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

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Nelson 1 Runcorn Town 1

Saturday 2nd August 2014
North West Counties League Premier Division
Attendance: 146
Admission: £6
Programme: £1.50
Tea Hut Stuff: Meat and Potato Pie, Peas and Gravy
Weather: Cloud, sunshine and rain all in one game
Parking: On the road beside the entrance
Match of the Day
The start of the NWCL season. I've been to what the locals call 'Little Wembley' before but today's game was special. Nelson had won promotion from NWCL Division 1 as respected champions and now had the pleasure of an opening fixture against one of the Premier Leagues top footballing sides, Runcorn Town. It looked an intriguing fixture on paper, Nelson had impressed many NWCL aficionados last term with some fine performances on their way to the Division 1 title. Runcorn Town had finished 5th in the Premier League after initial high hopes for silverware sadly failed to materialise. The close season had seen Town boss Simon Burton ring the changes with many new faces appearing in the squad as a number of big name players moved onto pastures new. All was set for a battle royal between two sides whom each had a lot to prove as a new campaign set sail from the shelter of the harbour.
Classic little stand really
The first thing that struck me as I entered through the turnstiles was the superb playing surface. It was like a bowling green, truly immaculate and was a credit to Trevor Stanworth the club groundsman. Little Wembley at Victoria Park nestles between Lomeshaye Park and the small industrial estate with the trademark old stone chimney residing behind some rather charismatic terraced houses. There is a tennis-style Wimbledon Green main stand offering seating and covered standing running down one touchline, which it has to be said is a tad set back from the pitch, the only other structures of note are down the far end from the entrance, there is a VIP lounge near the corner flag and then alongside the opposite corner there are changing rooms, a toilet and tea hut block (perhaps a little too close to each other for comfort), a bar area and the club office. 
Trendy alfresco club shop seems a tad short on stock at the moment
The rest of the ground is open plan with hard standing as expected at this level. Apparently there are plans in place for a new club shop in the near future.
The stand is set back from the pitch a bit but there is no standing in front so you still get a decent view
Still suffering from last nights beer ridden late night Indian takeaway, which I think consisted of Lamb Sagwalla and a rather spicy Chicken Balti Jal Frezi I had been unable to stomach anything all day, it felt like I'd had a bloody good kicking. As it was now 2.45pm I had to get something to eat. I hit the Tea Hut and put in a big order of Meat and Potato Pie, Peas and Gravy. Cost me £2.50 but there were unconfirmed rumours coming out the club that the catering was not to be missed? I found refuge at the end of the stand and opened up my steaming grub tray like an expectant kid on Christmas morning. 
Minuscule portion of peas and sadly... some rather rubbish gravy
The vision of what greeted me still sends a shudder down my spine. It looked like a Hollands pie with some of the crust mysteriously missing, a minuscule portion of economy processed peas and some insipid watery gravy that without wishing to sound disrespectful looked more like the contents of a puddle than what passes for standard gravy. Not what I was hoping for I'm afraid. The pie was ok but the tiny portion of peas and the dodgy looking liquid it all sat in was well short of the mark. Nelson FC are priding themselves on making improvements which are clear to see, I can only recommend that they shove the catering up the improvements-list ASAP.
Good programme, looks like Danny Mahoney on the cover
In stark contrast to the horrors of that gravy, the match programme I purchased on the way in was a well put together publication with lots of club comment, plenty to read and was well complimented by various colour pictures, certainly worth the £1.50 asking price, a good effort for this level.
Not many of these left nowadays
We'd had Met Office amber weather warnings for this area since yesterday and plenty of rain had fallen in the interim, ironically come kick off time things started to dry up a bit and we even got some rather warm sunshine. Needless to say the rain soon returned and everyone got a half time dowsing, it was that kind of day. No matter what fell out of the sky that pitch still held up really well, a superb surface for fast open football that lasted all afternoon.
Mark Keddie chases Robert Grimes, quality players
The game itself, rather predictably, started at 100mph. Each side was totally committed to the cause but this didn't necessarily help either teams objectives. Chances seemed few and far between but Nelson certainly had the best of the first half and took a 1-0 lead when Peter Wright went down in the area, he got up to put the penalty in the back of the net. Town looked lightweight up front and too much was expected of the excellent Mark Keddie in midfield, there was little creativity for the visitors otherwise. The Nelson quartet of Danny Mahoney, Adnan Ahmed, Robert Grimes and Peter Wright were looking mighty impressive, good job Town had the solid Tom Spearitt to shore things up from the back, one of the best defenders in this league in my opinion.
Tom Spearitt of Runcorn Town
Come second half one got the impression there must have been a famous Simon Burton tea-cup and hair dryer special taking place in the visitors dressing room. Town immediately looked a lot more competitive, cohesive and competent on the ball. Paul Shanley started to make inroads down the left flank and Nelson got pushed back. Sean Breen had looked crowded and bustled out of the game by the resolute Nelson defence for most of the game but he stabbed home the only clear cut chance he got with clinical precision to put Town right back in it at 1-1. Despite some huffing and puffing in the last 10 minutes that's how it ended. A draw was a fair result and a fitting outcome for a pretty entertaining days football. Nelson look very promising on this showing, as for Town it is obviously going to take a while for the new players to fit into the strategic game plan, the problem for Simon Burton (and the loyal Town supporters) is that no side in this extremely robust division has the luxury of a settling in period.


ALAN B said...

a very concise and accurate report on all aspects of your visit and i would add .they are a lovely set of committed supporters too.. Alan B ...RTFC

Anonymous said...

Great report as usually Uwdi, been great to catch up with you again.

Unknown said...

I was there last season and they had this wonderful lady making Southern Indian food. It was sublime, perhaps she was on holiday

Unknown said...

I was there last season and they had this wonderful lady making Southern Indian food. It was sublime, perhaps she was on holiday