Sunday, 4 September 2016

Salford City - Moor Lane

Salford City FC
Moor Lane
M7 3PZ

Ground Number: 614
Saturday 3rd September 2016
Salford City 4-1 Alfreton Town
Conference North


SALFORD CITY were formed in 1940 as SALFORD CENTRAL and have gone through several changes of name. The club in their present form were established in 1980 as SALFORD, after the merger of SALFORD AMATEURS with ANSON VILLA. They changed their hame to their present monicker in 1990. In 1982 they became founder members of the North West Counties League, staring in the second tier. They really struggled and despite finishing bottom of the league in the 1986/87 season they somehow earned promotion. 1990/91 saw them relegated back, but somehow a 7th placed finish the following season was enough to see them promoted back up. Despite a 9th placed finish in their first season, it wasn't until 1998/99 that they finished anywhere but the lower reaches of the table as they finished 11th.2001/02 saw a best finish so far of 3rd and 2007/08 saw them better that with a runners up spot and earn promotion along with Trafford.

Their first season in the NPL D1 North saw them finish second bottom, but they soon stabalised with a series of mid table placed finishes. The arrival of new owners saw them win the league in 2014/15 and new managers Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson followed this through with a 3rd placed finish and a playoff final win against Workington whom they beat 3-2 after defeating Ashton United in the semi-final. This season has seen a great start to the season, sitting in 2nd place behind leaders AFC Fylde on goal difference, Visitors Alfreton Town were my pick for winning the league, but they currently sit in 12th place.

Last season saw the club's best ever FA Cup run as they FA Cup 2nd Round. Staring in the 1st Qualifying Round they beat Whitby Town, Curzon Ashton, Bradford Park Avenue & Southport. The reward was a tie against League 1 side Notts County who they defeated 2-0 live on the BBC. The cameras returned the following round as they drew 1-1 with Hartlepool before 2 late goals coinsigned them to defeat in the replay. The FA's other compettitons saw them reach the FA Vase 4th Round twice, and the FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round in 2009 where they narrownly lost 1-0 to Kings Lynn. Local hounors include the Manchester Premier Cup on 2 occasions, and the North West Counties League Cup in 2006.

Since 2014 the club has attracted huge media interest as  they came under the ownership of former Manchester United stars Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Gary Neville and Phil Neville. Later on, Singapore-based businessman Peter Lim would take on 50% of the club later on, but the group announced the ambitious target of Championship football within 15 years. They caused some controversy with some supporters by changing the colour of the kit from orange to red, but overall they have had a hugely positive effect on the club with them even being featured in the popular BBC documentary 'Class Of 92: Out Of Their League' which is extremely enjoyable, if a little too short for my liking.


Back in July, I'd spotted an offer on Virgin Trains that allowed me to get a return ticket to Manchester at a great price. Thinking about it, I should have booked from Birmingham, then got a cheap ticket to get me from Wycombe to Birmingham and back, but as I only looked at the Virgin Trains maps themselves, I'd booked a return from Milton Keynes for £16. I'd also chosen an option to get local buses for the whole of the Manchester area for £2, so that meant I could get to my eventual destination really cheaply. I'd booked it for FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round when Wycombe were away at Luton, so was hoping for a cup game. However, no new grounds in that respect came up, so I was left looking for an alternative. Salford City v Alfreton Town in the Conference North looked a good option. Entry was a bargain £7, though the poor ground, lack of cover and forecast heavy rain did worry me a bit, and so I had a backup in mind of Stockport Town, who were at home on their 3G pitch in the North West Counties League.

On the day of the game I awoke when my alarm went off at 7.40am. I got ready, leaving around half an hour later. My online research had led me to find a spot of free parking around 15 minutes from the station, so I'd planned to dump my car there and walk. What I'd not planned for though was my Sat Nav not knowing where it was, so there was a bit of a rush finding it. I was glad I'd left myself plenty of time, as after jogging to the station I got to my platform with 8 minutes to spare. I boarded the 09:50 train to Manchester Picadilly and caught up with what had been going on online. I used the train trip, or at least some of it to update my Groundhopper app, adding all the games I have been to. I've been putting it off for ages - with over 1800 matches attended, it's a daunting task, but I cracked on and added my first couple of seasons in.

I got into Manchester just after 11.30. I had armed with me a list of pubs to visit, starting with the Piccadilly Tap. That disappointed with only one cider that I'd had many times before. The first Wetherspoons and The Bierkeller were equally disappointing, so I was glad to find a decent Wetherspoons in the Printworks called 'The Seven Stars' Arriving just after 12, I had a pint of Thatchers Gold and a double Tennessee burger, both of which were decent. From there I went in search of somewhere else, stopping at the Port Street Beer House for a bottle of Hogans Medium Cider which was a new one for me. The rain had been incessant and was not welcome at the weekend after it had been baking hot and dry during the working week. I had to make my way through it back to the bus interchange. After finishing my pint, I left around 1.30, getting there 10 minutes later. I had to wait another 10 minutes for the bus, and that got me to the stop near the ground at 2.15. From there it was a 10-minute walk through torrential rain to the ground.

As expected the ground was very basic, with not a lot of cover. The £7 entry was great though, as was a nice thick programme for £1.50. Everyone was very friendly though and when I went in the club shop they gave me a free pen as I'd come such a long way. I went into the bar and had a pint of Strongbow Dark Fruits for £3 before walking back around the opposite side and stood with the Alfreton fans. Neither of us would have been that chuffed on a miserable afternoon - Alfreton were dire and 3-0 down at half time and Wycombe were losing at Luton, who had also missed a penalty to spare our blushes. The match report from the game is below, courtesy of The Non-League Paper.

Alfreton ended up losing heavily, as did my own team Wycombe, crashing by the same 4-1 scoreline at Luton. I walked back to the bus stop, and the bus was waiting there to take me back into Manchester. I walked just under a mile to a great bar that I know called The Font, where I had a pint of their special cider in collaboration with Hogans. It was very nice and only £2.82 with my CAMRA discount. There was time for one final pint, a Hogan's Cornish Scrumpy at another Wetherspoons called 'The Paramount'. That was my lot as I'd be driving in 3 hours and had an hour wait for the train. To be honest, I didn't feel affected one bit, it's always the same when I'm feeling numb about Wycombe, but there was no way I was going to risk having any more. I was chatting to a couple of Luton fans online, and their assessment of the game matched the descriptions I'd seen on the Wycombe Wanderers Facebook group and didn't make pretty reading.


I walked back to the station with 20 minutes to spare. However the signposting was so dreadful that I was about 10 minutes late. I thought I'd be facing buying a new ticket but as luck would have it, my train was delayed by 35 minutes. Not only did I save cash, but I can now claim back some of my ticket cost from the train company. It's not often I have luck like this, so I grabbed it gratefully with both hands. In the end, the delays  were extended even more, and in my rush I'd not eaten or got a drink, though I did misread the ticket in the first place and then there was the palaver with the signposting. Main thing was though, I was on target with my destination and I got back to Milton Keynes just after 10.15, an hour later than planned. Stopping for food at a local takeaway and eating my Piri Piri wrap meal, plus the fact that I had to walk back to my car meant that I didn't leave Milton Keynes until 11. It took me an hour or so to get home, with me getting in at 12.15. I stayed up for another half an hour, going to sleep just before 1am. With me up at 4am for work meant I was pretty tired the following day. I caught up with sleep the following afternoon though, and although it had been a long and wet day, it had been worth it.


MOOR LANE is a very basic ground that would look more at home at step 4 or 5. It's mainly uncovered apart from 2 side stands. The biggest is the main stand and this holds around 300 people. I didn't go in it, but it has supporting pillars which could impede your view. Opposite is a covered standing area, capable of holding around the same amount, but a little smaller. The view is mixed as most of the time people stand at the front and with the stand set back from the pitch, it blocks your view.

From what I could see, there was nothing near the ground. It's just as well the faculties at the ground are good. The modern sports bar at the ground has a reasonable range of drinks,for cider drinkers this is Strongbow and Strongbow Dark Fruits. Prices are reasonable at £3 a pint. The tea bar, although I didn't try it looked OK, and the club shop is decent, with old programmes and reasonable prices elsewhere. Everyone at the ground is really friendly, in keeping with non-league and they haven't let the stardom of being in TV and spoil things, as it's a nice relaxed atmosphere.

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