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

Thursday, 12 September 2013


Went to Padiham v Curzon Ashton last night. It felt good to just go along to the match without bothering about doing a visit report or taking lots of pictures, especially as half of the crowd seemed to be taking their own snaps in any case? The demand for expensive smart phones with fancy photographic technology shows no sign of decline.

I've tried to hack out a reprieve for 'Wheres The Tea Hut' regarding this season but I have to admit its now become a weary task taking along the old camera bag and trying not to repeat myself when compiling visit reports for grounds I've already been to.

'Change' is a phenomenon that can make people afraid, its safer and more comforting to simply carry on with the well-used routine. I disagree with this assumption. I believe we need to embrace change or risk becoming as tiresome and boring as the well worn record thats been endlessly played to death.

I'm not sure what this will mean for Wheres The Tea Hut going forward but I reckon it may be appropriate to change the format and leave the tired trusted formula to the increasing number of new reporters ploughing the very same fields that have already been ploughed so many times before.

Lets see what the next few weeks bring?

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Selby Town 0 Formby 5

Saturday 7th September
FA Vase 1st Qualifying Round
Attendance: 75
Admission: £5
Tea Hut Stuff: Crisps 30p
Parking: Rough & ready club car park
Weather: Mainly sunny, patchy cloud, slight chill second half
The great M62 decade long roadworks job creation scheme still hinders the worst motorway in Europe. Everytime I pass Junction 22 passport control on the Lancs / Yorkshire border I guarantee myself at least half an hours stationary boredom in grid-locked traffic. Today was no exception, particularly on the return trip. This intriguing FA Vase opener threw two sides together from the lower divisions of the Northern Counties East League and the North West Counties League. 
Selby have fallen in form over recent seasons and already find themselves in the wrong half of Division 1. Formby however have exceeded the parameters normally associated with a side from the lower league of the NWCL. Last season they won the league title only for ground grading problems to deny them promotion to the Premier Division. They also got to the final of the NWCL Challenge Cup. The reputation that the club has built up is a deserved compliment to the open and entertaining football they purvey. The Selby ground has a charismatic if 'used' feel to it.
The main focus is the bench seated stand behind one of the goals with the large red letters spelling out where exactly you are. The touchline clubhouse and internal tea hut are directly adjacent to the turnstile entrance from the car park. This side of the pitch has some terracing and there is also a short stretch of bench seating directly in front of the clubhouse. Across the other side of the pitch are the changing rooms, dug outs and plenty of pitch length hard standing. This leads onto the far end which behind the goals has a small flat-pack type covered terrace. The stadium has a galvanised metal sheeting perimeter fence which does take the visual ambience down a few notches. Its a decent enough place though and I've certainly been on a lot of worse grounds than this one. It has a certain charm but its not pristine (if you know what I mean). The locals seem to like it as well.
This wasn't the best of games I'm afraid. The match was going nowhere until Formby won a very dodgy penalty just before the break. They gladly took a one nil lead but it had been more or less a scrappy 50/50 until then. The Referee and nearside linesman came in for some terrible stick from the home sides bench but to be honest the penalty was really harsh on Selby and I detected that it took the wind out of their sails, some of the players looked visibly demotivated at the injustice of it all. 
Following the break Formby took Selby Town apart with the kind of open football that they have blessed the NWCL with these last couple of seasons, it was sublime stuff at times. They controlled the game for long periods and seemed to plough forward at will, without wishing to be disrespectful to Selby the final scoreline could have been far greater than 5-0. A special mention must be made regarding Luke Holden, not only did he knock in a hat trick his overall performance was absolutely top notch, it was a superb contribution for his side and one that merits much higher standards than the opening qualifying round of the FA Vase.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Ramsbottom United 5 AFC Liverpool 0

Saturday 31st August 2013
FA Cup Preliminary Round
Attendance: 237
Admission: £7
Programme: £2 (a good one too)
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea in a mug 70p
Parking: On the lane far side of the Heritage Railway station
Weather: Mixture of clouds and sunny spells, dry and mild
The Riverside Stadium has to be one of the nicest non league grounds I've travelled to. If you've not been yet and find yourself in the area, get down there. It nestles besides the tree lined River Irwell and is tucked behind the scenic cricket ground, it also has the added attraction of being overlooked by the adjacent East Lancashire Heritage Railway. Locals will tell you that when the leaves fall in the winter you can always watch the passing steam trains and diesel locomotives (especially if its a poor match). The ground is just a short walk from the charismatic little centre where there is a small market, rows of quaint shops, good pubs and various eating establishments ranging from the sit down 'higher-end' standard to a really good fish and chip shop. Its got everything you could possibly want. If you can last out grub-wise until match time there is a great traditional tea hut at the ground, they do some good quality pies and you get a proper cup of tea in a mug, all at sensible low prices, you can also sit at one of the internal tea hut tables and look back at some of the club history and old team photo's on the wall. 
I'm giving non league football programmes another try at the moment, I'd stopped buying them previously due to the lack of readable content. Todays matchday publication was 2 quid but I have to say its one of the best put together programmes I've seen for a very long time at this level. It had various interesting articles from the club and sported the added bonus of lots of good quality colour photographs. The people who put it together should be congratulated for bucking the common non league trend of minimal info, cut and paste gubbins from the respective league website and loads and loads of adverts. If you go, I recommend you get one.
Todays game was chosen as one of my FA Cup ties of the round. I only live around 20 miles from Ramsbottom and seeing the other contenders for my attention seemed to be a considerable distance away in comparison, it was common sense (and economical) to take advantage of the circumstances. Ramsbottom were one of the surprise packages in last seasons Evo Stik NPL Division 1 North and only just lost out on promotion, this season however they have struggled to get points in the bank and have lost their first four league games. They have a good squad of decent players but for some reason things are just not clicking into place at the moment. 
Their opponents from the North West Counties League Premier Division, AFC Liverpool, are currently enjoying a very strong start to the season indeed. After a couple of seasons bedding into the Premier level they are now seeing some reward for a lot of hard effort and sterling foundation work. Could this be a shock on the cards? Could the Liverpool side from the lower league cause an upset? Looking at the stats there was definitely a case to consider. As we all know statistics mean nothing 'come-showtime' and today proved how foolhardy it is to rely on them totally. With no disrespect to a gallant effort from the visitors Ramsbottom United were well worth the victory. How they didn't score far more than five is a mystery. Time and time again they cut the Liverpool side open only for the goalkeeper and some wayward finishing denying them a much bigger tally. 
It wasn't all one way traffic though, AFC Liverpool needed time to settle into the game (which by then they were losing) but they still produced a good few scoring chances which warranted at least a reference on the score sheet. Ramsbottom keeper Grant Shenton was proving to be a major obstacle for them. The first half was superior to the second in my opinion perhaps the 2-0 scoreline just about kept the visitors in with a remote chance of a comeback. Once Ramsbottom went three up early in the second period the game was all but over. The rest of the game fell a bit flat, dare I say it scrappy. The obvious factor in the game was the difference in league status, Ramsbottom look a good solid side even though they are rumoured to have started their respective league campaign in the wrong gear, I reckon they will soon be back on the winning path soon enough in the Evo Stik, the strikers who played today Lee Gaskell and Tom Brookes look top quality, they are superbly flanked out wide by Dom Smalley and Phil Dean. As for AFC Liverpool their 'usual suspects' John Lawless and Steve Jones put in another couple of admirable performances which will hopefully have pleased their loyal band of travelling supporters (flags and all). I'm sure AFC Liverpool will continue to warrant respect and caution from their NWCL opponents as their increasingly threatening reputation sees them at the higher end of the Premier Division league table.
As regards the next round of the FA Cup Ramsbottom, or 'Rammy' as the locals call them are rewarded with an away tie at Stocksbridge Park Steels from the Evo Stick NPL Premier Division. I wish them good luck. Should be a good open game at another nice little non league stadium.