Saturday 26th March,Evo Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 North,
Trafford 1 AFC Fylde 4,
Tea hut purchases: Cheeseburger £2.50, Tea 80p,
Parking: Car park outside the entrance, easy getaway I picked Frugal Glenn up from outside Booze Busters and swung the Match Shed around for the M62 come M60 around Manchester. It wasn't even dinner time. Due to the 'Overpaid-Spoilt-Jessies-Eleven' playing Wales this afternoon live on Sky a lot of non league sides chose to kick off at 1pm, Trafford was one of them. Cannot blame them really, its probable that more punters would turn up for an early kick off rather than not at all with the 3pm game on the telly (even it is the overpriced characterless Sky version that most people watch in the pub). Can you believe we didn't even get delayed highlights on terrestrial tv for this international qualifying status match, I'd only have a good moan anyway but thats not the point, pay for view television has already taken rugby league and cricket away from the normal man in the street and nowadays we're left to pay our extortionate BBC licence for a bit of poxy cycling, boring womens swimming and a few sports cars following each other around millionaires race tracks! Give me the Northern Premier League live action any day. As we approached Junction 10 of the M60 I half expected a traffic jam, besides this being the turn off for Trafford FC its also the connection for the unholy designer shopping hell of The Trafford Centre (cue shiver from Frugal Glenn), I kept a firm grip of the Match Shed steering wheel, dozens of daft women in big 4 x 4's were swopping lanes at random and generally failing to drive in a straight line, the Match Shed didn't like it one bit. Miraculously I got the car down the slip road without any of the women hitting us. No sooner had I got within a couple of miles of the ground when I discovered the local council had closed the road. Some jobsworths on triple time were digging a hole on the very road junction highlighted on my scribbled directions for the ground (unbelievable, I know). I thought councils didn't have any money any more? The only reason the road was closed wasn't because of the hole, that was on the pavement, it was for parking the bloody vehicle that they came in! Frugal Glenn admirably took on the responsibility of emergency navigator and promptly directed me into a multi storey car park (with no 'U' turns) in Urmston town centre. He was immediately sacked.Half an hour later we picked up some diversion signs and luckily fell upon the Shawe View Stadium, the nicely kept home of Trafford Football Club. You take a sharp corner by the Bird in Hand pub and the narrow lane takes you down to a spacious and well maintained large car park directly adjacent to the turnstile entrance. A gang of well dressed Fylde committee looking men entered the ground at the same time as me and Frugal, they made a direct dash for the Tea Hut (they looked pretty hungry) only to be extremely disappointed that the shutters were still down and it wasn't yet open for business despite it only being 30 minutes to kick off. To make the situation worse you could hear the burgers sizzling as they pre-prepared them on the griddle inside the hut, that gorgeous smoky smell of flash frying beef wafted out towards the slavering Fylde committee men who stomped around for a short while before following me and Frugal Glenn into the tiny bar in a nearby portakabin. I ordered a pint of Stella at £2.90, I needed a drink after all that stress in the Match Shed. We watched the end of Englands innings in the Cricket World Cup clash against Sri Lanka on the big screen, it was obvious we hadn't got enough runs.Ten minutes before kick off we were back pitch side and in a rather large queue for the 'now-opened' Tea Hut. Unfortunately the Fylde committee mob were ahead of us in the queue and appeared to be buying in bulk. Two nice ladies seemed to be doing a good job of getting everyone served and we were soon at the counter. I was taken aback at Frugal Glenn placing his biggest ever order at a football ground Tea Hut, it turned out his wife had put him on a diet and he'd been struggling for over two weeks now. He promptly ordered Chicken Curry Pie, Peas and Gravy with a Bovril on the side. I noted that the hut was dishing out Peters Pies which I've not been too keen on in the past so I went for a large looking cheeseburger which came on a nice fresh roll. It was most enjoyable which is nice to note after quite a few bad experiences at other grounds in the recent past. Frugal Glenn liked his purchase as well, apparently the Peters Pie was spot on? Looking around the Shawe View ground it comes across as an appealing environment to watch football, its well kept and has a spacious feel to it whilst still offering good views of the action.It has stands on 3 sides all of an identical structure, the two down each touchline offer seating and the one behind the nets offers a covered terrace, just beside the covered end a young lad with a rucksack pulled out a large Trafford FC flag and hung it on the nearby fence, there wasn't a massive crowd today and it was good to see a bit of enthusiasm for the local team, especially from the younger elements, lets remember Old Trafford is only a short distance from here. The match programme gives a good run down of the squads and recent performances, all in all a decent publication. Trafford are 16th in the NPL Division 1 North and have had a couple of welcome away wins recently against well respected opposition, namely Chorley and Clitheroe. AFC Fylde have strengthened their profile this term and currently reside in 4th spot in the table, they beat Lancaster City 4-1 earlier in the week, todays game had the makings of an interesting encounter. I dont think it was the Barcelona type kit that Fylde played in but they certainly put on a master class of entertaining passing football in the first 45 minutes. The first goal went in with only half a minute on the clock and by half time they were 3-0 up. To their credit the young Trafford side tried to match them and played some very neat football themselves, they never gave up but they couldn't create the clear opportunities to get back in the game.Shawe View offers a nice level looking playing surface but there did appear to be a few bobbly patches on closer scrutiny, not a critisism as there was a hell of a lot of good passing football on offer in this game, usually its hard to truly judge a pitch as the ball is usually being hoofed twenty yards up in the air. I'd say the pitch at Trafford compliments the high standard of the rest of the ground. AFC Fylde certainly appear a very good side, whether they can take the momentum to some end of season reward remains to be seen, they seemed to ease back a bit in the second half and let Trafford come onto them a little more but the game was never in doubt, they went 4-0 up when Michael Barnes finshed off a sublime move in the 58th minute, Trafford bagged a consolation goal when Kyle Harrops cross come shot sneaked over the keeper with a minute left to play. All in all a very convincing high quality performance from AFC Fylde, I'm impressed! They look strong in every department.Having said that I do feel there is some hope for this young Trafford side, they play the game the right way and with a bit more punch up front they could well develop into something like the finished article, Centre Forward Tom Bentham could do with a bit more support when they go forward, perhaps too often he was left on his own against some very competent Fylde defenders. I do hope they keep trying to play the right way though, such a welcome change after weeks of watching hoof-ball across the Northern Leagues. It was back to the Match Shed for me and Frugal Glenn come full time, neither of us fancied cramming into the portakabin bar to watch The Playboys on Sky, no disrespect to the portakabin bar either (my glass of Stella earlier in the day was first class), it looked a great place for a quite pint under more normal circumstances, besides Frugal Glenn had a date with a plate of grated carrot and iceberg lettuce.