Thursday, 20 April 2017

Knypersley Victoria - Knypersley Sports Club



Knypersley Victoria FC
Knypersley Sports Club
177 Tunstall Road
Knypersley
Stoke-On-Trent
ST8 7AQ






Ground Number: 692
Monday 17th April 2017
Knypersley Victoria 0-6 Ball Haye Green
Staffordshire County League - Premier Division






KNYPERSLEY VICTORIA - A BRIEF HISTORY

The original club was founded in 1969 and competed in local leagues such as the Staffordshire County League (North) and during financial difficulties in the 1970s, the Leek & Moorlands Sunday League. In 1984 they became founder members of the Staffordshire County League and were highly successful at their, new, higher level. Up until 1991, when they joined the West Midlands (Regional) League, they never finished outside of the top five, including a runners-up spot. 1993 saw them win the WMRL Division 1 and gain promotion to the Premier Division. They spent one season here before moving to the Midland Alliance. They had their best ever finish of 5th in what was then a step 5 league during the 1995/96 season. Results fell away over the next few seasons, with bottom-half finishes the order of the day. The club's name was changed to Biddulph Victoria in 2002 in an attempt to gain more support locally but the clubs fortunes did not alter. After a series of lower mid-table finishes, the original club went bust in 2011, their final placing being 17th in the Midland Alliance. The name of Knypersley Victoria was resurrected in 2013 and returned to their former home of the Staffordshire County League. Starting out in its second tier, a 4th place finish was a solid start for the new club. That placing was repeated the following season when they earned promotion to the Premier Division. Last season saw a debut finish of 9th and although they currently sit 3rd bottom, they appear to be in no danger of relegation.

In the FA Cup the original Knypersley Victoria reached the 4th Qualifying Round in 1997. Notable results over Atherstone United, Gresley Rovers and Spalding United set up again against NPL Premier side Boston United. In front of a record crowd of 575, they were narrowly edged out 1-0, missing out on an away game at Ilkeston Town in the process. The FA Vase 3rd Round was reached in 2009, where they lost 3-1 to Causeway United. The most notable local honour came in 1987 when they won the Staffordshire FA Vase. Famous people from Biddulph include former referee Phil Dowd and Manchester United striker James Wilson. The town itself was once the UK's sole producer of Velcro.




MY VISIT

I left my previous game at Skelmersdale at 4.55 and headed for my next game at Knypersley. Originally I was going to divert and have a look at the set of the old set of former TV soap Brookside which is actually a real road in West Derby, Liverpool. However, on the way up I heard that the M6 was in its usual poor form and so with time tight I decided to head straight for the ground. I listened to local radio to hear what had been going on elsewhere, but the result that really mattered to me was that Wycombe had won 2-0 at Barnet to keep their playoff chase alive. The M6 did indeed prove to be in poor form, and after 20 minutes delay I parked up at the ground at 6.15. I'd already decided my pre-match plan, which was a Wetherspoons in nearby Biddulph. I got there at 6.30 and was not impressed by the outside, with half the letters missing. It was run down inside too with everything looking well-worn and no menus on the tables. Things didn't get much better when ordering with my expected Mexican Monday meal deal having been stopped and no real cider. Instead, I ordered a New York Deli Burger and Hazy Hog cider which were both nice enough without being exceptional. At least it was reasonable value and a nice chance to have a sit-down meal for £7.40.




From there I made my way to the ground, arriving at 7.15. I paid the nominal entrance fee of £1 and after getting some pictures I took up a place on the halfway line on the cricket field side of the ground. The hosts were near the bottom and the visitors in the upper reaches of the table, but even so I wasn't expecting the margin of victory that followed. Ball Haye opened the scoring on 8 minutes with a composed finish by their number 9. Four minutes later, the lead was doubled when an angled shot found the bottom left-hand corner. On 37 minutes it was 3-0 when a cross from the right was bundled in by the number 7 from around 6 yards. Just before half-tim, the game was put beyond doubt with a 4th - this time the keeper was rounded before a simple finish into the empty net. Seven minutes into the second period it was 5, this time number 9 finished a cross from the right from a few yards. It was a similar 6th and final goal on 54 minutes when despite a foul in the build up Ball Haye Green managed to complete a right thrashing in a very one-sided game. Knypersley had been restricted to a few chances, but even with their manager in goal who made a couple of good saves, they couldn't score.

There had been around 45 at the game, which was a decent attendance for step 7 and included a healthy following from the visitors. I left around 9.30 and made good time on the journey home. First I had to fill my car up, and this proved to be more difficult than it needed to be. First I tried the nearest station, Asda, but it was closed while they refuelled. The next, Morrisons, had the barrier across for some reason, despite usually having 'pay at the pump' facilities. Finally, I got filled up at Tesco and headed for home. I caught up with my podcasts on the way home, getting back around midnight. My Dad was still up, so I watched the League 2 goals with him whilst having a couple of ciders. I then caught up with my YouTube subscriptions before going to sleep around 1.30am.



THE GROUND

TUNSTALL ROAD is a great ground for step 7 having seen service at a higher level previously. It's shared with the local cricket club and so one side is completely open. The main accomodation is behind one goal and comprises a covered stand that holds around 100 seated, plus a few more standing. The other side is quite narrow and doesn't offer the best of views due to it being behind some netting. The far end is like the cricket side - open, but offering clear sight lines.

There's a tea bar at the ground, though I didn't use it on my visit. There's also a bar at the ground which was quite large and offered the usual range of drinks. Around 15 minutes walk away is the town of Biddulph which offers a tatty Wetherspoons as well as a few other pubs and various takeaways.


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Skelmersdale United - Stormy Corner


Skelmersdale United FC
Stormy Corner
Selby Place
Skelmersdale
Lancashire
WN8 6EF







Ground Number: 691
Monday 17th April 2017
Skelmersdale United 0-3 Marine
NPL Premier





SKELMERSDALE UNITED - A BRIEF HISTORY

SKELMERSDALE UNITED were formed in 1882 and their origins came from a local youth team from the Wesleyan Day School. They joined the Lancashire Combination in 1891 and would go on to have varying degrees of success. Their best finish of third in the top tier came in 1966 and then again in 1968. That year, they joined the Cheshire League and enjoyed three very good seasons before joining the NPL in 1971. Their time here was unspectacular and they returned to the Lancashire Combination and Cheshire Leagues. When the North West Counties League was established in 1982 Skelmersdale United were founder members. Starting out in Divison 2, they didn't do especially well but were promoted to Division 1 in 1987 after finishing 9th. They'd go on to have their best ever finish of 7th in 1991/92. They spent a couple of years back in Division 2 following relegation in 1996 but gained promotion back in 1998 after finishing as runners-up to Oldham Town. This time they were a lot more successful and by 2006 they were promoted to the NPL after finishing as runners-up to Cammell Laird. Starting out in Division 1, a mid-table finish of 15th was followed up with a period of great success. They didn't quite haver the finishing touch though with three playoff failures. They finally broke their hoodoo in 2013, lifting the NPL D1 North title with 102 points. They enjoyed their best ever finish the following year, finishing 6th and just missing out on the playoffs. Since then there has been steady progress, despite financial issues. This season has proved too much though, with the club sitting bottom of the league. The last month has been fraught with relegation confirmed, the loss of their ground due to failing a new lease and near extinction because of the latter event. Thankfully Prescot Cables have stepped in to offer them a home for next season, though it will mean them playing 12 miles away from their home town.



In the FA Cup Skem have progressed to the first round on three occasions, losing to Scunthorpe United in 1968, Chesterfield in 1969 and Tranmere Rovers in 1972. The club was hugely successful in the FA Amateur Cup, never progressing to any less than the semi-final. They were runners-up in 1967 as they lost to Enfield in a replay before going one better when they beat Dagenham 4-1 in the final of 1971. The club's best season in the FA Trophy came in 2013 when they lost 2-0 at Luton Town in the 3rd Round, whilst in the FA Vase they reached the 4th Round Twice, losing out to Taunton Town and Frome Town on each occasion. Various local honours have been won, including the Lancashire Junior Shield and Lancashire Cup.



MY VISIT

I woke up at 7.15 on the day of the game, having a bath before eating a few snacks for breakfast as I couldn't be bothered to drive to a supermarket. I caught up on my YouTube subscriptions before leaving at 9.30. I got to my first game at Atherton Colleries at 10.10, some 50 minutes before kick-off although as I've already sone a sizeable blog on my previous visit. I helped them out as I was still hungry by buying a pie, which sadly once again came with no peas or gravy. Though the catering was distinctly on the southern side, it was the same northern welcome as I'd received last time and I was made to feel nice and welcome. They were running away at the top of the North West Counties Premier and outlined their promotion aspirations with a comprehensive 5-1 win over struggling AFC Darwen to take another step towards securing a place in the Northern Premier League.



Whilst other hoppers headed off to various places, mainly the next official hop game at West Didsbury & Chorlton. Any other day, I'd have been joining them but with Skem leaving their ground in the very near future, I was going to get it ticked whilst I could. It was an attractive game too - a local derby against fellow strugglers Marine - a club who had given me a great welcome when I'd visited a couple of years ago. I left Atherton at 12.50, getting to Skelmersdale at 1.30. I stopped in the town as I needed to get some cash out and also got a chilli beef slice from Pound Bakery and some cider and Irn Bru from Home Bargains. I got to the ground at 2, paying £9 to get in, plus £2 for a thin but well-presented programme. I said hello to Mark Lund who I'd met at Prescot Cables last season and who is fundraising money for his son Alfie who sadly has the life-limiting disorder MECP2 syndrome. 

The facilities on offer at Skem were really impressive. There was a decent club shop with club merchandise and old books and programmes. I bought a smart pen for £1.50 which also had a torch on it, which was the first time I've ever seen anything like that. I also picked up a couple of books in return for a donation which amounted to another £1.50 which was all the change I had in my pocket at the time. From there I headed to the bar and had a pint of Strongbow before getting some curry sauce and chips for dinner.



I took a spot on the halfway line near some Marine fans that I'd encountered briefly before and we had a good chat whilst listening to the decent pre-match tunes that were being played on the tannoy. With Skem marooned at the bottom, it was always going to be a tough ask for them to win, even against Marine who sat a few places above the relegation zone. They made things difficult by conceding as early as the third minute when Daniel Mitchley's curling shot found the top corner. A Matthew Hamilton header on 37 minutes found the opposite top corner after an excellent cross to make the task even harder for the hosts. They had an ideal opportunity to get back into the game when they were awarded a penalty in the second half, but the Marine keeper Paul Phillips saved well. The visitors sealed the game on 64 minutes when Mitchley got his second when he followed up after some hesitant defending by the hosts. It was just reward for Marine who were by far the better side and who bought some great support with them, including some vocal youngsters who represented their club well. As for the hosts, they were another friendly club from the Merseyside/Lancashire area, and I really hope that they do better for themselves next season and return home as soon as possible.


THE GROUND

STORMY CORNER is a great setup, so it's a shame they will be leaving soon. The ground itself is nothing amazing although at least the around 300 capacity metal seated stand is elevated above pitch level so you get decent views. There's further cover behind the near goal for around 700 whilst the rest of the ground is open standing with steps of terracing.

It's the extra facilities where this ground excels. The club shop was my favourite part with a decent range of old programmes and books that are available in return for a donation. There is also a good range of souvenirs including pens with a torch on the end which are available for a bargain £1.50. The bar is also nice and offers the usual range of drinks but also has club related stuff on the walls and Sky TV. The tea bar is also good, with a nice range of food at reasonable prices. The best thing though is the overall friendly feeling around the ground which seems the trend with clubs around this area. The ground is a bit out of the way on an industrial estate although it is excellently signposted from the motorway.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Ashton Town - Edge Green Street



Ashton Town FC
Edge Green Street
Ashton-In-Makerfield
Wigan
Greater Manchester
WN4 8SL

01924 724448






Ground Number: 690
Sunday 16th April 2017
Ashton Town 0-2 Stockport Town
North West Counties D1





ASHTON TOWN - A BRIEF HISTORY

The club was formed in 1953, making them the oldest of the two Ashton clubs. Initially known as MAKERFIELD MILL, they played in local leagues such as the Wigan Sunday School League, St Helens Combination, Warrington League and latterly the Lancashire Combination. That competition was absorbed into the newly-formed North West Counties League in 1982 and Ashton Town have been ever-present members since its inception. Starting out in Division 3, they had their best ever season at this level in 1984 when they finished 3rd. The league was restructured into two tiers in 1987. They've been in the second tier ever since, with their best finish being 6th which they achieved in 2013. This season has been hugely disappointing with the side sitting bottom. Their only chances of survival will be if they finish second-bottom above Eccleshall and there are not enough teams to come up to fill the league for next season.

Ashton Athletic's only win in the FA Cup game came in 2007. In a game played at Atherton Collieries, they beat Ramsbottom United 4-2 before losing 3-0 at Cheadle Town in the Preliminary Round. The FA Vase 1st Round has been reached on three occasions, this season being the latest as they went out 4-0 at home to Billingham Town following decent wins over Parkgate and Barnton. Locally, the club won the Liverpool FA Shield in 1957, the Wigan Cup in 1961, the Stubshaw Cross in 1967 and the Atherton Charity Cup in 2013. Their record attendance of 1,865 came for a game against FC United of Manchester in 2007.



MY VISIT

From my previous game at local rivals Ashton Athletic, it took 15 minutes to reach Ashton Town, thanks to a road closure. I was happy to still have 55 minutes left until kick-off, so after going in, I went to the bar for Strongbow which was £2. I was peckish by now and so went to the hatch serving food to get some lunch. I had to wait a fair bit to get my pie, along with many others. This was due to them being advised that 'groundhoppers will be sick and tired of pies' and to do something different. Whilst this would normally be decent advice sometimes, you should never underestimate the popularity of the humble pie. Especially when it came in at the bargain price of £2 including chips. The minced beef and onion one was worth the wait, cooked well with some nice chips, although it could have done with a bit of gravy to be honest.



The game started as you would expect and with Ashton sitting bottom, mid-table Stockport Town started well in control. They took the lead on the half-hour thanks to a penalty from Ben Halfacre which was awarded for a bad tackle. This led to a delay due to treatment but the spot kick was well taken and gave the visitors a deserved lead. Ther hosts did have a brief good spell at the start of the second half, but they failed to put away any of the chances that were presented to them. The balance of play was soon restored and the visitors lead was doubled on 57 minutes. It was Ben Halfacre again as he headed home an excellent cross to seal the three points for his side.



I moved on to a revisit to the third game of the day at Runcorn Town. It was a decent game and a comprehensive win for the hosts against Barnton. The game included a great acrobatic effort for the hosts. It was also a good opportunity to get some pictures of an adjacent derelict ground that was once home to General Chemicals (later to become Halton FC) which made the revisit worthwhile. I got back to my hotel in Widnes at 8. The Main Top Hotel had some very mixed reviews on TripAdvisor, but it turned out to be decent. I'd not got as much of my blog done as I'd wanted to on this trip, so I was sure to get my Armthorpe Welfare one uploaded. After that I went down to the bar to have a few pints before returning to watch Match Of The Day. I fell asleep around 11.30, hoping to get a good night's sleep before the following days 3 games.



THE GROUND

EDGE GREEN STREET is a nice place to watch football and has a reasonable bar plus good food options which is just as well as it's in a mainly residential area. The ground is maily open standing, though there are a couple of stands on the far side. Refreshingly, these are solid structures rather than the modern trend of sticking in a metal one for a quick solution. These 2 stands provide good views in a mixture of sitting and standing and are nice to look at.