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

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Knutsford v Gamesley POSTPONED

After what seems like weeks of relentless rain its no wonder lower league pitches resemble paddy fields from the set of Apocalypse Now. I got the call-off call from Wong Fat Chong at 12.30pm. All Cheshire League matches had been postponed. Apparently Knutsford FC were offering pleasure boat trips to nearby Tatton Park from where the centre circle had once been.
Another blank Saturday I'm afraid. There was little on offer Football League wise (without spending a shed load of money) and I don't like going to League Grounds anymore really, they don't let you take a proper camera in for starters, so 2011 ended on a wet, damp, miserable footing for 'Wheres The Tea Hut'. Surely these horrible gale force winds we keep getting and all the endless days of non-stop rain will have to give us a break before too long? The winter is a cruel master in this part of the world, it certainly is.

All the best for 2012 Tea Hut readers. Hope to get the chance of a non-league game soon.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Rochdale 0 Yeovil Town 0

Saturday 17th December
N-Power League One (The Old Division 3)
Attendance: 2,692
Admission: Free ticket from 'Ron Atkinsons Neighbour'
Grub: Massive long queue (binned it)
Weather: Very cold, started fair but turned dull, remained dry
Parking: Off Edenfield Road, 5 minute walk
The snow and ice returned to the North West this week, nothing major, a slight covering and temperatures down to around -2 but it was enough to activate a string of local postponements in non league circles, my first choice planned fixture was Maine Road v Stone Dominoes, sadly it got the call-off. It was damned decent of new Tea Hut crew member 'Ron Atkinsons Neighbour' to kindly put me in receipt of a free ticket for (what he described as) one of the big league matches of the day, I was somewhat surprised to find out it was for Rochdale v Yeovil Town (the true Barcelona of mid Somerset). 'Ron Atkinsons Neighbour' is called what he's called because he once lived a couple of streets away from Ron Atkinsons house when Ron was Manager of Manchester United, he's wined and dined on the fact for years (the neighbour not the actual Big Ron). Anyway 'Ron Atkinsons Neighbour' is still doing a stint at an open prison for his part in a massive fake underpants scam (which may be a touch over glamourised from his part) so he passed me his annual Goldbond Lottery Members free ticket for Rochdale Football Club which he gets from his cousin who does the lottery but hates football.
Dale give free entry for one game each season to all Goldbond members. Frugal Glenn was none too happy I was given this treat, he flatly rebuked my suggestion that he was still welcome to come along so long as he paid in "I'm not paying 20 quid to watch that shower of shyte" was his carefully worded polite response. After years of not catching Rochdale in action this would now be the third time I'd seen them in one season, they'd yet to score in my presence, never mind win! I watched them lose at Bradford City in an FA Cup 1st Round tie which they deserved to win, and then last week (courtesy of reduced admission prices), I witnessed them easily surrender at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane. I parked the Match Shed at the side of a walled bowling green just the other side of Edenfield Road and after five minutes of a dodgy walk slipping along icy footpaths I was outside the Spotland Stadium, a much respected ground often given good feedback from away fans all around the country. Small groups of Yeovil supporters were huddled over brimming trays of Pie, Chips and Gravy from the Willbutts Lane chippy which is positioned smack bang opposite the away supporters turnstiles. They proudly wore their green and white hooped replica shirts, one fat lad was already struggling to wipe clean a green/yellow smear of English curry sauce which smeared over the stretched nylon. There must have been about 60 odd Yeovil supporters that had made the long journey up from Somerset, apparently the coach set off at 7.30am that morning, for a struggling side just dumped out the FA Cup by non league Fleetwood Town that is some dedication to the cause. As I arrived at the Main Stand turnstiles around the other side of the ground (where Ron Atkinsons Neighbours ticket was designated) I was surprised to find them still shut with small disgruntled queues forming, it was 2.30pm! A horde of out of condition stewards in skin tight high visibility clothing sweated off the pounds as they shovelled out spade fulls of second class grit onto sheet ice in front of the turnstile entrances. Surely something they should have ascertained as a hazard a good while sooner than half past two? Especially the ones with big labels on the back of their jackets stating Superior Chief Health and Safety Director (have they never heard of a basic risk assessment)? Even those hard drinking drug induced bonzo's from the Rochdale Youth Orchestra couldn't get access to the stadium!
They set up an impromptu free gig in the Directors car park instead, it was great to hear those old Hawkwind and Black Sabbath classics again, all credit to some of the Dale Pensioners for getting into a bit of rough and ready headbanging as well. As soon as I got in the Stand (unreserved seating only) I bumped into Grinton Borrington who also does a bit of groundhopping in between his commitments in the antiques and collectables business. Grinton loves a drink and quickly produced half a pint of rum in a plastic coke bottle, I politely refused a tipple due to Match Shed considerations but Grinton already appeared decidedly half cut. He'd been hoping to watch Warrington Town v Lancaster City but it had been postponed. I did hope he would behave himself, he said he'd got the nod from a couple of female Dale supporters in the Church Inn pub beforehand, then it all went pear-shaped when their husbands came back from the bar? He'd had to leave his pint. As regards todays crucial game, both Rochdale and Yeovil are having a very lean time. Dale can count victories on one hand. Manager Steve Eyre is under a lot of pressure from loyal fans who suffered for 40 years to get out of the basement division, they now look destined for a 'wimp-like' prompt return. The previous boss who 'did the business' in getting them promotion to League One, Keith Hill, has moved onto Barnsley FC and Steve is struggling to make his mark in football league management without many of the good players that have also moved on, either through transfer sales or the conclusion of key loan deals. Steve Eyre was in charge of the Manchester City youth set up and the Rochdale board presumed he would be the ideal candidate to further the Dale dream of establishing themselves at this higher level, it hasn't happened (yet). In defence of Steve Eyre his signings have had to be extremely careful, the squad appears untested, young or in some cases too old, there are no dependable, quality tried and tested successful players to call upon, true, players like Jason Kennedy and Gary Jones can do the business in the centre of midfield but the defence looks flimsy, even a bit slow and there is a serious lack of a threat upfront, the forwards seem young, nervous and lacking in presence.
As for Yeovil, it was great to see Darren Way on the pitch again, although this time as a coach rather than the excellent 'midfield-general' he once served the Glovers as, Darren had a bad car accident and has done really well to return to the game. I remember always choosing Darren Way and his Yeovil midfield partner Lee Johnson in my Football Manager PC game squads no matter who I was in charge of (great players). The current Yeovil side are struggling, Terry Skiverton is doing his best as Manager but confidence appears a bit low as to how they will get out of this slide, todays game against Rochdale is one they could simply not afford to lose. Back to what was happening off the pitch... Grinton finished the rum 10 minutes into the first half and said he needed the bogs, I never saw him again! Perhaps he spotted one of those married women from the Church Inn?
On the pitch Rochdale were taking the game to Yeovil and there was plenty of sharp inter-play between Akpa-Akpro and David Ball coming in from the left while Nicky Adams danced down the right, Harry Bunn was holding up the ball upfront and it only seemed a matter of minutes before Dale would score. Yeovil thought otherwise. The Somerset side soaked it all up and played out the game plan, sit back, defend in numbers and hit them on the break (unfortunately for the neutral there wasn't much hitting them on the break, in this match at least). Akpa-Akpro hit the bar, Dale kept creating chances but it often seemed the younger players were trying to walk the ball in the net, frustration reared its head and at half time it was 0-0. I'd had a pre match dinner back at the house, this consisted of a Pukka Steak Pie and Beans, to be honest, I was still pretty full. I went along to sample the Rochdale Tea Hut with a view to sampling a burger or something more than puff pastry and the like.
What I found was a massive long queue of gigantic proportions, I asked a bloke ahead of me "what are the burgers like here"? "Its only pies, pies, pies here mate" came the reply. I went back to the stand, I sat in the other end that Rochdale were attacking for the second half, there was bugger all to watch in the half Yeovil were facing! The second period was a copy of the first, more Rochdale pressure, odd periods of highly skilled inter-play, odd periods of dross, a few clear cut chances and lots of hit and hope.
Perhaps the true man of the match was Rene Gilmartin the Yeovil keeper, he was fantastic the whole game, he pulled off some wonderful saves time and time again (poor lad even suffered a dislocated finger and had it fixed there and then on the pitch), he just carried on regardless, a great performance. The icy cold chill set in for the last twenty minutes or so, it was painful to sit there to be honest, it was bloody freezing, I longed for the heater of the Match Shed.
It all ended all square 0-0, I reckon Yeovil would be a lot more pleased with the result than Rochdale. Dale needed 3 points from this game, if they cannot beat teams like Yeovil (no disrespect intended) especially at home, one has to wonder where they will gather enough points to remain in this division? Rochdale go to Tranmere on Boxing Day, that looks a lot more difficult than what was on the menu today. I just hope somebody will buy Steve Eyre a nice warm coat for christmas. Why does he only wear a jumper on the touchline when its obviously bloody freezing? Get a duffle coat on man!
Update as of Monday 19th December: Rochdale AFC today sacked Manager Steve Eyre and his Assistant Frankie Bunn. It appears the Yeovil fixture was a game too far.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Postponements: Seen it all now!

Radcliffe Borough postponed last nights Lancashire Cup Quarter Final match with Barrow because it was a bit windy! The news was posted on the Evo Stik fixtures page yesterday evening.

The Radcliffe official website simply says it was due to health and safety concerns?

The Barrow site provides a tad more clarity..... apparently, it appears one of the floodlights was not adequately maintained and was in danger of blowing down onto spectators? It seems Barrow didn't get told of the problem until late afternoon!

You couldn't make this stuff up (unbelievable).

What the hell is going on with non league football in the North West?

No wonder a lot of spectators can't be arsed anymore.

This is the second time that Radcliffe have pulled this fixture, first time around it was the usual 'northern classic' the traditional waterlogged pitch.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Sheffield United 3 Rochdale 0

Saturday 10th December 2011
N Power League One (The old Third Division)
Attendance: 15,892
Admission: £15
Grub: Fish, Chips & Curry Sauce £3, Tea £1.80
Parking: Horrendous! Ended up miles from the ground
Weather: Dull, damp, showers, cold (ok for Sheffield)
With a lot of Northern non league games either already postponed or under a late threat of being called off just before kick off me and Frugal Glenn took the safe option. We could have done Stockport v Stalybridge in the FA Trophy but I didn't fancy the ultra right wing stewarding policy at the ground with the Rugby Union pitch markings. We could have also done Ossett Albion v Salford City but the food is crap at Ossett and its not long since the last visit. So it was off to the Steel City and the delights of Bramall Lane. The only negative is that I couldn't get the camera in so there's no pictures. Last time I went to Bramall Lane I went on the train (to see a Plymouth Argyle away win, I think, or was it a draw), the time before that was a good few years back against Forest and I remembered there being lots of street parking around the terraced houses close to the ground, this time around I was dismayed to find that every single street had been designated 'permit holders' only. For 45 minutes I struggled to get a parking spot for the match shed, I ended up in another part of Sheffield behind the big bus garage, it seemed miles from the ground and Frugal Glenn was none too happy with the route march to the ground, especially as he had some new shoes on which hadn't been broken in. It was 2.30pm when I rushed into the chippy next to the ground, I hadn't had anything to eat since half a bowl of cornflakes first thing in the morning. The tiny chippy was packed with Blades fans who all appeared to be regulars. I found out they did special mini fish dinners which consisted of a smaller sized cod or haddock (which still seemed bigger than normal portions in other chippies), chips and either pea's, curry or gravy, all for 3 pounds, I found it to be excellent stuff and very reasonably priced. Me and Frugal got Main Stand tickets for £15 each, the Rochdale game had been given category C status which allows a major price drop from the bigger games in the fixture list (such as Wednesday and Charlton etc). It cost me £1.80 for a tea bag but this was league and I had to expect the rip-off, I needed a hot drink to wash my dinner down. I'm not going to go on about the ground as lots of people know the crack, I'll just mention that I find it a good stadium with good views (from where I was anyway), the all red backdrop is quite charismatic but the place really lacked atmosphere for this game, there were 15 thousand in the ground but the home fans never really got fired up about the proceedings. Rochdale took along a decent number of supporters, they got put in the lower tier of the Bramall Lane end, they did their best to support the team but its looking like a difficult season for The Dale this time around. I'll cut to the chase.... it was a crap match, simple as that. These looked a couple of very poor sides on the day. Sheffield United are a physical bunch who seem to lack flair and finesse, everything was crash, bang, wallop. None of their football flowed, it was all bits and bobs thrown together in a whirl of confusion. Rochdale look a side made up half and half between young lads and older journeymen, neither of whom can be described as quality first team material. Apart from the first 20 minutes or so Sheffields hardened pro's bossed the Dale kids around all afternoon. More experienced Dale players like Gary Jones and Jason Kennedy stood up to the challenge and applied a bit of craft where they could but the visitors never had a full deck at the card table. When Rochdale unfortunately lost their keeper David Lucas just before half time due to injury (he got knocked out for 15 minutes) things got even harder. Sheffield players like Ched Evans and Cresswell got far too much time and space from a disintegrating Rochdale back line. A 3-0 scoreline turned out about right. Sheffield were substandard, Rochdale (on the day) were far worse. A lot of Blades fans around our seats were very critical of some of the players performances and the Manager Danny Wilson came in for a lot of stick about a lack of width and the teams non-ability to put passes together. Rochdale Manager Steve Eyre is finding his first league job a lot different from being in charge of the Manchester City youth set up. Some Dale fans are on his back. I'm afraid relegation does seem a possibility if things continue as they have for the last couple of months. Dale seem to have a game plan but there is a question whether the calibre of player has the quality and technical ability to compliment it. It is noticeable that when the original starting plan goes off track (as it did today when Sheffield United went 1-0 up) Rochdale struggle to apply a different strategy to get back in the game. Dale played reasonably well for the first 20 minutes, after that they were never in the game. I dont think Steve Eyre is tactically naive, perhaps its more of a case that he hasn't the money to buy (or loan) the right type of players to play the standard of football demanded by his tactics. In that case the Rochdale board need to make some decisions (before its too late). After the game we made the long trek back to the Match Shed, we both agreed it had been a very poor game. Frugal Glenn refused to take the short cut up a muddy bank behind the bus garage claiming it would spoil his new shoes, they were only £7.99 slip-ons?

Saturday, 3 December 2011

More silly postponements in the North West

Here is a surprise!

The North West of England witnessed random light squally showers today. Nothing major, nothing prolonged, simply the type of everyday December drizzle-brand weather we've had for donkeys years.

Here's the mix (can't really call it a 'surprise' as it happens every week now)..............

The North West Counties League and Evo Stik Northern Premier League had yet another round of 'ridiculously' postponed matches to announce this Saturday afternoon.

The pathetic excuse was that old favourite the 'waterlogged pitch' (or should I simply state 'totally unprepared pitch').

Needless to say, the affected fixtures were all late communicated call-offs with the usual minimal notification we've come to sadly expect at this level (nobody gets to know until its far too late, for example... mug punters like me making stupid wasted journeys every other week).

I'm done with throwing time and money at these people in pursuit of what I naively class a hobby. We're not talking park football here, a lot of these incompetent clubs charge good money to get through the turnstiles, shame none of it gets anywhere near the maintenance or protection of the bloody pitch!

The rule of thumb round these parts for watching non league is wait until the Spring.

Shame the clubs who don't give a toss spoil it for the really good outfits at this level (the ones who put a game on today without any problems whatsoever).

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Colne v Maine Road postponement

Saturday 26th November 2011
North West Counties League Premier Division
Colne v Maine Road
POSTPONED (at 10 minutes to 2pm)!
Attendance: Me, some other mugs and half the Maine Road team
Wasted Fuel: At least 10 quids worth
Weather: Breezy with a bit of drizzle in the wind
Parking: On top of a hill right next to the turnstile
My love/hate relationship with the North West Counties League continues. Ok, the North of the country got a touch of wind today and around about lunchtime it started raining a bit. That is not to say we witnessed uprooted trees and 'Noahs Ark' flash floods. Still, to be fair, if Colne (or should I state the referee) thought this game was in doubt, I could go along with the theory (just about). What I cannot go along with is to simply call this game off when a lot of people had already travelled! If the referee doesn't want to get wet socks and splash marks on his new shorts, call it off at 1pm and make sure everybody knows about it! I actually got access to the pitch after the referee had left the ground to do a bit of his shopping in that new Sainsbury's near Colne town centre.
Guess what, I passed the pitch perfectly playable. The only bit of squelchy grass was in one of the goalmouths and near the outer (non playing part) of the corner flag. Take a look at the photographs for confirmation.
It must be me getting old, I remember loads of times when pitches far, far worse than Colnes simply got the go ahead for a perfectly reasonable (safe) game of football. The NWCL have got it in the neck from me before this season for stupid postponements, this one joins the ever increasing list. I suggest they start monitoring and assessing some of the so called 'in-charge' officials for what criteria they are using when making their decisions whether a game takes place or not?
Just because some fine-weather ref would sooner do a bit of silly christmas shopping because a bit of rain might spoil his new hair-do is completely unacceptable! And I'd not had any dinner! The nearest I got to a Colne pie was the sign next to the fully shut Tea Hut.
How ironic that on the long drive home the Match Shed travelled past 3 separate public playing fields that all had games taking place?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Salford City 3 Skelmersdale United 3

Tuesday 22nd November 2011
Evo Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 North
Attendance: 122
Admission: £7 (Concessions £3)
Tea Hut purchase: Chicken cup-a-soup £1
Weather: Fairly clear evening, very chilly
Parking: 50 yards up the road from the gate
A busy night of football for the local clubs from around these parts but beware of cheap substitutes and inferior products..... forget the local playboys playing another round of over-hyped glory hunting down at Old Trafford, and shove the Etihad fueled millionaires poncing around the Bay of Naples..... tonights real football action was at the proud Moor Lane home of Salford City Football Club. I like the Moor Lane ground, it has a great old fashioned stand with plenty of leg room (almost like a life size subbuteo model but without the plastic), there are loud, witty and proud local supporters who continually get behind the team (no matter what ups and downs are occurring on the pitch) and there is an 'uncut' genuine warming football feeling that oozes out of the atmosphere from every nook and cranny. The tragic loss of the burned-down clubhouse a couple of seasons ago has not dampened the likeable character of the place. Salford have simply picked themselves up and just got on with it, rebuilt and remodelled.
Nice to see the Tea Hut in full swing, a steady stream of punters were queuing up for goodies, the burgers appeared to be very much in demand for the travelling Skelmersdale supporters, I got stuck in the line behind some of them and they bought loads of stuff. Come my turn I just had a chicken cup-a-soup, Frugal Glenn reluctantly handed me the quid for it, the arrangement is he gets me something from the Tea Hut in return for door to door travel to the game and back (he wasn't too keen to pay up this evening, he is immensely tight though). We took up a position in the Main Stand just to the left of the singers who regularly stand at the back in front of the big orange and black banners. They make a racket but I would recommend sampling it if you get the chance of a visit to these parts, it provides a lift to the proceedings not often witnessed at this level and its great fun listening to the cutting wit and the cheery songs.
Not sure if the gathered Skelmersdale supporters liked it much, perhaps it was their first time at Moor Lane and were not expecting it, the boisterous Salford lot were 'giving-it-large' to some of the visitors players who started the game like fluffy rabbits caught in the headlights. Skelmersdale had tactically adopted a Serie-A old Channel 4 Sunday afternoon Italian style game plan, it didn't work. Their back four continually passed the ball between themselves, sideways and backwards for ages, then they lost it without having made any headway. The Salford fans and the Salford team loved it. That crafty poacher spearheading the Salford attack, Gavin Salmon, was having one of his 'on' days, in fact I've never seen him play as well! His first goal was sheer class, a crafty step-over, the drop of a shoulder, a cut inside... next comes the traditional Gavin Salmon shot which usually ends up in a nearby back garden, not this time, Gavin struck a beauty which flew precisely into the nets like a stealth missile on a computer game, Frugal Glenn spilled his Bovril in shock. Up went the magical chant "Feed The Fish And He Will Score", tremendous! Halfway through the first half Gavin Salmon got a second, a real poachers goal after some cutting go-forward approach play from Morning and Metcalfe.
To their credit, Skelmersdale are a fine footballing side and they ditched the over-cautious fancy pants stuff to immediately grab a goal back. They started to apply more pressure on Salford but surprise, surprise, the home side went up the other end before half time and grabbed a third to make it 3-1, Salford were in dream land! Half time gave a chance for everyone to draw breath, it had been a very good first half of quality football and we all knew there was surely more drama to follow.
I popped by the brightly lit pitchside club shop during the break and a really nice chap was doing his best to politely get me to buy something. He'd been busy during the first half writing out his own marketing posters and missed all of Salfords three goals, he reminded me that the team had recently started to put on much better performances, including a 4-2 away win at Durham last Saturday.
Me and Frugal stood on the opposite touchline for the second half, amazing how much colder it was out in the open, the temperature was dropping fast. Skelmersdale went through the gears in that last 45 and really stretched the home side to breaking point. They got a second in the 52nd minute from a Tony Rendell header and at 3-2 the game was wide open again. Despite some lengthy periods of Skelmersdale possession, Salford still continued to counter-attack and rip through the visitors defence, Gavin Salmon almost had a magical hat trick, so near yet so far for 'The Fish'. The expected equaliser for Skelmersdale was being pushed further and further from view, could Salford hold out and take all 3 points? Sadly it was not to be, Skem got the crucial (scrambled) leveller with only 4 minutes left to play, one could argue it was deserved on the entire balance of play but it was a hard pill to swallow. Salford almost pulled off a sensational last gasp winner in injury time, as me and Frugal ambled behind the nets towards the gate Rhodri Giggs had a free header only a few yards out, almost in slow motion the ball looked to be going in before it disappointingly slipped wide of the target. Giggs fell to his knees, head in the turf, I could clearly hear his despair "No, no, no, no". Great game though.

Sunday, 20 November 2011


Saturday 19th November 2011
Blue Square Conference North
Guiseley 1 Stalybridge Celtic 1
Attendance: 738
Admission: £10
Tea Hut Purchase: None (some big bloke had it all)
Weather: Sunny, then misty, then sunny, then cold
Parking: Got the Match Shed right near the turnstiles.
Must say we are getting some jolly good days weather-wise for November, today started bright, mild and sunny, such welcoming conditions even made the Outer Beirut ring road around Bradford a scenic picture of tranquility. You cannot go wrong if you head east out of Bradford for some top tucker in the curry department, some of the takeaways and restaurants put the local Yorkshire Fisheries cabin type fish and chip shops to shame in the presentation stakes. However, i've had a dodgy stomach all week so I was being extra careful today, I gave the Chicken Dansak a miss. Despite a couple of missing road signs I managed to get the Match Shed on the Harrogate Road and finally the A65, the shift in affluent property and environment is startling once you're a few miles out of Bradford. I was doing the game solo today, Frugal Glenn is still serving a domestic ban for spending part of the shopping money on Football Manager 2011 (it was 10 quid cheaper than the 2012 version).
As I arrived at the ground I was surprised to find a few pools of mist floating around the place, already it was taking some of the warmth of the sun away. As I prepared for the turnstiles a big cream and red Maynes coach arrived through the mirk, it was packed with ale hungry away fans from Stalybridge, the steward by the gate took his Leeds United bob hat off and shoved it inside his coat. I've been to Guiseleys ground before and have always admired the big orange Pukka Pie sign hanging outside the Tea Hut. Like a carpet tack to an industrial magnet I was drawn 'zombie-like' towards it. Unfortunately I arrived as some big bloke in a Stalybridge coat ordered everything going (the greedy bloater), it was estimated that it would take 15 minutes for re-stocking?
As regards todays match, Guiseley are well known battlers and have a reputation of being a very hard side to beat. In fact, they beat Stalybridge Celtic only a few weeks back at Bridge's place in the FA Cup. This would be a tough challenge for the visitors but if Celtic want to be there where it counts in the league table they had to get something from this fixture.
As kick off approached I took up a seat with a view in the nice little main stand, it was a bit of a struggle to get past the OAP Guiseley season ticket holders as they grumbled about having to re-position their tartan woolly knee rugs and all the flasks and madeira cake slices. The ground was a bit empty as the teams came out but a mass exodus of bar-room ale heads soon had the terraces clogging up.
There are some excellent match report details on the Stalybridge website so I'm not going to go into massive depth about the game but I will clarify that both these sides played some dandy passing football today. It was gung-ho box to box stuff, obviously both clubs wanted 3 points and they were giving it a really good go. What was lacking was the quality and the control of the final ball, both sides created openings but neither set of forwards could capitalise in that first half.
With the scores 0-0 at half time the second period continued much the same as the first, it seemed each side would have a 10 minute 'golden' period where they exploited possession and applied pressure, then the other side would fight back and have a go themselves, it was entertaining stuff. Guiseley got the all important opening goal in the 53rd minute when Michael Brough somehow got the bobbling ball past outstretched keeper and the post sending dozens of Yorkshire flat caps up into the darkening November afternoon. The old timer next to me almost choked on his Werthers Original.
Could Guiseley hold on and shut the door? They certainly tried. Stalybridge immediately went up a few notches in urgency and the game became stretched, the Bridge supporters got behind the side but the referee wasn't helping momentum, he'd been easily fooled all afternoon and I was getting fed up with all the interuptions. With 9 minutes left on the clock Stephen Brogan floated over a Celtic free kick from the edge of the Guiseley box and it seemed to just hang there before unbelievably drifting into the top right hand corner of the nets! GOAL!!!
Whether it was a cross or an intended strike on goal remains open to debate but it had a dozen Stalybridge officials in snazzy Blue Square car coats running up and down the pitch side hard-standing in wild jigs of giggling delight!
1-1 and everything set up for a grandstand finish....except....... the referee didn't get a copy of the script, he ruined the last bit of the match by shamelessly bottling a banker Stalybridge penalty and then needlessly sending off one of the Guiseley full backs (the ref had a stinker). All in all I reckon a draw was a pretty fair result, two decent sides had fully contributed to a hard fought match which was played the right way all the 90 minutes.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Celtic switch off the Guiseley grinder

Saturday 19th November
Guiseley 1 Stalybridge Celtic 1

Went over to Guiseley today for the Conference North match of the day. Stalybridge Celtic slugged it out with the well drilled Yorkshire Grinders toe to toe. After falling behind to the home side in the 53rd minute Stephen Brogan got the Celtic equaliser with 9 minutes left, a classic precision placed free kick (or was it intended primarily as a cross?).
All in all, a fair result. A full visit report will be posted on the Tea Hut site either Sunday night or Monday morning.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Bradford City

I needed a bit of a break from the Non League profile last Saturday, especially after the Bacup Borough farce. I went along to the FA Cup 1st Round clash between Bradford City and Rochdale. City won 1-0 in a game which Rochdale failed to finish off (despite plenty of chances). Nice to go to a match knowing it would be on.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Am I on Candid Camera?

Went to Bacup Borough v Colne tonight.
Wasted over 10 quid in diesel.
Despite the area not having any rain for almost a week, Bacup had a (supposedly) waterlogged pitch?
Nothing got posted up on club or NWCL websites (regards notification) until it was far too late.
In an autumn of such mild and dry proportions this really must be a mickey-take? Someones having a laugh for sure.
The NWCL seems to be riddled with dubious postponements and a strengthening stench of incompetence this season.
If you cannot get a game on in such calm weather conditions, you really need to question the standards of the pitch in question.
NWCL Non League clubs need to have a degree of (basic) pitch maintenance strategy (surely), why bother grading a ground for league status if you cannot play on the bloody pitch?
I've come across 3 ridiculous pitch situations in this league this season and its only the start of November (stand up Oldham Boro, Atherton Collieries & Bacup).
Bacup Borough, unfortunately, appear to be habitual offenders.
Just ask any one of the other dozen or so mugs who turned up at the gate 'gobsmacked' this evening if they feel the same way? ....and these were supporters who normally ring up Bacup pre-match 'just in case' they've called it off. The very same people didn't bother doing that this evening, because they all thought it could never be in question!

Don't know why I bother?
Not a good advert for football in the NWCL I'm afraid. Be advised!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Car Park Charging?

I believe MK Dons have started charging people £7 to park at the ground on matchdays. A typical Football League style disgrace I know.

What is extremely worrying is that a number of Non League sides have also jumped on the bandwagon. It appears there is no end to the quick-buck mentality of getting the supporter to pay the piper in recession hit Britain these days.

When will some of these naive non league clubs recognise that people are struggling to find disposable cash to attend games in the first place, supporters are already coughing up more dosh at the turnstiles (in most cases), now some narrow minded (greedy) clubs are fleecing them even further by putting a price on parking the bloody car!

Its not on.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Stalybridge Celtic

Saturday 22nd October
Blue Square Conference North
Stalybridge Celtic 5 Altrincham 1
Attendance: 1005
Admission: £10
Tea Hut Purchase: Meat & Potato Pie £1.60, Coffee £1.20
Weather: Mild, sunny afternoon
Parking: Sidestreet 5 minutes walk away
A visit to Bower Fold, one of the prettiest charismatic non league football grounds around, is always a treat, today was better still, Bridge were right up at the top end of the table and their much-fancied visitors from nearby Altrincham were tucked in the pack right behind them. Swelled by a good crowd enjoying the unusually warm autumnal sunshine this Conference North local derby had the makings for a classic. I didn't fancy paying a quid for the pleasure of putting the Match Shed in block-stacked-grid-locked parking in the club car park so I opted for a quite side street just off the main road. It was pretty early but I was starving, me and Frugal Glenn went straight in the ground and joined an already lengthy queue at the Tea Hut.
There were loads of assistants, helpers and cooks in the hut but only one girl serving. I was immediately disappointed to find that the choice of hot pies lent itself to only the meat and potato variety, the pie warming shelves seemed fit to burst with them. I almost went for a cheese burger but they looked a bit like those large thin ones of the economy back street slaughterhouse variety. A pie it was then, and a trifle steep at £1.60 me thought. I soon wished I'd had the burger, the meat and potato pie didn't have any meat in it and appeared to be filled with a dry tasteless gunge which had probably originated from potato slurry? It was pretty naff really and I didn't enjoy it. Frugal Glenn had one of those bovril/oxo drinks but said it was crap.
My pie was so dry I had to get a coffee, to charge £1.20 a cup was a bit cheeky although it did come in a slightly larger than normal polystyrene cup. With Bower Fold such a good looking little ground you'd think the Tea Hut would be bang-on, sadly this didn't appear to be the case. We had a stroll around the ground and took up some seats in the main stand near the halfway line. There are seated stands down both touchlines at The Bower and spacious covered terraces behind both ends, when matched to the lush tree lined scenery and the rolling hills behind the ground it is simply a perfect setting.
It was a bit of a sun-trap in the main stand and people were soon taking their jackets off. Altrincham had brought a good number of supporters with them and it was good to note that there wasn't a sign of any trouble as they mingled with the home fans without the need for segregation.
Stalybridge immediately got things (even further) on the boil by roaring into the game with some very smart passing football, they appeared mighty confident as they skipped around the Alty midfield before mercilessly skinning the one paced back four. Bridge look to have a real star in Connor Jennings, he's razor sharp with quick feet and a deadly eye for goal, he was causing all kinds of problems all afternoon. Alty went a goal down in the 6th minute, Jennings the scorer, a shot slammed home with the utmost lack of respect. Alty rallied and imposed themselves as much as they could but they looked a bit clueless upfront and soon started fluffing chances. Youth product turned decent player Greg Wilkinson got a slightly fluky second goal for Bridge in the 37th minute but to their credit the visitors bounced straight back with a well placed Damien Reeves header. Bridge were having none of this fightback nonsense though and a couple of minutes later Phil Marsh struck home a curling shot to make it 3-1, a scoreline that took us into the half time break.
The game had ebbed and flowed throughout the 45 minutes which was emphasised by the dancing size 13 feet of a female Altrincham supporter who was (unfortunately) sat right behind me in the stand. 'Twinkle-Toes' must have made every pass, booted every shot and crunched every tackle, sadly for me her heavily timed footwork was kicking the backside out of my plastic bucket seat. She simply couldn't keep those bloody big feet under control and kept on relentlessly kicking my seat. It got so bad I had to move, the woman couldn't keep bloody still. "Move up Frugal" I loudly pronounced "I'm black and blue from this arse-kicking", Twinkle Toes just glared at me blankly, completely unaware of what misery she'd been unleashing for the last 40 odd minutes. It was getting so uncomfortably hot in the main stand we decided during the break to go and sit in the shaded Tom Pendry stand, this proved a great decision because we not only got a great view of Bridge confidently taking the game firmly away from a gallant but extremely unlucky Altrincham side... we also got to witness some top drawer 'international class' flat-capper agitated moaning and groaning.
There were a few Alty flat-cappers sat around but one in particular was getting more and more worked up regarding the misfortune of his heroes going 5-1 down. It erupted big-time in the final quarter of the game. Never have I seen more high octane 'F'ing and blinding in such an open and blatant manner. This old timer was telling everyone to F*ck Off, the people sat behind him, kids politely asking if they could squeeze past him to get to the toilet, the referee, the linesman, a bloke with a bald head stood down on the terrace (who was also called a Bald Headed B*stard at least 5 times in 5 minutes) and needless to say, all of the Stalybridge players. He was so out of control to such a deranged degree that even his fellow flat-cappers tried to quieten him down (without much success). It was a top performance and had most people in stitches. The football on the pitch had not been as fast and furious as the first half, Bridge got another lucky break with an Alty own goal and that more or less sealed it, Altrincham still had some clear cut chances but missed the lot of them. When Connor Jennings put the fifth one in quite a few Altrincham fans made for the exits.
I suppose they didn't really deserve to get beat 5-1 but this Stalybridge side are on a bit of a roll (despite a blip in the FA Cup against Guiseley and a lapse last week at Colwyn Bay), it seems good times have arrived at Bower Fold for a while, it should be an interesting season. Keep an eye out for that flat-capper if you get to see Altrincham anytime soon.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Celtic blitz Alty in the big derby

Stalybridge Celtic 5 Altrincham 1
People wearing spectacles may want to cover their face

Another charge upfield

Visit report from Bower Fold will be up sometime Sunday

Monday, 17 October 2011


Saturday 15th October
Northern Counties East League Premier Division
Attendance: 130
Admission: £5
Programme: No thanks (lost faith in them)
Tea Hut Stuff: Steak Pie £1.20, Tea £1
Weather: Mainly sunny with light broken cloud, mild
Parking: Club car park
I had a stinking cold and felt decidedly under the weather. Last nights good-idea to drown the flu bug in an abundance of supermarket continental lager had gone horribly wrong. I had a head like a thirty bob cabbage. I went over the border where the barbed wire dips between 2 remote hillocks. The Yorkshire border guards were completely unaware as I jumped over the fence from Lancashire. I hid amongst flocks of sheep and pigeon huts before making my way some twenty odd miles through Calderdale to Quaker Lane in deepest Liversedge. I entered an old tiny shop for directions to the ground, the owner had never heard of 'The Sedge', he was dressed in a mint sauce splattered t-shirt which had a weird mans head on it with distressed hair, underneath it was splashed with the statement 'Ken Dodd is a Twat'.
I was about to leave (with a packet of past the sell by date Anadins) when his wife Owd Nora entered from The Snug and wisely told me to follow the big pot holes all the way to the car-park, "they're playin those fancy dans from Staveley today aint they" she croaked. I just nodded, not wanting to annoy her with my obvious Lancashire twang. I could only imagine what evil thing Ken Dodd had done to these homely people to make Owd Nora's husband wear that t-shirt, as he turned around to return to his cupboard under the stairs, I witnessed the full horror of the back of that very same (mint-sauced) t-shirt, there in brazen blue and yellow 10 inch capital letters was the chilling statement 'LEEDS, LEEDS, LEEDS'. Oh dear. 
I was woken from my nightmare by a Yorkshire bloke tapping on the Match Shed window, "have you got your radio on"? I'd been asleep for over half an hour in the Liversedge club car park (the flu bug had knocked me out). "Er no, why, whats the matter" I replied, "I wanted to know if Man U had won at Anfield" he smiled. Thank god it had only been a dream, Owd Nora and her Ken Dodd hating husband had just been a figment of my imagination.
I'd been to the Clayborn Ground, home of Liversedge FC before, a night match last season against Armthorpe Wefare. Its a nice tidy place with decent views afforded by the fact that 3 sides of the pitch are complemented by raised banking. With the sun shining over the well kept pitch it was a great location to spend a Saturday afternoon. After the Ken Dodd nightmare I needed some sustenance so I went straight up the steps to the Tea Hut (it resides like a palace of pleasure adjacent to the clubhouse at the brow of a grassy mound overlooking the pitch).
I took a Steak Pie which had light pastry and tasty gravy but it disappeared in 3 or 4 bites (bit of gristle in there as well). I got the impression this may have been one of those Tesco type pies, you know, the 4 for a quid offers, it was ok as a bit of hot food though and at £1.20 it was far cheaper than some of the rip-off tea huts I've seen extortionate pies at lately. I washed it down with a tea (unfortunately a pound a bag job). I reckon cups of tea at non league grounds should be regulated with a ceiling of 60p.
Staveley turned out in that very bright orange away kit for todays encounter whilst Sedge went for a slightly classier Napoli orientated light blue number. I must say some dandy passing football was on offer as Staveley tore into Sedge straight from the kick off, it was just like that Dutch total-football stuff, poor old Sedge looked 'totally' baffled? A few grimacing looks started appearing on the faces of the local flat-cappers, Sedge couldn't get into gear against this finely tuned bunch of visitors, time and time again they were second to the ball and when they did get some possession the Sedge midfield quickly gave it away again.
It was a no-brainer that Staveley would score, it took 12 minutes, Ryan Damms made it 0-1 and there could be zero complaints. Staveley then missed a penalty and it produced a spark of hope for Sedge. They took the lifeline and began battling the orange tide. It wasn't pretty on the eye but they started breaking up the Staveley attacks and they just about kept it to a 1 goal disadvantage come half time. 
Staveley appeared to be coasting a bit in the second half, Sedge did all they could to thwart them but it came as no surprise when Joe Thornton got the second goal in the 70th minute before Ryan Damms added a well deserved third. I must say this Staveley team look a bloody good side, no wonder a good few supporters had travelled along to cheer them on. As for Liversedge, its a case of must try harder but saying that they won't be coming up against the likes of Holland every week.