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

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Bootle 2 Ramsbottom United 2

Saturday 25th February 2012
North West Counties League Premier Division
Attendance: 194
Admission: £4
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea 80p, Cheese & Onion Potato Snacks 30p
Weather: Cloudy, odd bright spell, chilly
Parking: Club car park (easy exit)
I was even more 'under-cover' than normal today, there has been no love lost between me and the North West Counties League recently. My public complaints about the increasing number of late postponed games in the NWCL resulted in a number of both private and public messages and various statements coming my way. I'm not one to hold a grudge and when you get fixtures like todays top of the table clash between Bootle and Rammy I decided to give the league another chance (I bet they're thrilled to have me back 'NOT'). Anyway, I didn't want to get spotted by anybody official so I went along to the game dressed as a bigger tw*t than normal. Frugal Glenn has moved house since the last episode of Crimewatch and he's still sorting his model railway out so it was just me in the Match Shed as I did the dance of the multiple traffic lights all the way down the East Lancs Road towards Liverpool. I got to pass the big grandstands of Aintree Racecourse as the Match Shed made its final approach for the nearby fantastically titled 'Delta Taxis Stadium' the home of Bootle Football Club.
The ground is just over the road about half a mile past Aintree Railway Station nestled amongst some nicely designed industrial units on a modern looking business park. As I entered the ground the turnstile gang were giving some older bloke with a beard a bit of stick for not buying a raffle ticket, as he was a concession they started saying he didn't look 60 and was he sure of his age? The chap had a bit of a limp and he looked a bit upset as he hobbled off with the raffle ticket seller still tracking him. I pretended to be a Latvian (not sure the turnstile gang understood that though, probably thought I was a slate loose), still, it seemed to work, the raffle ticket snapper just blanked me. The Delta Taxis Stadium is a nice tidy ground that is being developed as and when the club can afford it, the most recent addition is what the club title 'The Kop' which is about 3 steps of terracing behind the nets with a new roof over it.
The other structures are all down the touchline as you enter from the turnstile. These come in the form of some flat pack stands (one with seats) positioned outside the large clubhouse.
There are toilets both inside the clubhouse and at the end of the last stand.
The Tea Hut is (unfortunately) of the burger van variety but it looks like it belongs to the club rather than a trader. Its down by the corner flag next to the Kop. It was a bit strange that it didn't seem to open until after kick off time? It was managed by a couple of young girls and the place didn't inspire me with confidence (no disrespect intended). As far as I could see, the girls seemed to be selling a few tinned hot dogs but not much else. I just got a tea (which was only luke warm) and a bag of some crappy potato snacks which I stupidly mistook for crisps, cheese and onion it said on the bag, they tasted more like bleach for a U-Bend (or at least how I imagine that kind of stuff tastes). Shame the Tea Hut doesn't match up to the rest of whats happening at the ground. 
A few Rammy supporters had gathered and it was obvious that both sets of fans knew this was a very important game in respect of the title. Bootle have been solid, confident and mighty impressive of late, Ramsbottom are the team everybody else in the NWCL rates as a fine football side, there would be no-quarter given today and neither side could afford to lose, especially with Runcorn Town and Barnoldswick also gearing up for the challenge elsewhere in the division. With just short of a couple of a hundred in the ground the game set off at the expected fast pace.
What most people didn't expect was the visitors taking a 2-0 lead after only 15 minutes. The mightily impressive Lee Gaskell headed home the first and midfield general Grant Spencer backed it up with a strike from just outside the area. Bootle were visibly shaken and Ramsbottom went onto control much of the first half, Bootle simply stuttered to get into gear.
A couple of apparent half time team talk factors kicked in for the second half. Predictably Ramsbottom sat back deeper down the pitch whilst Bootle started playing with much more thought and calculated determination. Would they get the 2 goal deficit back? To be honest I thought no, how wrong could I be? Tom Foley scrambled a reply for Bootle with 12 minutes left to make it 1-2. Still Ramsbottom looked mighty confident and very tight at the back, surely Bootle couldn't get the all important equaliser? The game ebbed towards the final whistle and Bootle just couldn't get up the pitch, then with 90 minutes on the clock there was a last gasp surge which ultimately resulted in an almighty scramble on the Ramsbottom six yard line, unbelievably Bootle somehow got the ball over the line for the magic goal they'd battled so hard for all the way through the second half. The Ramsbottom dug out was a picture of two reactions, half of them stood stunned as they drowned in abject deflation, the others started kicking ten tons of shit out of the metal dug out, victory was so near yet so far. Bootle just went mad.
The NWCL drama looks set to reach even further dizzy heights before the end of the season, perhaps it might go all the way to the final day. By the way.... Runcorn Town and Barnoldswick both won today... just to make it a bit more interesting. All in all Bootle is a nice little visit, if they could improve the Tea Hut a bit it would be even better.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Apology to Lancaster City?

On Saturday 18th February I attended a game at the Giant Axe ground where Lancaster City beat Radcliffe Borough 1-0. It appears that a number of Lancaster City supporters are a tad upset that I referred to the match as being 'Totally Shyte'! I am sorry if my description of this absolutely pathetic kick-about upset anybody of a blinkered disposition. To be honest it was not intended as a slur on Lancaster City as Radcliffe Borough were equally ridiculous on the day.

As a token of 'no hard feelings' from my side, please accept a few more pictures of my day out at the ground (which I did confirm was one of the better non-league stadiums on the circuit).
Great main stand
Some locals before the mind numbing boredom kicked in
And finally..... some pretty crap football

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Lancaster City 1 Radcliffe Borough 0

Saturday 18th February 2012
Evo Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 North
Attendance: 232
Admission: £7
Tea Hut Stuff: Cheeseburger £2.10, Tea 70p
Weather: Started bright, turned dull, breezy and cold
Parking: In the large club car park
After weeks off due to the harsh winter weather it was a bit strange getting back into the swing of things. I double checked all the websites and even rang the club before I took the Match Shed up the M6 North to Lancaster. I'd been here many years ago to watch a pre season friendly against Huddersfield Town, you never forget the setting looking out across the pitch from the Main Stand, to the right is the railway station where you can watch all the trains ploughing up and down the West Coast Main Line and there in the background is the Castle (which I believe doubles up as a prison) just beside the lovely Parish Church. A great landscape to witness from a football ground. The Giant Axe is a strange name for one of the better non league stadiums you are likely to encounter, it has a great location just up from the charismatic town centre which has plenty of pubs and really decent eateries, I like Lancaster as a place, it seems to have a really good vibe about it. It is of course a famous university location and it looked like a good few students were at todays game.
I parked the Match Shed in acres of space in the club car park just behind the open end terrace. The weather was a hell of a lot better than it had been recently in the North West, an almost cloudless sky full of sharp winter sunshine made the Giant Axe look tremendous. Lancaster City are just behind the pack up towards the top of the NPL Division 1 North (also known as the Evo Stik), their famous opponents from Greater Manchester, Radcliffe Borough are finding things a bit more difficult and seem to be struggling to break free of the dreaded lower table basement grouping. Borough had brought a decent number of hopeful supporters on the trip north and I think everyone was just glad to be able to watch a football match again. 
First port of call inside the stadium was Dollys Pantry, the Tea Hut. I plumped for a cheeseburger with onions and plenty of tomato sauce, I got a tea on the side to wash it down. It was good stuff. Unfortunately that was the last decent event of the day! Hate to say it but the game itself was an absolute dog! Never mind thoughts of total-football, this was total shyte! It started scrappy and went downhill fast. It was a muddle of fragmented hoofing, lots of kick and run which was all interspersed with ridiculously inaccurate levels of passing. 
Lancaster had slightly more possession and territorial advantage which probably summed up the 1-0 victory, saying that.... Borough missed 2 penalties amongst their other wayward attempts on goal. It was not a good advert for what can often be a very attractive league. This one will be quickly forgotten by most of todays supporters (although it should provide a good basis for some massive bollockings once the next training sessions take place with the players).
I spent large parts of the match slipping off into a near-sleep type trance as the madness took place before me. The loyal Lancaster City singers could be heard faintly in the background trying to encourage their heroes, i think they were trying to coax the team into making 3 clean passes in succession, then I'd snap out of the trance abruptly as the 4.15 to Glasgow Central rattled past in the fast developing cold grey skies (even the weather got fed up with this game, it started snowing near the end). Yes, this was not the best of games and I was well pleased to get back in the Match Shed for a quick exit with the heater on full.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Tea Hut back on track in Lancaster

After weeks of doom, gloom and misery the ridiculously lousy North Western weather finally provided a brief glimpse of viable non league football action today. I hastily got some diesel in the Match Shed and headed up to Lancaster City for their Northern Premier League (Evo Stik) Division 1 North clash against Radcliffe Borough. Hopefully I can get a visit report on here sometime tomorrow (Sunday).