Saturday 4th July 2015
Pre Season Friendly
WYTHENSHAWE TOWN 3 OLDHAM ATHLETIC ACADEMY 1
Programme: £1 and very good too
Tea Hut Stuff: Still full from a big bowl of Alpen and some sausage sandwiches
Weather: Sultry sunshine, bit breezy at times but still very warm
Parking: On Timpson Road behind Tesco's just up from the gate
The Invincibles of Ericstan Park. Apparently Manchesters biggest kept secret. Quite simply put, if you come here you get beat, end of. Wythenshawe Town wup opposition football teams for fun, the Cheshire League side won no less than 4 trophies last season and are continually improving a vibrant go-forward infrastructure that most non league sides can only dream about. I've been meaning to witness what all the fuss was about for ages, today I got the chance and I wasn't disappointed.
The Match Shed took the M60 via Stockport before trundling down the A560 towards Altrincham, when you pass Macdonalds take the next left at the Shell Garage then first right down Timpson Road behind the big Tesco. I got there half an hour early for the 1pm kick off and bagged one of the highly recommended programmes. There's no turnstile so to speak, just a friendly chap with a table, it was 2 quid to get in and £1 for a really good programme that puts a lot of non league publications to shame, choc full of first class photography and plenty of topical news and views, almost rekindles my hopes that you can still produce jolly good programmes at this level after all.
First impressions looking around the ground proved promising, the playing surface looked excellent. There is a decent sized social club behind the Tesco end with small stands on both adjacent touch lines, the whole stadium is neat and tidy and the general feeling is that the ground provides a homely well maintained environment to watch decent football. I also heard there are more plans to develop the ground further, mention of new stands was made? Everything seems to be on the up at this club, you cannot miss the positive vibe and well grounded culture of community spirit.
Todays visitors were the Oldham Athletic Academy side. The youngsters had a good following of supporters making the trip including the noisy and very enthusiastic Athletico's. This bunch of noisy Latics fans parked themselves in one of the two small stands and proceeded to yell and chant non stop, brief highlights included someone letting off a flare, low points inevitably focused on somebody banging away at a drum for an hour and a half, a bit bizarre behaviour for what was an under 18's Oldham side in a pre season leg stretcher? Whatever turns you on I suppose. As long as you didn't get too close to them you had to admire their relentless enthusiasm.
Wythenshawe romped away with the Cheshire League Division 2 last season, they won every single game, their top scorer was Ben Brooks who knocked in no less than 51 goals. Today would be a stiffer task but the home side simply got on with it and did the business.
In a game sectioned into three thirty minute periods I witnessed a sparkling first 30 minutes with the live wire Brooks causing panic alarms in the Oldham defence every time he got on the ball, he looks a tremendous player and he was well supported by the marauding Ben Connolly.
The second section fell a bit flat as the sultry heat took its toll but we did get a decent finale in the last period as both sides continued to play open football and knock the ball about. Town took the honours 3-1 and that seemed a fair result on the day. Oldham had some good youngsters on show particularly at the back but the commitment and efficiency of a positively set up Wythenshawe side proved too much for them on the day.
For an early pre season friendly there was a very good turn out of 271 spectators who all seemed to enjoy the friendly setting. Seemed like plenty of chips and pints of ale got consumed in the process. First games of the season, especially friendlies can often turn out to be pretty much pants, I was fortunate enough to witness a decent game and I also got to visit a new ground. If you happen to live in the Manchester area you can do far worse than come down here for your football fix, forget the bank-loan admission charges of the big boys, its 2 quid here for attractive attacking football, friendly faces and a good day out. Enjoyable indeed, liked it.