Saturday 23rd August 2014
Evo Stik Northern Premier League Division 1 North
BURSCOUGH 2 DARLINGTON 2
Tea Hut Stuff: Hot Dog £1
Parking: Tesco Supermarket behind the ground, free all day
Weather: Mainly sunny, odd cloud, dry, reasonably mild
Burscough seems an awfully small place to have two railway stations and a bloody big Tesco store. Mind you the supermarket people let you park all day for free on their big car park which alleviated the puzzle of finding somewhere to sling the Match Shed in an area blighted with permit-only parking. Just walk past the supermarket towards the delivery area and it brings you out on a lane just a couple of hundred yards from Victoria Park.
The sight of two coaches parked besides the turnstile block verified that the main Impi of the Darlo supporters had already arrived in West Lancashire. Todays crowd would number almost 300 and I can vouch that three quarters of them came from Darlington.
I am intending to purchase a programme (when available) from all my visits this season. I know that some will be good and some are bound to be rubbish, I initially felt quite positive about handing over 2 quid for a thick, colourful and glossy Burscough publication. My optimism soon turned to dismay when I realised the publication had more advert pages than normal and alarmingly no less than 9 pages were completely blank? Add to that a number of vague poorly set out articles that obviously hadn't been proof read and you got a package that looked good on volume but ultimately left one feeling a bit ripped off as regards genuine readable content. I take no pleasure in criticising non league programmes but Burscough need to review and improve what they are currently offering to the spectator.
It is good to see Burscough back at their Victoria Park stomping ground after a spell loaning out game time at Skelmersdale United. I've been here before about 5 or 6 years ago and the place looked more or less the same. The only changes seem to be a lack of advertising boards on the terraced stands and what once seemed to be a banked temporary open terrace structure that seems to have gone missing at the turnstile end. They still have an on site social club for pre match and half time boozing plus the sit down cafe behind the pitch side tea hut hatch. Glad to see the jewel in the crown Main Stand still survives which offers a good view of the action even though it is positioned slightly the wrong side of the half way line.
I wondered into the tea hut cafe and was surprised to find it completely empty, especially as there were plenty of long distance travellers in the village. The place has plenty of well kept tables and chairs and even a flat screen TV. I was still feeling a touch delicate after an Ale and Grub indulgence session the night before so I left my match day order until a little later.
Once kick off arrived and the social club emptied out there seemed to be black and white shirts everywhere. Tremendous support for the Darlington club. Burscough is not an easy place to get to and I only live about 50 miles away never mind the M6 North and A66 job most of this lot would have been involved in.
Burscough had to utilise their strong defence as Darlo swept forwards time and time again, the first half witnessed waves of attacks swelling towards the home goal but the strong and exceedingly competent Burscough back line held firm. When Burscough took a 1-0 lead through a rare counter attack it was a major surprise to say the least. The game got a bit fiery after that with one or two personal clashes starting to infect the proceedings, Darlington got right back in it when Gary Brown got on the end of a fisticuffs related free kick 3 minutes before half time.
Suffering latent hunger pangs I suddenly realised I had to get something to eat. I knew the wife had ordered us a local bakery pie buster special for our late night supper from a very reputable supplier close to home so my choice at the Burscough Tea Hut was somewhat compromised. Typical, what the Tea Hut seemed to have on offer was purely Pies, Pies or more Pies, no good for me with that big supper in mind. Then I spotted they also did Hot Dogs for £1. I was in there like a shot. I didn't expect much, it was one of those tinned Hot Dogs I think but it filled a hole and served a purpose, the very nice lady at the counter even gave me onions. Job done.
Second half Darlington absolutely battered Burscough and battered the Burscough goalposts in the process, I've never been to a game when a side hit the post or the bar so many times. How the visitors didn't bag 6 or 7 goals is beyond me. The fact that Burscough kept the onslaught to 1-2 and then had the motivation and never say die determination to snatch a Liam Caddick equaliser with 15 minutes left on the clock is a credit to them. Unreal.
I left the game with the opinion it had been an entertaining day of football between two sides with differing objectives for the season. Darlington look a good side indeed, despite a few mumbled moans from some of the travelling support, they WILL be there in the shake up for promotion. Lets not forget Burscough though who showed some true grit in defence in this game and still had the drive, confidence and competence to hurt Darlington big time on the break. A good game all round.