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

Sunday, 30 January 2011

More and more postponements

The Frozen North

For the second Saturday running the football programme across Lancashire, Yorkshire and parts of the Midlands was decimated by freezing cold temperatures and ice solid pitches.

Its been that cold most of the frost covers won't even work (not that most clubs can afford them in any case).

This has been a really bad winter for postponements, at this rate we'll be finishing the league fixtures off in mid June!

Surely we'll get some games on soon?

Saturday, 15 January 2011

AFC Emley

Saturday 15th January
Northern Counties East League Division 1
AFC Emley 1 Leeds Carnegie 2
Attendance: 87
Admission: £4
Programme: £1.20
Tea hut purchase: Tea 70p
Weather: Rain, wind, hell
Parking: Club car park, easy getaway
I'd promised the wife an extra special day out because she deserved it. It was the first time we'd been able to spend a Saturday afternoon together for quite a while. She was all smiles and excitement as she snuggled into the Match Shed passenger seat, she'd got her new coat on. I could sense her anticipation at what I might have planned for her, was it a nice restaurant meal? perhaps some spa treatment at one of those fancy country hotels? Nope, something much better than that..... I dropped her off in the rain near Huddersfield Outdoor Market as I made my way through West Yorkshire to AFC Emley, "Hurry up, I'm on a double yellow, have you got your brolly, keep your phone switched on, I'll pick you up near here at half past five...bye"! I'm sure she appreciated it (after all I did have a game to get to). I've heard horror stories of groundhoppers being lost for days up on the moors near Emley, usually they eventually get picked up by some Mountain Rescue team having never even seen the floodlights. I found The Welfare Ground quite easy to locate actually, there is some excellent stuff on how to find the place on the Emley website, even pictures and landmarks, mind you, without the aid of the website information I can see why you could easily miss it on the map. I soon had the Match Shed in a nice little getaway spot on the club car park.The weather throughout the morning and into the afternoon had been absolutely PANTS, it had poured down with relentless rain backed up by a swirling gusty wind, the high position of the open vista facing the ground was ensuring man, beast and buildings were all getting the full 'soggy' experience, it was a shyte day for football. Like the other poor souls who blew through the single turnstile, I fought the elements to claw my way through the door into the Sports Bar. And what a superb little place this bar is too, only small, slightly modernist in style but definitely homely and comforting, its bright, snug and dandy with plentiful seating and a big flat screen TV on the wall, the locals seem to like it too, surprising how many of them had official club sweatshirts, bobble hats and windjammers on, it looked just like Turf Moor with all the claret and blue on offer (or, if you are Onion Bag, Upton Park). I sampled a £2.60 pint of lager before a 2.55pm exit for the big match. AFC Emley have never seemed to get going this season, currently they reside in 17th position in the NCEL Division 1 (the one below the Premier division), a few recent home wins were fading fast in the memory as defeats to Barton Town and last Wednesday to Worsborough Bridge (1-3) superseded the mini-revival and focused the attention for valuable points. Leeds Carnegie were more comfortably placed in mid-table but this is a club with high expectations and a respected reputation for quality football, they would certainly be hoping to reach a higher league position before too long, I had the impression the visitors would be looking for all 3 points today. I zipped up the winter clothing and safely stored away my programme (which was only £1.20 and a decent enough read), the wind howled along the terraces and the rain soaked the stand, this was going to be a tough one. I struggled to get a few pictures from behind the nets before joining the hardy bunch of spectators residing in the rear rows of seating in the excellent main stand, any seats further forwards were wet through from the continual wind swept drizzle.Despite the elements the pitch looked in very good order and it certainly held up very well during the afternoon, this is a nice tidy stadium and I can see why so many visitors rate it so highly. The first half was pretty much 50/50 with some nice passages of play from both sides but a slight over reliance on long cross-field passing witnessed many through balls whistling away with the wind. Something which didn't appear to be rectified by the coaching teams. My hopes that the weather would improve as the afternoon wore on were sadly miscalculated, as half time arrived the wind got up even more and soon the rain was driving in with even greater urgency. I hit the Tea Hut built into the side of the stand, different to see a club promoting slightly alternative food in addition to the normal pies and sausage rolls, Emley were also pushing Turkey Sandwiches and Hot Pizza Slices! I'd had my dinner before setting off for the game so I just got a warming cup of tea (reasonably priced at 70p).I attempted to see a bit of the second half from the far end furthest from the stand, I was soon beaten back and high-tailed it back to the rear of the stand pretty well soaked for my efforts. The second half witnessed Leeds Carnegie dominate the proceedings, they won the midfield battle and started to push forward with some fine individual play and interchanging passing moves, they do play some good football and I would expect them to rise up this league if they can keep up the same standards for the full 90 minutes. Emley looked a bit leaden footed and what opportunites they did create were sadly wasted upfront. The visitors went ahead through McGrory in the 72nd minute and it was a surprise when Emley equalised 2 minutes later from Mark Stuart. This seemed to spur on Leeds Carnegie even further and they eventually got their just reward when McGrory got a deserved winner 5 minutes from time. In respect of the dreadful weather conditions this had been a decent enough game of football, I was certainly impressed by some of the football Leeds Carnegie played in that second half.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

More Kidsgrove Pictures

Saturday 8th January
Kidsgrove Athletic 2 Carlton Town 5

Some more snaps in addition to the original report

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Kidsgrove Athletic

Saturday 8th January
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 South
Kidsgrove Athletic 2 Carlton Town 5
Attendance: 148
Admission: £7
Programme: £1.50
Tea hut purchases: Minced beef pie £1.40, tea 80p
Weather: A dry bright start, obviously a bit chilly
Parking: Just around the corner, quick getaway
A solo trip in the Match Shed today, destination Staffordshire, Kidsgrove Athletic to be precise, just north of Stoke on Trent. I left Krugg Hall amidst a mixture of sleet and snow, certainly not was forecast (how many times have I referenced that before, useless weather forecasters). My confidence improved a few miles south, I could see a glint of brightness on the horizon and it was just where the Match Shed was heading. I still had a shovel in the boot though (I'd been plastered with the snow the day before). The big news breaking on the Match Shed radio was Roy Hodgson being scandalously and unceremoniously kicked out from Liverpool. Blind media hype and ridiculous internet campaigns hadn't taken long for the latest Yanks in charge to bottle it. The result, a very good manager/coach who inherited a dubious squad of (mainly) over-rated shyte players loses his job. After taking the Match Shed down the new Alderley Edge by-pass I had to indicate and violently pull over, the stupid commentary from brain-dead knobheads on the radio (guess the national station) made me physically puke up (mind you... it could also have been the dodgy sausage teacake I had after a night on the ale), poor old Roy was hung, drawn and quartered by unqualified radio hosts and a long line of yard dog 'talk-show-type' ex players with scouse accents, none of them had ever been anywhere near the inner workings of the club never mind playing for them. King Kenny was coming back and the Dalglish Army were going to immediately make LFC the number 1 club in Europe again (oh dear). I wiped my mouth and got back behind the wheel of the Match Shed, I'd switched the radio off and concentrated on what I might find at Kidsgroves Seddon Stadium, apparently a very nice place indeed? At 2.15pm I was purchasing my programme from the nice old lady stood at the door of the taxi-hut positioned just next to the turnstiles and it proved to be a decent enough publication. In fact I read quite a bit of it in the clubhouse bar over a £3 pint of Carlberg Export. The woman at the bar apologised for the plastic glass, there was a major problem with the pot washer (not sure if the pot washer was a machine or a person but it sounded serious)? The TV was showing the last routines of the Arsenal FC Ladies Formation Diving School, a young lass called Walcott was making a right tw*t of herself. Ten minutes before kick off my mind moved to food, I realised I'd left the cheese salad sandwiches my wife had made me back in the fridge (bugger). There was no alternative other than to hit the Tea Hut.Sadly for me it was peak period in the Kidsgrove kitchen, a long line of hungry punters snaked out to the door (double bugger). Eventually I got one of the last pies in town, a minced beef recipe (not usually my primary choice), I went for an 80 pence tea bag on the side. The tea was ok, I left the bag in the plastic cup for more flavour, the pie itself was dull, skimpy on filling and heavily crusted, not great and I'd also get a bollocking when I got home for forgetting my cheese sandwiches (triple bugger). The Seddon Stadium is a charismatic setting for NPL football, it has a stand on all 4 sides, none of them are very big (or deep) but all of them have available seats and there are numerous vantage points for those who prefer to stand. It's tree lined with a couple of nice 'vista like' views to surrounding hills and it certainly provides a superb atmospheric environment for getting close to the action.The pitch gently slopes from one end to the other but the condition of the playing surface appeared first class, especially in consideration of the recent weather problems. There is real quality and charm in the place, for anyone interested in witnessing a true non-league style football ground this is a location you will cherish, it oozes a character sadly missing from some of the newer 'flat-pack-style-stadiums'. The home end behind the nets is adorned with numerous flags which provide a nice colourful backdrop and some of the local fans gather to one side of the nets urging on their heroes whilst respecting the opposition. Speaking of opposition, it doesn't get much tougher than Carlton Town, already top scorers in the division they currently reside in second position and they definitely came into todays game looking for a maximum 3 points. Kidsgrove themselves have earned a respected profile these last couple of seasons, under Peter Ward and Dave Beswick they are hard to beat and more than capable of dishing out a hiding to their competitors, 5th place in the league could well be improved upon come judgement day. It was all set up for a good game of football at an excellent location. Despite missing prolific striker Dave Walker, Kidsgrove set Carlton Town some early first half problems with their cutting approach and forward play, big Mark Haddrell and Liam Shotton were a real handful upfront and Carlton just couldn't get the ball. In a topsy-turvy process that continued throughout the first hour of the game each side seemed to take a 15 minute period of domination and then suffer a relapse, it was end to end in a Directors Cut Extended Version style. Aidan Matangra gave the home side a 1-0 half time lead but it was obvious that the second period would hold lots more drama. Carlton got faster, meaner and tighter and gradually eroded the passing style of a fading Kidsgrove 11 who seemed to be losing far too many 50/50 opportunities. When Terry Hawkridge got the equaliser, the relief of Carlton Manager Les McJannet and his assistant Mark Clarke was more than evident, it was also clearly evident they now expected to take the game from Kidsgrove completely.4 more Carlton Town goals hit the back of the Kidsgrove net in the final 20 minutes, Nick Hall got one, Hawkridge got a second and Messiah McDonald got a couple to reward his tireless efforts upfront. Despite a very late reply from Haddrell, Carlton had achieved a superb away win at a very difficult location, Kidsgrove are a decent side, its just that Carlton Town were that much better, a fine win for them indeed. Overhearing some of the comments from the expert local supporters near the halfway line Carlton were "a bloody good team and deserved to win hands down", fine (and fair) comment indeed. This was a good game between 2 good sides and I certainly rate the Seddon Stadium. A quick getaway for the Match Shed was in order and I was soon on a pretty clear run up the A34 towards Manchester and the M60 North.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Evo-Stik South Stuff

Full visit report and pictures up Sunday evening.....

Kidsgrove Athletic 2 Carlton Town 5

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Stocksbridge Park Steels

New Years Day (Saturday) 1st January
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
Stocksbridge Park Steels 1 Hucknall Town 0
Attendance: 160
Admission: £7
Programme: £1.50
Tea hut purchase: Tomato soup with pepper 70p
Weather: Periods of drizzle, cold and grey
Parking: On the road beside the ground, easy exit
The Match Shed route-plan headed down from the Pennine fells, skirted the east side of Greater Manchester and then took the snaking Woodhead Pass before descending down to the western approaches towards Sheffield. Some way into the trip whilst casually listening to the radio cronies slaughter Man U's Gary Neville at West Brom, Frugal Glenn announced he had no money for todays game and we needed to find a cash till! Why he came unprepared or didn't mention this when I picked him up is beyond me (but we are talking Frugal Glenn here), I now had to take the Match Shed into the nearest town before we hit the rural slopes into Yorkshire. And so I found myself parked up in a back street behind Ashton Under Lyne market on New Years Day dinner-time. A couple of dodgy looking smokers were propped up outside The Bog Inn pub, I presumed they thought I was an undercover drugs officer or doing a bit of new years kerb crawling. Frugal took twenty bloody minutes to reappear with his twenty quid survival fund, in the interim I had to listen to the best part of a Dusty Springfield Greatest Hits LP blasting out from the Bog Inn juke box. Not a happy bunny. Back on the road the weather soon started to worsen, a misty gloom appeared and the temperature went into freefall, five minutes later it was snowing, oh no, not again surely, nothing had been forecast, this wasn't the best scenario for getting through the Woodhead Pass, it got quite thick at one point but fortunately it didn't seem to be sticking. The Match Shed safely did the business (no mean feat considering its a total wuss in any kind of icy conditions) and we were soon taking the turn off down the valley into Stocksbridge.I was watching out for the right turn up Nanny Hill which leads up the far side of the valley, unfortunately it wasn't marked and the Match Shed went up and down the road through the town a few times, one thing I noticed is the sheer size of the massive steel works partially hidden by houses and shops, it goes on for ages, I always knew this was a steel place but the size of the place is astounding. I eventually found Nanny Hill (the Match Shed doesn't dig modernistic tools such as Sat-Nav) and once past the cemetary we were soon at the hilltop Bracken Moor ground, home of The Steels. After being ripped off by various clubs over recent weeks it was nice to see Stocksbridge only charging £7 admission for Evo-Stik NPL Premier League football, excellent value and a credit to this homely little club in such diificult times. The programme made a refreshing change as well, it actually had something to read in it and they priced it about right at £1.50. Good start. It was now 2.20pm and drizzling with rain, we decided to hit the upstairs bar in the splendid looking clubhouse. It was a bit like walking into some remote locals pub when they all stop what they're doing and look around at the intruders. The place was well frequented with young and old furtively playing dominoes and cards amongst all the pints of foaming ale, not to mention the last bit of West Brom v Manchester United and the Referee on the flat screen TV. Me and Frugal found a quite corner and took in the atmosphere. Come match time one has to say that Stocksbridge have a great little ground, it may only have 3 accessible sides but its packed with great views, a superb imposing clubhouse and a cracking main stand. The place is so good even the local Mayor came along (or should it be Mayoress for a lady)? She was obviously enticed by the reputation of a very hard to beat bunch of rough and ready visitors from Hucknall Town, plus the infinite volumes of hot sausgage rolls at half time. The lady was sat pretty much next to Frugal Glenn in the stand, he was going to get her autograph but didn't have a pen.The conditions for the game were unfortunately grim, this was a greasy grey day in South Yorkshire, all damp, cold and stark. Stocksbridge Park Steels have been struggling a bit this season, locked in the bottom 4 with 18 points they needed a win today, the visitors from Hucknall were doing better, currently in 8th position they would be looking at todays fixture with a view to taking some points back home.The first half produced some pacy football with a decent level of quality on show. Both sides tested each other and it was a finely balanced 45 minutes, despite being caught offside time and time again, Stocksbridge got the vital goal when Colin Marrison stabbed home a 34th minute opener. Somebody catching the eye was Steels striker Jack Muldoon who looked fast, keen and more than competent at this level, he provided some outstanding examples of attacking play and went on to be a major thorn in Hucknalls side throughout the game. H-T 1-0. I went along to a very well run tea hut in the half time interval, it was inside the clubhouse room set aside for the club shop. My favourite Pukka Pies were available at £1.70 each or £2.40 with mushy peas and gravy but I've overdosed on the Pukka's already over this festive period (anybody else get them for Christmas)? I decided to be a bit more reserved and opted for a hot tomato soup sprinkled with pepper, it was fantastic and really warming (plus it was sensibly priced at 70p). The Steels had a plan to hold onto that half time lead but Hucknall absolutely battered them in the second period. Wave upon wave of attacks rained down on the home keeper, Hucknall were on fire.How Stocksbridge survived this onslaught is testament to the superb performance of Ben Scott the Steels keeper, he was out of this world, no matter what Hucknall threw at him, and it was a lot, he stood firm and kept his line intact. Remarkable quality goalkeeping of the highest order. No wonder Tommy Brookbanks the Hucknall Manager was continually throwing his hands up in the air, the Steels keeper kept them in the match. A tremendous result and a very valuable 3 points for the home side but I have to say it was hard on a Hucknall side who deserved at the very least a point for that really forthright attacking effort in the second half. All in all a good visit to a great little ground and a more than decent match. Back in the Match Shed for the return trip it wasn't long before drizzle turned to sleet and then on the Woodhead Pass, snow, thank goodness it still wasn't sticking despite being -1 on the temperature display, gosh its black as hell on that pass. Eventually we dropped down and took a route via Stalybridge, we actually passed the Stalybridge Celtic venue of Bower Fold, the lights were still on from their afternoon encounter with Hyde, nice to get a value for money game in again, I'd certainly recommend Stocksbridge Park Steels place for those yet to give it a go.