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I have quite some history with this old club. Up to the age of 10 I lived about 500 yards from the ground, though I was still not born when my father made a handful of appearances for the club.

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ASHTON UNITED

Hurst Cross, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 8DY

Main Stand: 

Outside the ground is the access to Ashton United’s Social Club, very much the hub of the Hurst Cross community as it has been for a number of years. Entry to the ground is gained by the turnstile(s) at the junction of Surrey Street and Rowley Street, where you will be greeted straight away by programmes and a club draw sellers.

Moving to your right and back along the stand there is the food bar (excellent pies) and club shop before you get to the actual stand. A covered seated area, I’d guess for around 200 people, under which are the changing rooms.

Beyond this is access to the clubhouse and sponsors/VIP suite. On both sides of the seated area there is terracing behind the 2 dugouts. Entry to the ground is currently set at £10 for the league, with no extra cost to sit.

East Stand: incl Roy Donnelly Stand

Behind the goal is an open terrace, with a covered structure at the back of it, named in honour of Roy Donnelly. There is open access all around the ground to freely move around.

North Stand: 

A long terrace, covered in the middle.

West Stand:

Like the East Stand with more room.

Public Transport:

Ashton-under-Lyne has both a Train Station and a Metrolink Stop, with about 200 metres separating the two. Now, it is only a mile or so from these to the ground, but it is pretty much all uphill. And in this part of the world that does not mean a gentle slope either. Get a bus or a taxi. Walking back is much easier.

If you are coming from Manchester, you can always jump on the 231, which drops you pretty much right outside the ground.

Me & Hurst Cross:

I have quite some history with this old club. Up to the age of 10 I lived about 500 yards from the ground, though I was still not born when my father made a handful of appearances for the club.

Aside from walking past the ground every day for years on my way to my junior school up the road, my main memory as a kid was Manchester City sending a ‘youth’ side to pay United as part of a deal when they signed Barney Daniels. This side had many kids who would go on and play for the first team and become Internationals, beating their hosts 8-1. The over-riding memory of the night though is of Joe Corrigan taking a penalty for City, hitting the bar and bouncing back out into open play as he tried to get himself back down the pitch.

Whilst I moved away from the area, I do still have family who live close by and I would bet that a number of old junior school friends are also still neighbours to this old club.

My Stats

My Ground #: 11

Visits: 6

Goals: 23

Female Officials: 0

Penalties: 2 – both scored

Red Cards: 1

Teams Seen: 

Ashton United (6); Altrincham, Colwyn Bay, Northwich Victoria, Ramsbottom United, Stocksbridge Park Steels & Trafford.

Games:

24/02/18 – Ashton United 3 Altrincham 3

17/01/17 – Ashton United 1 Northwich Victoria 0

12/01/16 – Ashton United 6 Ramsbottom United 0

31/08/15 – Ashton United 1 Colwyn Bay 2

12/03/14 – Ashton United 3 Stocksbridge Park Steels 2

07/09/13 – Ashton United 2 Trafford 0

My Visits

24 February 2018

Ashton United 3 Altrincham 3

The EVO-STIK Premier Division

Attendance: 546

Programme: £2

Just 18 days before this match, the two teams met on the other side of Manchester at Moss Lane, the home of Altrincham. The hosts that night deservedly won 3-2 in a game they pretty much dominated for 80 minutes. Credit had to go to United that night as they still had a go and did not give up, pulling one back from a penalty with just over 5 to go and another direct from a free-kick in added on time.

Less than 3 weeks later, the return game saw the league leaders Alty visit Hurst Cross, having only played 1 game in-between, Altrincham remain unbeaten since New Years Day. United are also in decent form, the loss at Moss Lane being their only league defeat since mid October and they sat, pre-match, in 5th position. The play-offs beckoning them again.

After a few days without rain, the pitch looked mostly in good condition as a bitter wind blew in from the moors. Altrincham brought a fair few with them for this local clash, swelling the attendance to over double any other at Hurst Cross this season, they were in fine voice too. Well, for most of the game.

It was Alty who started the brighter, right winger Johnston causing problems, something he was going to do all afternoon. He was also lucky to escape punishment for pushing Chalmers head first into the advertising wall. It was the start of a bad afternoon for the centre-half, he’d be stretchered off shortly before half-time, speedy recovery lad.

We had played 15 minutes before we came close to a goal, Harop seeing his effort saved by Carnell’s outstretched foot. Alty then started to turn up the heat even more, a goalmouth pinball session was followed by a Hulme backheel being saved, then just after the half hour mark the deadlock was broken. Poole was brought down in the box by Roberts. Johnston converted. Altrincham led. Their fans celebrated.

Those celebrations were short-lived, less than 60 seconds later the game was level, Pritchard picking up a through ball and showing composure in addition to finishing as he kept his cool to fire past Thompson. United were level. The match quietened a little following the equaliser, apart from the aforementioned injury, the game drifted to the break.

Half-Time: Ashton United 1 Altrincham 1

If the end of the first half seemed to drift away, the second 45 minutes did not disappoint. United started the brighter and were slowly creating opportunities, Granite heading wide from a free-kick, errors at the back for the visitors were presenting the hosts with corners and opportunities.

It was from one of these corners that Chadwick had a great chance, his shot though was straight at Thompson, Alty broke, Johnston was flying and after a couple of neat interchanges he finished with class into the top corner. Carnell did not stand a chance. 2-1.

Five minutes later, it was 3-1. A corner won by Johnston, was played in, Jones got a head to it and whilst he might try and claim the goal, it hit a United defender, without whose touch the ball would not have gone in. O G.

Surely game over. No. Another five minutes played and we had another goal. This one to Ashton. Not learning any lesson from the game earlier in the month, Alty gave away a free-kick on the edge of the box, ideal for Pritchard to curl one in. Just like the game at Alty he did that. Just like that night he made it 3-2. Unlike that night there was more than seconds left to play. There was 22 minutes.

United gave it everything, Altrincham weathered the early pressure after the goal, started to look dangerous on the break. Surely they has seen out this one? No. With a little over a minute to go United won a corner, over hit, Granite chased it down, muscled off an opponent and then for a second turned himself into a winger. He played in a great cross, Tomsett got up and flicked a header past Thompson, but it hit the bar, then there was Chadwick. All alone. He nodded into the empty net. 3-3. The noise was suddenly coming from the home fans.

What a game

Full-Time: Ashton United 3 Altrincham 3

Post Match Stats:

1600th Goal – Johnston penalty (Altrincham)

25th Penalty of the Season

146th Penalty, 99th scored.

Team Records

Ashton United:

Home: P 6 / W 4 / D 1 / L 1 / F 16 / A 7

Overall: P 9 / W 6 / D 1 / L 2 / F 29 / A 11

Altrincham:

Overall: P 12 / W 3 / D 7 / L 2 / F 21 / A 17

 

 

 

 

 

the battle for hag fold

Atherton LR & Daisy Hill

ATHERTON LR & DAISY HILL

Who is on top with me: 

Atherton LR

Head to Head:

Atherton LR 2 wins

Daisy Hill 1 win

0 draws

My Matches:

23/2/18  Daisy Hill 0 Atherton LR 1

18/4/16  Daisy Hill 4 Atherton LR 2

13/2/15  Atherton LR 1 Daisy Hill 0

Distance:

2.4 miles walk.

I am sure both sides would say that their real rivals are Atherton Collieries, but seeing as ex-LR boss Michael Clegg has now taken Colls up into the Evo-Stik then they are left to battle over Hag Fold, the area that separates the two clubs.

My first experience of these two rivals was on a Friday night in February, an event that was to repeat itself 3 years later. The scoreline was also to be repeated, a 1-0 victory for Laburnum Rovers. Only the venue changed from Crilly Park in 2015 to New Sirs for the most recent encounter.

Sandwiched in-between these 2 Friday night encounters was an impressive 4-2 win for the blues in the 2015/16 season.

As with all local derbies between players who know each other well, this has certainly not been the most bad tempered of rivalries when I have been present. No red cards and only the 1 penalty in the 3 games is quite tame.

Latest Clash:

It was scheduled to be a week where these 2 met twice, Monday in the Cup and Friday in the league. As with so much of the fixture list at the moment, the weather had its say, Monday’s game was off.

There was a quick change, the Friday match was changed from the league to the Division One Cup Quarter-Final. Whilst the cup can be a leveller, LR’s higher league position put them as favourites for this tie.

As with the first time I saw these two play, it was a freezing cold night and a very tight game. Both sides struggled with the strong wind that blew in from Atherton and chances were at a premium. I am sure I am not the only one who thought that they were in for extra-time as we headed towards the last 10 minutes.

Then LR struck, Kidd ran at the home defence, worming his way towards goal, finally getting a shot off, the ball then pinballed around the near post until it fell at the on rushing Giverin’s right foot, the winger swept the ball past Haynes and into the bottom corner. Atherton were through to the semi-final.

 

Next Meeting:

Monday 9 April @ Daisy Hill

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Throughout the 90 minutes chances were at a premium and the main difference at the end was the quality of finishing. 

KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS

Aggborough Stadium, Kidderminster, DY10 1NB

Main Stand: C & S Solicitors Stand

Pretty much where everything happens at the club. Outside, you can access the club offices, shop and their very own bar/pub, Harriers Arms. Once inside, the viewing is from a covered seating, mainly unreserved, stand, at the rear are the executive boxes/suites and the players tunnel brings the teams out on the halfway line with the dugouts on either side.

This is where I choose to sit, my ticket costing £16, though if you buy online like I did, you pay an additional £1.68 for the privilege of printing on your own paper at home.

North Stand:

Where the Harriers faithful and Ultras stand. Covered terracing with free atmosphere from the singing, drum banging home fans. Entry is £14, unable to buy online.

Outside at the junction with the East Stand is the Supporters Social Club.

East Stand: Hire It Stand

Another covered seating stand which is shared with the Away fans who have a couple of blocks of seats at the southern end of the stand. Weirdly, access to this stand is right at the back of the North Stand.

As with the Main Stand, entry is £16, unfortunately the £17.68 option online is not available.

South Stand:

On my visit this was unused, apart from a few Harrogate Town flags, similar in structure to the North Stand, this is currently only used when the away club bring a larger number of fans. If they do, they will pay £14 for the privilege of cheering on their heroes.

Public Transport:

At most it is half a mile from the train station, exiting to the north, turn left heading into the town centre, if unlike me you manage to make it past the excellent Captain Cod’s Fish Bar then take your next left and just keep going, 10 minutes at a stroll.

My Stats

My Ground #: 221

Visits: 1

Goals: 2

Female Officials: 1

Penalties: 0

Red Cards: 0

Teams Seen: 

Kidderminster Harriers & Harrogate Town

Games:

17/02/18 – Kidderminster Harriers 0 Harrogate Town 2

My Visits

17 February 2018

Kidderminster Harriers 0 Harrogate Town 2

Vanarama National League North

Attendance: 1,739

Programme: £3

The hosts came into this fixture unbeaten for 17 league games stretching back to September, including a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture with today’s opponents. In 4th place in the league, whilst they may struggle to catch the leaders Salford City, a play-off place is surely the minimum expectations at Aggborough.

Town, are recovering from a mid-January stumble with defeats at Nuneaton Town and Salford City. Currently going toe to toe with Salford City for the title, though both need to keep an eye on Brackley Town who are hanging on to their shirt-tails. Harrogate are the league’s leading goalscorers and came into this game in second place, this could only change if Salford City didn’t win and Town did, giving them top spot.

Following a minute’s silence for a couple of club stalwarts who had recently passed away we got underway bathed in a very strange thing. Yes, sunlight. Ah, the memory of days watching football in the dry.

The pattern of the game was set quite early on, with the battle between the two teams happening in-between the penalty areas, it was certainly an afternoon for the midfielders to earn their corn. Throughout the 90 minutes chances were at a premium and the main difference at the end was the quality of finishing.

First to nearly strike were the visitors, Leesley’s free-kick strike took a huge deflection and looked to be looping in, but landed on top of the net, quickly followed by a long range effort from Ngwatala fizzed wide it was the Town who took the lead on the quarter of an hour mark. Leesley firing home from an angle, beating Flatt with his effort going in off the bar, the winger looked like he had a point to make with his celebration, running straight at the Harriers bench.

Harrogate were now in control, and for 15 minutes or so did not look like they were going to lose their advantage. That all changed on the half hour mark, Harriers won a free-kick 25 yards out. Smashed at goal by McQuilkin, it crashed down off the underside of the bar, my first thought was it had crossed the line, however, the ball bounced up and was looping in the air, Ironside won the race and nodded home past Belshaw, only for the assistant to be flagging that the striker was offside when the free-kick was taken. The home fans were not happy.

Half-Time: Kidderminster Harriers 0 Harrogate Town 1

A minute into the second period and the visitors were 2-0 up. Knowles turning on the edge of the box in space and placing his short into the far bottom corner, his effort seemed to take an age to go in, Flatts dive unable to stop the effort.

That was pretty much game over. Harrogate controlled the game, yes Kidderminster had chances, but most were at best half chances and you got the feeling that if they did score then Town would go down the other end and pop another in.

As the pressure was ramped up in the last 15 minutes the Harriers went close a couple of times and even forced Belshaw into the only real save he had to make all afternoon, but as we entered the last 6 or 7 minutes the hosts appeared to realise that the game was over and did not press with the same vigour.  In fact at the end, it was nearly 3-0, Flatts nearly dropping a clanger and stopping an effort from Thewlis at the second attempt on the line.

Full-Time: Kidderminster Harriers 0 Harrogate Town 2

Post Match Stats:

750th Away Goal – Leesley (Harrogate Town)

250th Goal of the Season – Knowles (Harrogate Town)

14th Female Official in 470 games, first in 15 games.

209th Clean Sheet – Belshaw (Harrogate Town)

Team Records

Kidderminster Harriers:

Home: P 1 / W 0 / D 0 / L 1 / F 0 / A 2

Overall: P 3 / W 1 / D 0 / L 2 / F 1 / A 5

Harrogate Town:

Overall: P 6 / W 3 / D 2 / L 1 / F 8 / A 4

 

 

 

 

 

Give it Away

Realize I don’t want to be a miser
Confide with sly you’ll be the wiser
Young blood is the lovin’ upriser
How come everybody want to keep it like the kaiser

GAME OF THE WEEK

West Auckland Town 3 Morpeth Town 2

Ebac Northern League Division One

Attendance: 179

Gate: £6

Programme: £1

Why has it taken me 466 games and 219 other new grounds to finally visit West Auckland Town? I have no idea, but I have finally managed it.

As a kid I watched ‘A Captain’s Tale’ in awe, and even in those pre-Sky Sports days I could not believe that I didn’t already know about the original ‘World Cup Winners’. In fact, in the morning I was thinking about the fact non-league football in this country boasts West’s 2 World Cups, the oldest club in the world, oldest ground in the world, the first club to beat Real Madrid in Spain, a team that played in front of over 100,000 in India and more , yet few know about these exploits. However, the kids of today will know about the massively over-rated likes of Beckham and his peers who have done bugger all in the game. Ridiculous.

The drive over the to the North East saw the weather improve as we got nearer to our destination, not by much but it did, the highlight of the driver being Mr Wilks unable to find his way out of Hartshead Moor Services. Priceless. Final pit stop was at Bedale’s Chippy in St Helens Auckland. Decent.

The Wanted Stadium has its own driveway at the end of which you are met by the turnstiles, entering in the North East corner, the side to your left is open standing as are both ends, though the northern end where you enter has a raised platform too. Over on the Western Side you have the sponsors lounge, tea bar, clubhouse, covered standing area and Main Stand. I was a bit surprised that the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy was not on show, I can only presume it is in the sponsors lounge. Well the replica of it is.

Coming into the game, the Northern League Division One is very much a 2 horse race. Morpeth Town were nearly 20 points clear at the top, however, Marske United lie a further 2 points behind but have 7 games in hand. West are part of the bunch chasing for third. This was a big match.

After an understandable cagey opening West went close with a header by Parker from a corner, Town started to control the game a bit more and as we past the quarter of an hour mark they started to create. A free-kick on the right hit the wall.

Header. Another free-kick a minute or two later on the right was played in and centre-half Coppen swooped to had the visitors into the lead. It was deserved, and at that point it looked like it was going to be a fairly one-sided afternoon. Especially when shortly afterwards Henderson went through and narrowly missed after lobbing McHugh in the home goal.

Opportunistic. As we approached the 30 minutes mark West were level. Though if we had VAR they wouldn’t have been. Good harrying high up the pitch won the ball for the hosts, the ball was played to Fisher, who was offside, missed by an out of position assistant, the striker took full advantage of the opportunity he had been given, drew Lowson in the Morpeth goal, rounded him and equalised with ease.

Bullet header. Five minutes later West took the lead, a corner on the right, fired in by playmaker Mitchell was met at pace by defender Parker, his header flew into the back of the net. Lowson had no chance. 2-1 to West.

Far post header. Half-time was approaching when the visitors equalised. Another free-kick on the right, this one played into the far post and Coppen got his second, McHugh rooted to the spot, what a cracking game this had turned into.

Missed. After an earlier investigation by Mr Wilks into purchasing a club badge we made our way around to the tea bar for the next clue, as we walked along the North End, West scored. Purewal got it. No idea how as I wasn’t watching. I missed the winner. Least it wasn’t as bad as Mr Wilks who missed the opener too.

H-T. West Auckland Town 3 Morpeth Town 2

Badge got, they have them behind the bar. Good game of treasure hunt.

Break done.

We moved onto the second half.

The league leaders pushed forward. Had a number of chances. Missed some. McHugh saved some. Others were blocked. How they didn’t score I don’t know.

At the other end, West broke away often enough, quite how they also didn’t score I don’t know.

After 5 goals in the opening 45 minutes, how both teams managed a goalless second half, I do not know.

Great entertainment though.

F-T. West Auckland Town 3 Morpeth Town 2

Also stopped at Hartshead Moor services on our way home, a lot easier to exit on the westbound side.

ADDED ON

Over the tops to Yorkshire on Tuesday and another new ground, number 219, Thackley. Worksop Town were the visitors.

We attempted to pay another visit to Bolton Square Traditional Fish & Chips, which was unfortunately closed, so back down Bolton Road to Peel Park Fisheries. It was ok, but both Mr Wilks and myself preferred our original choice.

Onto the match and if like us you were in the first half, stood at the top end, then you watched all the action from a long way. The first half belonged to Town and they duly took a 2 goal led with 2 goals in 2 minutes 1/2 way through the opening half. Baird and Trench were the scorers, both from close range.

Early in the second half, a game changing tackle, Town’s Trench bringing down Ngoe without attempting to play the ball. Penalty and a red card correctly given. Garrod dispatched, Thackley revitalised. The hosts huffed and puffed, built up the pressure and finally breached the Worksop defence again in added on time. Garrod the scorer again, this following a scramble. Good game.

Wednesday was supposed to be another game day, but the weather put paid to that.

GAMES

Tue: Thackley 2 Worksop Town 2

Sat: West Auckland Town 3 Morpeth Town 2

FACTS

Games: 466

Goals:  1586

Grounds: 220

Games since a 0-0: 77

Milestone: 220th ground visited. West Auckland Town.

Performance of the Week: Mr Wilks. His performance at Hartshead eastbound services was quite unbelievable.

Random Fact: The earliest I have ever got to 70 games in a season. By 8 days.

SOUNDTRACK

Blood Sugar Sex Magik – Red Hot Chili Peppers