Wednesday 1st January 2014
Evo Stik NPL Premier Division
CHORLEY 3 AFC FYLDE 1
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea £1
Weather: Blustery and grey, rain during the second half
Parking: Couple of streets away, easy exit
You can always get a good pie in Chorley, the local indoor market has loads of em, decent ones too, no rubbish street food in this town. There were quite a few pies on view at Victory Park as well. Chorley FC have not one but two busy tea huts and half an hour before kick off the locals were lined up out the door at the Magpies Nest which is the bigger of the two food outlets.
Frugal Glenn had travelled ahead to get us a couple of seats in the magnificent traditional grandstand, when I joined him he'd already had a row with some bloke because Frugal had refused to move up a seat to let some bloke and his tribe on the end of the row. One of the downsides of a majestic old style football stand is all the ironwork and stanchions that can impede your view of the goalmouths, if you naively 'move-up' you can end up looking at a rusting metal column for the rest of the afternoon. Frugal Glenn certainly isn't the kind of easy-touch-charity-do-gooder to give up his prime view of the proceedings for 3 snotty chair-kicker kids and a 'chancer' in a British Home Stores car coat. I think BHS man had somehow got the message and was nowhere in site upon my arrival?
Todays big game was the pick of a healthy looking New Years Day Evo Stik Premier Division schedule despite a few earlier casualties sinking away due to waterlogging. When will these storms and winds ever end? Chorley look a very strong outfit sitting in 3rd spot in the table with games in hand over both Worksop and Skelmersdale ahead of them. Visitors AFC Fylde are a quality footballing unit who had been many punters favourites for the title until they have recently hit a surprisingly poor run of form, they've dropped to sixth place and badly needed something from this game.
Despite plenty of rain in the period leading up to the match the Victory Park pitch looked in perfect condition for the time of year and superbly complimented what must surely be one of the most charismatic 'old school' football grounds left on the circuit. The grandstand itself warrants your admission money as it holds court over the two covered terraces at either end of the ground. Across the pitch from the Main Stand is the popular grass banking, which due to ridiculous league-authority health and safety reasons is now out of bounds for spectators. You can still watch the proceedings from the hard standing adjacent to the pitch but the grass bank is blocked off with 'trespassers will be shot' signs. I've written hundreds of Risk Assessments for a living but I'd never dream one up predicting a major foreseeable risk to health for watching a game of football on a shallow bit of grass, jobsworths!
I had a quick shifty through the match programme before kick off and it was pleasing to see a publication that had plenty to read, interesting articles, decent photographs and the uncommon realisation that is was actually value for money. Down by the turnstiles the last few spectators were grabbing a copy just before kick off.
A blustery wind was blowing towards the town centre end of the ground as the action got underway and this seemed to blow Chorley forward only for Fylde to attempt to pass their way out of trouble. Chances came and went but the game never reached the promise of a classic, now and again there would be a superb passage of play only for fragmentation and broken play to rear its head, hardly surprising considering the wind factor. Both sides got on the scoresheet and we seemed set for a 1-1 half time break. The 3 minutes of injury time changed this closely fought encounter completely. Chorley hitman James Dean whacked a screeching shot from outside the box straight into the top right hand corner of the Fylde net before running like a deranged madman into the arms of Gary Flitcroft and the rest of the coaching staff in front of the dug out, what a goal! Fylde looked visibly shell shocked, what a bad time to concede a goal. They kicked off, immediately lost possession, the ball was punted forwards down the right, the Fylde defence failed to react quickly enough, the wind seemed to caress the ball into the on rushing path of Chorley's Josh Hine and he somehow lobbed the ball over the keeper into the empty net, 3-1 to Chorley! The place went mad. Fylde looked totally soul destroyed.
The rain swept in for the second half, Frugal Glenn wanted us to stand up because his dodgy knee was giving him pain in the wooden seats of the Grandstand, an old war wound from his time as a yard dog centre half many years past. We ended up on the far touchline in front of the grass bank, needless to say we got wet. AFC Fylde steadfastly tried to play themselves back in the game but Chorley weren't for sitting back and they gave as good as they got in that second period.
When the visitors went down to 10 men for one too many midfield non-compliance's the game was up. A fine win for Chorley against a decent AFC Fylde side who seem to be encountering a few gearbox problems at the moment? Great place to watch a game of football.
The Match Tank returned us towards the Pennine's via Adlington on the A6 meeting the M61 adjacent to the brightly lit Reebok Stadium were Bolton Wanderers had just been hosting Middlesbrough (poor buggers). Frugal Glenn got one of his remnant samosa's out of his bread bag, obviously a survivor from the carnage of the previous nights unsavoury proceedings, we both agreed we'd picked the better place to be that afternoon.