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….Sale (Old Altrinchamians FC)

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

Venue: Crossford Bridge (Wednesday 26th August 2015, 6.30pm)

Att: 56 (approx.)

The second of the Manchester League double header this week saw me follow my Tuesday night trip to Prestwich Heys with a hop down the road to Crossford Bridge in Sale. Here, I would revisit the scene of my first ever Manchopper blog, so it’s a venue that I hold some affinity for. Therefore, when I saw the game pop up, it was one I wanted to do.

Originally, however, I’d agreed to join Dan at Chorltonians vs Old Trafford & Gorse Hill in the Lancs & Cheshire AFL.  But, when circumstances meant that this was no longer able to happen, I realised that the Old Alts visit was back on and I didn’t need any more of an invitation to head to the ground, bordering the River Mersey. Crossford Bridge sits between the towns of Stretford and Sale, and is pretty much on the ancient border of Cheshire & Lancashire and being on a main route from Cheshire to Manchester, it is an easy one to reach.

Arriving at the Bridge

Arriving at the Bridge

Crossford Bridge

Crossford Bridge

Teams warming up

Teams warming up

So, I boarded the 245 service which drops you off immediately outside the playing fields which you walkover to reach the main pitch at the rear of the area. I’d arrived with around 15 minutes to kick-off, and both sides were still going through their last warm-ups prior to the start on the adjoining pitches. As such, I walked up to the barred off pitch and awaited their reappearance from the changing rooms, which are located in a separate pavilion like building, which is also housing the Sale Harriers athletics team.

Before long, the sides came out in dribs and drabs, before the officials came out and created their own imaginary tunnel in the corner of the pitch. From here, the players made their grand entrance onto the field of play, before going through the usual pleasantries that occur before kick-off. Now is usually the time I’d describe the ground to you, but Crossford Bridge isn’t really a “ground” per se, it’s a barred off pitch surrounded by trees and other assorted undergrowth, with the athletics club on the near, right hand touchline. Running almost right alongside is the M60 motorway, which is surprisingly quiet from pitch level. Now onto the history of Old Alts…

History Lesson:

Old Altrinchamians were founded back in 1920, as part of the Altrincham Grammar School for Boys Association, (former school of Ian Brown & John Squire of The Stone Roses) and have just celebrated their 95th birthday a few months back. Following a spell in the Altrincham & District League, their recent history has seen the club have playing in the Manchester League, being promoted from Division 1 to the Premier Division in 2003-’04, as runners-up. They only lasted a couple of years, before resigning from the league mid-season, but soon returned after a year out.

Clubhouse

Clubhouse

Dogs in attendance

Dogs in attendance

In 2007-’08, back in the Division 1 again, Alts finished 5th, before again finishing runners-up the next season and achieving promotion. They finished their first season back in the Premier Division in 3rd place, matching their previous best finishes, before regressing back into mid-table, before they were relegated again at the end of 2014-’15. After just one season back in the Division One, last season, they returned to the Premier Division for this campaign as champions, only failing to win five of their 22 games.

Old Alts have also competed in two seasons of the FA Vase, in 1974-’75 & ’75-’76. Losing out to the evening’s opposition in Round One in the former season, the latter was much more successful, with the club reaching Round 3, defeating Milton United and Milnthorpe Corinthians on the way, before bowing out, in a replay, to Prescot Town, 2-1 at home.

There is a tunnel, ok?!

There is a tunnel, ok?!

Handshakes

Handshakes

Getting underway...

Getting underway…

Back onto the present day and today’s game and, well, the less that is said about the first half the better, really. With next to nothing happening bar a couple of optimistic shots from range and a tame header, it was something of a surprise when the opener came after a half-hour, courtesy of a fine free-kick by #7 for the hosts. He curled the shot over the wall and past the Amateurs keeper for 1-0.

The lead, however, lasted all of 90 seconds, as Amateurs got down the other end from kick-off and the ball was converted from close range, from what I could gather, as I was still tweeting the previous goal and recovering from the fact something had actually happened. But the, rather large, contingent from Wythenshawe were happy with this and it was 1-1 and that’s how it remained until the break, unsurprisingly.

Behind the target

Behind the target

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

1-0

1-0

With nothing to do at the break, it was a browse online and a call home before kick-off came again ad more midfield battling ensued. The closest we came to a goal in an overly improved second period was when Old Alts had a header ruled out for offside, but it could have just as easily been a foul in the area too. Wythenshawe looked to lack any real spark up front, pumping the ball into the channels for the big forward to chase, for the most part, but looked dangerous on occasion, with Alts’ keeper forced into a couple of decent stops, with former Man City academy man Jamie Tandy always a threat.

The Amateurs’ keeper almost cost his team, when he dropped a regulation cross, but he recovered in the ensuing scramble and the game eventually petered out into a draw which, as last night, was the fair result on this occasion.

When two become one.

When two become one.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

So, on the whistle, I had about 45 minutes to waste until the bus ride home, as they say on Bullseye, and I wasted some time in picturing the pavilion and basically taking the longest I could to get to the stop, such is the ever exciting life of a groundhopper. Still, I’d seen another, arguably, two goals and a game for free, so I couldn’t complain too much. An added bonus was the rain had stayed off throughout too. Onwards to Saturday then, and the FA Cup at Abbey Hey. As for Old Alts and Crossford Bridge, I still love you.

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RATINGS:

Game: 3- Poor overall quality.

Ground: 3- Barred off pitch, little else of note. Picturesque with trees though.

Fans: 4- Mostly away support, but a few for the home side too.

Food: N/A

Programme: N/A

Value For Money: 8- Only £4.20 journey to pay for.