Saturday 6th February 2010
North West Counties League Premier Division
Maine Road FC 0 Newcastle Town 2
Tea hut purchases: Tea 50p, Meat & Potato Pie £1.20p
Weather: Cloudless sunshine and reasonably mild
Parking: Club car park, easy getaway
The ground at Brantingham Road could be classed 'basic' but it appeared resplendently neat, tidy and shiny in the nice Manchester sunshine. What a wonder to receive a decent day for a football match. Time to forget about ice, snow and grit-lock, at least until next week. The team renowned for nurturing good junior players were taking on the runaway juggernaut from Staffordshire. 'The machine that won't switch off' had won 24 games out of 24, hammered in 74 goals and conceded only 7. I was a tad surprised a few more spectators had not tagged along to see this wonder of modern NWCL football, especially on such a glorious afternoon.
The bogs were locked but the tea hut was open and the old container served up economical tea at 50p a cup and Hollands pies for £1-20p, a lot more affordable than the wallet fleecing currently adopted by a few bigger name clubs in non league circles of late. The club deserves a lot of credit for providing the tea hut profile with limited attendances, lets hope people keep eating the pies and funding the service. I was directed to the changing room block for my pre-match toilet break, what an honour, I was going to have a bath and a few oranges but thought better of it. I later learned that a more public facility was open in the club building near the car park.
The match was more or less controlled by Newcastle throughout with quite a few chances being squandered. The two goals when they did arrive were both very scrappy affairs and Maine Road certainly did their utmost to get in and about the visitors and hit them on the break. One can see why Newcastle have opened up such a significant lead at the top of the table, (second placed Ramsbottom trail them by 25 points), they do play some quality football and are a joy to watch in full flow. For so long this club have missed out on the big league honours, I think this season its already a done deal and they'll get what they've chased for such a long time. Maine Road deserve credit for never giving up in this game a fact reflected by some hefty full on challenges in the final quarter, it reminded me of proper football with Roy of the Rovers style tackling. All in all this was an enjoyable afternoon and I would recommend a visit to Brantingham Road for non league aficianados who may visit the Greater Manchester area, it is not palatial, so dont go expecting fancy frills but I did find it to be a great little place to watch a football match.