Manchopper in….Salford Quays (Ordsall Leisure Centre)

Result: Beechfield United 3-2 Bolton County (Manchester Football League Premier Division)

Venue: Ordsall Leisure Centre (Tuesday 27th August 2019, 7pm)

Att: 45 (hc)

A rarity on these pages, a midweek game isn’t seen too much as it is, never mind one that is played at a non-regular venue a short distance from my abode. But that is just what this game was and the Ordsall Leisure Centre, just beyond its larger neighbour in Old Trafford, would be the host. The ground is within the small area of Ordsall in Salford, but stands just across the road from the plushy Salford Quays area of the city and, as a result of this, it gave me an excuse to sample a few of the pubs and bars the surround the numerous old docking areas.

I set off for this 7pm kick-off at just after 4pm, grabbing a couple of buses which allowed me to journey on over the swing bridge and to the Quays themselves. I would bypass the old Ordsall Hall mansion in doing so before hopping off my second service of the trip just outside the Quays House Beefeater – located right alongside a Premier Inn, perfect for those who like a tipple or two before bed! Incidentally, the most interesting parts of the journey both happened on this second bus (the 79 for those interested) which included a radio station onboard which meant my ride began with Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back” soundtracking it, whilst the “bus stopping” sign was illuminated by an unseen hand, as it was only me and the driver on board….Whooooooo!! Spooky.

Ordsall Hall

Beefeater from across the water.

Matchstick Man

As I said, my day began with a visit to the Beefeater, which offered views across the quays towards the Old Trafford side, a nice enough place to sit with a pint of San Miguel, especially in the final throes of the warm, kind weather the bank holiday was allowed. From there, I back-tracked a little to the Matchstick Man, a Hungry Horse pub, where a pint of Boddies kind of reflected its surroundings, coming in at £3.95. Not a whole lot to report in here despite setting off in the direction of a non-existent door for some reason on the way out before again making the walk back towards the Lowry theatre and the neighbouring Craftbrew and Harvester outlet. I gave a miss to the Alchemist, though, as it looked a little….highbrow.

The Salford Quays area is within the area the City of Salford which itself is in the larger Greater Manchester area. It was formerly the Manchester Docks and, upon their 1982 closure, it then became the scene of one of the first and largest urban redevelopments throughout the U. K. The docks were owned and built by the Manchester Ship Canal Company, with Salford being the larger of the two – out sizing its neighbour Pomona. The docks were opened in 1892 by Queen Victoria and would go on to be, at its height, the third busiest port in Britain for a time, but the rise of container transportation and larger vessels meant the docks entered into a decline through the 1970’s, ahead of their eventual 1982 closure.

The Quays

Around the old docks

Heading on over to the Lowry area

The docklands were bought the next year by Salford City Council and renamed Salford Quays, with the area being steadily redeveloped from 1985 onwards to include many living areas, bar, restaurants, hotels, the Lowry Art Gallery, Theatre and Retail Outlet and the Imperial War Museum North. These were linked up by roads, a promenade and bridges, and were later joined by the Metrolink extension through to Media City, with the BBC and ITV having a large presence nowadays.

The Craftbrew was probably my favourite bar of the day beer-wise and had many a real ale on offer. I opted for a Hawkshead Pale Ale and it was bloody lovely too – very happy with that choice and the £4.05 price tag wasn’t bad at all considering its position bang centre within the Lowry complex. Finishing off my pint outside on the small outdoor area, I headed the short distance to the Harvester, which was only a small place and I felt more than a little out of place within the dining peoples, as I seemed to be the only person in there having a drink alone. Ah well, what can you do?! Upon finishing off the 61 Deep of Marston’s here, it was time to head towards Ordsall and a planned brief pop-over to the nearby, famed Salford Lads Club just around the corner. From there, I had hoped to get to the Welcome Inn a few minutes from the Ordsall Leisure Centre itself, but this proved to be impossible.

The reason for this? Well….bus. As I was setting off on my planned 25 minute-or-so walk, I spotted the #50 service popping in a little late. “Bonus!”; I thought to myself as I caught it, but this proved to be a fatal flaw in my plans, as it seemed to take an age to get around, whilst the walk from the stop itself seemed to take far, far longer than the phone map suggested. As a result, having reached the Lads Club, the heartbreaking decision to wrest myself away from the Welcome Inn was enforced and so direct to the ground I was forced to be. I’m sorry to have had to subject you to such scenes. Trust me, just be happy you weren’t there to experience it.

Lowry Area

Craftbrew

Harvester (on the left) at the Lowry Outlet

Ordsall itself is an area of Salford, historically in Lancashire, that is currently undergoing a large amount of redevelopment….kind of. It was first mentioned in an 1117 tax payment by Ordeshala and derives its name from the personal name in Old English ‘Ord’ and ‘halh’ meaning corner or nook, which accurately reflects the location of the Manor of Ordsall, with its boundary on the south Bank of the River Irwell featuring a large bend. However, it could also be from the Saxon primeval word ‘ord’ and ‘hal’ which, together, combine to become ‘very old den’ – the reasoning lying at the existence of a cave in the area known as Woden’s Den. This cave was located on a road that ran to Ordsall Hall and included an ancient, paved ford across the Irwell and is thought to have served as a Christian hermitafor local Kersal-based monks, or an area for early travellers to leave offerings to Odin before attempting the crossing.

Ordsall Hall itself dates back to the times of the Tudors and was the home of the Radclyffe family for over three centuries. It has also been home to a varied assortment of tenants, including a church for clergy, the forerunner of the Manchester Theological College and a working men’s club, and is said to be haunted… so that’s where the bus ghost was going! There is even a plausible, if unsubstantiated, rumour that the Gunpowder Plot was outlined here. The Salford Lads Club (made famous by the Smiths’ The Queen is Dead album) and musical themes continuity alumni of Ordsall including Peter Hook of New Order and Tim Burgess of the Charlatans. Football-wise, Busby Babe Eddie Colema was born in Ordsall, though was sadly one of those killed in the Munich Air Disaster, aged just 21.

Salford Lads Club

Arriving at Ordsall Park

I arrived at Ordsall Park, in which the Leisure Centre’s 4G pitch is located, to find the teams waiting around for the pre-booked training session before their game to finish up. It duly did and we were underway around five minutes late, by which time Dan had arrived and was pleasantly surprised to have made the beginning of the game. As for the ground, there’s not a whole lot to say about it, apart from it being a typical affair of its type, just this one has its spectator area running the full length of the park-side of the pitch, whilst some raised areas behind the far-end goal and the spectator area give a little more watching space, but the cage is an issue, of course; not that this was a problem this evening, unsurprisingly. The history part of Beechfield United can be found within my Salford Sports Village blog to watch their home game there, here, but let’s get straight on with the action of this contest….

The game eventually began once the pitch had been cleared of all and sundry and it was the visitors who came out of the blocks the stringer with #3 firing wide of the upright, and #9 seeing his attempted drive well blocked by a defender. However, they would be made to pay for their early misdirections, as Beechfield soon went ahead themselves. After winning a corner out on the right flank, the resultant ball was whipped in perfectly for the lanky frame of Beechy’s #5, Michele Fresneda, to climb highest and thump a header into the back of the net. One-nil Beechfield!

Match Action

Match Action

One quickly became two as well, when Kurtis Lee’s smart finish found the bottom corner, and they really should have gone and put the game beyond doubt shortly thereafter, but #2 guided his header wide and, down the other end and just before the break, #7 was unlucky to see his low shot fly narrowly off target, as Beechy held on to their lead through to the break, despite a scare when County had a goal ruled out for offside. Incidentally, the one thing I really do love about this level is the break times as, within 5 minutes, we were back up and running for the second half. County again began the stronger, and Matthew Leadsham spurned a fantastic chance to level soon after the restart when some fine work and a superb touch by #9 allowed him to be able to pull back. The goal was there, but the finish, alas, was not.

The ‘great chance, poor finish’ theme then continued right down the other end, as #11 broke clear to deliver a good low ball to the back-post, where the arriving #7 blasted into the side netting only. To be fair, it was a tight angle on this occasion, but nonetheless, they would be made to pay by County after this and two swift strikes from the visitors pegged them back. First, Leadsham made amends for his earlier faux pas by slotting in at the near post from a corner, before he himself then became the assister moments later, as he beat a challenge and pulled back to #8, Liam Short, who fired home from the edge of the area. 2-a-piece and all to play for in the last half-hour or so!

Under the lights

Match Action

Caged

Bolton then almost turned the match completely on its head as #11 got forward but did a little too much, and in giving possession back to Beechfield, indirectly allowed them to retake the lead, as they went right down the other end and sub Jordan Jones-Waite, who had been on the field a matter of minutes, slipped his shot across the ‘keeper and into the far side of the net. 3-2 and, unfortunately, the grandstand finish never quite arrived, despite pressure from both teams and a late header flying just wide was the last chance to get something from the game for County, as Beechfield held on for all three “home” points.

After the game, it was straight out of the park gates and to the bus stop a few minutes away for the first leg of the journey home. I bid goodbye to Dan back in Old Trafford and caught a second bus, only to narrowly miss my planned (yet very hopeful) connection by a few minutes. This wasn’t particularly a problem and after a 15 minute wait, I was on the way home to round off this rare midweek venture, and it had certainly been a worthwhile one. Both sides had put on a very entertaining game, with the surface being far better than I had expected it to be (no idea if the players think the same!), and it had been decent to have a few hours in and around the Quays for a change too – though I’m sure those who make their living around there may not be too enamoured. Back onto the norm Saturday games this weekend and the beginning of the FA Vase’s road to Wembley….

RATINGS:

Game: 8

Ground: 3

Food: N/A

Programme: N/A

Value For Money: 9

Manchopper in….Manchester (Manchester Central FC)

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Result: Manchester Central 1-2 Beechfield United (Manchester League Division 1)

Venue: Manchester Regional Arena (Saturday 31st December 2016, 1pm)

Att: 28 (hc)

The last game of the year comes on the last day of the year. Who says football has to stop at all? Not me, that’s for sure! In fact there shouldn’t be multiple leagues, there should just be one huge division where every club plays each other at their own behest, whenever and wherever they want. No, I’m just kidding. But could you imagine the utter carnage? Oh, er, where was I again…? Ah, yes! The Regional Athletics Arena was the NYE party venue of choice. The event? The reborn Manchester Central versus Beechfield United in the Manchester League Division 1.

With an early afternoon kick-off (1pm) scheduled, thus an early-ish start was needed. After beginning the journey on the much-loved replacement bus service into Manchester Piccadilly, my first task was to secure tickets down to London for next week. I’ll leave you in suspense regarding the destination for now, just for the drama. Anyway, with tickets eventually sorted, I headed out onto the mean streets of Manchester City Centre before taking refuge in the, previously infamous, B Lounge.

To the City

To the City

'B Lounge'

‘B Lounge’

The Bank

The Bank

After being nice and changing my order as to not rush a barrel change, I soon downed a Coors ahead of moving down towards Market Street where I was to meet Dan. Before leaving though, I was wished a “Happy New Year” by one of the bar staff which, incidentally, was the only time this happened during the day. So, cheers for that!

Next stop was The Bank which, you may have guessed, is housed within an old bank. The big plus point in here though, wasn’t the décor. Nor was it the carpets as, you know, it’s not a Wetherspoons. It is, however, a free house and there was Punk IPA on draught. Oh, the joys! The £4.80 price tag was actually not that bad, considering what I was expecting but there was little going on here and Dan had informed me he’d arrived in town. However, I’d be slightly delayed in meeting him due to the spotting of a ‘Spoons right next door to the uni buildings. The Waterhouse actually had Asahi, the Japanese beer, on and so it was third time lucky in getting a pint of it, following two previous failed attempts. It wasn’t bad either but, sadly, there wasn’t much time to enjoy it.

Manchester

Manchester

He's still there!

He’s still there!

The Waterhouse

The Waterhouse

After meeting Dan over in Market Street, I decided I’d be nice and give him the option of where we should visit next. The choice was the historic Mr. Thomas’ Chop House or the underground bar Corbières, which had last been visited almost a year to the day previously as part of a Lost Boyos-inspired tour of the city ahead of Manchester United vs Swansea City. Anyway, Dan plumped for the latter only for us to soon discover it was still shut for another 20 minutes. As it happened, the Chop House was just round the corner and…well, you can probably guess what happened.

Of course, after a quick pint of Amstel in the Chop House, I still reckoned it’d be polite to honour Dan’s decision and head to Corbières. After assuring Dan there was nothing dodgy on his horizon, we headed down into the underworld for a couple of halves. With time against us, though, we had to be swift and headed back to Piccadilly for our respective transports; me on the tram, Dan on the bus. A mini Top Gear-esque challenge was on! Not the shitty new version ones though.

Chop House

Chop House

Corbieres

Corbieres

As it happened, I was defeated due to the walk up from the stop and arrived at the Etihad Campus with around 10 minutes to kick-off. The Regional Athletics Arena sits right alongside its more famed big sister and currently plays home to Manchester’s ‘third’ club. It had been the home of Northwich Manchester Villa over the last season prior to their demise. Some fun was had with Gibbo exploring unknown indoor arenas during a visit there earlier this year!

The Manchester Regional Arena must be the largest amateur ground in (at least) the area, as I think the likes of Millmoor and the Withdean are still used on occasion. It is an all-seater, multi-purpose ground that was previously home to the Manchester City Women’s team and some youth teams before the construction of the Academy. It does have an athletics track surrounding the pitch, but this doesn’t really matter as you can pretty much walk around as you please. Three stands, the two sides and left hand end, are of similar size, with the right-hand stand being the large and offering good views over the pitch. As for Manchester Central FC…

History Lesson:

The name of Manchester Central was originally used by a club playing at Alexandra Park during the late 1800’s. According to Central it is, therefore, unlikely that Newton Heath did, in fact, consider the name for their name change prior to becoming Manchester United and there is no real factual evidence to say they ever did, only written hearsay from later historical pieces. The original club folded around the turn of the century.

The more famed Manchester Central were originally formed in 1928 by a Manchester City director and the owner of Belle Vue Leisure Park, with the pair feeling East Manchester needed a League club following MCFC’s departure from the area. The club played at the Belle Vue Athletics/Speedway Stadium and originally joined the Lancashire Combination. After a 7th placed finish they applied for the Football League, but failed to achieve a place.

History

History

After finishing as ’29-’30 Combination runners-up another failed Football League application followed, this despite the fact the club were getting crowds around the 8,000 mark at times. The following year saw a third application be unsuccessful and the club pulled out of the Combination to focus on the Cheshire County League, where their reserve side was competing.

But drama followed. After later being accepted for a Third Division North place later that close season following Wigan Borough’s resignation, they were subsequently denied once more by a complaint by United and City, who said a third Manchester club would be detrimental to the overall support. Following this, the original Central resigned from the Cheshire County League after a single season and folded soon after.

They're back!

They’re back!

Central then went missing from the history books through until 2015 when the club “reformed” as a youth-based outfit, fielding u21’s as the top age group. Their first fixture for 84 years was against Irlam in the Cheshire u21 League. After largely playing at Platt Lane during their first season, the club decided to move into the Regional Athletics Arena, alongside the City of Manchester Stadium, and enter an open-age outfit into the Manchester League Division 1. They currently sit in 4th.

New club, familiar venue

New club, familiar venue

After heading through the gate, I was immediately greeted with the non-league dogs duo (minus dogs this time, shockingly) which is always a good bonus, especially when it comes to being awarded a sticker! The game got underway and it isn’t much of an understatement to say the first half was the better of the two. All the action came during it, beginning with Central taking the lead fairly early on, Cory Knight coolly slotting beyond the visiting GK. 1-0.

Around five minutes later and we were all square once more. Beechfield had begun to really get going after a sluggish start and earned a free-kick. The resulting ball in was headed into the net from the centre of goal by Kurtis Lee and it was all to play for again. Despite the equaliser, though, it was Central that looked to be the more likely of the two sides to retake the lead.

Early Stages

Watching intently…

Match Action

Match Action

Pen save

Pen save

However, with around 35 minutes played, it was Beechfield who would turn it around, Lee’s second of the game securing them the lead at the break. This was despite the fact Central missed a great chance to level the scores right at the end of the half, a penalty being fairly comfortably kept out by the Beechfield #1. Half-Time: 1-2.

To be honest, it was mostly a case of Beechfield being really solid and taking their chances, with Central guilty of being wasteful in good positions. However, the second half saw little of anything in the way of chances. The only two of note I can think of was an effort flying over for the hosts and a fine save by the Central ‘keeper with around 15 to play to keep his side in the contest.

From a distance

From a distance

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

As it was, there was to be no addition to the score-line and it was the Salford-based club who ran out the deserved victors in this clash. After bidding goodbye to NLD, Dan and I headed back into Manchester, once again in competition with myself coming out on top on this occasion due to our journeys taking us back to Piccadilly for more ticket purchases. This one is for a Scottish team who have, in their old guise, played in England before folding. Any guesses?

Anyway, that was that. A good day out and about around Manchester and a half-decent game to boot. It was then swiftly home ahead of getting ready for the celebrations later in the evening. Next up on Monday is a trip to wherever the weather allows…!!

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RATINGS:

Game: 5

Ground: 6

Programme: N/A

Food: N/A

Value For Money: 4