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

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Pontefract Collieries 2 Silsden 3

Saturday 21st July 2012
Pre Season Friendly
Attendance: 39 (Head Count)
Admission: £2
Tea Hut Stuff: Sausage Sandwich £2, Tea £1
Weather: Fine, dry, good periods of sunshine
Parking: Just outside the club entrance
Todays expedition witnessed the Match Shed heading east into the wild lands of Yorkshire, having bribed a way past passport control with a signed copy of an old Geoff Boycott annual we soon encountered the longest roadworks in the whole of Europe, I kid you not... 20 odd solid miles of cones and a 50mph speed limit and guess what?.. not a contractor in sight! The Match Shed came to a shuddering halt in grid locked traffic near Leeds and we crawled stop start for the next 40 minutes. Frugal Glenn was on board for his debut game of the season and he was getting bored. "F*ck this, I'm getting my butties out" he mumbled, I politely explained the Match Shed policy of him not being allowed to eat or drink in the vehicle (one look at his pants will explain why). "F*ck off, I'm starving" was his diplomatic response. And so I proceeded to encounter the delicate aroma's of his cobbled together Beef Paste sarnies backed up by a family sized bag of Mature Cheddar Cheese & Onion crinkle cut crisps (past the sell by date of course). I was trying to keep the window shut on account of my hay fever, the pong was atrocious... the trip had not begun well. Upon eventually reaching Pontefract we decided to take a quick stroll around. There is a great little racecourse here, very scenic on a sunny day and the ground is not far away just on the edge of the town centre. Looking around the centre there seem to be a good many pubs, two Greggs the bakers shops directly opposite each other, plenty of pork pies in the inside market and lots of remnant carpets for sale. I got a chicken and sweetcorn sandwich from one of the rival Greggs shops (it was crap). Has anyone else noticed that Greggs have almost halved the size of all their pasties, including the very popular cheese and onion variety, they've not reduced the price though? Time to get to the ground and the Match Shed was soon trundling down the tight little one track lane that suddenly opened up to a pot holed dirt track around a big playing field adjacent to the ground. This looked like it may have been a cricket pitch in the past? A couple of kids in orange Hi-Vi's took my 2 quid admission money and I was immediately greeted by a traditional style good old fashioned tea hut already advertising all manner of utterly unhealthy goodies (how I regretted having that silly chicken sandwich from Greggs, but I was still full, bugger). I decided to come back to the Tea Hut at half time.
The Colls Beechnut Lane White Rose Stadium has a main stand with plenty of seats down the touchline, this also houses the changing rooms and a club function area and bar, I think its only canned beer rather than draught though. The playing field end of the ground has a couple of steps of terracing and decent cover. The rest of the stadium is well railed with hard standing throughout. A railway line runs down the touchline opposite the Main Stand but there was only 1 freight service the whole afternoon (a busy railway line can often provide secondary entertainment for those totally crap matches you can encounter from time to time). Pontefract Collieries play in the Northern Counties East League Division 1, they've witnessed good times and bad over the years. There is a firm commitment to provide good football for the community and the club is having a good go at moving forwards and upwards. They strike me as a decent side and I rate them as one of the better outfits in the division. Silsden are from the Premier Division of the North West Counties League. They are the only Yorkshire side in the NWC League and have recently moved into a rather scenic new ground just off that dual carriageway that links Keighley with Skipton and the Yorkshire Dales (well worth a visit). Silsden haven't moved any mountains for a while but there are a few rumours that this seasons bunch may be dark horses and surprise a few sides. The game kicked off to the background of around 10 or so locals good humouredley getting very merry by necking vast numbers of luke warm cans of ale. Don't know if they paid in or not but they didn't watch much of the match, bit of a strange atmosphere as they made up 25% of the crowd? They didn't bother anybody though and it wasn't a problem. I quickly realised that todays game was going ahead without recognised linesmen? Not sure if they'd turned up or not (or got stuck in traffic). The referee (who had a good game throughout) had press-ganged a couple of young lads into waving the flag, I think he managed to get one lad from Ponte and another from the travelling Silsden squad. They naturally looked extremely inhibited but credit to the players, they hung back from the usual abuse they throw at recognised liners. Its a thankless task for sure.
The match was very competitive, slightly fragmented (as can be expected early season) but overall quite entertaining. Under (Ex Leeds United) Brendan Ormsby as First Team Coach Ponte will doubtless be there or thereabouts this season, they played some positive football which was equally matched by a quality Silsden performance, the NWCL side look to have 5 or 6 really good players in the squad. Silsden went 1-0 up before Ponte quickly replied but Silsden had just about earned the second goal that witnessed them going in 2-1 ahead at half time. Me and Frugal Glenn hit the Tea Hut during the break, we got a couple of tea's and I went large with a really nice sausage sandwich which was tastefully dipped in tomato jous, I finished it off with 3 or 4 squirts of brown sauce. Good stuff indeed. We retired to the Main Stand seats for the second half action. Leg room was at a premium in this right hand side of the stand, I had to sprawl my legs over the seats in front. The rows of seats were far too close together. Frugal gave it up after 10 minutes and went further back to sit on an old bench.
On the pitch Silsden were taking the game to Ponte and there was some nice passing movements to observe. A deflected third goal for Silsden was a tad harsh on Ponte but the home side roared back in the last 15 minutes. The Colls got it back to 2-3 and came ever so close to an equaliser but Silsden just about held on for a respectable win at a place like this. Good friendly match. Even the lads and lasses on the cans got involved in the latter stages, urging Ponte forward. A massive black bin bag packed full of crumpled cans of ale gave evidence of the beer session. They were still 'well at it' as the Match Shed made a sharp exit for the trip back west. 

Friday, 20 July 2012

Prestwich Heys 3 St Helens Town 2

Thursday 19th July 2012
Pre Season Friendly
Attendance: 26 (Head Count)
Admission: Free!
Tea Hut Stuff: Not this evening
Weather: Rain, rain and more rain
Parking: Club car park
Johnny Vegas, Thomas Beecham, Pilkingtons Glass, Paul Wellens, Keiron Cunningham, The North West Museum of Transport... and not forgetting all those teenage girls with orange skin.... you lot took one hell of a beating! The Manchester League lads had beaten the respected North West Counties Premier League side. They were dancing in the rainswept streets of Prestwich till dawn. Well ok, they weren't really and it was only a friendly. Still, for the 26 mad souls who braved the terrible weather to watch this encounter, it was still a bit of a turn up for the books. It sloshed it down at electricity pylon surrounded Grimshaw Park, the place was buzzing. As one can expect at this respected yet humble level there is not a lot of structures to note at the ground, the changing rooms are in what seems to be a converted container just inside the entrance and alongside that there is a small clubhouse where you can get refreshments. A few stacks of plastic chairs are piled up for those sunny periods we once had the pleasure of witnessing. Other than that its rail and hard standing around the perimeter of the pitch. Earlier in the day back at the Krugg Cave, I'd been taken in (again) by one of those bogus BBC Weather clowns. The smooth talking tosser had predicted a fine dry evening across the North and Midlands with just a weakening shower in the South East. The Match Shed got within 10 miles of Prestwich before the heavens opened and down came relentless steady rain, lots of it! The first half copped the worst of it but it still hung around all evening. I hate those smug home counties weather forecasters, they're a complete waste of the tv licence fee, lets be honest they're only interested in bloody London. At least Prestwich played in one of the most vibrantly orange coloured tops I'd ever seen, there would be no problem spotting these lads in any conditions, even thick fog, last time I came here they were in red and white stripes, bit of a change to sharp orange?
I'd sheltered in the Match Shed until the last minute and took up a position near the halfway line, I tried to shrink inside the cover of my umbrella, a first inkling of wetness had seeped into my left sock, it was grim at Grimshaw Park tonight. The first half took away some of the pain but it wasn't pretty football, Prestwich were being pushed back and St Helens had the bulk of possession without creating anything too serious. Plenty of effort was evident and one or two full-on challenges went in, both teams kept composure and Prestwich actually took the lead not long before the break. The St Helens half time team talk took place in the pouring rain just in front of the dug out, they didn't look happy bunnies, Boss Hog was laying down the law telling the boys they were trying to force the ball. I expected St Helens to move through the gears in the second period and blow the home side away. Shows how much I know about the game? Prestwich played some excellent passing football and went 3-0 up! There were a few sour faces in the rivals dug out. St Helens would either drift into oblivion or make a fight of it, they chose to have a go, they made even more changes and with a lad called Osman leading the way they set about the challenge. For a wet Thursday night friendly the second half of this match provided some excellent entertainment. Osman looked like a man with a mission, he was all over the place, his example rubbed off on his colleagues and St Helens started knocking it about and driving forward. Prestwich gave as good as they got and still played their part but it was obvious that they had started to tire. 
The visitors got 2 goals back but Prestwich just about held on, a 3-2 win for the Manchester League side was a tremendous result for them and they look a genuine good side. As for St Helens Town, its never nice to lose, however, it was only a friendly and there were enough positives from that second half response to give them encouragement that things could be looking a lot better by the start of the league campaign. Must say, I was glad I made the effort to come and watch this game, despite getting wet. 

Saturday, 14 July 2012

West Didsbury & Chorlton 1 Ashton Athletic 1

Saturday 14th July
Pre Season Friendly
Attendance: 46 (Head Count)
Admission: £2
Tea Hut Stuff: Mug of tea from the clubhouse £1
Weather: A bit grey, some sunny spells, odd shower, mild
Parking: Pitch side (a first for the Match Shed)
WD&C (West Didsbury and Chorlton) are the new additions to the North West Counties League after providing sound service in the Manchester League. They start in Division 1, one league below todays NWCL Premier League visitors Ashton Athletic who play just across the M6 Motorway from Haydock Park Racecourse. I'm afraid there is still no Frugal Glenn on 'Wheres The Tea Hut' duty at the moment, due to local flooding he's currently living on a makeshift raft halfway down the Manchester Ship Canal. It was just me in the Match Shed as we took the A56 through Stretford not far from Old Trafford, the Recreation Ground nestling at the end of a tree lined drive is easy enough to find and its quite a pleasant trip from the M60 weaving through one of the more sedate sections of Manchester. I got there ahead of time, 1.15pm for the 2pm kick off, apart from the players I was the first one there. A few officials in casual dress had just turned up at a new looking wooden hut at the end of the driveway, the £2 admission was about right I reckoned. They also had programmes if you were willing to part with another 2 quid, not for me. I stopped buying non league programmes in general half way through last season (too many rip-off episodes of just blatant cut and pasting from league websites for my liking). The WD&C programme did have a stylish looking cover, perhaps its one of the better ones, a few punters who appeared to be following Ashton Athletic seemed to be snaffling up bulk purchases, one bloke looked like he'd bought half a dozen?
The layout of the WD&C ground provides 3 sides of viewing. One full touchline is out of bounds as it runs directly flush to the perimeter wall, the end were you pay in is tree lined hard standing and the adjoining touchline allows pitchside car parking on a grassed area that once featured tennis courts. The far end showcases the only structure on the ground, the clubhouse, this includes a refreshment area, toilets and changing rooms, there is a bit of cover outside which is complimented by a couple of rows of seats. To protect first time visitors there is a circus style safety net draped high behind the goals to stop you getting your head knocked off by some wayward piledriver from an angry centre forward.
The 3 sides available for viewing are all railed as you would expect and the ground has a pleasant, scenic, neat and tidy feel to it, if a little sparse on stands and enclosures. Obviously there is a potential for future development pending success, progress and planning arrangements. It was a small but eccentric crowd that turned up today, I got the head count to 40 odd. I thought there may have been a good few groundhoppers seeing as WD&C had become a bit more prominent with their newly gained NWCL status. I only spotted 2 or 3 (I think), put it this way, they looked standard hopper material, plastic bag, half mast kecks, unfastened shoelaces etc. You can't buy this type of fashion in the shops, you are born with it! There appeared to be about 4 Ashton Athletic followers who I had the discreet pleasure of being near for a good part of the second half. They were seasoned anoraks babbling on about all the places they'd been and the characters they'd come across over recent seasons, all was presented with a cutting form of wit and derision and it was most welcome indeed due to the fact that todays match was absolute shite and the 'entertainment-factor' had resigned its post in shame after only 20 minutes.
This early season friendly escapes the wrath of full Tea Hut criticism because it was little more than an exercise run out, however, for the mug (like me) stood behind the rail it was absolute bloody torture. Terms like 'hard fought encounter' come to mind. Imagine a life size pin ball machine 90 minutes. It was full of misplaced passes, some bunging, odd examples of blatant hoofing all painfully integrated with plenty of shouting and running around with random groups of players (apparently) struggling to keep positions. This is what friendlies are for I suppose, to eradicate the elements of poor play which creep in over excessive summer holidays in all inclusive 3 star Western Mediterranean hotels (if you're so lucky). I'm sure WD&C can and will play a lot better than this. They matched a stuttering Ashton Athletic side today who put some nice passages of play together early doors. Time will tell for both sides, I am unable to provide a form indicator for the coming season from these performances, I simply believe both sides will play better next time out.
As for the visit, I'd encourage people to give the WD&C ground a try, don't go expecting a fancy dan set up, hopefully the venue will establish itself more and more as the club develops over coming seasons. Its a nice little ground, friendly people and a decent place to spend an afternoon watching football (hopefully you'll catch a better game than me).

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Barnton 0 Runcorn Town 1

Saturday 7th July 2012
Pre Season Friendly
Attendance: 75 (Unofficial)
Admission: £3
Tea Hut Stuff: Nothing today thank you
Weather: Grey but dry, odd sunny spell, a bit humid
Parking: Side street 2 minutes from the ground
I'm going to be watching a number of games concerning North West Counties League sides this season so there was no better start to the 2012-13 Tea Hut campaign than catching a game involving last seasons NWCL runners up Runcorn Town, in my opinion, the most entertaining side in the Premier Division last term. Early season friendlies are little more than leg stretchers and fitness exercises but its great to see some live football again, even better is the fact that you can find some great new grounds to visit as plenty of lower league sides take on the more established outfits. Today was no exception, Barnton FC ply their trade in the Cheshire Association, rumour has it that they could well be on the up this season, a new management team, Ian Ross and Kevin Towey have been brought in alongside a host of decent new signings (apparently) from the Merseyside area. The game against a strong Runcorn Town would give them an ideal opportunity to put a few plans into practice. Barnton is a small quite place just outside Northwich, not many shops or pubs, in fact they turned one of the pubs into an Antique Centre which now holds very popular fortnightly auctions (I've been there myself in the past). Runcorn is not too far away and a good many people congregating outside the wooden clubhouse in the run up to kick off seemed to know each other. Luke warm cans of cheap lager seemed to be the chosen tipple (possibly only tipple?), it looked more like a beer festival than an early friendly game. Apparently another game had just ended at the Townfield Ground and it appeared some of the players were relaxing and having a few pints amongst the spectators arriving for the headline event. It was hard to estimate an attendance for todays match mainly due to the large squads both Barnton and Town were using today, there appeared to be be a decent turnout though, probably around the 70 to 80 figure, although some of these were in tracksuits and kit. I'd presumed it would be free entry and was a little surprised to see an official at the gate asking for a £3 entrance fee. Especially as the game was obviously going to have massive quotas of substitutions, it eventually panned out that each side played with a completely different side for each half. Without going into Frugal Glenn mode, me thinks a quid would be more than enough to get in for an exercise and fitness run out (never mind, at least you got a programme thrown in, even if it was just an A4 sheet folded in half). Despite record breaking rainfall recently, the Townfield pitch looked in tremendous condition, not a puddle or a bog in site, especially as quite a few North West friendlies had earlier been called off for waterlogging problems. The ground at Barnton is very neat and tidy with a clubhouse and changing rooms at one end adjacent to the Memorial Hall behind the nets.
There is a very small covered enclosure on either side of the pitch, these provide a bit of shelter should it rain and also contain a few loose benches and some random chairs.
The rest of the layout is just a railed fence and plenty of well trimmed grass backing onto hedges and local housing. The first half witnessed the home side evenly matching a stuttering Runcorn Town side. Both teams had at least 3 clear cut bankers which were all fluffed, saying that both goalkeepers had very good games and were the only players who stayed on the pitch the whole game (the Runcorn keeper eventually went off injured with 5 minutes to go, twisted ankle I think). A scrappy scuffed strike gave the visitors a 1-0 lead but Barnton had matched the NWCL side throughout the first 45 minutes. Town looked weak at the back, out of sorts in midfield and lightweight up front. There were a few neat passages of play from the visitors but last seasons trademark quality was missing for the most part.
As already mentioned, 2 new line ups took the field for the second half and it was a more impressive and determined Runcorn Town performance which ultimately forced Barnton into a more defensive orientated strategy. We finally got a look at some of the wonderful football that Town had played last season, it was still rough and ready, which one could expect so early into the pre season but the class and craft is still there, it just needs a good polish. It could have ended up around 6-2 to the visitors but remarkably there were no further goals, the Barnton keeper was superb. I went away happy to see a game again, not much to learn for the new season from this encounter but nice to visit Barnton FC all the same.