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

Saturday, 14 January 2012

NWCL Postponements

We had a bad frost last night. I spent all of this morning and early afternoon (up until 12.45pm) looking at websites, carefully keeping a check on twitter and ringing up various grounds to see which games had survived.

A lot of games in reach were called off but at 11am AFC Liverpool announced that their NWCL game v Silsden HAD PASSED AN INSPECTION AND WAS ON!

I struggled with M62 traffic and roadworks but eventually arrived at the Prescot Cables ground that AFC Liverpool use at 2.10pm.

I was met by locked turnstiles and the entire Silsden squad (in their smart tracksuits) angrily marching out the ground and boarding their mini-bus. "Whats going on" I fearfully enquired, "They've just decided to call it off" came back the reply from one of the players, he went on to say "two bloody hours to get here and they postpone it at the last minute.... the league told us it was on"!!!

So there you have it. Yet another ridiculously late postponement from a match referee. This was a major balls-up.

I hope the NWCL can offer officials some advice on letting people know a little earlier if games are going to fall foul of the weather.

I wasted over 120 miles worth of diesel and gave up a gloriously sunny day (it was 6 degrees in Prescot)

Think I've calmed down a bit now!

Apologies for the first draft (which was unedited).

Friday, 13 January 2012

Bootleg Report: Ramsbottom 2 Salford City 1

This uncut visit report has not featured on the Tea Hut site before now. Recently came across it whilst surfing the archives of 'Tonys Non League Forum'. It concerns an FA Cup Preliminary Round clash that I attended at Ramsbottom Uniteds ground on September 2nd 2011 (a Friday night fixture). There are no pictures (unfortunately).

Here we go.....................


Like Cod of the North I was also at........


Attendance 345

I respect Cods well compiled views but I have a slightly different opinion of the proceedings.

Not happy Ramsbottom decided to put the kick off back to 8pm to let a load of ale heads in who couldn't be arsed leaving the local pubs half an hour early. I passed most of these late comers driving around the corner to the ground at 7.10pm! They were all supping pints before toddling down to the ground 5 minutes before kick off. I strolled in the ground 20 minutes earlier and was the only person at the turnstile. Obviously the club didn't want the beer boys going back to the pub if they risked missing the start so they made everyone who'd been sensible in getting in a bit early pay the penalty. They should have kicked off on time, it would have served the ale heads right but greed is a funny old thing isn't it. Funnily enough I spotted some of the same late comers peeing all over the adjoining cricket buildings, typical!

As for all the hype about local people being able to see the real FA Cup trophy on show..... they kept it mighty quite about the ridiculous £4.50 charge for doing so! I'll stick to seeing it on the BBC. Ridiculous!

I also noted the 20% hike in admission price since the short time I last came here, nice to see a club taking note of the hard times around this part of the world.

As for the game, a superb opening goal from Salford in the first minute was a great start. Sadly, apart from a few good saves at either end the match turned out to be (generally) pretty poor quality with lots of mistimed passes and poor control. The referee very much favoured the home side as they kicked, elbowed and niggled without caution. A typical example was the Ramsbottom equaliser. The home sides NO.4 (Morley) cut down a Salford player with a blatant tackle from behind which unbelievably went unpunished, Ramsbottom went up the pitch, Salford put in a cleaner tackle (winning the ball) but got penalised, from the resultant free kick Ramsbottom made it 1-1. Salford suffered a lot more bad decisions as the evening panned out.

Wished I'd saved my money to be honest.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Harrogate Railway Athletic 2 Salford City 0

Saturday 7th January
Evo Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 North
Attendance: 78
Admission: £7
Tea Hut Stuff: Tomato Cuppa Soup and a Kit Kat
Weather: Gusty breeze, turned cloudy and quite chilly
Parking: On Station View just outside the club car park
The Match Shed trundled past the Blackstone Edge Reservoir high up on the Pennines a gusting wind was blowing sheets of water across the road, the Match Shed duly copped for it. The scenic cross country journey also took in the highlights of Hebden Bridge, Addingham and Blubberhouses, there was plenty of standing water in the fields as the tributaries gushed down from the fells. An hour and a half later I was in Harrogate taking the A59 Knaresborough Road to nearby Starbeck the home of Harrogate Railway on the suitably titled Station View. Todays chosen game was from the Evo Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 North, I've not been to the Harrogate Railway ground before and the visit of Salford City (one of the better footballing sides in the division) provided the ideal opportunity. A friendly chap in the turnstile bunker took my admission money and I was immediately surprised at the apparent scarceness of facilities.
The end I had come in at had a bashed tin fence and little else, across the pitch was perhaps the smallest Main Stand I had ever seen. The far end of the ground did have a stand which was half shallow terracing and half seats but the rest of the ground seemed to be made up of a few weather worn dark green portakabins. My target was the Tea Hut and I eventually found it set back from the portakabins near the exit gates adjacent to the car park.
It was a long white building with a big kitchen taking up half its length, the other section was set out as a sit-in eating area. I was pretty hungry, my breakfast was hours ago. My food choice today was somewhat hampered by the fact that I was having a big home made 'gut-buster' steak and ale pie with chips and mushy peas for my supper (once I got home). I decided to plump for a burger, or even a hot dog if need be (even I can't eat pies all day). I entered the tea hut which was already full of greedy looking Salford supporters huddled over steaming trays full of pie, chips and gravy. I approached the lady at the food counter. "Do you do burgers" I asked, "no" she replied, ok, "what about a hot dog" I asked, "oh no, we don't do hot dogs" came the response, my worst fears came to fruition... today of all days when I (for once) didn't want a pie, I end up at a tea hut that does pies-only and bugger all else! I realised I had to set my sights a little lower "alright, i'll just have a bag of crisps then". The woman smiled back at me "oh we dont do crisps here" she said. Bloody hell, this was one hell of a limited menu! I eventually ended up with a luke warm tomato cuppa soup and a kit kat! I scowled to myself as I trudged out the tea hut past the tables full of slavering pie monsters. That pie the wife was making had better be a good one. As I slurped the soup my attention focused to the sloping pitch in front of me, my concern was not so much the slope but the uneven, cut up and muddy look of the playing surface. It looked like they'd just had a 3 day Horse of the Year Show on it.
Salford are a side who like to play fast, pacy, passing football, this gloopy field of mud did not look good for their prospects, especially when you added a strong gusty breeze blowing towards the Starbeck railway station end. 
Salford had been doing well over recent weeks and had picked up quite a few points, the opinion on the street was that they were not far from play off form, a win at bottom four Harrogate Railway was just what they needed to strengthen such lofty aspirations. However 'Railway' have always been an unpredictable side and they are well capable of upsetting form calculations at the best of times, never mind playing on a mud heap with a wind behind them. I got my scarf and gloves on, it was going to be a chilly afternoon. As kick off arrived it was disappointing to see such a poor attendance, only 78 souls turned out for the game, ok Harrogate Town were playing Histon in the Conference North just a few miles away but it was still a poor turn out from the locals, especially as more than half the gathered crowd had made the trip over from Salford, they brought the big orange and black banner with them which they proudly plonked behind the nets in the first half before cheekily putting it up in the locals Main Stand after the half time break. I wonder if the Salford fans were as surprised as me at the line up for City, there seemed to be some new faces and a few youngsters being given a game, I suspected injuries had forced a slightly unfamiliar line up. I knew one of the new faces, Lloyd Rigby the goalkeeper who'd done a bit at Rochdale AFC, I think this must have been his debut?
The game started very niggly and very scrappy and got steadily worse. There was plenty of commitment from the home side and naturally they seemed more at ease with the conditions (it is their pitch after all). Salford didn't like it. They struggled to get their normal game going and it wasn't long before player boss Rhodri Giggs was throwing a wobbler in the nearby dug out. After 15 minutes he shot out from the bench and threatened to take legendary hit man Gavin Salmon off the pitch if he didn't get more involved in the proceedings, Gavin was very much 'a fish out of water' today. To give Gavin credit he did get a bit more stuck in following the bollocking.
Railway had the wind behind them in the first half and forced Salford back into the mud. There was no way that football was going to be a winner today. Railway went 1-0 up when a corner swung in with the wind and overshot keeper Rigby and his defenders, despite a goal-line last ditch attempted clearance by Alex Mortimer the ball ended up in the roof of the net. 
All 21 of the attending Railway supporters went mad. The rest of the first half was crap, the only winner was the terrible uneven pitch. It looked like a football match being played in treacle syrup for the most part. Half time I followed a gang of pensioners to stand outside the semi steamed up windows of the Director and VIP Hut, I wondered why they all eagerley piled off to do this? Perhaps they had some saucy strippers on or something, a couple of the old blokes did seem genuinely quite excited? Then I realised what all the commotion was about... the half time scores on Sky Sports, you could just about make out the screen between a couple of fat bast*rds sat inside the hut scoffing jumbo sausage rolls.
In the second half Salford had the wind behind them and there did seem to be a bit more 'go-forward' about them. It all went pear-shaped for the visitors when one of the growing number of Railway counter attacks came up trumps, Luke Durham got forward onto a cow poke from the back and edged it past the Salford keeper to make it 2-0. We then had a festival of defenders performing a cultural ritual of end to end hoofing and old time toe bunging. It had got colder and colder and the football seemed poorer and poorer, Salford had a last push at it when Rhodri Giggs came on for the last 15 minutes but despite hitting a post the 3 points went to the Railway, in all fairness they just about edged it but to be honest... it had been a pretty poor game of football.
I was glad to get back in the Match Shed and get the results on the radio. Harrogate is a nice place and it was looking mighty fine all lit up in the dark, there look to be some nice eateries and pubs for those inclinded to spend an hour or two sampling it.... I had to get back across the pennines for that Steak and Ale Pie!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

All aboard for Harrogate Railway

Saturday 7th January
Evo Stik NPL Division 1 North
Just as well the Match of the Day camera's weren't there.
Not exactly the 'total-football' classic I was hoping for.
Bit of a blow to Salford's play-off aspirations.

Visit report and pictures due up on here sometime Sunday evening.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Stalybridge Celtic 1 Hyde 3

New Years Day (Sunday) January 1st 2012
Blue Square North
Stalybridge Celtic 1 Hyde 3
Attendance: 1,806
Admission: £10
Tea Hut Stuff: Meat and Potato Pie £1.60
Weather: Surprised it was on with all the rain
Parking: Side Street off the Main Road, 5 minutes walk
Driving the Match Shed towards Stalybridge was a bit like a scene from that sea-faring film with George Clooney in it 'The Perfect Storm', I half expected the bloody fishing boat to overtake me. It was leathering it down. Up where I live on the hills it had rained relentlessly for days, I'd given up on the big local derby between the top two sides in the Conference North having any kind of chance of beating a postponement. It was more out of curiosity than expectation that I had rang the Stalybridge office at around 12.30pm. I was amazed to hear that the game was definitely on! I got my trawlermans gear out the garage and set out to pick Frugal Glenn up from a makeshift floating pier at the end of his lane. Upon arrival in Stalybridge the weather was almost as bad as up on the hills, some locals said it had only started raining around lunchtime? Unbelievable, there must be some some sort of micro-climate around here! The last minute jaunt in the Match Shed meant a loss of my dinner, Frugal Glenn had some emergency rations on board but I politely refused, sharing 3 cold samosa's left over from last nights dodgy Chicken Bhuna take away was not my idea of a snack, especially as one of the samosa's had broken up where the seat belt had been rubbing against his parka, half of the Indian delicacy had got through a hole in the lining, all I could smell for the rest of the afternoon were the remnants of that damp samosa in the unreachable parts of his coat. The scene on Mottram Road was one of hardened northern folk... backs bent into the driving rain as they ploughed up the hill like a line of football starved zombies moving towards the lights, me and Frugal joined them, the weather was disgusting.
At last we reached the car park and the queues at the turnstiles, a sodden Father Christmas looked up at me from a torn selection box lid half submerged in a dark brown puddle, you could just about make out the red of his tunic, must be a Hyde supporter, would this rain ever stop? Last time I had a pie at the Bower Fold ground it was crap, I had a burger in my sights as a dripped like a drowned rat in the Tea Hut line, wiping the water from my specs I spyed the price list.. £2.80 for a dodgy mincey cheese burger at a non-league ground! They can f*ck off! I ordered another of those crap pies like last time instead. I was that hungry it was more edible than previously, partly due to all the brown sauce I'd squirted on it.
Stalybridge had visions of a 2,000 crowd for this top-2-tussle and quite a good few Hyde fans had swam over to cheer on their league leader heroes, there was no trouble, despite fierce rivalry both sets of supporters seemed to pleasantly put up with each other. The sides had played out a 1-1 draw over at Hydes place on Boxing Day, rumour had it that Hyde had stopped Stalybridge playing that day and were intent on getting people behind the ball today? It was all nicely set up for a festive feast of football (even if it might be a bit soggy around the edges). I have to give credit here to the Stalybridge groundstaff, they had done a tremendous job in preparing an exceptional playing surface for this game, in view of the weather it was excellent, something not seen too often in non league circles. To emphasise this fact, it must be noted that other northern BSN fixtures had earlier been washed out at both Halifax and Guiseley, apparently some Halifax supporters had now headed here (just keen to see a game).
I'm not going to go into great detail about the match because there are some good reports already posted on the Stalybridge and Hyde websites about all the nitty gritty stuff. I'll just give my usual incompetent overview. To say these two sides were currently first and second it was a bit of a disappointing match, the wet conditions can be taken into consideration but for me... there were too many (simple) misplaced passes. Looking at the home side there was too much indecision going forwards, everything went well until they arrived at the 18 yard area then it all went a bit 'school-playground'. None of the forwards imposed themselves despite some great work from Jack Rea in midfield (he was tremendous throughout the game). Joel Bembo-Leta also applied some great wing back play down the right touchline but he couldn't deliver the final ball. Celtics deadly hitmen Phil Marsh and Connor Jennings just couldn't get going.
As for Hyde, they kept it tight at the back, built up play calmy without any panic and started to make it tell in the second period. The rumours of them coming here to spoil the game and take a point were completely unfounded, their forwards went up a gear in the second half and Scott Spencer was leading the way, his burst down the right followed by a precision strike to bang in Hydes second goal was a stunning goal (at any level). Hyde had taken full control after that second goal, Celtic tried to rally, their manager Jim Harvey had used all his subs to try and generate a bit more cut and thrust (these rotations started as early as the 60th minute), including the introduction of new striker Nick Rogan but the result was in the bag, Hyde had the more complete game plan and also (on the day) applied more composure and technical ability. The home fans started to casually drift off with around 10 minutes to go, with much mickey-taking from visiting supporters nearest the gates, the drifters would possibly have missed Hyde making it 3-0 in the 83rd minute before Connor Jennings got a last minute Celtic (consolation) penalty.
So the bragging rights certainly go to the Hyde club, a fine win in tricky conditions against what is normally a very good Stalybridge side... needless to say, the Hyde supporters absolutely loved it! I made Frugal Glenn put his Indian spiced parka coat in a plastic bag in the boot for the trip back home, he said it should stop smelling after a few days?