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

Sunday, 30 November 2014

AFC Fylde 3 Hednesford Town 2

Saturday 29th November 2014
FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round
Attendance: 251
Admission: £10
Programme: £2
Tea Hut Stuff: None, but had a £2.90 pint of Kronenbourg in the Supporters Bar
Weather: Solid slate grey sky, dull indeed
Parking: Club car park behind the stand
When I left the Pennine Hills it was overcast and damp, by the time I hit Preston there wasn't a cloud in the sky just pure glorious sunshine. Just as I arrived at the Fylde coast that same lovely sunshine disappeared into a massed wall of chilly grey gloom, suppose that's typical of the climate up here in the North. There is some good weather on occasions but usually its pretty dire. That chilly grey gloom hung around all afternoon, it thickened and seeped over the fields towards Warton the small village nearest to the Kellamergh Stadium home of AFC Fylde, a small modern stadium in the middle of nowhere.
I'd dropped into Lytham before the game, a buzzing charismatic place 4 miles down the road towards Blackpool. The objective was to get hold of some fish and chips from 'Seniors' award winning chippy on the main street. I scoffed my 5 quid catch on a bench in the square, wonderful stuff.
Some football travellers have moaned that the AFC Fylde ground is hard to find but if you approach it from the main Lytham to Preston road you simply turn onto Church Road at the traffic lights in Warton village and follow the road up to the Birley Arms pub, you can't miss it. Strangely, the access lane to the stadium is at the rear of the pub car park but its straight forward enough, the access lane leads you down to the stadium car park behind the main stand, apparently there is room for 150 vehicles so don't leave your arrival too late in the day as there do not seem to be alternative parking options apart from hogging what spaces might be left empty up at the pub (and that wont be much). 
I got in the ground quite early and decided to have a drink in Fullers Bar which is down by the corner flag. £2.90 for Kronenbourg made a nice change from the £4.50+ you tend to pay in rip off establishments. There are a couple of flat screen TV's playing Sky Sports stuff, bit shy on tables and chairs though (it is a small bar area in fairness). Stuffed full of my Lytham based fish and chips I had no room for tea hut grub. The tea hut facility at the ground actually looks a nice set up with various pies, chips and burgers on offer, all apparently locally sourced, it was doing good trade.
AFC Fylde have risen like a Salford Quays tower block over recent years and now ply their trade at the top end of the Vanarama Conference North. Without doubt they are a good footballing side. There is an obvious competent professional presence oozing from this club, you only have to clock the many volunteers and officials in club labelled clothing busy, busy, busy around the ground carrying out various tasks and duties all afternoon. Its friendly, efficient and impressive. Just check out the £2 programme, its literally in another world to some of the rubbish non league publications you can waste your money on, a superb effort for this level. Their online web presence is spot on up to date as well, what a refreshing change to what we normally get from the non leagues internet fraternity. There is talk that 'Fylde' haven't been satisfied as yet with the upward progress of their club, seems they may be moving to a brand new stadium in the near future twice as big as the current one? 
Kellamergh Park is a fairly modern stadium built for the level of football initially aspired to. On this basis the place is going to have average to low key functional and practical facilities that offer ground grading compliance on a cost effective platform. It would be easy to slaughter the place on a charisma and atmosphere audit, that is not my intention, what would one expect in any case? You are not going to see old school Roker Park refinery in a profile like this, what you get is what you see, a flat pack main stand with 4 rows of seating, true, not a great view but at least you can keep dry and sit down. There is also a covered terrace behind the goals which is almost a body-double of the Sandy Lane End at Rochdale AFC's Spotland Stadium (so it can't be that bad). 
Up the other end you have a small covered terrace adjacent to the Tea Hut and Bar area. The opposite side of the pitch to the Main Stand offers a few steps of good quality hard standing terracing on an uncovered basis. It is what it is, functional, tidy, it has a good decent pitch and it gets the job done, saying that, some may moan that its sterile, boring and has no presence, I would find that rather harsh bearing in mind the journey this particular club seems to be on.
As regards this FA Trophy match, Hednesford are in the same division as AFC Fylde but more mid table. They've had a rough patch results wise recently but seem to be fighting back. For the first hour of the game I'd say the home side bossed it 60/40 but in truth there was not a lot to get excited about. 
The last 30 minutes witnessed a very good game indeed. The home side went 3-1 up but The Pitmen dug deep and battled back into it. They got it back to 3-2 from the penalty spot and slugged it out with Fylde right up to the last second, it could so easily have ended a draw but that Fylde early dominance I touched upon just about got them home.
I geared the Match Tank up for the journey back to the Hills and the daunting prospect of the Preston Traffic Light Challenge. I never find it easy travelling through Preston.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Glossop North End 3 Ryhope Colliery Welfare 0

Saturday 22nd November 2014
FA Vase 2nd Round
Attendance: 305
Admission: £6
Tea Hut Stuff: None, dodgy stomach I'm afraid
Programme: £1.50, one of the better ones thankfully
Weather: Sunshine, odd cloud, reasonably mild
Parking: Down the street from the turnstile
Glossop are on fire in the North West Counties League Premier and currently the best footballing side in the division, Ryhope CW, their respected opposition from the Northern Leagues second tier, were always going to be in for an exceedingly tough encounter. 
It was 0-0 at half time but Glossop were well on top. Second half the chances became goals and the home side breathed a little easier. Nobody from Glossop wanted a 6 hour round trip for a Tuesday night replay in Sunderland.

Credit to Ryhope they played well and certainly pushed Glossop back after going behind. Nice to observe that they had some loyal support in the crowd to cheer them on.

Was it a fair result? Perhaps 2-0 would have been more reflective but one has to say without doubt that Glossop deserved the victory.

Surrey Street has been done up a bit since my last visit and is a nice enough ground nestling below the edge of the Peak District. They had a packed bar area, big queues at the legendary Pie Hut, a decent vibrant atmosphere around the pitch and an excellent backdrop of the High Peak in the late autumn sunshine.

Unfortunately I could not scoff any of the truly wonderful pies that Glossop provide, sadly suffering from a dodgy stomach at the moment, they looked very nice though.

The locals seem keen to get behind the club and it was nice to see a live radio hut at the side of the pitch. If they can keep up the good form surely they've got a good shout for the NWCL title, with the likes of Jason Carey up front who could argue against it? A good run in the Vase would then be a bonus. I wish them luck.

Surprised to see a massed following of very keen teenager-types in the charismatic little Stand giving sterling support throughout the 90 minutes, their singing and witty involvement presented a slightly odd but dare I say it welcome addition to the standard lower league experience. Good selection of flags on show as well, almost FCUM like.

Glossop now face an away tie in the next round against another good NWCL side 1874 Northwich (who actually play at Winsford Uniteds ground at the moment).

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Parkgate 4 Barton Town Old Boys 4

Saturday 15th November 2014
Northern Counties East League
Attendance: 54
Admission: £5
Programme: £1
Tea Hut Stuff: Tea Bag £1, Burned Bottom Sausage Roll £1
Weather: Murky mist turned to consistent steady rain, mega grim
Parking: Golf Club car park adjacent to the ground
Lots of groundhoppers have posted nice pictures of this place. Its got a good feedback record. Must be me, or perhaps the awful weather but it just didn't meet my expectations.

Driving across Yorkshire I was surprised to see that fog had set in and it wasn't for shifting. Thankfully things got a little clearer on the edge of Rotherham but it was still a grimy and murky dogs dinner of a day weather wise. As the mist eventually faded consistent steady rain took up the running and it lasted pretty much the entire game.

The ground is a bugger to find if you haven't been tipped off its on the Roundwood Golf Club complex. Its only open on 3 sides. There is a bit of a basic small stand behind the goals next to the tea hut and the turnstiles. A similar covered terrace structure resides just across the corner flag area from the seats. Further down this touchline are a few steps of open raised terracing which provide a decent view of the pitch from the halfway line (if its not pouring down). The far end has perimeter hard standing only. The out of bounds side of the ground is lined by tall bushes and acts as a partition to a lower pitch where apparently Rotherham United train.

It only cost me 5 quid in but this match was so devoid of any hint of quality or anything approaching even basic entertainment I almost thought I had been ripped off, it was that bad. Ok, incredibly, it had 8 goals but take it from me it was utter garbage and the scoreline paid little traceability to what went on. Normally the NCEL is a decent standard of football but this game never got going. Remember kick and run in the playground at morning break, well that hoof, boot and charge rubbish was streets ahead of this tripe. This turned into a mistake ridden farce where the misplaced pass and the wayward punt seemed to be the preferred currency. A lone voice from a travelling Barton fan echoed over the wet pitch as another ball disappeared into a nearby back garden "Come on Barton, we're better than this, its bloody rubbish"!

My mood hadn't improved when I had realised that some of the 54 fellow sufferers in the crowd alongside me had got in for almost half what I had paid. Parkgate had provided certain Football League Season Ticket holders a special deal of reduced admission! When one considers what these modern game football lovers are more than happy to pay to watch their heroes in the big league, it is quite ironic that stupid clubs like Parkgate then charge their own genuine core-audience and any other non league loving supporters almost twice the price? Complete madness and its jolly unfair too, sadly far too many money grabbing non league clubs are operating this crazy system. Just for the sake of snatching loose change they totally disrespect the people who watch non league football week in, week out whatever the weather or circumstances.

To rub in my annoyance at this pitiful matchday experience even more, the tea hut had already taken me for a £1 luke warm tea bag and a smallish sausage roll (the only hot food item on offer) which, as is expected in non league circles, had a burned bottom. Not really a pleasant afternoon, in fact it is my worst visit to a game this season.