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 November 2011

Colne v Maine Road postponement

Saturday 26th November 2011
North West Counties League Premier Division
Colne v Maine Road
POSTPONED (at 10 minutes to 2pm)!
Attendance: Me, some other mugs and half the Maine Road team
Wasted Fuel: At least 10 quids worth
Weather: Breezy with a bit of drizzle in the wind
Parking: On top of a hill right next to the turnstile
My love/hate relationship with the North West Counties League continues. Ok, the North of the country got a touch of wind today and around about lunchtime it started raining a bit. That is not to say we witnessed uprooted trees and 'Noahs Ark' flash floods. Still, to be fair, if Colne (or should I state the referee) thought this game was in doubt, I could go along with the theory (just about). What I cannot go along with is to simply call this game off when a lot of people had already travelled! If the referee doesn't want to get wet socks and splash marks on his new shorts, call it off at 1pm and make sure everybody knows about it! I actually got access to the pitch after the referee had left the ground to do a bit of his shopping in that new Sainsbury's near Colne town centre.
Guess what, I passed the pitch perfectly playable. The only bit of squelchy grass was in one of the goalmouths and near the outer (non playing part) of the corner flag. Take a look at the photographs for confirmation.
It must be me getting old, I remember loads of times when pitches far, far worse than Colnes simply got the go ahead for a perfectly reasonable (safe) game of football. The NWCL have got it in the neck from me before this season for stupid postponements, this one joins the ever increasing list. I suggest they start monitoring and assessing some of the so called 'in-charge' officials for what criteria they are using when making their decisions whether a game takes place or not?
Just because some fine-weather ref would sooner do a bit of silly christmas shopping because a bit of rain might spoil his new hair-do is completely unacceptable! And I'd not had any dinner! The nearest I got to a Colne pie was the sign next to the fully shut Tea Hut.
How ironic that on the long drive home the Match Shed travelled past 3 separate public playing fields that all had games taking place?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Salford City 3 Skelmersdale United 3

Tuesday 22nd November 2011
Evo Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 North
Attendance: 122
Admission: £7 (Concessions £3)
Tea Hut purchase: Chicken cup-a-soup £1
Weather: Fairly clear evening, very chilly
Parking: 50 yards up the road from the gate
A busy night of football for the local clubs from around these parts but beware of cheap substitutes and inferior products..... forget the local playboys playing another round of over-hyped glory hunting down at Old Trafford, and shove the Etihad fueled millionaires poncing around the Bay of Naples..... tonights real football action was at the proud Moor Lane home of Salford City Football Club. I like the Moor Lane ground, it has a great old fashioned stand with plenty of leg room (almost like a life size subbuteo model but without the plastic), there are loud, witty and proud local supporters who continually get behind the team (no matter what ups and downs are occurring on the pitch) and there is an 'uncut' genuine warming football feeling that oozes out of the atmosphere from every nook and cranny. The tragic loss of the burned-down clubhouse a couple of seasons ago has not dampened the likeable character of the place. Salford have simply picked themselves up and just got on with it, rebuilt and remodelled.
Nice to see the Tea Hut in full swing, a steady stream of punters were queuing up for goodies, the burgers appeared to be very much in demand for the travelling Skelmersdale supporters, I got stuck in the line behind some of them and they bought loads of stuff. Come my turn I just had a chicken cup-a-soup, Frugal Glenn reluctantly handed me the quid for it, the arrangement is he gets me something from the Tea Hut in return for door to door travel to the game and back (he wasn't too keen to pay up this evening, he is immensely tight though). We took up a position in the Main Stand just to the left of the singers who regularly stand at the back in front of the big orange and black banners. They make a racket but I would recommend sampling it if you get the chance of a visit to these parts, it provides a lift to the proceedings not often witnessed at this level and its great fun listening to the cutting wit and the cheery songs.
Not sure if the gathered Skelmersdale supporters liked it much, perhaps it was their first time at Moor Lane and were not expecting it, the boisterous Salford lot were 'giving-it-large' to some of the visitors players who started the game like fluffy rabbits caught in the headlights. Skelmersdale had tactically adopted a Serie-A old Channel 4 Sunday afternoon Italian style game plan, it didn't work. Their back four continually passed the ball between themselves, sideways and backwards for ages, then they lost it without having made any headway. The Salford fans and the Salford team loved it. That crafty poacher spearheading the Salford attack, Gavin Salmon, was having one of his 'on' days, in fact I've never seen him play as well! His first goal was sheer class, a crafty step-over, the drop of a shoulder, a cut inside... next comes the traditional Gavin Salmon shot which usually ends up in a nearby back garden, not this time, Gavin struck a beauty which flew precisely into the nets like a stealth missile on a computer game, Frugal Glenn spilled his Bovril in shock. Up went the magical chant "Feed The Fish And He Will Score", tremendous! Halfway through the first half Gavin Salmon got a second, a real poachers goal after some cutting go-forward approach play from Morning and Metcalfe.
To their credit, Skelmersdale are a fine footballing side and they ditched the over-cautious fancy pants stuff to immediately grab a goal back. They started to apply more pressure on Salford but surprise, surprise, the home side went up the other end before half time and grabbed a third to make it 3-1, Salford were in dream land! Half time gave a chance for everyone to draw breath, it had been a very good first half of quality football and we all knew there was surely more drama to follow.
I popped by the brightly lit pitchside club shop during the break and a really nice chap was doing his best to politely get me to buy something. He'd been busy during the first half writing out his own marketing posters and missed all of Salfords three goals, he reminded me that the team had recently started to put on much better performances, including a 4-2 away win at Durham last Saturday.
Me and Frugal stood on the opposite touchline for the second half, amazing how much colder it was out in the open, the temperature was dropping fast. Skelmersdale went through the gears in that last 45 and really stretched the home side to breaking point. They got a second in the 52nd minute from a Tony Rendell header and at 3-2 the game was wide open again. Despite some lengthy periods of Skelmersdale possession, Salford still continued to counter-attack and rip through the visitors defence, Gavin Salmon almost had a magical hat trick, so near yet so far for 'The Fish'. The expected equaliser for Skelmersdale was being pushed further and further from view, could Salford hold out and take all 3 points? Sadly it was not to be, Skem got the crucial (scrambled) leveller with only 4 minutes left to play, one could argue it was deserved on the entire balance of play but it was a hard pill to swallow. Salford almost pulled off a sensational last gasp winner in injury time, as me and Frugal ambled behind the nets towards the gate Rhodri Giggs had a free header only a few yards out, almost in slow motion the ball looked to be going in before it disappointingly slipped wide of the target. Giggs fell to his knees, head in the turf, I could clearly hear his despair "No, no, no, no". Great game though.

Sunday, 20 November 2011


Saturday 19th November 2011
Blue Square Conference North
Guiseley 1 Stalybridge Celtic 1
Attendance: 738
Admission: £10
Tea Hut Purchase: None (some big bloke had it all)
Weather: Sunny, then misty, then sunny, then cold
Parking: Got the Match Shed right near the turnstiles.
Must say we are getting some jolly good days weather-wise for November, today started bright, mild and sunny, such welcoming conditions even made the Outer Beirut ring road around Bradford a scenic picture of tranquility. You cannot go wrong if you head east out of Bradford for some top tucker in the curry department, some of the takeaways and restaurants put the local Yorkshire Fisheries cabin type fish and chip shops to shame in the presentation stakes. However, i've had a dodgy stomach all week so I was being extra careful today, I gave the Chicken Dansak a miss. Despite a couple of missing road signs I managed to get the Match Shed on the Harrogate Road and finally the A65, the shift in affluent property and environment is startling once you're a few miles out of Bradford. I was doing the game solo today, Frugal Glenn is still serving a domestic ban for spending part of the shopping money on Football Manager 2011 (it was 10 quid cheaper than the 2012 version).
As I arrived at the ground I was surprised to find a few pools of mist floating around the place, already it was taking some of the warmth of the sun away. As I prepared for the turnstiles a big cream and red Maynes coach arrived through the mirk, it was packed with ale hungry away fans from Stalybridge, the steward by the gate took his Leeds United bob hat off and shoved it inside his coat. I've been to Guiseleys ground before and have always admired the big orange Pukka Pie sign hanging outside the Tea Hut. Like a carpet tack to an industrial magnet I was drawn 'zombie-like' towards it. Unfortunately I arrived as some big bloke in a Stalybridge coat ordered everything going (the greedy bloater), it was estimated that it would take 15 minutes for re-stocking?
As regards todays match, Guiseley are well known battlers and have a reputation of being a very hard side to beat. In fact, they beat Stalybridge Celtic only a few weeks back at Bridge's place in the FA Cup. This would be a tough challenge for the visitors but if Celtic want to be there where it counts in the league table they had to get something from this fixture.
As kick off approached I took up a seat with a view in the nice little main stand, it was a bit of a struggle to get past the OAP Guiseley season ticket holders as they grumbled about having to re-position their tartan woolly knee rugs and all the flasks and madeira cake slices. The ground was a bit empty as the teams came out but a mass exodus of bar-room ale heads soon had the terraces clogging up.
There are some excellent match report details on the Stalybridge website so I'm not going to go into massive depth about the game but I will clarify that both these sides played some dandy passing football today. It was gung-ho box to box stuff, obviously both clubs wanted 3 points and they were giving it a really good go. What was lacking was the quality and the control of the final ball, both sides created openings but neither set of forwards could capitalise in that first half.
With the scores 0-0 at half time the second period continued much the same as the first, it seemed each side would have a 10 minute 'golden' period where they exploited possession and applied pressure, then the other side would fight back and have a go themselves, it was entertaining stuff. Guiseley got the all important opening goal in the 53rd minute when Michael Brough somehow got the bobbling ball past outstretched keeper and the post sending dozens of Yorkshire flat caps up into the darkening November afternoon. The old timer next to me almost choked on his Werthers Original.
Could Guiseley hold on and shut the door? They certainly tried. Stalybridge immediately went up a few notches in urgency and the game became stretched, the Bridge supporters got behind the side but the referee wasn't helping momentum, he'd been easily fooled all afternoon and I was getting fed up with all the interuptions. With 9 minutes left on the clock Stephen Brogan floated over a Celtic free kick from the edge of the Guiseley box and it seemed to just hang there before unbelievably drifting into the top right hand corner of the nets! GOAL!!!
Whether it was a cross or an intended strike on goal remains open to debate but it had a dozen Stalybridge officials in snazzy Blue Square car coats running up and down the pitch side hard-standing in wild jigs of giggling delight!
1-1 and everything set up for a grandstand finish....except....... the referee didn't get a copy of the script, he ruined the last bit of the match by shamelessly bottling a banker Stalybridge penalty and then needlessly sending off one of the Guiseley full backs (the ref had a stinker). All in all I reckon a draw was a pretty fair result, two decent sides had fully contributed to a hard fought match which was played the right way all the 90 minutes.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Celtic switch off the Guiseley grinder

Saturday 19th November
Guiseley 1 Stalybridge Celtic 1

Went over to Guiseley today for the Conference North match of the day. Stalybridge Celtic slugged it out with the well drilled Yorkshire Grinders toe to toe. After falling behind to the home side in the 53rd minute Stephen Brogan got the Celtic equaliser with 9 minutes left, a classic precision placed free kick (or was it intended primarily as a cross?).
All in all, a fair result. A full visit report will be posted on the Tea Hut site either Sunday night or Monday morning.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Bradford City

I needed a bit of a break from the Non League profile last Saturday, especially after the Bacup Borough farce. I went along to the FA Cup 1st Round clash between Bradford City and Rochdale. City won 1-0 in a game which Rochdale failed to finish off (despite plenty of chances). Nice to go to a match knowing it would be on.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Am I on Candid Camera?

Went to Bacup Borough v Colne tonight.
Wasted over 10 quid in diesel.
Despite the area not having any rain for almost a week, Bacup had a (supposedly) waterlogged pitch?
Nothing got posted up on club or NWCL websites (regards notification) until it was far too late.
In an autumn of such mild and dry proportions this really must be a mickey-take? Someones having a laugh for sure.
The NWCL seems to be riddled with dubious postponements and a strengthening stench of incompetence this season.
If you cannot get a game on in such calm weather conditions, you really need to question the standards of the pitch in question.
NWCL Non League clubs need to have a degree of (basic) pitch maintenance strategy (surely), why bother grading a ground for league status if you cannot play on the bloody pitch?
I've come across 3 ridiculous pitch situations in this league this season and its only the start of November (stand up Oldham Boro, Atherton Collieries & Bacup).
Bacup Borough, unfortunately, appear to be habitual offenders.
Just ask any one of the other dozen or so mugs who turned up at the gate 'gobsmacked' this evening if they feel the same way? ....and these were supporters who normally ring up Bacup pre-match 'just in case' they've called it off. The very same people didn't bother doing that this evening, because they all thought it could never be in question!

Don't know why I bother?
Not a good advert for football in the NWCL I'm afraid. Be advised!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Car Park Charging?

I believe MK Dons have started charging people £7 to park at the ground on matchdays. A typical Football League style disgrace I know.

What is extremely worrying is that a number of Non League sides have also jumped on the bandwagon. It appears there is no end to the quick-buck mentality of getting the supporter to pay the piper in recession hit Britain these days.

When will some of these naive non league clubs recognise that people are struggling to find disposable cash to attend games in the first place, supporters are already coughing up more dosh at the turnstiles (in most cases), now some narrow minded (greedy) clubs are fleecing them even further by putting a price on parking the bloody car!

Its not on.