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

Monday, 18 July 2011


Saturday 16th July
Pre Season Friendly
Altrincham 1 Manchester City XI 2
Attendance: 1,298
Admission: £7 (almost half the price of league games)
Programme: £1 (ok for the money)
Tea Hut Purchase: Tea at £1.50 (poor)
Parking: One of the few spaces on Moss Lane itself
Weather: Pre match showers, then dry with sunny spells
As per usual on a wet Saturday afternoon, thousands of people with very little to do head for the Trafford Centre shopping complex, the Manchester shrine to stuffy crowded malls with lots of overpriced shops selling daft clothes. Each to their own I say, but the down side for those with a mind of their own is the ridiculous traffic gridlock on the M60 that just happens to be positioned slap bang next to the monstrocity. If, like me, you just want to get to a football match in Altrincham 30 to 40 miles away you end up spending 45 minutes extra travel-time on the Manchester motorway than you really need to. Frugal Glenn has refused to go on any car trip involving the M60 on a wet Saturday until further notice, its bad for the environment he says (and he's that kind of guy). In other words he's had a rollicking off his Mrs and he's been banished to a DIY world of cheap vinyl silk emulsion and 8 walls of hell, serves him right for coming back 2 hours after curfew with an 'Al Sami' deluxe kebab. Anyway, lets get on with it. I eventually hit Altrincham and managed to find the Moss Lane ground easier than expected. A five minute walk up the road and I was right outside the stadium. Across the street dozens of City fans where scoffing grub outside a bulging 'Barneys Fish & Chip Shop'. I was tempted, and I mean really tempted, but no, I wanted to sample Tea Hut stuff from inside the ground.
What a catastrophic massive mistake! Anyone who read my slamming of FC Uniteds (or should I correctly say Bury FC's Gigg Lane) tea hut 'pie of choice' last season will know of my abject lack of enthusiasm for 'Wrights Pies'. Guess what, as soon as I paid my 7 quid to get in, I see 2 tea huts, one at each end of the ground and both of them have big coloured signs up promoting the very same brand of pie.
The club even had pitchside advertisement boards up claiming "Love Football, Love Wrights Pies", what a shocker! To think I'd turned down Barneys take away fish platter, with chips, peas and curry for this desert storm of Pie atrocity was beyond belief and to be honest..... killed a bit of the day for me personally. I got a tea in a paper cup instead. The rip off price of £1.50 (no cup of tea should be over £1) witnessed my receipt of brown hot water totally devoid of taste. Not a great start. As I grimly sipped the hot water I watched on as numerous unsuspecting City fans threw half eaten pies in the waste bins. Good luck to Wrights Pies if they can sell them and people enjoy them, perhaps the Alty fans love em and its just me that doesn't quite appreciate them? My gripe is that I missed out on the fish and chips outside the ground, I made my choice so its my fault. Going back to the admission price, I dont mind paying 7 quid to see one of the favourites for the Conference North playing (supposedly) some of the best young players in the country (even if a lot of them are from overseas). My choice of taking in a visit to Altrincham now rather than in the actual season is purely based upon price. I was surprised (if thats the right word) to find that Altrincham are charging £12 & £13 to watch them in the league. Thats far too much for the Conference North level. Altrinchams reasoning is that they want to maintain a viable budget to achieve success? A very heavy rain shower hit the ground before kick off and it sent people scarpering, the Alty squad stuck it out going through their pre match exercise routines, City were having none of it and kept dry under the stand.
Moss Lane is a very nice ground, there is a tall and narrow Main Stand straddling the half way line with a smaller stand by its side at the 18 yard area. Down the opposite touchline is a good covered terrace running the full length of the pitch.
The town end of the ground also has a fully covered terrace, the other end of the ground is an open terrace but it seemed a nice spot to stand when the sun popped out. I must say the pitch looked first class and the whole set up was very appealing, it has that proper football ground feel to it. I had a look in the Main Stand before kick off but unless you get a central seat which were mainly taken or reserved for season ticket holders the wing areas are in the obstructed view category, this results from the large sides of the stand and the floodlight poles getting in the way. I decided to watch the first half near the halfway line on the covered terrace on the other side of the pitch. A decent crowd of 1,298 had gathered, it appears a lot of the City supporters had been enticed by the likes of Craig Bellamy, Michael Johnson and Nedrum Onuora being named in the squad. Wayne Bridge was also down to play by all accounts but rumours were going around that he'd refused to turn out? Not sure if thats true or not? 90 seconds into the action Altrincham went 1-0 up from a penalty, what a great start for them.
Bellamy started buzzing about for City and they soon applied lots of pressure with some neat short-passing football. This style of play looked fine and dandy but the Alty defence was mopping it up pretty well, it looked like City were intent on walking the ball into the net. Not much opportunity arose for Altrincham attacking but they did look sharp on the odd counter thrust. Despite some good defending and Alty's midfield closing down play City got a couple of goals before the break to take a 2-1 half time lead. It turned to grey skies again and although the rain kept off it did get a little cooler.
The second half saw Bellamy subbed on the hour and after that both sides made multiple changes, even Alty were using a lot of trial players as the game wore on. Inevitably this impacted on the pattern of the game, it all got a bit scrappy and disjointed to be honest.
With around 15 minutes left people started drifting off. Its hard to judge the potential of both sides from this type of encounter. Alty have some decent players and I would expect them to be there at the business end of the season battling for some success, as for Citys development players, yes, some of them are good footballers but I have a nagging doubt only a very small percentage of them will see first team action in the future. This maybe more to do with the finances and immediate needs of MCFC rather than an academy players true merits, we will see? I think the same City squad are taking on Stalybridge Celtic this coming Wednesday, that may bring some interesting comparisons.
Main summary points of my visit to Moss Lane:
Not impressed with the tea hut fayre.
I went today at 7 quid-in because I wont pay £13 for Conference North stuff when the season starts (call me tight if you like).
I reckon Moss Lane is a great looking football ground.
The Alty supporters are a keen and informed bunch and will be expecting a return to the higher division.
They also have an excellent website (well worth a look for general non-league addicts).

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