Saturday 19th December 2009
UniBond First Division North
Leigh Genesis 4 AFC Fylde 1
Tea hut : Over £6 for 2 cups of tea and a meat & potato pie!
Weather: Freezing cold, snow showers
Parking: Car park at the ground, easy exit
All credit to Leigh for getting this game on, only 1 other game in the entire UniBond Leagues went ahead and that was on the plastic pitch at Woodley. It must have been a cost equation nightmare to run the undersoil heating with only 173 spectators braving the elements. Leigh have the benefit of such facilities at the impressive Sports Village Stadium and the pitch played very well indeed. The stadium looks the business from the outside as it pans out next to the equally resplendent Park Inn Hotel complex.
You have to buy your ticket before going through the turnstiles and it is upon entering the ground that you get your first impression that the plus factors of having a great stadium are also negated by the trappings of over-the-top corporate policies. "Is that a bag" asked the woman in a bright orange coat, she was pointing to a black photographers case slung over my shoulder, "Err, yes, I think it is" replied me, "Whats in it" snapped orange coat, "Its not a camera is it" she continued, "No, its just some semtex and a bottle of whisky for the match" I replied with my best strained smile, "Ok, so long as its not a camera, you cannot take pictures in here" retorted orange coat. The fact that she never looked in my bag probably proved she had only gone through stage 1 of her steward degree course. Unfortunately I was now going to have to be 'undercover' when attempting to take a few snaps, such a pity that some places adopt such a ridiculous policy, especially for non-league football. Glenn was with me for this visit, he had his odd sized shoes on again. He'd already informed me he only had 8 quid on him so could I kindly buy him a cup of tea (he'd blown his budget on getting in the ground, the tight sod). He walked back over to where I'd just escaped from the orange coat. He was shaking his head and telling me about a tea hut price list he'd just seen and apparently it was straight from Harrods. A half cup of tea in a paper cup cost £1.70! As I'd not had any food for over 2 hours, I also needed a pie, that was £2.70! I could have purchased 6 of the same Hollands variety of meat and potato pie at a well known supermarket for the same price, this was an absolute rip-off, a disgrace of massive proportions and something I would imagine the football club has little say over, probably more to do with the stadium management than Leigh Genesis. I calmed down by scoffing my pie and taking stock of the fact that I was lucky to be seeing a game today, so I should try and make the best of it.
The stadium stewards keep everyone in one half of the main stand so you cannot wander around, understandable in some respects but I would still have let people stand up behind the nearest goalmouth on a welcoming looking terrace. A few people had wandered into this area before kick off but the orange coats soon had them told off and back in their seats. It was really very cold indeed (almost too cold to sit down) and steam was continually swirling up from the floodlights. Both sides played some good football during the game, Leigh had more possession in the first half with a more direct style than the 'pass around the houses' approach of Fylde. Chances came and went at both ends but Leigh clinically finished the clear cut opportunities and had a 3-0 half time lead. The second half witnessed more 'ball-time' for Fylde but they never looked like clawing back the proceedings against a very well drilled home defence. It finished 4-1 and perhaps that scoreline slightly flattered Leigh but this was another 3 points they will gladly put in the bank and their impressive unbeaten home form in the first division continues.
Towards the end of the game various parts of my body had either gone numb or were providing intense pain from the sub-zero temperatures but it was good to get back on the groundhopping again, especially after some negative events in recent weeks, my thanks to Leigh Genesis for the opportunity, nice ground, mainly friendly people, shame about the camera policy and the tea hut charges (well actually it isn't really a tea hut, more like one of those concrete bunker type jobs underneath the stand). *I didn't really have semtex and whisky in my bag either.