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

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.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Back over Yorkshire way

Nice to see a game from the excellent Northern Counties East League again.

That Staveley lot look a bloody good side!

A visit report will hopefully be posted on here Sunday night / Monday morning.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Great football haircuts

No.1 of 500
The famous Merseyside 'Slant-head'

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Absolutely Pathetic! Thats it I'm afraid.

Saturday 8th October

A black day for Wheres The Tea Hut...................

After spending over 2 hours in yet another ridiculous M62 traffic jam I had to divert the Match Shed from its intended match day destination and take the unwelcome choice of heading for Atherton Collieries FC for their crappy looking fixture with Rochdale Town. It was 20 minutes to 3pm and this was the only game in range.

I slung the Match Shed down one of the Atherton back streets and rushed towards the ground. How strange nobody was around? Oh no, surely not! Yep, you guessed it, it was bloody well postponed!

How a bit of light drizzle can waterlog a pitch is beyond belief. I decided to go through the gate and take a look myself. Guess what I found, a pitch with not a thing wrong with it, no puddles, no swamp, no problems whatsoever, so why did they call it off?

I asked a couple of blokes getting back in their car a bit further down the road "Why has the game been called off"? The one in the passenger seat replied "I've just had a call on the mobile that half the team are already in the pub next to Old Trafford, they've got tickets for the Super League Grand Final"!

Now I'm not saying this is true but I will say one thing with a bit of certainty, that pitch was playable! Atherton Collieries are duly welcomed to my banned list.

After the joke game I went to see at Oldham Boro last week I'm just about sick and tired of being taken for a mug, this silly situation at Atherton Collieries has been an even worse incompetent chapter.

I'm currently of the opinion that I'd be better off doing something else with my 'diminishing' disposable income.

Some non league clubs need to sort a few priorities out (or they wont have any spectators at all).

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Oldham Boro

Saturday 1st October
North West Counties League Challenge Cup 1st Round
Attendance: 24 (10 more came in when the gateman left)
Admission: £5
Programme: £1.50 (An insult to match publications, rip off)
Tea Hut purchase: Frugal Glenn braved a cuppa soup at 90p
Weather: Bloody hot
Parking: On the street next to the car park
Oh dear! Apart from the plate of sausage and mash I had for my dinner before setting off, my match day afternoon was not very good, at all! The Match Shed had to battle with the usual batch of women drivers as they struggled to work out what to do at a roundabout and the temperature rose steadily to the point that it became nothing but uncomfortable. En-route to the Whitebank Stadium I briefed Frugal Glenn on the history of Oldham Boro and that they ground shared with Oldham Roughyeds Rugby League Club. Boro's opponents today in the first round of the North West Counties League Challenge Cup were Rochdale Town, local rivals from 6 miles down the road.
My background summary included reference to the fact that both sides had been doing a bit better than expected this season, so with it being a cup tie and a local derby we could be in for a good afternoons entertainment, how wrong could I be? It was bloody awful, and I mean AWFUL! Lets take it in order (some moans and groans being bigger than others), they charged 5 quid to get in when the standard in this division is £4, only a pound difference I know... but 20% more expensive than it should be. Next up is the match programme (if you are kind enough to call it that), I handed over £1.50 for nothing but a few pages of adverts, ground regulations and some bobbins about codes of conduct, there weren't even any fixtures, results or league tables, shocking!
An absolutely pants publication that was an insult to football programmes, to charge more than 20p for a match programme 'which had' very little match related content was scandalous. Perhaps a more serious problem to note was something which will doubtless effect every game played at this stadium, I'm talking about the pitch! It was in a terrible condition and its still the start of the season. Its badly rutted, grossly uneven and a nice crop of weeds are making a nice new home for themselves. This means any kind of ball control or even basic passing are items of a scarce rarity.
Obviously the pitch has been used by the Oldham Rugby League team during their summer season but for goodness sake, surely it can be given a bit of basic attention to simply flatten out the worst bits and get rid of some of the weeds. I would hate to come here every other week and suffer players struggling to play football on a ridiculous surface. This leads onto the game itself. I'm not exaggerating when I honestly state I cannot remember seeing a worse football match than what I stood and watched today, Frugal Glenn said the same, he wanted to go home early in the second half it was that bad.
The first half was pure rubbish with zero skill, zero quality and very little strategy or control, I'd seen much better boozy pub games on a Sunday morning than this trash. No wonder half time arrived with a 0-0 scoreline. Rochdale Town at least had a go at playing a bit of football in the second half but the pitch was getting the better of everybody (the photographs don't do it justice).
It was 75 minutes before either side managed a clear (on-target) attempt on goal. Oldham chased a random hoof upfield, the Rochdale keeper for some strange reason let it gently bounce over his head and one of the forwards following up tapped it into the empty net, a fitting goal to compliment this cup tie from hell. When Boro got another 2 goals in quick succession me and Frugal jumped for joy, we now knew for sure there wouldn't be any extra time. Frugals best moment of his (vowed) once only visit to the Whitebank Stadium had been his half time tomato cuppa soup in a proper cup.
Mine had been pre-match when I'd been lucky enough to be the first person in the single chemical toilet. What a shocker of an afternoon and thats despite the unseasonal wall to wall sunshine, such a change from last Monday night when I'd seen a cracker of a match between New Mills and Salford City.