Result: Stockport Town 6-0 Eccleshall (NWCFL Division 1)
Venue: Stockport Sports Village, Lambeth Grove (Tuesday 2nd February 2016, 8pm)
In what was my first midweek game since…well I can’t remember, I decided to finally visit Stockport Town for a first competitive game. Granted, they haven’t been in existence all too long (since 2014) and I’ve been to the SSV on numerous occasions to watch it’s home teams in their various guises over the late ’00’s and early “teenies” is it? Dear me…
But for this evening it was off to Woodley for the Lions’ game against Eccleshall and the first time I’d visited since Town’s friendly contest last season against the touring Norwegian side Rolvsoy IF. On my previous visit, I found Town to be a friendly club, probably trying to put themselves out there as such and it definitely worked and tonight’s game only reinforced that opinion I hold.
I set off in a hail shower at around 5 o’clock and got the bus over to Stockport which, within the rush hour traffic, took over an hour. Eventually though, I did arrive at Stockport Bus Station and got my connection onwards to Woodley. The journey was lit up when a group of girls boarded. One was having a phone conversation, the highlight of which being “If he batters you, there’s a brick behind the fence.” Tremendous.
Happily for me, I was spared any more violent strategies and scenarios as they disembarked soon after, leaving me to go on to the stop outside the Woodley Arms pub which was to be my temporary home for the next 40 minutes or so as I wasted away the time leading up to kick-off. After nursing a single Desperados for the time I was in there, I was soon on my way over the railway bridge and into the streets surrounding the SSV.
Well signposted, you can’t fail to find you’re way to the complex and especially so in the night time, when the floodlights are quite clear to see. So around 10 minutes or so after departing the Woodley Arms, I was at the gate of Stockport Town’s ground. The strange thing about being in this queue is that not one of the couple of girls and few lads where going to watch tonight’s contest. No, they were gaining entry to one of the numerous surrounding pitches to the far side. Crazy!
Eventually it was my turn and I handed over my £5 and £1 further for a programme to the friendly gateman (£1, back to the glory days!), despite initially being told it was a fiver for both! I was quickly informed that the refreshments were upstairs in the “Saxon Suite” and as such that was where I headed. “The Hatch”, the former food hut at the ground is shut now as the council no longer supply the venue. Great stuff that.
Of course, this is no fault of the club and it is a real shame, but with no hot food on the go, I was left with the option of the usual cold snacks (crisps & chocs) though there was cider and Carling serving as the saving grace. After a brief chat with a guy from the club who was up in the Suite as “barman” and an elder statesman who questioned me about the geography of Eccleshall and the levels of football and if the Counties is age limited, it was time to head downstairs as the sides were coming out to the artificial pitch which ensured this game would be on, as other local ties fell by the wayside once more.
I exited the bar in a rush, determined to get a picture of the handshakes (because these things are important on occasion) before watching the game get underway from the smart Main Stand at the ground, which carries the name of the title sponsor of the Sports Village. I then spotted Dan and headed over to the small stand behind the “car park-end” goal, but not before I saw Dan’s iPhone fly and end up smashed! The phone could well be history and speaking of which…
Stockport Town were only formed in 2014 following the fading and eventual demise of Stockport (formerly Woodley) Sports, though the latter hadn’t helped themselves with their strange International Academies and Peter Withe appointments. Anyway, enough about them…
The Lions were denied an immediate entry to the North West Counties and, as such, had to have a season of friendly matches which consisted of the club playing North West Counties teams and showing they could compete, along with the odd touring team. For 2015-’16, Town were accepted into the NWCFL Division 1 and are currently in the play-off places for the division under the stewardship of Calum Sykes.
The game got underway and Nathan Neequaye got the scoreboard rolling in under a minute. But don’t ask me how, as I missed it due to its swiftness! Though thanks to Stockport Town’s twitter feed, he “beat the offside trap before and calmly slots home”. So there you go, 1-0.
It got better for Town as they began to dominate the contest and Neequaye had an effort blocked on the line as he again sprung the trap and Ruben Abreu almost netted one of the best goals I’d have seen, as he beat three men before being spurned by the GK, but it was two soon after when Sam Scott nodded in at the back post. This was pretty much repeated as a carbon copy minutes later as Joe Armstrong stooped to do the same and make it 3-0 and it remained as such until the break and I headed for the bar (well, table).
Back in the toasty “clubhouse” and out of the chilly Stockport evening, I went against all sense and everyone else in the ground with their Oxo’s and Hot Chocolates by plumping for a Magners, ’cause I’m so rebellious. The guy who I mentioned earlier who was manning the refreshments even offered to get me a glass from the bar at the far end of the room, which was politely refused, but appreciated.
The second half was pretty much getting underway as I sat down at the windows overlooking the pitch and was joined by Dan, the mature gentleman and latterly “Mark’s” girlfriend (I presume) since she said she was there to watch him and was quite relieved that he was now on the pitch for the second half, though she goes to most games now and if she didn’t turn up people would question why. Commitment!
However, I have a confession to make here; that’s three people I’d met now and I’d neglected to get the names of any. How rude and I can only apologize for that, it’s just something that happens with me!
Anyway back to on-field matters and after we’d wimped out and decided to watch the game from the clubhouse, Ruben Abreu capped a good performance with number 4, a calm finish, and number 5, a lovely curled effort, later in the game it was time to leave slightly early in order to catch the bus back to ensure I got home a full 40 minutes earlier than I would if I waited for the next plus it was much easier. So Dan and I missed goal #6, scored by Andy Graham, but it mattered little in the grander scheme of things.
So an uneventful journey home followed of which I will spare you the details of, only to say I dodged the rain once more which I seemed to have the knack of doing all night. Whenever the moisture began to fall, I was always in cover. Ah how different Garforth was…
Game: 7- Goals a plenty, but little to show from Eccleshall.
Ground: 6- Not much to it, nice stand and clubhouse thugh.
Fans: 5- It’s nice to see the club developing a following, it seems.
Programme: 7- A decent effort, with a few good articles. Added point for price!
Value For Money: 8- Overall, spent about £16 which isn’t bad at all, with all the goals.