Tuesday 14th December 2010
Lancashire Challenge Trophy Quarter Final
Radcliffe Borough 3 Wigan Robin Park 2
Attendance: 71 (According to the Vodkat site)
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.