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

Tuesday, 31 August 2010


Bank Holiday Monday 30th August
Evo-Stik Premier Division (Northern Premier League)
Marine 1 Buxton 2
Attendance: 383
Admission: £9
Programme: £1.80
Tea hut purchases: Steak & Kidney Pie £1.30, Tea £1
Weather: Sunny and pleasantly warm
Parking: On the main road just down from the ground, easy exit
Down Mariners Road around a mile from the ground you'll find the Crosby Leisure Centre and the Irish Sea. A wide vista of open sand and a glistening tide greets the eye all wonderfully complimented by backdrop views of Birkenhead, North Wales and the majestic Snowdonia mountains. On such a glorious sunny day as today, hundreds of Merseysiders were enjoying the fresh sea air and the melting cornets from the ice cream van. There 'were' more folk on this beach than Blackpool! Frugal Glenn had amazed me with his artistic knowledge by pre-mentioning that this stretch of coastline plays host to a magical collection of Antony Gormley statues, all identical and all placed at irregular intervals in the sand and the sea, some part submerged, some full-standing. A truly captivating site. If you get the chance to pay a visit to Marine FC make sure you do the beach as well as the pubs and the fish and chip shops (by the way, why do Liverpool chippies always do kebabs and burgers as well as the normal stuff)?I'd seen a great picture on Onion Bags groundhopper site showing this marvellous looking tea hut at the ground called 'The Scouse House', I've never had a big bowl of steaming scouse before and was quite looking forward to it. How saddened I was to find out that they didn't actually do scouse, just the traditional pies, burgers and hot dogs. I got my pie and a cup of tea with a bit of a sour face I'm afraid, interestingly the steak and kidney pie was a Hollands variety all the way from Baxenden near Accrington, didn't think they'd go as far as Liverpool on their pie-van rounds?Its a smart set up at Marine even though the ground is 3 sided, superb looking playing surface, big stand with plenty of seats behind the College Road end, small covered terrace down the touchline and an open end giving good views of the action. The side of the ground without access (or space) runs smack tight against the back yards of characterful local housing. You also get a good club shop offering Marine FC souvenirs and a plentiful selection of non league programmes. Nice to see a decent turn out of Buxton supporters in the crowd, its not the easiest of journeys from the Peak District on a bank holiday. They were obviously hoping for a return for the petrol, a point would be good, 3 would be spectacular, many people had pointed Marine out for a challenge this season and they arrived back at The Arriva Stadium with 2 away wins under their belts (courtesy of Chasetown and Worksop).The first half was a scrappy affair in general, neither side found a rhythm and it wasn't easy on the eye. Marine had the ball a bit more than Buxton but apart from a few scrapes and deranged missed connections a goal was out of sight. John Reed, the Buxton manager must have expressed a few wise words at half time as the visitors tore into Marine and quickly started to dominate, all kinds of trouble was falling on poor Ryan McMahon the pebble dashed Marine keeper. A goal had to come but surprise, surprise it appeared at the other end when Marine's Jamie Rainford capitalised on a stray pass and put the home side ahead in the 56th minute. Buxton didn't sulk about it, they simply carried on battering poor Ryan up the other end.It didn't take long for the killer segment of the match. Buxton scored twice in 3 minutes (through Ridley and Towey)! Marine looked gutted and try as they might they couldn't find daylight in the Buxton defence. A tremendous scalp for the side from Derbyshire, 3 valuable points and a second half performance that offers great potential for the coming months, no wonder the Buxton boys were loving it. A sharp exit at the final whistle witnessed me and Frugal Glenn speedily strapped in the Match Shed for a surprisingly traffic free return down the M57 & M62, shame I missed out on that scouse though!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Armthorpe Welfare

Saturday 28th August
FA Cup Preliminary Round
Armthorpe Welfare 2 Marske United 4
Attendance: 87 (Head count)
Admission: £5
Programme: £1 (Pamphlet of adverts)
Tea hut purchases: Hot Dog £1 and a 60p cup of tea
Weather: Breezy, mainly cloudy, odd sunny spell
Parking: Next to the Co-op across the main road, easy exit
Armthorpes Church Street ground is around 5 miles east of Doncaster town centre. There was a heavy (tense) police presence in the streets around Doncasters famous railway station, snatch squads nervously awaited the rampaging hordes of 'beered up' glory hunters from Marske-by-the-Sea, a small coastal settlement near Redcar. I later found out it wasn't the jovial Marske United fans who had rattled their cage, it was some other bunch of supporters following an obscure club called Hull City. I drove the Match Shed out past the sweeping Doncaster racecourse and soon arrived at the rather nice looking Armthorpe, those rampaging hordes of Marske people had just got off a big white coach, half of them went to get changed for the game, the other half predictably went straight in the pub. They weren't rampaging hordes really, just some normal blokes out to watch their team (it does look better in print though). The ground was more or less empty 20 minutes before kick off, I went in the Tea Hut which had its own bijou 70's style eating and relaxing area, all the tables have gingham plastic table covers which are complimented by orange chairs and other odds and ends. A television set in the corner was showing the rugby league challenge cup coverage from Wembley.I may have been the first customer of the day. I got a tea which was only 60p. I didn't want the advertised pie and peas as my wife was making me a big steak pie for my supper, I made a mental note to come back for a half time 'cup-tie' hot dog. Flicking through the match programme I was immediately disappointed to realise it was wall to wall adverts with minimal football related content, this is fine if you want to find places selling freshly made pies, marinated meats and 'gut-buster' all day breakfasts but as regards the match you just about find out Armthorpe play in the premier division of the Northern Counties East league whilst Marske United play in Division 2 of the Northern League. It was only a pound but it was very poor as a programme. Some official had even written the competition and the name of the opposition on the front cover in pen? That can't be right can it. Room for improvement I think.The ground itself is clean, open in profile and very tidy. The only real structure alongside the pitch is a small bright white stand between the halfway line and the 18 yard area, the Tea Hut and changing rooms reside behind it. The stand has a few rows of decked wooden seating flush to the concrete steps. 'Mind-your-head' signs warn of low flying beams. Most people seemed to stand up in here which made it difficult for anyone wishing to sit down (view wise). An ugly communications mast is directly adjacent to the pitch at one end of the stand whilst a large menacing Netto Supermarket lurks on the skyline above its roof. There is also the makings of a shelter behind one of the goals but it only has a single wooden bench in it and some hard standing. The rest of the ground has concrete paths around it matched with railings and walls. It looks a decent little ground for the level that Armthorpe play at. The boys arrived back from the pub just as the teams came out. A Marske United union jack was soon displayed over the railings, the road to Wembley beckoning.Armthorpe looked resplendent in their retro styled Bristol Rovers kit whilst the seasiders from Marske looked a bit more Brazil fashioned. To be honest it was a very scrappy opening 15 minutes and when Armthorpe went 1 up I was thinking the whole game may just be predictable-style hoof and track. How wrong! There is something about these Northern League sides, they just dont give up and it appears that very often they end up coming out on top. I'd heard that Marske had high hopes for this season after just failing to get promotion last term and they began to show why. They hustled and bustled the home side and started winning the second balls. A sharp looking forward named Rob Jones had come on for an injured colleague and he took the game by the scruff of the neck. He had a tremendous game and was involved in nearly all of the Marske threats. Needless to say the Armthorpe lead disappeared and they looked a bit punch drunk by half time, Marske had taken a 2-1 lead. When they made it 3-1 from an early second half corner it was looking a case of 'how-many-will-they-get'?To Armthorpes credit they rallied (they had to) and when they made it 3-2 it was 'game-on' again. This had turned into a really good cup tie. Marske held their nerve and even increased the lead with a sharp breakaway to provide the finishing scoreline of 4-2 and the boys from the pub went mad (a bit anyway), a great result for them and the Wembley dream is still alive. As for Armthorpe, they need to gel as a unit more, they have the makings of a decent side, particularly with Bruno Holden up front but they need to 'join up the writing' a bit more (a bit like me). Pleased to say this was an enjoyable match and a credit to the level. I did go back for that half time hot dog by the way.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Leek Town

Saturday 21st August
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 South
Leek Town 2 Spalding United 2
Attendance: 231
Admission: £7
Programme: £1.20p
Tea hut purchases: Steak & Kidney pie £1.70p, Tea 70p
Weather: Very humid, grey and cloudy
Parking: On the A523 directly outside the ground, easy exit
I should start having a go on the pools coupon again, out of the 11 games I have seen this season, this turned out to be the 8th draw! An amazing fact touched upon by Frugal Glenn the self proclaimed betting expert who was accompanying me today. Well, one of his eccentric lower league trebles did actually come up 3 seasons ago, as he points out proudly almost every time he comes along. It was a refreshing sunny day when the Match Shed chugged down the Pennine slopes. Frugal Glenn was in one of his Jackson Pollack home decorating t-shirts again, his uncharacteristic good mood was quickly negated as we entered the dark grey rain clouds over North Staffordshire. Leek was wet, miserable and very, very humid. We parked up in the town centre, as we were a bit early it was a good opportunity to take a look at the antiques and collectables market, I gave Frugal a spare coat I had in the boot, he complained it was too tight (how ironic). I thought the stalls were most enjoyable although most of the bargains would have been snaffled up early morning, we left for the ground at 2.30pm, Frugal had got into an argument with a Brummie sounding dealer about a 'best price' for what appeared to be an imitation Galle glass vase, it certainly wasn't a scene from the Antiques Road show, your average Frugal Glenn valuation is more 'Aldi' than Sotherby's.I eased the Match Shed to the side of the main road right outside the impressive Harrison Park stadium (pointed in the right direction for our return trip via Macclesfield and Stockport). The rain had stopped. I'd seen good reports about the Leek Town ground and one can understand why, it has that character and 'real football ground' feel to it. The large well appointed main stand and the cosy covered terracing on all the other sides of the stadium are complimented by glimpses of the Staffordshire hills amidst greenery, trees and ambient local housing. There is even an Art Deco styled red brick works behind one of the ends, very classical I must say. Yes, it has a nice feel to it this place. If it gets the thumbs up from Frugal Glenn... it must be good (by the way, Leek CSOB also play here in the North West Counties Division 1). There appear to be some friendly ground staff at the ground, right from the programme seller, the lottery man right through to the dry witted Tea Hut bloke serving up the grub. I purchased a nice looking steak and kidney pie from him which was sublime in pastry and gravy but just a little lacking on filling, one chap who was in the queue before me went back and had another one? Have to mention that the programme I bought was a very good publication for £1.20p, plenty of readable columns about the club, the visitors from Spalding and how other sides in the league are preparing for the new campaign.The beat from the street reckons Leek Town may struggle to replicate their form of last season when they did exceptionally well until tailing off towards the latter part of the run in. They haven't won any of their pre season friendlies this term and consistency in finishing off the opposition is a definite worry. As for Spalding United, they had a really tough time last season (as in 4 seasons previous to that), they finished next to bottom and are a lot of punters favourites for the whipping boys tag this time around as well. Imagine the shock and stunned silence around the ground when Spalding took a first minute lead with a superb headed goal from Andy White. To make it worse for the home fans the impressive Tony Onokah made it 2-0 with a calmly but clinically executed finish in the 12th minute. Spalding were in dream land! As the first half progressed Spalding continued to hit Leek on the break, they exploited some poor marking and really should have had at least 2 or 3 more. Leek simply failed to gel, it was all a bit predictable, the relentless urge to get it wide, hoof it into the box and simply 'see-what-happens'. There was no creativity through the middle, no quality balls to the strikers and no 'up-front-presence' to worry a solid looking Spalding defence.It didn't take long for the novelty of the first match of the 'Evo-Stik' new season to wear off. The Leek contingent were getting restless. The lads from the pub took it out on the Ref, the young kids started a game of tig and the old timers reckoned they must have finally flipped for paying to see this lot, oh dear. Spalding held the 2-0 lead at half time and I went for a cup of tea. Unfortunately, I have to report that this cup of tea was probably the worst I've wasted money on for many, many years, it was rancid, Frugal said they were probably recycling tea bags in the back, I'm not going along with that but they seriously need to check and improve the quality of a basic cup of tea, it truly was horrendous.I predicted that Leek would come out fighting and really have a go at turning the game around. It didn't happen. What did happen is that Spalding sat back and lost that dangerous threat of hurting Leek on the break. Tony Onokah was still a handful for the Leek defence and he was a main outsource for Spalding due to his excellent qualities in holding up the ball but they didn't support him enough and gradually Leek started to camp out in the visitors half. Tony received a truly unjust booking from a referee under constant pressure from the home fans and soon after he was taken off. Leon Ashman scrambled home a scrappy goal for Leek in the 77th minute and Spalding resorted to kicking it anywhere. The equaliser arrived in the 89th minute, to be honest it was what Leek deserved because Spalding stopped playing football at half time.
At the whistle, Leek got a rapturous show of support from the loyal supporters who never gave up hope (apart from the old timers having a good moan that is). The Match Shed kicked into life and we headed back north. A long and winding route on 'A' roads that got got utterly ridiculous whilst negotiating the major roadworks through Stockport, how clever to take down the signposts for the turn offs for the through traffic? We eventually got on the M60 to get us around Greater Manchester but you dont need the hassle when you're rushing home for your tea.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Harrogate Town

Tuesday 17th August
Blue Square Conference North
Harrogate Town 3 Droylsden 3
Attendance: 296
Admission: £12 ouch!
Programme: £2
Tea hut purchase: Tea at £1
Weather: Mild sunny evening
Parking: Side street off the adjacent main road, easy exitI always get the impression that Harrogate Town get quite a few knockers (no not the voluptuous female variety), I've met a few ground hoppers and general supporters of other clubs who've given the place some stick, tales of poor stewarding, an arrogant attitude, even problems about being hassled for taking photographs? Tonight I was going to find out for myself. I steered the match shed due east past the backdrops of Bolton Abbey and Blubberhouses on the scenic A59 route, the gentle sweeping fells looking superb in the early evening sunshine. With little traffic to hold me up, I was soon in the affluent spa town of big overpriced houses, picturesque greenery and fancy coffee shops. I'd made myself a chicken sandwich before I left but I was predictably hungry again by the time I neared the ground.Not being sure what may or may not be on offer at the Tea Hut I decided to take immediate action. I spotted a nice looking fish and chip shop on the Skipton Road about a mile or so from the ground, Simpsons it was called. I slung the match shed down a back lane and piled in before they shut. I got myself a freshly battered Yorkshire Cod alongside a tray of chips and gravy. It set me back £4.20p (fish and chips is no longer an economical meal) but it was exceptionally good stuff, I'd certainly recommend this place if you're heading along the A59, its not too far from the hospital roundabout near the ground. Its not easy to park up near the ground but I luckily found a place on one of the sidestreets across the main road. I was soon able to witness the CNG Stadium basking in its charming setting amidst the surrounding trees and sunshine. Dont know what all the moaning is about from other supporters, it looked a great little ground to me, I didn't see any stewarding issues and nobody stopped me taking any pictures either. My one complaint would be the £12 admission tag, I reckon a tenner is enough for Conference North football, especially during these hard times, they do let you sit in the main stand for no extra charge though. Nice to get a programme after the fiasco at Hall Road Rangers last Saturday and a decent read it is too, plenty of colour pics and good to see some up to date information about the visitors and the rest of the league as well.I'd had a good meal at the chippy but I could easily have got something from what looked to be a very busy Tea Hut. There was a steady brisk trade and lots of curry and burger smells wafting out across the pitch, it looked like they had a mountain of chips in hot trays and I spotted quite a few customers tucking into big portions on the terraces. I decided upon a tea which was ok but I expect it to be better than luke warm for a pound a hit. A small band of Droylsden supporters had arrived for the game, not an easy rush hour trip along the M62 from Manchester, they did seem strangely subdued throughout the game, either that or they were just impeccably well behaved for the proceedings, perhaps they'd had too much to eat from the Tea Hut.The rumours and feedback before this match were that the Harrogate public are a lot more confident and expectant of this seasons squad than that under performing bunch who made a mess of the last campaign, apparently some good players had been brought in and there were high hopes for quality football. Going off what I witnessed during the first half of this game those expectations are fully justified. They are almost unrecognisable from the shambolic escapades of last season. Droylsden were gifted a first goal due to a defensive blunder but after that Harrogate bossed the first 45 and soon had a 2-1 lead established. Towards half time they were bordering on rampant and when the whistle went for the break they must have been disappointed not to be able to just carry on. Liam Hardy was causing all kinds of problems for the visiting defence, he was admirably supported by the classy Adam Nowakowski from midfield and the wide play from Martin Foster on the right. Richard Pell was solid in central defence and Criag Dootson looks a great signing in the nets.Droylsden must have been fearing the worst when Town went 3-1 up shortly after the break, they seemed to be in free fall. The Droylsden fans had got even quieter! For a team playing away from home decidedly up against it big time and looking squarely at a tonking, Droylsden drew a brave line in the sand, regrouped, changed the tactics and started a turnaround which makes you realise why perhaps they are esteemed second favourites for the title. There was no more panic, no headless chicken stuff, just pure confidence and concentration in climbing the mountain. Droylsden didn't get back in this match by long ball hit and hope, they built up play from the back, increased dominance yard by yard in midfield and started creating decent chances up front.The game slowly started turning their way, it was hard to overcome a positive Town side who truly would have valued such a major scalp early in the season but a Ciaran Kilheeney penalty made it 3-2 and everything was back on. Town must have been gutted when the visitors finally got their equaliser right at the death, David McNiven pounced on a ball through the middle, held off a desperate challenge and banged the ball past an outstretched Dootson to get the biggest Droylsden cheer of the night (and rightly so). What a finish to a good quality Conference North game.... 3-3! Droylsden would be pleased with the point, Harrogate played well and if they can develop onwards and upwards like they played in that first half they certainly wont be the pushovers they were last season.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Hall Road Rangers

Saturday 14th August
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Hall Road Rangers 2 Newcastle Benfield 2
Attendance: £5
Attendance: 56 (Head count)
Programme: They didn't bother doing one!
Tea hut purchase: Cheeseburger £2.30p, Tea in a mug 80p
Weather: Nice and sunny but not too hot, just right
Parking: In a nearby cul de sac, easy enough getaway
The match shed made the longish trek over to Humberside for a classy looking cup tie at Dene Park, the tidy little home of Northern Counties East side Hall Road Rangers. The stadium resides just off a roundabout on the main road between Beverley and Hull. Apart from a nearby garage and a few houses its in the middle of nowhere. I'd dropped the wife off in Beverley to do a bit of shopping, in the fading shadow of the glorious Minster the town looked resplendent in the lovely August sunshine, what a fine day for FA Cup football. I was at the ground a bit too early so I made my way into the club bar and settled down with a pint to watch Spurs batter Oilchester City (batter them they did but unfortunately they couldn't score). Already I could hear a few Geordie accents in the background, doubtless members of the Benfield Army down from the Toon dreaming of glory. Benfield are from the Northern League and they already have a couple of impressive wins under their belts this season.The pint of ale had given me an appetite, the social club set up at Dene Park is quite impressive, they also have a snooker room and function suite alongside the big screen tv in the main bar, however, most impressive of all is their very own in-house snack bar come tea hut. I was drawn towards it like a carpet tack to a very powerful magnet. I couldn't wait to get my grub-money out. I ordered a cheeseburger and while it sizzled in the background I admired the mountain of bread rolls stacked up on the table, they certainly had enough stock, how many people where they expecting today? As soon as I was handed my burger, just before I could get it in my mouth I was unexpectedly interrupted by a large horde of wedding guests. They were on their way to the function room but it left me with a hot burger and runny tomato sauce smack in the middle of all these people in big dresses and economy purchased suits. I fought my way to the entrance, fortunately my burger was still intact.The next event of the afternoon was the great programme fiasco, never have I seen such glum faces as those of a small group of hoppers gathered just inside the entrance gate of the ground. I gave a smartly dressed gent in blazer and tie my 5 quid admission and asked him for a programme, he replied that they didn't have any programmes at the moment (it was now 2-45pm) but they were trying to 'rustle' some up? A ground hopper in a carcoat stood just behind him was shaking his head in dismay, he looked like he was about to cry. Ten minutes later I went back and asked if the programmes had turned up, the gent in the blazer said they were just being stapled together. Another hopper with a Tesco's plastic bag (probably brought for the programme) blurted out that it just wasn't good enough, people expect a programme on entrance. I went back twice more before half time, still no joy, apparently the editor was now making some last minute changes to the programme in his office. It looked like the frenzied hoppers were planning a lynching. I was told I would be given a programme in the second half but it didn't happen, the hoppers were still gathered near the editors office when full time arrived, as I passed them I'm sure one of them had a rag soaked in petrol. No programme for me then, dont know if the hoppers hung around and eventually succeeded in beating one out of the officials but it was a bit of a let down to say the least.Anyway, I did find a second tea hut to cheer me up, I thought they just had one in the clubhouse, they also have one in the ground! I got a nice cup of tea in a real mug. Have to say I had expected a bit more of a crowd for such a decent looking fixture, my head count came out at 56 and about 30 of those were probably down from Newcastle. The game itself was dramatically opened by the visitors who shot into a quick 2-0 lead thanks to some lethal finishing, they looked red hot on the break. Rangers couldn't live with them in that opening quarter. One or two murmurs of defeatist patter could be heard from the locals but Rangers slowly began a gallant fight to force themselves back into the match. This resulted in them having the lions share of possession, creating decent chances and importantly, getting a lot tighter at the back.They got one back before half time and levelled the scores with a fantastic 'over-the-wall' free kick with around 15 minutes left. It had been a competitive game throughout but I was annoyed at the amount of continual diving, fouling and moaning from both sets of players, something you dont see too often in non-league football, at least not to this degree, lets hope it was a one off. It certainly made it difficult for the young referee and his assistants, he must have booked nearly everybody on the pitch by the end, no wonder Hall Park Rangers finished with 10 men. Not good. I reckon a draw was the right result but I feel what could have been a truly great game was spoiled a little by the negative antics of the players, still enjoyed my visit though, shame I didn't get that programme.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Bacup Borough

Wednesday 11th August
North West Counties Premier Division
Bacup Borough 1 Padiham 1
Admission: £6
Attendance: 98
Programme: £1.50p
Tea hut purchase: I'd had a big tea!
Weather: Early sunshine turning dull, breezy and cold
Parking: Couple of streets away, easy exit
The North West Counties black pudding derby is not quite the same as the Serie-A Milanese derby, there are no helicopters, riot squads or local youths running around stabbing each others bottoms with pen-knives, they're more sensible and refined in East Lancashire, at this end of the Rossendale Valley they simply roll flat caps across their shoulders, sup a pint of bitter and bemoan the demise of tripe. Bacups ground is on Cowtoot Lane right at the top of a big hill, this is high altitude non-league 'moorland style'. As the match-shed struggled up the peak in second gear I drove past some sherpa's in green and white uniforms pulling some donkeys, it was the Asda home delivery service. Half the ground backs onto the open Pennines, the local cows (and I no I don't mean the women) had a great view of the action. Behind the School buildings and the Martin Peters Sports Bar you will find the respected Bacup cricket ground of Lanehead, an oval of greenery where superstars such as New Zealands Chris Cairns and the West Indian Roger Harper once played for the town in the much admired Lancashire League.Its rough and its certainly ready at the Borough ground. A credit they survive in such hard times, neighbours Nelson FC bit the dust (or should I say bog) just before pre-season, however, Bacup keep going and seem to be well structured and properly managed. Calling the shots and pulling the strings football wise are Manager Brent Peters and Head of Player Development Andy Hill, they can certainly be classed as two of the loudest dug out town criers in the game today, I certainly wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of them. One wonders what kind of old video collection Brent and Andy have at home, the match instructions bellowed out to the players somewhat resembled one of those dodgy artistic films often exported from places like Sweden in the 1970's, I had to wonder what any unsuspecting visitor walking past the outside of the ground would have thought? Brent and Andy were giving it all "GET IT OUT!... HARDER!... TIGHTER!... SQUEEZE THEM! (oh dear)... GET ROUND THE BACK! (oh err)... NOW PUT IT UP THE FRONT!" The local supporters didnt seem to twig and took it all as expected as the misplaced passes and defensive lapses took their toll.Both sides where giving this match their all, it was very frenetic but ultimately scrappy, everything was a 100 miles an hour, nobody had time or space to get their foot on the ball and direct any strategy into the proceedings. Another key factor which I personally thought may have had something to do with the misshapen football was the fact that the pitch was on the sloping side of the big hill. The linesman had to be attached to the far touchline pitchside wall by climbing ropes. Ok it wasn't that bad but there is a significant gradient from the hilltop touchline to the lower changing rooms side.Half time it was goalless, all the huff and puff had brought few clear cut chances The early evening sunshine which greeted the game had quickly disappeared and a chilly breeze began to strengthen, I wished I'd put an extra jumper on. Like 90% of the crowd I went into the Martin Peters Sports Bar for a warm from the cold. It looks pretty dull and pokey from outside but what a super environment once inside. The place was pretty much full and there was even a tea hut operation in full swing, in fact almost everyone in the room was in the queue, must be good tucker? I didn't partake as I was still full from a massive plate of sausages and bubble and squeak that I had for my tea. The bar also has a great collection of photographs adorning the walls, some great football images from the clubs history. The external half time action featured a local house starting the chimney up, I dont know what they were burning but it certainly wasn't coal, a thick plume of smoke turned half of Bacup into some type of Icelandic Volcano no-fly-zone in the space of 10 minutes flat.As the teams reappeared through the falling ash it was more of the same, kick, rush, hoof, charge etc. Bacup scored from a penalty but Padiham snatched an immediate scrappy equalizer, it was obvious with a half hour left this game was a bankers bet for a draw and so it proved. Not the most inspiring game I've seen so far this season but it was good to see the place and witness the local attractions. With the location up on that hill I can see why Bacup get so many postponements once the winter starts to bite.

Sunday, 8 August 2010


Saturday 7th August
Northern Counties East Premier Division
Thackley 1 Bridlington Town 1
Attendance: 153
Admission: £5
Programme: £1 and very good too
Tea hut purchase: Nice cheeseburger at £1.90, tea 70p
Weather: Lovely sunshine but not too hot
Parking: Club car park, easy getaway
No more friendlies for me, its time for the proper action, yippee! Today the Northern Counties East kicked off its season and I was at Dennyfield on the semi-rural outskirts of Bradford, the glorious little ground of Thackley AFC. The champions Bridlington Town arrived in their mini bus (expertly driven by their chairman Peter Smurthwaite) just as I parked up the match-shed (my car). Thackleys charismatic home is in a rather nice spot past the local cricket club down a leafy country lane, surrounded by fields it presented a super setting in the sparkling warm sunshine. A point I made to Frugal Glenn who was evidently too busy scanning his copy of 'The Sun' to notice. It was dull, damp and cold when we left the tops of the Pennine hills, Frugal Glenn looked like a walking second hand clothes shop, not long after he piled most of his winter woollens in the boot leaving him sporting a faded t-shirt he'd been doing some decorating in. He was all Jackson Pollack.
Theres a lovely big red and white sign adorning the wall next to the turnstiles and once inside you're quickly impressed with a spick and span scenic little ground, the pitch looked immaculate. Most of the structures are down one side of the touchline, a tea hut, a covered terrace and a main stand with wooden bench type seating. On the opposite side of the pitch resides an open terrace where we would later watch the second half. It all looked pretty good to me, even Frugal Glenn mumbled that it looked ok! I was starving, I'd had an Indian the night before (a meal not a person) but I'd suffered the 1 in 10 deadly after effects so associated with such spicy delicacies, I had bad guts with all the trimmings 'big time', I'd only been able to manage a small dry piece of toast in the morning but appetite was back with a vengeance. At ten past two the tea hut shutter went up on a new league season and I was thrilled to order the very first quarter pound cheese burger of the new campaign. I got a big cup of tea on the side and in no time at all the horrors of a rogue Lamb Jal Frezi were a thing of the past. It was a rather large chap at the cooking controls in the tea hut and he soon had a sweat up as the burgers and onions sizzled and spat in unison, at his side was his trusty pint of foaming ale, obviously a chef from the Keith Floyd school of cuisine. The burger hit the spot and the warm tea washed it down excellently. Frugal Glenn was reading my programme and commented that it was a pretty good read, it even had colour pictures in it! For a quid it was an informative publication which was trademark of the Thackley product we were readily witnessing. By now a number of Bridlington Town supporters had started arriving many of them wearing the club red polo shirts, obviously looking forward to another successful season. This was looking a 'match of the day' at least on paper, Bridlington won many praises for the football they played winning the league whilst Thackley, who finished fourth last term, had high hopes for silverware themselves come next May.What we got was what we expected, a damn good end to end game of football. Perhaps the first half edged the second for goalmouth action but there was still plenty of quality. This was a match that was a credit to the league. Josh McClean banged in a long range opener for Thackley in the eleventh minute, Wayne Wallace got a foot on a Bridlington free kick in the 41st minute to equalise. Two players who stood out amidst the cut and thrust of a very even encounter were Thackleys new signing from Halifax Town Luke Richardson, who terrorised the vistors down the left flank and the superb controlling Bridlington midfield general Ashley Allanson. Ash was faultless throughout and looked absolute class on the day. I suppose a draw was a fair result in the end as neither of these sides deserved to come out of this match pointless.If this is the standard for the season the laughing stock negativity, diving, play acting and fouling festering from that atrocious World Cup will soon be forgotten completely. Can't wait for the next match to be honest. On a slightly less savoury footing the warm sunny weather had caused a bit of a problem in the car (or I should say match shed), it was my wedding anniversary and to soften the blow of sodding off to football again I'd bought the financial controller some fancy chocolates, well I did spend 7 quid on them, unfortunately the unexpected warm weather had melted them into some kind of art studio 'Mars-bar-like' wall plaque. Frugal Glenn didn't see the problem with the situation, he said they would still taste the same once she started eating them. Mind you...I had got her a card from Morrisons as well! Money no object so long as I can still get to a midweek game next Tuesday / Wednesday?