Manchopper in….Ossett (Ossett Albion AFC)

Result: Ossett Albion 4-0 Bamber Bridge (Northern Premier League Division One North)

Venue: Queens Terrace/Dimple Wells (Saturday 21st April 2018, 3pm)

Att: 402

As the season begins to reach the end of the road, so also does the run of Ossett Albion as a senior outfit. If you haven’t already heard (and where have you been if not?!), the Unicorns’ open-age side are to merge with their cross-town rivals, Ossett Town, to form a new united club under the name of….well, Ossett United. This, in turn, will also spell the end for Queen’s Terrace as a ground within the footballing pyramid and so, with Dimple Wells being one of my favoured grounds ever since my first trip way back in 2009-’10, I figured a final jolly to the Unicorns was in order.

Indeed, the game would also see the final game played by Albion at the ground before their departure though, pleasingly, it will remain in some guise with a 3G being installed which will see it continue to be the home of the side’s development and women’s teams going forward, with United playing at Town’s Ingfield ground right in the centre of Ossett itself. As a result, I decided to leave the main area of the town alone for now and instead see what the “South Ossett” area had to offer instead. Sadly this wouldn’t include the Ossett Brewery’s own pub, with it being a little too far out-of-the-way this time around.

Anyway, having headed into Manchester during the mid-morning, I caught the train over from Victoria to Dewsbury in the nick of time before heading up through the Roses county border towns of Hebden Bridge and its fine, traditional station, Todmorden and Mytholmroyd, eventually arriving into Dewsbury station at just before midday, in good time to complete the short walk over to the bus station to catch the carriage over to Ossett. It was bloody hot on that thing too. What is this sorcery?!

Ossett

Nice church

Having headed just past the current home of Albion, I got off just down the road from my first two stop-offs of the day, situated towards the far end of the town. First up was the Weaver’s Arms which is a really unassuming, old-school pub. It doesn’t look particularly overly welcoming from the outside but inside the feeling is well and truly different, with locals happy to chat about the footballing matters both in Ossett and up in the Prem too, fed by the West Brom-Liverpool game on TV. There was even a guy in here who was visiting from Perth, Australia for the game but, before you think groundhopping has gone too far, he was a friend of someone high up within the Unicorns’ ranks!

Having finished up my pint of Kaltenberg (which at less than £3 was a huge bargain), I bid goodbye to the guys in here and continued onwards back towards the first pub I’d passed en route, the Old Vic – though I did go back a slightly longer way round, as I wanted to have a look at the old Christ Church just around the corner. Eventually arriving back at the Vic, I was soon in possession of a pint of Coors in here whilst I concocted my plan of getting a pair of programmes early, as it was likely these would sell out considering the magnitude of the day. I’m not usually too fussed about them per se, though I do like to pick one up if possible and certainly so if the game is more meaningful than is often the case. BTW, the Vic was a decent little pub too, with a wide range of exotic (and otherwise) empty bottles lined up in one corner of the room. The Coors didn’t come cheap, though, coming in at around £4.

Weaver’s Arms

The Old Vic

DRINK!!

From here I headed off across this part of town, foregoing the Park Tavern for now and instead venturing through a slightly more estate-y area to the Prince of Wales. This was ok enough for a quick one, though I didn’t remain in place all that long, another Coors in here setting me back £3.50~ before I returned down the same road and back towards the ground.

I didn’t seem to be the first person who’d had the idea of getting a programme early doors as the turnstile operator didn’t seem to set aback by my request and I soon had possession of two programmes at £2 a pop, with Dan still on his way down to join me. It was something of a shame that he wasn’t there already, as I soon made what I believe is my biggest faux pas of the season so far, and one I’ll have to go some to best at all. Having popped around the corner and to the Dimple Wells Lodge, I came across a wedding reception in the garden. However, there was nothing to state that the hotel’s bar was affected by this and having headed through the main doors and into the empty bar area, nothing seemed to point towards this being the case.

Prince of Wales

Oops….

I was wrong. Having informed Dan of where I was, we were soon approached by the manager of the hotel who informed us that the whole place was indeed booked out for the function, meaning that we were, officially and unquestionably, gatecrashers, albeit completely accidental ones! She was very nice about it, saying we should have really been told earlier (I’d been there a good 25 minutes at this point!) and that we needn’t rush what we had. Of course not wanting to outstay our unwanted welcome, we did just that and headed, rather sheepishly back through the guests and back towards the ground for kick-off. I’d wanted to seek out the groom, who was happy enough for us to finish up we were informed, and apologise for the oversight, but couldn’t spot him so I’d like to offer him & his new wife the opportunity to return the favour as when and if the roles are reversed….and  I’m serious too!

Soon arriving back at Queen’s Terrace, we headed around the boundary of the adjoining cricket ground and to the turnstiles were we were relieved of our £7 entry fee before we immediately beared right and dived into the “tea bar” where I opted for cheesy chips and mushy peas for £2. These were bloody good too and kept me busy for the first ten minutes of the match, which had gotten underway soon after our arrival to Dimple Wells. Speaking of the ground, it is a lovely, ramshackle (and I mean that in a positive way) ground, hosting three stands.

Arriving….

….passing the cricket club

….and heading towards the ground

Firstly, the Main Stand is located on the far side of the ground and straddles the half-way line. The far end hosts a newer covered standing area, with a little extra uncovered terracing located at either side. The near end houses another covered terrace, with this being set back slightly from the pitch and so the views aren’t the best from here, though the more vocal section of the home support call this place home, perhaps due to the close proximity of the clubhouse which stands within the gap between the turnstile/tea bar and the covered terrace, and also has a few outside tables upon a raised patio area, which is a nice place to be on a day such as this was. The near touchline is a couple of steps of open, hard standing, which runs the length of the pitch, though the bit behind the dugouts is rather pointless as you can’t see a thing unless you are around 6’6. Be that as it may, I love Queen’s Terrace. That’s the ground in a nutshell and this is the story of Ossett Albion….

History Lesson:

Ossett Albion Association Football Club was founded in 1944 (which must be a rarity in that they were formed in wartime) as a junior outfit before eventually becoming a senior team and after initially joining the West Riding County Amateur League for a short spell, Albion joined the Yorkshire League in 1957, taking a place in their Division 2. The club would be promoted at the end of their second season here, finishing as runners-up, before immediately finishing as league-runners up the next year, to Farsley Celtic.

They remained in Division One through to 1972, a period which encompassed three West Riding County Cup wins in 1965, ’66 & ’68, before they were relegated at the end of the 1971-’72 season after finishing bottom. They then spent just two seasons back in Division Two before again finishing as runners-up and returning to the top division. They would then become the Yorkshire League’s 1975 champions as they immediately won the title in their first year back but quickly dropped off into mid-table and were relegated just three years later, though did see more cup success, with two Yorkshire League Cups being won in 1976 & 1977. However, they would spend just a season back in Division Two before being promoted, this time as winners in 1979.

Ossett Albion line-up at home for the final time

Their return would be short lived and they were relegated back, once more, after just the one season and they continued to yo-yo between the two divisions, being promoted at the end of the next campaign, as Albion won the Division 2 for a second time. The following year would be the club’s final in the Yorkshire League, as Albion would take a spot in the newly formed Northern Counties East League’s Division One North for Season 1982-’83, with the Yorkshire League having merged with the Midland League to create the new NCEL. After spending two seasons in the North Division, reorganisation saw them move into the short-lived Central section for 1984 prior to being allocated a place in the regional Division One for 1985 following a 4th placed finish. The club would go on to spend a further two seasons in the Division One prior to winning it in 1987 and being promoted to the NCEL Premier Division.

After finishing bottom (but avoiding relegation) at the end of both the first two seasons and finishing second-bottom at the end of their third, things began to take a turn for the better and the Unicorns began to rise up the table slowly, firstly establishing themselves in mid-table before reaching the higher echelons and then finally lifting the NCEL title in 1999. Unfortunately, the club were not promoted to the Northern Premier League’s Division One due to issues with regard to the changing rooms not being big enough and so Albion had to remain in the NCEL for another two seasons, eventually being promoted in 2001 when, after finishing as runners-up to Brigg Town, Brigg were the club this time being denied promotion. However, their stay in the NPL Division One lasted just a sole season, the Unicorns finishing bottom and thus returning back to the Counties East.

OAFC

A further two season spell back in the NCEL (which saw the NCEL League Cup won in 2003) was ended when Albion won their second championship after beating Eastwood Town to the title on the final day of the 2003-’04 season on goals scored only. The club therefore returned to the NPL’s Division One and would cement themselves as a solid mid-table outfit, remaining in the Division One through its separation into a North/South divisional split in 2007, with the club finishing 6th at the end of both the first two seasons following. However, their form soon dropped away and the club became perennial strugglers for the next six seasons, finishing a best of 17th in 2015, having already narrowly avoided the drop with 2014 seeing only a late reprieve keep their NPL status intact. After a 10th placed finish in 2016 saw a relieving upturn in form, Albion returned towards the wrong end of the table last season, finishing 18th, with this season seeing them safely hovering in the lower mid-table under ex-Sunderland midfielder Andy Welsh, ahead of the impending merger with Ossett Town.

With the game already underway, it wasn’t long until the first chance came around. In fact it took just six minutes for the visitors from just outside Preston to come close, Adam Dodd seeing his well struck shot parried away by Brett Souter between the Albion sticks and Brig continued their bright start soon afterwards when Alistair Waddecar’s free-kick was deflected rather wickedly and duly forced Souter into a second good stop of the afternoon.

Dodd would again go within a whisker of giving his side the lead some fifteen minutes later when he saw his effort hit the outside of the upright and it was this close-call that seemed to awaken the hosts from their slumber. In fact, just a few minutes later, they themselves would strike first with something of a goalmouth scramble resulting in the ball finding its way to the feet of Scott Metcalfe and the winger made little issue of sweeping the ball home from close range. One-nil to the Unicorns!

Match Action

Watching on….

Match Action

Waddecar then went close a second time, seeing his effort clear the bar and the terraced stand behind the goal, before Albion would double their advantage just after the half-hour when Tom Corner was left totally unmarked at, rather fittingly, a corner-kick and he thumped his header beyond Brig stopper Lloyd Rigby and into the net and it looked like the fans of the hosts would be saying a fond farewell to their home & current club with a win. Half-Time; 2-0.

Half-Time was largely spent being amused by a group of young Albion fans who were quite happy to show their idolising of Derek Ubah during the warm-up. Indeed, Ubah definitely seems a cult hero in these parts, getting his own cheer when entering the field during the second-half, so he must be a certainty to keep his place in the new United team for next season, otherwise there could be rioting afoot in these parts. Be warned!

The second half was soon a-go and it didn’t take long until Bamber Bridge were laden with a huge setback when a ‘robust’ challenge by right-back Macauley Wilson on Albion’s Josh Grant resulted in tempers flaring here and there as players swarmed in from all over the field. However it would be Wilson only who would be given his marching orders though to be fair to him, he seemed remorseful and knew it was a bad one, checking on Grant before heading from the field.

Match Action

Match Action

View from the terracing

Things soon settled down and Albion would assert their numerical dominance quickly with Aiden Chippendale going close and James Knowles hitting the crossbar. They would eventually add their third on 70 minutes when Gibraltar international Adam Priestley latched onto a long ball forward from ‘keeper Souter before squaring the ball to Chippendale who slotted home.

Souter would soon be forced to leave the field having been caught in a fair 50-50 challenge meaning sub ‘keeper Owen Brooke received an unexpected appearance but this proved to have little effect on Albion as they added a fourth late on when a terrible mix-up between a defender and Rigby led to Adam Priestley nipping in between them, knocking the ball over the ‘keeper and nodding into the empty net to complete a fine win for the hosts and ensure that a fitting farewell was given to Ossett Albion Football Club at Queen’s Terrace.

Post-match visit #1

Post-match visit #2

After a quick visit into the bar for a Bulmers post-match, Dan and I continued just up the road and to The Tap pub which stands pretty much opposite the ground’s access road. It was here that I was faced with the beautiful sight of Blue Moon on tap (unsurprisingly, I guess) and I didn’t hesitate in handing over my £4.20 (ish) for a pint of the lovely American, Belgian-style wheat beer. However, soon after joining Dan  – who once again disappointed with a Carling – I had a realisation. I’d forgotten about the Park Tavern and that would have been a bad showing to miss out one place alone. So I swiftly finished off here, left Dan to finish off that….stuff and jogged on over to the Park for a quick bottle of Bud (not the dilly dilly version) before catching the bus back up to Dewsbury where I was to meet Dan for the train back, which featured the highlight of a Gibbo in the wild, returning from watching his beloved Colls along with his girlfriend. Needless to say, he quickly made sure he escaped our grasp!

After stopping at each and every station on the way back, we eventually pulled back into Victoria where I bid goodbye to Dan and headed back on over to Oxford Road for the train back, the walk being highlighted by a guy doing his very best George Michael’s ‘Carless Whispers’ on his saxophone in “Sexy Sax Man” style. What a way to end off the day, wouldn’t you agree?!

So that’s that for both the day and Ossett Albion in their town. A fine day and game combined well to make for a good trip, with programme, food and pubs all being fine additions to the day too. The journey both up and down was pretty much trouble-free (bar making the train with seconds to spare en route) but that was it. Anyway, all the best to the two Ossett’s on their new beginning and hopefully they can tap in to the rather large catchment area they are no doubt within. Anyway, onto next week and the, by time of writing, NPL North champs….

RATINGS:

Game: 7

Ground: 8

Food: 7

Programme: 7

Value For Money: 7

Manchopper in….Urmston (Trafford FC)

TraffordFC160px-Ossettalbionfc

Result: Trafford 0-1 Ossett Albion (Evo-Stik NPL Division 1 North)

Venue: Shawe View (Saturday 5th December 2015, 3pm)

Att: 179

Game off. Match postponed. No game today, Just a few of the phrases that continued to come up on my twitter feed as the hours of Saturday morning ticked by. First, my intended game of Silsden vs West Didsbury & Chorlton fell by the wayside, followed up by my backups at Irlam and Northwich Manchester Villa. So, a short look down the road from my abode saw my gaze settle upon Shawe View and Trafford FC and a revisit to my old regular stomping ground.

But first, a traverse through Urmston was to happen. After arranging with Paul of pitchsidepints a meeting place of the Steamhouse pub on the Liverpool-bound platform at the town’s station, I arrived in there for just before 12.30. After ordering a pint of Weinhenstephan (the oldest brewery in the world, don’cha know), Paul arrived along with his mate Dan and before long, the usual (on these pages anyway) Dan arrived. So, with our clique complete, we headed out of the station pub and up the steps back to street level and headed down the road to our next stop, The Britannia, after Dan had asked where the pool tables were at. Acting as tour guide, this was my recommendation.

Urmston

Urmston

The Steamhouse

The Steamhouse

Read closely!

Read closely!

The Britannia is nothing special in terms of anything really and is rather bland and lacks atmosphere. So, without a pool request, I wouldn’t have recommended it, unlike the Steamhouse which is full of character, due to it being a former station house and still set out in many ways as it was. So, with a defeat and a joint win, I declared my retirement from pool after the latter victory and we headed back out and onwards to Urmston’s Wetherspoon’s, The Tim Bobbin. The Bobbin is in an old electrics showroom, though the building resembles more of an old picture house as Dan enquired to whether it was. I’m unsure if it ever was, as it is before my time, but I’ve always had a similar idea from viewing it.

Either way, in here we all purchased our beers (2x Desperados in my case), before we were met by my mate and Trafford fan, Mike, better known as Cappy. I’d not seen Cappy since before I can remember, so it was nice to have a catch up prior to the game. It came about that Trafford were supporting Key 103’s Mission Christmas scheme and Cappy had bought one of those awful orangey-white balls that are used in the Prem for them to utilise. Sadly, I was unaware of this fact due to Trafford still being the only club to block me on the social media side of things largely due to…no, no I’m not going there again!

The Britannia

The Britannia

Enjoying the frothy liquid

Enjoying the frothy liquid in ‘Spoons

Arriving at Trafford

Arriving at Trafford

With drinks (mine especially frothy) finished, our five strong group headed off down the road and out of the town centre towards Shawe View, which is actually located within Flixton. A shortcut through Chassen Park sees you exit at the mouth of Shawe Road and from here, you head past the neighbouring pitch and down a narrow access road that runs parallel to  the ground before you reach the turnstiles. Here, £8 was handed over for entry after Paul and Dan had utilised their very best ways and after a further £3 was handed over for a golden goal and programme together, I was officially into Shawe View itself.

The ground is only quite small, with the main stand sitting upon the half-way line. This is all seater and neighbours the “clubhouse” (a mobile), the food hut and the tunnel leads to the dressing room areas that sit to the rear. Beyond the clubhouse and next to the turnstiles its a small open terrace, which affords a slightly higher view of the pitch. Behind the far goal is a covered standing area and the far touchline houses a dual seater/standing area, with a couple of rows of seating in front of a row of standing space. Behind the near end goal is open standing, with the ground’s grass mounds rendered obsolete due to the FA’s (and the country’s) OTT Health & Safety rules. Booooo!

So, with not long to kick-off, Paul and Dan headed to get further beer from the clubhouse and usual Dan and I stayed outside. Prior to kick-off a minute’s silence was observed for a supporter who’d passed away during the week. Then it was on to what should have been a game of football, but for large parts resembled a struggle against a windtunnel as “Storm Desmond” added it’s influence upon proceedings. Before we embark upon the game itself, here is the history of the club still known as the North, Trafford:

History Lesson:

Trafford FC was formed in 1990 under the name of North Trafford (hence the still standing nickname). After originally being denied entry to the Mid-Cheshire League, a drop-out presented them with a place. After finishing runners-up in their inaugural season, the club were promoted to Division 1. After finishing fourth the next year, Trafford made the step up to the North West Counties Division 2. In 1994, they finished in second here and were promoted again, this time to Division 1 of the NWCFL. Upon this achievement, the club adopted their current title.

1997 saw Trafford win the NWCFL Division 1 and with it promotion to the Northern Premier League. In 2000, they won their first silverware at that level, the NPL President’s Cup, before being relegated three years later. After 5 years back in the NWCFL, the club were promoted again in 2008 and took a place in the NPL Division 1 North. Their first season back at that level saw further success, as Trafford lifted the NPL President’s Cup in the 2008-’09 season with a 2-0 over Quorn at the opposing side’s home ground, the host ground decided on a coin toss! Manager Ged Kielty then left the club citing personal reasons, before being replaced by “club legend” Garry Vaughan.

Woodhenge

Woodhenge

Under Vaughan’s tutelage, Trafford gained a foothold in the Division 1, before surprising many by managing to reach the play-offs of the Northern section. After defeating New Mills in the semi final, they travelled to Cammell Laird for the final where they beat the hosts on penalties to secure a place in the NPL Premier Division for the first time ever. Despite a good first season, finishing 12th, the results began to slide away and Vaughan was dismissed, replaced by Graham Heathcote. Heathcote, however, couldn’t turn things around and the club kept sliding down the slippery slope to relegation, before Heathcote stepped down at the season’s end to be replaced by Tom Baker.

Handshakes

Handshakes

Match Action

Match Action

The game got underway with both teams looking to attack early. Paul and Dan both commented on how impressed they were early on with the visiting Unicorns from Yorkshire, and the side in gold proved their eye was right as Luke Porritt fired in after being awarded an age to pick his spot by some dire defending. After five minutes, we headed on round to behind the goal, where I’d been advised by Trafford’s former manager/founder Dave Law, that a group of lads from London were located, dressed in a mix of weird and wacky Christmas related outfits, including one covered in fairy lights. After hearing their story of how they go to a game twice a year, give presents at Christmas and support charities, they originally planned to head to Stockport vs FC, but eventually settled on this game.

We all felt around the sack and pulled out our gifts, a mug for Paul, a calculator for usual Dan, some “Tupperware” (a sandwich box) for me and a Toblerone for Dan. We were, understandably, delighted with our prizes, though Ossett ‘keeper Brett Souter probably wished he was having a quieter weekend, especially as I decided to sing  “pretty in pink” to hi and everyone joined in. Sorry, Brett, but that kit looked awfully good on you!

Pretty in pink!!

Pretty in pink!!

Match Action

Match Action

So, with very little happening on the field, I headed over to the food hut towards the end of the half and bought a chicken balti pie, peas and gravy for £2.30. Well worth the money it was too, as it was pretty good. Heading into the clubhouse at the break saw further Cockney-related shenanigans going on as I caught up with some more old faces during the 15 minutes or so. Soon enough, though, it was time to finish up the pie and head back out and into the bracing winds of Desmond for a second period that a very small percentage of those in the ground would have been looking forward to.

As usually happens in such conditions, chances continued to be at a premium with Ossett continuing to have the better of the play, though without really looking like adding to their lead. Added to that, nor did Trafford ever look like equalising especially when bringing on a sub after about 70 minutes, who proceeded to do nothing apart from lose the ball over and over again. Luckily for us, we had been somewhat accepted by the cockney crew and they continued their friendly barrage of shouts towards various players, none more so than poor Brett, who was given a free Smurfs DVD for his Xmas gift.

Dark Match

Dark Match

Brett pulls a cracker

Brett pulls a cracker

Squad photo

Squad photo

Come the full-time whistle, the ‘keeper was clearly in celebratory mood as he retrieved his DVD and pulled a cracker over the perimeter boards. No, this is not a view on a person, but a Christmas Cracker. He did, however, refuse to read he joke, claiming there was nothing in it. Booooo.

So, after a squad photo, we bid goodbye to the London lot (not before one exclaimed “Wait!”. He fixed his beard before continuing “I’m not supposed to be here!”) and headed out of Shawe View and traipsed back to Urmston, but not before Paul and Dan exclaimed their dislike at the Conservative Club on the way! On arrival back in Urmston, the Liverpool pairing headed on their way home and Dan and I headed into Chadwick’s to watch Chelsea vs Bournemouth.

After an underwhelming first half, Dan said his mother wa in ‘Spoon’s so should we go there. The offer of probably free beer was te main selling point, so back to the Tim Bobbin it was for a short period before Cappy met up with us again and we finished of the Urmstonian pub crawl with a visit to the HopHouse (in an old funeral home) and the Lord Nelson, the traditional old boozer. Dan left us shortly after we arrived here toget his bus back home, and Cappy and I finished off with a short trip into Manchester and their endeth our story.

'Spoons

Late pub crawl as follows: ‘Spoons

Chadwicks

The Chadwick

Lord Nelson

Lord Nelson

Cappy loving the ales

Cappy showing his colours in the Hop House!

A good trip out and one just down the road. It just goes to show that you don’t always need to travel far to meet some great people, they’ll travel to your end sometimes! As for me, next week it’s back onto the FA Trophy trail once again. As for Trafford, it was good to finally got back after a long period away from the place. Old habits, as they say, do die hard…

DSC01157

RATINGS:

Game: 4- Poor overall, more down to conditions.

Ground: 6- Nice enough, but not much to it now the mounds are out of action.

Programme: 4- Very little in terms of club-related articles.

Fans: 5- Rather subdued, not much atmosphere at all, but I guess it’s understandable.

Food: 8- Well worth the price, as I said earlier.

Value For Money: 7- Poor game, but a great day otherwise.