The Manchopper Awards 2016-’17

Well, here we are again. Eventually. After a season consisting of 65 games (I know, a real cut-back this one), over 10 whole months, within three countries (nothing too exotic though!) and at levels from Premier League right down to the lower levels of amateur football on the public fields, it’s time to nominate and indeed award the good, the bad and the downright ugly of this last footballing year, as well as the stranger goings on that have cropped up here and there!

Whether it be attending the soon to be flattened White Hart Lane or standing on the touchline at Flixton Fields; from Ladybridge FC at the start of July through to Turton FC at the beginning of May, there have been things that have been seen and heard that deserve some recognition, not to mention some of the things overheard in the many “locals” I’ve popped into here and there!!

So, here you have it; Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, here’s the cream of the crop from Manchopper’s Ventures 2016-’17…

*All players/teams considered must have been seen by myself during this season*

Celebrity/Former Player Random Appearance of the Season:

Nominees: Paul Dickov (at Lostock Gralam vs AFC Macclesfield) Timmy Mallett (at Middlesbrough vs Oxford Utd), Alan Kennedy (at Huddersfield Town vs Preston North End)

Winner: Paul Dickov. As the only person at a game whilst not involved in a half-time on-pitch draw, Dickov gets the nod on this award, which is surely a bigger memorable moment than the play-off goal.

Meeting Paul Dickov. Top Guy!

Cuisine of the Season:

Nominees: Middlesbrough’s Parmo, Clitheroe’s Pie, Whalley Range’s chips with chilli sauce on, Gretna’s Scotch Pie.

Winner: Parmo. I’d heard good things. They were true. The parmo is superb.

Its Parmo-O’Clock!

Clubhouse of the Season:

Nominees: Penycae, Turton, Skelmersdale Utd, Farsley Celtic, Witton Albion.

Winner: Witton Albion. Top clubhouse here. Triples up as a shop and a DJ booth!

Witton’s Clubhouse

City/Town/Village/Hamlet/other place of the Season:

Nominees: Ramsbottom, Tadcaster, York, Boston, Edinburgh.

Winner: Edinburgh. What a place. Enjoyed all the above, but the Scottish Capital is a great city.

Edinburgh

Worst Weather Experience of the Season:

Nominees: Beechfield United

Winner: What a shock, it’s Beechfield United. The only really poor weather I’ve experienced this year left all there damp and cold.

Strangest Moment of the Season:

Nominees: Discovering & watching a game at Millmoor, Light knocked off stand at Gretna, The 90-minute nil-nil at Charnock Richard (how?).

Winner: Visiting Millmoor. It was all a bit eerie and, for sure, a strange experience.

Millmoor

Welcome of the Season:

Nominees: Heyside, Richmond

Winner: Has to be a tie! Can’t split them and wouldn’t wish to!

Dan enjoyed Heyside’s hospitality.

My hospitality at Richmond!

 

Individual Performance of the Season:

Nominees: Jake Pollard (PARTINGTON vs Sale Ams), Tom Heaton (BURNLEY vs Manchester Utd), Jordan Gidley (BARNOLDSWICK vs Charnock R), Rick Tindall (POYNTON vs Eagle Sports), Connor Ripley (OLDHAM vs Port Vale)

Winner: Tom Heaton. Included the ‘Match of the Day’ “save of the season” as Heaton denied Ibrahimovic. The ‘keeper faced a record amount of attempts against his former club and still came away with a point and a clean sheet.

Heaton during a game last season.

Team Performance of the Season:

Nominees: Partington Rovers (vs Sale Amateurs), Curzon Ashton (vs York City), Leicester City (vs Manchester City), Old Ashtonians (vs Whalley Range), Altrincham (vs Boston United), Mold Alexandra (vs Caernarfon Town)

Winner: Old Ashtonians. With only ten men for the full ninety against title chasers Whalley Range, Old Ashtonians pushed them close before falling narrowly short. Great effort.

Old Ashtonians trying to hold out

Fans of the Season:

Nominees: Curzon Ashton, Oxford United, Colne

Winner: Curzon Ashton. It’s a second straight win for the Nash boys from the Nash Bar.

Curzon fans after the equaliser at Westfields

Programme of the Season:

Nominees: Charnock Richard, Boston Utd, FC Halifax Town, Ramsbottom Utd, Winsford Utd

Winner: FC Halifax Town. Still holds up with some football league clubs, as it should. But it’s a good issue nonetheless and the best I came across this year.

The Shay

Ground of the Season:

Nominees: Leek Town’s Harrison Park, Witton Albion’s Wincham Park, Boston Utd’s York Street, Colne’s Holt House, Turton’s Thomason Fold.

Winner: Turton’s Thomason Fold. It’s fairly basic, but it’s a gem. Just remember to watch the grass around the pitch!

Goal of the Season:

Nominees: Alex Murphy (PADIHAM vs Team NorthumbriaJosh Wilson (Ramsbottom Utd vs AFC TELFORD UTD), Chris Thompson (RICHMOND vs Liobians), Joe Gaughan (Charnock R vs BARNOLDSWICK T), Mark Adams (CHARNOCK R vs Barnoldswick T), Wes Benjamin (WITTON ALBION vs Kettering Town), Nathan Craig (Mold Alex vs CAERNARFON TOWN).

Winner: Witton Albion’s Wes Benjamin. Benjamin’s strike just pips it on account of it being a last-kick winner. And what a winner too.

Witton celebrations after the late winner!

Match of the Season:

Nominees: Tadcaster Albion vs Scarborough Ath, Leek Town vs Kettering Town, Middlesbrough vs Oxford Utd, Huddersfield vs Preston NE, Farsley Celtic vs Ossett Town.

Winner: Huddersfield Town vs Preston NE. A pulsating game saw the hosts take the points in the last-minute and, of course, they would go on to secure a play-off spot before taking a place at English football’s top table for next season.

Quaner sends the home fans crazy (bar the guy nearest the camera)!

Team of the Season:

Nominees: Curzon Ashton, Charnock Richard, Witton Albion, Huddersfield Town, Windle Labour

Winner: Pro: Huddersfield Town Non-Lge: Windle Labour. Huddersfield’s season was brilliant, with them bouncing back from a lower-end finish to achieve promotion to the Premier League. Windle’s was, perhaps, less spectacular, but to join the Cheshire League for a first season at the level and win the League’s League 2 is no mean feat. Congrats to both.

Player of the Season:

Nominees: Tom Heaton (Burnley), Rick Tindall, Connor Ripley (Oldham (loan)), Danny Rowe (Fylde), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea)

Winner: Connor Ripley (Oldham (loan)). Twice I saw him and twice he had great games. I also heard his double pen save from nearby Royton Town too, and played a huge part in keeping the Latics up. So he pips all the above to the honour. Big things lie ahead for him I’d say.

And that’s that for this season’s award. Congratulations to all those who have achieved one of these prestigious “Chopper” awards. Also, they’re very easy to accommodate on your mantelpiece as they take up exactly zero space! See you all again next year for the fourth “Chopper Awards” ceremony….

 

Manchopper in….Whalley Range

wrfcold-ashtonians

Result: Whalley Range 2-1 Old Ashtonians (Lancashire & Cheshire League Premier Division)

Venue: Kings Road (Saturday 17th December 2016, 2pm)

Att: 12 (hc)

With the prior few days weather still threatening some fixtures around the Manchester area, so it was that my journey to the Denton Town vs Eagle Sports game was knocked back on a couple of occasions during the morning of his fairly dour, overcast Saturday morning. It was a good decision to do so too. As the clock struck 11am, the game fell foul of the weather and so an alternative was much needed.

Luckily, blog regular Dan had already said he was off to Whalley Range vs Old Ashtonians, a game close by to both of us, due to his work commitments through the early hours and so a decision was quickly made. With the timing now coming into more of a critical stage, I set off on the short bus ride towards the South Mancunian town of Chorlton at just after midday, arriving into the town around 20 minutes later following a swift connection.

Chorlton

Chorlton

First stop: The Sedge Lynn Spoon's

First stop: The Sedge Lynn Spoon’s

With me wanting to ensure I wasn’t about to waste time and money here, I undertook the short 10 minute walk to Kings Road to make certain the game was all set to go. Indeed, the groundsman doing laps of both pitches was a good sign and enough to confirm to myself that we had a match.

After getting back to Chorlton on one of the regular buses that pass the ground which is located across the road from North West Counties side Maine Road’s home, I set my sights, firstly, on the Wetherspoons. The Sedge Lynn is a fairly interesting building, especially compared to a few I’ve been in of late, but I still found myself quickly boring in here and so I swiftly downed my Punk IPA and headed towards Dulcimer bar, which sits on the road heading towards the ground, thus ensuring I was on my way for sure!

A bit different inside too.

A bit different inside too.

Inside Dulcimer Bar

Inside Dulcimer Bar

Final S-tap! Great pun work eh?

Final S-tap! Great pun work eh?

After another quick pint of Warsteiner in here and with time conspiring against me, I still figured I had time still for one final pre-match drink, courtesy of the Chorlton Tap. After asking how long they’d been open, the barman informed me that they’d been there for “..over 20 years”, but did confirm they had gone through a rebrand, so I knew I hadn’t lost the plot in never seeing the Tap here before! Alas, I was to find the dearest drink of the three in here, with a San Miguel setting me back £4.50, compared to the £4 Warsteiner in Dulcimer.

Upon my arrival at the black-and-red-clad gates, the traditional colours of Range, which guard the entrance to the ground, there were around five minutes or so to kick-off. Kings Road is probably one of the better amateur grounds, with its barred-off pitch being joined by a decent clubhouse, newly built following a recent arson attack and a small cabin providing hot and cold food. There is also a secondary pitch behind the far goal, running left to right. As for Whalley Range FC…

History Lesson:

Whalley Range have been in existence since 1900, and have won many honours during their existence. Playing in the Lancashire Amateur League from 1903, they won 6 titles, 4 Aggregate Trophies and a Challenge Cup title during their time there. They then moved into the Lancs & Cheshire League, and won the second division in ’86-’87 to be promoted to Division 1. After one season in the Division One, they joined the Manchester League where they spent 15 seasons, with a high of third in the Division One, before they left and went back into the Lancashire and Cheshire League.

Since their promotion from Division 2 (which became Division One at the creation of the Premier Division) in 2007-’08 the club have won the league title on each occasion since from 2008-’09 through until ’13-’14. 2014-’15 saw the club finally beaten in the standings when they were beaten into 2nd by Rochdalians. Last season saw them finish up in 3rd place, but they currently lead the way once more this season.

Arriving at Range. The banner has disappeared.

Arriving at Range. The banner has disappeared.

Dog doing the warm-ups

Dog doing the warm-ups

Now, I’m not going to pretend as though I remember a lot from the match outside of the goals, as it’s been over six days, as I write this, and my memory isn’t quite that good. I could make notes, I know, but I really can’t be bothered doing that, as I used to do a few match reports back in the day and it ruined my experience of the match overall. SO this is better! Anyway, on with the show!

The game pretty much consisted of Range attacking the Ashtonians defence, but being very sloppy in terms of overall play and finishing. As it was, they were punished during the first half, with Ashtonians winning a free-kick just outside the area and #8 hit a curling effort that flew past the despairing GK. 0-1.

There was still time for both sides to have further chances, especially the home side, but the visiting ‘keeper was on good form, pulling off a few decent stops to keep his side’s slender lead intact. I also got talking to a guy who was sat watching the game with a can  from a precarious position on top of his car bonnet, whilst his feet rested upon the pitch boundary bar. It turned out he had previously turned out for Range, with his Dad having done so and he was now watching his nephew (I think) wear the shirt. Good stuff!

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Ashtonians take the lead!

Ashtonians take the lead!

As half-time approached, I headed for the food cabin where I plumped for a chips and curry offering for (again, I think) £2 and my word what a good decision that was! If these aren’t the best food I’ve had at a game this season, then my memory is even worse than I think it is. I need to find out what potatoes they use. There was even chilli sauce just to add to the bliss. Brilliant stuff and lit up what was, in all honesty, a pretty drab game.

The second half got underway and it really wasn’t any improvement on the first. For the second week in a row, however, I did play football Nostradamus and predict that if Range got the equaliser, then they’d go on to get the winner as well. However, it didn’t look like it was their day on the pitch until, with around an hour played, #2 fired in low from a free-kick to level the scores, deservedly, for the league leaders.

After the referee had complained to the Range manager about two spectators who, as far as Dan and myself were aware (and we were pretty much next to them) had done nothing of note, Ashtonians almost retook the lead with the visiting forward spurning a great chance and putting it wide of the home ‘keeper’s goal, before Range again were denied by the skills of the Ashtonians #1.

Match Action

Match Action

Martial Arts in the box

Martial Arts in the box

Match Action

Match Action

That is until the 93rd minute of play, when Range forced a throw in on the far side. The ball was launched in and met by the head of the yellow-clad #3 who powered it past the GK to spark scenes of jubilation for the hosts and despair for the lower-mid table visitors. That was the last meaningful touch of the game as the whistle blew soon after: 2-1, full-time.

As we exited the ground and headed round the corner and back to the main road, we got straight onto a bus back to Chorlton, thus meaning our journey home was shortened by at least 30 minutes, so a decent end to the day there! Another good trip to a ground I’ve been too multiple times and the second time in a row I’ve now visited and not been threatened with having my phone shoved up my arse by a striker and his midfield partner in crime about four/five years ago. But we won’t go there again! I always like my visits to Kings Road and its well worth a trip if your around the area and have done the others around. Onto Christmas and New Year then. Oh dear…

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RATINGS:

Game: 5

Ground: 6

Programme: N/A

Food: 10

Value For Money: 7