Uwdi Krugg will be spending the 2013-14 season watching non league football, eating the wrong kind of food and having a bloody good moan.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Future for the 'Tea Hut' site

Due to other commitments it seems there is little opportunity for further reportable non-league action on the Wheres The Tea Hut site this season.

I'll still be keeping an eye on the leagues though.

The Tea Hut site will return next season.

Lets hope the World Cup doesn't put us all off football before then?

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Frickley Athletic 2 Nantwich Town 0

Saturday 22nd February 2014
Evo Stik NPL Premier Division
Attendance: 207
Admission: £9
Tea Hut Stuff: Pie & peas £2.40, tea bag £1
Weather: Bright spells turned to slate grey skies, stayed dry
Parking: Right next to the turnstile
Got lost twice between leaving the M62 at Pontefract and eventually stumbling across South Elmsall the home of Frickley Athletic. I suppose getting around deepest Yorkshire is fine for the locals well familiarised with these parts but it can be quite testing for an outsider, especially if the authorities don't bother putting any road signs up at those important journey stages such as major junctions, key turn-offs and roundabouts. The ridiculous trek through the uncharted, unidentified wilderness was made more difficult by a mass epidemic of badly constructed speed bumps every 20 yards. Has the area been suffering from joyriders partaking in some type of unofficial World Rally Championship? Seems Yorkshire has a growth industry of spending loads of money on completely pointless traffic management infrastructure, you only have to count the dozens of multi million pound matrix gantries they've fitted on the M62 around Leeds to find that out. 
Frickley Athletic was once Frickley Colliery and we are in what once was prime mining country. The traditional old-school ground is over looked by what was a big slag heap. They've put some grass over it and since called it a country park. Its complemented with walking trails and a few nice benches one of which was dedicated to a young miner who lost his life on a picket line during Thatcher's decimation of the area during the strikes in the eighties, a touching and polite reminder of the loss, hardship, and strife this part of the UK has suffered. The young miners bench has a first class view of the ground from the serenity of the country park. Hope he gets to see some better games than the dross I witnessed during my visit?
Once inside the ground you can fully appreciate the fine looking grandstand that proudly resides above the rest of the stadium. It is quite set back with access to its blue painted benches easily available from the terraced paddock below. A truly impressive stand in these sad times of flat pack lookalike structures that provide so little ambiance to proper football ground charisma. The up close presence of the stand was probably worth my admission money alone which slightly eases the fact that the football on offer certainly wasn't. 
Both ends of the ground are open to the elements with standard hard standing although there is a small disabled hut type cover near the Big Fellas clubhouse. The far touchline across from the grandstand features pitch length covered shallow terracing which is where a dozen noisy Nantwich supporters heartily sang various ditties in accompaniment to a small bloke earnestly banging away at a drum. Don't think the racket was entirely welcomed by the more traditionally orientated Yorkshire folk standing a bit further down the terrace. 
The Big Fellas clubhouse and bar is about as big as your average back bedroom and wouldn't fit many big fellas in it at all. There's a couple of tables and a TV and some shelter from the cold. I was actually looking for the Big Fellas snack bar which I then learned was a separate structure on the far side of the grandstand. Plenty of Nantwich supporters seemed to be buying hot food and I joined the queue. 
I was taken in by the visually pleasing sight of pie and peas as it seemed to be selling well to the unsuspecting visitors. I handed over my £2.40, added a cup of tea for an extra quid and hurried away to the back of the stand to scoff it. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear! In all the time I've been consuming grub from tea huts I can honestly say I have never had a worse or more inedible pie than the sad and sorry monstrosity that was hiding under my mushy peas. It was like a plastic pie rather than one cased in pastry, I couldn't get in the b*stard, I even broke my plastic fork in the process. I had to get my hand into the mound of peas to break through the unidentified casing and when I did I came across only 2 tiny solitary lumps of grisly meat and some traces of dried up gravy. It was obscene, an embarrassment to matchday food and a complete waste of money, I'd been robbed, shame on you Frickley Athletic, this was a disgrace to catering. 
I then realised that I had earlier seen only the Nantwich supporters buying food from the tea hut, it appeared that none of the home fans bought food just the odd hot drink, maybe I am wrong but it seemed to be the case at the time? I was going to get a programme but on the basis of what I'd lost at the tea hut I decided to cut my losses and not risk it, my mood had already drifted into the red and we hadn't even got to kick off.
Frickley are just above the drop zone in the NPL Premier Division, Nantwich a bit safer in mid table. The game started at a pace with the visitors applying lots of pressure without getting anything clean on target. For 15 minutes it was quite entertaining but then I started to ascertain that despite lots of possession and attacking Nantwich never really came anywhere close to scoring. Frickley were even worse, their random attacks were few and far between and like Nantwich, the threat on goal was minimal. Neither side had the means of putting the ball in the net and we kind of drifted into this scrappy mish-mash of a match where the misplaced pass, the hoof and the charge became the chosen currency of choice. It all went off the boil very quickly and turned into a drab encounter limited to lots of effort, lots of daft shouting but very little entertainment. 
Half time came and went, sadly we got more of the same, I just couldn't see either of these two poor sides scoring. Needless to say Frickley somehow got in the box to win a couple of penalties from some insane defending and duly won the game 2-0. A totally forgettable fixture which left a bad taste in the mouth, in hindsight that's probably more down to the crap pie I tried to eat earlier on. I was quickly back in the Match Tank and headed off in search of the motorway, which again turned out to be easier said than done. Goodbye Frickley, nice stand, shame about the rest of the afternoon!

Monday, 17 February 2014

Southport 3 Salisbury City 1

Saturday 15th February 2014
Skrill Conference Premier
Attendance: 719
Admission: £13.50 standing (ouch)
Tea Hut stuff: Tomato Soup £1.50 (jolly good too)
Weather: Wind, bright intervals, cold but dry. Ceased throwing it down at 2pm.
Parking: 100 yards up Haig Avenue

Storms, gales, property damage, more storms, more gales, yet more property damage etc etc etc. Living through a winter on the Pennines is bloody awful.

Mass postponements decimated the non league schedule in the North West of England. (The North West is the bit they never seem to mention on BBC/Sky News weather reports)? Strange but true.

Heard Southports pitch was holding up mid morning so I took the opportunity to escape the hurricane battered Pennines for a welcome interlude of Conference Premier Division Football. 

On a previous visit to Southport FC I had encountered a lot of hassle from their stewards about taking pictures inside the ground. I wasn't going to try and smuggle the camera through again to take under-cover snaps hidden behind the floodlights so there are no snazzy shots of the stadium accompanying this somewhat brief report.

Not at all happy about shelling out over 13 quid to get into a non league game but sadly that's the going rate these days in this division, it would have cost me even more to sit down in the half shut Main Stand (which had suffered wind damage to the roof and side panels).

Despite a strong wind this was an entertaining enough match which provided an attack minded home side with 3 welcome points in their battle to pull clear of the drop zone. Higher placed Salisbury faced a long trip home after failing to match the attitude and passion of a Southport side determined to come out on top. Have to say I expected a lot more class from the 5th placed visitors.

Haig Avenue is a nice enough ground that would easily match a higher League status. We all know their previous Football League history. The covered Jack Carr End behind the nets provided welcome shelter from the relentless sharp gusty wind but I prefer to watch my football from near the halfway line so I took my chances on the windswept open terrace (and shivered through the proceedings inside 5 layers of clothing).

There was some very nice piping hot Greenhaulghs Tomato Soup on offer from the tea hut come snack caravan.

Friday, 7 February 2014


Its still raining.

The forecast for next Saturday and the five days following predicts continual heavy downpours with gale force winds.

Dont think you'll see much of it on the news though? Not up here.

Sunday, 26 January 2014


No game last Saturday.
Set off in good faith, got halfway to the ground when a dark navy-bruised grey sky spread like an oil slick from the bowels of hell. The evil cloud monster burst without mercy and the rain trounced it down relentlessly.
Needless to say the last available game on my list (which I had researched for pitch inspection updates all morning long) slid into the deep dank pond of waterlogged postponements swamping the UK nationwide.
Its January and this kind of sh*t happens.
If it wasn't non stop rain it would be snow or perhaps a sub zero frost?
It doesn't make it any easier though.
Once my game of choice was postponed I was hijacked for compulsory shopping at Bury Market, Boss Hogg from Krugg House was rubbing her hands at the opportunity of a free lift and somebody to lug all her bags around down at the black pudding stalls.
Needless to say I'm not in an entirely positive mood at the moment.
Bit sick of getting p*ssed wet through for very little return.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

FC United 1 Trafford 1

Tuesday 21st January 2014
Evo Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
Attendance: 1,598
Admission: £8
Programme: £2 (From postponed game on New Years Day)
Tea Hut Stuff: Not paying Rick Stein prices at a Non League match
Weather: Awful! Absolutely poured down. Rain, rain, rain
Parking: Pants parking at Gigg Lane, 5-10 minutes walk (in the rain)
Two cars driven by two young women who were probably gaping at their trendy smart phones in the traffic light queue had run into each other. Punters pushing for a pre match parking spot were giving them the horn. It was pouring it down, the area surrounding Gigg Lane looked even more depressingly bleak than normal. The sooner FCUM get that new ground in Moston the better.
I paid my cash at the turnstile, once it was hidden away by the eager blokes facing me I got the warning that there was a big doubt whether we'd even kick off.. and if we did we probably wouldn't get to half time? The bloke doing the talking pushed me a ticket and said it was an abandoned match voucher. When I asked if I was going to be refunded later on, he gave me the stare of someone who was now in control of my cash and said no, you'll have to use your voucher for the rearranged game. So now, not only was I p*ssed through they'd also got my money and it looked odds on the game wouldn't even start! I went up the stairs to the Main Stand and looked out on a pitch that was already encountering patches of standing water, the rain was relentless.
Time to have a quick look at the programme to take my mind off Noahs Ark related biblical flooding. I'd read about tonight's issue via the club website and it provided some insight regarding what you get for your 2 quid. It seemed well worth it and flicking through the pages of well written articles and glossy colour pictures it certainly seemed impressive. What bugged me a little was the fact that this was the very same programme which was lined up for the postponed fixture from New Years Day. There was no supplement update sheet included and my frustration was that the website had not mentioned the New Years Day issue being used in their respective programme preview?

I'd had a very favourable tea before setting off for Gigg Lane, I must say some of these supermarket brand warm-up curry meals have really improved in the last 6 months or so, my Tesco variety Lamb Rogan Josh was spot on. 
As it was now 7.30pm I needed to top up, I fancied a quick snack and a hot drink and went into the concourse to find the tea hut, I'd heard a rumour they'd changed those awful pies since my last visit here a couple of seasons ago. Bloody hell! I had to rub my specs, surely that price list above the counter was a p*ss-take? £2.20 for a tea bag! A pound for a bag of crisps! 3 pound-odd for a pie! They can f*ck right off! Now I have to say here and now that FCUM apparently have no control on this rogue tea hut or its ridiculous robbing prices, it appears it is a franchise related to the 'approved-supplier' dealings of Bury Football Club (or so I'm told). I must admit that FCUM are perhaps one of the leaders in cutting costs for supporters of non league football so I can firmly agree that they have nothing to do with this scandalous situation, as I said earlier, the sooner FCUM get their new ground in Moston the better.

Back in the seats, fortunately the weather had calmed down a bit and we now had a light drizzle, thank goodness there was going to be some light at the end of the tunnel. In fact the rain then stopped completely for around half an hour. FC United really needed a win in this game to keep in amongst the play-off pack but it wasn't going to be easy against their classy neighbours Trafford who always play decent football despite having slipped down the table. The pitch held up remarkably well considering the deluge and the opening quarter of the match produced some good football with chances at both ends. Callum Byrne smacked in a long range classic bang in the top corner to put FC ahead but Trafford had got back on level terms after 22 minutes with a Steve Mason header from a free kick. Perhaps it was the weather, or the combative urgency of both sides closing each other down but the rest of the half seemed to fragment into scrappy sections of play. The second half followed a similar path, a bright opening but then long periods of misplaced passes and niggling little fouls. To make things worse, the rain was back and that pitch was getting mighty slippy and very heavy. FC United had a last bash near the final whistle but it wasn't to be and both sides got what was probably deserved from the proceedings, a point each from a 1-1 draw.

This was truly an awful night for a football match and I must admit Gigg Lane is not my favourite location under any circumstances but the efforts of both sets of supporters (Trafford had 90 plus singing along there) gave the event some real atmosphere. FCUM are not everyones cup of tea (especially at £2.20, sorry) but I think they bring far more positives to the non league experience than a lot of smug, dare I say snobby non league folk give them credit for (or would have you believe). I will certainly continue to look forward to going to that new ground in Moston that I seem to keep going on about.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Ashton United 3 Blyth Spartans 3

Saturday 18th January 2014
Evo Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
Attendance: 147
Admission: £9
Programme: £2
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea £1
Weather: Cloudy but dry, bit of a chilly breeze
Parking: Adjacent to the garage on the main road 500 yards away
No fancy action pictures or arse licking style 'please pick my blog for an award' crawling (which seems to have reared its ugly head on some social media networks again recently), I've been this place before in any case and I didn't give it a flashy review that time around either. I admire Blyth Spartans supporters, they travel massive distances to away games from high up in the North East and always give 100% backing to their team (whichever one turns up on the day). In a sparse crowd on a typical January afternoon there was almost as many Blyth people as homers. As the smoke from a nearby rubbish fire in a neighbours back garden wafted across the pitch everybody huddled down in their winter clothing for a 90 minute 3-3 roller coaster ride without the thrills. A scrappy first half was tarnished by one of those new-age Refs who blows for even the slightest contact but completely bottles-it for any contentious decisions. No disrespect intended to the young guy but he didn't help the flow of this game and some of his second half howlers nearly ruined it completely. It was 1-1 at half time courtesy of opportunist efforts at both ends of the pitch, Blyth seemed the more dominant side in the second period, especially when they got a second goal after an undetected hand ball during the build up and soon after the Referee then sent an Ashton player off. Tempers were getting frayed to say the least, mainly due to the gross lack of consistent sensible refereeing, it was never a dirty game but it never got the chance to flow. Here was proof that even a 3-3 scoreline can still provide pretty pap entertainment, at least for a neutral sad pants like me that is. The tidy ground is a blend of scenic charismatic charm and counter productive annoying obstructed views, the main stand side of the pitch looks good but you need to know where to get the best spot to get a decent glimpse of the nets because there's plenty of ironwork stanchions propping up the stand and big f*ck-off dug outs in front of the terracing. They tend to be a bit tight on the fuel bills around here as well (I know I am), how poignant that the linesman had to warn club officials to "turn the bloody lights on" as darkness descended upon the meadow. At 9 quid a head to get in I expect the floodlights to be on well before half time if you dont mind. Various plus points arrive in the form of a well stocked programme and souvenir shop and a nice inviting tea hut. Good to see chips and gravy under 2 quid rather than the Mayfair prices Bradford Park Avenue were ripping people off for on my last visit to a game (its a few spuds and a bit of gravy isn't it, not lobster in a saffron sauce). There is an excellent warm and friendly clubhouse at Ashton United, just the job at half time. Plenty of folk were busy downing pints and watching the big screen TV's for Sky Sports News results (quite a few apparently didn't return for the second half outside).
Full marks for the programme, it was £2 but there is good content and pictures from the last away game, I thought it was an improvement from the edition I purchased when I was last here which I think was back in the 2009/10 season.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Bradford Park Avenue 6 Worcester City 1

Saturday 4th January 2013
Skrill Conference North
Attendance: 288
Admission: £11
Programme: £2
Tea Hut Stuff: Not paying 3 quid for chips and gravy!
Weather: Dull, grey and cold
Parking: Cemetery Road 100 yards from the turnstile
I took the Match Tank on the high trans-pennine route into Yorkshire, dense fog spread over the hill tops as I crossed the border at Blackstone Edge and headed A58 eastbound through Sowerby Bridge, Halifax and beyond. Down in the valleys it was slate grey, miserable and cold. I thought about stopping for award winning jumbo fish and chips boldly advertised as only £3.50 in a place known as 'Shelf' a few miles from the ground but I stuck to the task and ploughed on regardless towards the Horsfall Stadium on Cemetery Road. I've been to Bradford Park Avenue before, the first thing I noticed on this trip was that the distinctive big pub at the top of the road had shut, it looked like somebody's house now? I got the Match Tank parked a little further along from what must have been the designated Worcester team coach, it was a big flashy red job sign written as the official team bus for Kidderminster Harriers? The nearby lights from the adjacent stadium were already making a visible impression on a significantly grimy afternoon. BPA's Horsfall Stadium has a running track around it and you need to prepare for this in advance. The fact is the action is quite a way from any respective viewing point so you definitely need the extra strong specs with the jam jar zoom lenses. Saying that the place is a lot better than other athletics type stadiums doubling up for football, there is a genuine passion and enthusiasm provided by the loyal BPA staff and supporters which takes the edge off vista infinity views of the weather hammered pitch which can initially appear to be a short bus ride away. 
If you come here looking to have a moan about it you can fill your boots, I'd much rather focus on the positives that this is a great little club who have fought back to hack out a credible respected position in the Conference North and the clubs name alone is one well known to football fans the world over. Its not so bad an environment when you acclimatise to the layout and you don't even really notice it after a short while. I edged into a busy club shop for a match programme, two blokes who seemed to know each other were having a row in front of the counter. Bloke No.1 with a Huddersfield Town bobble hat on was ridiculing Bloke No.2, who must have been a Leeds United supporter for not being at Rochdale for Leeds FA Cup tie that afternoon. The Leeds fan defended himself by saying he couldn't get a ticket. After some derogatory gloating from the Huddersfield fan stating "there's nothing worse than a part timer" there was a short pause before the Leeds fan hit back with a cutting backhand enquiring that if the Huddersfield fan was so against part-timer antics "why wasn't he at bloody Grimsby Town then" where Huddersfield had their cup tie the same afternoon. The insults got a bit more personal after that and a queue was building up, the chap behind the counter took it in turn to carry on with sales over and around the two West Yorkshire football fans as if he'd seen it all before. I next ventured to the Tea Hut to check out the chips and gravy that had been recommended in a visit report blog by 'Manc hopper'. 
I had to double check the price list when I saw they were asking 3 quid? I don't care if I was a tad hungry or not I'm not paying 3 pounds for chips. You can get a pie thrown in at most non league grounds for that kind of dosh (I think Pie, Chips and Gravy is just over 2 quid at Mossley FC for instance)? Somewhat insulted I left for a seat in the big green and white grandstand in a bit of a huff (I wasn't carrying emergency rations either). Having had a look at the programme I'd calmed down a bit, a nice glossy publication with good content and pictures, some good information on the visitors as well, a recommended decent read for £2.

Avenue were on a bad losing streak coming into this game, if you include an FA Trophy tie they'd lost 6 on the bounce and they currently held a mid table position. Worcester City themselves were having an even worse season just one place off the bottom of the league. There were a good few groans from the locals when Worcester went 1-0 up early in the game. Despite some terrible weather in this part of the country recently the pitch seemed to hold up reasonably well but obviously it would cut up more and more as the game went on. 
This didn't stop Avenue playing some fine attacking football as they set about getting back in the game and they gradually turned things around to command a 3-1 half time lead. I was most impressed with the quality of play, even Worcester had played some good stuff in response. I took a wander around the running track during half time and got a closer look at the changing rooms on the far side of the pitch which always looks like a big Brewers Fayre pub restaurant from a distance. 
Upon a close up inspection the enticing mystery of the place is quickly eroded. Especially with the shipping container bogs either side of it. I was looking forward to another half of fast paced entertaining football but the second period failed to live up to expectations. Worcester dug in and scrapped their way back into contention but couldn't got the ball in the net, a more sedate BPA still got the ball forward and eventually netted 3 more goals to underline their superiority with a slightly flattering 6-1 scoreline. Avenue were the better team of that there is no doubt but I'm not sure if it warranted a 6-1 'tonking' classification. It appeared most BPA supporters were having a double celebration when news filtered through on the air waves that Rochdale were beating Leeds United 2-0 with minutes left to play, old rivalries die hard in these parts, this is Bradford after all, perhaps the bloke having that row in the club shop earlier on was mighty glad he couldn't get a ticket for Spotland after all?

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Chorley 3 AFC Fylde 1

Wednesday 1st January 2014
Evo Stik NPL Premier Division
Attendance: 1020
Admission: £9
Programme: £2
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea £1
Weather: Blustery and grey, rain during the second half
Parking: Couple of streets away, easy exit
You can always get a good pie in Chorley, the local indoor market has loads of em, decent ones too, no rubbish street food in this town. There were quite a few pies on view at Victory Park as well. Chorley FC have not one but two busy tea huts and half an hour before kick off the locals were lined up out the door at the Magpies Nest which is the bigger of the two food outlets. 
Frugal Glenn had travelled ahead to get us a couple of seats in the magnificent traditional grandstand, when I joined him he'd already had a row with some bloke because Frugal had refused to move up a seat to let some bloke and his tribe on the end of the row. One of the downsides of a majestic old style football stand is all the ironwork and stanchions that can impede your view of the goalmouths, if you naively 'move-up' you can end up looking at a rusting metal column for the rest of the afternoon. Frugal Glenn certainly isn't the kind of easy-touch-charity-do-gooder to give up his prime view of the proceedings for 3 snotty chair-kicker kids and a 'chancer' in a British Home Stores car coat. I think BHS man had somehow got the message and was nowhere in site upon my arrival?
Todays big game was the pick of a healthy looking New Years Day Evo Stik Premier Division schedule despite a few earlier casualties sinking away due to waterlogging. When will these storms and winds ever end? Chorley look a very strong outfit sitting in 3rd spot in the table with games in hand over both Worksop and Skelmersdale ahead of them. Visitors AFC Fylde are a quality footballing unit who had been many punters favourites for the title until they have recently hit a surprisingly poor run of form, they've dropped to sixth place and badly needed something from this game.
Despite plenty of rain in the period leading up to the match the Victory Park pitch looked in perfect condition for the time of year and superbly complimented what must surely be one of the most charismatic 'old school' football grounds left on the circuit. The grandstand itself warrants your admission money as it holds court over the two covered terraces at either end of the ground. Across the pitch from the Main Stand is the popular grass banking, which due to ridiculous league-authority health and safety reasons is now out of bounds for spectators. You can still watch the proceedings from the hard standing adjacent to the pitch but the grass bank is blocked off with 'trespassers will be shot' signs. I've written hundreds of Risk Assessments for a living but I'd never dream one up predicting a major foreseeable risk to health for watching a game of football on a shallow bit of grass, jobsworths!
I had a quick shifty through the match programme before kick off and it was pleasing to see a publication that had plenty to read, interesting articles, decent photographs and the uncommon realisation that is was actually value for money. Down by the turnstiles the last few spectators were grabbing a copy just before kick off.
A blustery wind was blowing towards the town centre end of the ground as the action got underway and this seemed to blow Chorley forward only for Fylde to attempt to pass their way out of trouble. Chances came and went but the game never reached the promise of a classic, now and again there would be a superb passage of play only for fragmentation and broken play to rear its head, hardly surprising considering the wind factor. Both sides got on the scoresheet and we seemed set for a 1-1 half time break. The 3 minutes of injury time changed this closely fought encounter completely. Chorley hitman James Dean whacked a screeching shot from outside the box straight into the top right hand corner of the Fylde net before running like a deranged madman into the arms of Gary Flitcroft and the rest of the coaching staff in front of the dug out, what a goal! Fylde looked visibly shell shocked, what a bad time to concede a goal. They kicked off, immediately lost possession, the ball was punted forwards down the right, the Fylde defence failed to react quickly enough, the wind seemed to caress the ball into the on rushing path of Chorley's Josh Hine and he somehow lobbed the ball over the keeper into the empty net, 3-1 to Chorley! The place went mad. Fylde looked totally soul destroyed. 
The rain swept in for the second half, Frugal Glenn wanted us to stand up because his dodgy knee was giving him pain in the wooden seats of the Grandstand, an old war wound from his time as a yard dog centre half many years past. We ended up on the far touchline in front of the grass bank, needless to say we got wet. AFC Fylde steadfastly tried to play themselves back in the game but Chorley weren't for sitting back and they gave as good as they got in that second period. 
When the visitors went down to 10 men for one too many midfield non-compliance's the game was up. A fine win for Chorley against a decent AFC Fylde side who seem to be encountering a few gearbox problems at the moment? Great place to watch a game of football. 
The Match Tank returned us towards the Pennine's via Adlington on the A6 meeting the M61 adjacent to the brightly lit Reebok Stadium were Bolton Wanderers had just been hosting Middlesbrough (poor buggers). Frugal Glenn got one of his remnant samosa's out of his bread bag, obviously a survivor from the carnage of the previous nights unsavoury proceedings, we both agreed we'd picked the better place to be that afternoon.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Atherton Collieries 6 Bacup & Rossendale Borough 0

Monday 30th December 2013
North West Counties League Challenge Cup 2nd Round
Attendance: 76
Admission: £5
Programme: £1 (oh dear)
Tea Hut Stuff: Pigged out before I got there
Weather: Chilly but calm evening after a stormy day
Parking: 20 yards from the turnstile
"In the bleak mid winter" goes that hymn I always remember from school. Never was it more apt. After weeks of storms, gales and driving rain it was a miracle that this stand alone fixture survived the elements one day before New Years Eve. I've been to Colls before but never witnessed a match, I was a victim of a daft late postponement a couple of seasons ago that left me fuming at the gate. I swore never to return. I gave in, mainly as a result of post christmas boredom as day after day of crap tv and gross over indulgence took a grip. I have to give full credit to the Colls groundstaff for getting this game on against all the odds. The pitch was understandably a bit of a glue pot as the game wore on but they had done a fantastic job of providing a playable surface under the circumstances. I'm sure everyone thought it was well worth the effort as well, that is apart from the Brent Peters Bacup squad in the 'Pepto Bismol' style pink away kit. 'Pepto' is famed for its unique diarrhoea control, apart from the garish pinky colour it certainly had little in common with the visitors leaking defence during the game? 
I got the Match Tank safely parked down one of the tight backstreets surrounding the ground and entered the stadium via the brick built turnstile with the famous art deco lettering. 
I rashly gambled on a programme as it was rumoured that the North West Counties League hell raiser and new world journo Joseph Gibbons put a lot of it together. Bit of a bummer that the Bacup edition had received a diluted contribution from the editorial team due to some apparent printing difficulties and the muddled mid holiday planning of the fixture. I feared the worst when the first third of the programme got swallowed up by adverts for economy funerals, portable toilet deals and other local traders, ratings plummeted even further on my 1 to 10 scale when the first inch of the comments page went missing due to probable printer misalignment. I only paid a quid for it but sadly I have to say, I was ripped off. The Alder House ground has a bit of a well worn feel to it but still manages a quirky but homely charm of no frills non league architecture. 
It has the usual little main stand running towards the corner flag (why are so many non league stands down near corner flags rather than in more sensible halfway line positions?), there are some portakabin style changing rooms behind the nets with the snazzy addition of one of those fancy tunnel covers,
an imposing black and white striped tea hut on the far side (I'd had a very big dinner before heading down from the hills so I didn't get involved in tea hut action on this occasion), 
there is also a nice warm clubhouse full of half cut blokes supping lots of pints 
and finally we get to a further covered seating area down the touchline which housed a single solitary groundhopper all the way from Alfreton for long spells of this game (nice friendly chap he was too). 

As regards the match it was great if you happened to be a Colls fan but pretty much pants for the neutral (dare I say it 'suicidal' if you were supporting Bacup). The young Colls side from the lower division to their Premier League visitors handed out a calculated tonking and basked in the glory that a full-on 6 nil drubbing provides. 
The game was never in doubt right from an early 2-0 dart from the blocks and Bacup ended up chasing shadows for the rest of the chilly nights proceedings, much to the dismay and anger of a typically lyrical Brent Peters in the dug out from hell.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Missing in action... or not?

Have you seen this Hopper
Apparently the Match Tank is back on the road

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Shoot Advert

From an age when football magazines were eagerly awaited by the public. I couldn't wait to get down to the newsagents. The new 'Shoot' publication with its glossy colour pictures and team tab charts was just the ticket.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Curzon Ashton 4 Salford City 0

Monday 21st October 2013
Evo Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 North
Attendance: 165
Admission: £3
Programme: £1.60
Tea Hut Item Sir? Not tonight Doreen
Weather: Dry & mild after a day full of rain
Parking: Club car park
"I am the passenger and I ride and I ride
I ride through the city's backsides
I see the stars come out of the sky
Yeah, the bright and hollow sky
You know it looks so good tonight"

Well so Iggy Pop sang? I certainly drove through the backsides of Oldham and Ashton to get to this game but unlike in the song this urban retreat didn't look that good at all I'm afraid. Bit like the Salford City performance.

Curzon Ashton look a cracking side this season and they had very little trouble swotting aside a lacklustre opposition who were sadly non reminiscent of previous Salford teams I've enjoyed watching. Where was the spirit, where was the fight, more to the point where was the football, to be blunt but perfectly honest... Salford were crap.

The Tameside Stadium is a nice enough ground and its seen many visitors from avid home and away fans to half-masted deranged groundhoppers over recent seasons, needless to say I'm not boring myself (and you) with yet another set of sterile daft pictures of big concrete empty terraces and a main stand straight from a lego box. Me and 18 other sad lost souls on the far side of the ground waited 7 full minutes past official kick off time for the referee to finish watching his favourite Monday night soap opera. After his Tetley tea and jammy dodgers we finally got around to the action (I wish).

Curzon coasted it from start to finish and hardly went higher than third gear. The Ashton side have not lost a league game all season and went 3 points clear at the top of the table after this light training session.

Never been a big fan of Monday night football, just needed some fresh air after a gloomy long day of rain, rain and rain, at least it was a dry evening over this part of the North West. Dont think I'll be doing any more Monday games for a while though.

Keep an eye out for Curzon Ashton, some good players and some attractive tactics. As for Salford, hate to say I fear the worst, I caught them a few weeks ago when they got a better result against Bamber Bridge but there's something not right, the style of football stutters and fragments far too easily, not sure if its the players needing to gel or too many Plan B's confusing confidence and consistency? They need to sort it out quick before they get sucked too close to the vent.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Witton Albion 2 FC United 2

Saturday 19th October 2013
FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round
Attendance: 693
Admission: £9.50
Programme: £2
Tea Hut Stuff: Meat and Potato Pie £1.60, Tea £1
Weather: Sunny spells turning cloudy, mild
Parking: Club car park
Uncut grumpy visit reporting is back in vogue. I've done the excellent Witton ground before so there's no twee little photographs or bland supportive statements about how nice it all is. As a token gesture I've put a pic of the programme up. There's too much arse-licking in non league blogging these days.

Flags, flares and a fashionable Karl Marginson v-neck, the best supported side in the NPL were in town. Although I reckon Albions officials perhaps expected more? They were block stacking the car park upon my 2.35 arrival, thankfully I got the Match Tank adjacent to the pot holed escape lane.

Wonder pies, smelly hot dogs and over priced tea bag stuff poured out from snack bar nirvana, my Meat and Potato was the best in 3 years, kid you not (almost as good as Glossop).

End to end football with chances a-la plenty. This was no hoof-a-thon fest. You always detect a good game when the time zips by. The flat capper next to me just giggled as Albion missed another 1 on 1 sitter.

FC's new signing Amjad Iqbal provided a faultless master class at centre back, perhaps he should have been down the road at Old Trafford? This bloke can play.

The FC fans sang the whole game long, Witton joined in a bit second half with that old dancehall classic 'Albion, Albion, Albion, Albion, Albion, Albion' (no problem remembering the lyrics then).

Late equaliser for the home boys before me and Noah surfed the storm from hell all the way home to the Pennine Hills. Did it rain or what! Think the 'odd light shower' forecast by those London luvin BBC smug faced weather droids was yet again totally incorrect. No apology given by em either. I nearly drowned on the M62 eastbound.

They do the Trophy tango again this coming Wednesday over at the wonderfully depressing Gigg Lane. Black puddings and tripe are strictly optional but remember the pies are pretty crap. Cant wait until FC can get that new ground built.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Rhyl 0 The New Saints 2

Saturday 12th October 2013
Welsh Premier League
Attendance: 814
Admission: £7
Programme: £2
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea bag £1
Parking: Club car park
Weather: Slate grey sky, slightly blustery, remained dry
Made the effort to get to Rhyl before lunchtime so I could have a nice walk down the promenade and look at the sea. This proved rather uplifting despite the backdrop of massed banks of off-shore wind farms. I'm afraid the vista got a lot worse when ones eye followed the horizon inland to the autumnal realisation of a typical British seaside resort and Rhyl's slightly sleazy run down sea front. The tarnished charm of the place wasn't helped by a slate grey sky and a chilled gusty breeze. A bingo caller was addressing two fat ladies in an empty amusement arcade, above it the flats for rent with the stained curtains looked like they'd been caught in the crossfire of some military fallout on the Gaza Strip. Never mind, I'd had a good walk and headed back to the Match Tank, the only people around seemed to be a few pensioners walking dogs, the obligatory jogger with the fancy DJ headphones and the standard sea front alcoholic knocking back a pre dinnertime bottle of cut price plonk. I decided to head for the ground.
Rhyl were back in the Premier League (Welsh style) this season and todays visitors TNS are the current champions. Looked a really decent fixture on paper and I was looking forward to the Rhyl side using home advantage to put the full time TNS fancy dans through their paces despite the visitors already being up the top end of the table again.
The ground is a fairly low level stadium with seating on all four sides, the car park end is open to the elements with the dominant 'Lillywhites Legends Lounge' looming large behind it, all the other sides of the ground have cover. I must say it looks a decent little stadium with a fine playing surface, perhaps the only gripe is that there are a lot of stanchions which can impede a clear view of the action.
I purchased a £2 programme which was well overpriced despite a couple of interesting articles from Rob Marshall, without his witty content it would have been purely daylight robbery. Next up was the Tea Hut or should I say 'canteen' as they are identified in the ground. I was having speciality pie and chips for my supper after the drive home so I was in the market for a decent looking burger. Unfortunately I was not enticed to part with £2.50 for what looked like an economy button burger on a tiny white roll, it just didn't seem value for money. I ended up just getting a tea for £1 a bag, I still had a remnant sandwich in the Match Tank which I'd eat after the game. I sincerely hoped the game would be better than what I'd seen so far with the programme and the catering?
I took a seat near the halfway line in the stand of many stanchions under the Sgorio TV gantry. A couple of TNS pie monsters were grumbling about a lack of ascertainable pasty filling and wiping gravy stained freezer-shop chips off their car coats.
As the game got underway I was amazed how well that TNS were passing the ball about. This kind of structured calm mannered approach is a rarity at the non league levels I'm more familiar with. TNS quickly went 1-0 up and Rhyl had still to touch the ball? After another 10 minutes this slow building TNS passing game was still going on, the ball was going from side to side, back to the keeper, then side to side to side again and eventually they would get near the 18 yard box before they'd lose possession and somebody from Rhyl would blindly hoof it upfield for it to all start all over again. In a non league football world where 3 passes on the trot can bring gasps of incredulous admiration this was like watching a bargain priced PoundLand version of Spain. Then it struck me that I had been utterly stupid to not clearly recognise that the home side where continually sat back mega-deep entirely in their own half with only one bloke up front and even he hardly ever got over the centre circle. Unbelievably Rhyl looked like their entire game plan was to just keep the score down! They had no intention of coming out of the defensive parked-up-coach across the 18 yard area to take part in a football match (period).
What could earlier have been construed to be fine passing football had now become a boring training ground example of simple 'attack and defence'. If the Rhyl public have to watch this gutless drivel every week I'm surprised they get an attendance in the stadium at all, TNS simply coasted it without any sign of fight-back resistance from the home side. Sadly, despite some locals saying 'the lads' would come out fighting for the second half, they failed to change tactics. Why they didn't decide to have a go is beyond me, they were getting beat and showed zero capability of getting back in the match, why not shake things up, get forward and have a go at getting something, anything, even pride from the game?
TNS went 2-0 up in that second period and still Rhyl failed to challenge them. Surely their players cannot be so inferior that they just defend and chase TNS tails all afternoon, why not put more people forward, get the ball wide, apply more pressure down the flanks? The whole game fizzled out as any kind of watchable spectacle well before the end, TNS strolled around with the ball at will (mainly from side to side) as the home supporters started to head home shaking their heads in disappointment, whether this was a recurring theme or I had just caught 'The Rhyl Experience' on a bad day is open to debate.