Manchopper in….Salford

Result: Salford City 2-2 FC United of Manchester (National League North)

Venue: Moor Lane (Monday 1st January 2018, 3pm)

Att: 2,937

Another new year began as the traditional New Year’s Day fixtures rolled around once again. Having not attended a fixture last year – largely down to how the dates worked out – this year saw me heading the short distance and a return to what is something of a familiar venue: Moor Lane, the home of Salford City. But whilst it is familiar in many ways, the old ground has changed beyond recognition. Of course, the “Class of 92” and the income sourced from their (and associates) take over has led to a major revamp and overhaul of both ground and club since my last visit to Salford’s home.

Now, I have to admit that I have seen Salford a couple of times on their travels since their takeover (the last being the small matter of their play-off semi at Halifax), and also visited Moor Lane a few years ago, shortly after the change-up had begun so it wasn’t a completely new sheet of paper. But I considered this to be the first real experience of the fully fledged, no-frills, new breed Ammies. So, having been given a lift down to the Trafford Centre for a lesser spotted NYD bus, blog regular Dan was picked up en route and we were soon heading into Manchester, where we would go on to catch the tram to Heaton Park.

The weird and wonderful abounded on the Mancunian public transport system as we headed up on the Bury line and towards Prestwich. Arriving in glorious sunshine at a little after midday, I mentioned to Dan that I fancied a walk around Heaton Park. I reckon he thought I was joking, but he was soon to realise I was deadly serious about this…! I’ve noticed that, in recent weeks, I’ve been starting to walk through parks or gardens if there is one on the way to a game. I don’t think it’s a conscious decision as far as I can work out, so I’m just hoping I’m not reaching that age where this sort of thing becomes more attractive. I’m not ready for it just yet! Anyway, I’m rambling…

Heaton Hall

Lake and road train!

Having entered into the park, which was a little more serene than when ‘Parklife’ rolls around, we headed down the path and past the first of numerous dogs with all the dog owners of the area seemingly populating the park during the early afternoon; maybe still working off the excess over Christmas? Continuing on, our visit encompassed a brief stop within view of Heaton Hall, dodging a road train and a boating lake (minus boats, but plentiful in ducks and swans). With the sun still shining on, all looked set for the first day of 2018 to be a fine one with the forecast looking to be incorrect. But then again, if you live in either of the two adjoining cities, you know better than to discount the rain!

With the weather still on the bright side, we left the park and its numerous visiting canines behind and popped into our first pre-match stop of the day, the Royal Oak. In here, we were informed by the barman that there was 50p off every draught lager, which was somewhat well received!! A pint of Amstel for me was had (£2.70) as we watched the final few minutes of the Brighton-Bournemouth game on the TV. Little did we know that, outside, the weather had taken a turn and the clouds had rolled in. They would hardly relent for the rest of the day.

Royal Oak

The Ostrich. Full of Utd/City stuff in this room

After finishing up in here, we headed out and around the corner but not before Dan and I had spotted the looming threat from above. “I reckon we’ll beat that” I said. We didn’t. Soon caught in something just short of a deluge, it was lucky we were within a minute or so of our second and final pub, the Ostrich, which neighbours Ostrich Road. I reckon the pub came first, but I don’t know and, I guess, you don’t care! Anyway, in we headed, thankful for the cover from the ever worsening shower outside. The Holt’s establishment was a real old-school place (similar in some ways to the Royal Oak) and was split into a few smaller rooms including hosting a snooker room and dart board. Someone who had played on the board last was, according to the chalk writing left on the blackboard, apparently a tw*t.

Pints (and bottles in Dan’s case) polished off and it was time to brave the weather and head the 25 minutes or so down to Moor Lane. Heading through the house-lined streets, we eventually found our way to Bury New Road and from there it was five minutes or so up to the road whose name the ground carries. The ground sits slightly towards the opposite end of the road from this side and is surprisingly not much more visible than it was in its former guise. Upon arrival at the ground, it quickly became apparent the club’s turnstiles were struggling with the numbers arriving, and there was still a good 25 minutes to kick-off. With large queues at both home and away ends, it took a good five minutes in the home queue to finally get in, whereupon I learnt that the programmes had all gone. *Sigh*. Not a good start, Salford.

Some of the away end queue at Moor Lane

I was going to grab a teamsheet instead, but then decided I didn’t really care enough for one and instead returned to join Dan pitch-side. Here, we started off in the seating stand located on the site of the former small covered area that stood alongside the old grassy mound. This appears to be the Main Stand as it also hosts the hospitality areas. Opposite this and on the site of the old, classic (and isn’t it a shame it couldn’t be incorporated into the new design, cricket pavilion-style) Main Stand is a carbon copy of the stand we were sat in, minus the boxes at the rear, though it does play host to a TV gantry on its roof. Both ends play host to similar, if not identical, covered terraces, with both being well populated today, especially the away end which was crammed full with the travelling, vocal FC United support. As usual with FC games, the chant of “Bring on United” accompanied the final five or so minutes to kick-off and, before long, the two sides entered the field and we were ready to go in this derby clash. But first, here’s the story of the Ammies….

History Lesson:

Salford City Football Club was founded in 1940 as Salford Central F.C. and played in the local leagues around the area through to 1963 when the club made the step up to the Manchester League and changed its name to Salford Amateurs, taking on the nickname of the “Ammies”. The club came into its own in the 1970’s, winning three Lancashire FA Cups (1973, ’75 & ’77), two Manchester Premier Cups (1978 & ’79) and the Champion of Champions trophy also arrived in 1977. To close off such a successful decade, the club took more of a step towards securing its future, with the players and committee taking on the task of restoring the Moor Lane pitch and ground as a whole, with it being overgrown and derelict. This was all sorted in good time and the club was accepted for the Cheshire League in 1980, whereupon Salford Amateurs merged with Anson Villa to become Salford.

1982 saw the Cheshire League merge with the Lancashire Combination to create the North West Counties League and Salford took the chance to join the pyramid, taking a spot in Division One. Their stay in the top-flight encompassed their name change to Salford City (in 1989) and celebrating its 50th anniversary by entering the 1990 FA Cup, their first entry to the competition. The club ended up being featured on Grandstand, as part of the Road to Wembley feature. That season ended in disappointment, though, as City went down to Division 2, though league restructuring led to their return to Division One a year later. However, the club had to wait until 2006 for their next silverware when they lifted the NWCFL League Challenge Cup, though this led to the start of a strong few years, the following season seeing the club finish runners-up.

Salford were promoted in 2008 when they finished as runners-up to Trafford (which was the start of my 6-and-a-half season spell watching Trafford home and away) and took a spot alongside the latter in the Northern Premier League’s Division One North. Here, the club struggled year on year, with regular managerial changes taking place whilst one constant always remained. That constant was Steve Foster’s late season arrival before he’d fire ~25 goals to keep the Ammies up. This was a reoccurrence for a good three years! It proved a shrewd signing though, as this inadvertently kept Salford up in these tough, less spectacular times.

2014 saw the “Class of 92” take-over take place and this led to the club winning the NPL Division One North title at the close of the 2014-’15 season. The following season saw the club in the NPL Premier Division and they finished third and took a spot in the play-offs. There, Salford defeated both Ashton United (semi-final) and Workington (final) to achieve a second straight promotion and take a spot in the National League North for last season. They also reached the First Round of the FA Cup for the first time, where they defeated Notts County at home before bowing out to Hartlepool United in Round 2. They’d go on to have another successful season in their first attempt at the National League North, reaching the play-offs where they lost out in the semi-final to FC Halifax Town.

Handshakes

The game got underway with Salford looking to gain a measure of revenge over their visitors, as the Red Rebels had defeated the Ammies in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day. Both sides traded wayward chances early on, before the table-topping hosts stormed ahead in the 16th minute. After some fine play down the right by the diminutive Jack Redshaw, the forward played in a ball to strike partner Anthony Dudley who finished with a rising, close range effort before wheeling away in front of the FC fans, drawing the ire of the visiting ranks whom a few of decided the best course of action was to lob their beers at him. Dudley didn’t seem to bothered and neither did the ref, more surprisingly. On with the show!

Redshaw himself almost doubled Salford’s lead minutes later but was unfortunate to see his shot beat FC ‘keeper Lloyd Allinson, but crash back off the inside of the post, spinning back across the goalmouth and narrowly avoid crossing the line in doing so. This seemed to spark FC into waking from their post-festive slumber, but it was Redshaw who carried the most threat of anyone on the field, forcing Allinson into another pair of stops, while Ritchie Allen saw his cross-cum-shot drift narrowly wide.

By that point, Dan and I had relocated to the terrace behind the goal to shield from the now heavy rain that had surrounded Moor Lane. It was from here that we witnessed FC draw level after a half spent trying, for the most part, to remain in the game. With around ten minutes or so to half-time, Craig Lindfield picked up the loose ball within the area and drifted a shot across goal and into the far, top corner to spark jubilant scenes in the far terrace, while a guy behind me also let out a loud “YESSSSS!!!” as the ball nestled in the onion bag. I’m not sure if he was an FC fan, a Lindfield fan or just happy to have seen a goal close-up. Either way it was one-a-piece and I headed off on my first attempt to get some food as Lindfield did his best Dudley impression in front of us.

Match Action

Match Action

The rain starts to set in

This was quickly found to be near impossible in the short-term, as a fairly large queue had already formed at the one open portakabin food stall behind the stand. There was another for drinks only (it seemed), but this set-up was to later begin to fail under demand and the weight of numbers. For now though, it was back up into the stand to watch the final few minutes of the half which passed without much action, though had seen FC grab the initiative with a shot that looked goal-bound being blocked before it could truly trouble. The action was called to a halt with the score reading 1-1.

Back to the rear of the stand and to the ever-growing queue. Now, I arrived with what looked to be around twenty to twenty-five people ahead of me. Not all alone either, meaning it was around fifteen sales I had to wait for. But the queue didn’t seem to move and we continued to wait patiently in the deluge. Then the hot water ran out which added to the delay and by the time the second half was getting back underway (Dan had shrewdly returned to the stand), I still had a good seven or eight ahead. I reckoned I might have around five minutes or so to wait then and was happy enough to do so. But, five minutes passed, and I’d moved a foot. Then, to add to my misery and rising frustration, a roar emanated from within the ground. Salford had netted. In a huff, I gave up in my never-ending quest for food and returned to get a goal report from Dan. “A close range goal” was the gist of it. Indeed it was and it was Redshaw who’d deservedly grabbed it, poking home from a free-kick.

I was hoping beyond hope that that wasn’t to be the end of the scoring, as I’d have hated to have missed the winner. Dudley went close to ensuring it wasn’t, but saw the impressive Allinson equal to his drive. Midway through the half, Allinson’s opposite number, Salford stopper Max Crocombe, showed he was just as good on this day as he pulled off a fine low save to deny Lindfield a second getting down sharply to deny the FC man’s free-kick low at his left-hand post. The United fans had already started the cheers.

Match Action

Match Action

Getting under it

The rain continued to teem down as both sides battled on. The pitch stayed decent, though, and allowed the game to continue to flow fairly well, bar that problem area in the middle of one half that I seem to remember from the club’s time in the North West Counties! This enabled both sides to again go close as the game approached its final ten minutes, with United’s soon to be Salford-bound Tom Walker and Redshaw going close, the former seeing a shot whistle narrowly wide, whilst the latter was denied by a fine stop by the in-form ‘keeper, who palmed away the Salford top-scorer’s drive aimed at the top-corner.

Then with only a few minutes of normal time remaining, FC got their equaliser in fairly fortuitous circumstances, not that they cared! The fans had been growing in belief and getting right behind their side, even more so than normal (as opposed to the surprisingly quiet home support) and thus their side seemed to respond. A low drive from Steve Irwin (no crocodile jokes here, RIP) struck team-mate Zac Corbett and looped up and drifted agonisingly over the outstretched arm of Crocombe and into the net, sparking wild scenes in the away end and frustration in the home ranks. It almost got worse for the league leaders too as Crocombe dropped the ball under pressure late on but, thankfully for him, he grabbed it at the second attempt before a white shirt could take advantage. Full-Time, 2-2 and a bit of handbags for good measure!

Watching The Game In The Commercial

As for Dan and myself, it was a case of back from whence we came as we made a beeline for Heaton Park. Thankfully dodging any more rain from then on in, we arrived back at the tram stop but headed on straight past it. Where were we headed? Come on, you must have a decent idea by now. PUB! Yes, pub; namely the Commercial on the opposite side of the tracks to the other two. The neighbouring Parkside looked shut up today, so it was a sole Strongbow (£3.20) in here for me as we wasted away 25 minutes for the tram back into Manchester. This was all completed with little issue as I arrived for my connection onwards home with time to spare. What I didn’t look forward to was the forthcoming walk afterwards. Buses, eh?.

So that ends a slightly disappointing day. The game was fine and entertaining, so no issues at all with that, nor the ground itself really, which is smart, if unspectacular. The lights are a great touch though! The major thing for me was the apparent lack of readiness for this type of attendance(?) facilities wise (could have been taken by surprise by the record crowd I guess) that created a sense of let down at the overall experience (what with a lack of a programme and food which, of course, make up two of my grading criteria; boo, boo!) and what I’d imagine was a fair amount of lost revenue, with at least five or six people in front of me leaving the food queue, never mind how many behind plus those few more “bible” sales. Ah well, a second visit at a slightly less busy time shall be arranged. Onwards to Saturday and the FA Cup with a trip down to the “Big Smoke” arranged. Hope no-one follows my damn train, though….

RATINGS:

Game: 6

Ground: 6

Food: N/A (Not for the want of trying!)

Programme: N/A

Value For Money: 5

Manchopper in….Halifax

Result: FC Halifax Town 1-1 Salford City (2-2 Agg.) (AET, Halifax won 3-0 on pens) (National League North Play-Off Semi-Final 2nd Leg)

Venue: The Shay Stadium (Sunday 7th May 2017, 3pm)

Att: 3,655

“Oh, Halifax is on a SUNDAY?!!”. They were my words when I realised on Friday night that a double-header was on the cards and the big game at the Shay was in my sights. With excitement at a peak point, I got into planning a day in sunny Halifax.

After visiting Cheshire League side Orford on the Saturday, Sunday morning arrived and with train times not too friendly, I set off for Manchester at just after 9am, with around a half-hour wait both there and in Huddersfield, before catching the train up to Halifax, where I arrived bright and early. In fact, I was so early, the first pub I headed for was still shut.

Luckily, this didn’t last and I was soon inside the Ring O’Bells pub down the side of the town’s “Minster”. After explaining I haven’t quite reached the realms of regular early morning drinking to the barmaid (as I actively reached for the beer that was still settling) and just what brought me to the place this fine day, she replied in a maligned tone that there is many a time when she has to humour the fans – both before and after matches – despite holding no interest in football. No interest in football. I couldn’t imagine it!

Halifax Minster & Ring O’Bells

The Old Post Office

Spot the bunny?

Anyway, I settled in for a while with a pint of Acorn Brewery’s Blonde Ale, which was a nice, easy drinking pint before heading off and more towards the town centre. En route, I found myself outside a free house by the name of the “Old Post Office”. It was fairly quiet inside, with me having, once again, come upon it shortly after it had opened its doors. My drink here cost me £3.50, which, I think, was one of only two drinks all day that would set me back over the £3 mark. It’s pretty cheap is Halifax and I loved it for it. There was a guy in a bunny suit walking down the street though…

It was soon time to head onwards into the centre and my next stop-off was the Union Cross, just off the bustling high street. The barmaid in here was quite bubbly it has to be said and there was much “bantz” going on with the regular punters. I was also given permission to charge my phone, with me being assured that it wouldn’t be nicked! With that assurance, I headed off, Strongbow in hand, to the nearest socket.

Halifax

The Union Cross on the right

Home of my cheapest pint!

After a further couple of pretty uneventful stops in the Cat & Fiddle & the strangely named Bow Legged with Brass (where I figured I’d got a pint of Dark Fruits for under £2, though my math probably let me down once more), I finished off with a visit to the ‘Spoons-like Duke of Wellington. This was originally planned to be my final pit-stop, before I decided on the way to the ground  that I could squeeze in a quick Punk IPA in one of the town’s two actual ‘Spoons, the Barum Top. Then, with pre-match drinks finished up, I made the ten minute walk onwards to the Shay.

Arriving at the turnstile, I purchased a programme for £3 and the astronomical £16 entrance fee, before heading into the away end, as I fancied a bit of a change for no apparent reason. I just figured it could be a bit more fun. But to be honest, I think most were too tense to enjoy the day and the game definitely reflected their feelings. But, that’s for a little later.

Late stop at the Duke

Arriving at the Shay

The Shay’s away end

The Shay itself is a mixture of old and new with the Skircoat stand, where the away fans were located today, being one of the older stands along with the (occasional away end) covered terrace which was used for flags alone for this game. The opposite end houses a further terrace for the standing home support, while the more modern East Stand stands opposite the Skircoat. The areas surrounding the Skircoat are fairly uneven too, as the stand is built on the side of a slope and they are definitely a throwback to another era, the toilets especially so! Anyway, without wishing to delve into further details about them, here’s the story behind FC Halifax Town…

History Lesson:

FC Halifax Town were formed in 2008, following the demise of the town’s previous club, and forerunner to this one, Halifax Town. The prior club had been in existence for all of ninety-seven years where they competed in the Yorkshire Combination & the Midland League before becoming founder members of the Football League’s Third Division North in 1921, finishing a best of second in 1935.

They remained there right through until restructuring in 1958 saw Town in the, now fully national, Third Division. They just missed out on a promotion spot in 1971, but that was as good as it got for Town in their first League stay, as they were relegated to the Conference in 1993, where they would remain for the next five years, going from avoiding relegation to title-winners within a year, featuring players such as Geoff Horsfield.

Back in the league, the Shaymen saw Horsfield leave for Fulham in 1998, but lead the table for most of their first season back, before falling away into mid-table.  2002 saw Town back in the Conference where they stayed through to their eventual collapse, missing out on promotion in the 2006 play-offs, losing 3-2 to, another now defunct side, Hereford United in the final. Despite avoiding relegation the next season, Town would go on to fold and FC Halifax Town came into being.

Real old-style stand

The new entity took a place in the Northern Premier League for 2008-’09, with me seeing their second game (and first away) at that level, as Town travelled to Trafford. A poor end to the season saw the club miss out on the play-offs at the end of their first season, but they did manage to take the title the following season after a strong end to the campaign.

The club’s NPL Premier Division tenure began with players such as Jamie Vardy being brought to the Shay and this proved fruitful as the club went on to lift their second successive title – and promotion – to take a spot in the Conference North for 2011-’12, a season which saw them ultimately bow out in the play-off semi-finals. The following year saw Town again take a spot in the play-offs, defeating Brackley Town in the final to achieve promotion back to the Conference Premier, where the former side had bowed out from five years earlier.

After reaching the play-offs as the highest-ranked part-time side in the country at the close of their first season back at Step 1, Halifax bowed out in the semi-finals. The following year was something of a success as, despite losing star man Lee Gregory, the club lead the way for a time before fading into play-off contention and ultimately missing out on those too.

Flags. Lots of them.

However, a polar opposite campaign to the prior seasons would follow. The season saw the departure of Neil Aspin, who’d seen the club through the rise from Step 4 to Step 1, with him being replaced by Darren Kelly. This proved to be no help to the cause of Town and, despite a late resurgence under Jim Harvey which saw Halifax reach the Final of the FA Trophy where they defeated National League champions Grimsby Town 1-0, they were relegated back to the National North for this season, where…well, you can see where they are if you’re reading these words! Under new boss Billy Heath, Town finished up in 3rd place prior to these very play-offs.

After a fifteen minute delay due to ground congestion, the game got underway but, again, a decent first-half followed. In fact, it wasn’t until the 38th minute that the first true chance of the game came around, with Sam Johnson in the home goal keeping out Dave Norris’ effort.

Halifax did respond right at the end of the half, with Dion Charles the unlucky man who saw his poke comfortably cleared as it rolled toward the line by Michael Nottingham to ensure the teams headed in at the break all-square and with it all to play for in the second period, the place in the final no closer for either side.

Match Action

All Rise

Having already purchased a cheeseburger (£3.20) before kick-off from the in-ground food trailer thing, I therefore had little to do during the break other than head into the concourse and just generally hang around. It’s always interesting to hear people’s differing views on the game at the half-way mark and there was certainly a split between optimism and the hopeful pessimist. However, we’d soon find out who was right as the teams entered the field once more.

The second half was a more open affair than the first, with Salford’s Mike Phenix being denied by a fine tackle when he looked odds-on to score, Halifax responding, forcing Salford ‘keeper Jay Lynch managed to ‘keep out a close-range header before it was Salford’s turn to again go close, James Poole denied by a fine stop by Johnson who stayed big for as long as possible to thwart the Salford front-man.

Match Action

Salford fans becalmed

As I alluded to earlier, the final minutes saw the hosts go close to winning the game and sealing a place in the play-off final and it was the danger man Charles once more, who saw his drive fly narrowly wide of the target. Frustration in the home ends was met with relief in the away section as the “final” whistle blew to signal extra-time would be needed to separate these two well-matched outfits.

The thirty-minutes proved to be where the drama occurred. Just a handful of minutes into the extra period, Richard Peniket found the net with a fine header, diving in to meet a ball into the box from the right and power the ball beyond Lynch. 1-0 to the hosts and the mini pitch invasion was on!

However Salford were not done and it took them just two minutes of the second half of extra-time to level the game up once more, Michael Nottingham sneaking in at the back post to somehow beat the defender to the ball and nod in. A really soft goal for Halifax to concede, but you felt Salford deserved to stay level through to the end of the contest. They duly managed it, despite a fine stop late on by Lynch to deny another Peniket header, before he then had to stay alert right up to the final whistle to keep out another from the tall Tom Denton, before the whistle went to signal the dreaded shootout.

Salford’s support celebrate the equaliser

Match Action

Pitch invasion!

The penalties came and went in quick fashion, largely due to the poor quality of Salford’s kicks. One tame kick saved and two more flying over sealed their fate, with Town netting three of their four; Matty Brown sealing their place in the final with an emphatic finish into the top-corner. Cue the full pitch invasion as the home fans celebrated the fact the Shaymen had secured a shot at a quick return to the top-level of non-league. Another year at Step 2 beckons for City, though.

As for me it was back to Halifax where I had a 45 minute wait for the train back to Huddersfield. I reckoned I’d had enough before the game and didn’t really fancy another drink, so instead took the opportunity for a much-needed phone charge, until we were all kicked out of the waiting room as it was being shut. Luckily, there was only ten minutes left before I departed from the scenic sights of the Nestle factory and back from whence I came.

So another good day out in Halifax (helped by the cheapness of its beer) was had and it was good to revisit the Shay after almost eight years. On balance of the game, I think it was hard to truly pick a winner, with both sides having their fair share of chances, but Halifax had the spot-kick prowess to see them over the line. They go on the play Chorley for a place in the Conference. As for me, just two games await…

 

RATINGS:

Game: 7

Ground: 7

Food: 4

Programme: 8

Value For Money: 6

 

The 2014-’15 Manchopper Awards

So, after a season consisting of 106 games, spanning 11 months and taking in grounds in all manner of places and surroundings within three countries and at all levels, it’s time the honour the best, the worst, the weird and the wonderful of my travels over the past season.

From Croston to Crewe, whether on the pitch or off it, there has certainly been some memorable moments and characters & both new and old friends have been made/re-acquainted during my ventures and the awards celebrate the most brilliant, or otherwise, of all the experiences & escapades that have occurred. So without further ado, Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, the very best of Season 2014-’15, Manchopper Style……

The “West Didsbury & Chorlton & Atherton Town” Best Animal Seen Escape In Order To Watch A Game Award:

Winner: The Howe Bridge Horses

Unsurprisingly given the title of this award, there was only one nominee and one result only, just like a FIFA Presidential election involving Sepp Blatter. Congratulations to the horses who escaped and decided to watch over a wall and through a gate. They were left disappointed, I’d presume.

Horses watching the game at Atherton Town

Horses watching the game at Atherton Town

The drunken escapade of the season, sponsored by #lostboyos:

The Nominees: Me at Morecambe & Me At Glan Conwy.

Winner: Me at Glan Conwy

Well, what can I say. After making a horrible mess of a bag at the hands of a Sambuca-fuelled Eagle Sports, I somehow managed to get home after being on the phone to keep myself awake, or I’d have been stranded in Warrington. I parted company with my sunglasses somewhere in the vicinity of Sankey Platform 1. I’ve not been the same since…

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The  “Non League Review” best away day of the season:

The Nominees: Barnet, Maine Road, Mottram Hall.

Winner: Barnet

Yes, Barnet was a clear winner of this award. After watching Barnet smash Altrincham for five at the Hive, Stew organised the first, and so far only, NLR Whistle Stop Tour. I was shown all the sights of London, before having some Chinese in A Box. Top day.

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Strangest Venue Of The Season:

The Nominees: Mottram Hall, Gresty Road (NI vs Qatar), Old Trafford (Portugal vs Argentina)

Winner: Mottram Hall.

For as strange as Gresty Road hosting a home international for scheduled 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar was, as well as Old Trafford hosting Argentina vs Portugal, the Messi vs Ronaldo 45-minute non-event, a game in the grounds of the 5* Cheshire hotel, Mottram Hall, tops all. Not to mention that it featured Romanian side Dinamo Bucharest, who were being entertained by none other than Cheadle Town.

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Most Memorable Day of The Season:

The Nominees: Glan Conwy, Barnet, Northern Ireland vs Qatar

Winner: Northern Ireland vs Qatar

An award for the fixture that has made a late entry into the gongs. All the fans, atmosphere & the day in general, and causing trouble whilst agreeing….

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The “Where Do Vics Play?” Award, Sponsored by Football Spoon:

The Nominees: Football Spoon telling me how to pronounce Glasshoughton correctly as to avoid being lynched, Football Spoon laughing at my misfortune at Newcastle Town & Football Spoon informing Trafford FC’s Twitter account of the presence of Northwich Victoria at Valley Road, Flixton.

Winner: Football Spoon helping Trafford to locate clubs in Flixton.

Yes, after Trafford’s account had said it was only Northwich Flixton Villa who played at Valley Road, the Spoon politely informed them of the presence of Vics and also helped remind them they’d played against them a year earlier. He was subsequently blocked. Nice.

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The Matt Harrison Craziest Character of the Season Award:

The Nominees: Neville and er….well no, one beats that!

Winner: Neville.

What can you say about Nev. An absolute legend and one that will live long in the memory of all of us who met him at Chapel-en-le-Frith two weeks before the end of the season. Matt has the knack of attracting these weird and wonderful folk, and he didn’t disappoint on this occasion! Neville. What a hero.

The Manchopper Craziest Team of the Season Award:

The Nominees: Eagle Sports…..And that’s it.

Winner: Eagle Sports.

As I said earlier, the club changed me on that day in Conwy, and it was damn crazy on the whole. Tbh, they’re not completely nuts, per se, but when the alcohol appears, specifically the Sambucca, everything changes. Maybe that’s just my drink-ruined mind talking, though.

Eagle Sports

Best Fans:

The Nominees: FC United, Salford City, Hemel Hempstead Town, Morecambe, Bury u18’s.

Winners: Hemel Hempstead Town.

Yes, The Tudors’ backing were the best I’ve come across this season. I saw them on two occasions, in the FA Cup, and on both occasions they were outstanding. Hemel take this award. King Henry VIII would be very proud.

Okay, onto on pitch matters now, and the best and not so good achievements on the field of play…Remember, this is only teams I’ve seen, so please no threatening messages or abuse, or I’ll send Alan Shearer round with Newcastle tickets. You’ve been warned….

The Hemel Fans complete with drummer

The Hemel Fans complete with drummer

Hemel at Bury

Hemel at Bury

Team Performance of the Season:

The Nominees: Llandridnod Wells (vs Flint), Penlake (vs Golborne), Wythenshawe Town (vs West Dids Res), Chapel Town (vs Walshaw Sports), Altrincham (vs Macclesfield)

Winner: Penlake

In the relegation spots at 3pm, Penlake had to win. They comfortably did so, disposing of Golborne Sports by 9-0, with striker Alex Grisedale netting five times on his way to finishing top scorer. Staying up in style.

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Penlake

Individual Performance of the Season:

The Nominees: Alex Grisedale (Penlake), Craig Ellison (Congleton Town), Chris Venables (Aberystwyth Town), Nathan Tyson (Doncaster Rovers), Javi Ramos (Atletico Benamiel)

Winner: Alex Grisedale

Despite the feats of all the above, you can’t ignore someone scoring five in a game to keep his side up, even if he was playing against a depleted side.

Grisedale (#9) in front of shot.

Grisedale (#9) in front of shot.

Best Game of the Season:

The Nominees: Stockport Sports vs Selby Town, Greenalls PSO vs Eagle Sports, Chapel Town vs Walshaw Sports, Droylsden vs Salford City, Northwich Flixton Villa vs Atherton Collieries.

Winner: Northwich Flixton Villa vs Atherton Collieries.

This one just pips Stockport vs Selby to the title, mostly because Stockport no longer exists and the game ended up in a replay after a 5-5 draw anyway. NFV, meanwhile, ended Atherton’s winning run in the league in quite unbelievable circumstances, winning 3-2 after previously being minnows in the league. They remained only mid table, but this was their finest hour.

Goal Of The Season:

The Nominees: The Athletic Fuengirola player (shot from half-way), James Lawrie (Altrincham vs Macclesfield), Joe Clark (Wrexham vs Torquay), Shane Kelsey (1st goal, Shaw Lane vs Glasshoughton), Gaz Meredith (Altrincham Res vs Irlam Res)

Winner: Joe Clark.

Wrexham skipper Joe Clark’s opener in the FA Trophy Semi-Final 1st Leg is well worthy of the award. His 25 yard strike was put into the top corner in a gap the size of a postage stamp. Or, more precisely, a ball. Either way, it was a superb goal, and pips Meredith’s super hit.

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Ground Of The Season:

The Nominees: Cefn Druids’ The Rock, Runcorn Town’s Pavilions, Glossop North End’s Surrey Street, Squires Gate’s School Lane, Wrexham’s The Racecourse Ground.

Winner: Cefn Druids.

For pure backdrop and name alone it has to be the Rock. A nice clubhouse also features highly in my memories of the ground in Cefn Mawr. If you Smel…elllllll…ellll..el what The Rock is Cooking!

The Rock.

The Rock.

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Most Improved Club (primarily facilities)

The Nominees: Salford City, Wythenshawe Town, Chadderton.

Winner: Salford City.

Yes, the overall appearance and look of the club has changed massively since the “Class of 92″‘s well publicised take over of the club last summer. In my opinion, this is very much for the better, and the benefit of non-league football in general. It adds a bit of something different, as the likes of Darlington and Halifax and FC United do, for differing reasons. So, for me, Salford are well deserving of this.

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Moor Lane

Moor Lane

The Manchopper Team of The Season:

The Nominees: Wythenshawe Town, FC United, Glossop North End, Barnet, Rochdale.

Winner: Wythenshawe Town. (Glossop semi-pro award)

As much as you could argue that with the standard of players in comparison it wasn’t as difficult as others, in the case of Wythy, to go a whole season winning every game is some feat. In all competitions, lest we forget. A massive shout for Glossop too, who’s season was quite brilliant. I can’t split the two, really, considering the differing levels in which they play, so both sides can win an award here. If you like, Glossop win the “semi-pro” Team of the Season & Wythenshawe the Amateur award

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Greg Hall, a vital component of Glossop's campaign.

Greg Hall, a vital component of Glossop’s campaign.

GNE Huddle

GNE Huddle

Manchopper in….Droylsden

DroylsdenthCAMJDCAE

Result: Droylsden 3-2 Salford City (Evo-Stik NPL Division 1 North)

Venue: The Butcher’s Arms (Thursday 1st January 2015, 3.00pm)

Att: 208

New Year’s Day and, to be honest, last thing the night before I still had no real idea of where I was to be heading for my first venture in 2015. Wherever it was, it promised to be a rather wet one as the rain steadily fell throughout a dreary morning in Manchester. I decided at just before 11am that my destination would be the wonderfully named The Butcher’s Arms, home of Droylsden FC, “The Bloods”.

So, after checking for confirmation via twitter that the game was pretty much certain to go ahead, I was on the rattler into the City Centre. From here, I was to get a bus from Manchester Piccadilly Station towards Ashton-under-Lyne. Eventually, one turned up which enabled me to avoid any traffic heading to the Etihad on the afternoon.

It worked a treat as I rolled into Droylsden at just about 25 to 3. After quickly cutting up Ashton Hill Road, I was soon on Market Street and with the floodlights blazing through the rain right in front of me I arrived at the turnstiles at around about 10 minutes to kick-off. However, my day was to take a hit when I was struck with the setback of no programmes being left! Shocker! I like to collect one, especially for blog games so I wasn’t best pleased. But it’s happened before and will happen again and we all know why it happens so I won’t be too harsh.

After being relieved of my £8 entrance fee at the turnstiles, I took a place in the Main Stand for the first time in any of my previous three visits to the ground. This was, for the most part to escape both the, now heavy, driving rain and swirling wind surrounding the Tameside ground. The Main Stand is one of three in the ground, with the dressing rooms, hospitality, press box and seats all housed here. Opposite is an old covered standing area which looks a bit rickety and behind the near end goal is a new, smart looking covered terrace, with the clubhouse & food bar situated in between it and the Main Stand. The opposite, far end is open hard standing, and goes back a fair distance.

Heading to the Butchers

Heading to the Butcher’s

The old stand.

The old stand.

Before long though, the two sides made their way out onto the field for the customary obligatory handshake before the game got underway in earnest. Before that, however, we will delve into the annuls of history of Droylsden.

History Lesson:

Originally formed at the invitation of the landlord of the Butcher’s Arms Public House (no longer standing) in 1892, the club played in friendlies and local league football amidst a number of disbandment, reformations, the club began life after WWI in the Manchester League. It was at this time the club adopted their current colours and their nickname. They twice entertained Hyde United in 1921, attracting over 15,000 attendees. Their first silverware was the 1923 Manchester Junior Cup.

After winning two Manchester League titles in 1931 & ’33, the club joined the Lancashire Combination in 1936. They became a “nursery club” for Manchester City which allowed surplus City players to turn out for the club, but disqualified the Bloods from the FA Cup. With the beginning of WWI, the club joined the Cheshire League. The club were soon struggling though, and four years after finishing as Cheshire League runners-up were not re-elected and saw their ground lease sold on to Belle Vue FC who became Droylsden United.

The Bloods, therefore, moved to a nearby ground known locally as Pork Park. With the town being considered too small to support two clubs on unfriendly terms, a merger was negotiated, with Droylsden returning to the Butcher’s Arms in 1952.  The pitch had been turned round 180 degrees too and the ground newly renovated. They went on to compete in the Lancashire Combination for a further two decades, but returned to a depleted Cheshire League after the creation of the Northern Premier League.

League form never got going for the Bloods during their time in the Cheshire League, but they did win three Manchester Senior Cups in 1973, ’76 & ’79 and reached the FA Cup First Round twice (’76 & ’79) losing to Grimsby Town & defeating Rochdale before being defeated by Altrincham in the Second Round. However, this successful side soon broke apart and so did Droylsden’s fortunes as they finished bottom of the Cheshire League First Division in 1982. They were spared relegation, though, due to the merger of the league with the Lancashire Combination to create the North West Counties League, with Droylsden placed in Division 2 of 3. 2 seasons later, that league was won with the club skipping the Counties 1st Division due to the creation of the NPL’s 1st Division after a successful application.

In 1990, the club were promoted to the NPL Premier Division as runners-up and remained there until 1996 when they were relegated back to the Division 1. During this season, the club also conceded a 148 second hat-trick in the FA Cup at Nantwich Town, the fastest. For 1998-’99, after Dave Pace was installed as dual Chairman-manager, the club rebuilt and lifted the Division 1 title and achieved promotion pairing this with an NPL President’s Cup. They also won the NPL Challenge Cup in 2003. In 2004, the Bloods were invited to join the newly created Conference North. They achieved a play-off final in 2006, but lost out to Stafford Rangers on penalties. In 2007 the club won the Manchester Premier Cup (won 13x by the club), beating Flixton 3-0, and three days later beat Harrogate town and in doing so secured promotion to the Conference National as champions. However, the club lasted just a solitary season in the “Blue Square Premier”, being relegated at the first attempt.

The following season saw the Chesterfield FA Cup escapades with two abandonments before Droylsden shocked their Football League opposition 2-1, Sean Newton scoring both goals. But, it was then discovered Newton was ineligible for the competition & thus, the Bloods thrown out & Chesterfield re-instated. You couldn’t make it up. They did jointly win the Tony Downes Memorial Cup with Chester though, so it wasn’t all bad, I guess.

In 2010-’11, the Bloods again played League opposition, this time Leyton Orient. After leading 2-0 after about an hour at Brisbane Road, they capitulated to an 8-2 defeat. From here, it’s all gone downhill. Relegation from the Conference North at the end of 2012-’13 season saw Droylsden compete in the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division, where they finished bottom, thus finding themselves in today’s division.

The open end

The open end.

I told you it goes deep.

I told you it goes deep.

Back to today then and the game got underway as the rain continued to make the pitch more treacherous by the minute. A minute was all it took for Salford to find the net through Gareth Seddon, but his sliding effort was ruled out for offside. They weren’t denied for long, though, as Danny Webber classily guided a volley into the bottom right hand corner of Russell Saunders’ goal.

20 minutes in and it was all square once again, though, as Ben Deegan (I knew it was him, not Ciaran Kilheeney) beat Salford custodian Daniel Lloyd-Weston to the ball to nod home. 1-1. Soon after, Salford were denied, what looked to most, a stonewall penalty when Seddon was brought down in the area by the onrushing Saunders. The referee waved away the protests confidently though, much to Seddon’s disbelief.

The Main Stand w/ match action.

The Main Stand w/ match action.

Match action

Match action

Blurred in the rain.

Blurred in the rain.

It was to be costly for Salford as Droylsden took the lead for the first time. A counter attack down the right ended with Kilheeney receiving the ball inside the area before coolly slotting past Lloyd-Weston. 2-1 it looked to remain until the break, but Seddon had other ideas. With the pitch now cutting up terribly in the awful conditions, he this time avoided Saunders’ onrushing frame before neatly finishing from a tight angle. A really good finish, and that signalled “chip muffin time”. The two people in front of me ordered one, so I figured “Why not?”. Turns out it’s a chip barm.

Refreshment bar.

Refreshment bar.

So, after returning to the shelter of the main stand, I quickly ate the barm/muffin and soon enough the second half was underway. The fifth goal arrived almost instantly, Kilheeney grabbing his second and the Bloods’ third, knocking home from inside the six-yard box following a bit of pinball.

The new terrace close up

The new terrace close up

And from further away

And from further away

With a brief respite from the weather, I set off on a lap of the ground for photograph purposes. One thing I’ve noticed is there are some flowers placed in a certain spot, just to the right of the home dugout. I don’t know why but it intrigues me. I’d only made it half way round when it began bucketing down again. The pitch really was sodden by now and was becoming pure mud in places and the game became scrappy and disjointed with players struggling to just keep their feet, never mind do anything meaningful with the ball. Salford were unfortunate to have a second ruled out for offside when Madeley finished smartly late on against his former club. He wheeled away in delight, only for his celebration to be cut short, to the delight of the rather noisy home fans. The visiting contingent also created some backing for their side, thus creating a decent enough atmosphere, as Phil Neville arrived early during the second period.

But that was that, and Droylsden held on for a big three points, which makes Salford’s title chances hang by a thread. Droylsden are right up there in the play-off mix too, and look a strong outfit. The game also ended up being Salford boss Phil Power’s last in charge, as he was dismissed a couple of days later.

I headed for the clubhouse after to shelter for a while until the bus was due. As soon as I had to leave, I did. Not anything to do with the clubhouse, which is lovely and welcoming and very nicely decorated, but more to do with the weather which seemed to be worsening. It may be a new year, but one thing remains the constant in Manchester. The weather!

The Butcher's Arms. Great Ground!

The Butcher’s Arms. Great Ground!

My Droylsden M.o.M.- Adam Morning
My Salford City M.o.M.- Martyn Andrews

RATINGS:

Game: 7- Considering the conditions, it was a great game.
Ground: 7- A smart ground, with new and old intertwined nicely. One of my favourites.
Programme: N/A- (Ran out!)
Food: 6- It wasn’t bad, but it’s a barm.
Fans: 8- Make noise for their team, and it’s good to see fans return still after the struggles last season.
Value For Money: 7- Travel £6, Food £2, Admission £8. All in all, not too bad.

Manchopper in….Salford

thCAMJDCAEradcliffe borough

Result: Salford City 2-1 Radcliffe Borough (Evo-Stik NPL Division 1 North)

Venue: Moor Lane (Friday 26th December 2014, 3.00pm)

Att: 246

Boxing Day morning began with a little trepidation, as I logged on to “Twitter” for the usual mid-winter postponement check. Granted, I had some alternatives set up in case my first choice fell victim to the wet and rather chilly weather, but as it happened I needn’t have worried. The news filtered through from Salford City’s Moor Lane that it was game on!

It was soon after that I was venturing out into the chilly, but still rather mild for this tie of year, Manchester air and boarded the 255 service to Piccadilly Gardens. With my leather jacket making a welcome return to the fold, I was feeling rather pleased with my choice as the sun shone through the windows, giving the illusion of warmth. Soon enough, I’d pulled into the bus station and made the short 5 minute hop over to Shudehill Interchange in the Northern Quarter of the city. Once here, I had a 20 minute or so wait for the 98 service onwards towards Moor Lane. Sadly, I decided it wasn’t enough time to warrant a rushed trip to the Lower Turk’s Head opposite, though I was given a small chuckle when I saw some apartments above a kebab shop termed as being “luxury”. This wasn’t quite the word I’d use to describe them, however.

Anyway, now on board my connection service, I was at the junction of Moor Lane after around a 25 minute journey. With little to no public houses within the near vicinity, I had already made the decision to head straight for the ground. With small signposts aiding me, I found myself cutting up the, almost, appropriately named Nevile Road (with the connection to the “Class of 92”, you see, and soon enough was stood outside a pair of gates emblazoned in newly panted “SCFC”. It happens that this is the back end of the ground, there is also a turnstile on the opposite side of the ground, on Moor Lane itself. Anyway, after handing over my £7 entrance fee, and a further £1.50 for the “Red Ammie” programme, I entered into the home of the Ammies.

Turnstile

Turnstile

The gates

The Salford gates

The other entrance, reached from Moor Lane.

The other entrance, reached from Moor Lane.

Moor Lane is a familiar stomping ground for me, having been a regular visitor when following Trafford in both the North West Counties and Northern Premier League. Though Trafford have had the better of the recent times, finding themselves a league above Salford, at time of writing, and having beaten them to the Counties title beforehand, it appears that, sooner rather than later, the positions are going to change.

That is all for the future, though. So, back to the present before we delve into the past. Despite being a familiar ground to me, as I stated previously, Moor Lane has undergone quite the facelift and smartening up process following their famous investors input. It seems I may be in the minority in saying so, but I think that anything like this is good for the non-league game. Not only does it provide much needed publicity for the lower leagues, but it can also help the club in question in turn, and this is clearly shown in Salford’s attendances this season which, I stand to be corrected, are much better on average than last season’s. It still features two stands, the main, old stand and a smaller covered terraced on the opposite side. Both goal ends are open, with one serving as the club car park. Cover your windows! Moor Lane has a capacity of around 1,400.

Welcome To Salford City.

Welcome To Salford City.

Clubhouse, facilities & Main Stand

Clubhouse, facilities & Main Stand

Terraced stand

Terraced stand

With a new, smart clubhouse, changing rooms area (far removed from the old ones in the back of the stand!) and fresh facelift for both stands, Moor Lane is looking resplendent again and is attracting a good atmosphere now, with the larger crowds and much more merchandise on show in the stands. It was the former for where I headed first, and I got myself a £3 Kopparberg, before settling in to watch the latter stages of the Chelsea-West Ham game on TV. With 30 minutes to go to kick-off, and both the bar and ground filling up nicely, and camera crew still filming the upcoming documentary in attendance, it seems the best time to delve into the history of, “The Ammies”, Salford City Football Club.

History Lesson:

Formed in 1940 under the name Salford Central, the club competed in local leagues, progressing up these rather steadily, climbing the Salford City Amateur League as Runners-up’s in Division 2 and 1 (twice) as well as lifting one Challenge Cup, in 1951, their first silverware. The club then switched to the Manchester Amateur League where, under the name Salford Amateurs (where the Ammies nickname derives), they won one honour, the Hulme Celtic Cup in 1964, then the Manchester League where they were more successful, winning the First Division and Murray Shield in 1969 an then lifting four Premier Division titles in 5 years, between 1975 and 1979. On the cup front during this period, the club lifted three Lancashire Amateur Cups (’71,’73,’75), two Manchester Challenge Trophies (’75 &’76) and two Manchester Intermediate Cups (’78 &’79). In 1977, the club also attained the, rather princely, title of “Champion of Champions”.
Leading up to 1980, the club committee put in lots of work to improve facilities, resulting in admittance to the Cheshire League. However, this stay lasted just two seasons, when the hard work paid off. With the amalgamation of the Lancashire Combination and Cheshire League, the North West Counties League (NWCFL) was born, and the Ammies took their chance to progress into the pyramid.
In 1989, and under the Salford City name, the club played at Old Trafford, a forebear of what was to come, as well as installing lights at their home. 1990 saw City play in the FA Cup for the first time, but this celebration of 50 years of existence was tempered with relegation at the end of the campaign. When the league restructured in 1992, the club re-took its place in the Division One.

Despite cementing themselves as regular challengers in the Counties upper echelons, the club found success and silverware surprisingly hard to come by, with only a League Challenge Cup in 2006 to show before, in 2008, they finished as runners-up to local rivals Trafford and were later granted promotion, due to having the best record in the country of 2nd placed sides who’d applied for the step up.

After surviving initial seasons of struggle in the Northern Premier League, the club staged many a memorable survival push, largely thanks to the continued late season signing and goals of Steve Foster.
2013 saw the club vanquished on penalties following an entertaining Manchester Premier Cup Final at Edgeley Park by defending champions Mossley, a game that I attended. Last season, the club finished an inconspicuous 16th place in the Evo-Stik Division One North, before the well publicised investments and take-over by the Manchester United “Class of 92” and latterly businessman Peter Lim, appear to have given Salford the basis to push onwards to the aim of “league football” in the future. The investment also showed in changes on the pitch, the club’s more traditional Tangerine colours ousted in favour of a United-themed red & white home kit, with the away and third also mirroring the Premier League side’s. The club crest was also changed, with the rampant lion changes to a front-facing lions face, to show the forward thinking ambitions of the club.

The Red Ammie Programme

The Red Ammie Programme

The new crest as displayed in the clubhouse

The new crest as displayed in the clubhouse

Formalities

Formalities

Back to today, and the sides came out to a smattering of applause, with Radcliffe having a sizable chunk of support in the terraces. The game began in the bright sunshine, so I took the opportunity to undergo my lap of the ground. I was to be happy that I took the chance when I did, as the rains came down towards the half-hour point and remained set in for the evening. As it was, the first half was virtually a closely fought non-event, with both sides creating little, bar Boro’s quick frontman Bevan Burey sprinting clear of the flat-footed Salford back-line before firing wildly off target. Radcliffe’s goalkeeper, Altrincham’s Josh Samberg, was largely untroubled, with only a couple of efforts flying wide of his uprights. The only time he was called into action was to keep out a tame effort from the left of the area.

Half-Time, 0-0. So I headed to the food hut, located in the same building as the clubhouse, but with its own serving hatch. After purchasing a £2 steak pie, a nice one by the way, I checked up on the “scores on the doors” from around the country, before heading back outside to avoid the painful coverage shown on screen.

Match action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Looking out towards the car park end from the Main Stand

Looking out towards the car park end from the Main Stand

The second period had just gotten underway as I exited the doors, before retaking y place in the gods of the old, traditional-style main stand. It wasn’t long until the breakthrough arrived. Boro’ had started the brighter, and after forcing a couple of corners, just after the hour mark, centre-back Richard Smith nodded home and ran about seemingly not sure of how to celebrate his strike. He looked to have enjoyed it though, against his former outfit.

However, the lead was to last all of three minutes. Salford broke down the right, and the ball was worked into the area where left-winger Sam Madeley met the cross and expertly diverted the ball into the far corner with his head. 1-1. Madely almost doubled his tally soon after when his effort was saved wellby Samberg, but he wasn’t to be denied for long. From a right-wing corner, the ball dropped within the eighteen-yard box where a poke forward was diverted over the line by Madeley for his and Salford’s second. 2-1.

HMS Scrooge. Appropriate for the time of year.

HMS Scrooge. Appropriate for the time of year.

The Kersal end

The Kersal end.

From there, it was rather plain sailing for City, as they comfortably weathered the storm, both on the pitch and from above to secure a much needed three points and keep up the pressure on Darlington and Northwich Vics at the top of the table.

After the game, I headed back into the clubhouse for another quick drink, and after meeting up again with Radcliffe’s Danny White and Salford’s Martyn Andrews, whom I both know well from their times at Trafford, I was soon on my way back towards the bus stop, where I timed it perfectly to minimise my stay in the chilly evening air. Once back in Manchester Piccadilly, it appeared that there was something falling from the sky. Something frozen. Having been a rather “Frozen”-themed Christmas a day earlier (the Disney film, not actual ice), it appeared that Elsa had weaved her way into the real world. Or, maybe it was just the alcohol and Yorkshire puddings catching up with me. Either way, it was a nice ending to a good day and raised a smile from those in the City Centre.

My Salford City M.o.M.- Ash Dunn
My Radcliffe Borough M.o.M.- Chris Mason.

Moor Lane

Moor Lane

Technology arrives in non-league

Technology arrives in non-league

Moor Lane

Moor Lane

RATINGS:

Game: 6- Not the greatest, but considering the conditions, it wasn’t likely to be.
Ground: 7- It’s improving all the while. Very smart, new services and paint jobs.
Programme: 7- A really good effort, lots of original content, which is always good.
Food: 7- Pie was nice, so happy with that. Price not bad too.
Fans: 6- Rather subdued today, probably down to weather and looked low on numbers in the “ultra” section. Still gave a couple of vocal performances!
Value For Money: 7- Cheap ciders, food decent price, regular admission & programme price. £5-ish travel.