Saturday 16th October
North West Counties League Premier Division
Barnoldswick Town 2 Maine Road 0
Admission: A very reasonable £4
Tea hut purchases: Home-made Corned Beef Hash £1.50, Tea 60p
Weather: Bright but chilly in the shade
Parking: Club car park, easy exit via a 3 point turn
The well tended allotments adjacent to the Barnoldswick Town car park were humming with the countryfying aromas of uncut Category 'A' Cow Shit. I'd left the Match Shed in its Le Mans type getaway position across the way. Boy that manure was bloody strong, good job the ground is set between a park and a cricket pitch, you'd need a gas mask if you lived near here. There was a really friendly bloke on the turnstiles providing a warm welcome to all the spectators, how jolly decent to find out it was only 4 quid in! Frugal Glenn was well chuffed, this was his kinda-scene. Not often you see Frugal break into a smile when he's got his Old Testament wallet out. I then noticed that he was unfortunately wearing his extra-long crocodile skin 'curly toe' shoes from Asda's again, the man selling programmes clocked them ten yards away, he said something to his mate and started shaking his head, I didn't mention it to Frugal, probably best under the circumstances. I'd only had a bowl of Ready Brek and some toast for my breakfast and I was now pretty hungry, I decided to go straight to the clubhouse to check out the internal Tea Hut come Snack Bar. I politely enquired what was hot? (Meaning warm not West End fashionable, this was Barnoldswick remember) The lady behind the counter went through the range of pasties and pies and then started telling me about a steaming bowl of home-made corned beef hash which I could add loads of mushy pea's and gravy to if I wanted. The last time I felt so enamoured by a woman was seeing Raquel Welsh in that skimpy furry bikini in One Million Years BC. I only had to pay £1.50 for it, I cant remember the last time I had proper cutlery at a football match? Me and Frugal Glenn got a nice table near the window overlooking the pitch, this was so civilised, we both complimented on our nice cups of tea in proper mugs, excellent stuff! I'd heard Barnoldswick always put on a good show grub wise, they've got my vote, top tucker, faultless. I asked Frugal why he hadn't spent the cash he saved on admission getting a decent dinner from the snack bar, he then pulled a flattened old plastic bag from his Car Coat inner pocket, "I'm saving this little beauty for half time" he declared. He'd brought along a cold Steak and Onion pie (Ex Morrisons Supermarket variety) which he reckoned was only 3 to 4 days past the sell by date! He couldn't believe he'd caught his wife in the process of throwing it in the bin? Vintage Frugal Glenn I'm afraid. After a quite stroll around the scenic little ground titled The Silentnight Stadium, it was time for the action. Promoted Barnoldswick had only been beaten in the league a couple of times this term and that was early in the season, they'd got a respected reputation as battlers who are hard to beat, their problem was too many draws, 7 to date, they need to finish sides off if they want to move up from 8th position. The classy visitors from Manchester were those cultured youth development facilitators 'Maine Road'. A place below Barnoldswick they had played 3 games less but had already started taking a few big name scalps in the league. This was going to be tight, tense and tricky and so it proved. Quality, flair and precision was going to be rationed today, it was all commitment, endeavour and pressure. Maine Road dominated possession in the first quarter but struggled to find that cutting edge going forward, a trait that ultimately hounded them for the full ninety minutes. Barnoldswick, or Barlick as the locals call em, seemed to take stock of the visitors game plan and stealthily found the combinations for unlocking the defences, a once confident Maine Road defence soon started rocking and reeling from some surging counter attacks. One player for Maine Road stood head and shoulders above the rest (for the whole game), that was the Captain Alex Jay, while others floundered around him he oozed class and composure. When Paul Barrett got between the visitors keeper and 2 of Alex Jays co-defenders for a 31st minute opening goal, it gave Barnoldswick a foundation to take the game away from Maine Road, the visitors frustrations were vibrantly illustrated in the half time derision their bench poured upon the Referee, Mark Powell from Halifax (who seemed ok to me). Mr Powell took it in his stride and didn't let things affect him. The half time break witnessed Frugal Glenn eating his cold stale pie, I tried to get a picture of the sordid event but he ran off (hobbled may be more accurate). The second half started off in Barnoldswick's favour in the same manner they'd finished the first, it wasn't very long before Lewis Jordan got the all important second goal. Now Maine Road were really up against it. To give 'Road' some credit they didn't go into free fall, instead they changed a few things around and got to grips with the circumstances, they pushed the home side back and applied real pressure, unfortunately they lacked a striker (on the day) capable enough of finding the space and the touch to finish things off. The locals looked well pleased at the final whistle, the unbeaten league run continues and Barnoldswick now climb up to 7th. There was even talk of a celebratory pan of fresh Corned Beef Hash? Perhaps they were just joking? In any case, I had to get back for my 'Saturday Night Treat', I'd been promised an Indian (a meal not a young belly dancer). I extracted the Match Shed from the close parking of a few late arrivals and I set the controls for the heart of the sun. I didn't think this was the best of games (entertainment wise) but it was a well contested match and the homely little semi-rural town on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales is well worth a visit, if you give it a go be sure to leave enough room to try out the snack bar in the clubhouse, Mmmm.