Manchopper in….St. Helen’s (Langtree Park)

Result: Liverpool u19 5-0 Napoli u19 (UEFA Youth League)

Venue: Langtree Park, St. Helen’s RLFC (Tuesday 11th December 2018, 1pm)

Att: 350 (approx., no idea)

A chance to tick off a non-regular ground is always hard to pass up, and so this one proved as well. Liverpool u19’s have been using St Helens RLFC’s home at Langtree Park for their UEFA Youth League games this year and what better time to get it “ticked” than with a 1pm kick-off? Even better, it was a free one, with my Liverpool supporting Mum being quite eager to go and my Dad tagged along as transportation!! As such, there’s very little to mention pre-match as it was a straight journey there, though I did miss the first couple of minutes trying to find the open turnstiles.

Eventually the ticket office pointed me in the correct direction and for £3 (my Mum was free with her LFC membership), I was into Langtree Park – or the Totally Wicked Stadium as it’s quite amusingly known for sponsorship reasons. The ground is similar to most newer-build rugby grounds with two large covered terraces, one behind each goal, and two all-seater stands on the sides that run the length of the pitch. Two corners are filled in too between the Main Stand, where hospitality boxes are situated and either terrace, with a small scoreboard in the other corner of the left-hand goal end from my viewpoint in the North Stand. Liverpool were already qualified so little rode on the tie all things considered, bar the fact they could pip PSG to top spot with a win. With that being said, let’s get straight on with the action….

Arriving at Langtree Park

Heading up….

Mural

Finally getting into a seat in the…not so packed ground, it quickly became apparent that the Italian side’s youngsters were no real match for their counterparts. Goalkeeper and skipper Alessandro Fortunato D’Andrea pulled off a pair of fine early stops to deny Jake Cain and Paul Glatzel and keep his side level, though he did soon commit one of those truly blatant ‘keeper fouls when rushing out of his area and bringing down pacey winger, and my current Football Manager left-winger, Rafael Camacho.

Curtis Jones had earlier fired wide as Liverpool quickly stamped their authority on proceedings in the first twenty minutes or so, whilst Liam Millar shinned a shot high over the bar from around ten yards and with an empty net gaping, before the young Reds finally grabbed the breakthrough with around ten minutes remaining to the break, when a good move down the left flank resulted in the ball finding Jones whose initial shot was deflected into the path of Camacho, the Portuguese making no mistake in finding the net.

St Helen’s Flag (East) Terrace

North Stand

The “Marching Inn”

Liverpool sensed a quick kill now and duly added a second before the break when D’Andrea could only parry a low Camacho cross-shot to the arriving Millar who slotted home this time round. That would be it for the first-half action, with us lot heading down into the concourse beneath the stand, where I ended up with the final hot-pot pie on offer, thanks to my Mum kindly giving it up to me on blog purposes! It wouldn’t be one otherwise and I’ll make it up at Christmas. Anyways, she ended up with Haribo’s, so who really won here?! Food arguments notwithstanding, the game was shortly about to restart and so it was back to our seats for the second period…..and it started with a bang!

Just a couple of minutes after the resumption, the third goal would arrive through Glatzel playing the ball to Millar, before the latter returned the favour and Glatzel rocketed a shot into the roof of the net, the ball shaving the bar on its way in. D’Andrea may have been a bit disappointed in where he’d been beaten, the effort flying beyond him at his near post and this would have almost certainly have been the case almost immediately afterwards, when Jones beat his man and shot under the body of the Neapolitan custodian for number 4. The small number of Italian fans who’d come out to watch the first of a likely double-header for them were surely hoping this wasn’t a precursor of things to come, their very slight ripple of applause for the first band of subs not being repeated.

Glassworks just visible from the ground

Non-Match Action

The glut of allowed substitutes broke the game up somewhat and the visitors began to gain something of a foothold, including managing their (apparent) one and only effort of the contest during this period. However, the Reds soon put a stop to any kind of hopes of a consolation and added a fifth just before the end when sub Bobby Duncan fired a finely struck effort from outside the area into the bottom corner, leaving D’Andrea with no chance. However, without the ‘keeper being in very good form, this could have been double figures and that wouldn’t have been a surprise, considering the apparent gulf in determination. Perhaps this is unsurprising given that, as I said earlier, Napoli were playing for nothing but pride.

That was that and Liverpool u19’s marched on to the next stages and continued their European adventure post-Christmas, while the Napoli side headed off home licking their wounds. As for us, a bit of getting lost in finding a pub eventually ended up with us at the ground’s near neighbour, by the name of the Glass Horse – the name seemingly deriving from nearby Haydock Park and the famed St. Helen’s Glassworks. Whatever the case, I ended up with a pint of Greene King’s East Coast IPA which was pretty decent at £3.35 before the trip home was undertaken without issue.

Post-Match

Glass Horse

Not much to say on this one really, all things considered. The ground was decent view wise, but obviously there was next to nothing in terms of atmosphere with 8/10ths being empty. The game was fine, albeit one-sided, and the food and pub were both decent too, the pie being well worth the effort if you get the chance. Onwards to Saturday and a rare trip down to the Southern League….

RATINGS:

Game: 6

Ground: 7

Food: 8

Programme: Teamsheet

Value For Money: 8

Manchopper in….Otterspool (South Liverpool FC)

wpid-img_20150413_170705.jpgwpid-img_20150413_170723.jpg
Result: South Liverpool 2-0 Hale (Carlsberg West Cheshire League First Division)

Venue: North Field, Jericho Lane (Wednesday 8th April 2015, 6.30pm)

Att: Approx.55.

I only saw that this game was being played on the previous evening, as I alluded to in the AFC Monton blog. As such, I though there was unlikely to be a better time to get in the visit to the famed South Liverpool, mostly because I knew that they issue a programme, one of the rare things to  be seen within the amateur ranks. So, after looking at the train times and seeing it was relatively simple, off to Jericho Lane I was.

Today's Game

Today’s Game

Programme

Programme

Boarding at just before 5pm on Wednesday evening, I was soon rattling on towards Liverpool &, more specifically, Hunts Cross station. So, after passing through Warrington, Widnes amongst others I soon arrived at the yellow-clad Merseyrail station at Hunts Cross. Here, I had a short wait for my connecting train onwards to Aigburth station, which was under 10 minutes away, and I arrived here at just before six o’clock and with 15 minutes until kick-off and a 25 minute walk (so Google told me). In fact, it would turn out to be nearer 15 as I chose to jog to get there, making it just in time for the supposed scheduled start. But, as I arrived and read the match poster on the car park gate, the time read 6.30pm. In addition, the match referee was yet to arrive, so my sweaty arrival was not required. Not happy.

Hard Standing

Hard Standing

Dressing Rooms

Dressing Rooms

Looking towards the Car Park End

Looking towards the Car Park End

As it was, I picked up my programme for £1 along with the sentiments of “Enjoy the game!” and took a seat on the only benh in existence, just in front of the refreshment/dressing room area. With five minutes to go to kick-off, the ref finally rocked up, rock-and-roll style and we could get underway. But, not before a description of the ground. Well, there’s a barred-off pitch, dugouts on opposite sides, the changing rooms and not very much else. The only part of hard standing is a slim line of paving down the side to the right of the pitch. Even then, it only extends to half way, from  the dressing room building at the far end. So, very basic. However, South Liverpool’s ground wasn’t always this small. Here is the history of that and more on the club’s past…..

History Lesson:

The accepted beginnings of South Liverpool FC start in the late 1890’s when a side called Africa Royal relocated to Dingle south of the city and changed its name, before re-locating again in 1921 to become New Brighton AFC. As such, a new side was created, in 1935, and this is the current club. This South Liverpool originally played in Holly Park, Garston and joined the Lancashire Combination, immediately winning it three years on the trot, from 1937 to 1939. The “two” South Liverpool’s competed against each other on occasion, until 1983 when New Brighton folded.

The idea in the 1930’s was for South Liverpool to join the Football League, applying on no less than 10 occasions. However, despite winning four honours in 1939 including the Welsh Cup over Cardiff City, the club only attracted five votes (in comparison to Hartlepool’s 38 & Accrington’s 28). They never were elected. Apparently, thousands welcomed the side back from their Welsh Cup victory at 2am! After WWII began, the club joined the Western Section of the Cheshire County League and one season was played before the cessation of football.

After the war, the club remained in the league until 1951 when they re-joined the Lancashire Combination in the Second Division. In September 1949, the club competed in the first match in the UK to be played under permanent floodlights. They entertained a Nigerian X1 and was commentated on by Ken “they think it’s all over” Wolstenholme. The attendance 13,007 for a 2-2 draw.

The 1951 season ended in promotion to the Division 1 but dropped back to Division 2 in 1960. Two years later, they were back in the top flight, winning the title in 1966. During the 1960’s, the club were relatively successful in the FA Cup, reaching the First Round on no less than eight occasions and the second round once, where they lost out to Brighton & HA in a replay. In 1967, the 40-year-old legendary Hungarian Ferenc Puskas competed at Holly Park in a fundraising match. In 1968, South were invited to join the new Northern Premier League, where they utilised players such as Jimmy Case and John Aldridge who went on to have good careers at Liverpool. Here, they won two honours, the 1984 NPL Challenge Cup and 1988 President’s Cup.

The club remained in the NPL until 1991, when the limited company folded, causing the committee to take on the club as South Liverpool AFC. After a season out, the senior team merged with Cheshire Lines to create the imaginatively named Cheshire Lines South Liverpool. This side competed in the Liverpool Combination Division 2, immediately gaining promotion. After one further season, the clubs decided to split into separate entities.

The club's former Holly Park home.

The club’s former Holly Park home.

Back as South Liverpool solely, the club had to drop back to Division 2 for 1995-’96, but again immediately won promotion. For the next decade, the club remained in the Liverpool Combination, winning the 1997 Liverpool Junior Cup and the George Mahon Cup in 2002. In 2006, the club’s former Holly Park home was demolished and is the current site of Liverpool South Parkway station. Also, the league merged with the I Zingari League to create a new Liverpool County Premier League, and due to the club’s 11h placed finish, they were placed in Division 1, the second tier, though won a further George Mahon Cup in 2009 and an I Zingari Cup in 2011. The following season saw South move to the West Cheshire League and had to join the Division 3. The following two seasons saw immediate promotions from Divisions 3 & 2, the latter as champions and both times with the club achieving a 100% away record. Last season, the club finished in fourth place in the 1st Division. The club have also recorded four Lancashire FA Trophy wins (1937,’38,’39,’84).

Flag Action

Flag Action

Injury Action

Injury Action

This season, the club are pushing for the title, with their rivals coming from “across the water” in the shape of Cammell Laird Reserves. As such, no less than a win this evening would do. Their opponents, Hale, occupied 5th place, with Liverpool top. Hale looked a solid outfit, though, with their goalkeeper and skipper looking particularly impressive, despite not being happy with the size of the gloves he was wearing he commanded his box well. As such, chances were at a premium, with Hale having the best chance within the first minute, as the South goalkeeper charged down a low shot. On the stroke of half-time, the deadlock was finally broken as star striker Alex Woodcock used his pace to sprint clear and slotted confidently into the far corner. 1-0. Half-Time.

I had a sausage roll/pie thing (I was told it was a pie in a sausage roll pastry) and the mention of pies certainly got a member of the South committee excited, though he was disappointed when told their indeed were none, as he was told. SO, after handing over £1 for my pastry, I quickly ate it before the second half began pronto.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

This carried on in the same vane as the first, with both goalkeepers having little to do in terms of saves but both sides having a game of good quality. South began to drop back on their lead as the light dimmed and the game drew towards its close. They also began to bring on target men to hold up the ball a bit more, and this certainly worked. James Kelly replaced Woodcock with stoppage time looming, and within seconds he’d put the ball in the back of the net from just outside the area, with the helpless ‘keeper rooted to the spot.

Watching the game

Watching the game

Kelly celebrates his late strike

Kelly celebrates his late strike

A deserved three points for the home side, who were done a favour by tonight’s opponents on the following weekend as they defeated Laird’s reserves to render their game in hand somewhat obsolete. South are a big club who find themselves languishing down in the local leagues, sadly. The fact that the admission is free and they do a programme is testament to them as a club who know the priority is to get people in to watch, and the more than decent attendance for the level is proof. Hopefully, they can regain their position in the higher reaches one day in the future.

I was soon back to the station at Aigburth after a 25 minute stroll. And when I say stroll, I mean the slowest walk ever seen. As such, I was still in time for an earlier train, and I jumped off at South Parkway, but I could have got over to Hunt’s Cross and “paid” for the whole journey. Still, at least I had been to both their new and old grounds (sort of) within the same day. Remember the history that was made around you next time you are on the platform at South Parkway…

You can view some old pics of Holly Park here: www.clubwebsite.co.uk/southliverpoolfc01/photogallery

My South Liverpool M.o.M.- Alex Woodcock
My Hale M.o.M.- The ‘keeper

Ratings:

Game: 6- decent quality, not many chances
Ground: 5- Basic.
Food: 5- Not bad, at least there was something to review. And it was cheap.
Programme: 7- A really good effort, good read for £1.
Fans: 7- Quite a few turned out for this one.
Value For Money: 6- Only thing was travel. Almost a 10….