Saturday 24th October 2009
North West Counties League Premier Division
Flixton 0 Squires Gate 2
Tea hut purchase: They don't have one
Weather: Blustery grey day with the odd sunny spell and shower
Parking: Club car park (free), easy getaway Upon approaching the M60 orbital motorway the traffic news on the radio was almost as bleak as the weather. An accident just at the turn-off I was heading for meant that 8 junctions worth of traffic was stacking up. I decided to go around Manchester's M60 in the opposite direction but this meant I was doing a lot of extra miles just to make kick-off. What should have been an easy trip was turning out to be a pain in the neck. I was pleased that traffic proved to be light on the new route. After blasting past Stockport, I soon reached the signs for the massive Trafford Centre shopping complex and it was only a few more miles for Flixton FC. I pulled in the car park at 2.20pm, I'd made good time against (what first appeared) dreadful odds. As I was getting out of the car a convoy of speeding vehicles and screeching tyres witnessed the delayed arrival of the Squires Gate players, they'd doubtless been held up in the same traffic mess. (It later transpired that Bootle players travelling in cars to their game in Manchester at Maine Road FC had been involved in a nearby motorway accident which may have been the cause of the gridlock, fortunately nobody was hurt).I am aware that Flixton have had a lot of problems and walk-outs over the years and that they are trying their very best to get on an even keel and gradually make some progress in a very tough division. My apology for not knowing all the facts but this club look very much like a project in motion. Anyone (groundhopper or DIY reporter) could come along to their Valley Road stadium and fill their boots with negative waffle about the lack of a tea hut, a really poor programme, peeling paint and remnant junk waiting for a passing skip but lets put a few things into perspective. Flixton probably have no money, rely almost entirely on a small band of helpers multi-skilling against multiple hardships and are trying to put a team on the pitch without a genuine budget in the depths of a recession. The latter point means there will be no long list of fat wallet sponsors and the local population will be saving pennies for the christmas essentials from the Trafford Centre magnet. Potential growth currently equals zilch. There were 46 people at todays match, will the piggy bank extend to putting a catering operation on for greedy floaters like me? They would also have been lucky to shift 20 programmes, at a quid a copy that means somebody has to write it, print it and stand there selling it just for 20 pounds return (and no, there is not a lot of advertising revenue in it). Rather than moaning how lacking in content the programme is, perhaps we should be thankful that one of the few helpers has found time amongst everything else that needs doing to actually get one out on sale at all? I digress, on a well known non-league football forum recently there was a popular multiple page thread asking what was the most depressing ground, people responded in droves and lots of undeserving clubs got named? Rather than kick clubs struggling to survive should we not support them and take the positives out of them purely remaining in the league and being there? There is no such thing as a depressing football ground, take each stadium (or pitch) on what you find and enjoy the experience. This is what the approach should be for Flixton and I wish them every bit of luck in progressing their club on and off the pitch.
As for today, Flixton got beat and to be honest Squires Gate played the better football. They passed the ball better, seemed to have more options and despite some good saves from Flixton's new keeper Gate deserved the points. The blustery wind was playing its part to make control difficult and I dont know if the current match balls are up to standard for anything other than summer football? Remember when you was a kid and sometimes you had to rely on one of those really cheap footballs that usually came from a garage or a sea front kiosk, they always had the really thin plastic, well today was a bit like playing with a ball like that at times, the ball was swirling all over the place (apart from where the kicker wanted it), I reckon the balls should be a touch heavier. The opening goal came midway through the first half when Louis Mayers turned well inside the box and struck home an unstoppable shot, when Andy Harvey slotted the second home following a defensive slip late in the second half it was job done for the visitors. Flixton had battled hard but they just lacked a bit more edge. Squires Gate seem a well balanced side and certainly have some good players, particularly Andy Richards who was probably man of the match for me. This was a decent game in difficult conditions and it again proves what value for money is on offer in the North West Counties League.