the game’s sponsors, the Emley Scottish Supporters’ Club. Ooh, stereotyped! Onwards to the bar, which is situated alongside the main stand. The bar is also in the building that houses the changing rooms, with the main stand offering raised seating over the pitch. Behind the end where you enter from is a covered terrace, with the far end open, hard standing, though the small steps of terracing here have been somewhat reclaimed by nature. The ground is three-sided, due to it also being a part of the village cricket ground’s outfield.

AFC Emley

AFC Emley

Raffle Prizes

Raffle Prizes

Matt in the hat

Matt in the hat

So, back inside the bar, it was onto the cider for me and an old favourite, Woodpecker! Lovely. Somewhere in the meantime, Gibbo had gone on to decide that his shower curtain birthday present, decorated with ducks, would be more worthy of being a poncho. And it was. Thus the legend of Duckman was born. Now, I can’t do it justice on these pages, so f you want to read into the myth yourselves, then this is the place to do it: Duckman hath cometh

So, it was onto the game, but first it was over to the “café” for some  food. I got some chips and a sausage roll combo for £.50 only, and quickly ate the pretty good produce. Matt was just as complimentary, if not more so, of his local delicacy, which was a turnip and carrot  meaty-type thing. It must taste better than it looked to my eye, but then, I despise turnip. A terrible thing. anyway, here’s the history of AFC Emley…

History Lesson:

The club was formed in 2005 after the village’s old team, Emley AFC, moved to Wakefield in 2000 after 97 years, to become Wakefield-Emley and later Wakefield FC. The club is now defunct.

The current Emley started out in the West Yorkshire League, being promoted from Division 1 at the first attempt, finishing third. This brought the club into the Northern Counties East League Division 1, where they’ve competed ever since, finishing no lower than 13th, their first season. Their best finish was 5th, which they attained last time out.

Café!

Café!

Handshakes

Handshakes

Watching early on

Watching early on

Main Stand

Main Stand

So, back onto the game,  and it was played out at a decent pace early on, though there wasn’t much in the shape of goal-mouth action until Matt and I headed off on a “lap” of the Welfare Ground, whereupon the visiting Bears from Congleton took the lead. A low ball in saw the ‘keeper make an initial block, but he was unable to stop the rebound being bundled in, much to the delight of the Bears forward who whooped away in front of us. 0-1, and this was how it remained until the break.

The rest of the half was spent with Gibbo ribbing certain former Atherton LR players about their former lives on the, from his viewpoint, “dark side” of Atherton. But, on the pitch, the main recipient of the barrage, Bears keeper Farrimond, was almost beaten when left one-on-one with an Emley forward, but the chance was wasted and the visitors headed in with their lead intact.

The mythical Duckman

The mythical Duckman

Blurred lines

Blurred lines

Celebrations

Celebrations

After a quick sojourn in the bar, it was back out for the second period, where the home side almost immediately drew level. If the first goal was ugly, then this was repulsive. An even worse scramble ended with another one bundled into the turnstile end net. 1-a-piece, via a disputed goal/own-goal. And it was soon two, but this goal was much more pleasant on the eye, as hotshot Ashley Flynn fired home from the edge of the area, for 2-1 to the home side. But the best was yet to come from Flynn, and from Emley.

Flynn, after a good passing move, picked the ball up just outside the box, advanced slightly, before delightfully chipping Farrimond from 20-yards, to cue manic celebrations, including the Emley manager pegging down the touchline, Mourinho-esque, to join in with his players down in the corner.

Back level!

Back level!

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

But, Emley hadn’t counted on Congleton coming back from 3-1 with 20 minutes-or-so to play. But come back was what they did. Declan Fletcher initiated the comeback, slotting in from inside the area, before they levelled after Fletcher was this time denied by the home custodian, but then coolly squared the ball to the onrushing Scott McGowan to slot into the back of the net. 3-3!

By now, it looked like extra-time was on the cards, and discussions turned to this. Matt and Gibbo were more than happy for the extra half-hour, whereas I was hoping for a winner in 90-minutes. Congleton won a corner as I stated I’d go for a winner here. Duly, Fletcher obliged, powering a towering header into the corner, sending the small band of black-and-white clad fans behind the goal into jubilation.

Emley's jubilation at 3-1...

Emley’s jubilation at 3-1…

....turned to dismay at 3-4.

….turned to dismay at 3-4.

Clash!

Clash!

That was that, as goal updates came raining in from West Didsbury and Chorlton’s 15-1 win over Dinnington Town in the Vase. 3-4, and what a game. After Gibbo and Matt partook in some on-field after match photography, it was to the Wentworth, where Matt finally got his confirmation, from the barmaid, that the Emley Moor tower was indeed taller than the French one. With this fact safely tucked within our brains, we finished off our drinks and headed for the bus back into Huddersfield.

After being semi-complimented by some of the Bears players on their way to the coach outside the newsagents with a sign bearing “newspapers sold here”, we were back into town and on to our next stop, the station bar by the name of the King’s Head, which is located round the back from the, now closed, George Hotel, where Rugby League was founded.

Duckman's charms

Duckman’s charms

Extra passenger in hold.

Taking over Emley

Newspapers sold here

Newspapers sold here

The King’s Head looks like it’s still undergoing decorating, with bare walls and floors but someone has decided to throw some tables in there and open early. The toilets being the best decorated part of the pub. It certainly is a strange one, but it more than fitted in with what had gone before today. Soon enough, we were on the train back to Manchester, where the ever compelling Duckman ended up pulling an Ulster girl with his Quacking charm.

Back in Manchester, it was onto the Piccadilly Tap, where I had an hour to waste before my train back home. Here, you can go to the bathroom and learn something interesting upon the blackboard.

The King's Head

The King’s Head

Finished, or....?

Finished, or….?

The Tap

The Tap

Yeah...

Yeah…

After ordering a half of something or other, the time eventually dwindled off and I bid goodbye to my “colleagues” and set off into the night of the City Centre and over to Oxford Road again, which was much more settled than earlier in the day. I must have looked the worse for wear though, as I shut my eyes for about a minute on the train, when the conductor came over to me and asked if I was ok, and where I was headed. Being in something of sound mind, he left me to my journey.

So, the story of the day in a small village north of Huddersfield comes to an end. I challenge anyone to go to Emley and have a more dramatic, action-packed, duck-filled experience than we all had on this day. If you do, you may just end up being Quackers. Okay, enough of the duck puns now…

DSC00627

RATINGS:

Game: 8- End to end, 7 goals, comebacks, glorious chips. Brilliant.
Ground: 7- A nice, characterful ground.
Fans: 8- A great bunch, and some of the best I’ve come across in my travels.
Programme: 6- Not a bad effort, considering the level.
Food: 7- A decent offering, very economical helps the rating,
Value For Money: 8- To be honest, I’d lost track on how much it all cost.

Manchopper in….Ellesmere Port (Vauxhall Motors FC)

VAUXHALL-ING LOGOGlasshoughton Welfare

Result: Vauxhall Motors 5-0 Glasshoughton Welfare (FA Vase First Qualifying Round)

Venue: Rivacre Park (Saturday 5th September 2015, 3pm)

Att: 64

The first weekend of September saw the return of the FA Vase and, as such, threw up a number of different possibilities of where I may be headed. Due to the fact I was completely set on a Vase game, I therefore decided to do a random draw, throwing in all sorts of competitions. As you do. Luckily for me, Vauxhall Motors, now of the West Cheshire League, came out last from the tub and for me it was destination Rivacre Park.

So, I was off to Liverpool Lime Street station during the late morning, arriving in Merseyside at around about 12.30. After the short walk through to the lower level part of the station, I had a 25 minute wait until the train onwards to Birkenhead and Ellesmere Port. This would have been fine had the tube-like system not been more akin to a F1-style windtunnel, sending cold air down the tracks, thus making this fairly un-pleasurable.

Arriving at Hooton

Arriving at Hooton

Puuuuuubbb!!!

Puuuuuubbb!!!

Inside The Hooton

Inside The Hooton

Happily for me, the time seemed to pass quickly and soon I was through Birkenhead and rattling through the towns of Spital and Bromborough amongst others, before I decided to check Google Maps for the best place to disembark. The ever reliable(!) Maps gave me the suggestion of Hooton, a small town just to the north west of Ellesmere Port, and this seemed to have a couple of decent pubs on the way to the ground. So, Hooton it was!

After disembarking here, it wasn’t long until I came across my first port of call, The Hooton Hotel. This was a very smart pub, with a nice atmosphere, though it was quite empty in the bar area with only a few patrons dotted here and there. Still, I plumped for a pint of Warsteiner, and nursed it away whilst watching some not too engrossing rowing on TV. I’d have much preferred some F1 quali action, but alas the Beeb sold us out long before, meaning this wasn’t happening today and why I refuse to watch their coverage.

The Chimneys

The Chimneys

Sol

Sol

Heading the right way

Heading the right way

Anyway, enough of F1-based moaning, and onto the ever interesting details of walking down a few country roads towards Vauxhall’s Rivacre Park home. After being well directed by the barman at the Hooton upon my leaving, it wasn’t too long before I was at the next place of rest, The Chimneys. This was another nice establishment and after purchasing a Sol beer for a pricey £4, I quickly downed it and was on my last leg of the journey, which looked fairly easy simple on Maps. I wasn’t quite that simple.

After dodging oncoming traffic from both sides down both Old School Lane and Rivacre Road, which runs adjoining the motorway, I eventually arrived, fully intact, at Vauxhall Sports Club and Rivacre Park. The ground itself sits on the left of the complex, alongside the Vauxhall Social Club, which sits just outside the ground’s confines and is neighboured by various other playing areas of differing surfaces, with one looking as though it may host West Cheshire League football.

Safely arrived!

Safely arrived!

The Social Club through the leafy approach

The Social Club through the leafy approach

Rivacre Park

Rivacre Park

Any ideas what these are?!

Know where the turnstiles are?!

Anyway, upon reaching the ground, the turnstile relieved me of £3 ( well, the man on duty there did the turnstile itself hadn’t become animated) and I had entered just as the sides made their ways onto the field for the pre-match pleasantries and eventually, the kick-off in the big FA Vase clash of the day, Vauxhall Motors vs Glasshoughton Welfare, of the Northern Counties East League.

Rivacre Park is still a good ground, with it still looking in good nick, despite the levels of self-imposed demotion. Two covered terraces stand next to the other on the right-hand touchline, with the opposite side taken by a covered seated stand. The goal that you enter behind is accompanied by the dressing rooms and all other services, with the far end open, hard standing backed by a wooded area.

When I last saw Glasshoughton (at Shaw Lane Aquaforce), they lost 9-0. They had to improve, surely?! Before that, though, here’s the story behind the Motormen…

History Lesson:

Founded in 1963, originally as the car plant’s works team, Vauxhall Motors originally plied their trade in the local Ellesmere Port League and then the Wirral Combination. By the 1970’s, the club had shown dominance in these leagues and switched to the West Cheshire League whilst playing at the factory-owned Hooton Park and they remained there until 1987, when the club opened their own ground, Rivacre Park.

In the West Cheshire League, their first silverware came in the shape of the Division 2 Bowl in 1968. the club won the championship in 1986, this being joined the same year by a first Wirral Senior Cup. These successes led the club to apply for the North West Counties, which was ultimately successful and they joined for the season 1987-’88. Their second season saw the Second Division won comfortably, and won the NWCFL League Cup in 1991. But, at the cessation of the season, the club made the decision to step back down to the West Cheshire League.

The stay back in the WCL was a short one and they were soon back in the Counties after both Firsts and Reserves won both divisions in the ’94-’95 season. Upon their NWCFL return, they again won the Division 2 easily, before failing to achieve too much until 1999 saw Vauxhall reaching the 5th Round of the FA Vase, finish 3rd place in Division 1 and win the NWCFL League Cup for a second time. This success was bettered the following season reaching FA Vase semi-finals, winning the League Cup again and finally won the title and in doing so, achieved a spot in the Northern Premier League Division 1.

A hark back to higher times.

A hark back to higher times.

Memorial to late Motors player Martin Pearson

Memorial to late Motors player Martin Pearson

In their first season, Motors won promotion again, this time to the NPL Premier Division as runners-up. This was also matched by the achievement of reaching the FA Cup 1st Round, where the club defeated QPR before losing out on TV to Macclesfield Town and the following season saw the club finish high enough to earn a place in the new Conference North for 2004-’05.

During the early part of their stay here, the club struggled for the most part and would have been relegated in 2008, where it not for the folding of Nuneaton Borough and the demotion of Boston United.’08-’09 saw the club dodge the bullet once again, this time thanks to the misfortune of Farsley Celtic (resigned) and the demotion of Northwich Victoria. After a few seasons of slightly better finishes, the club eventually announced their intention to resign from the Conference North due to costs, dropping back to their safety net of the West Cheshire League in order to stabilize the club and rebuild again, which is a much smarter decision than some others have taken in similar positions.

Main Stand

Main Stand

Dressing Rooms/toilets (where you can stretch and still watch the game!)

Dressing Rooms/toilets (from where you can stretch and still watch the game!)

Terraces

Terraces

After a season out of first team competition, the club returned for the 2014-’15 season, taking their reserves place in the Division 2, which they immediately won, earning promotion to the First Division for this season, in which they have started strongly, challenging at the top of the table during the early stages of the season.

Back onto the game then and, well, remember when I said that surely Glasshoughton could only get better? Well, the scoreline did. But that was all. Everything else was just as bad, or worse. They were absolutely hammered by Motors who were the supposed underdogs from a division below. This wasn’t the case though, as they proceeded to rip the Welfare apart during the vast majority of the first 45 minutes. Indeed, it took them just two minutes to open the scoring, as captain Jordan Brierley stepped up to whip a low free-kick into the bottom corner.1-0 and the Motors were driving forwards. Yes, yes I know….

This was soon doubled by striker John Atkinson, who confidently finished off from inside the area after great work by his strike partner, Jamie Matthews, who looked a real threat all game with his pace allied with strength and height. A great combination and certainly a player who looks as though he should still be at a higher level. But enough about Matthews for the time being, as Atkinson soon added to his first. After Motors’ winger Kal Herbert had had his shot well saved by the ‘keeper, Atkinson was there to slot home the rebound. 3-0 with under a half-hour played and you felt game over.

Atkinson, just about to tuck away his first

Atkinson, just about to tuck away his first…

Before netting his second soon after.

…Before netting his second soon after.

He's joined on the scoresheet by Matthews

He’s joined on the scoresheet by Matthews

Glasshoughton were being smashed (yes, another terrible pun) and Motors soon hit another gear. This time it was Matthews who deservedly got his name on the scoresheet, as a slick move saw him clear of the defence, and he slotted past the beleaguered Welfare ‘keeper for 4-0. Luckily for Welfare, the break wasn’t far away and Motors seemed to take their foot off the pedal for a while, enticing their visitors forward. This was almost costly, as a low strike hit the foot of the post before the whistle went and it was food time.

After heading into the nice café/bar area, I ordered a meat and potato pie and was asked to sign  piece of paper. It was only in hindsight I realised I had no idea why I had been asked to do so and thinking I really should have, just for the sake of knowledge. The only other person on said sheet was a fella from Pontefract, so I hope they didn’t think I was a Yorkie. God help me! (I’m a Lancashire Cricket member, hence my anti-Yorkshire stance!).

Café/Bar

Café/Bar

Match Action

Match Action

Rivacre end.

Rivacre end.

So, after doing the above and catching the half-times with Jeff Stelling and friends, it was back onto the terracing with a fine pie fully devoured. As it was, Vauxhall continued to hammer away at the Welfare, with Matthews having a goal ruled out for a tight offside decision, though the ‘keeper was also forced into a couple of saves, one of which was a mighty fine effort, as he tipped one away as he looked beaten for all money.

Soon though, Matthews had his second when Atkinson returned the favour for Matthews’ assist for his own second goal and the big man finished easily. There was still time for a late penalty and a chance for a consolation goal for the Welfare, when a blatant push in the box was punished with the spot kick. Glasshoughton #4, Louis Penty, stepped up, but his strike was kept out by John Rushton between the sticks to ensure a clean sheet.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

SAVED!!!

SAVED!!!

There was one quite humorous moment when the ball found its way over to the far corner and with no-one near it, the ref decided that, at 5-0, now was the time to stop Motors from time-wasting! Cue the next time it went out, I chased it and was immediately met with “COME ON, QUICKER!” by a Motors player, in full jest mode by now and accompanied by fans. Top stuff. Full-Time, 5-0 to the Motormen.

And so it was over and I now faced  a dilemma. Did I walk down the roads back from whence I came, or did I follow a local down towards Overpool and civilization. I plumped for the latter figuring localised knowledge must be best. But, my God, it was worse. More traffic dodging ensued, before I was kindly offered a lift to the station by a few Vauxhall people, who, after enquiring where I was from and upon my answer replied “Oh, are you that Man-Chopper?”. Yes, yes the innuendo still works wonders!

The Levitating Man!!

The Levitating Man!!

A welcome as I leave

A welcome as I leave

Overpool Station

Overpool Station

After conversations about the local area around me and the past living arrangements of the lady in the car, who knew where I live after living nearby for some…well, I won’t say… I was dropped off at Overpool where I had a short wait for the train  back into Lime Street. Cheers again for the lift and it showed even more to me just how good a club Vauxhall Motors are. If you do get the chance to go, then do it.

Anyway, I was soon back in Liverpool and had a half-hour to wait next to a bronzed Ken Dodd. Well, a statue of the comedian and not the man himself fresh off the sunbeds! After helping a few people find their way onto their respective trains like a volunteer National Rail employee (I will be seeking payment), I was on my way back through the Cheshire countryside and back into the outskirts of Manchester. Another good day, a good advert for the West Cheshire League’s strength and, most importantly, a good club. Vauxhall Motors. It’s teREVic. Ok, I’ll stop now…

DSC00385

RATINGS:

Game: 7- One sided, but a good quality played, on a fine surface.

Ground: 6- A decent ground, which is obviously not quite at its best. But still, fairly tidy and for the level, quite superb.

Fans: 7- Humorous, especially when joining in with the players on retrieving the ball!

Programme: N/A – Sadly, the Rivacre Review appeared to be withdrawn.

Food: 8- Very decent, well worth the purchase and the £2-odd.

Value For Money: £10 travel, £10 refreshments and £3 in. Not bad at all.