Travellers’ Tales April 2005 – updated 29/04/05
The club play at the Whitebank Stadium in the Hollinhead area of the town, about five minutes’ drive from the M60. There is a carpark and club house at the entrance to the ground, situated in the middle of a housing estate. Most of the ground’s facilities are to be found at the clubhouse end with two small shelters behind the goal and another to the side, near the corner flag. There are around a hundred seats. The rest of the ground is hard standing behind a post and rail fence and the dug-outs are located opposite one another at the halfway line.
This was a typical end of season encounter before a sparse crowd and disappointingly ended scoreless. The club produced a 24-page programme for the game.
29/04/05 Ground/Club Focus: Mike Latham – Eccleshill Utd (NCELP)
Thur 28 Apr 2005; NCEL Premier Division; Eccleshill United 0-2 Goole (att - 100)
Step one was safely achieved with a goal in each half securing this 2-0 win in a scrappy game.
Eccleshill United’s Plumpton Park ground, the site of a former quarry and the club’s home since 1963, is situated in the middle of a housing estate in the neighbouring hamlet of Wrose, about two miles from the centre of Bradford. There is a large car park and a friendly club house. The ground is surrounded by a two metre high blue metal fence.
There is a covered end at the clubhouse and a smart seated stand straddling the halfway line down one side with the dug-outs situated opposite. The rest of the ground is hard standing behind a post and rail fence. A 20-page programme was produced for the game and the Goole fans went home happy, looking forward to Saturday.
Lytham St Annes 4 Poulton Town 0; Tues 26th April 2005; West Lancashire League Division One
Att: 40 (eventually!); Admission: No charge; Programme: 12pp, by donation
A quick £10 to the babysitter enabled Dad to finally nip out on a Tuesday and tick off Lytham St Annes' new ground in the West Lancs League.
After many years sharing the facilities at Lytham Cricket Club, Lytham St Annes FC are finally on a ground they can use all through the season. They have moved this season to the revamped Lytham YMCA ground on Mythop Road, no more than a gentle 10 minute stroll from Lytham Town Centre and the railway station. The main building is impressive with a huge new gymanasium & sports centre complex dominating the pitch. This also has a raised walkway in front which provides hard standing, in a slightly elevated position, in front of the dressing rooms and bar/café area, albeit around 10 yards back. The ground has a much more enclosed feel than the old one. Both touchlines are "taped" off, with dug outs on the far side from the main building. One end is very tightly fenced in whilst the other affords a pleasant tree backed route to the other side of the pitch. Hot drinks, beer and snacks were available all evening from the plush bar overlooking the pitch.
LSA have reintroduced a match programme this season after a number of barren years and for a donation to genial Chairman & Secretary Geoff Mackay you get a quite superb 12 page issue, complete with full colour cover and all the essential information included. They appear to issue for all home games and I have little doubt that one will be available for the last home game of the season on Thursday 5th May, against Crooklands (6-45ko).
Before tonight's game LSA needed 5 points from their remaining 3 fixtures to ensure promotion to the West Lancs Premier Division. A comprehensive and well deserved 4-0 win against an at times over-aggressive Poulton Town side means they need either 1 win or two draws from their final two games. The attendance grew gradually throughout the evening and peaked at 40 in the 2nd half. From a neutral perspective it would be good to have the game next Thursday having something riding on it, although I suspect Chairman Geoff may disagree!
One point of note is that visitors Poulton Town have been issuing all season and intend to carry on next year. Known programme issuers in the league this season have been:
Fleetwood Hesketh, Burnley United, Charnock Richard, Fulwood Amateurs, Euxton Villa, Lytham St Annes, Poulton Town, Bootle, Norcross & Warbreck, Croston SC & Rivington.
Others known to have been fairly regular in recent years but I can't confirm for 2004/5 include: Turton, Freckleton, Hesketh Bank, Furness Rovers, Millom, BAC/EE Preston, Blackrod Town & Furness Cavaliers
Any additions to definite issuers would be welcome.
There is always something to be gleaned from a visit to a non-league ground and the trip to
Formed in 1955 as Manchester City Supporters Rusholme and later renamed Maine Road FC after their headquarters at the newly built Maine Road Social Club,
Their number 4, Ian Walker, recently completed 600 appearances for the club- a magnificent achievement and
The welcome at the turnstiles was warm and the club secretary willingly gave out the team lists while snacks were purveyed from a makeshift building near the club house at the entrance to the ground. There is a club house at the entrance. The attendance appeared to be about average for the season, around the 70-mark.
The playing pitch was in good condition despite it being close to the end of a long season but the ground itself is rather featureless- a long shelter, about two-thirds of the far touchline down one side and two small covered stands, one containing seats down the near side where the dug-outs are situated. A post and rail fence surrounds the ground and a word of warning if you position yourself behind the far goal- you are likely to be the only spectator at this end and spend the whole game fagging the ball from wayward shots and crosses for a grateful goalkeeper. Your writer fell naively into this trap.
Curzon Ashton came from 1-0 behind at halftime to win 2-1, their winner being a superb first time volley from winger Simon Heaton. It was a competitive game played in a good spirit.
It was a hugely enjoyable evening after a beautiful Spring day in
Interestingly the programme gave out awards for the season with Ramsbottom United emerging with the best pies and favourite ground,
Alsager, now nicknamed the Bullets, after the local bullet-making industry, have attracted considerable publicity through the singing exploits of a number of their fans who are known as the Far-siders, Bar-siders or Shed-enders. They helped create a good atmosphere for a competitive end of season encounter settled by a headed goal on the half-hour.
Alsager are a friendly club with good facilities and their ground is well worth a visit. Formed as recently as 1965 they entered the NWCL in 1999 and won promotion in 2002 to the first division. They are easily found off J17 and J16 of the M6 north of
25/04/05 Ground/Club Focus: Mike Latham – Great Harwood Town (NWCL1)
Fri 22 April, NWCL1, Great Harwood Town 3-1 Abbey Hey (att - 87)
Great Harwood maintained their hopes of escaping relegation with a 3-1 victory on Friday evening. They have been unable to play at their own ground since January following an arson attack on their club house and have used Accrington Stanley, Darwen and Colne for home games.
This game was once again staged at the Interlink Express Stadium in
The whole ground was open for the sparse crowd to walk around- the distinctive main stand with its supports on the roof, a covered terrace opposite and two uncovered ends. The ground can be found behind the Crown pub on the Whalley road out of
Harrogate Railway achieved national fame during their FA Cup run two seasons ago with their home tie against
There was a much more modest turn-out for this semi-final, around 170 (based on a head count) lining the ground just after kick-off on a dry but chilly evening.
Station View is actually situated in the
The ground is rather basic being uncovered hard standing on three sides and a small covered standing and seated area (with 800 seats) behind the far goal. A number of porta-cabins along the side of the field housed the PA box and boardroom.
The home club had actually played ten successive away games before beating Armthorpe Welfare at Station View two days previously and face two more away trips to complete their season, still in with a chance of the championship. The programme was bang-up-to-date and was a good 32-page offering that showed the club to be progressive with a fund-raising initiative underway to redevelop the ground and facilities at Station View.
Heavy rain had made the sloping pitch wet but it appeared well drained and a hard-fought game ensued, the home side qualifying the final by virtue of a last-minute headed goal by substitute Graham Marchant.
Hallam had a player dismissed for two yellow cards on the hour-mark, his second offence being a blatant and unnecessary hand ball and the referee had his hands full keeping the lid on the game with some bad fouls flying about. But the officials did nothing to curb the terrible bad language of the players which remains a blight on the non-league scene, especially if taking young children to the game. Why do so many players feel it necessary to shout: “F*** off!” every time they make a bad pass? Sadly there were plenty of misplaced passes in a tedious encounter lacking in skill.
There was also an extraordinary verbal exchange between a home defender and his bench conducted in full hearing of the spectators. The same player later replied to some good natured barracking by a visiting supporter with some choice remarks and obscene hand gestures that should have warranted punishment from the officials.
Off the field the club is a friendly one with a number of hard-working officials- the club was formed in 1935 and has played since then on the railway ground and has carried on though the railway works closed in 1959. Though hardly picturesque it is a ground full of character and clearly the focus for the local community with a number of junior teams playing there.
With player-manager Nigel Gleghorn calling the shots from midfield
Admission was £5 adults with a superb programme selling for £1. There is a tea hut and small clubhouse and the welcome from club officials was very friendly. With
The 44-page programme had some innovative features and was well designed with a wealth of interesting editorial. Of particular interest was a survey of all the clubs in the league with Town’s rivals marked out of 100 for categories such as ground standard, interaction with local supporters, the welcome by club officials, programme quality, food and bar facilities and overall value of the day.
On the survey Atherton LR come out on top with 77percent with
Thurs 14 April, NCEL Premier, Hallam 2-2 Thackley (att - 100)
There’s no escaping the fact that you are entering a football ground of great historical significance at Sandygate. A huge sign proclaims the ground as the oldest club ground in the world, dating back to 1860, and that Hallam FC are the second oldest club in the world (after Sheffield). There is also a prominent plaque on the wall.
Once inside the ground does not disappoint. Situated in leafy Crosspool, a suburb of
Club officials do a grand job as ball boys, manning the cricket side and behind the far goal to ensure that play keeps flowing with the crowd gathering mostly in the stand or on the banks at the club house side.
Admission was £4 with an up-to-date programme selling for £1 and a tea bar and the club house provide plenty of facilities for the spectator and a warm, cheery welcome.
The pitch was damp after recent rain and that helped the game which Hallam needed to win to ensure safety from relegation. Playing in distinctive blue and white hoped jerseys, they came from behind to lead 2-1 just after half-time but then had to rely on some outstanding saves from their goalkeeper. Thackley equalised from a penalty and a draw was a fair result. A visit to Sandygate is highly recommended.
There are those grounds you are glad to tick off your list and do only once and others that you like to return to year after year for their special atmosphere and character. Tynecastle definitely falls into the latter category for the writer who considers it to be one of the most atmospheric club grounds in the country, especially for a highly charged local derby under floodlights.
Surrounded by impressively sturdily built tenements, hemmed in by a distillery and a school just off the
The other three stands at Tynecastle were constructed in the 1990s and rise up, seemingly almost sheer, from pitch level affording superb and intimate views of the action below.
Thankfully Tynecastle’s immediate future now seems more assured after the takeover of the club by a Lithuanian businessman and the prospect of ground-sharing nearby Murrayfield with the Scottish RU has diminished.
The surroundings of Murrayfield come in handy for free parking if arriving early enough and there is the opportunity to visit the SRFU shop or walk into the impressive 67,500 capacity stadium that housed Hearts’ Uefa Cup-ties earlier this season. A bus ride into
Pre match atmosphere can be sampled in the Tynecastle Arms, a heaving mass of humanity, where Wayne Foster’s signed shirt is given pride of place. The writer used to watch Foster play for a then decidedly poor Bolton Wanderers team and often see him jogging the pathways and bridleways around the open cast mines of his hometown Atherton. The former
A page was devoted to Foster’s goal in the superb 64-page Hearts programme that was good value for £2.50 while £24 secured a prime seat in the stand.
Scoring twice in six second half minutes Hibs overcame a half-time deficit to win a frantic game played at 100mph and cement their claim for a third-placed finish. Great stuff!
This match brought together two of the newcomers to the NWCL this season with Silsden, despite a heavy fixture backlog, still in with a chance of promotion and the Millers also well placed in the top half of the table.
New Mills are a long established club who enjoyed a golden period between 1963-71 when they won the Manchester League on seven occasions.
Located off the A6 Stockport- Buxton road, New Mills is situated in the
Admission was only £2 and a smart 32-page programme, bang up-to-date, was quite amazing value at 60p- ridiculously cheap for an effort of this quality.
The ground is surrounded on three sides by a tall dark brown fence and there is a small stand and cover on the
The club house also houses a tea bar with prices well below the norm but with drinks served in pot mugs and pie, peas and gravy in proper dishes.
The Millers are the best supported club in the NWCL2 this season, averaging around 160, and they had the feel of a vibrant community club. They run several junior sides and have Astroturf facilities for hire on a site adjoining the main ground. The club’s website is also a model for others to follow, packed with relevant information and excellent photographs.
An increasingly scrappy game was marred by a serious leg injury to a home player ten minutes from time with the visitors edging home with a goal in each half from a game of few chances. A visit to
Wed 6th April 2005; Crewe FC 0 Bollington Athletic 2; Mid Cheshire League Division One
Att: 40; Programme/Admission £1, 48pp
Crewe FC currently play at the Cumberland Stadium very close to the town centre. However, the stadium will be undergoing refurbishment next season and the club will be playing elsewehere, so we decided to "tick it off" just in case.
The ground is a fairly basic council owned athletics track with all the facilities on the side you come in on. There is a small car park inside and a nice chap will relieve you of a quid on the gate in exchange for a quite superb 48 page programme (Crewe are regular issuers, including midweeks). There is a tea bar inside the dressing room complex with reasonoble views of the pitch. However, on a poor day most people would stand in front on the glass because that's where the small amount of cover is. The view from here isn't perfect as you are a little way from the picth (6 lane running track in the way) and the two dugouts are quite large. The best view is from the small grass bank alongside the dressing rooms.
The stadium has floodlights but these are very much for the athletics and are not of match standard. However, on a chilly evening that started with glorious sunshine, the dark clouds rolled in late in the first half and by the time the heavens opened early in the 2nd it was a good job we had the lights. There's no way the game would have continued without them and although far from perfect it was playable.
Crewe should have had the game sewn up by halftime, but their young side just couldn't finish. Two second half goals from the visitors got them a rather underserved 3 points that leaves Crewe deep in relegation trouble.
Sat 9th April 2005; Stockport Georgians 3 Breightmet United 3; Air Miles Manchester Lge Premier Division
Att: 35; Programme/Admission £1, 36pp
Stockport Georgians play at one of the better appointed grounds in the Manchester League, in the Woodsmoor district of Stockport. It's a pleasant suburb and the ground has a slight rural feel about it with many trees lining 2 sides. It is fully enclosed, with a large car park inside, fully railed, hard standing all round, dug outs and a small stand for approx 50 people situated in one corner by the dressing rooms and clubhouse. The programme was a cracking effort with a full colour cover and much to read and was available in the club before the game, as well as a young lad walking round just after kick off making sure they all went! There is a good tea bar within the club which served superb pie/peas and gravy for £1-50 and the general feel of the place was extremely welcoming.
The game itself was very much the old game of two halves. In the first there were a reasonable number of chances but only one went in (to Georgians) whilst the second was a real ding dong affair with the formbook thrown out of thw indow as second from bottom Breightmet came back from 1-0 and 2-1 down to lead 3-2, only for Georgians (still with outside title chances) to equalise in disputed fashion in injury time.
Wed 13th April 2005; Ossett Common Rovers 1 Carlton Athletic 2; West Yorkshire League Premier Division
Att: 25; Programme: 4 page full colour, 50p
As rumours abound that Ossett Common Rovers may be losing their ground at the end of the season and I had business in Leeds during the afternoon, it seemed a perfect opportunity to get this one ticked off, just in case. The ground, in common with many in the West Yorkshire League, is simply a railed off pitch, with no other facilities to speak of other than the dressing rooms. It's a far from unpleasant setting though, situated on the SE edge of Ossett, but the pitch is rather undulating to say the least and doesn't lend itself to good football. The programme is a regular issue, produced by genial club Chairman Malcolm Hirst, and although only 4 pages, had both line ups, reports, news, fixtures and the league table, plus 3 full colour photographs. What more do you need?
Ossett needed points to avoid getting dragged into the relegation dogfight, Carlton, strangely for once, only have 2nd spot to play for as Nostell MW are clear at the top (still unbeaten) and are rumoured to have NCE ambitions. Carlton looked the more dangerous on the break but the home side had most of the play and will feel disappointed to have come away empty handed.
Although there is nothing available at the ground here are a couple of recommendations for refreshments:
The Red Lion on Dewsbury Road (approx 15-20 mins walk) is a real ale brew pub and had it's own multi award winning White Lion available (very pale and absolutely superb), plus Kelham Island Pale Rider as a guest. It was a real pub in every sense: real ale, real fire, real people, warm welcome. Tremendous.
To compliment the ale we went to the Park Square Fisheries, a couple of minutes walk from the ground, and enjoyed proper Yorkshire Fish and Chips (done in beef dripping) for the miserly sum of £2-65. The fish was quite simply amongst the best I've ever tasted.
It all added up to one very good evening out!
Though soccer in the Nottinghamshire town of Sutton-in-Ashfield dates back to the mid 1880s, the present club was only formed in 2000. Either side of the second world war
Resurrected as North Notts FC, the new club worked its way through the Central Midlands Leagues and was re-named Sutton Town FC as the club achieved promotion to the NCEL Division One. After finishing fourth last season, the Snipes now currently top the league with a handful of games remaining.
Their ground is a neatly appointed one, known as The New Hosiery Mills Ground and located off Huthwaite Road, situated in the middle of a smart new housing estate and with an impressive cricket ground, where Mansfield Hosiery Mills CC compete in the Bassetlaw League, next door.
The luxuriously appointed cricket pavilion did a roaring trade before the game and admission was £4 with a smart 40-page full colour programme selling for an incredibly cheap £1.50. Hemmed in by new houses on two sides and with a steep wooded slope behind one goal and the cricket ground behind one length it is hard to see how the club will find the room to develop the ground much further but they have made a fine job so far. There are two entrances from the cricket ground side and a small seated stand behind the goal to the left with a covered standing area up to the halfway line down the near side. The rest of the ground is newly concreted hard standing.
A large contingent of visiting fans made for a terrific atmosphere and a highly competitive and interesting game ended 3-3 with the second leg on 27 April now eagerly anticipated. Buxton led twice but were pegged back before halftime. The home side took the lead with a Beckhamesque free-kick taken by Colin Cockerill before the visitors scrambled a late equaliser. The pitch was well grassed and had a slope towards the main stand end.
10 Apr 2005, LDV Vans Trophy Final
Wrexham 2-0 Southend United (after extra time) att - 36,216
Your intrepid reporter was one of the few neutral supporters at the Millennium Stadium on a warm and sunny spring afternoon in Cardiff as Wrexham temporarily cast aside their fears of relegation and question marks over their future with a deserved trophy success. They needed extra time when they emerged as the stronger side, sealing their win with goals by Ugarte and Ferguson to end Southend's long unbeaten run.
The Millennium is a great place to watch football - great sightlines and architecture and friendly stewards and there was a terrific atmosphere generated by both sets of supporters. A ticket for the north stand upper tier was £34 with an outstanding 76-page programme on sale for £5. The compilers had made a great effort to ensure the programme was full of interesting and unusual articles and of great relevance to the game and it added greatly to the enjoyment of the day.
With the stadium about half-full entry in and out of Cardiff was easier than normal and there was a friendly and relaxed prematch atmosphere on the streets around the ground. The view of the game was superb and the long trek up the steps afforded great views at various points of the Cardiff RU ground that runs behind the north stand. Southend impressed with the quality of their build up play but Wrexham seemed to have the extra cutting edge and proved that in extra time.
With the roof open many of the Wrexham fans in the east stand had to battle with the sun streaming through at them and part of the pitch was bathed in sunshine. The huge television screens high up behind each goal in the stadium roof gave continuous feed of the action.
It was a hugely enjoyable and interesting day out and a great occasion.
Thursday 7 April, Unibond Premier: Spennymoor United 2-3 Blyth Spartans (att - 131)
With Spennymoor United giving an undertaking they would be able to raise a team for this north-east derby after so many postponements of late, the Thursday night clash at the Brewery Field was a must-see.
Situated just off the Tudhoe road out of town, the Brewey Field has clearly seen better days. The burnt out shell of the old club house greets the visitor on arrival and £5 secured admission with a further 50p transfer to stand. Sadly, there were no programmes for the game.
Spennymoor United have played at the venue since 1904, following the amalgamation of two local clubs, but the ground was previously used for a number of sporting events, including rugby. The ground has changed considerably in appearance from twenty years ago with the demolition of the lamented Cow Shed covered terrace and the Catterick Stand on the opposite side. Hemmed in by housing and with no car park the main entrance is reached down a small road.
A smart cantilevered main stand with five rows of black and white plastic seating offered the best view on a cold and windy evening with the players almost within touching distance from the front row. In this stand the dressing rooms, committee room and a small bar are located. There is a covered end to the right of the main stand with excellent terracing but the other two sides are uncovered standing, with huge netting erected behind the goal. The only refreshment facilities were provided by a mobile catering van by the side of the main stand.
With Bishop Auckland also playing at the Brewery Field the playing area gets some hammer and two youngsters were to be seen pushing a big roller around the pitch before the game.
Spennymoor took a 2-0 lead, both goals coming from headers by defenders up the field for corners. But
With Newcastle United’s European tie live on television the attendance was only 131 and the home club are clearly facing a battle for survival with the Unibond League set to rule soon on their glut of recent postponements for being unable to raise a team. It is to be hoped for the sake of the club stalwarts that Spennymoor survive- they have a long and rich history and their Brewery Field ground oozes character.
Wed 6 Apr, NWCL Div Two, Darwen 0-4 Nelson (att - 70)
Nelson were founder members of the Third Division (North) in 1921 and failed to gain re-election after the 1930/31 season. Their present ground at Victoria Park in a stone’s throw away from their old Seedhill ground, part of which was buried under the M65 motorway.
Darwen are rightly proud of their history and their programme, an excellent 28-page publication selling for £1 and full of up-to-date statistics and interesting articles, has many glimpses of the town’s glorious soccer heritage. You can discover, for example, that Darwen supplied four
The club house has several old photographs adorning its walls, including a report of when Darwen played at Arsenal in the FA Cup in 1931. Though they lost, 11-1, Arsenal were so impressed with their sportsmanship they presented the Lancashire visitors with a set of their own red strip, the colours of which Darwen have worn more or less ever since.
The programme compiler was apparently horrified to find he had included league tables a week old in the programme by mistake- League clubs take note. So he issued an insert with up-to-date statistics including the games played the day before. Fantastic service.
The ground is to found on the Anchor Estate, behind the Anchor Garage on the A666 on the
The covered side had a considerable number of seats and terraced standing and the spectators were roughly split 50-50 in terms of allegiances.
On a rain sodden pitch honours were even until Nelson took the lead just before half-time and then sealed their victory with three late second half goals. The programme revealed that Darwen had used 48 players this season but their highest scorer had four goals to his name. Statistics rarely lie and they created precious few opportunities with Nelson the more creative side once they got their noses in front.
With a tea bar adjoining the club house selling an excellent range of hot food and drinks and the club officials welcoming travellers, the Anchor Ground is a most pleasant and historic place to visit and highly recommended.
Tues 5 April, NWCL Division One, Holker Old Boys 1-2 Flixton (att - 28)
Holker Old Boys is a thriving small club on the outskirts of
The club was founded in 1936, originating from the local
The welcome from the gateman was warm and the writer, immediately recognised as a traveller, was ushered into the well kept club house for a programme. Admission was only £2 with the programme, with a distinctive green cover and the club badge with a stag’s head in the middle, selling for £1. This mostly comprised the latest league newsletter though there were a few pages of editorial. The home team had eleven changes to the published team, the visitors, who had only one substitute, a mere eight.
Holker run three open age teams and several junior teams down to the age of eight years and their splendid facilities are clearly a focal point for the local community.
The club house sold fresh rolls and crisps and though there is no tea bar, travellers are welcome to pop into the groundsman’s room near the dressing rooms at half-time for a cup of tea, which was very welcome on a chilly evening.
The club house and dressing rooms are located by the entrance to the ground and there is a large car park. A small seated stand is positioned behind the goal towards the corner. Painted in green and white on the front of the stand roof is the message “Holker Old Boys welcome you to Rakesmoor.”
The home dug-out is situated on the opposite, open side with the visitors’ on the near-side where there is also a low covered shelter. The pitch was slightly sloping from left to right looking from the club house but was in good condition for this time of the season. Neatly enclosed by a white post and rail fence the ground is splendidly maintained.
With the counter-attraction of Liverpool-Juventus on television (shown on the big screen in the club house) only eleven spectators lined the ground at the kick-off. This swelled to the final attendance of 28. After falling behind to a well taken goal early in the second half Flixton scored twice in five minutes to make their long journey home a happy one, though they had a player sent-off in the last minute for a bad tackle that was out of character in a well contested game.
A visit to
Atherton Collieries 2-6 Fleetwood Town NWCL1 4 Apr 2005 (att - 107)
Alder House is an atmospheric ground situated close to the centre of Atherton, a former coal-mining and mill town between
It never ceases to amaze how clubs at this level continually put out superb value programmes that make a mockery of the glossy and over-priced specimens in the Football League and beyond. Colls’ programme was a mammoth 52-page effort containing news from their game only two days before, a superb statistical section and, as it was their last home game of the season, a review of the campaign.
Leaders Fleetwood Town brought around 100 spectators with them and they were rewarded with a six-goal victory though Colls, just one place off the bottom, competed spiritedly and not only took the lead with an early disputed penalty but then drew level at 2-2 early in the second half. Unfortunately the game was spoilt in many observers’ eyes by the worst kind of officious refereeing, culminating in the dismissals of the Fleetwood manager and the Colls’ goalkeeper in the second half. The latter red card seemed incredibly harsh and was even disputed by the Fleetwood fans massed behind the goal. The Colls striker, who good-naturedly explained to the visiting fans that it was his first game, went in goal but was unable to save the resulting penalty.
So Fleetwood march on- re-formed in 1997 they look a very accomplished team for this level. Colls, meanwhile, are in the middle of a dreadful run of results with just one point from their last dozen games though they had precious little luck on this occasion.
Alder House is an idiosyncratic ground with the dressing rooms housed behind the top goal next to a tea bar that served some of the best pies in the
Down one side a small club house and a lean-to construction housing some rudimentary bench seating was situated together with the away dug-out. The home dug-out is situated on the opposite side behind which are two shelters, one of which seems to defy the laws of gravity by remaining standing. The far end is open standing, the ground falling markedly away to reveal a spectacular view over the urban conurbation beyond. Admission was £4 for an entertaining and eventful game and though two divisions may separate these sides next season the score-line reflected unfairly on the home side’s efforts on this occasion.
Rivington 0 Glaxo Ulverston Rangers 0 West Lancs Lge Division 2; Att: 15; Programme: 36 pages, 50p
With very few left to do in the West Lancs League we decided to tick off Rivington on a wonderfully warm afternoon, as work commitments ruled out a longer trip. The Rivs no longer use their original ground at Rivington School in the picturesque village that gives them their name, but now use the former home of ex Manchester League outfit British Aerospace Lostock on the edge of the neighbouring town of Horwich. The ground is tricky to find unless you know where to turn, but thankfully the club put a decent sign outside to guide the unwary though the imposing steel gates.
From M61 Jct 6 take the turning towards Bolton's Reebok stadium. At the lights where you would turn left for the Reebok, turn right and look for some large steel gates on your left hand side after a couple of hundred yards or so. Go through the gates and follow the badly potholed road down to the dressing rooms on your left. There is parking here or you can carry on down the road and park up round the back of the old factory overlooking the ground. Although this sounds a bit grim it's perfectly safe as you can watch the game from some grand elevated views with the cars, or walk down to pitch side.The ground is actually part of the old Bae site and is a of ground massive contrasts, with pleasantly rural views on one side and a badly run down backdrop of (mostly) unused industrial units and factories on the other.
The pitch itself is railed on both sides with dugouts, and hard standing down the sides also. It is hemmed in at the Southern end by a high steel fence to stop the ball going up into the factory area, but the Northern end is open and backs onto Lostock RUFC's pitch. The programme is sold from pitchside by the spongeman!
The views from up behind the goal looking down on the pitch and to Winter Hill and Rivington Pike beyond are superb and provide a remarkable contrast to the grime and dereliction behind.
I'll gloss over the game as it was a turgid end of season affair without a meaningful shot on goal all afternoon. I suppose I was due one after averaging over 5 goals a game until this point this season!
The interesting venue more than made up for it though.
Sat 2 Apr 2005, NWCL Division 2, Eccleshall 2-4 Padiham (att - 50)
Eccleshall are relative newcomers to the NWCL and their
Situated about 10 miles from J15 of the M6, Eccleshall is a delightful village set amid rolling Staffordshire countryside. The football ground is a mile outside the village and reached via High Street. It is located 100 yards after the sign for Pershall.
To enter the NWCL Eccleshall erected a wooden fence to enclose the ground and also floodlights. There is an old pavilion by the entrance which houses the committee room, a small bar and tea bar and dressing rooms. There is an overhang to the pavilion where some bench seating and a dozen plastic seats provide seated accommodation.
The only other cover on the ground is a small building sandwiched between the two dug-outs.
Admission was only £3 with £2 for concessions and a superbly informative 32-page programme was a bargain £1. The statistical section was outstanding while manager Bob Askey’s piece was refreshingly honestly written, admitting to sleepless nights after a poor run of recent results and looking back at whether he made the right selections and tactical decisions.
The programme editor, Richard Marsh, also wrote that the Inland Revenue were due to inspect the club’s books next Thursday: “Someone at the tax office thinks we might be paying players and we are a limited company. We don’t pay players as you all know and if we did we’d want our money back from the games in March.”
The welcome from the club officials was warm and Eccleshall are clearly a friendly and ambitious club who are enjoying their step-up to the NWCL. They are the only club to defeat Cammell Laird in the league this season but they have now taken only two points from seven games.
Eccleshall scored first and last but Padiham, third in the league, played some fine attacking football to claim the spoils from an entertaining game played in good spirit on a bumpy and dry pitch that was shorn of grass in places. The attendance on a head count looked to just below Eccleshall’s average home crowd of 60 with a good few making the trip from
Football League One,
Colchester United fans returning to Belle Vue nearly seven years on from their last visit would find the ground vastly changed and the whole atmosphere of Rovers’ home since 1922 completely different..
In May 1998
Now Rovers, under their astute and inspirational chairman John Ryan, are a club transformed- successive promotions have taken them out of the Conference and straight through League Two into a position where they are not far from the play-off places for the Championship.
The ground looks neat and tidy, newly concreted terraces, a renovated main stand, a superb playing surface, excellent floodlighting from unusually tall pylons and a caring lick of paint here and there.
Rovers seem to have captured the enthusiasm of the town’s youth- with youngsters forming a significant percentage of a 6,774 crowd on a warm spring-like evening. The sale of replica shirts, of the red and white hoped design, must be very high as a percentage of the average crowd as virtually everyone, young and old, seemed to be wearing one.
A £13 admission to the uncovered Town End behind the goal was reasonable and afforded an excellent view of an interesting game. The most vociferous Rovers fans packed into the covered terrace opposite the main stand. The main stand still has a standing terrace in front and with its distinctive extended roof looked quite a sight reflecting off the lights against the darkness of the night sky.
The programme, priced £2, contained 64 pages and some excellent articles and had obviously been compiled with a loving care by the four-man editorial team.
Rovers groundshare Belle Vue, now named Earth Stadium after the club’s main sponsor, with Doncaster Dragons Rugby League club whose Easter Monday game against Castleford had attracted a crowd of 3,500. There were no obvious signs of harm to the playing area and the writer has been informed that the two clubs have a happy working relationship, unlike the sad tales of acrimony and warring factions at other clubs where the two codes co-exist.
With Rovers set to move to a new ground at Lakeside Village Belle Vue’s days are numbered making one last visit there all the more recommended. It was a friendly, happy and vibrant place to watch League football and it was easy to see why Rovers are rated as one of the best passing sides outside the Premiership
01/04/05 Ground/Club Focus: Mike Latham – Squires Gate (NWCL1) and Shaw View (NWCL2 Trophy Final)
(1) Wed 30 March 2005, NWCL Div 1 Squires Gate 1-1 Skelmersdale United (att - 47)
On a mild but rainy evening on the Fylde Coast a handful of devotees gathered at School Road to see this middle of the table clash in the NWCL, ignoring the live international football on the television. Squires Gate is one of three grounds in the same vicinity of Blackpool Airport- their ground actually backs on to Blackpool Wren Rovers’ ground, who play in the West Lancashire League, and Blackpool Mechanics is a goalkeeper’s punt away.
Gate came out of the West Lancashire League in 1991 and are now the best placed of the trio and in their third season in the NWCL’s top tier. The ground, just a few minutes’ drive from J4 of the M55, is reached by the side of a school and is small but extremely well appointed. There is a club-house by the main entrance and two small seated stands on the club-house side.
Opposite is a small covered stand and a minute seated stand occupies some of the space behind one goal. There is an excellent tea bar manned by extremely pleasant staff and a club shop with programmes and other memorabilia on sale. A bulky programme consisting of 40 pages sold for £1- 24 of these pages comprised the weekly NWCL newsletter but it is splendid value nonetheless. Joint lowest scorers in the league, Gate created few opportunities in a game that was increasingly dominated by the slick passing of the visitors, who had from behind to salvage a point from an interesting encounter.
After drainage problems at their new ground Skem are facing a huge fixture backlog in the final few weeks of the season and one of their officials explained they would have to play their final few home games after mid-April at Burscough while their new ground is dug up and the pitch re-laid. No such problems for Gate whose playing pitch is consistently one of the best drained in the country. A warm welcome awaits the traveller to School Road and the evening was hugely enjoyable.
(2) Thursday 31 Mar 2005, NWCL Division 2 Trophy Final; Cammell Laird 4-0 Flixton
(att - 150) at Shawe View, Trafford FC
Shawe View is a relatively recent addition to the NWCL, the ground formerly the host to a myriad of sporting organisations being used as Manchester City’s training ground and a reserve venue for the long defunct Trafford Borough RL side. Not easy to find, but well worth the effort, it is a picturesque tree lined ground in a quiet residential area about 10 minutes from the M60 orbital motorway and not far from Manchester United’s training ground in Carrington.
With locals still purring over Trafford’s 5-0 demolition of second placed Newcastle Town over Easter, the runaway leaders of NWCLD2 took centre stage. Cammell Laird, runaway leaders of the division in their first season since moving up from the West Cheshire League, were far superior and played some superb attacking football at times though the pace slackened in the second half.
Leading 2-0 at the break through two goals from their prolific striker, Ronnie Morgan, Cammell Laird scored twice in the last four minutes to seal their resounding victory.
Shawe View is a most pleasant place to watch football with cover on three sides and a small main stand, an excellent tea bar and small club house; a huge adjoining car park takes the strain away from the driver. The NWCL produced an outstanding 24-page programme, priced only £1, as a souvenir of an entertaining evening.