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

Saturday, 26 February 2011


Is this the worst season for continual postponements ever?

For the second Saturday running the North of England has seen a flood (excuse the pun) of 'yet-more' waterlogged pitches.

There are some major call-offs throughout the North West Counties League and the Northern Counties East divisions today (Saturday 26th February).

All of my 3 potential fixtures have drowned without trace.

That smarmy cow in the floral frock never said anything about 8 inches on the weather last night.

Its getting beyond a joke.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Hyde FC

Saturday 12th February
Blue Square Conference North
Hyde FC 1 Gloucester City 3
Attendance: 295
Admission: £10
Programme: £2
Tea hut purchase: Tea £1
Weather: Early drizzle, becoming dry and sunny
Parking: Club car park, easy getaway
Hyde is one of those M60/M67 satellite towns near Manchester, its in the bit past Ashton under Lyne as you head down towards Stockport. Its got a weather worn Morrisons Supermarket a Step 6 outside market and plenty of traditional North Western boozers. The Match Shed made easy progress through the town, hardly a soul to see, they were all on pints watching pub tv, it was a 12.45pm kick off for United v City. I reversed the Match Shed into a nice space in the club car park and switched the radio on for the last half hour of the local drama taking place on the other side of Manchester. The most overpaid, most out of form, most over-hyped forward in fancy-pants premiership football scored a wonder goal with the best overhead scissors kick ever, according to the cretin wetting himself on the radio that is. I'd judge it myself over a Chicken Kung Po watching Match of the Day. After the 2-1 win to United I made my way through the turnstiles, it had started to rain, it fitted the environment especially as Manchester City had just lost their last realistic opportunity to go for the title, all around me were the trademark City colours of light and dark blue, every wall, every stand, every roof, even the match programme... City were everywhere!They play their reserve games at Hydes ground and there has obviously been a done-deal on them putting money into the place to raise the standards of some of the facilities. Don't get me wrong the Ewen Fields stadium is a very good little ground and looks a picture but the relentless sprawl of City colours, City crests and Etihad advertising does rob the place of any discernible Hyde FC identity.Without going into a history lesson, Hyde FC used to be Hyde United before the City input and previous pictures of Ewen Fields verify it was a lot more red than blue. Enough of this, I understand clubs need to make ends meet in hard times and the City influence will have doubtless eased the financial pressures for the Hyde football club, so good luck to them, I'll stop being snobby about what paint is on the wall! However, it was quite ironic that they were playing some music from Oasis as I made my first reconnaissance of the Tea Hut set up, I half expected to see Liam Gallagher emptying another bag of frozen chips into the chip fryer.Hyde have not one but two decent looking tea huts and to be honest there were quite a few big looking blokes in the darkened corners of the stands greedily scoffing the stock. The first tea hut you come across is just inside the turnstiles at the rear of the main stand. This seemed to be doing a steady trade and burgers were high up the list of advertised delicacies.For those of you who may have read my visit report from Goole last week you will understand why burgers are currently off my menu, despite trauma therapy with Doctor Sing it will probably be another month before I can face a tea hut style cheeseburger again. The second Hyde tea hut is beside the pitch down near one of the corner flags, a friendly lady was knocking out all kinds of stuff for the visiting Gloucester City supporters, as I'd had steak pie, curry and chips for my dinner before setting off I decided to pace myself and just have a tea, a bit steep at a quid a plastic cup but it was reasonable in size and I left the bag in.Todays Conference North encounter was one of those six pointers which will become more prominent from this month onwards. Both Hyde and Gloucester are not that far from the trap door positions and this was a game neither side could afford to lose. Hyde have had a few decent results against Nuneaton and Redditch recently but Gloucester still have quite a few games in hand, a win today would doubtless build momentum. Things got going with a fast paced approach, both midfields eagerly sprayed the ball about and the first quarter produced some quality moves and nice one-two's going forward. We'd already had a couple of quick goals, the first one from Gloucesters impressive Darren Edwards after 6 minutes followed by an immediate Hyde reply from Kevin Holsgrove. I'd say Holsgrove was the stand out player in that first half.When you add on each side missing a penalty there was certainly enough drama to keep the supporters interested. Half time arrived with the scores level at 1-1. The second half witnessed a shift in impetus, Gloucester increased their momentum and started to dominate the midfield, Hyde resorted to hoofing it long rather than sticking with the more controlled approach play they had displayed earlier in the game, gone were the intricate passing pieces from Holsgrove and Lee Rick, it was foolishly replaced by the panic induced 'punt from the back'. Perhaps the turning point was a superbly struck long range net-buster from the home side, unfortunately for Hyde the referee had blown for a Gloucester foul a split second before the goal, it was a crushing blow and definitely had a bearing on the proceedings. Gloucester put their good luck to good means, Darren Edwards ended up with a hat trick, his last goal, in injury time was a superb piece of individual wizardry which saw him bamboozle two retreating defenders out on the touchline before he clinically cut inside and put the ball past the Hyde FC keeper. The small band of loyal Gloucester supporters went mad with delight.It finished up a 3-1 convincing win for the visitors and they were well worth the 3 points. If they can continue to play decent football from midfield and the likes of Darren Edwards and Mike Symons can keep dominating defences, those games in hand might just see them move into the more comfortable half of the table. As for Hyde, they now face two tough away games at Worcester and Eastwood Town, sides already battling hard for points themselves, one has to compliment Hyde for some of the fine football they played in the first half but the panic, kick and hope stuff we all saw in that last 45 wont win many games. Lets hope Neil Tolson can address the issue and get them playing the right way, they have the quality, they just need the game plan. Come full time it was a nice sharp exit for the Match Shed, the problem with Hyde is that if you dont know the place its such a bloody pain to find the M67 westbound again, anyway, eventually I stumbled across it. Needless to say all the pubs looked packed with half cut lads in replica-colours spilling on the pavements outside the doors, the United v City dinner-time session obviously had a few more hours to go yet? It should be rocking in the kebab houses come 11.30.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

A trip to Ewen Fields

Saturday 12th February

I reckon its time for a bit more Conference North stuff. Today I had the pleasure of visiting the splendid Ewen Fields ground, home of Hyde FC.

My visit report, which includes reference to a jolly good away win for Gloucester City, will hopefully be posted on the Tea Hut by Sunday evening.

Nice ground.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Goole AFC

Saturday 5th February
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 South
Goole AFC 2 Sheffield FC 5
Attendance: 189
Admission: £7
Programme: £1.50
Tea Hut stuff: Cheeseburger £2, tea 70p, crisps 60p
Weather: Really dull, relentless rain, horrible
Parking: Down Carter Street leading to the ground
I spent the latter part of Saturday morning looking at the various non league websites providing information for games planned to take place in the North of England. A tidal wave of confirmed postponements rippled outwards throughout the North West Counties League, the Northern Counties East League and most of the Evo Stik Northern Premier League. For the fourth Saturday running an awful lot of cash starved clubs had no choice but to put the 'match-off' boards on the gate again, this time it wasn't -5 icy temperatures, it was relentless rain and lots of it, it had doshed it down at Krugg Hall since Thursday afternoon 'non-stop'. One of my 4 chosen targets seemed to be hanging on whilst all the other venues fell around it, a phone call to Goole AFC at 11.45am confirmed that despite some steady light rain their home game against Sheffield would almost certainly go ahead.30 minutes later I was in the Match Shed en-route to picking up Frugal Glenn. The M62 Eastbound was straight forward enough despite the never ending downpour, come 2.15pm we parked up on Carter Street just up from the turnstiles. Frugal Glenn pointed out a fish and chip shop which looked ok, I didn't take him up on it mentioning I wanted to sample something from the Tea Hut inside the ground, unfortunately this turned out to be a massive mistake! I hit the Tea Hut as soon as I got through the turnstile, it looked decent enough with all the usual signs of a typically proficient properly functioning catering outlet. Now let me make it clear, I am not going to slaughter Goole AFC on here for what happened next, the youngsters in the Tea Hut serving the grub were perfectly friendly and I understand the club needs to make a profit from the food to service the reality of running a football team in very hard times, however, the cheeseburger I purchased for £2 was one of the worst 3 burgers I have ever had (ever). It was button burger in size on one of those multi-pack cheap bread buns which immediately deflated my enthusiasm because it just looked very tiny, the much bigger problem once I took a bite was the fact it was cold! Oh dear. I'd noticed that the lad in the Tea Hut didn't use a hot plate, he didn't even use a microwave, he seemed to get the burger from somewhere low down out of view and I remember being surprised how quickly it appeared on the counter. Frugal Glenn advised me to take it back, although I'd only taken one bite I decided to just cut my losses and bin it, besides there were quite a few punters lined up at the Tea Hut by now and I didn't fancy standing in the rain again. Instead I concentrated on a big plastic mug of tea I'd purchased from them (which did look quite impressive for 70p).Oh dear, problem No.2, the plastic mug gave out such a plastic-like after taste it completely drowned out any taste of proper tea, this was not a good Tea Hut experience I'm afraid, without wishing to appear over critical to the club, because I do very much realise what a great job they are doing in ensuring football for the town, they might want to have a look at reviewing a few procedures on the Tea Hut side of things. I later went back for a bag of crisps to show there were no hard feelings (or was it more to do with the fact I was starving)? Just before the game started I was very pleased to finally meet up with Reynard The Fox who runs the excellent Reynards Hunting Grounds website, it was a little disturbing to find out he held a secret flame for Arsenal (alongside his Leicester City favourites) but apart from such poor taste he is a really nice chap (I'm more of an Ex Spurs man myself). I dont think anybody new to Goole was seeing the town in the best light today, a big grey sky provided a damp dull setting for non stop rain of differing strengths, the banker of the day was the inevitable fact you was going to get wet.It proved very difficult to get any type of photographs without the camera getting soaked. A pity because there are some splendid backdrops to the football ground. Have to say like a lot of folk I'm not particularly keen on running tracks around football pitches and I reckon this fact had a great deal to do with my inability to get into this match as closely as I usually do, the action seemed a bit removed and stuggled to hold my attention, I suppose the first half was a bit scrappy and it seemed to just pass me by. From what I did take in Sheffield seemed the more consistent side and did put one or two decent moves together, Goole appeared to have a problem in getting delivery from midfield and applying pressure upfront. I was getting the impression this could be a 0-0 and when you see the final score it just goes to show how wrong I was! Smash, bang, wallup we got 3 quick goals in the last few minutes of the first half and Goole went in with a 2-1 lead and Sheffield had also lost their keeper to injury. I spent the second half on the far covered terrace opposite the main stand with Frugal and Reynard, we all thought Goole would pepper the Sheffield goal as they had lost their keeper, it never happened. Goole never got into the area's to let loose some shots, on the rare occasion they did, the replacement keeper made a superb full length stop that even Pat Jennings would have been proud of. Sheffield got right back into this game when the impressive Oliver Banks smashed in a 40 yarder from nowhere, a classic goal! The tide had turned, Sheffield grew in confidence and looked a bit sharper and resourceful with the ball, 3 more goals came before the close to provide the classy South Yorkshire side with an impressive 5-2 away win. Sheffield have been in the wrong half of the division so far this season but when one considers the vast number of games in hand they have it would be no surprise to see them quickly climb the table. Hmm... wonder what odds you can get on them for a late surge? Although this game provided 7 goals I have to say (in my view) it wasn't a classic, it was all a bit fragmented and scrappy despite Sheffield improving in that second period, the weather didn't help for sure. Things didn't improve on the journey home, the Match Shed suffered the anguish of the M62 being closed back over the Pennines, a major spanner in the works which witnessed an hour long detour over some very misty, damp and foggy moorland backroads. Apparently Frugal Glenns tea was thrown away!

Thursday, 3 February 2011


Tuesday 1st February
Northern Counties East League Premier Division
Liversedge 2 Armthorpe Welfare 2
Attendance: 60
Admission: £5
Programme: £1.50
Tea Hut purchases: None (had my tea at home)
Weather: Dry, calm evening, reasonably mild
Parking: Club car park, easy getaway
After the recent episodes of relentless torrential rain and ice station temperatures tonights weather offered a rare opportunity for a football match in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It was almost mild really, certainly a hell of a lot warmer than recent weeks up here. I had my ready meal of Marks and Spencers spaghetti bolognese and set out in a south easterly direction in the Match Shed, this evenings route-plan took me through Sowerby Bridge and Halifax before passing Baliff Bridge on the road heading out for Heckmondwike, proper West Yorkshire country which seemed to offer a charasmatic wide range of hardy local pubs and various welcoming eateries. Plenty of choice but not many punters on a dark Tuesday night, everywhere looked dead. The Clayborn Ground is down Quaker Lane, more of a tight little track than a lane really, its dark and riddled with some major potholes, the Match Shed was certainly not impressed, fortunately if you take the lane off Hightown Road its not too long and you are soon welcomed by the brightly lit ground and the adjoining car park. It was about 35 minutes before kick off and some of the players were still only arriving, obviously we would be encountering a slightly delayed kick off. A big tall guy dressed in Armthorpe kit popped out from the clubhouse to check his car was properly locked, I recognised him as that well known centre forward of numerous different league clubs Leo Fortune West, quite a capture for the Doncaster based side, especially when they had another household-name league player in tonights side, Ben Muirhead of ex Bradford City and Rochdale fame. I spent another 15 minutes sat in the parked up Match Shed, I'd invested in a small flask which cost me 3 quid in a sale, rather than fork out for hot drinks from the tea hut I was now 'how-you-say' economising by bringing my hot drink with me for a fraction of the cost, I'm pleased to say the new Match Flask performed admirably. It was glasses on and into the ground, I liked the Clayborn Ground straight away.The clubhouse and tea hut are set back on a rise overlooking the sweeping vista of the stadium from above the corner flag. To one side is a stone built covered terrace behind the nets, down the nearest touchline is the Stuart Silverwood stand a longish seated stand with 3 rows of seating, this side of the ground is slightly raised above pitch level so the views are excellent. The far end and opposite touchline are just hard standing but you get a nice outlook from this area as you can watch the action with the backdrop of the nice looking clubhouse sitting majestically in the distance. I bet this place is really good on a nice bright afternoon, the lights on the far horizon sweeping across miles and miles of open country must make for some very good views for sure. That tea hut I mentioned is called 'Half-Timers' and seemed to have a good reputation, sadly I was still full from my spaghetti bolognese which I'd backed up with a big wedge of ice cream for dessert. There were quite a few locals tucking into trays of hot food or slurping cups of tea, with cheeseburgers at £1.60 and pie & peas only a couple of pounds it seemed good value. My programme was £1.50 and it was a decent enough read, the cover emphasises a 100 years of Liversedge football with team picures of various squads going back over the years. The slightly delayed kick off only pegged out to 5 minutes so we were soon on our way and the game quickly swung into end to end action. Armthorpes very loud, very mouthy goalkeeper come captain, Jamie Green was soon into full flow, it proved to be a little bit too much flow in the 11th minute when he brought down Liversedge striker Ben Hardy right on the edge of the area. Jamie got himself a yellow card, Ben Hardy got up took the free kick and got himself a goal, 1-0 to Liversedge. Strangely the game fizzled out a bit after that, it got very scrappy for around 20 minutes with neither side looking decisive or confident, things picked up nearer half time but nobody expected what a rip-roaring second half lay ahead. The 'Half Timers' tea hut served out more grub for the locals at the break and we were soon back to the action and what action it was!Armthorpe absolutely battered Liversedge and created some glorious openings and clear cut scoring opportunities, however, try as they might, they couldn't get the ball in the net, defenders, the keeper, the woodwork, you name it, everything got in the way and somehow Liversedge held onto the lead. We were halfway through the second half before the dam burst, the pressure was just too much for plucky Liversedge, Adam Jones bagged Armthorpe a 68th minute scruffy looking but well deserved equaliser and most people thought the visitors would now go on to bag a good few more. Surely Liversedge would capitulate totally. What made this such a super match was the way Liversedge turned the tide and actually started to have a go back at Armthorpe, soon a good few chances were being created at the other end of the pitch as well. It was end to end attacking and a credit to the league, superb entertainment, this jumpers for goalposts playground special had more drama in store, both sides scored again and we finally ended up with an honourable 2-2 draw, to be honest it could have been 10 all, it was that good. Tensions inevitably came to the fore as the final whistle approached and a few hard challenges were going in, the small band of flat cappers supporting Liversedge were almost on the pitch such was the excitement, this has to be the best game I've seen so far this season, a a great night out at the Clayborn Ground for sure.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Night out at the Clayborn Ground

Lucky enough to see my best match of the season (so far) last night. An end to end epic which reminded me of those 28-23 playground classics from long, long ago.

NCEL Premier
Liversedge 2 Armthorpe Welfare 2

Full visit report available on Thursday (3rd February).