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

Sunday, 16 December 2012


Too bloody many of them at the moment!

Its ages since I've got to a designated game at a new venue.

Either waterlogging or frozen pitches claim the day.

Funny how the games that survive are always at grounds I've already been to. Don't mind this now and again but the objective is new locations. 

Friday, 30 November 2012

The Abbey Hey Popular Side

One of the rare Manchester venues that gives you change out of 60 quid.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Abbey Hey 2 Nelson 0

Saturday 24th November 2012
North West Counties League First Division Trophy Round 2
Attendance: 28
Admission: £5
Tea Hut Stuff: Meat and Potato Pie £1.20
Weather: Grey, cold, miserable and damp
Parking: Inside the grounds of the club
As the UK was hit by more torrential rain, an awful lot of games never kicked off, from the South West to the North, waterlogging (even flooding) was a common problem. No disrespect to Abbey Hey and Nelson this was my third choice match, my initial selection and my Plan B had both been washed out by 10am. I'd heard and read a lot of negative feedback about Abbey Hey FC, none of it was related to the football or the state of the ground, most of it was down to the location and problems in the surrounding area. Abbey Heys ground is in Gorton, not exactly the most affluent of Manchester locations its just down the road from Belle Vue and within striking distance of Manchester City's Etihad Stadium. Some visit reports have described it as Beirut-like with hoodlum chav's running riot outside the ground. Well, I have to say I didn't see anything like that and it seemed a pretty normal area to me, I certainly didn't witness anybody lobbing half-enders at the Match Shed as I drove down Goredale Avenue to the gates of the ground (as certain reports had warned of). The Abbey Hey ground offers plenty of space to park up alongside the pitch or adjacent to the clubhouse, there is no need whatsoever to park outside the stadium complex, I parked the Match Shed just behind the Nelson teams mini bus.
First impressions of the place verified a tidy well kept arena, there is a large brick built clubhouse and changing rooms building alongside the halfway line and a covered terrace and seating stand running down the opposite touchline.
There is the usual hard standing and rails behind both ends and it was noted that the land runs down a slope at the back of the Goredale Avenue end, a fact that had numerous ball boys and club members continually chasing miss hit efforts on goal throughout the ninety minutes. One bloke looked totally fagged out at the final whistle. The clubhouse has heavily barred windows which give it a fortress like profile (which may be a sign that security is a primary factor in this part of the City), upstairs is the bijou bar and snack area which was bright and welcoming with plenty of plush seating and a nice little bar area. There was a retro pie tray warmer behind the bar and a friendly chap was recommending his stock of hot meat and potato pies. A bloke handing back his plate supported this viewpoint pointing out that he'd just ate a couple of them himself. I decided to get one and was promptly given a plate, I decided to eat it outside instead as we were only 10 minutes from kick off.
The pie was nice and hot but not molten lava scalding like some of the pies you get from grounds, it had the unmistakeable mass produced 'Hollands Pie' look about it (which I've eaten thousands of in the past) but it was adequately pleasing none the less. At £1.20p it was a world away from rip off places such as Arsenal and the likes. I thought there might have been a slightly better crowd than the 28 souls who turned out for this cup tie special, however, one had to equate the reality that only a few miles away Ashton United were playing Evo Stik leaders North Ferriby United and we also had the hype and glitz of Harry Redknapp and his QPR Shepherds Bush playboys over at Old Trafford. I'll stick with Abbey Hey thanks very much. Todays game featured both these North West Counties League sides playing out their first division trophy second round tie. This is the second tier of the NWCL but it is still a good standard of football. Abbey Hey are currently second in the table with 4 games in hand of the leaders AFC Darwen. Nelson are in a transitional period with both management and player changes still bedding in, they reside just above halfway up the league. Nice to see a few hardy supporters had travelled over from north east Lancashire to cheer them on.
The game kicked off under a miserable slate grey sky, it was bloody chilly and the forecast promised prolonged rain (theres a shock). I had 5 layers of clothes on, my woolly Spurs hat, scarf and gloves and I was still freezing cold. 'Must-be-mad' came to mind, I secretly hoped the match wouldn't go to extra time. Half a dozen home supporters sloped over from the bar and took up what must be their regular seats in the stand and we were off and running. The cold and the rain, which arrived 20 minutes into the first half, doubtless took the enjoyment factor down a few notches but I was much impressed with the quality and style of the Abbey Hey performance. They pass the ball about with confidence and have some very impressive young players. They took the game to Nelson and kept things tight at the back, their endeavour produced 2 first half goals and despite a spirited showing from the visitors I reckoned 2-0 was a fair half time scoreline. Seeing as the Match Shed was parked inside the ground I had the luxury of sitting in it trying to warm up during the break, at least the rain had eased off now.
Nelson pushed on a bit during the second half and they appear to be a much improved side since the last time I watched them last season. Perhaps they need more time to gel, they created some good moves but despite at least 3 goal scoring opportunities the final ball was lacking. Abbey Hey continued to sweep forward with great aplomb some of the flicks and interchanging of passing was very impressive, if they can keep this side together for any period of time then great things might start happening here, there was some very good football on offer. The game ended 2-0 and Abbey Hey have a quarter final tie away at Holker Old Boys (near Barrow) to look forward to. I'll keep an eye on their progress.
It will also be interesting to see how this much changed Nelson side get on in the next 6 weeks or so? I think they have more in the tank to offer, time will tell? I must say, with all respect to the football, I was glad to get the heater on full in the Match Shed, a rare stress free journey back around the M60 and up the M62 as well? They must've been all grid-locked around Old Trafford (or still doing compulsory Christmas shopping at the Tragic Centre).

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Holsworthy FC File

My planned match for the weekend fell foul of the weather, St Helens Town v Silsden in the North West Counties League Premier Division was called off mid Saturday morning due to a waterlogged pitch.

Due to business commitments it was always going to be difficult to get a Plan B match in so it was a blank weekend for the Tea Hut site.

However, last week I found myself down in Devon and despite not getting the chance of a live match I had the opportunity of getting access to the charismatic market town ground of Holsworthy FC who play in the South West Peninsula League Division 1 West at the Upcott Field Stadium. I slung the Match Shed through the car park entrance and quickly snapped a few photo's of the ground and supporting facilities. Looks a nice homely little club.

The SWP League is one of the primary jewels in the Non League crown, any opportunity to sample it should be grabbed with both hands.

Here's a selection of the snaps:

Covered terrace spanning the halfway line
Clubhouse end
Admission Hut
Town End

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Runcorn Town 2 Norton United 0

Saturday 3rd November 2012
North West Counties League Premier Division
Attendance: 84
Admission: £5
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea £1
Weather: Started bright soon turned dull and cold
Parking: Adjacent Pavilions car park
This was an early 2pm kick off due to the adjoining playing fields being utilised for one of those noisy firework displays. Can't understand why people would pay £7.50 to witness a load of bangers going off? As I slung the Match Shed behind the Pavilions ale house I had visions of plenty of rockets and air bomb repeaters going off on the nearby football pitch in 15 minutes time. Todays Tea Hut visit was Runcorn Town, the Samba Style Maestros of the North West Counties League. Think of Bobby Moore era West Ham, think of the 1970 Brazilians, think of Total Football Holland with Johan Cruyff at his prime, if you add them altogether you get Runcorn Town, they're that good (honest)! Todays lambs to the slaughter came from Stoke on Trent way, the nervous Norton United must have been bricking it! Well at least thats what I thought to myself pre kick off, the actual reality turned out to be something slightly different. I handed over my 5 quid and entered the colosseum. I was pleasantly surprised to see the club had made a number of ground improvements since my last visit at the beginning of last season, not least a roof for the Main Stand. The Pavilions is a tidy little ground which offers cover on both sides of the pitch, the stadium is overlooked by the massive backdrop of an industrial stucture which is part constructed complete with gigantic extraction chimney, its quite a site really and offers a 'different' kind of backdrop to say the least.
Inside the clubhouse the place was busy with locals eagerley anticipating the goal fest. One bloke had even brought a calculator so he didnt get mixed up with the score. I dont think they do pies here and I wasn't in the mood for one of the £2 cheeseburgers so I just had a tea which came in a proper cup. The lady at the counter had just put a plate full of fancy cakes out which looked very nice indeed. This was all rather civilised especially in view of the doubtless carnage that would begin out on the pitch in a few minutes time. I took my place pitchside, I cast my eye back towards the changing rooms next door to the clubhouse, I reckoned a local priest was probably in with the Norton team offering them the last rites. I couldn't make my mind up if it would be 6 or 7 today and any thoughts of a Norton consolation goal was out of the question.
I was correct about Norton not scoring but that was about all I got right. There was no carnage, no slaughter, no stuffing, in fact apart from an early 15 minute spell Runcorn Town were pretty much 'very-ordinary'. Norton United could count themselves unlucky not to get a draw, especially as they had the best of the scrappy second half. This didn't look like the Runcorn Town dream machine I'd seen in the past, they still seem to set out to play open passing football, moving forward at pace, with the odd deft flick opening up a defence but it simply didn't pay off today, far too many moves broke down through rash passing or taking the wrong option, perhaps I just picked the wrong afternoon? I suppose the pitch didn't help, we've had plenty of rain again and it did seem a bit sticky and a touch bobbly, never a good thing for a side who pass the ball about. Lets be sensible though, clubs in non league do not have the cash or the time to provide an in depth groundsman and support package, they do well to get the pitch to the current standard under the circumstances.
Norton never looked overawed, they've taken many a prized scalp in recent times and seemed well prepared to give as good as they got, either side could have won today on the chances they created, it came down to finishing and Runcorn still had enough class to put a couple of decent shots in the back of the net (one in each half). This result puts Runcorn Town top of the Premier Division, a league they so nearly won last season, only for Ramsbottom to pip them at the post (Rammy are now going great guns in the Evo Stik league). Have Runcorn Town got the staying power, the nerve and the strength in depth to see it through this season? Time will tell, this is a very competitive testing league. The gameplan is still there, it was such a pity that the execution let them down today, still... they got the 3 points and thats the all important factor. As for gallant Norton they find themselves in the bottom four, for a club just promoted to this division it is proving to be hard going but they seem a spirited bunch and they have some good players, I wouldn't be surprised to find them mid table in the near future.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Wigan Robin Park 0 Barnoldswick Town 1

Saturday 20th October 2012
North West Counties League Premier Division
Attendance: 42
Admission: £6
Tea Hut Stuff: Ready Salted Crisps 50p
Weather: Cloudy, sunny spells, stayed dry, reasonably mild
Parking: Big club car park
I love pies. They love them even more in deepest Wigan. As the Match Shed crawled through the gridlocked town centre traffic a van in front of us had a security sign in the rear window 'No Pies Are Left In This Vehicle Overnight'! For the last 10 miles I had seen dozens of posters promoting 'Wigan Beer Festival - Drink Till You're Ill' and 'Silcocks Fair - All Rides for a Quid', both interesting events were designated for the very place I was heading in the Match Shed, Robin Park. I feared a car park full of vomit, either through queasy kids throwing up following 5 consecutive rides on 'The Tumble Dryer' or a gang of under 21's struggling to keep down 6 pints of Brain-Buster Bitter. Fortunately there was ample space for parking and not a sign of the St Johns Ambulance Brigade. The Robin Park complex houses a busy shopping park as well as the very large 'DW Stadium' home of Premier League Wigan Athletic, this place over shadows the smaller Athletics stadium beneath it, it is the Athletics Stadium that is home to newly promoted Wigan Robin Park who now ply their trade in the ultra competitive North West Counties League Premier Division.
Wigan RP have started the season reasonably well and sit in the top half of the table alongside todays respected visitors Barnoldswick Town (or Barlick as the locals call em). I entered the fancy reception area through the automatic doors and followed half a dozen Barnoldswick supporters down a corridor to a table acting as the admission point to the Stand. A couple of girls taking entrance money looked a bit flustered and I got to hear the back end of a conversation they were having with some hungry looking visiting supporters, I couldn't believe what I was hearing!  At 1pm they only had a bloody kitchen fire and managed to burn the entire Pie Stock for the afternoon! Of all the places where this could happen, surely not here, pies are king in Wigan. A bloke entered from a side room "Thats right lads, all the pies are gone" (I thought he was about to burst into tears) he composed himself and managed to continue.. "Burned out... alongside all other hot food items, including the tea and coffee", a Barnoldswick fan asked if they had anything else to offer food wise, the Wigan official told him they were trying to rustle up some crisps and soft drinks? I think he was suffering post traumatic shock. As for me, I couldn't take it in. What bad luck for one and all, at least nobody was hurt. No pies at Wigan! Its unheard of! I thought about doubling back to the shopping centre for a burger, it was too late, we were only 15 minutes from kick off. I handed over my 6 pounds and entered the Main Stand at ground level. With only an egg sandwich for breakfast I was running on empty. Lets get one thing straight about this visit report, it would be easy to have a go at Wigan Robin Park purely because they play in a corporate style athletics stadium with a big running track putting a big distance between the spectator and the pitch. You are not going to witness a nice little charismatic non league ground with rustic stands and bags of history, however, what we are going to see is a vibrant up and coming club making the very best of the circumstances in providing cost efficient football for the local population. They also tactfully target the away day visitor to the DW Stadium, Wigan RP promote early kick off games to capture people going to Premier League games at Wigan Athletic across the car park when fixture dates fall on the same date.
Looking around the ground just before kick off, everything is totally dominated by a modern large fully seated stand which provides suitable height to get a reasonable view of the pitch (despite the distance due to the running track). For those with itchy feet, you can walk around the entire pitch if you like, there is a black railed barrier on the outer side of the track which is a good height to lean on, I went all the way around and it does offer some nice views of the DW Stadium and the Main Stand. The Beer Festival was taking place in a long room underneath the stand and there was a fenced off open-air smoking area down towards the corner spot which had attracted a small crowd of people eager to take in a slightly obstructed view of the action (for free).
They seemed well behaved despite the odd abusive remark to the Liner. The club had quickly got a table together in front of the Main Stand with crisps, chocolate and drinks, at least I could now eat something! I opted for one of those tiny multi bag crisp packets that clearly state 'Not To Be Sold Individually', ironically, it also had the same days sell by date on it? For 50p I was desperate and wasn't going to deny sustenance any longer. I scoffed down the crisps immediately. I later saw people with tea and coffee so the club did manage to get some kind of service back in place (all credit to them). For some unknown reason we didn't kick off until 3.05pm but I didn't think much of it at the time, Barnoldswick did the 'Celtic Huddle' and off we went for what on paper looked an intruiging good looking fixture.
For some reason I just couldn't get into it. I don't know if it was the distance from the pitch or just the fact that a lot of the play looked disjointed, slightly frantic and increasingly scrappy. Both sides held possession well and did manage goal scoring opportunities, I would say Barnoldswick looked the more lethal of the two sides especially upfront where frankly Wigan RP struggled all game, even missing a penalty. Neil Chapman put the visitors ahead in the 8th minute and despite some nice passing sections from Wigan RP they never got near to threatening Barnoldswick enough where it mattered, around the 18 yard area. Come the second half, which due to the referee's obscure time-management principles kicked off at a very late 4.15pm, Barlick seemed to 'kick on a bit'. As Wigan chased the game, Barlick found the space with willing runners to move forward at pace, Wigan prevented at least 3 very good Barlick scoring efforts with some excellent goalkeeping and defensive support, one of the saves was almost as good as the Gordon Banks 'Mexico 1970' save against Brazil. Despite odd passages of quality the game failed to ignite, I can remember closing my eyes for a few moments and taking in the sounds around me, some karaoke singer was knocking out a dire version of 'Roll out the Barrel' from the inner chambers of the Beer Festival, stadium cleaning staff had an industrial vacuum cleaner going full pelt cleaning out the function suite at the rear of the stand and to top it all... a gang of under 10's were running riot trashing cardboard boxes behind the dug outs, despite them being politely told to behave by a club official (note: if adults bring young kids to games they should ensure they are reasonably and sensibly controlled, not just let them loose for 90 minutes).
This wasn't my best match day experience but that is not the fault of the Wigan Robin Park club, ok the match could have been better but we all see lots of disappointing games (England in Poland crops to mind), next week could be total-football again... and you cannot blame Wigan RP for the racket from the beer boozers, the cleaners and the unruly kids, I'm even going to forget the burnt pies (despite my greed at the time). To sum it up Barnoldswick just about deserved a 1-0 away win. Is it such a bad ground at Wigan Robin Park seeing as its got a running track around it? I'd urge you to give it a chance and take it on its merits, it offers a decent enough environment to watch NWCL football, dont go expecting old-glory quirky atmosphere, it is what it is and if it gives Wigan Robin Park a chance of progressing as a valuable member ot the NWCL thats good enough for me.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Nostell Miners Welfare 1 Formby 2

Saturday 13th October 2012
FA Vase First Round Proper
Attendance: 43
Admission: £5
Tea Hut Stuff: Zilch today I'm afraid
Weather: Cloudy, late sunshine second half
Parking: Club car park
Firstly, on a day such as 'Non League Day', allow me to moan what a missed opportunity this was for lots and lots of people living in the Wakefield area to witness a bloody good game of cup tie football at a pleasant community stadium. Only 43 souls turned out in total and every one saw an end to end game between two evenly matched sides who played some really good quality football. Nostell MW are located in the village of Crofton just a few miles from Wakefield City Centre and their ground is at the local Community Centre, the modern set up houses a function and leisure profile with the actual stadium at the rear of the complex with a steep banking overlooking the well kept playing surface and tidy surrounding perimeter. Nostell play in the Northern Counties East Leagues Premier Division, they've not had the best of starts this season and sit lower table but the locals seem positive that things will definitely improve. Their visitors in this important FA Vase tie came from the West Coast, Formby is a nice little place just down the road from Southport, rumour has it that a good few Liverpool superstars live in the small town which nestles behind National Trust woodland and stunning coastal scenery. Formby are a Non League level (or step) below Nostell MW, they play in Division One of the North West Counties League and have received some very glowing reports in their climb to the upper reaches of the table. Time to find out what all the fuss is about? I took the Match Shed on the long and winding off-motorway route through West Yorkshire, the M62 is a waste of time as endless speed restricted roadworks continue to hound the motorist, 4 years now and they still can't sort it out? Somebody is doubtless making a lot of cash for multi-triple time diversions, closures and millions of cones. Anyway, I got there in the end but driving through places like Huddersfield and Wakefield on a busy Saturday is not easy going. Good to see the Formby mini bus got there before me. I had a feeling that gourmet cuisine may be slightly limited at the ground so I had a big dinner before I set off, 2 bacon rolls and a large bowl of rustic tomato soup, just as well, the internal community centre kitchen only had burgers and chips on offer. I thought about a cup of tea but the principle of paying a quid for a tea bag doesn't rest easy with me, even at this level, I skipped it. You enter the ground by walking through the community centre main doors and then taking twisting hidden corridors, if you're lucky you find the door to the bowling green and hey-presto you spot the magic match poster leading onto the turnstile.
Apparently an OAP Thackley season ticket holder entered the building for an away game here and has been missing for over 3 years now. Its even more confusing trying to leave after the game when some of the doors are closed, its a maze of random non-exits (or at least it seemed that way to a numpty like me). Going into the ground, as you pass through the turnstile you enter the only side of the ground with any type of structures, there is a narrow 2 row covered shelter of seats to the right, whilst to the left there is hard standing adjacent to the community centre wall above the grass banking, the other 3 sides of the stadium are purely pitchside hard standing. You get a good view from the top of the bank but overall, with the greatest of respect, the ground does lack a bit of character.
Formby had brought about 10 fans (25% of the crowd) and they seemed mighty pleased that their heroes were not overcome with the proceedings, in fact they appeared highly delighted when the Nostell keeper couldn't get a clearance away and the impressive Jason Carey pillaged the situation to put Formby into a sixth minute lead. Nostell tried to ignore the ruthless speed in which Formby continued to break forward and attempted to consolidate midfield superiority. A dangerous game and one can appreciate how Formby have taken so many sides apart this season, they pass it well, have supreme confidence on the ball and are never afraid to put a colleague away down a channel. Nostell played a percentages styled game that offered plenty of possession but revealed only half chances going forward. However the home side got a well struck equaliser through James Eyles half way through the half but they still continued to look vulnerable at the back.
Formby struck again 7 minutes into the second half, a sublime finish from Joe Walker. I expected a major Nostell push forward following this set-back but it was Formby who seemed to be the more dangerous and continued to play some really good football. We had to wait for the final 10 minutes before Nostell applied consistent threatening pressure. Formby went into siege mode whilst Nostell threw the sink at them. Formby held out despite quite a bit of injury time clock watching. It had been an entertaining game, Nostell don't look a bad side and I'm sure they can put this behind them, however, they need to be a bit more clinical in front of goal.
As for Formby, I was genuinely impressed, they have some very good players and the style of football is pleasing on the eye. This was a bit of a giantkilling on paper but I wouldn't like to draw this Formby side in the next round of the Vase, they could go further in this competition yet? They look a good side.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Non League Day

Its official Non League Day on Saturday 13th October.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Tadcaster Albion 4 Skelmersdale United 1

Saturday 22nd September 2012
FA Cup Second Round Qualifying
Attendance: 182
Admission: £5
Tea Hut Stuff: Cheeseburger £2.50, Tea £1
Weather: Sunshine throughout, pleasantly mild
Parking: On the brewery road about 30 yards from the ground
The NCEL (Northern Counties East League) always provides a good standard of football and has some wonderful little grounds to visit. Todays trip to Tadcaster Albion ticked the box on both counts. Nicknamed 'The Brewers' in respect of the fact that Tadcaster has some very large breweries operating in the town, Tadcaster are the last remaining NCEL side in this seasons FA Cup competition and currently reside in the top half of their domestic Premier Division. Their classy visitors were from West Lancashire, Skelmersdale United, a side much respected for fast flowing open football, a reputation that had already seen them win 4 out of 4 league games to date. Skem currently play in a higher level league than Tadcaster, the Evo Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 North. According to Radio Lancashire's patronising Non League Show, Skelmersdale only had to turn up to cast aside such an inferior side as Tadcaster, the game was a pure formality, the arrogant radio show predicted at least a 4 goal thrashing. How ironic they got the last bit about the scoreline correct (they just got the teams mixed up). All the hype building up to the cup tie was focusing on the Skelmersdale Manager Tommy Lawson worrying that his sides undoubted progress in the cup competition could affect the clubs league fixture programme, "the price of our cup run could see a fixture backlog" mused Tommy. How reassuring for Tommy that he won't have to bother about the FA Cup after today... they can concentrate on the league! I had a sneaky feeling that this cup tie could provide an upset, something which tempted me to slog the Match Shed well over a 100 miles in the process. As I crawled through the endless 50mph roadworks that seem to have plagued a massive stretch of the M62 for years now, I just hoped it would be worth it? I need not have worried! Despite reports that the ground can be a sod to locate, I found it really easily, I simply followed the directions posted on the excellent NCEL website, coming in from the west on the A659 you turn right at the big John Smiths brewery which dominates the backdrop to the stadium, the small road is called Centre Lane, just follow it to the end and the scenic little ground opens up before you. I was hit with the heady malty aroma of what I presumed to be hops as I got out the Match Shed, a fine smell indeed, no wonder there are absolutely loads of pubs in such a small town, this place is a beer boozers wonderland. Nearly everybody I came across going into the ground seemed to have just arrived from Skelmersdale, all wearing their blue and white scarves. This was a theme that continued inside the characterful little clubhouse overlooking the halfway line. I'd had some sausage and bacon sandwiches before setting off and was eager to find something a little more healthy from the kitchen hatch adjacent to the bar, "have you got any pies"? I politely enquired. "Only burgers, chips and hot dogs today" came the response. Needs-must I suppose so I opted for a cheeseburger and a cup of tea.
The burger was ok and had a decent thickness, the problem is they contract so much, I like those American style burgers that you see on that Food Channel TV show 'Drive Ins, Diners & Dives', don't think theres much chance of finding one of those big whoppers in a football tea hut though. I took my humble burger and sat scoffing it on the pitch-roller behind the nets. I was amused to find a groundhopper running around behind the goals (rucksack and all) fagging stray practice balls which the Tadcaster team were firing anywhere but inside the goalposts. I'm sure they started miss hitting their shots on purpose just to see how long the hopper would trot off and throw the balls back on the pitch, he was still at it when I finished my burger, with his anorak zipped up in the warm sunshine he appeared to be getting quite a sweat on.
The ground looked a picture in the lovely bright conditions, there is a clubhouse and terrace down the halfway line which follows on to the brewery end which has a flat pack seated stand which is overlooked by a larger 'mobile' temporary style stand alongside it, this stand has some nice padded bench seats in it and offers a tremendous view of the action.
The rest of the ground is open hard standing with tidy grass backdrops complimented by a tree lined perimeter. The pitch looks first class. Nice place. We were soon into the match and Skelmersdale started to set their stall out. Fast paced passing and positional interaction put Tadcaster under pressure from the start, sadly the final pass seemed to be lacking, surely something Skem would iron out as the game progressed (or would they)? The home side held firm and managed an odd foray of their own. It seemed nothing more than an isolated blip when Tadcaster got an 11th minute penalty which Steven Jeff thundered home, it just seemed to make Skelmersdale more eager. When Callum Ward got Tadcaster's second in the 20th minute the first signs of concern were being discreetly mumbled amongst the large contingent of Skem supporters. The visitors got a goal back from Josh Hine to make it 2-1 at the break. It was true to say that Skelmersdale had kept the bulk of possession in the first half but Tadcaster had applied a well managed game plan which restricted the attacking options for clear cut Skelmersdale opportunities.
The visitors looked loose and lacked consistency when they had the ball, Tadcaster seemed to be breaking them down far too easily. We all knew a comeback assault would be thrust upon the Tadcaster defence early in the second half. Walking behind the Skem supporters as they moved to the other end of the ground they had little doubt that a half time b*llocking would do the trick, bring on the goal-fest they cheered! Oh dear....... despite all the huffing and puffing from the energetic Skem forward line things went distinctly pear shaped for the favourites as early as just 4 minutes into the second half, a goalkeeping misjudgement gave Callum Ward his second goal, it was now 3-1 to Tadcaster. Anger erupted from some blokes in shirts and ties and fancy Skelmersdale blazers "I dont bloody believe it" they moaned. What at first appeared to be a well mannered amiable bunch of visiting supporters was somewhat let down by a couple of foul mouthed hot heads who began effing and blinding very loudly at the referee and Tadcaster players, I'm sorry but yelling out that the referee is "a c*nt" at the top of your voice just yards away from women and children is completely out of order and shames what appeared to be the vast percentage of decent friendly Skelmersdale supporters. Tommy Lawson had to make some changes fast and he quickly brought new players off the bench in an attempt to get back into a game which they were now seriously in danger of losing. It didn't make much difference. Skem looked disjointed and lacked quality on the ball, Tadcaster let them have possession where it didn't matter and quickly robbed them of the ball where it did matter.
They out-footballed Skelmersdale. When the Skem keeper failed to hold onto a 63rd minute free kick, Callum Ward popped up to get his hat trick and strike a knife into the visitors hearts, 4-1. Skem kept trying but Tadcaster had their measure, there was no magic comeback, the home side had secured a marvellous well deserved victory, they are in the hat for the next round whilst Skelmersdale wonder.. what might have been? I just hope the extended Tadcaster cup run doesn't play havoc with their league fixtures (tee-hee).

Friday, 21 September 2012

Back on track

Been out the country for a short while.

I've missed some good stuff this last couple of weeks.

Hoping to get back on Tea Hut business this coming Saturday.

Reckon its either a North West Counties League game or an FA Cup clash.

The visit report should be posted on here by Sunday evening.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Mumbles from the last match?

Seems everybody isn't happy about last weeks 'unplugged' chopped down visit report from Glossop. Especially as there weren't any photographs?

My apology.

I was just in a 'Couldn't Be Arsed' frame of mind that day (some of us get them from time to time).

This was certainly not meant as a reflection on Glossop North End FC who are a much respected club (especially in the FA Vase) and their Surrey Street ground is a really nice place to watch football (including the plush new clubhouse).

I will endeavour to return to Glossop later this season and try to compile the type of report their reputation deserves.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Glossop North End 2 Barton Town Old Boys 1

Saturday 1st September
FA Vase 1st Qualifying Round
Attendance: 150 (didn't look that many)?
Admission: £6
Tea Hut Stuff: Steak Pie £1.50, Tea 80p
Parking: Just outside the turnstiles
Weather: Mainly sunshine, got a bit breezy in the second half

Been here before so no pictures this time around.

Thought this NWCL v NCEL Premier clash may have been Match of the Day?
I was wrong.
Scrappy match.
Kept interesting by both sides 'having a go' right to the end.
Suppose the misplaced passes and fluffed chances added to the uncertainty.

Seems a big pitch at Surrey Street (nicely kept).
Glossop seem to play a predictable game plan for this level.
A couple of well hit 'distance' shots got them out of jail.
Barton need to be a bit more clinical in front of goal.
Plenty of good 'thought' play but ultimately poor execution.
Referee had a good game as did the Liners.

Tremendous pies on offer here at Glossop, best in the land I reckon.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Mossley 0 Bootle 3

Saturday 25th August 2012
FA Cup Preliminary Round
Attendance: 132
Admission: £8
Tea Hut Stuff: Steak Pie, Chips and Gravy £2
Weather: Cloud, rain, odd sunny spell, all sorts really
Parking: Opposite the Highland Laddie pub next to the ground
Some classic FA Cup ties involving North West Counties sides today. I reckoned the game featuring Bootle the NWCL Premier League early season leaders away at Northern Premier League Division 1 North club Mossley had the potential to be the pick of the bunch? I think I was right! Despite Mossley playing in a league at a higher level, Bootle did the NWCL proud with an excellent performance to cause one of the biggest upsets of this seasons FA Cup (so far). My pre match build up to the game hadn't seen me in prime condition, too much ale the night before followed up by a massive Corned Beef hash supper had provided me with a thick head and an even thicker waste line. It was all Anadin Extras and gentle sips of water as I boarded the Match Shed for the valleys east of Oldham. Dropping down from the hills the Match Shed quickly encountered some massive storms accompanied by thunder, lightening and 4 inches of rain. Thoughts turned to the fears of a waterlogged pitch, it looked even blacker where I was heading? Despite encountering some road closures for a washed out Rush Bearing Festival near Uppermill my eventual arrival at Mossley hadn't been quite as bad as I had earlier envisaged. Dark skies were starting to head further east and an odd glimpse of blue sky tempted me to leave the Match Shed and make my way down the lane to the ground. Seel Park is a great little place to watch football, full of character with sweeping views of the Pennine hills.
You can sit in the old stand or get just as good a view from the decent terracing which resides around the ground, if it rains (which it did again later today) there is a big covered end behind the nets and a nice little paddock down the opposite touchline. Tremendous venue for non league, if you haven't been yet, make sure you do, you won't regret it. Due to the self abuse of the previous evening I'd only managed half a bowl of cornflakes all day, now the Anadins had kicked in a bit I had started to feel a bit peckish. Time for the Tea Hut, I marched up the terrace to join the queue. I went for the pie, chips and gravy special offer, you got a big tray full of the stuff for only 2 quid, wonderful value and a very nice pie. I had scuttled away to a quite spot near the corner flag to greedily devour the proceeds. Enjoyed it at the time (immensely). Ten minutes later it was a different prognosis, I was packed out, good job I had the pants on with the elasticated waist. As the terraces filled up one couldn't help notice the antics of the Mossley raffle ticket seller. I'd been caught by him 3 times in 10 minutes already, he was now continually lapping the terraces around the pitch good humouredly pestering people to buy his tickets. He really did apply himself to the task and he did it such a comical way he didn't get on your nerves. On the fourth lap he swopped raffle tickets for drugs as he asked old timers and anyone in earshot if they wanted to buy any marijuana or cocaine. He seemed a great sport and was doing a fine job for the clubs coffers. 
Bootle had brought some supporters on the big yellow coach parked down the road and they had placed a big blue banner up behind the away end. As the teams came out I couldn't help think that this would be a tough task for the Merseyside club today as the Mossley side seemed to ooze presence and confidence. The slightly sloping pitch was in excellent condition and both sides were soon zipping the passes around as the game ebbed and flowed from the start. Mossley almost scored but Bootle shot straight up the other end and Jak Gray slotted home a 7th minute goal after his first effort hit the bar, Bootle were in dreamland! Mossley players looked at each other in disbelief, this wasn't in the script, an old timer next to me muttered that classic matchday phrase...'bugger'.
The Mossley player manager Steve Halford was having another fine game as he pushed his side forwards from the rear, unfortunately their big name striker (Ex Salford City and lots of other clubs) Gavin Salmon was having trouble getting the radar to work. Halford hardly put a foot wrong, it says something that the Bootle player manager Neil Prince played even better! His quality and composure on the ball was faultless, he picked out the openings and wasn't afraid to carry the ball forward himself, something which brought fantastic reward in the 21st minute when he drove forwards unopposed before unleashing a long range missile into the top right hand corner of the net, 2-0 to Bootle!
Mossley tried to rally but Bootle more than matched them, they seemed so clinical and confident in their ability to play their football. The big Bootle centre forward Daniel O'Connor was proving to be a real handful, he held the ball up superbly and his off loads put the home side under an ever present threat. You could tell the Mossley defenders didn't fancy his gung-ho approach, only Halford managed to calm the storm. Mossley were late coming out for the second half, I could imagine a few choice words being expressed in the changing rooms. Surely Bootle would reap the whirlwind... not a bit of it, Bootle kept calm, played it tight, soaked up what little threat Mossley managed and hit them on the break. Prince played a deft free kick into an exposed wide channel and Jak Gray got his second goal as he smacked home Bootles third from a very tight angle. We still had over half an hour to play but Bootle simply out smarted the team from the higher league, Steve Halford did his utmost to get Mossley back in it but Bootle were too clever and too well organised.
The rains came down as that second half wore on, a dark cloud of despair gripped the home support, you can always tell when things have gone belly-up, the referee gets it in the neck, the flat cappers were giving Mr Hodgkinson a torrid time, personally I thought he had a bloody good game and kept the game flowing. 3-0 at the final whistle and what a fantastic result for Bootle Football Club, they were utter class for the whole 90 minutes. A tremendous advert for the North West Counties League. I bet it was a pleasant journey back down the M62 to Liverpool.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Winsford United 8 AFC Liverpool 1

Saturday 18th August 2012
North West Counties Leaugue Premier Division
Attendance: 127
Admission: £6
Tea Hut Stuff: Can of coke and some crisps £1.70
Weather: Mostly warm sunshine throughout the game
Parking: Club car park
The 'Wheres The Tea Hut' camera was at the Barton Stadium for an enticing looking clash between a couple of sides with respected reputations for attractive football and plenty of goals. Well we certainly got that today. Pity most of it came from one side. Despite the away side taking an early lead Winsford ripped the 'unplugged' version of AFC Liverpool apart with some exceptional passing and clinical finishing. Apart from the quality performance of Liverpools Johnny Lawless, not a lot went right for the reds, they looked weak at the back, characterless in midfield and indecisive up front. There was a 15 minute period in the second half when Winsford were in such complete command I feared we may have been in for a cricket score. Credit to the Liverpool lads they never threw in the towel and they still tried to play decent football right to the end.
The fact is Winsford looked exceptional for long sections of this game, a first half hat trick for the impressive Brian Matthews and some wonderful forward play from Wayne Welbeck in the second half set the standard for a sensational team performance that sends a clear warning to other title contenders in this high quality Premier Division. The locals were in raptures, the misery of 'season long' supermarket pies and greasy economy sausages from the avant-garde retro Tea Hut was washed away by gourmet style champagne football and how the supporters loved it! A stark contrast to the decent number of travelling reds supporters, it was all soggy chips and lumpy gravy as they threw their bob hats to the ground in disgust. I witnessed one poor chap (who had a big camera for a big away win) getting more and more frustrated in the second half as he stamped and stropped whilst gesticulating frantically to his two-timing heroes on the pitch (how could they do this to him)?
The fact I managed to catch a thumping 8-1 goal-fest took some of my bitterness away from having to pay £6 to get in when most people agree that 5 quid is the correct admission price for this level of the non league structure, my cash chest was looking mighty barren when they also fleeced me £1.70 at half time for a luke warm tin of coke and some ready salted crisps, its not like down town Winsford is Monte Carlo (or even worse.. Arsenal). Its not the amount of over-charging (I realise its not much in money terms)... its the bloody principle of it that bugs me, especially in what are hard times for most people trying to afford football matches. Don't know about you but I've started adding up how much it costs getting to games and its now down to what I can sensibly afford to pay for the day out. Shame really but every little bit counts, thats the way of the world these days.
I thought the ground looked especially nice in the warm sunshine and despite the old dog track set up, you can still get a good view of the action down the touchlines. The main stand has a lot of character about it, something which deepens when you take a walk inside the back rooms housing the tea hut, the bar and a club shop. There is a long stretch of well covered terracing on the opposite side of the pitch (which will doubtless come in handy once the winter arrives). Both ends are set back from the pitch due to the curve of the old dog track (now just grass), you can still walk around the railed hard standing to complete a circular jaunt of the pitch.
Despite some rather negative comments about this ground from various groundhoppers, I personally liked it quite a lot! It was a good afternoons football at a decent ground. It will be interesting to see if Winsford can kick-on from this morale boosting victory, they've got Runcorn Town down here next Tuesday night, that should be quite a game. As for AFC Liverpool their home game against Ashton Athletic on Wednesday night will be crucial. They really need a good performance ASAP after a drubbing like todays, I think they are capable of a lot better, lets not forget, it was only the other day they themselves enjoyed a 6 goal away win over at AFC Blackpool, lets hope they bounce back stronger for the experience.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Hemsworth Miners Welfare 1 Runcorn Linnets 1

Saturday 11th August 2012
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Attendance: 197
Admission: £4
Tea Hut Stuff: Cheeseburger £1.80, Tea 60p
Weather: Warm afternoon, partly cloudy, odd sunny spell
Parking: Adjacent cricket club car park next to the main road
Hemsworth are a respected Northern Counties East Division 1 club that have been on the Tea Hut radar for a while now, this early season FA Cup clash provided the ideal opportunity for a visit, especially as they were taking on the classy Runcorn Linnets side from the Premier Division of the North West Counties League. I picked Frugal Glenn up at around 12.30pm, upon my arrival he was wrestling with a big dog in the front room. His objective was to get the hound in the kitchen so he could go to the match without it chewing up his living room carpet. I left him to it to wait in the Match Shed (as I'd left the windows open). All I could hear was a lot of loud barking coming from the partially opened front door and Frugal yelping and swearing, the dog had bitten him and in the grappling match his new glasses got broken. He was fuming once he eventually got in the car "The ungrateful b*stard" he spat "I'd given the f*cker extra biscuits as well"! It was a quite journey for the next half hour, Frugal had his pant leg pulled up as he dabbed the teeth marks with some 'past the sell by date' Dettol. I'd decided to take the route eastwards through Huddersfield and Wakefield rather than stay on the M62 via Leeds, the mega long roadworks on the M62 in Yorkshire can make it a really drawn-out trip. Fortunately the Match Shed got through the A-Road route without any problems and we were soon the other side of Wakefield heading through the scenic countryside around Foulby as we approached the small dwelling of Fitzwilliam where Hemsworths ground is located. I'd heard that the best opening batsman in the world ever, Geoff Boycott, came from Fitzwilliam, how fitting to find a nice little cricket club slap bang next to the football ground. Upon parking the Match Shed in the cricket club car park across from a row of shops we soon realised the place was in the grips of FA Cup fever. Not only did we come across a bloke in half mast action-slacks with a Millets home brand rucksack eating a bag of chips, there were also two pensioners propped up against each other on a bench watching the cricket. The place was rocking! As Frugal was limping quite a bit following his altercation with his pet guard dog we decided to sit down and watch a bit of the cricket, it was only 2pm. Some kid that looked no older than 12 was slogging some pretty crap full tosses from a selection of bloater type bowlers to all parts of the ground. We guessed this was perhaps a lower league game we may have stumbled across? After his 5th straight boundary I thought about moving the Match Shed a bit further back?
At 2.20pm there was a commotion at the entrance gate, it was the late arrival of the Runcorn Linnets team coach. All the players (some in Everton shirts) and a large number of others (supporters or officials) disembarked and made their way to the football gate down beside the cricket pitch."Bloody ell" smirked one of the pensioners to his mate "these fancy buggers have got a f*cking coach"! The old timers would have been really impressed if they'd stuck around for the arrival of the Linnets Travel Club coach a short time later. The Runcorn Linnets side have a good support both home and away and today was no exception, they made up a good part of the decent crowd of almost 200. As Runcorn Linnets play in a snazzy looking yellow and green hooped kit it brings a bit of unusual vibrant colour to the proceedings and it was great to see a selection of flags being positioned around the ground from both of the respective clubs today. When me and Frugal entered the ground about a half hour before kick off the place was getting a lot more busy than when we first turned up. The ground has a plush large clubhouse down one of the touchlines and the bar area was doing a good steady trade.
There is a big TV on the wall and one of those internal Tea Hut 'snack bar' counters just across the way. A gent was on the griddle and informed me he'd just finished a fresh made batch of burgers. I handed over my £1.80 and got myself a cheeseburger, I decided to back it up with a 60p cup of tea on the side. It was basic stuff but ok, the non frills processed cheese slice came without the choice of onions but what the hell, it was tasty enough. Frugal went for a Bovril, the gent in the kitchen had to use fresh boiling water to make it, unfortunately Frugal added to his injury listing for the day with a burn to his hand as he spilled the salty liquid trying to land the frail paper cup on the nearby condiment table (boiling water in a thin paper cup is not a good idea). We both thought that Hemsworth had a nice little ground, I'd read hopper reports from The Dribbling Code and Reynards Hunting Grounds before coming here (both NCEL experts) and it matched their assessments. The touchline opposite the Clubhouse side offers a good little stand with around a 100 seats, almost adjoining it is what at first appears to be another stand, in fact it is simply a very large dug-out facility for the Management teams and subs. Both structures offer a charismatic appearance in front of perimeter planted conifers. As regards both ends of the ground there is tidy hard standing, again, conifers offer some nice greenery at one of the ends, the other has the complimenting presence of the cricket ground scoreboard just to one side of the corner flag, along with a view of the upper flat above the cricket clubhouse which today had a full washing line of underpants, vests and other items of clothing (hoping for a breeze). Now and again a cricketer in whites would appear up there for a crafty fag, often in pads. There did appear to be a good few groundhopper types here today, wearing giveaway camera bags and whatever, its obviously a bonus when the early cup competitions bring teams together from different leagues.
Onto the match..... Firstly I'll start with Hemsworth (or Wels) as the locals call em. Frugal in particular was mighty impressed with their 100% workrate throughout the entire match. They look a big abrasive bunch and their style of play is whole hearted and robust without becoming purely long ball, they can play a bit too and often put some clinical passing movements together. They lost team captain Dean Foley just around 25 minutes into the first half when he was sent off for a reckless and dangerous challenge. Personally I didn't see it full on and thought it was just a hard tackle, Frugal however had no doubts, in his opinion he had to go and the referee was right to send him off. This was a massive set back to the gallant home side, especially as Runcorn Linnets were creating numerous goalscoring opportunities and seemed destined to score a hat full of goals. They were already 1-0 up from a 7th minute Neil Black shot from the right edge of the 18 yard area. It wasn't cleanly struck but somehow the ball got through Dale Walstows grip to find the corner of the net. To make up for this, the Hemsworth keeper went onto to make some fantastic saves and definitely deserves a lot of credit for keeping Hemsworth in the match, despite the goal, Dale had a great game.
Runcorn kept coming and coming down the pitch creating chance after chance but couldn't make it count, either the ball hit the woodwork, the keeper kept it out or the referee disallowed the goal. By half time there were a few rumbles and grumbles from the travelling Linnets supporters that this game was there for the taking in the first 20 minutes. Hemsworth regrouped in the dressing rooms. The second half wasn't refined total football but it was certainly enthralling. Again Linnets pushed forward, again Hemsworth 'just-about' held the line. What Frugal suggested seemed a long shot, that Hemsworth could free themselves of the pressure and create just one or two chances on goal? At 0-1 down they only needed one hit, they would surely take a draw and face Runcorn in a replay with 11 against 11 men (even away). Well they did it! Lee Swift hit a low bullet like equaliser with around 15 minutes left to play to send the Hemsworth supporters into absolute raptures. It appears the cricket match over the wall was temporarily suspended as players and spectators tried to get a view over the wall to witness perhaps the first bit of FA Cup drama of this seasons competition? A great comeback from Hemsworth and they held firm for the remainder of the match despite a few wobbles. How Runcorn Linnets did not win this match is unbelievable (and that is not being disrespectful to a fine Hemsworth performance) they had so many chances! The Linnets should have won this game by 5 or 6 clear goals, especially when Hemsworth went down to 10 men.
Surely they will apply the whirlwind when they get Hemsworth on their own patch on Tuesday night. Or will Hemsworth prove us all wrong once again, they're good enough footballers if they get the chances falling their way? Thats the mystery and the suspense of FA Cup football. By the way... its not on Sky (but perhaps it should be).