Manchopper in….Manchester (Manchester Gregorians FC)

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Result: Manchester Gregorians 1-1 Old Altrinchamians (FBT Manchester League Premier Division)

Venue: Platt Lane Complex (Tuesday 1st September 2015, 6.30pm)

Att: 24 (hc)

Transfer Deadline Day?  No, not dramatic enough. What you need, is Manchester League Football! So, another Tuesday evening saw another football match to go to. Not only that, but it’s the last one before returning to work after a 4-and-a-half week break. So, when the last game of the Manchester League to be  played midweek was to be at the Platt Lane Complex near Rusholme, it was an offer that I couldn’t pass up.

So, at just before six, I was on the 15 bus towards Manchester, getting off in Moss Side for the short walk over to the ex-Manchester City training and academy site, now owned and used by the Man Met Uni.

It was due to be an easy connection getting me there about 5 minutes prior to kick-off but, as I’m sure we all know, the British public transport system isn’t exactly great at most times. I mean it’s not bad, but it usually abysmal; especially so when it comes to the buses.

Maine Road

Maine Road

The Platt Lane Complex

The Platt Lane Complex

Platt Lane

Platt Lane

Seating

Seating

So, as I traipsed down Upper Chorlton Road looking behind me for the every 5-minute scheduled 111, it was little surprise that I passed Maine Road and the still being built estate upon the former site of the old ground without the bus passing me. Indeed, after 15 minutes, the Platt Lane pitch nearest to the Lane itself came into view, as did the players and the game kicked off just as the ref blew his whistle. Time-keeping on point!

I had to walk to the far end gates, before backtracking on myself to get to the pitch, passing a guy having a barney with security over car parking restrictions. Before long, I’d  reached the pitch and met with Dan for tonight’s game and introduced him to the delights of Platt Lane, myself having visited once before, a couple of years back, when Gregs had entertained Prestwich Heys on a fairly bracing late-autumn afternoon. On that occasion, the sides clashed on the neighbouring, usually used, 3G pitch and five goals were scored, with the visitors coming out on top. Were we likely to have a repeat on our hands tonight, as Old Alts provided the opposition?

Breaking the rules!

Breaking the rules!

The Platt Lane building

The Platt Lane building

Visiting Dressing Room

Visiting Dressing Room

"Stand"!

“Stand”!

Having seen the Alts the previous week, I had to say that I wasn’t too hopeful, as they didn’t look a free-flowing side, more a hard-working defensive team. Gregs, on the other hand, looked very dangerous going forward early on and looked like they would probably net the opener and go on to get more, if there wasn’t any dismissals. But what were the chances of that hey? Anyway, before we get into the game, here’s the history of the Manchester Gregorians:

History Lesson:

Manchester Gregorians FC was formed by ex-pupils of the St.Gregory’s RC High School in Ardwick. The current side started life in 1959, though they were preceded by an Old Gregorians side in the 1940’s and ’50’s who played on and off during those years, with the current Gregs taking on the Old Gregorians name upon their (re?)formation, later becoming just Gregorians, before adding the “Manchester” prefix in 2009.

They began competing in the Manchester Junior Catholic League before switching after three seasons to the Lancashire Amateur League, where Gregs won a number of honours, including a strangely successful season in 1977-’78, when each of Gregs’ six teams won their respective divisions, plus the League Aggregate Cup (First and Reserves Points) & League Trophy (most points for all teams combined).

Hmmmm...

Hmmmm…

The usual pitch, The Maine Pitch.

The usual pitch, The Maine Pitch.

After remaining here for a long while, the club eventually switched to Manchester League for 2005-’06. Since the move was undertaken, the club has continued their success with them winning the Premier Division & Lancashire Amateur Shield in 2009 and again in 2011. They also won the Northern Counties FA Senior Cup in 2010, whilst representing the Lancashire FA. Since then, the club has been a solid mid-table outfit, finishing 10th in both of the last two seasons.

Back onto today’s game then and, as said earlier, it looked as though it would be the hosts who’d net first, with their #11 looking most threatening with his physique and pace combining menacingly. But, as it was, it was to be his strike partner, #9 who’d net, firing in from inside the area, low to the ‘keeper’s left. 1-0.

It looked as though Alts would be in for a long night, as they just hadn’t got going to that point and I think I commented something along those lines. But, all-knowing football man that I am, I was completely wrong. The goal seemed to stir the Alts into action and after a couple of wayward efforts, a breakaway attack was illegally stopped on the edge of the area by #5. As last man, he had to go. RED and he was heading back to the changing rooms. #3 stepped over the free-kick and duly whipped it into the corner. 1-1. The ‘keeper was far from impressed, I’d say, as he let out a frustrated “F*CK’S SAKE!!!

Gregs celebrate the opener

Gregs celebrate the opener

Match Action

Match Action

OFF!

OFF!

GOAL! 1-1.

GOAL! 1-1.

After a quick meeting with Jonny Keen, who was out doing some interviewing and such for the impressive Non-League Mag (look out for my pics too, perhaps?) with some Gregs people, it was time for a lap of the gro….oh, yeah. Problem was, it only has one side for spectators, hard standing, with TV gantry and a stand. Well, I say stand, it’s actually just an overhanging roof. But it’s close enough to a stand, damn it! The other parts of the ground are fenced off, 3G style, with roads running alongside the far touchline and behind near-end goal. Far end is lots of trees and assorted shrubbery.

Anyway, the second half was a very cagey affair with next to nothing in terms of clear cut chances, with the only one I remember of note being a shot from 25 yards that was tipped over the bar well by the visiting custodian. Despite a couple of half-hearted penalty shouts, a shot going over the road and some late pressure asserted by the 11 of Alts vs the 10 of Gregs, the home side held on pretty comfortably to take a deserved point from a tight contest.

Match Action

Match Action

Starting from the back.

Starting from the back.

Match Action

Match Action

From what I’ve seen, Alts will be one of those sides who are very difficult to beat, with Gregs looking decent before they went down to 10. I’d imagine both are destined for mid-table, with Alts being happy with that, I’d imagine, having just been promoted from the First Division.

The Dome

The Dome

Leaving the Lane

Leaving the Lane

As for me and Dan, we’d just missed the bus due to ref loving the football under the ever darkening skies, we walked back towards Moss Side, before getting the 111 through to Manchester for our respective changes home. Nice to see more of the Manchester League, which is always improving in my opinion. All the best to both clubs for the season, and I’m sure I’ll see both again before too long!

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RATINGS:

Game: 5- Average, cagey after the red.
Ground: 3- Basic, ex-u-16 pitch, with superb surface though. No fault to the club.
Fans: 4- Officials, really.
Programme: N/A
Food: N/A (though there is hot drinks machines and snack machines)
Value For Money: 8- Just travel of £4.10 paid.

Manchopper in….Platt Lane (Manchester Gregorians)

Result: Manchester Gregorians 2-3 Prestwich Heys (FBT Manchester League)

Venue: Platt Lane Complex (MCFC Academy,The Maine Pitch) (Saturday 14th December 2013,2pm)

Att: Around 16 at a count!

For today I had two choices. Either attend another game at Trafford, as they entertained Blyth Spartans, or travel the short distance to Fallowfield, just past the ‘Curry Mile’ to Manchester City’s Academy Complex at Platt Lane, for Manchester Gregorians’ Manchester League game with Prestwich Heys. I have been planning to do another Heys game this season to catch up with ex-Trafford man Chris Mackay who now plies his trade with the club, after missing him earlier in the season, at Old Alts. In keeping with my word that I gave on Twitter the previous day, I was off to the complex situated not too far from City’s old home, Maine Road.

Beforehand, I had discovered, again on Twitter(if you haven’t figured by now, I am something of an addict of the social media site), that FC United‘s Development side were entertaining Hyde’s at a Manchester College Campus in Ardwick. So, this was where my day of football was to begin, after getting horribly lost due to my f*****g phone’s GPS again. I have come to the conclusion that GPS stands for ‘Generally Pretty Sh…. well, you get the picture!

Arriving in the Campus, where Ardwick FC play, around 30 minutes late, I met up with my usual companion Dan Watkinson once again who would be heading to the Trafford game later in the day. I was also  pleased to see none other than Bruno Silva playing goals, however this turned into something of a horror, when he received the ball, tried to beat the striker bearing down on him with a bit of skill, but this went horribly wrong, and the striker nicked the ball of him and walked it into the empty net. Oops!

This was 1-0, and was how it remained until after half-time, when the same striker planted a looping header beyond the reach of Silva, to double his and his teams tally. FC dominated for much of the remaining 35 minutes, but endured a nervy last five, when they conceded a penalty, and the big, strong mountain of muscle wearing the 11 shirt confidently planted the penalty beyond the United keeper. However the Young Rebels saw out the game to take the points. After getting the bus back to Piccadilly (Ardwick is very easy to reach on bus btw), I bid farewell to Dan and headed off on the short trip to the Blue half of the city.

Upon arrival, you are met with one of the grass pitches adjoining the pavement, and opposite the bus stop, which is directly outside the ground. After walking round to the car-park entrance, you walk straight on past the indoor training facilities, and onto a small path alongside a 3G and the academy pitch. The 3G was to be where the game would be played, the clue being both sides were on it. After the teams had come out,  I had a small catch-up with Chris, who was starting the game on the bench, and observed the minutes silence, which was figured was for another league’s secretary. Chris made his way to the bench, whereupon I had a look round the ground to observe fencing surrounding it, which is commonplace in amateur football on these surfaces, and the indoor 5-a-side complex alongside it, where the dressing rooms are also located. The pitch, known as the ‘Maine Pitch’ actually played very well, but then considering where it is situated, this was of little surprise. So, a little bit of history is called for I think….

History Lesson:

The current Manchester Gregorians F.C. dates from 1959, though there was an Old Gregorians team who pre-dated them, playing sporadically throughout the 1940’s and 50’s. The current club was formed by pupils of the local St. Gregory’s R.C. High School in Ardwick Green, which is located very close to the City Centre. They began by taking on the name of Old Gregorians AFC, playing in the Manchester Junior Catholic League. In 1962, the club stepped up to the Lancashire Amateur League,  where it was successful throughout it’s time, including one season in particular, 1977-’78, when all six of the club’s sides won their respective divisions, the League Aggregate Trophy for most successful 1st and Reserve sides, and the League Trophy for most points per game taking into account all matches played by all its teams.

They remained in the Lancashire Amateur  League until 2005-’06 when they switched into the Manchester League,  dropping the ‘Old’ prefix from their name, becoming simply Gregorians AFC. The club has continued to be successful, winning the league in 2008-’09, whereupon they added the ‘Manchester’ prefix to their name attaining the name they currently carry, and the Northern Counties FA Senior Cup whilst representing the Lancashire County FA in 2009-’10. They also finished as runners-up in 2010-’11 and finished in 8th place in the last campaign.

The game began with little happening, but Gregorians slightly on top, until somewhat against the run of play, Heys broke on the counter started by goalkeeper Andy Jones, the ball was moved forward quickly to release ex-Manchester United player Paul Tierney, who squared the ball to young debutant Lewis Temple who fired confidently high into the net. Seconds later it was two, as the lightning-quick Erike Sousa broke down the right. The winger fed Tierney who rounded Gregs’ keeper Allen Mills before firing in from the tightest of angles.

By now, Heys were well on top, and appeared comfortable. However,  they gave Gregs a lifeline just two minutes later. They won a corner on the right which was whipped in, and Ric Gunby rose highest to head past Jones. 2-1, and that was how it remained until the break, despite Gregs’ impressive Matt Dodwell heading wide as they grabbed the initiative and Danny Eyres forcing a decent stop from Mills down the other end.

At half-time, the spectators headed for  the 5-a-side complex, to escape the perishing, forceful wind. The facilities inside consisted of three vending machines, one offering hot drinks, the other two a variety of snacks. I resisted the temptation of the sweet snacks, but got some much needed warmth off of a hot-chocolate, which was of good quality. I also took a Platt Lane leaflet to commemorate my visit due to the lack of a programme, which wasn’t unexpected. As the teams re-entered the field, the hardy bunch of fans, with 10 at least travelling from Prestwich, headed back outside into the wind, which at this time resembled something out of a disaster movie. Ok, maybe not that bad, but it was quite gusty!

Heys began the second period strongly, with Temple denied by Mills but the home side began to use the conditions, and with the wind at their backs you could hardly blame them, with Matt Klemperer proving a constant threat with his presence, providing a good foil for Dodwell, and in the 70th minute, the midfielder finally got the goal his performance deserved, when in a move very similar to Heys’ first the home side broke from a corner,  with Mills instigating the attack.  Dodwell received the ball on the left, stepped inside and fired past Jones leaving the visiting  ‘keeper no chance with a splendid strike. (I have somewhat made this description up with a bit of help from Heys’ report, as I actually missed the strike itself due to helping to take down the banner on the back of their dugout. This is what good deeds do to you!)

It now seemed as though all the initiative sat with the home side, and Heys introduced all three subs at their disposal, Darius Photiou, who  impressed me at Old Alts earlier in the season, Martin Love, who scored a screamer in the same game, and Chris Mackay, who scores from half-way on occasion. So, something had to give, one way or another!

It seemed as though it was Gregs who would take the points as Tom Ward broke clear and only a superb save by Jones with his legs kept him out. This seemed to dispirit the home side somewhat, and with just two minutes left Heys were awarded a golden opportunity  to take the points when Martin Love progressed into the box and was felled by a clumsy challenge, and the referee had little hesitation in pointing to the spot. This was much to the delight, and somewhat disbelief of the Heys faithful, as the ref had had a bit of a shocker so far, getting quite a lot wrong, and generally talking to players for much longer than he had to, sometimes going into a full-blown conversation. Cue the usual’ We’re here to watch the football, not you’ shout, which on this occasion, was more than justified!

Anyway, as it was, Love dusted himself down, stepped up and fired hard and low past Mills and into his bottom right-hand corner. It was a great spot-kick under pressure, and left the keeper with almost no chance. Heys had further chances to add gloss to the scoreline, when both Sousa and Mackay broke clear and had one-on-one chances but on both occasions Mills denied the wingers with two great saves, to ensure the deficit was just one goal. The whistle blew, and I bid my goodbyes to the Prestwich fans and Chris, who had the audacity to say I’d put him off with a shout as he was running through. I must put more pressure on players than Sir Alex Ferguson did in his time at United! Just kidding Chris!! 🙂

As I grabbed the 111 back to Chorlton and another bus onwards to Urmston, I was able to catch the last few minutes of the Trafford game too, which incidentally finished in a 2-1 success for the ‘North’. 170 minutes of football in one day. I was happy with that!!

My Manchester Gregorians M.o.M- Matt Dodwell

My Prestwich Heys M.o.M.- George Powell

RATINGS:

Game: 9- End to end, it was action packed all the way through.

Ground: 6- Not much to it really, but for what it is, it’s tidy and a quality surface.

Programme: N/A- although the club are looking at producing one later in the season & possibly next season too.

Fans: 10- The couple of Gregs fans/volunteers were very friendly and welcoming.

Food: 7- Well, drink really. Good for a vending machine.

Value For Money: 10- Just £6 all day. £1 for the chocolate, £5 for  transport

Referee: 2- Wasn’t great….Yeah….

TEAMS: (only Prestwich Heys available, other than those Gregs players named above)

PRESTWICH HEYS: 1.Andy Jones, 2.Mark Powell, 3.George Powell, 4.Rick Winstanley, 5.Phil Woodcock(c), 6.Gareth Walsh, 7.Erike Sousa, 8.Jon Lyons, 9.Paul Tierney(1), 10.Lewis Temple(1), 11.Danny Eyres  SUBS: 12.Brad Lyons, 14.Martin Love(p)(1), 15.Chris Mackay(p), 16.Darius Photiou(p) 17.-