Wednesday 10th February 2010
Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy Semi Final
Played at the LFA County Ground, Leyland
Clitheroe 3 Leigh Genesis 1
Admission: £8 via ticket
Tea hut purchase: Tea 50p
Weather: A clear very cold evening
Parking: Public car park adjacent to the stadium complex
Things didn't get off to a good start for the big cup tie. Jenkins the cat has a thing about electrics, he doesn't like anything plugged in, no matter what the item. I made the mistake of leaving the nutter in the same room as my camera and its accompanying charger and Jenkins took his opportunity in clinical style, he unleashed one of his special Semi Final slashes (which he had apparently been storing up since dinner time) all over the camera. Needless to say, the mood in the house went up to Def Con 1 and Jenkins did a runner over the nearest hillside.As I only had twenty minutes before travel time, I had to take my back up camera to the match but it struggles with the gloom and fails to provide quality-images so apologies if the pictures are a bit grainy for this report. Several 'wanted' posters have gone up for Jenkins down in the village, cleary emblazoned with 'dead or alive', 'approach with caution', 'if caught, keep him away from the mains supply, including substations'. The temperature was already dropping as I arrived in Leyland. Located just south of Preston the town is the home of the splendid Lancashire Football Associations County Ground complex. I am told that Bolton Wanderers play reserve games here as well as there being representative fixtures for the County. It was forecast to be freezing tonight and it had already started to stiffen up the pitch. I'd been warned to get here early as there was bound to be a long queue as everyone had to buy a ticket from the reception desk, unless you'd taken the 'FA' advice to get one in advance. Some 50 minutes before kick off there was me, 2 stewards and half a dozen blokes stood around talking near the turnstiles. The long queue for the reception desk attendant numbered a total of 1 eager punter (me). The actual ground was not as sterile as some of these County places tend to be, it had a small covered hard standing area at one end, a grassy slope at the other end whilst a long seated stand offered good viewing down the far touchline. The near touchline housed the large office and corporate building which gave the ground more of a 'built in' presence rather than a wide open profile. Toilet blocks and a tea hut dwelling complimented the corner area just inside the turnstiles. I'd had a big Italian type teatime meal before the 'Jenkins the cat' atrocity so I didn't really fancy a pie from the tea hut (I noticed they were Hollands ones at £1.50 each), I also had a chunky Kit Kat with me for half time. I decided to just have a tea, it was only 50p but the paper cup would have struggled to house a boiled egg it was that small, two sips and it was gone.
By kick off the numbers in the ground had increased with the vast majority coming from Clitheroe, in fact I only spotted a small group of Leigh supporters all night. I was going to try and find Leyther Matt from the CN Forum but I wasn't too sure who he was so I decided not to cause a scene by asking strangers "Are you Matt"? Makes it difficult when everybody is wrapped up in woolly hats, scarves and dead animal skins (Jenkins might be added to that quota any day soon). I sat in the Main Stand and was most entertained by over-hearing the non-stop wit and gossip of a large Clitheroe fan who was holding court amongst his flock. He never took a break but he was very good, it included him shouting out pleasantries and sarcastic barbs to players and passing supporters alike. The Main Stand action even witnessed a live rat (looked like a mini version of Jenkins), it running up and down the place before disappearing behind a bin! What drama. On top of this I suddenly realised I had made a massive mistake in my match appreciation, it wasn't until Leigh equalised to make it 1-1 that I found out I had got the teams (and the supporters) mixed up! I naturally thought that the team in blue and white would be Clitheroe as those are their traditional colours, nope, Leigh were in blue and white tonight and Clitheroe had on some fancy orange and black stripes number. I even thought the big bloke and his entourage were Leigh fans, it was only at 1-1 when it dawned what a mistake I'd made. Numpty or what! That takes some owning up, what an idiot. I was a neutral but I should know the difference between 2 sides I'd already seen play earlier in the season. I put it down to the Jenkins attack and the stress of a knackered camera. As for the match itself, I considered it pretty good stuff. Both sides played some fine attacking football with Leigh in particular knocking it about quite well. However, it was Clitheroe who had the cutting edge and they decisively took their chances and never gave the Leigh defence a rest. Alan Coar and Danny Williams proved to be a real threat on the night. It was a bit of a shame that Leigh couldn't reach the final as they have had a torrid time of late, it would have given them a bit of sunshine during a dark period for the club. To lose their current home ground for next season, lose the main sponsors and then lose the club captain all in a row has been bad news indeed. Still, one has to applaud Clitheroe, they deserve their chance and they are a great little club, I hope they go on to win the trophy. I pointed the car for the hills and my thoughts turned to getting together an early morning posse. That Jenkins was out there somewhere.......and I was going to find him.
I like him really, he had a big meal when I got home and I cleaned up the camera.