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

Monday, 27 December 2010

Woodley Sports

Monday 27th December (3pm)
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 North
Woodley Sports 2 Cammell Laird 0 (Reversed fixture)
Attendance: 145
Admission: £7
Programme: Cammell Lairds £2 (Major rip-off)
Tea hut purchase: Shut due to burst pipe
Weather: Grey, cold and dull
Parking: Club car park, easy enough exit
On a day when dozens and dozens of games ended up being postponed due to the ice and snow, this appeared to be the only non-league game taking place in the whole of Northern England and the Midlands. The fact that Woodley have a 3G pitch and their supporters cleared it of snow on Boxing Day gave both clubs the opportunity to switch/reverse this fixture from Cammell Lairds ice bound ground to Greater Manchester. A 10am pitch inspection rubber stamped the go ahead and a respectable crowd of 145 braved the chill to grab one of the rare opportunities to see a bit of football this Christmas. Judging the degree of rucksacks, notebooks and flash photography on show quite a few of the spectators were groundhoppers. Frugal Glenn joined me for the Match Shed jaunt to the suburbs of Stockport, despite a few minor snarl ups with sales hungry shoppers the journey was simple enough, as we hit the M60 it was noticeable what little snow was on the ground compared to the Pennine hills just a short distance away. It was a steady 2 degrees on the temperature display, such a nice change to the -11 the same time last Monday, thats not to say it was comfortable viewing for football though, the icy chill in the ground was giving a lot of people some hardship especially in the second half (me included).The stadium has a decent little main stand spanning the halfway line with a flat pack covered terrace at the clubhouse end, the rest of the ground has hard standing with nice views of inbound flights heading for Manchester Airport. I suppose I wasn't in the best of spirits for this one, the bathroom shower sprang a major leak in the morning which resulted in lots of water pouring through the kitchen ceiling, the damage and the major hassle of trying to find a plumber wasn't the best preparation for an afternoon out. When this was added to my withdrawal effects from 3 days excessive over indulgence in alcohol and rich food, I wasn't the best of company for Frugal Glenn. He seemed a bit put out that I didn't over-compliment his new fur lined hat. One bit of good fortune was making sure I'd had a lovely minced beef pasty and beans just before setting off in the Match Shed. Upon arrival at the ground there were a few sour faces looking at a boarded up tea hut, apparently there had been a burst pipe and some flooding, a shame really as I seem to remember the Woodley tea hut as being one of the better ones. I later found out they were serving hot drinks at the club bar. My mood dipped to a new low when Frugal Glenn told me I'd just been ripped off for the programme. He reckoned it was ridiculous charging 2 quid for a few lines of match relevant comment and page upon page of adverts. I snatched it back from him to realise firstly that it was actually Cammell Lairds programme for the original fixture which was planned for their place, as I scanned the pages of Evo-Stik adverts with just the odd generic sentence relating to the clubs (apart from the usual club-history fillers) I had to fully agree with Frugal Glenn, this was a scandalous rip-off! I am honestly considering stopping buying non-league programmes, I've copped for some absolute howlers this season, 2 quid for this type of content is well out of order, if someone produces this level of publication it should be 50p tops! Never mind that it wasn't even a Woodley publication (or had any kind of insert from Woodley at the very least)? As for the match, it was bloody awful, I'm not going to lie about it, by far the worst game I've seen all season. Dont get me wrong all credit to Woodley for getting this game on, a superb effort on their part but the quality and style of football on offer today was really hard work. The first half was just terrible, nobody from either side played a sensible ball or created anything whatsoever, it was dire. At least in the second half Woodley did manage to get a little momentum going forward and seemed well worth a 2 goal lead. I was expecting at least a token attempt from Cammell Laird to force themselves back into the game, even to just apply a bit more go-forward down the flanks, sadly the cupboard was bare, they provided zilch, no threat whatsoever. The game fizzled out well before the final whistle put me out of my misery. Surely these two sides can play better football than this? Perhaps I wasn't the only one... had they been on the beer and a second portion of Christmas pudding as well? It wasn't all negative (my apology if this report reads that way, no disrespect is intended), I still got out the house and saw a football match, in amongst the current mass postponements that is something I am truly thankful for. Now its back to finding that plumber.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas

It looks like the Ice Age will continue for a bit longer in the North of England, long enough to spoil the festive non-league football fixtures anyway. The Met Office give a slightly mixed message for the week after Christmas; Ice, Snow, Sleet, Gale Force Winds, Rain and Fog, they're good at this prediction game aren't they.

Anyway, suppose I'll have to make the best of it?

I'm starting off by wishing everyone a Happy Christmas, especially all the folks who've had a read of the Tea Hut.

Hope you don't go stir-crazy with all the relatives and the crap TV programmes over the next few days.
Lets hope we can get back to the football ASAP.

All the best


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Radcliffe Borough

Tuesday 14th December 2010
Lancashire Challenge Trophy Quarter Final
Radcliffe Borough 3 Wigan Robin Park 2
Attendance: 71 (According to the Vodkat site)
Admission: £7
Programme: They didn't do one!
Tea hut item: Tea from a car park burger van £1
Weather: It was dry & calm but still pretty chilly
Parking: Nice big club car park, easy exit
Another of those smug TV weather forecasters had just been on, they love the threat of crap weather don't they, gives them a chance to pretend being important. Some silly cow in a West End frock has more or less predicted the end of the world come Friday/Saturday, apparently we're all going to die in an icy snow-drifting arctic hell, which supposedly means the strong possibility of yet more significant non-league football postponements this weekend (and maybe beyond). With 'smug-cows' words still rattling around my brain, me thought it a good idea to get a midweek football match in before green grass disappears for ever.I promptly surfed the non-league websites for news of Tuesdays important pitch inspections. I dont know why because most of them haven't been updated since Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, then shock horror.... I find that both Radcliffe Borough and Wigan Robin Parks websites confirm their massive Lancashire Challenge Trophy Quarter Final has been officially cleared for kick-off that very evening! Surely in this age of still having to endlessly ring up Secretarys, Groundsmen, Tea Hut Assistants and little old ladies who live near the ground this is a technological non-league first! And there was I believing all that patronising advice on certain football forums that you'll never get non-league clubs mastering the internet? Whatever next I wondered, sensible reduced prices for lower importance county cup tournaments, sadly NO, Radcliffe decided to charge a whopping 7 quid for their game against lesser league opposition, even Man United dont do that anymore? Ok, what about a published programme, surely if its top dollar on the gate the fixture must certainly warrant a programme even a reduced sized one, NO chance! I heard some bloke near the turnstile tell an enquiring programme hunter "We decided not to do one for a low-key fringe match", no but you still bloody well charge 7 pounds to get in though!
It appears the buildings adjoining the clubhouse are in the process of being done up, either that or there is some pretty weird wallpaper in the mens bogs? This refurbishment process may be the reason there is no proper Tea Hut at the ground. Instead there was Gypsy Lee's Liquid-Gold Burger Van parked up against a hole in the side of the wall adjacent to the car park. I named it Liquid-Gold myself on account of them charging 1 pound for a tea bag. The milk and use of communal spoons was free. As for grub, sorry but I'm not paying £3.50 for a squelchy bacon burger, I starved until I got home.

Half an hour before kick off there were 4 people in the ground and half the Wigan team hadn't even arrived, cup tie fever was gripping Radcliffe big time. Come kick off my head count totalled 74 spectators which more or less concurred with the 71 figure later provided by the Vodkat NWCL site, for some reason the Evo Stik NPL site counted it as 52 (which was well under)? Looking around the place it is quite a good little ground for the Northern Premier League Division 1 North level, good terracing on 3 sides and a super all seater stand behind the nets at the changing room end.One strange feature of the stadium is a type of double glazed dodgy conservatory jutting out from the clubhouse at the 18 yard area, inside it was one of those big circular tables you often find at wedding receptions, come half time all the VIP's, Film Stars and Club Officials gather round it with plates of (what looked like) some kind of stew? The rest of us (like Zombies from The Undead) get to press our faces up against the window and slaver down the glass, I was pretty hungry by now.

Radcliffe Borough beat the galactico's from Chester away last Saturday but their league position is still 18th, as for Wigan Robin Park, they're currently joint top of the North West Counties League Division 1 with 28 points, could Wigan do a job here tonight or would it be a bridge too far?The first half was Radcliffe going about their business all huff, puff and charge! Wigan were more chase, hoof and scramble. When Borough went 1 up in the 38th minute I thought the flood gates would open, how wrong! Wigan hit back within 5 minutes and one had to say the goal brought them some much needed confidence. Half time 1-1. A disallowed second half goal really seemed to knock Radcliffe out of their stride and unbelievably (well not quite) Wigan snatched a breakaway second to lead 1-2. Radcliffe set about the challenge and mounted the inevitable fightback, Wigan withdrew from further up the pitch and seemed to be content to defy the coming tide or at least hold out for penalties (there is no extra time in this round). Radcliffe scrambled in an equaliser on 67 minutes and just about got out of jail with a very late 87th minute winner. Wigan quickly shifted up the gears and started to go forward again and they almost snatched an injury time equaliser but it was not to be. A decent enough game but a little scrappy and too disjointed to make it anything other than average. Not all 3-2 see-saw cup ties are classics you know? At the final whistle I rushed through the gate to spank The Match Shed into another of my pathetically crappy Le-Mans style getaways, at least I didn't get overtaken by a bloke on a pushbike this time.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Runcorn Linnets

Saturday 11th December
North West Counties League Premier Division
Runcorn Linnets 0 Ramsbottom United 5
Attendance: 249
Admission: £5
Programme: £1.50
Tea hut purchases: Meat & Potato Pie £1.50, Tea 60p
Weather: Light cloud, dry and chilly
Parking: Car park outside the ground, easy exitAfter weeks of arctic temperatures and heaps and heaps of snow some football games took place in the North of England this weekend. There were still plenty of postponements though, the brief thaw couldn't quite get the ice out of the ground for quite a few clubs. I scanned the morning pitch inspections and decided upon an interesting looking match which had been given the go ahead at Runcorn Linnets Millbank Stadium. The visitors were third placed Ramsbottom United. The chance to see Runcorns new ground which opened earlier in the season was incentive enough, some classy football from Ramsbottom would be an added bonus. Runcorn can be a tricky town to navigate but I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to find the Millbank Stadium, its basically Junction 11 of the M56 and then following the Chester Road for a short while, the ground is south east of the town. One has to remember this is a new ground for a club with North West Counties League status, its a great league but you are not going to find wonderfully designed charismatic stands and terraces, bear that in mind before passing judgment, I've already read some reports from groundhoppers that the Millbank Stadium is boring and characterless. I wouldn't go that far, there aren't that many glorious photo opportunities but the local supporters are a keen bunch and they certainly give it a homely quality. Nice to see some travelling support from Ramsbottom as well. Lets be honest, the recent terrible weather has ravaged the football calendar in this part of the country, I got the impression a good few people were just glad to get to a game today. The ground itself has two structures, the more prominent is the small seated main stand spanning the halfway line, the other is a low covered terrace to one side of the goalposts at the clubhouse end, both structures can be described as the 'flat-pack' variety. Other than this the only other feature is the very solid, very metallic and grey looking steel perimeter fence which runs behind the hard standing walkways around the sides of the pitch, its solid, probably does a good job but it does look a bit 'remand-centre' like.The pitch was in decent order, especially considering the weather and held up well during the game with a pretty level surface. After my pre-match walk around the ground I sampled a very tasty meat and potato pie and a nice cup of tea from the hatch at the back of the setback clubhouse, just what I needed and very reasonably priced as well. Thumbing through the programme it was good to see some match relevant notes from Paul McNally the Manager and 3 pages of history on Ramsbottom United, they even had a picture quiz on one of the pages! Hang on..... I recognise those colour pictures..... I couldn't believe it..... 7 of the 10 pictures they'd used in the programme came from the 'Wheres The Tea Hut' site! It was great to see them making use of the photo's (at least somebody likes them) it would have been better still if they had given a tiny reference to the fact that they came from the Tea Hut pages. Wonder if this was a lucky one-off or perhaps they've been showing other stuff? I dont mind people using Tea Hut stuff, it is nice to be noted as the source though.Time for the match and a decent one too. The Linnets roared into the game like a house on fire and placed a lot of early pressure on the visitors, Ramsbottom stood firm, soaked it up and impressed me by never looking rattled. Perhaps the first ten minutes had a crucial bearing on this encounter, Runcorn desperately needed an early goal before Ramsbottom settled into their game plan, they didn't get it and the visitors started to take them apart with clinical precision. Excellent passing, movement and exploitation down the flanks proved lethal when added to the undoubted pace of the visitors. It was the second goal just on half time that did the damage, especially as it stemmed from a big defensive blunder, Ramsbottom continued their 'total-football' after the break and two quick goals in three minutes committed The Linnets to their fate. It ended in a 5 goal mauling that could easily have been more, Runcorn to their credit still produced the odd opportunity but it was one of those days for them when they just couldn't hit the target or beat the keeper. Have to say I was much impressed by this Ramsbottom performance, they look a fine side with some very good players, are they good enough to challenge New Mills? I think they are.As the darkness fell it got more and more difficult for me..... I'd only forgot to bring my bloody glasses hadn't I! I just about coped in the first half but when the gloom started gathering I could hardly see the ball, my glasses will be the first thing on my checklist from now on. One final feature from a decent enough visit was 'the Linesman that Fought Back'. Liners often take massive amounts of stick from cocky spectators shouting all manner of abuse at them, halfway through the first half just by where I was stood a tough but fair Ramsbottom challenge went (rightly) unpunished by the referee, a Linnets fan (with a lovely loud scouse accent) decided to pass on a nicety to the Linesman running past him to keep up with play, something along the lines of "Didn't you see that you useless fat git", the Liner stopped in his tracks and asked the fan if he was prepared to back that statement up after the match as he would very much like to make arrangements to 'sort him out'! The startled fan said he could not make comments like that to a spectator, "Watch me" snapped the Liner "And if you dont shut your face up, you'll be going out the ground right now"! The Linnets fan was pretty quite after that..... and so was everybody else on that side of the pitch. Nice one Liner.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Some football at last!

Saturday 11th December
Vodkat North West Counties League Premier Division
Runcorn Linnets 0 Ramsbottom United 5
Report and pictures should be here around Sunday teatime.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Cup tie of the season?

Despite Krugg House being submerged in deep snow, ice and freezing fog I am tempted to try and break out and take in next Wednesdays big FA Cup 2nd Round replay at Gigg Lane for FC United v Brighton & Hove Albion. Its been ages since i've seen a game and despite having already been to this location this season, its currently the only non-league based game likely to be seen in the North this side of Christmas.

Apparently tickets are selling fast and 3 sides of the ground are full already. There is still a 'pay-on-the-night' option available but this may soon go if the demand keeps rising.

My attendance will be based on the principle of not just getting down there but (importantly) being able to get home again afterwards. The Match Shed is not a lover of icy conditions at the best of times (anything uphill tends to be a no-no).
Update: Tuesday 7th December
Unfortunately, further snow, unclear forecasts and prolonged sub zero temperatures make this game a bit too tricky for me (travel wise), I'm sick of digging snow from around the match-shed. The Thursday after the match gives hope for a rise in temperatures with a possibility of some games going ahead on Saturday? Lets hope so. Hope everybody going to The Gigg enjoys the Cup Tie.

Sunday, 7 November 2010


Over the hills and down through the woods.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

More Chorley pictures

Victory Park the home of Chorley FC is a great non league football ground, I thought I'd give potential new visitors a few more images that (hopefully) reflect the character of the place

Sunday, 31 October 2010


Saturday 30th October
FA Trophy 2nd Qualifying Round
Chorley 3 Marine 1
Attendance: 834
Admission: £7
Programme: £2
Tea hut purchases: Cheeseburger £2.20, Tea £1
Weather: Raining upon arrival, dry and fair later
Parking: Side street just around the corner
The Match Shed was going dizzy with all the incessant roundabouts in Chorley town centre, I counted at least 8 of the things. For a welcome change my downloaded ground directions proved 100% correct and I soon had the Match Shed parked up in one of the tight back streets adjacent to the ground. Victory Park is quite close to the edge of the town centre, nestling besides the old Plaza Cinema and a Morrisons Supermarket that has its own unique chimney. I'd made excellent time and even had time for a pint in one of the local pubs. A half hour later I was surprised to find it raining, certainly not what was forecast. Me and Frugal Glenn hurried along to the turnstile entrance to join the queue of eager locals shuffling through the car park. I always get a bit twitchy when I see stewards scrutinising everyone lining up, I had my camera bag with me and I had pre-read the Victory Park ground regulations which do not allow unauthorised photography. I'd been on the Chorley Fans Forum, the impressive 'Magpies In Space' and enquired if I'd be able to take some snaps? They'd assured me I wouldn't have a problem and so it proved, no hassle at all. Chorley are going great guns this season, unbeaten league leaders in the Evo Stik NPL Division 1 North, they pulled in over 1,100 spectators for their last home game, the town is obviously impressed with the new profile being set out by the board and the management team. This FA Trophy tussle pitted Chorley against wily and determined opponents from the Premier league division above them, Merseysides finest, Marine. The very good match programme provided lots of information on previous encounters and the publication set the scene 'just right' for the match, nice to see a value for money programme with interesting articles, I've bought some howlers at other grounds this season.As usual, I hadn't been in the ground very long when I got a hint of that delicate, entrancing, magical aroma drifting along the gentle breeze, the unmistakable smell of the Tea Hut. I decided to go and buy something. Chorley have just opened a second tea hut so you now have the luxury of one each side of the Main Stand, I decided to go in the traditional established one, The Magpies Nest Snack Bar. Most people were still sheltering from the rain so when me and Frugal Glenn marched in there was nobody inside. However, on the other side of the counter there looked to be around 8 or 9 pretty young girls all looking for a bit of action, food wise I mean. The strange thing about the girls is that they all had bright orange faces? I was thinking that they either did shift work at a local foundry or they'd been getting too close to the griddle pan? I seem to be seeing more and more orange women around nowadays, weird.I went for the cheeseburger at £2.20, worryingly it miraculously appeared in seconds without the aid of the nearby grill-plate, it also had those well diced onions which I'm not too keen on. To make it even worse the tomato ketchup bottle had a congealed-sticky lid and I got that awful leaky liquid before the real sauce came through the top (despite shaking it). I reckon Tea Hut teams should adopt more stringent sauce bottle management disciplines, it does affect the produce. Needless to say I still ate it all (but it was a bit 'luke-warm/cold' to be honest).Having a pre match stroll around the ground we decided to watch the first half from the large grass bank on the side opposite the big Main Stand. You get a great view of the pitch from the bank and it enables you to see the majesty and character of that Main Stand in all its glory, a terrific old school football stand which provides a tremendous backdrop to the action. Why can't we make stands like this anymore, they are miles better than the flat pack jobs you see at new grounds nowadays. Just before kick off Frugal Glenn mentioned that there must be a lot of those 'Goths' in Chorley, he said he'd just seen one bloke with a red painted face and a big black cloak, the woman he was with was dressed like a blow up version of a ballet dancer come wrestler? I then realised that a lot of the Marine supporters had come in fancy dress (probably Halloween related), Frugal remained sceptical. He only believed me when I pointed out Father Christmas jumping up and down behind the nets, surely he wasn't a local Goth? The two magpies wondering around as Chorley mascots only confused the situation even further. Frugal Glenn can be bloody hard work at times, I dont think he likes Goths that much? A lot of people had this match down as tie of the round, me included, it was a great disappointment to witness something well short of that illustrious billing. It was a dog of a first half really, fragmented passing, over hit crosses, minimal midfield creativity.Both sides filtered in and out of the action (if you can call it that) without posing much of a threat. I suppose Marine just about edged the proceedings, a fact verified by a 35th minute Neil Harvey goal (which he took well enough). Half time gave me the chance to try the other Chorley Tea Hut, the Victory Snack Shack, I just about got my cup of tea before the mad rush, they certainly like Tea Huts in Chorley! Both me and Frugal expected Chorley to put a much better show on in the second half, surely they must play better than this to achieve such first class results in the league? As for Marine, I got the impression they would protect that 1 goal lead and let Chorley fall onto them. The next 30 minutes were pretty awful, there was a bit more goalmouth action but the general play was very flat and dare I say it dull. Marine as predicted seemed to be playing a holding profile, they got a few shots in, superbly saved by the decent looking Chorley keeper Dean Porter, but more and more possession was going to Chorley, the problem was, they couldn't find a way through, numerous moves fell down with the final ball going astray.Chorley manager Gary Fitcroft decided to play his final 'ace' card with just over quarter of an hour left, he took off new signing Aaron Rey (who'd done ok with limited service as a striker) and brought on player coach Matt Jansen. Marine would need to get close to Jansen and be resolute in totally shutting him out of the proceedings. His reputation alone warranted complete respect. It took Matt less than 3 minutes to smack in one of the sweetest best placed shots of the season. I was right behind the trajectory, the keeper never moved as it whistled low into the far right hand corner of the net, a clinical, lethal strike which shifted the balance of the whole match there and then. Marine went into panic mode, Chorley pushed forward, passes that before went wayward now found feet, width and pressure built upon the Marine rear guard, Jansen was everywhere, his presence had injected life back into a dying match, the home side surged forward urged on by the vocal support of the fans. When Jordan Stepien made it 2-1 three minutes later, I realised what was brewing in this ordinary Lancashire town, they were going somewhere and they all wanted a part of it, the supporters were going mad! In 6 or 7 minutes Matt Jansen had completed mission impossible, his influence and ruthless example re-ignited the rocket on the launchpad, this time they had lift-off! Marine had one bullet left in the barrel but would they get a chance to fire it, they re-grouped and pushed into occupied territory. It was brutal nerve jangling stuff, if only the rest of the match had been like this? The final whistle drew ever closer, Chorley seemed stuck between defending or going for another one! When Jordan Stepion hit a wonder shot in the last minute the Main Stand roof lifted off, what a goal, what a finish, Marine had been beaten and the Chorley rollercoaster rolled over another mighty peak, what a great end to a pretty dull match, 75 minutes of cardboard, 15 minutes of pure gold. Hope it didn't spoil Saturday night for Count Dracula and the merseyside Father Christmas?

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Eccleshill United

Wednesday 27th October
Northern Counties East Division 1
Eccleshill United 5 Staveley Miners Welfare 1
Attendance: 25
Admission: £5
Programme: £2 (Poor value I'm afraid)
Tea hut purchase: None
Weather: Mild but plenty of swirling rain in the second half
Parking: Club car park
I'm still getting Tea Hut flashbacks after the £2.80p horror-pie I stupidly purchased at FC United last Sunday. I decided to play safe and have a big tea at home before setting out for Eccleshill, a gut busting homemade steak pie was provided (with proper meat), chunky chips, peas and gravy. The Match Shed hit the outskirts of a menacingly dark Bradford just after rush-hour. I got around the ring road took the A650 out past Bradford City FC and veered off right up the Kings Road for the suburb of Wrose, home to Eccleshill United. I then got lost. I had to ask for directions, there was a shop open across the way, "Do you want a jumbo mate or just regular" shouted the man behind the counter as soon as I entered, it was a fish and chip shop, I resisted the temptation to take up the offer of a large fried haddock. A kind lady in the queue was able to help me and point me in the right direction, 'Jumbo Man' thought I was a nutter, he'd never heard of Eccleshill United? After a bit of riding around I got my bearings again and eventually found the Smith Butler Stadium hidden away down a quiet little lane in an eerily dark housing estate, not the easiest place to find.I took a couple of photo's of the entrance and the lady behind the turnstile said "taking photo's are we, does that mean we're going to be famous then"? After I gave her 2 quid for a rip off programme which was 95% beleagured with adverts I concurred that the photo's were only for my humble blog but the 'match-magazine' might just get a mention. I know clubs need to get money in from whatever sensible source necessary and I fully support that but there has to be an element of value for money, to charge 2 pounds and just publicise carpets, coffins and washing machines is taking the supporter for a mug, at the very least get someone to write (or cut and paste) something football related in it, preferably to do with the match. A couple of tiny paragraphs from the Assistant Manager alongside a bit about the history of Staveley is not worth 2 pounds! Sorry.Time to press on with the football I think. Staveley ran out in their all orange kit as league leaders with a respected reputation, you could sense Eccleshill were well 'up for the event', although United had dropped to 13th in the league table, they'd been doing really well in the FA Vase with wins over higher placed opposition. In went some crunching tackles and up went some shouts from the Staveley contingent, there would be no respect from the home side tonight that was for sure, one of the Staveley players was already being carried back to the dressing rooms. Both sides played some high paced attacking football, there were some nice passing movements as well, this wasn't kick and charge stuff by any means. Eccleshill got the opening goal halfway into the first half through Matt Dempsey. Staveley turned up the heat and really took the game to the home side. They were piling on the pressure as half time approached but they just couldn't get that equaliser, the Eccleshill defence were pulling out all the stops to keep the league leaders back. Goalkeeper Tahj Bell was unbeatable and in masterly form (seems a damn good keeper).The second half witnessed more Staveley pressure but there were signs that the football was a little more panicked and not as composed as earlier, if anything, Staveley seemed to be rushing it and as a result Eccleshill quickly picked up possession and started to hit them on the break. It was one of these breaks in the 53rd minute which brought the second Eccleshill goal, an excellent solo run and a thumping well placed strike from full back Antonio Kennedy, it was certainly a contender for 'goal of the month'. More panic and frustration hit Staveley, more men burst forward seeking a way back into the match. As we approached the hour mark pure pantomime took over the Smith Butler Stadium, a Staveley player was brutally hacked down in midfield, the referee shouted "advantage, play-on", another Staveley player burst into the box with two defenders on him, he was dragged down, a penalty was given. As the players assembled for the spot kick the Eccleshill bench started shouting to the referee that the linesman on the far side had his flag up before the foul but had taken it down again? The forcefulness of the protests resulted in the referee going over to the linesman for a chat (a long chat), he then ran back to the 18 yard area and gave a free kick to Eccleshill for offside! Well....., what happened next was worth the admission money all on its own.
The Staveley Bench Pre Penalty Drama
The Staveley management team of Billy Fox and Neil Ransom went absolutely potty! They were jumping up and down in undiluted rage, they produced a whirlwind torrent of insults and swear words at the referee, they were going at it like a couple of those demented rabbits with extra powered duracel batteries. The linesman on the nearside right next to the apoplectic duo had to get the referee over to sort them out. He sent them off! He told them to get in the clubhouse or go and sit in the Main Stand on the other touchline. They told him to f*ck off! After another 5 minutes of non stop swearing, the nearside linesman approached them saying they'd been sent off, they turned on him with a stream of explicit, 'uncut' abuse, this included gutter-classics such as fat w*nker, you big tw*t and that old classic you're a c*nt. Such was the heat of the verbal attack, the poor little linesmans glasses had steamed up. Oh dear, the upset managerial duo were really in trouble now, the liner said he was going to write all those names down and they'd have to answer to it. The referee showed up again, he shouted at them to clear off, NOW! One ambled round to the Main Stand, the other just slinked off to the side of the dug out, I think that was as good as the officials could hope for (without calling the Police or some kind of SWAT team). Classic drama! The rain had started and it sweeped across the stadium taking with it any real hope for a Staveley comeback, the penalty incident was ultimately the game-breaker. Eccleshill went three up through the very pacy Marcus Edwards, Staveley supporters looked on in depressed numb shock. The visitors got one back with 15 minutes left, a super strike from Robert Ward, they still tried to get forward and somehow get something from the game but they had to start leaving some massive gaps at the back, as the defence became nothing more than one defender and the keeper Eccleshill ruthlessly exploited the counter attacking options, two more goals came their way before the final whistle. They had won a famous victory, 5-1 against the league leaders! The 'flat-cap' regulars near the clubhouse seemed mighty pleased, Staveley trudged off thoroughly dejected. I wonder what fate awaits the management team, that referees report will be an interesting read. Shame only 25 people featured in the official attendance figure (looked over 40 to me at least) this was an entertaining encounter in deepest suburban Bradford, and not just for the ball play on the pitch.
Fancy new bogs

Monday, 25 October 2010

FC United

Sunday 24th October
FA Cup 4th Round Qualifying
FC United of Manchester 1 Barrow 0
*Played at Gigg Lane, Bury AFC
Attendance: 3,263
Admission: £8 Main Stand (no moving around)
Programme: £2
Tea hut purchase: £2.80p for a horrible meat & potato pie
Parking: Side street off Manchester Road, 10 minutes walkI've already mentioned my bad cold on here so I won't go on about it only to say I'd suffered all week and had to cancel yesterdays planned match 'Trafford v Clitheroe'. However, Sunday brought a nice sunny sky and fresh optimism, it also brought one of the best ties of the FA Cup 4th Round Qualifying stage, this is the last round before the Football League sides enter the fray. I wrapped up well, pulled off about a yard of kitchen roll and took my chances in the great outdoors.The Match Shed was pointed in the direction of Bury, Greater Manchester, home of the celebrated Black Pudding and Gigg Lane, football residence for 'The Shakers', Bury AFC. It is also the current home for FC United of Manchester, they rent the place for most of their home games. Perhaps FC United might have been doing a bit of 'shaking' themselves, the opposition today were the FA Trophy holders from the Conference Premier Division, Barrow. Hardened cup fighters whose players and fans have a reputation for playing it hard and fast. A side not to be taken lightly despite some recent poor league form. An added bonus regarding this Sunday afternoon fixture was finding out who the winners would be playing even before they kicked off, as the Match Shed approached the East Lancashire conurbation I got the draw for the FA Cup 1st Round Proper on the radio. Apart from Southport v Sheffield Wednesday, it all seemed rather dull, then up popped the opposition for the winners of FC United v Barrow, it was Rochdale away at the splendid Spotland Stadium.This was a real incentive for todays teams, FC United would have a great local derby and a guaranteed share of a big gate, possibly even TV revenue, whilst Barrow joint manager Dave Bayliss was a Rochdale player and a great 'Dale' fans favourite for many years, he would relish a return to his old stamping ground with his Barrow side. It was all to play for. I got the impression there was going to be a decent crowd for todays game when I passed by the pubs spilling dozens of punters onto the pavement, as I walked up the street to the ground a couple of Manchester taxi's zoomed past with the windows down, they were both full of boozed up chanting Barrow supporters, letting all the passing folk in red, white and black this was not going to be the usual type of encounter for a FC United home game. I counted around half a dozen coach fulls of cup crazy visitors parked near the ground. The approach lane to the turnstiles offers something you dont often see at non league encounters, stalls of traders selling FC United t-shirts, flags, hats, programmes and banners, you could even get a commemorative special t-shirt especially identifying todays 'historic-titled' game.There were plenty of interested customers as well, they mingled amongst the traders whilst camera crews filmed them and interviewed people. Its all done as part of the FC United community project. The club are eagerly saving up as much cash as possible to fund the purchase of their own ground which is planned for Newton Heath, the suburb of Manchester where the original Man United started up. Good luck to them too. There is a real all-in-it-together feel to the FC United profile, something which should be respected, although they do seem to get quite a few knockers from rival supporters. There was a definite buzz to the match build up, this was obviously a really major game for the home side, the chance to play in the 1st Round Proper was having a big effect on the atmosphere.Once inside the stadium I realised I had made a major boo-boo in not remembering this was a football league ground, I was hungry and needed something to eat but what I was faced with was a crappy old Tea Hut sanctioned by Bury Football Club at ridiculous prices. Burgers were well over 3 quid a go, my cheapest option was a Meat and Potato pie at an outrageous £2.80p. It was slid over the counter in its plastic wrapper, it had the name 'Wrights Pies' on it, it was molten hot and looked like cardboard. The wrapper identified its origins as some industrial estate in Crewe, oh dear.Needless to say, 40 minutes later, when it cooled down to non surgical injury status, I found out what I already knew, it was utter crap. Dry paste like potato mush inside stodgy dull pastry, no meat to be found at all, it was horrendous! Frugal Glenn kindly pointed out that he'd bought the very same Wrights Pies down at the market, although they weren't any good he'd been sucked in by a 'four for a pound' offer, thats a nice Tea Hut profit isn't it! I thought about a cup of tea but at £1.80 a tea bag, they could shove it! I'd forgotten how rubbish so called professional sports stadiums can be, having to sit in the same seat in a tired old stand all the game when normally I can move around where I like is a real negative, I know that with big crowds it has to be this way but it doesn't make for a pleasant experience, I wouldn't want to come here again any time soon. Hopefully they can get that Newton Heath project sorted out, I just feel that Gigg Lane is a pretty dull venue.The fact that the non stop singing, chanting and all round FC United support never once relented from start to finish made sure this match had a great feel to it despite the poor surroundings, I have to say the Barrow fans played their part as well, the massive blue and white flags waved behind the away end complimented the massive selection of red, white and black banners placed by the FC United fans all over the empty stand which was opposite the Main Stand. Some fantastic pieces of work which certainly gave an almost European feel to the proceedings. I think they were even letting flares off in the second half? The stakes were sky high and tension was at fever pitch, could FC United make it through to that dream game at Rochdale? Would the strong Barrow side be too classy and powerful to hold back? It was all set up for a ding-dong classic. In reality we got a pretty dull first 45 minutes. I'd say Barrow edged it in that first period, they started very defensive, very careful, very watchful, gradually they pushed forward and had at least 2 clear cut chances to take a lead, they missed them, the one involving Barrow's Nick Chadwick following a badly misplaced back pass from Jimmy Holden was an absolute sitter. FC United held their own but lacked that final touch, however, they did create some openings and Jerome Wright had a good effort which was only inches wide.To be honest I expected Barrow to kick on in the second half and stretch the home side via some experience and creativity, it never happened. It was FC United who started to build up a momentum, more and more tackles were won, more and more ground was taken, more and more width was applied, Barrow were under pressure and starting to look very uncomfortable. The noise and racket from the home fans grew and grew and they all went mad when Carlos Roca stabbed home a 78th minute game-breaking opening goal. Barrow looked dejected and the blank empty stares of the players didn't bring much optimism for a fightback, they were already out of this cup tie irrespective of the 12 minutes left on the clock. The scenes of unabandoned joy at the final whistle witnessed a piece of FC United history, what a great victory for them, I bet there will be thousands of them at Spotland for that big game against Rochdale, what a wonderful match to look forward to. As for Barrow, all they had to look forward to was that long trawl back up the M6 as the sun went down, perhaps the sun was already going down on their season, the poor form in the league and this crushing defeat to lower opposition (in league placings) was worrying enough but it was the manner in which they lost this game which was alarming, a shame for the tremendous numbers who made the trip, they need to sort it out fast.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Called to the Cup!

Despite my massive cold I woke up this Sunday morning like a junky without a fix. Yesterday I missed my football match! In spite of last nights homemade prescription of flu fighting food and drink (Whisky and a big Lamb Sagwalla) I still felt like death warmed up. Probably more to do with the over spiced Sagwalla than the cold virus.

Sod it, what had I to lose? There was a terrific looking FA Cup tie on this Sunday afternoon and I for one was going to be at the FC United v Barrow big match come cold, flu or whatever! It was bloody freezing in the house (the central heating dried my throat up) and the Wife stopped handing out sympathy rations last Tuesday.

I rang up Frugal Glenn to see if he wanted to tag along and it was 'game-on'!

Less than 3 hours later I made it through to scenes which put the emergency shelter of the Chilean Miners into the 5 Star Platinum Plus category of Mayfair, I'd arrived at the FC United Tea Hut, courtesy of Gigg Lane, Bury Football Club. Oh dear?
More tripe, gubbins and match report findings will be posted on here around Monday teatime, Beechams Hot Lemon (and Night Nurse) pending.

Saturday, 23 October 2010


Unfortunately there will be no Tea Hut related food, drink or football stuff this Saturday.


My visit schedule has been cancelled.