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

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.