Where's The Tea Hut reflects upon local football South West style with a few trips further afield. Keep the faith & stay safe.

Sunday, 30 August 2009


Saturday 29th August 2009
Blue Square Conference North
Droylsden 2 Fleetwood Town 0
Attendance: 449
Admission: £10 (Includes entrance to the seats)
Programme: £2 (Lots of pages but plenty of adverts)
Tea hut purchases: Tea 50p, Meat & Potato Pie (Peters) £1.50p
Weather: Kept dry but it was breezy and cool
Parking: Roadside, a couple of streets away, easy getaway
They came in from the coast, by car, by train and on an old well worn coach. You could hear them singing above their pints and you could spot them al fresco dining a-la 2.99 menu. Fleetwood Town had arrived in downtown Droylsden for the Conference North match of the day, it was 3rd against 4th. Expectations were high and passions seemed fully fuelled. The gate men waited for the late rush on the turnstiles and the programme seller re-checked his change, it looked like a scene from the 3.10 to Yuma. Both these respected sides have reputations for open, decent football and it wasn't long before Fleetwood got a bit too open and Droylsden bagged two decent goals. It was evident that Fleetwood had left their magic boots somewhere on the M55. Amidst rival chanting from small opposing choirs the afternoon settled down, Droylsden looked the part of smug hosts with a nice little lead, their prim pass and hold routines stifled the bubbling and vaporous Fleetwood attempts to claw back the match. This cancelling out process continued to run its course for the remainder of the match, obviously it suited Droylsden whilst more and more panic frequented Fleetwoods approach play, all of which muffled the high brow eloquent opera of classic football most of the crowd had been clearly hoping for. Come quarter to five it was a treasured scalp for the home side as their boisterous faithful loudly proclaimed throughout the aisles of the nearby shops. Droylsden had worked hard for the reward as had the young girls in the exceedingly busy tea hut, they must have taken a pretty penny, no wonder the serving staff looked fed up as they relentlessly jousted with the rampant hordes of scoff hungry supporters, I have to say my purchases left a lot to be desired, my 50p tea resembled a plastic egg cup in size and it gave me 2 quick slugs before deletion, I should have not been such a greedy sod with my pie purchase either, why didn't I heed the sight of previous punters returning dodgy pies to the girls instead of just carrying on regardless. When I took a bite of my meat and potato pie it was still pretty much cold. That kind of service was really not on.

Warrington Town

Friday 28th August 2009

FA Cup Preliminary Round
Warrington Town 1 Leigh Genesis 0
Attendance: 167
Admission: £7
Programme: £2 (Very informative with lots to read)
Tea hut purchase: Tea 70p (They sold out of pies)
Weather: A rather chilly evening after a day of showers
Parking: Roadside, 200 yards from the ground, easy exit

As the subtle fumes of stagnant chemicals gently wafted upwards and outwards from the Manchester Ship Canal, it gave a unique extra element to this local derby FA Cup dog-fight at Warrington Towns Cantilever Park. The showers had stopped leaving a zippy wet surface to glisten in the late evening sunshine. I swear I could smell chinese curry as I sat 'peckishly' in the small main stand? Apparently it was some type of tank cleansing agent sloshing around in the canal just a few feet behind me. I'd already clocked the tea bar on my way in and I planned to do a pre half time raid before the locals got their orders in. Unfortunately the match didn't live up to the hype of a cup tie classic but it was very competitive stuff throughout the full 90 minutes. Leigh Genesis (missing Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, apparently both cup-tied, sorry) played the more refined football, possibly a trait handed down by their manager, ex premier league star Gary Flitcroft (did you know his brother Dave is assistant manager at Rochdale). Anyway, it was against the run of play when Warrington scored from a long ball down the flank and boy did the home side set out to defend the lead. Leigh threw a lot at them in the second half but Town stood firm to earn a home tie in the next round against European playboys Nantwich Town. One utter tragedy from the nights proceedings was my absolute horror of finding out that the greedy locals had scoffed all the pies even before half time. I was actually in the queue when the bloke behind the counter announced the disaster, it took me a good 20 minutes to calm down, if I had been 2 minutes earlier or 2 places nearer the front I would have secured the last pie.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Rossendale United

Tuesday 25th August 2009
UniBond Northern Premier League Division 1 North
Rossendale United 1 Radcliffe Borough 3
Attendance: 146
Admission: £7
Programme: £1.50p (Not very good I'm afraid)
Tea hut purchases: Tea 70p, Meat & Potato Pie (Billingtons) £1.30p
Weather: Nice clear evening after a wet afternoon
Parking: Roadside, 50 yards from the ground, easy getaway
On a hillside above the village of Waterfoot nestling amidst the Rossendale Valley lies Dark Lane, home of The Stags (no not Mansfield Town, this is another lot). This fixture brought along Radcliffe Borough from the other side of Bury, I suppose you could call it a Black Pudding derby, this part of Lancashire is renowned for the delicacy. Hmm, the thought of food got me peckish. I checked out the tea hut which was inside a portakabin and I immediately invested in a nice meat and potato pie. I was informed it was a Billingtons pie which I took to be a local bakery. As with a lot of tea huts these days the place was doing a steady trade in frying up (what appeared to be) frozen chips, fine if you're mega hungry but they're never as good as proper chippy-chips, I decided not to eat-in at the politely placed tables and went back out into the sunshine. Whilst stuffing down my pie I realised a strange feature with the pitch markings, they were all significantly 'wonky', not just a bit wonky but really wonky. Images of Owd Ned the drunken groundsman staggering behind the line-gear with a bottle of Pursers Rum came to mind although there is probably a more reasonable justification for the strangely odd 'wandering' lines. Check em out if you ever do a visit. It was now time for the big match, Radcliffe quickly stamped their intentions to dominate the proceedings and the building pressure ended up with an early lead from a resultant penalty kick. Soon afterwards it was 2-0 to the visitors, this one came from one of the daftest own goals you could ever hope to see. A chip past the keeper from a Radcliffe forward saw the ball slowly bobbling towards the empty net, a Rossendale defender then arrived to save the day but instead of clearing the ball for a corner or even simply stopping it, he just blasted it straight into the nets! Rossendale were always going to struggle after that but they did produce a mini-fight back to make it 1-2 but more late pressure from Radcliffe saw 'Borough' ease home for some more points in what is turning out to be an impressive start to the season for them. The gathering swarm of midgies made the second half a bit of a pain but the visit was worth the effort. This hidden ground certainly looked fine in the August summer evening and there was always something going on to keep one occupied.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Alfreton Town

Saturday 22nd August 2009 Match 13
Conference North
Alfreton Town 1 Southport 1
Attendance: 448
Admission: £10
Programme: £2
Tea hut purchases: Tea £1, Steak pie (pukka variety) £2
Weather: Warm and sunny
Parking: Roadside, 75 yards from the ground, easy exit

"Hello, would you like to purchase a golden-garden ticket"? They don’t do golden-goal at Alfreton Town. Its much more fun to pick the number of the first winning house with the lucky garden the match ball ends up in. Replacement glass for greenhouses must be a boom market in this part of the world. The estate behind the club shop end of the Impact Arena (very apt name) suffered a Gaza Strip bombardment throughout most of the Southport match. The Nicky Laws (Alfreton manager) strategy of football is not pretty but probably effective. To say Alfreton were direct is an understatement, it was biff-bash-bosh in overdrive. Southport struggled to cope with it, I suppose they tried to counter it by adopting 3 strikers but the forwards never had the service. Midfield craft and culture had a day off. Two of the more respected sides in the division certainly had a good go at winning this match but both failed to complete their fundamental game plans, what resulted was fast and furious football but ultimately very scrappy entertainment. Chances came and went and it took a very late Southport equaliser to seal the draw in injury time. Personally I reckoned this was slightly unfair as Alfretons share of the chances had greatly outweighed Southports despite the manner that they arrived in. As for my opinions of the ground, I thought it was excellent. Ok, the seating doesn't offer the clearest of views but the charisma and friendliness of the place is first class. There is something about the uniformity of the low level 'red' outlook that provides a great feeling of 'real-stadium' presence. Very good programme as well. I also enjoyed my Pukka-steak-pie. Shame I had a stinker of a summer-cold, at least my relentlessly running nose (of Niagara proportions) provided me with plenty of room in the stand.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


Tuesday 18th August 2009 Match 12

UniBond Northern Premier League Division 1 North (what a mouthful)
Mossley 1 Colwyn Bay 4
Attendance: 182
Admission: £7
Programme: £2 (nice cover and a rewarding read 6/10)
Tea hut purchases: Tea £1, Steak and Kidney Pie £1.50p
Weather: Reasonably warm with some late sunshine
Parking: Roadside, 200 yards from the ground, easy exit

A few miles along the road from the tourist trap of Uppermill rests the scenic setting of Mossley football clubs Seel Park. The sloping pitch seems to drop off the side of a mountain beyond the far touchline. This dramatic feature leaves one of the best backdrops to a ground I have seen in quite some time, the sweeping glory of the sun kissed pennine moors beckons you to get your rucksack and muddy boots out (but not tonight). Mossley have that very nice cultural feel of a decent little non-league club. Keen local supporters and smartly dressed officials in blazers and ties, (one was selling the programmes from a little table just inside the turnstiles), all eager to see the match in such magnificent settings. How nice to see around 20 or 30 Colwyn Bay fans as well, its not an easy trip up to Manchester-way from the North Wales coast at any time, especially not for a midweek game. These same supporters soon had recompense for the mileage. Mossley got the lead from a defensive mix up but the visitors soon levelled and gradually started to run the proceedings with a fine all round performance which glistened with polish, pace and accuracy. Two more goals for the visitors early in the second half put paid to the hopes of the Mossley faithful but the local team still battled hard and never threw in the towel. I enjoyed a nice steak and kidney pie from the tea hut which was probably courtesy of 'Blainey Bakers' who had a smart little advert in the match programme. Another jolly good touch for the £7 admission was the hell-for-leather whirling hand-bag dance put on by the mixed contributions of both sides late in the game. Everybody got involved and it did look like there could be some pretty decent line dancers who could possibly be missing their true vocation (excellent stuff and nobody got hurt). To call it a fist-fight would be silly.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Krugg award for July 09

Each month I will present a club with the special 'Krugg Award' for the ground I have most enjoyed during that months visits. The Krugg Award results in a special selection of extra photographs being posted from the winning ground. As I am a renowned miser, the award does not carry any financial gain, neither is there any kind of trophy, however, the winning club will be able to say they 'won' the award above all the other clubs whom I visited in that particular month (without any disrespect to all the other locations, there is no such thing as a poor football ground).

The July 2009 contenders were:
Woodley Sports
Stone Dominoes
Curzon Ashton
Witton Albion
North Ferriby United
Willenhall Town

And the Krugg Award for July 2009 goes to.............

Here are the extra pictures from Wittons super stadium:

AFC Telford

Saturday 8th August 2009 Match 9
Conference North
AFC Telford 1 Blyth Spartans 1
Attendance: 1847
Weather: Muggy (warm) with cloud and sunny spells
Admission: £11 for both seats or terracing
Programme: £2 and reasonably good value for the money, 6/10
Tea hut purchase: None (everybody else seemed to be buying chips)
Parking: £2 on the club car park, easy getaway
Location in the ground: The Smelly Chip-Fat Stand. Time 2.50pm "You'll have to move along, you're sat in our seats" ordered the lady from Marks and Spencers. Time 2.55pm "These seats belong to us, you cannot sit here" said the smarmy 'T' shirt from 'Next' man. These charming and friendly interludes to my pre-match meditation came from Telford season ticket holders who had designated seats in the main stand. Unfortunately I had not down-loaded the brain implantment from the website to enable me to realise this. The silly-people in charge of this club had failed to even put a reserved sticker on the seats, so you sit there half an hour just to wait to be spoken to like a Bulgarian pick-pocket when the locals want their property back. As for the match, well done Blyth, an excellent spirited performance to totally spoil the party. The early goal rattled the home side and although they got a deserved equaliser, the draw was the fair result. Good to see quite a few Spartans fans there as well. All in all a pretty good match on an excellent pitch at a decent ground, just a pity about the incompetence of the clubs administration and the seat management procedures.
Match Rating 7/10

Pre Season Games Part 3

These are the final 2 pre season friendlies I attended out of a total of 8 (see Pre Season Games Parts 1 & 2 for the others).

Saturday 1st August 2009 Match 7
Southport 1 Rochdale 4 (F) 3pm

Admission: £7

Attendance: 481

Programme: 20p, basically a glorified team sheet.

Tea hut purchase: Tea £1

Weather: Mainly sunny and reasonably warm.

Parking: Roadside 150 yards from the ground, easy getaway.

I suppose it isn't the seaside anymore. The tide is so far away at Southport these days it’s not even on the horizon.
Greasy fish and chips, luvly Liverpool day-trippers and overflowing rubbish bins. Despite the tack it is still a nice town and all the better for a sunny afternoon. The Southport ground at famous Haig Avenue is one of the better ones in the Conference North division but why is everything 25% more expensive? Probably a lot of the dosh goes towards paying off the legion of stewards; I've never seen so many orange jackets and FBI identification badges. Some of them are so negative and indulgently 'up themselves' it’s unbelievable. For goodness sake it was a friendly against Rochdale. The match was pretty even for the first quarter, Southport even took the lead. After that it was one of the most one sided games I had seen in many a season. A very good Rochdale side tried out various tactics, all with success. They completely overwhelmed Southport to finish 4-1 victors. It could have been a more emphatic rout but the home side did well to stick at it and they never gave up. A decent trip and good weather. It would be wrong to judge Southport on this game, they could still turn out to be a force next season, players are still getting tuned-in. They also had the misfortune to come up against a quality side like Rochdale AFC who did look very impressive on the day.
Match rating 6/10
Tuesday 4th August 2009 Match 8
Stalybridge Celtic 0 Manchester City XI 7 (F) 7.30pm

Admission: £5

Attendance: 880

Programme: £1 for a folded piece of A4 paper (ridiculous).

Tea hut purchase: Not open until just before the game.

Weather: Fair, dry and mild.

Parking: Roadside, 100 yards from the ground, easy getaway.

They walked up the hill together. Bower Fold hidden in the distance. A mix of ever-eager-early season hopefuls. Conference North die hards with winter-worn blue and white scarves and the newly born glory hunters already in their City nylon. A decent crowd to see the revamped Stalybridge Celtic take on the Manchester City select from Eastlands changing room 'D'. After the nasty greeting of a club charging a full quid for 1 folded piece of A4 paper masquerading as a programme it was nice to see the tree lined glory of the scenic little ground again. *(I realise that I wasn't forced to buy this so-called programme and every club needs to make revenue but bluffing punters in such a shameless style is really out of order, even the printed numbers for the City squad didn't remotely match the reality of who was on the pitch). Celtic started like a train on fire but it didn't take long for the derailment. The youth and pace of the City side cut them apart (relentlessly). No first teamers or overpaid Jessies on show, just a very good standard of reserve and youth squad players. Apart from a middle of the game 'lull' to allow the local reporters to recharge their laptops, the young City players gave out a major lesson in football. The game ended 7-0 to City but they could easily have had 10 or 12, Stalybridge did create a few half chances and did produce some midfield flow but their defence was continually exploited on positional awareness and they only had the woodwork and the goalkeeper to thank for keeping the score down to just the seven. No wonder the keeper Paul Phillips got a good reception when he came off near the end; he was probably man of the match! I'm afraid a lot of the newly built Bridge got burned last night, whether they can put this game into context and recover some poise for the league opener against Redditch is open to speculation. It will certainly have made the management of the club reflect on this choice of opposition just a few days before the new campaign?

Match rating 7/10

Monday, 17 August 2009

Pre Season Games Part 2

Here is another instalment of some of the other games I went to pre-season:

Tuesday 21st July 2009 Match 4
Witton Albion 1 Fleetwood Town 3 (F) 7.45pm
Admission: £5.
Attendance: My head count noted about 95 spectators.
Programme: None available.
Tea-hut purchase: Tea 80p.
Weather: Sunny, most welcome after a day of rain.
A very keen Witton side hustled and bustled Fleetwood from the start and it was a frenetic match throughout. Despite going behind to a bit of a freak opening goal Fleetwood always had the ability to create that extra bit of space and produce the better football. I'm not going to write 10 chapters on 90 minutes play but suffice to say Fleetwood ended up 3-1 winners with an excellent well taken Chris Williams goal wrapping up the proceedings in the last few minutes. I know the obvious rule that friendlies mean little in assessing long-term capabilities, but all the same, Fleetwood do have some very good players and they did put together a number of quality moves that verify a certain degree of class and intent. I would agree with others (Conference North bods) that Fleetwood will certainly be one of the danger sides this coming season. They already look strong in most positions. A shame that Witton scrimped on the electricity bill. They didn't put the floodlights on until 9.20pm, by then it was almost the dark of night and we were into the last 10 minutes of the match. Had a nice cup of tea from the tea-hut but due to scoffing a number of sausage sandwiches before I set off I wasn't in the mood for any more grub. However, it did look pretty good stuff and an awful lot of the small crowd had their heads stuck in food trays. Nice to see a few Fleetwood fans as well. Match Rating 5/10

Saturday 25th July 2009 Match 5
North Ferriby United 0 Harrogate Town 1 (F) 3pm
Admission: £4
Attendance: Approximately 88
Programme: None available
Weather: Warm with sunny spells
Parking: Roadside, 300 yards from the ground, no problems, easy exit
Tea hut purchase(s): Tea 80p, Crisps 50p
Humber Bridge territory. Around 20 to 30 Harrogate Town fans had made the trip to the Unibond Premier League ground of North Ferriby United but there was not a lot of new season promise for their efforts. Harrogate struggled to put meaningful moves together and the accuracy of the final ball often proved a problem. North Ferriby United had the better of the game and certainly had enough worthwhile chances to comfortably win (what was) a competitive friendly. I can see the Harrogate defence having a tough time at some Conference North games this season.

Tuesday 28th July 2009 Match 6
Willenhall Town 3 Stafford Rangers 0 (F) 7.45pm
Admission: £3
Attendance: Approximately 130
Programme: None available

Weather: Rain then dry, cloudy and chilly
Parking: Club car park, directly next to the exit gate providing an easy getaway
Tea hut purchase(s): Tea 50p
Rain. Grey clouds. An industrial estate between Wolverhampton and Walsall. £3 quid and you're in. You cannot miss the padlocked lavatory block next to the turnstile. Many are hungry and in need of a warm drink. A big delicious Pukka Pie board is placed beside the tea hut but they don’t do pies. Its 50p for chemical tea.What a big, big pitch, it looks untouched from the games of last season. The main stand gives shelter but the seats are full of grime, I wait until the rain stops. Traversing behind the far goals is like a Bear Grylls out-take.Kick off brings the full realisation that the ball is going to reach the untold heights of 'bobble-factor 10', this is to such a degree that the match is definitely going to be 'unbalanced'. Paul Robinson would have a great time here For all these 'issues' one cannot help liking the basic but encouraging attitude of (Unibond Division 1 South) Willenhall Town FC, it is obvious that the supporters like the club and they are genuinely keen to get behind the team. They probably have little cash to spare and what they do have they use carefully. They played the better football tonight in very difficult conditions (probably it comes natural to them).And yes the rumours are true; they beat Stafford Rangers 3-0. Match Rating 4/10

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Stafford Rangers

Saturday 15th August 2009

Conference North
Stafford Rangers 2 Workington 0

Attendance: 452
Admission: £11 standing
Programme: £2
Tea-hut purchase: Tea 70p
Weather: Mainly sunny with the odd cloudy spell
Parking: Roadside, 200 yards away, easy getaway

Got in the ground around 2pm and took some pictures. Nice and tidy set up although the terracing was a little shallow.

Absolutely awful match. The Englebert Humperdink song 'Please Release Me Let Me Go' kept playing in my head as yet another hoof sent the ball towards the heavens. The second half of this desperately poor game had already given me terrible neck ache.Stafford were all huffing, puffing and hoofing, whilst Workington took an impressive lead in my worst team of the year competition (and boy, they will take some beating). Having to pay 11 quid to sample this dross was really not on. It would appear that admission charges in the Conference North are beginning to greatly exceed the value for money factor.

The tea-hut was a whirl of activity with sizzling, continuous clanging and lots of greasy smells. What was puzzling was the fact that this happened irrespective of any customers. My hot drink came courtesy of a 5 second dip of the tea bag before it was quickly 'slung-shot' to the waste bin, why the lady didn't leave the bag in my plastic cup to allow a bit of taste is beyond reasoning, perhaps its a local thing?

It took ages to get down the M6 for this visit, mainly due to the abundance of Burnley 'shirts' making their trip to Stoke.
Match rating: 2/10

Friday, 14 August 2009

Pre Season Games Part 1

Due to the late start of this seasons blog quite a few ground visits have already slipped the net. In an effort to apply some detail to these early forays I have decided to jot a rough summary regarding whom I went to see and where. Here goes:
Saturday 11th July - Friendly
Woodley Sports 1 Droylsden 3

Attendance 82, Admission £5, Match Rating 5/10

This place was near Stockport and sported a fine set up with a neat little ground and an excellent tea hut. The visitors played in training tops rather than the normal kit and seemed a little tentative about the condition of the Woodley pitch, it was astroturf (or something very much like it).

Tuesday 14th July - Friendly
Stone Dominoes 0 Stalybridge Celtic 4

Attendance 58, Admission £5, Match Rating 6/10

Having hung around Stafford services for ages following my pre-designated work-related appointment it was off to the lovely village of Yarnfield in the splendour of early evening sunshine. That was before the storm blew in and turned the place into a film set for one of those Vietnam war dramas based around paddy fields and lots of wet clothing. Celtic more or less bossed the match but Stone Dominoes never gave up and played their part in a decent match.

Saturday 18th July - Friendly

Curzon Ashton 5 Hyde United 1

Admission £4, Attendance 84, Match Rating 4/10

This was a really good ground for a Unibond Division 1 North club with a very nice stand and a large covered terrace. Sponsored by Greggs the bakers it appeared that nearly everybody was walking around scoffing something hot in pastry. I could come here again. The home side gave Conference North neighbours Hyde a right tatering and looked a well drilled unit indeed.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Northwich Victoria

Tuesday 11th August 2009

Conference North

Northwich Victoria 2 Farsley Celtic 1

Attendance: 520
Admission: £14 Seats, £12 Standing
Programme: £2 a decent enough effort earns 6/10
Refreshments: Cheeseburger £2.50pm, Tea £1
Parking: I avoided the £2 car-park and went 'roadside', easy getaway.
Weather: Rain, rain, rain, which eventually dried up in the second half.

The heavy industrial park setting of out of town Northwich on a damp Tuesday night provided a grim backdrop for this overpriced encounter. How any self respecting club at this level can expect people to pay £14 to get in is mind boggling. No wonder the vast majority of the 500 or so crowd chose the covered standing area but even that was still a bit rich at an expensive12 pounds.

The wide open vista of Victoria Park (now titled The Marstons Arena) fails to lend itself to the inducement of matchday atmosphere. When added to the incessant drizzling rain one almost knew this was not going to be a memorable nights entertainment. Its abiding memory is that of plenty of concrete, toilet blocks behind the goals, bright green bucket seats in the stand and crush barriers down the touchline terrace.

Having missed my 'Tuesday night tea' to battle the curse of the M62-M60-M6 motorway network I was soon queuing at the concrete food outlet for a minimal range of either burger or chips. I sampled the cheeseburger with onions and when I bit into it I was immediately surprised by the purple-red colour of the inner as opposed to the crusted deep brown of the outer, I was pretty hungry so I decided to just get on with it. My accompanying drink was a tea in a tall plastic cup, average tea-bag stuff.

Northwich started pretty keen with plenty of movement and shouting but it all seemed to end in a recurring disjointed mess. Farsley, still numb from the rush-hour crawl down the motorway simply sat back and soaked it up. This kind of thing went around and around until a shock Farsley raid over the halfway line actually resulted in a goal! Needless to say the away side went even more defensive after that.

The second half got rid of the awful drizzle and on the hour mark a tidal wave of Northwich pressure bagged them 2 quick goals and a penalty, which they duly fluffed. That was about it after that. Farsley were incapable of mounting any kind of counter action and everything fizzled out into a sleep inducing end game.

Not the best of games and thats why it gets a match rating of 4/10.