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.