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

Sunday, 10 July 2011


Saturday 9th July
Early Doors Pre Season Friendly
Marsden 1 Pontefract Collieries 2
Attendance: 44 (head count)
Admission: Free (hence the presence of Frugal Glenn)
Programme: In your dreams!
Tea Hut purchase: Nothing going today
Weather: Mild blue sky, odd cloud, nice sunshine
The trusty Match Shed recently taxed and M.O.T'd for the new season (ouch) gently ambled over the rolling Saddleworth hills en-route for semi rural Marsden. Frugal Glenn loves the pre season friendlies, especially those which offer free admission, he'd jumped at the offer of an early season loosener on a bright Saturday afternoon. He'd just got back from a caravan holiday to Blackpool (I believe the actual site he stayed at was just outside Preston). He was mighty pleased with the pair of Debenhams Action Slacks he'd got from a seconds outlet near the Central Pier, just off the Golden Mile, apparently the crimplene pants only set him back £3.99, they even had an elasticated waist band, he said the purchase had made his holiday. As I swung the Match Shed on a left turn out of the picturesque village of Delph we started the long climb up towards Marsden Moor. Just outside the village we passed one of the most scenic little cricket grounds in the whole of England, the road takes you up by a drop on your left hand side and there nestling below is the serene vista of Delph and Dobcross Cricket Club surrounded by lush green hills and picturesque rural charm, A game was taking place and there were more spectators watching from the roadside than in the ground, its a great view from the side of the hill. We had to crack on and soon the Match Shed was dodging suicide sheep as they casually ambled across the 50 miles an hour traffic. Having ran over a suicide sheep a few years ago they dont half cause a lot of damage to the under carriage of your car (my particular suicide sheep ran from behind a blind moorland wall with around 6 of its mates, it went straight under the radiator before I even got my foot on the brake, I got less than five yards notice).
15 minutes beyond Delph we dropped into Marsden, famous for the Standedge Tunnel which offers canal and rail routes deep under the moors. The little semi rural town looked a picture in the July sunshine, I parked the Match Shed adjacent to the ground and we took a stroll into the centre (5 minutes away). It was all a bit 'high class charity shop, fish & chips and people drinking ale outside the pub', pleasant but quite you could say. Marsden resides amongst some exceptional South Pennines countryside and its a popular spot for walkers just off the main Oldham to Huddersfield  road. We got back to the Fall Lane ground, home of The Cuckoo's at ten to three, some bloke on a small tractor mower had just finished cutting the grass.
A reasonable crowd of around 40 odd people were dotted around the white railed pitch, the only structure at Marsden FC is the well worn wooden looking clubhouse behind the Chinese Chippy end of the ground. It has a bit of a veranda before it gives way to the path leading to the groundsmans shed. I got a bottle of Budweiser (the inferior USA one rather than the better Czech variety) for £2.20 (double-ouch), I was a bit dry and it was that or a choice of a can of warm Carling or that horrible over-hyped Magners stuff. I have to say I am not a fan of football friendlies, especially early July ones but its better than nothing and I'll take it every time. There is no premise or expectation of fine quality football, lets be honest, its nothing more than a training loosener for most clubs, it just gets you into the groove for the new season, todays game would be judged accordingly. As the teams lined up for kick off Frugal Glenn was quick to spot the celebrity referee, I know the music business isn't all it once was but we didn't expect Rod Stewart to be refereeing Marsden v Pontefract today! Was it him, Frugal thought it was but he's not had an eye test for 8 years. It certainly looked like him, perhaps he might be doing a few numbers back in the clubhouse after the game? Frugal started singing 'The First Cut Is The Deepest' when there was a nasty clash of heads in the 13th minute. If they'd done a programme I'd have got it autographed. If it wasn't Rod, it was a dead-ringer and a very good copy.
The game slowly unravelled from a promising start into the 'hoof, charge and shout' disorder normally associated with friendlies so early in the season. It appeared that Marsden had invested in some silver looking match balls of a similar quality you usually see 5 year old kids knocking about on a holiday beach (before a gust of wind speeds them away towards the tide 500 yards away). Both sides were hoofing the ball out of the ground at an alarming rate and various players were complaining that the balls "just weren't right".
As the Fall Lane Ground lies directly open, elevated and adjacent to a busy unfenced side street you can imagine the mayhem of unsuspecting weekend drivers out for a quite country drive suffering the sudden shock of a 100mph centre-backs clearance smack bang on the half opened passenger window! The game itself witnessed Ponte taking the majority of first half possession which in turn brought a 1-0 lead, the commitment was present (from both sides) but a lot of moves broke down far too early. Marsden moved up a gear in the second half and realised there wasn't that much between the sides so why not have a go. They justly got the equaliser and could easily have stolen it. Instead Ponte used that extra bit of class to drive forward once again, they got the winner around ten minutes from the death. Marsden only have themselves to blame that they didn't get a draw out of this game especially when they fluffed an absolute nailed on '5 yard-out-sitter' just before the end, how the lad missed it I do not know? A credit to the fine location of Marsdens Fall Lane Ground was the number of passing walkers and hikers who stopped by to take in some of the action as they passed through the valley, many of them taking photographs, amongst such striking scenery it makes you realise what a nice little place this is to have a football ground.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This blog has amused me no end, I will say that we have invested a lot of man hours in the close season and have a wider variety stocked bar now, including 2 choices of canned lager, a non alcoholic beer and 4 different varieties of flavoured ciders aswell as spirits, wines etc. The hatch is open on matchdays now aswell and the food afterwards has improved, unfortunately you will still see the same, kick it as hard as you can football (from me at least) but I would definitely like to offer an open invitation to come back to fall lane and see some of the changes including painted changing rooms, a new sign and everyone is a year older!