Tuesday 7th August 2012
North West Counties League Premier Division
AFC BLACKPOOL 0 PADIHAM 1
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea 60p
Weather: Gloriously sunny evening on the Fylde coast
Parking: Sports field car park around the corner
Decided to take advantage of freak sunshine and get over to the Fylde coast again. I was only at nearby Squires Gate FC on Saturday, tonight I had the pleasure of a couple of hours by the sea before sampling AFC Blackpool taking on Padiham from over Burnley way. Arriving in Blackpool around 5.15pm I drove the Match Shed northwards up the promenade to the nice little setting of Cleveleys, it looked a picture in the sunshine, the tide was going out and so were all the day trippers. Feeling a tad peckish I headed straight for Kays Award Winning Fish and Chip Restaurant & Takeaway. It appears there are a lot of award winning chippy's in this part of the world, every other one you come across has won something or other? Kays is adjacent to the small bus station just off the main street. I couldn't resist another big wrap up of freshly cooked fish and chips (twice in 4 days I've done this in Blackpool, oh dear). I took it to the sea front and sat at a charismatically designed stone table and chairs which had been introduced as part of the recently upgraded promenade. It was quiet by now and I had a great 'next to the sea' setting for my big tea.
It was good grub but I was bloody full afterwards, time for another explicit edition of pant-busters. After a bit of a stroll it was back in the Match Shed for tonights big game. I wasn't thrilled to find AFC Blackpool charging a quid extra than normal for the NWCL, £6... I hope this doesn't become a trend at other grounds but at least they were only charging 60p for a tea, not the usual quid a tea bag rip-off you get at a lot of grounds these days. It took me ages to get served at the Tea Hut counter (which is inside the clubhouse), some bloke from Padiham was ordering multiple trays of pie, mushy peas and gravy, and I thought I was a greedy b*stard! It appeared that the lady dishing it out wasn't that familiar with bulk volume orders of this magnitude. Is there some kind of food shortage in Padiham at the moment? I've been to the ground before and it boasts a stand on all four sides, there is seating down both touchlines, firstly outside the clubhouse and secondly across the pitch in the stand that separates the two dug outs. Both ends have a decent sized covered terrace, one of which tonight had 3 old timers sprawled out in fancy garden armchairs! The pitch looked in very good order and complimented a ground that looked a credit to the league on such a fine warm evening. I took my tea for a stroll around the ground and was surprised to come across a chap in the dug out stand seats making calls on his phone to some club official about people he could see sneaking in by pushing aside one of the gates next to the adjoining industrial estate. He gave a full photo-fit description.... I half expected a swat team in a helicopter soaring over the horizon. I suppose its in the best interests of the club, or perhaps they should fix the dodgy gate?
I decided to sit in the dug out stand seats for the first half of the game, it was just me, the spotter and one other bloke when the teams came out. I realised I was sitting nearest to the Blackpool dug out. Within 5 minutes I was surrounded by various members of the Management crew, some subs and a host of other characters who all seemed to arrive from the changing room side of the opposite clubhouse. This wasn't Manager, Assistant plus one or two others.... it was a bloody coach party! Within seconds the Blackpool management team were off and running on what was to be an 'Olympic Standard' exhibition of non stop moaning, groaning, insults and intimidation. Some of it was extremely amusing, even comical but there was another edge to it which was sometimes distasteful and a little bit out of order. Their primary focus of attention for long periods of the match was the female referee, the Assistant Manager was moaning about her to everyone in earshot before we'd even kicked off!
Personally I thought the Referee had a very good game in difficult circumstances, as Padihams Management team had a very vocal and abrasive nature as well (although not to the levels that the home side went to), even one of those full time TV Premiership showboating refs would have been seeking shelter and sanctuary tonight. The Lady official got the decisions more or less bang on (but thats from a neutrals perspective). What made the game so difficult to watch, never mind officiate was the niggling, gritty nature of the football. It wasn't a dirty game but to be perfectly honest I considered this to be an ugly, brute force type of a match. Quality didn't turn up to the party I'm afraid, it was a room full of hoofers, chargers and shouters. Passing appeared difficult, attempts on goal infrequent, anything on target could be deemed very minimal indeed. Both sides will doubtless play a lot better than this during the season but for tonights summing up... I'm afraid it was bloody awful. Padiham looked the more cohesive of the two sides and had around a 60-40% possession rate. The only goal of the game came on the hour mark from a well hit Andrew Tinker strike. The chances of a Blackpool comeback appeared a bit thin on the ground and despite a lot of huffing and puffing, alongside abusive comments to the Referee which resulted in the Blackpool Assistant being reprimanded on the touchline, Padiham clinically saw out the last half hour.
Despite the warning there were still random ongoing loud shouts from the vicinity of those gathered around the home team bench that the Referee was a "stupid cow", and... "its not fu*king netball love", both of which were completely unfair and totally out of order, also.. on a slightly separate footing, one of the Padiham members of the Management team was called a "short arsed baldy b*stard". As the football on the pitch died a slow death, things got even more heated on the touchline, when a Padiham player was sent off in the last minute, something must have been said between dug outs, it looked like one of the Padiham bench was trying to get at their opposite numbers up the touchline (I may be wrong, it was a bit gloomy at that stage but something was going on, the chap had to be held back by his colleagues). At least it kept most of the crowd there until the final whistle (all 55 of us). Surely teams like AFC Blackpool and Squires Gate FC deserve more local support than they get on the Fylde coast. Its worth the admission charge just to see the Blackpool bench in full flow, never mind what you get on the pitch! Anyway, a big cheer went up when the Referee finally blew up, a good 3 points for Padiham and it looked like half the crowd were away fans anyway. Blackpool will be hurting for getting beaten so early at home, especially after a good away win at the weekend at newcomers Norton. They can do a lot better than this I reckon?