Saturday 5th July 2014
Pre Season Friendly
CHARNOCK RICHARD 8 ST HELENS TOWN 1
Attendance: 113 (personal head count)
Programme: £1 (very good for a friendly too)
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea 70p
Weather: Pleasantly warm sunshine
Parking: Car park nearly full, squeezed in by the gate
For me, the area between the M61 and the M6 is equivalent to a motoring Bermuda Triangle. If you live near Chorley fine, if not its bloody hard work finding anywhere. As a die hard I refuse to invest in a Sat Nav, I prefer to work it out from Google or my 25 year old map book. I'd done my research whilst scoffing a spam and egg sandwich earlier that morning. This research went down the pipe about 5 roundabouts into no-mans land from downtown Chorley when the Match Tank encountered 'Road Closed' signs just as I was finally bearing down on Charnock Richard village. I was sent on a massive diversion that typically ran out of those familiar yellow direction signs 3 miles down the road, they must have run out of spare signs on the van so just toddled off home. 15 minutes of riding around up and down a road I thought would somehow get me somewhere near the place I finally came across a roadworks type bloke in a high visibility vest with a stop/go lollipop sign. He kindly let me through some cones and gave me access to the village. I arrived in the crammed full car park just as they kicked off.
It was only 2 quid to get in and they even had programmes. I picked one up for a pound and it was informative and a very good read, well worth the money. Charnock are the West Lancashire League equivalent of Barcelona. They've won the Premier title 3 years in a row, last season they romped the league by 18 clear points and threw the Leagues Richardson Cup in the swag bag for good measure. Apparently they are a bit like Arnold Shwarzenegger in the original Terminator film 'a machine that won't switch off'. Poor old St Helens Town certainly got pushed through the grinder that's for sure. The Premier League side from the higher status North West Counties League got a proper tonking during a visit to Mossie Park they will be having nightmares about. I am not over exaggerating when I state that this game could have finished with a Rugby League score, 16-4 would be about right. Town didn't so much play bad as Charnock simply excelled. Going forwards the home side were downright unstoppable. There is a forward playing here called Carl Grimshaw who is probably the best striker I've seen in non league football, no disrespect to Charnock but this guy could be playing at a much higher level, what a player. Carl had knocked no less than 28 goals in last season, looks like he's going to carry on where he left off.
The Charnock boss, Andy Westwell took Grimmy off at half time apparently Samaritans had been flooded by calls from the travelling St Helens contingent. The half dozen subs who got a run out in the second half simply carried on with the same ruthless exciting go-forward football, the 4-1 half time lead eventually reached 8-1 and it could have been more. If you get the chance to watch Charnock Richard in a game near you make sure you take the opportunity, it was just the tonic for me after the wrist slashing farce of the World Cup flop fest on TV.
Credit to the visitors, they never threw the towel in. They kept working forwards and created a decent number of chances. The problem for Town was the Charnock keeper was just as good as the forwards. I think there is something to work with for St Helens squad wise, they had good individual ability on the field but they do need to cement a more constructive uniform strategy. Lets be honest, its early days indeed and these fixtures are as much looseners as anything else.
As for the set up at Mossie Park it is a very clean and tidy ground with clubhouse, built in tea hut, flat-pack main stand, hard standing (along with complementary astro-turf to give it the carpet feel) and a smart white pitch surround. The playing surface looked first class. When you can get a season ticket here for 30 quid and money grabbers like Arsenal charge over £90 just for 1 game way back up in the clouds behind the nets it puts the mismanagement of our national game into perspective. Another major factor is that you don't get diving and cheating in non league football. It was so refreshing to watch a game of honest endeavour instead of the pathetic jumping on the floor that has totally spoiled the upper echelons of mega-bucks professional football. I know what I would rather watch.