Uwdi Krugg will be spending the 2015-16 season watching non league football, eating the wrong kind of food and having a bloody good moan.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Stalybridge Celtic 1 Solihull Moors 3

Saturday 22nd August 2015
National League North
Attendance: 386
Admission: £12 ouch! Got in disguised as a Pensioner for 7 quid
Programme: £2, decent value, enjoyed the Keith Trudgeon column
Tea Hut Stuff: Nowt today, too hot
Weather: Warm sultry sunshine, humid & uncomfortable
Parking: Pavement on Mottram Road directly opposite the entrance
Been to Bower Fold many times before, in my humble opinion its one of the jewels in the Non League crown, a wonderful setting and excellent facilities, a great place to enjoy football. Apologies for not doing a full visit report but I'd just be duplicating what I've done before, including the photographs. If you've not been yet and you get the opportunity to go along, just take it, it will be well worth your while believe me.

Interesting clash on paper this game, Celtic just about escaped relegation last season, in fact it went to the very last weekend, the Manager who got them out of trouble, Liam Watson, is well respected in some quarters but often criticised by certain supporters who seem to feel he favours a mundane long ball game. The general early season feeling about the place is that Liam can certainly turn things around this season for Bridge, needless to say there are also quite a few fickle home fans only too willing to give some barbed criticism when the new master plan fails to verify the necessary results. Moors themselves have started the campaign really well and alongside their travelling band of colourfully dressed supporters a lot of pundits reckon they will be definite top of the table contenders come the end of the season.

The game rated 6/10 on the Krugg scale. Moors looked the better side in the first half, competitive, strong and well organised. Bridge looked unsure, indecisive, they lacked cohesion and class. 1-1 at half time the second half possession was greedily snatched up by the home side but it was Moors who looked a lot more clinical when going forward and some rather feeble defending easily gave away 2 key goals to ensure another 3 points for the visitors (which their noisy Hawaiian dress code supporters seemed rather pleased about indeed).

Not many, if any, games left for Wheres The Tea Hut in the North of England now, if things go to plan the Tea Hut will very soon be relocating to deepest Cornwall. I just simply had to go along and take another look at magnificent Bower Fold before that long journey south.   

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Perhaps I should've took the camera?

FA Cup Extra Long, Turn Left, Turn Right, Round The Corner Preliminary Round
Attendance: 75
Admission: £5
Programme: £2, ok but needed more written content
Tea Hut Stuff: £1 for a wonderful home made potato pie, £1 for a cup of tea
Weather: Mainly sunny and warm, odd cloudy spell
Parking: Adjacent to the nearby Asda supermarket
Homely little Chaddy didn't know what hit em.
Nice recently improved tidy ground, nice homemade grub in the tea hut but the local lads took a severe wupping at the hands of a ruthless AFC Liverpool outfit. I am currently trying to find the latest odds for the Liverpool machine strolling the North West Counties Premier Division. Awesome. 6 nil at half time. No mistake, the visitors could easily have bagged 20. AFC Liverpool look a completely different beast this season (at least on this impressive showing).

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Wythenshawe Town 3 Oldham Athletic Academy 1

Saturday 4th July 2015
Pre Season Friendly
Attendance: 271
Admission: £2
Programme: £1 and very good too
Tea Hut Stuff: Still full from a big bowl of Alpen and some sausage sandwiches
Weather: Sultry sunshine, bit breezy at times but still very warm
Parking: On Timpson Road behind Tesco's just up from the gate
The Invincibles of Ericstan Park. Apparently Manchesters biggest kept secret. Quite simply put, if you come here you get beat, end of. Wythenshawe Town wup opposition football teams for fun, the Cheshire League side won no less than 4 trophies last season and are continually improving a vibrant go-forward infrastructure that most non league sides can only dream about. I've been meaning to witness what all the fuss was about for ages, today I got the chance and I wasn't disappointed.
The Match Shed took the M60 via Stockport before trundling down the A560 towards Altrincham, when you pass Macdonalds take the next left at the Shell Garage then first right down Timpson Road behind the big Tesco. I got there half an hour early for the 1pm kick off and bagged one of the highly recommended programmes. There's no turnstile so to speak, just a friendly chap with a table, it was 2 quid to get in and £1 for a really good programme that puts a lot of non league publications to shame, choc full of first class photography and plenty of topical news and views, almost rekindles my hopes that you can still produce jolly good programmes at this level after all.
First impressions looking around the ground proved promising, the playing surface looked excellent. There is a decent sized social club behind the Tesco end with small stands on both adjacent touch lines, the whole stadium is neat and tidy and the general feeling is that the ground provides a homely well maintained environment to watch decent football. I also heard there are more plans to develop the ground further, mention of new stands was made? Everything seems to be on the up at this club, you cannot miss the positive vibe and well grounded culture of community spirit.
Todays visitors were the Oldham Athletic Academy side. The youngsters had a good following of supporters making the trip including the noisy and very enthusiastic Athletico's. This bunch of noisy Latics fans parked themselves in one of the two small stands and proceeded to yell and chant non stop, brief highlights included someone letting off a flare, low points inevitably focused on somebody banging away at a drum for an hour and a half, a bit bizarre behaviour for what was an under 18's Oldham side in a pre season leg stretcher? Whatever turns you on I suppose. As long as you didn't get too close to them you had to admire their relentless enthusiasm.
Wythenshawe romped away with the Cheshire League Division 2 last season, they won every single game, their top scorer was Ben Brooks who knocked in no less than 51 goals. Today would be a stiffer task but the home side simply got on with it and did the business. 
In a game sectioned into three thirty minute periods I witnessed a sparkling first 30 minutes with the live wire Brooks causing panic alarms in the Oldham defence every time he got on the ball, he looks a tremendous player and he was well supported by the marauding Ben Connolly. 
The second section fell a bit flat as the sultry heat took its toll but we did get a decent finale in the last period as both sides continued to play open football and knock the ball about. Town took the honours 3-1 and that seemed a fair result on the day. Oldham had some good youngsters on show particularly at the back but the commitment and efficiency of a positively set up Wythenshawe side proved too much for them on the day.

For an early pre season friendly there was a very good turn out of 271 spectators who all seemed to enjoy the friendly setting. Seemed like plenty of chips and pints of ale got consumed in the process. First games of the season, especially friendlies can often turn out to be pretty much pants, I was fortunate enough to witness a decent game and I also got to visit a new ground. If you happen to live in the Manchester area you can do far worse than come down here for your football fix, forget the bank-loan admission charges of the big boys, its 2 quid here for attractive attacking football, friendly faces and a good day out. Enjoyable indeed, liked it.   

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Best Programme Covers 2014-15

Don't like Tennis, Golf or static Women Goalkeepers proving far less agile than the plastic ones I've got in my Subbuteo box. Summer really is pants without any proper football.

Following yet another hotly disputed sacking in my Football Manager 2008 career I ended up flicking through my collection of programmes from last season, anything to kick away the time until the ridiculously pointless pre season friendlies arrive next month.

I decided to nominate the top 3 programme covers from the ropey bunch I'd shedded out my hard earned cash on. Before irate programme editors start threatening to beat me up please be aware I have not got a copy of every non league clubs programme from last season, only some of the ones I attended a game at.

Here are my Top 3 choices:

1st: Charnock Richard

2nd: Silsden

3rd: Parkgate

Programmes from last season

A random selection from the 2014-15 Season.

Were they worth the dosh?

Gotta admit I stopped collecting them after a while. 

Fair to say some were a lot better than others.

Friday, 1 May 2015

NWCFL Men United Cup Final

Thursday 30th April 2015
North West Counties League Challenge Cup Final (Men United)
Venue: Curzon Ashton FC, The Tameside Stadium
Attendance: 1,012
Admission: £5 (or 3 quid if you dress up and pretend to be a Pensioner)
Programme: £2
Tea Hut Stuff: Expensive £1.20 economy tea bag in hot water
Parking: On the Car Park behind the goals
Weather: Spring sunshine fading to a chilly clear evening
Match Rating: 6/10
Glossop have whupped everybody in sight this season. Next week Wembley will be lucky enough to have them for the FA Vase Final against North Shields, needless to say, they simply strolled the Premier Division title. It is strange that the only side in the North West Counties League capable of matching them on quality football terms are Atherton Colls. Strange because Colls have been plying their trade and blitzing opposition in the league below Glossop this season, the humble First Division. These two are jolly good footballing sides and it is sad that they wont be matched up next season for some NWCFL classics, Glossop as League Champions are off to the Northern Premier League. With this in mind many were hoping for a glorious last-supper of fine football this evening, me included.
Unfortunately, the big feast never came to the table. Nothing seemed to fit the menu tonight. Like a Master Chef soufflĂ© that failed to rise, the whole thing fell a bit flat.

I had a sneaking suspicion the Cup Final gods were in a bad mood when massive long queues at the solitary opened turnstile caused one of my pet hates, the delayed kick off. Why a second turnstile wasn't opened before the Noah's Ark levels were reached is beyond comprehension. This delay meant I missed my dodgy late night takeaway on the drive home.

Once we finally got going it was imperative that Colls got a good start if they were to match the fancy dans of Glossop. Needless to say they soon went 1 behind with a fluke goal from a corner. The cross simply hit Glossop's Kelvin Lugsden without him even knowing about it, the ball bobbled into the empty net.

Colls gradually got their passing game going and it was nice to see Glossop counter with some well co-ordinated bursts down the flanks, any hopes we could still see a great final were then almost completely deleted. Glossops Eddie Moran seemed to be brought down in midfield and an almighty shopping bag battle erupted, everybody was piling in, in anticipation of the big Mayweather v Pacquiao fight the Glossop full back Michael Bowler was pole-axed and went down like a sack of spuds. It turned into a big who-dun-it mystery amidst all the pushing and shoving, the Referee took centre stage. Colls went mad at Brad Cooke being given the red card and there were some very distasteful scenes as a very angry Cooke was met at the tunnel by baying Glossop squad members. Some of the crowd got involved as did everyone in the two dug outs, NWCFL officials were trying to calm things down but it did get ugly. Spitting at somebody is a horrible thing to see at any time especially at a football match, unbelievable it could be seen in the cosy little world of the NWCFL... but it did, I saw it happen as many others near the tunnel also did. I'm not naming names on here but it was totally out of order and the perpetrator needs to think hard about his actions.

After the meltdown the game seemed to fade, it would be hard enough with 11 men against Glossop. Colls faced a massive task now and the loss of Cooke would simply prove too much for them.

The second half got steadily worse for Colls, despite brave attempts to continue playing open football a debatable penalty decision gave Glossop a cushy 2 goal lead. Not long afterwards it really was all over when Colls striker Mark Battersby got sent off for a second yellow. There wasn't much in the challenge but Mark didn't need to give the defender the option and a 9 man team meant game over.

Great achievement by Glossop to win the League and Cup double and all credit to them. They have been the best team in the North West Counties League by miles this season and I wish them all the best in winning the FA Vase.

As for Colls, they have Premier Division football to look forward to in the NWCFL and the way they play the game will hopefully fill the gap left by Glossop. They already look favourites to win the title. 

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Buried Treasure

What's all this at the bottom of the cupboard? 
Hang on, here's some more

Monday, 29 December 2014

The Future of Tea Hut?

Nothing too dramatic is being planned but I am thinking about the Tea Hut blog going forward, especially for 2015. 

Seems daft and more than a little boring to keep writing about football grounds I have visited on numerous occasions only to dish up the same old slop in the visit report. Truth is there are not many new targets (grounds) in reasonable striking distance to warrant regular weekly postings. Perhaps Where's The Tea Hut has reached its current sell by date on that basis?

I'm not going to close the Tea Hut site but I reckon any new posts will only occur when I manage to fund a visit to a new ground that I've not been to before, these jaunts could be well spaced out to say the least. An objective that probably wont be assisted by the growing number of big-wig egocentric clubs that have started banning people with camera's (even at certain non league levels)?

Lets see how things develop.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Blackburn Rovers 2 Charlton Athletic 0

Saturday 20th December 2014
Attendance: 13,231
Admission: £17 in the Riverside Stand near the halfway line
Programme: £3 and a big step up in quality from 2 quid non league jobs
Tea Hut Stuff: Went to Macdonalds just across the road
Weather: Cloudy and cold which complimented all the concrete
Parking: Blackburn town centre, the wife was doing shopping
Credit were its due Rovers offer some of the best ticket prices going. 17 quid for Championship level football in a seat with a good vantage point is really decent value, in fact its even cheaper than a whole host of Non League Conference level clubs at the moment (you know who you are).

This game fell in with the Financial Controllers compulsory Christmas Shopping trip for herself. So long as I dropped her off in the town centre and could guarantee she would be off home no later than 5.15pm I had clearance to (as she kindly put it) "bugger off to football". I signed up to the deal immediately.
It was a technically acceptable game with the home side making a great start with a couple of early Jordan Rhodes goals. The South London visitors provided little threat for the most part and offered only a limited second half fight back for their 318 supporters lost in the caverns of the Darwen End, for the first 45 minutes Charlton were never at the races. Long trip this time of the year for such a lack lustre showing. Rovers themselves look to have the quality and spirit to get back into the competitive play off race, lets hope they stick with the genuine ticket pricing structure.

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
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.

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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).