Manchopper in….Wythenshawe (Wythenshawe Amateurs FC)

 

Result: Wythenshawe Amateurs 1-0 Wythenshawe Town (NWCFL Division 1 South)

Venue: Hollyhedge Park (Wednesday 26th December 2018, 3pm)

Att: 583

The second of a four-day Wythenshawe double saw me following up my Saturday visit to Town’s Ericstan Park with a first-ever trip the short distance across town to the home of Wythenshawe Amateurs, within the leafy surroundings of Hollyhedge Park. Of course, being Boxing Day and all, the transport around was even worse than usual and so after grabbing a bus and two trams, I was arriving into Wythenshawe at a little before 11.30am, though this wasn’t exactly unplanned as I wanted to have a peruse of the park and its inhabitant – Wythenshawe Hall. As such, I got off at the met stop named as such, though this ended up being a decent walk off from the park itself and after traversing a few muddy tracks and playing fields (a former home of the Ammies), I eventually found my way back to something more resembling of terra-firma.

After heading past the hall and a statue of Oliver Cromwell for some reason, which would have been far more fittingly placed in Banbury (where I was the previous week), I decided it was time to seek out some more of Wythenshawe’s drinking holes – starting with the Farmer’s Arms in the Northenden area where I began my pre-match tour with a pint of Peroni (£4.60). Watching the build-up and very early stages of the early kick-off in here, I was soon heading for a bus which would drop me at another of the area’s older buildings, this time Baguley Hall which is sadly boarded up and fairly forlorn at this point. To recover from such a sight I figured another pint was required and so I made my way over to the Blackboy, a real football-centric pub I figured from the City/United boards and other paraphernalia dotted around. Getting a welcome handshake from a guy at the bar, I settled in to watch the remainder of the first-half of the above game over a pint of Amstel (£3.40).

Wythenshawe Park

Wythenshawe Hall

Farmer’s Arms

I was soon on my way once again, though turning the wrong way (by some means or another) meant my lazy plan was foiled and I was left to walk over to my next waypoint en-route to the ground which came in the form of the Firbank. A sort of mix between one of the newer-breed of eatery pubs whilst retaining a traditional pub feel too, it’s a nice enough place and I opted for a pint of Heineken (£4.25) in here with me not feeling like trudging around to the other side of the bar to see the remaining offerings – the cold glass fridge was enough of a tempter on this occasion. I ended up being a little more rushed in the end than I planned as it turned out as I decided I’d play it safe and pop the ground first to secure a programme for this more momentous game and so I quickly returned from whence I came and grabbed the tram for the few stops onwards towards the ground.

Baguley Hall

Blackboy

Firbank

Passing through the park, I soon came into view of the ground from a pathway outside where some youths were shouting proudly about their respective virginity losses. Scarred by this, I quickly escaped from earshot and grabbed a programme (£2) as I continued on my way to the couple of pubs that serve nearby Gatley, passing a “Welcome to Stockport” sign as I did so. You really do see the sights in this hobby, let me tell you! Anyway, I soon came upon the Horse & Farrier, a pub I’d already seen earlier this season when getting lost trying to get to Cheadle Town and put it in the memory bank and as such, I was happy to visit. An older pub, the walls bear the stories of a couple of sons of previous owners who went on to serve in the forces with one, Clifford Platt, earning the military cross for bravery at Passchendaele – in rallying a band of infantry together – whilst brother James sadly lost his life at a young age. I just happened to have settled into the seat next to these stories whilst supping at my second Amstel of the day, which came in at the unusual price of £3.78. A trip round the corner to another older pub, in the form of the Prince of Wales, ended up being rather brief with a Strongbow doing the job here though this also was tagged with a strange price – £3.48 – before I returned back to Hollyhedge Park, arriving within the first minute. Nice.

Gatley

Horse & Farrier

Prince of Wales

Handing over my £3 entry (not bad that!) I continued on through the car-park to pitch-side. As it stands now, Hollyhedge Park is quite a simple ground that only opened up again around a year ago. As I said, it does have unobstructed views from the park that cheapskates may use if it’s their want to (though none really did today, bar a passing few) with the ground itself being open, hard standing all around with only a small covered stand with freshly-installed (judging by the timber smell that still hung in the area) benched seating within. A smart clubhouse is located in front of you as you enter from behind the near-end goal and houses the tunnel and food hut too whilst there is a little raised standing in the form of some small, grassy mounds that don’t really offer too much in the way of altitude. That’s Hollyhedge Park in a nutshell and this is the story of the Ammies….

History Lesson:

Wythenshawe Amateurs Football Club was founded in 1946 (as was Town, interestingly enough), and after initially beginning life as a youth outfit at the Cleveland Playing Fields, eventually progressed to having players old enough for an open-age side by 1949 and The Ammies – with their Sheffield Wednesday-inspired kit – joined the South Manchester & Wythenshawe League advancing through the lower divisions quickly prior to lifting the Division One title in 1953 and moving to the Altrincham & District League thereafter all whilst at their home in Wythenshawe Park (since the move to adult football). In 1956, the club entertained Manchester United in the Altrincham & District FA Whitaker Cup final, with the Ammies holding United, featuring the likes of Bobby Charlton in their line-up, to a 1-1 draw and therefore earning the cup via the “shared” method, with each club holding the silverware for 6 months respectively.

In the meantime, Wythenshawe continued to climb up the pyramid and the club was accepted to the Lancashire & Cheshire League after just the one season in the Alty & District League where they won a league and cup double in their first season – winning the 3rd Division ‘A’ and Hellawell Shield and went on to achieve a further two successive promotions (as 3rd Division runners-up in 1956 & 2nd Division champs the following year) before lifting the First Division championship in 1962, whilst adding further cups in the form of the Rhodes Cup on three occasions (1958, 1961 & 1972) before they departed for the Manchester League in the wake of their final Rhodes Cup success after spells at two further grounds – the Christie Playing Fields and the Federation of Lads’ Club ground – saw their somewhat nomadic existence continue.

WAFC

In the Manchester League, the Ammies immediately won the 1st Division in their first season prior to going on to win the Premier Division on three occasions (1990, 1993 and 2003) alongside finishing as runners-up on a further ten occasions – including both of the club’s final two campaigns prior to this ongoing season. They also became the record winners of the league’s Gilgryst Cup, taking this honour on 7 occasions (1986, ’87, 1990, ’99, 2001, ’09 & 2018) whilst also lifting the Lancashire Amateur Cup on three occasions, these coming in 1976, 1990 and 1996, and were also beaten finalists on a further six occasions between 1982 & 1994, the 1990 season seeing a treble of the above secured. They also began to find more permanent homes during this period, spending a fair amount of time as tenants of Wythenshawe CC on Longley Lane prior to brief spells at the former home of Flixton FC, Valley Road, in 2015, St. Paul’s College for the next two years before finally finding what seems to be a permanent home in Hollyhedge Park from 2017 onwards. An interesting note is that the club’s first-team has never been relegated in its 72 years of existence, with 73 looking a fair bit likely (!) to be reached too, with the Ammies challenging for another swift promotion this season – their first in the North West Counties League Division 1 South.

The game got underway with the Ammies having the honour of the first kick of a semi-professional Wythenshawe Derby with several names with higher-level experience involved – the likes of Rory Fallon and Danny Egan especially so for the hosts. The latter was denied after around ten minutes by Ben Purdham who tipped an effort around the upright, with the resultant corner being headed goalwards by Joel Aikenhead and cleared off the line by Town’s Sam Heathcote (one of Town’s, number to have experience higher in the pyramid) only for the liner to flag and appear to indicate a goal. After consultation was carried out the goal was given and the Ammies were celebrating, much to Town’s chagrin.

Match Action

Match Action

Mix of viewpoints needed….

Unfortunately, the game began to settle down rather than pick up in terms of goalmouth action for the next twenty minutes, with little in the way of chances being created until, around the half-hour mark, Ammies’ Aikenhead fired narrowly over after fine work by Fallon before Egan spurned a one-on-one opportunity when he opted to chip rather than lace it and the ball, looped into the grateful hands of Purdham. The first half had been mostly the home side’s and especially so in chances created, but Town were still well in the game come the break and a trip to the food bar for some fine chips and a cheeseburger which cost just £3.50. Not at all shabby!

The second half began with me having a chat with the suspended Ammies midfield dynamo Will Ahern (which I know from Trafford is a huge shocker) and the usual response from the team behind that lasts around twenty minutes. However if you can get through that, I find you can be fairly confident of a result therein. Town saw Liam Crellin-Myers fire straight at Martin Blain early on before the hour mark featured their best chance when Adam Farrand broke clear of the Amateurs’ defence, only to be denied by a fine stop by Blain to keep his clean sheet intact as a sheet of mist began to descend from the hill beyond the far goal.

The mist rolls in

Match Action

Match Action (somewhere anyway)

As the hosts began to sit back on their lead in the final twenty, so Town continued to dominate the half in a similar fashion to the first, only for their opponents to have had the better of that one. Chris Middleton had a goal ruled out for an offside in the build-up before Sam Heathcote hot a few set-piece efforts from range off target prior to testing Blain’s concentration as the long-throws rained in upon the box at regular intervals, but the Ammies stopper was again equal to the task and ensured the points would remain at Hollyhedge Park and Wythenshawe Amateurs would take the spoils in the initial derby clash (if I hadn’t mentioned it before!).

Post-match I headed back towards the Park and a pub by the name of…. well, the Park which had limited choice on in all honesty and so I opted for a safe option of Carlsberg as I had a fair while to milk it, though it did only come in at £3.10, so no real complaints there. I watched the first bit of the evening game on TV before deciding it’d be rather rude not to make a revisit back to the tram stop neighbouring Gardener’s Arms for the second time in 4 days, though it was for research purposes I swear! I wanted to know how much a sole pint cost in here and soon found out – a Moretti set me back £4.20. I wasted away my remaining time in Wythenshawe in here before retiring back towards Chorlton and the bus home from there.

The Park (no, I didn’t realise how bad this pic is)

Gardener’s to round things off once again….

So the second journey to Wythy in a couple of days is done. Again it had been solid if unspectacular in the main, but on the whole I could have little complaint. Yes, the game could have had little more action for the neutral, but it was all played at a high tempo and give me a nervy one-nil over a boring 5-0 any day. Keep it alive! Pubs were all good in their own ways I suppose and the food and programme at the ground were good efforts as well. I need to become more critical on these pages, so someone give me a chance or anyone reading will begin to think I’m bullshitting somewhat! Anyway, onto the final Saturday of the year and just one game separates me from a calendar year with no 0-0. It think we can all guess what’s about to happen….

Manchopper in….Wythenshawe (Wythenshawe Town FC) (2)

Result: Wythenshawe Town 2-2 Stone Old Alleynians (NWCFL Division 1 South)

Venue: Ericstan Park (Saturday 22nd December 2018, 3pm)

Att: 54

As the run into the festive season begins, so the want to do a few closer games rises. Having not visited Wythenshawe Town since their “Invincibles” days whilst playing in the lower reaches of the Cheshire League, I reckoned a revisit was in order and in doing so, just happened to cement the plan of a Wythenshawe double in the span of a few days with my intended Boxing Day fixture seeing me head the short journey a little further on past the home of Town and to Hollyhedge Park, the home of Wythenshawe Amateurs – the first ever semi-pro clash between the two. When you consider the strength of talent that has derived from the area over the years, the fact it has taken this long for even one club to rise into the Counties ranks is pretty unbelievable. But they’re both there now and I was off to sample Ericstan Park under lights for the first time too.

The morning of the game provided me with a little bonus of sad proportions as I found out one of the more interesting Russian aircraft was in at Manchester and leaving early afternoon. As such, my starting point was pretty much set in stone and after grabbing both buses and Metrolink, I was disembarking in the Town Centre at a little after midday, though my journey en-route did throw up the fact I’d forgotten my camera and so my phone would be employed on this one. Anyway, a short walk later had me at the Portway which had seemingly had its supplies hit hard over the previous couple of days, judging by the amount of pint pots on taps. As such, I opted for a pint of Strongbow (£3) to begin with and had a bit of a chat with the guy I presume is one of the owners before I had to make haste and leave as the Airport was calling. I had to be quick too and a short jog later had me at the crossing towards the appropriately named Airport Pub, where I would get my viewing up close. Rather surprisingly, there weren’t more people out to see it and so I could sit outside in relative peace whilst enjoying a pint of the fine Big Wave. Lovely, even at the princely £4.95.

Portway

The Airport

Star of the early part of the trip

Spending a good half-hour here, it was soon time to drag myself away and head back towards Wythenshawe, with further planned stops in the nearby Red Beret and Cornishman hostelries. The Red Beret was by far the busier of the pair, with my comment about not wanting to get between a pair of “experienced” guys at the bar being met rather jovially. A pint of Boddington’s (£2.90) was the order of the day in here whilst watching the early part of the second-half of the Arsenal-Burnley game before seeing out the remainder in the aforementioned Cornishman over a pint of San Miguel for a pretty cheap £3.20.

Wythenshawe’s name seems to derive from the Old English words wiðign (“withy tree”) and sceaga (“wood” with the similar dialect word being “shaw”) and is made up from the ancient townships of Northenden, Baguley and Northern Etchells, who merged together in 1931 when the town was transferred from Cheshire to the City of Manchester. Until then, the name only referred to Wythenshawe Hall and the surrounding ground of Wythenshawe Park. For many centuries, much of this land was owned by the Tatton family and after being pressured by the Manchester Corporation – who were in desperate need for more land for housing – the Tatton’s parted with the land in 1926. The surrounding farmlands were subsequently transformed into one of the largest housing estates in Europe, with the hall itself victim of an arson attack in 2016 and it’s still undergoing restoration today.

Red Beret

Cornishman

Silver Birch

Wythenshawe is also home of Manchester Airport, the former RAF Ringway and before the airfield at Ringway was laid out in earnest, three farm fields in Northern Moor (now the north edge of the town) were used as Manchester Aerodrome. This was the UK’s first municipal airfield and operated for around a year between April of 1929 and early 1930. A barn was converted for use as a hangar and a farmhouse for admin purposes, with the last recorded flight departing from Wythenshawe’s Aerodrome in June of 1930. In other transportation affairs, the town’s railway station (Northenden for Wythenshawe) was closed in 1964, the nearest stations now being those on the Styal line and the Airport’s own. It has good links via buses and trams to the wider Manchester area with a new hub being completed in 2015 to take in the recently opened Airport Met line. The town now includes the areas of the aforementioned trio as well as Benchill, Peel Hall, Newall Green, Woodhouse Park, Moss Nook, Northern Moor and Sharston.

Upon the whistle it was back on the tram from the nearby stop and into the town centre once again for a visit to my final pre-match stop, the Silver Birch – not named after the Grand National winner from years back. Being a Holt’s pub, cheap-ish beer was always going to be likely and the Crystal Gold didn’t disappoint in that respect, setting me back at the usual random £2.90-odd price. Afterwards it was back on the tramways for the short hop to the ground-neighbouring Baguley stop from where it is about a five-minute walk to the gates of Ericstan Park, down a small back street behind the Tesco.

Wythenshawe

Wythenshawe

Paying my £5 entry, I met up with Dan once inside and was soon in receipt of the programme he’d kindly got me in upon his arrival and with just a few minutes to kick-off, I had little time to take in the improvements to the ground which included the small covered terrace right in front of where you enter having been extended quite a fair way and it has also had a fair amount of seating added. This is the case for the stand on the opposite side of the pitch too, which has more covered seating, whilst the far end is now open (though you may have to scale a bar to reach it) though isn’t paved as of yet. The majority of the far side is still to be paved too, with the bit nearest the clubhouse and car-park being the only bit to have received this upgrade to date. All facilities are located within the large, impressive club building including the food hut and dressing rooms. So that’s Ericstan Park and this is the story of Wythenshawe Town FC….

History Lesson:

Wythenshawe Town Football Club was founded in 1946 as North Withington Amateur F.C. and initially played in the local South Manchester and Wythenshawe League through to 1958 when they were switched into the Lancashire & Cheshire League, after winning the league’s Division 2 in 1950 and the Barker Cup the following year. They would go on to spend the next 14 years in the Lancs & Cheshire adding the Division ‘C’ to their accolades in 1959, before winning the Division 3 the next year and going on to have further success throughout the next decade, lifting the Division ‘B’ in 1964 and the Division 2 in 1965 prior to winning the Division 1 in five of the next six seasons thereafter, only missing out on the 1968 title during that period.

The club would have their application to join the Manchester League accepted in 1972 and two years after they joined, North Withington would move from the Hough End fields and into a new home on Timpson Road in Baguley which would later become known as Ericstan Park – named after two of the club’s hierarchy at the time in the form of Eric Renard and Stan Hahn. The club’s new badge incorporated a cockerel and a fox (with the former’s name deriving from the French for fox and the latter’s from the German “Hähnchen” for cockerel). During their spell in the Manchester League, the club won the 1974 Division 2 and won further silverware in the cups via the Manchester Challenge Trophy on five occasions (1977, ’78, ’80, ’93 & ’95), the 1980 Lancashire Amateur Cup, the 1985 Gilgryst Cup and the 2000 Murray Shield.

Arriving at Ericstan Park

Clubhouse

Changing their name to Wythenshawe Town in the mid-’80’s, Town would remain in the Manchester League for the majority of their existence, only departing in 2014 when a disappointing season saw them relegated from the Manchester League’s Premier Division. A further drop in league was suffered as a result of the switch which led the club yo begin their tenure in the League 2, but this would only serve to hand Town perhaps their most famed year as Lee McGregor’s side went through the season unbeaten in the league and cups, winning all of their 39 competitive matches and being promoted to League 1, earning the moniker of ‘The Invincibles’. Their quadruple winning campaign saw Town secure the League 2 title, the J.A. Walton Challenge Cup, Manchester County FA Cup and the Altrincham & District Cup to round off the season. A second straight promotion was secured the following year and Wythenshawe began 2016-’17 campaign in the Cheshire League’s Premier Division. After two further mid-table seasons in the league’s top division, the club joined the expanded North West Counties League for this season under boss James Kinsey and were joined by local rivals Wythenshawe Amateurs in doing so, enabling a semi-pro rivalry in the town for the first time.

As I said a little earlier, the game was underway soon after my arrival and it was the visitors who looked the more comfortable in the early stages and duly took the lead on 12 minutes when they were awarded a free-kick just outside the area and Jake Vernon curled his effort beyond Town ‘keeper Ben Purdham, despite the stopper getting a hand to the ball. As we continued on round, Dan and I spotted Gillian, whom we knew from our days at Trafford when new Town centre-back Nia Bayunu was becoming a staple in the side before later becoming captain. We got clued up here and there and he’s back at it once more which is good to see. Anyway, speaking of new centre-backs in blue with a connection to Trafford, Bayunu’s partner at the back, Sam Heathcote, almost provided the assist to the equaliser when he played in Justin Pickering, but the winger placed his shot narrowly wide of the target.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

As the half wound its way towards its conclusion, I continued on my lap of the ground as Wythenshawe looked to draw themselves back level, though never truly threatened the Stone goal in any real way. Lee Gregory saw a shot not trouble Adam Alcock between the Stone sticks, whilst Pickering again fired off target to wind up the first half of a watchable, if not too exciting game up to that point. For half-time it was into the clubhouse for us as we both managed to secure a pie with Dan getting the last one much to his delight. The Steak and Kidney offering I opted for was really good too and definitely worked as an effective warm up!

After catching up with the half-time scores on the doors it was back into the ever darkening evening and the new Ericstan Park floodlights were now beginning to take full effect. Once again, the start of the half was pretty uneventful with Stone standing firm (sorry) and looking rather comfortable in doing so. Vernon went close to repeating the feat of grabbing an early-ish goal but this time Purdham pulled off a fine stop to deny the Alleynians front-man. Wythenshawe responded in kind and had an effort cleared off the line following a corner, but they would draw level shortly afterwards when Adam Farrand struck an effort at Alcock who replied to Purdham’s earlier stop with one of his own.

View from the small area behind the goal

View from the seated stand

Match Action

At this point the game was beginning to fire-up and the hosts drew level on the hour when Pickering received the ball just inside the area and clipped it across the six-yard line where Liam Crellin-Myers climbed to guide the ball into the net. However, parity would be short-lived as Stone immediately restored their lead, a through-ball played into the path of Sam Wilson and he managed to beat Purdham to the ball and it duly rolled into the net. But there was yet more action to come as Town would again claw themselves back to level-terms within around ten minutes when a long-throw wasn’t cleared and Brad Byrne happily took on the task of firing the loose ball home.

Both teams went on to try and grab all three points and both had chances to do so, Luke Askey firing over when well placed for Alleynians, whilst Crellin-Myers could only head straight at the grateful Alcock as the game came to a close with the draw being a fair result in both myself and Dan’s viewpoints. Post-match, it was off down the footpath which separates the two pitches at Wythenshawe Town’s home and to the somewhat hidden Jolly Butcher (which I think has a team named after it in the Altrincham League if my sources are correct) and after one in there (around £7.60 for a round before grabbing a bus to the far side of Wythenshawe Park and paying a visit to the Gardener’s Arms, where we just happened to time our visit perfectly around the singer’s break. The round in here came in at somewhere around the same (I had a Moretti, so wasn’t too bad) before we hopped on our penultimate bus on the day back towards Sale – helpfully from right outside the pub door – and then our final one back, my phone surviving a dive out of my pocket en route. Cock.

Jolly Butcher

Gardener’s Arms

So there ends my final pre-Christmas 2018 trip and there’s now only two left until a calendar year without a nil-nil is finally secured. As for this one, the game was decent when it eventually got going in earnest and the ground improvements have definitely made it a good venue for the level. The food was good and the programme ok and is one of your glossy £2 productions and you can’t really moan at it! The tour de Wythenshawe had also been better than I’d expected to be honest and the added Ilyushin bonus appealed to my sad side (as if these blogs don’t say it’s there already) and so, all in all, a good day was had. Anyway, onto the Boxing Day clash between the two Wythy sides and it’s “Shawe” to be a good one….

RATINGS:

Game: 7

Ground: 7

Food: 8

Programme: 6

Value For Money: 7

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….Wythenshawe (Wythenshawe Town FC)

Result: Wythenshawe Town 4-0 Witton Albion Reserves (The Hallmark Security Cheshire League 2)

Venue: Ericstan Park (Saturday 22nd November 2014, 2.00pm)

Att: 35 (hc)

Finally, after a few years of putting this visit off as a “may do later” trip, the opportunity to again arose to visit Wythenshawe Town’s Ericstan Park. Granted, even today, it wasn’t my first choice with trips to AFC Darwen or Bootle taking preference in planning, but after these both fell foul of the weather, the case was settled. Off to Wythenshawe I set.

After boarding a bus to Stretford & changing onwards towards Baguley, I was arriving at just before half one outside the large Tesco store on the main road. A large board facing onto said road from the ground was advertising today’s fixture proudly, and after walking through the supermarket’s car park, I arrived at the front gates of the ground & a makeshift turnstile (a table) where I paid £2 but received the programme (50p) for no extra charge.

Wythenshawe Town FC gate

Wythenshawe Town FC gate

Inside the Wythenshawe Town clubhouse

Inside the Wythenshawe Town clubhouse

Having around 25 minutes to spare, I headed for the rather plush clubhouse/facilities which puts many clubs higher in the structure in the shade. The ground itself features two small stands, one has benches in it to accommodate seated spectators, and the opposite small covered terrace had a few “office” chairs dotted about in it. It was here the club officials had congregated for the game. The pitch is 3/4’s barred off, with just the “Main Road” end not being. There are also no floodlights at present, though these are in the process of being acquired, I am led to believe, hence the two o’clock kick-off today, to beat the darkness.

"The Town Review" programme.

“The Town Review” programme.

Just in case you forgot where you were.

Just in case you forgot where you were.

History Lesson:

Formed in 1946, and playing at Hough End Fields on Princess Road, Withington, Wythenshawe Town was originally known as North Withington FC, but was eventually re-named in 1987 after a few seasons at their new ground in Wythenshawe which was named Ericstan Park as a tribute to Eric Reynard and Stan Orme who were prime movers in the club’s early days.

After a long period in the Lancashire and Cheshire League the club joined the Manchester League in 1974 and the Wythenshawe Town Football Club senior section now has two teams in the Manchester League and one in the Wythenshawe Sunday League.

The club’s only league success so far came in 201/’12, when they won the Manchester League First Division, but after two seasons in the Premeir Division of that league, they finished bottom last season.

In 2014, Wythenshawe moved from the Manchester League to the Cheshire League 2 with Lee McGregor taking charge of the squad in the 2014/15 season.

Some old squad photos near the bar.

Some old squad photos near the bar.

Soon enough, the match was upon the 35-ish people in attendance, and after taking some pictures initially of the ground, I ended up in the “Main” stand, which bears the club’s name on it. It was here that Wythenshawe, in their all blue kit, took the lead. Ex-Cheadle Town & Stockport Sports striker Ben Brooks flicking a header into the far corner. 1-0.

The Main Stand

The Main Stand

The small terraced stand

The small terraced stand

Despite large, sustained spells of pressure from the home side, this was how the scoreline remained at the break. I remained in the terraced stand throughout the break, and had a read of “The Town Review” programme, which is a well produced programme & a decent effort from a club at the level Wythenshawe currently play at.

Soon enough, the sides were re-appearing onto the field for the second period, and after one Town player had said hello to his dog as he re-entered the pitch, we were back underway. It only took seven minutes for the home side to double their advantage when Ben Connolly netted a tap in after a fine piece of ingenuity from another Town player, whose flicked effort would have made for a superb finish.
Witton were keeping their unbeaten hosts honest, though, and had a couple of half-chances to halve the deficit, but they were dealt a blow soon after when their dangerous #10 was forced after a tough, but fair, challenge from a Town defender. Sadly, this ended in an ambulance journey to the nearby hospital for the Albion striker.

Back of the Net

Back of the Net

Looking towards the clubhouse from the "Road End".

Looking towards the clubhouse from the “Road End”.

The Wythy Town player's dog.

The Wythy Town player’s dog.

Things only got worse from then on, as Jonathan Rand netted a third, planting a firm header into the bottom left-hand corner with sub Remi Williams adding further gloss to the scoreline late on with a fine individual effort. He picked the ball up, advanced 30 yards, before firing across the ‘keeper and into the bottom corner. As the sun began to near the horizon, the final whistle blew to ensure the home side kept their perfect league record intact, nine wins from nine.

 

Clubhouse/Changing Rooms.

Clubhouse/Changing Rooms.

The sun setting on Ericstan Park

The sun setting on Ericstan Park

After the game, I headed inside the clubhouse to purchase a Budweiser to have whilst having a chat with Town manager Lee McGregor, whom I’d spoken to after his 70-minute midfield maestro effort had come to an end prematurely. But, a £1 coin I had seemed to change into a 10p somewhere along the way, and the barmaid was sure I was trying to pull a fast one. Eventually, I found the lost money, but not before my beer had been put on a reserve player’s tab! Cheers, I owe you one! After having the quick chat with Lee and meeting some committee at the club as well as one of the club’s founders (an honour to do so), I was soon on my way into the darkness and on the way back home with the knowledge that I would be making my live radio debut on the “Wythenshawe Town Sports Show” with James Lobley. Manchopper branching out! Another great, friendly club, on many people’s doorstep and one that has a great scope for advancement. It is also much more easy to access with the opening of the new Airport line on the Metrolink, with a stop just up the road, about 5 minutes from the gate. I hope their plans for the future work out, and I’ll be keeping a very close eye on this too. Thanks to all there, and see you very soon.

My Wythenshawe Town M.o.M.- Ben Connolly
My Witton Albion Reserves M.o.M.- The #10 (Bojan Karanlang I think his name is).

RATINGS:
Game: 7- Decent game, but quite a one sided affair.
Ground: 6- Good for the level, with advancements due.
Programme: 6- Good effort for the level, with original content and stats.
Food: N/A- There is some usually, but don’t think there was today.
Fans: 5- No real fan base as yet, but good on those who turn up to support them now.
Value For Money: 9- £2 entry, £5 travel. Can’t complain.
Referee: 8- Let the game flow as best he could. Very efficient.