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

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Trafford 5 Runcorn Town 1

Tuesday 30th July 2013
Pre Season Friendly
Admission: A ridiculous 'rip-off' 6 quid for a 'friendly' against a NWCL side
Attendance: About a 100 (rough head count)
Tea Hut Stuff: Did my cash getting in, the hut didn't open until 8pm in any case
Weather: Turned cloudy, mild, dry
Parking: On the big adjacent car park

Runcorn Town had the better of this bad tempered friendly. Despite some crafty gamesmanship and late tackling from the home side it was quite an entertaining match. The Trafford plan to disrupt the open football suited to the visitors style of play certainly worked. The niggling got to half the Runcorn Town team which resulted in retaliation offences of one player being compulsory subbed and another Town player being red carded. It was only when the reduced numbers kicked in that Trafford exploited the inevitable gaps and bagged some late goals. The amazing statistics identify at least half a dozen clear cut Runcorn Town chances on goal in 1 on 1 situations during key stages of the match, this game could and should have been an embarrassing home defeat for the fancy dan Evo Stik Premier League side, I think Trafford owe their keeper a lot of thanks for keeping them in this game (that and some poor finishing). Needless to say the visitors were up in arms as the Referee failed to spot the almost continual 'cleverly-concealed' fouling and unfair tactics being applied by a desperate Trafford side. Dont think Trafford did themselves any favours with their attitude during and after this game. Some of the fabricated match report details on their website are nothing more than fantasy island. It was even worse during the actual game when I listened to some snotty homers ridiculing the visiting players with derisory "all scousers are *******" comments, something which a linesman who had just disallowed a nailed on Runcorn Town penalty actually echoed to a group near me in the stand, I've half a mind to report this idiot to the FA?

Seeing as the Non League Matters forum 'clique' or should I say 'flock' all think non league blogs are rubbish and not worth reading I wont insult their intelligence by offering them a link to this visit report on my crappy low brained blog. (And there certainly wont be any photographs to publicise Trafford FC).

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Knutsford 4 Salford City 3

Saturday 20th July 2013
Pre Season Friendly
Attendance: 52 (head count)
Admission: Free (or by donation)
Tea Hut Stuff: Coke 70p, Salt & Vinegar crisps 50p
Weather: Warm, mainly sunny and dry
Parking: Club car park
I drove the Match Tank a few junctions down the M56 alongside Manchester Airport before taking that road that links up with Tatton Park and the M6 South. Following directions for Knutsford I took a left and was soon passing some massive houses-come-mansions that apparently house some very famous Premier League footballers, primary property indeed. On the other side of the road sprawling idyllic countryside rolled out towards the popular Tatton Park. According to the signs Human League were on today in the special Picnic In The Park event. I once had an album by them, 'Dare' I think it was called? The thought of a 60 year old Phil Oakey croaking out "dont you want me baby" as I chewed on a curled up luke warm spam and pickle sandwich didnt quite do it for me so I carried on towards Knutsford FC a few miles further down the road.
Knutsford have won the Cheshire League two seasons running, rumour has it they are more than good enough to move up the non league pyramid. The apparent reason for them not blazing a trail in the North West Counties League is the cost of meeting developments and all the financial baggage that comes with that in these harsh and uncertain times. When I pulled the Match Tank into the car park and viewed the scenic setting of the ground spread out alongside the trees I just knew this was going to be a good visit. Its only 2 quid to watch the champions if its a league match, for the friendly against the charismatic Salford City from the Evo Stik First Division North it was free! The club had put a box out on a wooden table by the gate for donations but no pressure was applied. What a refreshing change from some non league clubs charging £7 and up for games they impudently admit are nothing more than run outs to blow away the cobwebs.
I took a look around the clubhouse which houses a bar and snacks facility with lots of informative pictorial club history tastefully adorning the walls, this leads through to the cosy TV room with sofa and chairs complemented by a big blow up back drop of the ground just behind the television set. Nice to see a pie warming range on top of the bar housing a few match-specials, would be nice to try one if it wasn't so bloody warm outside (heatwave level 3 proportions), I opted for an ice cold can of coke and an extra big bag of crisps all for a very reasonable £1.20.
Outside again I was amazed at the high quality playing surface they have at Knutsford, its better than some league clubs I've seen, the superb surface is a credit to the effort of this small club and sets a target for others to follow. There is a covered stand offering shelter and shade for standing supporters down the touchline and the rest of the ground is railed with quite a range of advertising boards. One side of the ground is tree lined, through the branches I could see that there was a cricket match in full swing only 500 yards away, this certainly looks a nice place to spend your match day afternoons.
About fifty odd people turned up for the game (from my rough head count), a good few Salford City punters complemented the mix. It seems Salford are going through a transitional period with a new Management staff and quite a large number of trialists on show. I recognised the ex Hindsford boss Barry Massay in the visitors technical area, Barry has played for Salford in the past and whilst at Manchester League Hindsford he plotted back to back Championship wins. An impressive CV and I'm pretty confident he will assist in moving Salford City forwards, the Moor Lane club are always good entertainment and a visit to their ground is recommended (not just for the cutting wit & humour).
We all know friendlies are friendlies and its as much a chance for tactics and fitness as for ending up winning, some are pretty dire, a few even worse, it is with great pleasure I can boast that I thought this particular encounter was an absolute cracker of a football match. Ok we had multi changes at half time and beyond (as expected) but the fluent fast paced football Salford City provided in the first half was a joy to watch. You would expect any side of Knutsfords league level to buckle, not a bit of it, they went toe to toe with Salford and even went ahead. Believe me Knutsford have some very good players and are very tactically aware. Salford changed most of the line up with almost a new set of players turning out for the second half. From my perspective this second half Salford side struggled as Knutsford started to dominate most of the proceedings with some fine quality passing and open football, the game ended 4-3 to Knutsford and they certainly warranted the victory. Not many friendlies as good as this one. 
Its not doom and gloom for Salford City though. There were some good players out there for them, particularly in the first half, I'm sure Barry Massay and his colleagues will be planning a few things for the start of the league campaign, as for Knutsford, will it be 3 titles in a row, I know I wouldn't bet against it! 

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Radcliffe Borough 1 Bury 2

Saturday 6th July 2013
Ridiculously Early Pre Season Friendly
Attendance: 904
Admission: £7
Tea Hut Stuff: Too hot for burgers and the like
Weather: Scorchio, hotter than The Med
Parking: Nearby side street 2 minutes away
Apparently, Boro play Bury every pre season. This was my initiation to this local custom so bear with me if you're a Stainton Park regular. Summer had made an appearance in the North West of England for the first time since 1992. Your traditional pre season friendly expert would argue that any game taking place as early as July 6th would undoubtably be crap, full of 16 year old hopers and out of contract beer bellies, but what the hell, it was too nice a day to stay indoors or suffer press-ganged manual labour in that bloody back garden again. To be fair the Radcliffe v Bury fixture read pretty good on paper, the non league side have a respected profile in the Evo Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 North and the Stainton Park stadium has good viewing facilities for both standing and seating, when you add the fact that Bury FC nearly went bust last season, tumbled out of Division 1 in relegation, off loaded nearly the whole squad only to receive last minute vital investment from a new Chairman (Mr Day) who in turn promoted new optimism in the town, drove season ticket sales forward and then gave Manager Kevin Blackwell the go ahead to assemble a brand new playing staff with an emphasis on cost effective 'quality', you end up with a team the public want to watch. A result made evident by the fact that around 900 people packed into the ground and without being disrespectful to Radcliffe most of them had come along to see the new 'Bury'. My drive down off the Pennines took the Match Tank west along the M62 before taking a right through the Greater Manchester suburb of Whitefield. Bit different since the last I came through here. All fancy dan al fresco french & italian restaurants with women with big hair swigging over priced white wine. Nice to reach 'back to reality' Radcliffe with the singular comfortable expectations of a downtown Asda populated by people in out of date Premier League shirts. I only stopped for diesel at 135.9. I reached Stainton Park at 2pm, twitter feeds said 'get there early'. True enough the car park was full to bursting, I got the Match Tank down a nearby side street without any trouble. Already lots of Bury fans were entering the ground with that 'I'm going to the Bar' look. Sure enough they did, I've never seen so may pints supped since attending a 'Saturday' Test Match at Old Trafford. The takings must have gone through the roof. Food was a non starter for me, the weather was simply too warm to be enticed by the subcontract burger van parked up beside the clubhouse and the covered paddock. Still, it was pleasing to see some Bury grease-monsters going hell for leather on spam and egg muffins, one bloke had the yoke sliding down his replica shirt. Perhaps another day I might have some of that too?
Stainton Park is a really decent little ground, there is an excellent all seater covered stand behind one end which offers really good views of the action. The opposite end has an open banked terrace behind the nets which was proving very popular with the unusual weather on offer.
One touchline is part clubhouse and part covered terrace standing, the other side is again terraced but open to the elements, this is where I planned to watch the game but I soon realised it was simply a sun trap and far too hot for the full afternoon. I beat a retreat to the covered (and shaded) seated stand behind the goals. I got a good seat but unfortunately a gang of young kids arrived just before kick off (obviously high on fizzy pop and multi-coloured sweets) to start banging the metal sheeting of the stand and chanting copied songs they'd seen on Match of the Day highlights. Ok for 10 minutes, I had to endure the little bastards for the entire first half (or move to an obstructed view). Kick off seemed to take an age to arrive, out came the teams, Radcliffe in a nice Chelsea style blue number, Bury in a charismatic all yellow design. For any kit-statistic fanatics out there its worth mentioning that for some reason Radcliffe turned out in the second half in a Liverpool style all red kit (ditching the blue)? I think this is the away kit. As both team line ups changed almost completely at half time perhaps they ran out of blue kits forcing the use of the away kit (whatever).
From my neutral status I reckoned Radcliffe were the better team in the first half and deserved a superbly worked 24th minute opening goal from Bradley Robinson. It appeared the Bury starting 11 looked a bit nervous and lacked cohesion, Radcliffe seemed to be out-passing them! All credit to the non league side. I got the impression I was sat amongst a huddle of Bury season ticket holders, they weren't too impressed to say the least, a couple of soundbites featured "I want my 200 quid back" alongside "This is the same shyte as last season". Doesn't appear Manager Blackwell will receive much patience in the coming months (even weeks)? 1-0 to Radcliffe at half time.
I opted for sun stroke rather than suffer the noisy kids in the second half and took up a number of positions down the crowded open terrace alongside the touchline. As mentioned, almost completely new teams appeared for the second half. Seemed like most of the Bury side were trialists looking for a potential contract? Fact is, this second half line up played miles better football than the other lot. Radcliffe never got to dominate and were forced back by some entertaining football. Bury got back on terms with a Shaun Harrad strike before Richard Hines headed home the winner, full time 1-2 to Bury. The visiting supporters appeared much more happy with the second half showing and surely it will give Kevin Blackwell some scope to further establish a competent squad for the Division 2 campaign. This game will have given Radcliffe a decent financial boost at the beginning of the season, a really good turn out from the public and some mega bar takings to compliment it. The match was enjoyable enough for such an early start to the season but I'm sick to death of all this bloody hot weather!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Football in Croatia


Torcida Lapad FC & the Glasgow Celtic bar

Some snaps I took when I was over in Croatia recently

Outside the Torcida Lapad ground a few miles from Dubrovnik old town

Torcida Lapad main seating area

Looks like a Croatian tea hut down there?
This way Celtic fans!
The neon sign on top of the Celtic bar in a Dubrovnik suburb