Wednesday 11th August
North West Counties Premier Division
Bacup Borough 1 Padiham 1
Tea hut purchase: I'd had a big tea!
Weather: Early sunshine turning dull, breezy and cold
Parking: Couple of streets away, easy exit
The North West Counties black pudding derby is not quite the same as the Serie-A Milanese derby, there are no helicopters, riot squads or local youths running around stabbing each others bottoms with pen-knives, they're more sensible and refined in East Lancashire, at this end of the Rossendale Valley they simply roll flat caps across their shoulders, sup a pint of bitter and bemoan the demise of tripe. Bacups ground is on Cowtoot Lane right at the top of a big hill, this is high altitude non-league 'moorland style'. As the match-shed struggled up the peak in second gear I drove past some sherpa's in green and white uniforms pulling some donkeys, it was the Asda home delivery service. Half the ground backs onto the open Pennines, the local cows (and I no I don't mean the women) had a great view of the action. Behind the School buildings and the Martin Peters Sports Bar you will find the respected Bacup cricket ground of Lanehead, an oval of greenery where superstars such as New Zealands Chris Cairns and the West Indian Roger Harper once played for the town in the much admired Lancashire League.Its rough and its certainly ready at the Borough ground. A credit they survive in such hard times, neighbours Nelson FC bit the dust (or should I say bog) just before pre-season, however, Bacup keep going and seem to be well structured and properly managed. Calling the shots and pulling the strings football wise are Manager Brent Peters and Head of Player Development Andy Hill, they can certainly be classed as two of the loudest dug out town criers in the game today, I certainly wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of them. One wonders what kind of old video collection Brent and Andy have at home, the match instructions bellowed out to the players somewhat resembled one of those dodgy artistic films often exported from places like Sweden in the 1970's, I had to wonder what any unsuspecting visitor walking past the outside of the ground would have thought? Brent and Andy were giving it all "GET IT OUT!... HARDER!... TIGHTER!... SQUEEZE THEM! (oh dear)... GET ROUND THE BACK! (oh err)... NOW PUT IT UP THE FRONT!" The local supporters didnt seem to twig and took it all as expected as the misplaced passes and defensive lapses took their toll.Both sides where giving this match their all, it was very frenetic but ultimately scrappy, everything was a 100 miles an hour, nobody had time or space to get their foot on the ball and direct any strategy into the proceedings. Another key factor which I personally thought may have had something to do with the misshapen football was the fact that the pitch was on the sloping side of the big hill. The linesman had to be attached to the far touchline pitchside wall by climbing ropes. Ok it wasn't that bad but there is a significant gradient from the hilltop touchline to the lower changing rooms side.Half time it was goalless, all the huff and puff had brought few clear cut chances The early evening sunshine which greeted the game had quickly disappeared and a chilly breeze began to strengthen, I wished I'd put an extra jumper on. Like 90% of the crowd I went into the Martin Peters Sports Bar for a warm from the cold. It looks pretty dull and pokey from outside but what a super environment once inside. The place was pretty much full and there was even a tea hut operation in full swing, in fact almost everyone in the room was in the queue, must be good tucker? I didn't partake as I was still full from a massive plate of sausages and bubble and squeak that I had for my tea. The bar also has a great collection of photographs adorning the walls, some great football images from the clubs history. The external half time action featured a local house starting the chimney up, I dont know what they were burning but it certainly wasn't coal, a thick plume of smoke turned half of Bacup into some type of Icelandic Volcano no-fly-zone in the space of 10 minutes flat.As the teams reappeared through the falling ash it was more of the same, kick, rush, hoof, charge etc. Bacup scored from a penalty but Padiham snatched an immediate scrappy equalizer, it was obvious with a half hour left this game was a bankers bet for a draw and so it proved. Not the most inspiring game I've seen so far this season but it was good to see the place and witness the local attractions. With the location up on that hill I can see why Bacup get so many postponements once the winter starts to bite.