Football

Uwdi Krugg will be spending the 2014-15 season watching non league football, eating the wrong kind of food and having a bloody good moan.

Monday, 15 December 2014

A visit to Leeds Programme Fair

Sunday 14th December 2014

Hit the M62 eastbound for a Sunday morning trip to Elland Road. Parked adjacent to the club shop next to the famous Billy Bremner statue. A proper bloody footballer and sadly missed. Loads of cars had arrived at the ground, fact is they were all buying crap in the LUFC souvenir shop, meanwhile at the back of the South Stand upstairs in the appropriately named 'Billys Bar' there was me and 2 other blokes spread out between 5 lonely stalls of programme sellers. Free in but I must admit to thinking it would be a lot busier than this. No wonder the traders had long faces. Never mind I made the best of the limited choice and picked up around a dozen or so quality publications for very economical prices. I buy quite a few programmes off eBay from time to time but the truth is there is a 30% chance you will get ripped off, usually over audacious lies told about 'condition'. If you attend a programme fair you can make sure you are buying top condition stuff without ending up with creased grubby covers, rusty staples and all the accompanying team changes written in pen.

Here is a brief selection of some of my purchases on the day.






Sunday, 14 December 2014

FC United 4 Harrogate Town 0

Saturday 13th December 2014
FA Trophy 1st Round Proper
FC UNITED 4 HARROGATE TOWN 0
Attendance: 907
Admission: £8
Tea Hut Stuff: No chance with these greedy buggers, massive queue
Programme: £2, one of the better non-league efforts
Weather: Broken cloud, a cold day following overnight frost
Parking: By the fancy houses off Mottram Road
Reasonable match, big scalp, visiting fans in tears.

Minimalism

The non league blog has become an over-fed yard dog barking for attention. 

The please-pick-me approach has poisoned the patient.

A new order is required, minimalism.

Out with the cheese plated patronising pap that everything is wonderful.

The claws of stark bitter reality will slash the silk of the sycophant.

Check it out, I might trial it on my next visit..............

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Curzon Ashton 3 Frickley Athletic 0

Saturday 6th December 2014

Taken from the post I placed on Tony's 'Non League Matters' forum....
Evo Stik NPL Premier Division
CURZON ASHTON 3 FRICKLEY ATHLETIC 0
Attendance: 185
Admission: £8
Programme: £2 (rip off I'm afraid)
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea bag £1.20
Weather: Cold, broken cloud, late winter sunny spells
Parking: Decent club car park

Ended up here after Dithering Doreen the Dodgy Lady Ref changed her mind about missing an afternoons Xmas Shopping and a few crafty fags with Big Tina. She duly postponed FC United v Workington (all the way from Cumbria) just after 2pm after the club stated she had eventually passed the pitch as playable at 1.15pm? This was in stark contrast to 100% of all FC United, Workington players, management, officials and Bower Fold Ground Staff trying to convince her the pitch was totally safe and fully playable. Hundreds of people either en route or already at the ground lost untold amounts of cash plus valuable weekend leisure time as a result of this disgrace. I have asked the Evo Stik Northern Premier League for an investigation to ensure this farce never happens ever again!

Fuming calmed down to apathy I'm afraid and I struggled to get into the match.

Curzon Ashton do look a very good footballing side, they had far too much class in the locker for a robust but limited Frickley outfit.

Great looking pitch, good facilities, seating and standing but a tad corporate and concrete with such a small attendance.

Looks like FC United will be playing some home games here before finally moving in at their new ground.

Shame some younger FCUM fans also turned up here after their postponed game only to start abusing the Curzon Ashton club? This was a minority of idiots and not a reflection on the many FC fans who also went along glad to just watch a football match after Doreen had her evil way back at Bower Fold.

*Bower Fold is home of Stalybridge Celtic, FC United have been using it for home games this season. 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

AFC Fylde 3 Hednesford Town 2

Saturday 29th November 2014
FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round
AFC FYLDE 3 HEDNESFORD TOWN 2
Attendance: 251
Admission: £10
Programme: £2
Tea Hut Stuff: None, but had a £2.90 pint of Kronenbourg in the Supporters Bar
Weather: Solid slate grey sky, dull indeed
Parking: Club car park behind the stand
When I left the Pennine Hills it was overcast and damp, by the time I hit Preston there wasn't a cloud in the sky just pure glorious sunshine. Just as I arrived at the Fylde coast that same lovely sunshine disappeared into a massed wall of chilly grey gloom, suppose that's typical of the climate up here in the North. There is some good weather on occasions but usually its pretty dire. That chilly grey gloom hung around all afternoon, it thickened and seeped over the fields towards Warton the small village nearest to the Kellamergh Stadium home of AFC Fylde, a small modern stadium in the middle of nowhere.
I'd dropped into Lytham before the game, a buzzing charismatic place 4 miles down the road towards Blackpool. The objective was to get hold of some fish and chips from 'Seniors' award winning chippy on the main street. I scoffed my 5 quid catch on a bench in the square, wonderful stuff.
Some football travellers have moaned that the AFC Fylde ground is hard to find but if you approach it from the main Lytham to Preston road you simply turn onto Church Road at the traffic lights in Warton village and follow the road up to the Birley Arms pub, you can't miss it. Strangely, the access lane to the stadium is at the rear of the pub car park but its straight forward enough, the access lane leads you down to the stadium car park behind the main stand, apparently there is room for 150 vehicles so don't leave your arrival too late in the day as there do not seem to be alternative parking options apart from hogging what spaces might be left empty up at the pub (and that wont be much). 
I got in the ground quite early and decided to have a drink in Fullers Bar which is down by the corner flag. £2.90 for Kronenbourg made a nice change from the £4.50+ you tend to pay in rip off establishments. There are a couple of flat screen TV's playing Sky Sports stuff, bit shy on tables and chairs though (it is a small bar area in fairness). Stuffed full of my Lytham based fish and chips I had no room for tea hut grub. The tea hut facility at the ground actually looks a nice set up with various pies, chips and burgers on offer, all apparently locally sourced, it was doing good trade.
AFC Fylde have risen like a Salford Quays tower block over recent years and now ply their trade at the top end of the Vanarama Conference North. Without doubt they are a good footballing side. There is an obvious competent professional presence oozing from this club, you only have to clock the many volunteers and officials in club labelled clothing busy, busy, busy around the ground carrying out various tasks and duties all afternoon. Its friendly, efficient and impressive. Just check out the £2 programme, its literally in another world to some of the rubbish non league publications you can waste your money on, a superb effort for this level. Their online web presence is spot on up to date as well, what a refreshing change to what we normally get from the non leagues internet fraternity. There is talk that 'Fylde' haven't been satisfied as yet with the upward progress of their club, seems they may be moving to a brand new stadium in the near future twice as big as the current one? 
Kellamergh Park is a fairly modern stadium built for the level of football initially aspired to. On this basis the place is going to have average to low key functional and practical facilities that offer ground grading compliance on a cost effective platform. It would be easy to slaughter the place on a charisma and atmosphere audit, that is not my intention, what would one expect in any case? You are not going to see old school Roker Park refinery in a profile like this, what you get is what you see, a flat pack main stand with 4 rows of seating, true, not a great view but at least you can keep dry and sit down. There is also a covered terrace behind the goals which is almost a body-double of the Sandy Lane End at Rochdale AFC's Spotland Stadium (so it can't be that bad). 
Up the other end you have a small covered terrace adjacent to the Tea Hut and Bar area. The opposite side of the pitch to the Main Stand offers a few steps of good quality hard standing terracing on an uncovered basis. It is what it is, functional, tidy, it has a good decent pitch and it gets the job done, saying that, some may moan that its sterile, boring and has no presence, I would find that rather harsh bearing in mind the journey this particular club seems to be on.
As regards this FA Trophy match, Hednesford are in the same division as AFC Fylde but more mid table. They've had a rough patch results wise recently but seem to be fighting back. For the first hour of the game I'd say the home side bossed it 60/40 but in truth there was not a lot to get excited about. 
The last 30 minutes witnessed a very good game indeed. The home side went 3-1 up but The Pitmen dug deep and battled back into it. They got it back to 3-2 from the penalty spot and slugged it out with Fylde right up to the last second, it could so easily have ended a draw but that Fylde early dominance I touched upon just about got them home.
I geared the Match Tank up for the journey back to the Hills and the daunting prospect of the Preston Traffic Light Challenge. I never find it easy travelling through Preston.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Glossop North End 3 Ryhope Colliery Welfare 0

Saturday 22nd November 2014
FA Vase 2nd Round
GLOSSOP NORTH END 3 RYHOPE COLLIERY WELFARE 0
Attendance: 305
Admission: £6
Tea Hut Stuff: None, dodgy stomach I'm afraid
Programme: £1.50, one of the better ones thankfully
Weather: Sunshine, odd cloud, reasonably mild
Parking: Down the street from the turnstile
Glossop are on fire in the North West Counties League Premier and currently the best footballing side in the division, Ryhope CW, their respected opposition from the Northern Leagues second tier, were always going to be in for an exceedingly tough encounter. 
It was 0-0 at half time but Glossop were well on top. Second half the chances became goals and the home side breathed a little easier. Nobody from Glossop wanted a 6 hour round trip for a Tuesday night replay in Sunderland.

Credit to Ryhope they played well and certainly pushed Glossop back after going behind. Nice to observe that they had some loyal support in the crowd to cheer them on.

Was it a fair result? Perhaps 2-0 would have been more reflective but one has to say without doubt that Glossop deserved the victory.

Surrey Street has been done up a bit since my last visit and is a nice enough ground nestling below the edge of the Peak District. They had a packed bar area, big queues at the legendary Pie Hut, a decent vibrant atmosphere around the pitch and an excellent backdrop of the High Peak in the late autumn sunshine.


Unfortunately I could not scoff any of the truly wonderful pies that Glossop provide, sadly suffering from a dodgy stomach at the moment, they looked very nice though.

The locals seem keen to get behind the club and it was nice to see a live radio hut at the side of the pitch. If they can keep up the good form surely they've got a good shout for the NWCL title, with the likes of Jason Carey up front who could argue against it? A good run in the Vase would then be a bonus. I wish them luck.

Surprised to see a massed following of very keen teenager-types in the charismatic little Stand giving sterling support throughout the 90 minutes, their singing and witty involvement presented a slightly odd but dare I say it welcome addition to the standard lower league experience. Good selection of flags on show as well, almost FCUM like.


Glossop now face an away tie in the next round against another good NWCL side 1874 Northwich (who actually play at Winsford Uniteds ground at the moment).

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Parkgate 4 Barton Town Old Boys 4

Saturday 15th November 2014
Northern Counties East League
PARKGATE 4 BARTON TOWN OLD BOYS 4
Attendance: 54
Admission: £5
Programme: £1
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea Bag £1, Burned Bottom Sausage Roll £1
Weather: Murky mist turned to consistent steady rain, mega grim
Parking: Golf Club car park adjacent to the ground
Lots of groundhoppers have posted nice pictures of this place. Its got a good feedback record. Must be me, or perhaps the awful weather but it just didn't meet my expectations.

Driving across Yorkshire I was surprised to see that fog had set in and it wasn't for shifting. Thankfully things got a little clearer on the edge of Rotherham but it was still a grimy and murky dogs dinner of a day weather wise. As the mist eventually faded consistent steady rain took up the running and it lasted pretty much the entire game.

The ground is a bugger to find if you haven't been tipped off its on the Roundwood Golf Club complex. Its only open on 3 sides. There is a bit of a basic small stand behind the goals next to the tea hut and the turnstiles. A similar covered terrace structure resides just across the corner flag area from the seats. Further down this touchline are a few steps of open raised terracing which provide a decent view of the pitch from the halfway line (if its not pouring down). The far end has perimeter hard standing only. The out of bounds side of the ground is lined by tall bushes and acts as a partition to a lower pitch where apparently Rotherham United train.

It only cost me 5 quid in but this match was so devoid of any hint of quality or anything approaching even basic entertainment I almost thought I had been ripped off, it was that bad. Ok, incredibly, it had 8 goals but take it from me it was utter garbage and the scoreline paid little traceability to what went on. Normally the NCEL is a decent standard of football but this game never got going. Remember kick and run in the playground at morning break, well that hoof, boot and charge rubbish was streets ahead of this tripe. This turned into a mistake ridden farce where the misplaced pass and the wayward punt seemed to be the preferred currency. A lone voice from a travelling Barton fan echoed over the wet pitch as another ball disappeared into a nearby back garden "Come on Barton, we're better than this, its bloody rubbish"!

My mood hadn't improved when I had realised that some of the 54 fellow sufferers in the crowd alongside me had got in for almost half what I had paid. Parkgate had provided certain Football League Season Ticket holders a special deal of reduced admission! When one considers what these modern game football lovers are more than happy to pay to watch their heroes in the big league, it is quite ironic that stupid clubs like Parkgate then charge their own genuine core-audience and any other non league loving supporters almost twice the price? Complete madness and its jolly unfair too, sadly far too many money grabbing non league clubs are operating this crazy system. Just for the sake of snatching loose change they totally disrespect the people who watch non league football week in, week out whatever the weather or circumstances.

To rub in my annoyance at this pitiful matchday experience even more, the tea hut had already taken me for a £1 luke warm tea bag and a smallish sausage roll (the only hot food item on offer) which, as is expected in non league circles, had a burned bottom. Not really a pleasant afternoon, in fact it is my worst visit to a game this season.



Sunday, 19 October 2014

Brigg Town 0 Padiham 0

Saturday 18th October 2014
FA Trophy Preliminary Round
BRIGG TOWN 0 PADIHAM 0
Attendance: 110
Admission: £6
Tea Hut Stuff: Badly burned Sausage Roll £1.20, Tea £1
Programme: £1.50
Weather: Grey cloud, mild, the odd isolated sunny spell
Parking: On the large club car park
Desperate for the bogs I swung the Match Tank into Thorne Services where the M18 meets the M180 eastbound. Directly behind me was the Padiham team coach full of players, officials and a few supporters supping ale. Luckily I headed them off near WH Smiths and got in the Gents just before the rush. I half expected the lads to sneak a few Whopper type grills back on the coach from the Burger King outlet. Sadly it appears this new nutritional fad sweeping through modern football has even reached non league levels, the players in their smart Padiham FC tops just blanked the burger range completely, bet they had some cold pasta twirls waiting back on the bus? Objective completed I set the Match Tank controls for the far east in the form of deepest North Lincolnshire.

It was soon time for some light lunch. According to Trip Advisor the best fish and chips in the Brigg locality could be found on Chapel Lane next to the post office in the small village of Scawby. Although just a short distance from the M180 and just down the road from both Scunthorpe and Brigg I found Scawby exceedingly difficult to locate. I got there in the end and I must say it was well worth the effort, tremendous stuff, even though the fish and chips plundered some £5.20 from my life savings.
The Match Tank doesn't do fancy luxury frivolities like Sat Nav so I had to remember a Google Maps image of how to get to the Brigg ground. After a few three point turns, plenty of f-words and lots of moaning I spotted the floodlights and what appeared to be the perimeter fence of the club car park. I thought it was strange but the apparent entrance seemed to be directly adjacent to somebodies back garden. I ended up taking the Match Tank down the tight track only to find a locked gate. The real car park entrance turned out to be on the far side of the ground, yet more vehicle reversing got me out of the back gardens before anybody noticed me, I hope, sorry about your rhubarb.
I was pleasantly surprised when the young lad at the turnstile only charged me 6 quid to get in. This is unusually cheap for Evo Stik NPL level football, or... worryingly the young chap took me for a Pensioner? Ok, I've dressed up a bit in the past at the odd night match when hood-winking myself into some of our more expensive non league stadia for the concessionary rate (the old timer disguise also includes voice disfiguration and a limp), today though I was in broad daylight and in no way trying to pull a fast one. I got to thinking 'bloody hell do I really look that old'?
The ground is called The Hawthorns but it doesn't readily resemble its West Brom namesake. Its got some character though, not a lot but enough to keep me happy for the afternoon. The primary focus is the pitch length stand with the red seats, at the corner is a small tea hut full of Pukka Pies and large cups of tea. I'm a big Pukka Pie admirer but I couldn't manage one on top of all those fish and chips so I went for the lesser option of a sausage roll. Sadly the bottom of the roll was incinerated to a dark brown concrete crust and proved difficult to salvage amidst the onlooking presence of nearby spectators. 
Both ends of the Brigg ground are uncovered with regulation hard standing. At the playing fields end they've bothered to put netting up above the perimeter fence to stop losing balls from wayward (but probably rare) efforts on goal, the frustrating thing is that the capture netting has become loose just above the fence so every time the netting captures a ball it slips down the net and drops down on the other side of the fence outside the ground, which obviously defeats the whole purpose, for goodness sake fix it. The side of the ground which houses the clubhouse and changing rooms has some rather quirky if a little drab constructions running alongside the pitch, these offer shelter and a good enough view I suppose. In an ideal world that grey pitch side wall could do with with some nice bright paint, I understand the reality that cash, effort and time are not easy to come by and a lot more urgent topics will doubtless take priority.
At least the place has a soul unlike some of the newer flat pack stadiums we see on the non league scene nowadays. Couldn't help but notice that quite a number of folk seemed to enter the ground at half time, probably for free, this included a large troupe of new world skateboarders and a separate bunch of rather loud mouthed 'opinionated' people whom had obviously been influenced by half a dozen pints. Sad for Steve Wilkes the Padiham boss to have to advise these 'opinionated' people to stop picking on one of the young Padiham players doing his best on the pitch, I believe the lad was only 16, all credit to Steve for telling them to lay off.
Onto the game itself. This FA Trophy big-one pitted two sides together who are both firmly rooted in the lower-bottom depth of their respective league tables. Brigg represent the Evo Stik NPL Division 1 South, Padiham represent the Evo Stik NPL Division 1 North. To say the least, both clubs have found actual goals very hard to come by. Surely this one off cup tie would be different, surely one side would free themselves of their shot shy shooting phobia and go net busting crazy, nope, afraid not, not a bloody chance of it. As I write this visit report on a Sunday afternoon, this lot could still be playing now and it would still be 0-0. Don't get me wrong, it was a pretty decent match and both sides showed plenty of determination and a fair bit of skill but when it came to creating genuine chances the Hawthorns Ground was a barren desert of despair. They've got to do it all again in a replay over at Padiham next Wednesday night. At least that date will enforce a conclusion even if they have to do it via extra time and penalties (could be a late night me thinks).

  

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

FC United 1 Skelmersdale United 2

Tuesday 14th October 2014
Evo Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
FC UNITED 1 SKELMERSDALE UNITED 2
Attendance: 1,843
Admission: £8
Programme: £2
Tea Hut Stuff: Had a big tea at home before making the trip
Weather: Not too chilly really, rain kept off as well
Parking: Down some side street with fancy houses
Eccentricity, passion, faith, loyalty and support. Just a bunch of words often handed out in football fan circles like sugar coated jelly tots. Often, with perhaps the exception of a few select favourites, I usually realise (sooner or later) its a load of generic half cut bullsh*t! 

However... a FCUM match is like no other non league game you're ever likely to see. It actually measures up to those cheap throw away headings. Not sure if I totally enjoy it or I'm periodically attracted like a neon starved moth finding a bulb? The quirky gathering of grown up blokes stood up in the far corner of the seats even when their heroes are attacking the other end, the almost non stop singing no matter what crap is taking place on the pitch, the flags with the bob-on statements of intent, the cross section of all walks of life wrapped up in red, black & white, it goes on and on and on and the reality is, its just a non league football match which is even below the Conference level. You just gotta admire them if nothing else.

Tonight FC got mugged by a Skem side that I cannot believe has risen to the top of the NPL Premier Division. They looked like a side from a couple of leagues below. They came to frustrate, spoil and scatter and unfortunately for neutrals wanting a decent game, it worked a bloody treat. The match was fragmented, scrappy and niggly. FC had more chances than England had against San Marino & Estonia combined but they severely lacked the killer finish to put the ball in the net. Skem took what little came their way, fleeced a gob smacked defence and got all the 3 points, which will doubtless compliment that false position at the top of the table.

Duff match in my book 3/10 tops. Wished I'd watched Gordon Ramsay telling some Costa Blanca chef to f*ck off on TV.

Truly excellent programme though, 2 quid gets you the best read in non league, if you're sick of the advert ridden cut and paste back of a fag packet efforts knocked out by 90% of non league clubs, don't give up... get some change out and give this one a try, you wont be disappointed, great publication!
 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Silsden 2 Runcorn Linnets 3

Saturday 20th September 2014
North West Counties League Premier Division
SILSDEN 2 RUNCORN LINNETS 3
Attendance: 290
Admission: £5
Programme: £1.50
Tea Hut Stuff: Cheese and Onion Pie £1.50
Weather: Grey cloud, slight chill, kept dry despite the threat of rain
Parking: On the field adjacent to the cricket pitch beside the ground
Been to this well kept new ground before so there wont be any fancy photos or duplicated descriptions of the layout, all I will say is that its well worth the trip and the views of the surrounding area are an attractive addition to what is a first class non league experience.

I always enjoy the great little tea hut that the Cobbydalers put on and today's fayre didn't disappoint, its not often you find Cheese and Onion Pie on the menu at football grounds but I thoroughly enjoyed my offering here and all credit to the club for keeping up the high standards of jolly decent grub. 

Silsden have set the NWCL on fire recently and were unbeaten in the last 7 games, Andy Geary has a vibrant squad of quality young players able to compliment his blueprint for fast effective cutting football, needless to say the scouts from other clubs are eagerly reviewing their respective performances.

As Silsden ripped todays visitors apart on numerous lightening counter attacks I could see why there is so much interest on what is happening down at the Silsden Playing Fields. They stunned the league leaders cold with a deserved 2-0 lead within 36 minutes of the kick off. 

I thought it was for the most part a good game for the spectator although I was slightly concerned that the referee got taken for a ride in the second half as the visitors looked for a way back into the match. What appeared to be a solid Silsden lead was quickly eroded as most people on the ground scratched their heads at what the referee was being persuaded with on (and off) the field?

I reckon Silsden definitely have something to build upon with this squad and I wish them all the luck for the future (something the referee deleted from their wish list during this particular encounter).

Friday, 19 September 2014

Falmouth Town 3 Stoke Gabriel 2

Saturday 13th September 2014
South West Peninsular League Premier Division
FALMOUTH TOWN 3 STOKE GABRIEL 2
Attendance: 73 (head count)
Admission: £5
Programme: £1
Tea Hut Stuff: Large tea 60p
Weather: Light cloud turning to second half sunshine
Parking: On the club car park
Had some of the best fish, chips and mushy peas ever at The Gem Fish Bar and Restaurant in the town centre before the game. Its just off The Moor, up the hill adjacent to the Quarry Hill Car Park. Unfortunately there was no need for extra grub from what appeared to be a well stocked Tea Hut.
Bickland Park is old school uncut retro non league nirvana. Sadly local reports identify that this charismatic haven of football culture is tragically due for closure? 
Why do we, as a society, always get rid of the good stuff and end up replacing it with something really crap? Chances are this splendid old warhorse of a football ground will end up as one of those tacky budget supermarkets or an estate of semi detached huts for over borrowed first time buyers.
I'm not going to bore you with a match report, all I will say is that the visitors should have been 6 nil up at half time. Credit to Falmouth they took their opportunity during a more spirited second half display to get back in the match. The referenced 'opportunity' featured 2 penalty kicks and the Stoke Gabriel keeper sadly suffering a broken leg.
This provided the Falmouth side with their first win of the season.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Burscough 2 Darlington 2

Saturday 23rd August 2014
Evo Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 North
BURSCOUGH 2 DARLINGTON 2
Attendance: 293
Admission: £8
Programme: £2
Tea Hut Stuff: Hot Dog £1
Parking: Tesco Supermarket behind the ground, free all day
Weather: Mainly sunny, odd cloud, dry, reasonably mild
Burscough seems an awfully small place to have two railway stations and a bloody big Tesco store. Mind you the supermarket people let you park all day for free on their big car park which alleviated the puzzle of finding somewhere to sling the Match Shed in an area blighted with permit-only parking. Just walk past the supermarket towards the delivery area and it brings you out on a lane just a couple of hundred yards from Victoria Park.
The sight of two coaches parked besides the turnstile block verified that the main Impi of the Darlo supporters had already arrived in West Lancashire. Todays crowd would number almost 300 and I can vouch that three quarters of them came from Darlington.
I am intending to purchase a programme (when available) from all my visits this season. I know that some will be good and some are bound to be rubbish, I initially felt quite positive about handing over 2 quid for a thick, colourful and glossy Burscough publication. My optimism soon turned to dismay when I realised the publication had more advert pages than normal and alarmingly no less than 9 pages were completely blank? Add to that a number of vague poorly set out articles that obviously hadn't been proof read and you got a package that looked good on volume but ultimately left one feeling a bit ripped off as regards genuine readable content. I take no pleasure in criticising non league programmes but Burscough need to review and improve what they are currently offering to the spectator.
It is good to see Burscough back at their Victoria Park stomping ground after a spell loaning out game time at Skelmersdale United. I've been here before about 5 or 6 years ago and the place looked more or less the same. The only changes seem to be a lack of advertising boards on the terraced stands and what once seemed to be a banked temporary open terrace structure that seems to have gone missing at the turnstile end. They still have an on site social club for pre match and half time boozing plus the sit down cafe behind the pitch side tea hut hatch. Glad to see the jewel in the crown Main Stand still survives which offers a good view of the action even though it is positioned slightly the wrong side of the half way line.
I wondered into the tea hut cafe and was surprised to find it completely empty, especially as there were plenty of long distance travellers in the village. The place has plenty of well kept tables and chairs and even a flat screen TV. I was still feeling a touch delicate after an Ale and Grub indulgence session the night before so I left my match day order until a little later.
Once kick off arrived and the social club emptied out there seemed to be black and white shirts everywhere. Tremendous support for the Darlington club. Burscough is not an easy place to get to and I only live about 50 miles away never mind the M6 North and A66 job most of this lot would have been involved in. 
Burscough had to utilise their strong defence as Darlo swept forwards time and time again, the first half witnessed waves of attacks swelling towards the home goal but the strong and exceedingly competent Burscough back line held firm. When Burscough took a 1-0 lead through a rare counter attack it was a major surprise to say the least. The game got a bit fiery after that with one or two personal clashes starting to infect the proceedings, Darlington got right back in it when Gary Brown got on the end of a fisticuffs related free kick 3 minutes before half time.
Suffering latent hunger pangs I suddenly realised I had to get something to eat. I knew the wife had ordered us a local bakery pie buster special for our late night supper from a very reputable supplier close to home so my choice at the Burscough Tea Hut was somewhat compromised. Typical, what the Tea Hut seemed to have on offer was purely Pies, Pies or more Pies, no good for me with that big supper in mind. Then I spotted they also did Hot Dogs for £1. I was in there like a shot. I didn't expect much, it was one of those tinned Hot Dogs I think but it filled a hole and served a purpose, the very nice lady at the counter even gave me onions. Job done.
Second half Darlington absolutely battered Burscough and battered the Burscough goalposts in the process, I've never been to a game when a side hit the post or the bar so many times. How the visitors didn't bag 6 or 7 goals is beyond me. The fact that Burscough kept the onslaught to 1-2 and then had the motivation and never say die determination to snatch a Liam Caddick equaliser with 15 minutes left on the clock is a credit to them. Unreal.
I left the game with the opinion it had been an entertaining day of football between two sides with differing objectives for the season. Darlington look a good side indeed, despite a few mumbled moans from some of the travelling support, they WILL be there in the shake up for promotion. Lets not forget Burscough though who showed some true grit in defence in this game and still had the drive, confidence and competence to hurt Darlington big time on the break. A good game all round.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

FC United 1 Buxton 1

Tuesday 19th August 2014
Evo Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
FC UNITED 1 BUXTON 1
Admission: 1,914
Admission: £8
Programme: £2
Tea Hut Stuff: Over run by the starving hordes
Weather: Late sunny periods, dry turning chilly
Parking: A personal record long distance tonight, not acclimatised to this kind of trek for a game at Bower Fold, I usually park right beside the ground for a Stalybridge game.
Whats the point of a poxy little blog report when a club as popular as FCUM have their very own television coverage, a radio station that wipes the floor with even the likes of Talk Shyte and Radio 5 Live and some very good photographers shooting anything that moves whether its on or off the pitch, not to mention a much younger audience than your average non league crowd all busy, busy, busy taking loadsa snaps on their rental contract iPhones.

I'll get me coat......

Step aside Tea Hut and simply enjoy the best low-cost mid week entertainment since Billy Smarts circus did the North West in 1972. This even beat the time Jumbo shit on the ring masters boots.

Just turning up and seeing the flags, hearing the cutting wit and enjoying the all surrounding presence of a cultural clan like enthusiasm for this charismatic ground breaking club is worth your 8 quid admission money. And they don't even move into their first ever home ground until November (at least Stalybridge is a lot better than Bury)?

Some people don't like all the attention, so called smugness and razzmatazz that gets self generated at a FCUM game. I say give it a chance. I'm a die hard moaning bugger but some of the principles this lot stand up for we should all applaud. More to the point, on a boring Tuesday evening, its almost bloody good fun. I bet the host club renting their very nice stadium for this game wished they could pull in a couple of thousand for a game against the likes of a Buxton outfit (no disrespect to the visitors pulling power intended).

The atmosphere the crowd brings, which is further complimented by the self rule principles and co-ownership of the club, makes a somewhat refreshing change for what most of us non league football followers normally witness. The opposition get plenty of stick for sure, as do the officials but I see the very same abuse, banter, call it what you want at games with less than 50 people on the ground.

Its the same game, football, no matter where you play it and its what happens on the pitch that ultimately matters (isn't it)? FCUM are no different in this aspect and even the wonderful atmosphere couldn't save tonight's encounter with Buxton turning out to be a bit of a Dog. Missed passes, a lack of positional awareness and dare I say it 'nerves' seemed to inhibit both sides on a continual basis. Fragmentation and disjointed play ate away at tactics, strategy and confidence, we ended up being provided with little true quality. Sure, there were a few good chances at both ends but nothing seemed to threaten to ignite the game. A first half FCUM tap in from Wolfenden only a yard out put them 1 up in the 34th minute before Buxton got a well deserved equaliser from a late Liam Hardy penalty. A fair result on the balance of play.