Saturday 1st October
North West Counties League Challenge Cup 1st Round
OLDHAM BORO 3 ROCHDALE TOWN 0
Attendance: 24 (10 more came in when the gateman left)
Programme: £1.50 (An insult to match publications, rip off)
Tea Hut purchase: Frugal Glenn braved a cuppa soup at 90p
Weather: Bloody hot
Parking: On the street next to the car park
Oh dear! Apart from the plate of sausage and mash I had for my dinner before setting off, my match day afternoon was not very good, at all! The Match Shed had to battle with the usual batch of women drivers as they struggled to work out what to do at a roundabout and the temperature rose steadily to the point that it became nothing but uncomfortable. En-route to the Whitebank Stadium I briefed Frugal Glenn on the history of Oldham Boro and that they ground shared with Oldham Roughyeds Rugby League Club. Boro's opponents today in the first round of the North West Counties League Challenge Cup were Rochdale Town, local rivals from 6 miles down the road.
My background summary included reference to the fact that both sides had been doing a bit better than expected this season, so with it being a cup tie and a local derby we could be in for a good afternoons entertainment, how wrong could I be? It was bloody awful, and I mean AWFUL! Lets take it in order (some moans and groans being bigger than others), they charged 5 quid to get in when the standard in this division is £4, only a pound difference I know... but 20% more expensive than it should be. Next up is the match programme (if you are kind enough to call it that), I handed over £1.50 for nothing but a few pages of adverts, ground regulations and some bobbins about codes of conduct, there weren't even any fixtures, results or league tables, shocking!
An absolutely pants publication that was an insult to football programmes, to charge more than 20p for a match programme 'which had' very little match related content was scandalous. Perhaps a more serious problem to note was something which will doubtless effect every game played at this stadium, I'm talking about the pitch! It was in a terrible condition and its still the start of the season. Its badly rutted, grossly uneven and a nice crop of weeds are making a nice new home for themselves. This means any kind of ball control or even basic passing are items of a scarce rarity.
Obviously the pitch has been used by the Oldham Rugby League team during their summer season but for goodness sake, surely it can be given a bit of basic attention to simply flatten out the worst bits and get rid of some of the weeds. I would hate to come here every other week and suffer players struggling to play football on a ridiculous surface. This leads onto the game itself. I'm not exaggerating when I honestly state I cannot remember seeing a worse football match than what I stood and watched today, Frugal Glenn said the same, he wanted to go home early in the second half it was that bad.
The first half was pure rubbish with zero skill, zero quality and very little strategy or control, I'd seen much better boozy pub games on a Sunday morning than this trash. No wonder half time arrived with a 0-0 scoreline. Rochdale Town at least had a go at playing a bit of football in the second half but the pitch was getting the better of everybody (the photographs don't do it justice).
It was 75 minutes before either side managed a clear (on-target) attempt on goal. Oldham chased a random hoof upfield, the Rochdale keeper for some strange reason let it gently bounce over his head and one of the forwards following up tapped it into the empty net, a fitting goal to compliment this cup tie from hell. When Boro got another 2 goals in quick succession me and Frugal jumped for joy, we now knew for sure there wouldn't be any extra time. Frugals best moment of his (vowed) once only visit to the Whitebank Stadium had been his half time tomato cuppa soup in a proper cup.
Mine had been pre-match when I'd been lucky enough to be the first person in the single chemical toilet. What a shocker of an afternoon and thats despite the unseasonal wall to wall sunshine, such a change from last Monday night when I'd seen a cracker of a match between New Mills and Salford City.