Shimmy Shimmy Ya

Ooh, baby, I like it raw
Yeah baby, I like it raw

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GAME OF THE WEEK

Gresley 1 Bedworth United 2

The Evo-Stik South

Attendance: 291

Gate: £8

Programme: £1.50

Sometimes, just sometimes, things work out for the best.

I had planned to go to Pontefract Collieries. Then they won in the FA Vase. Whoever made the draw picked them out of the bag for an away draw. My buddy Mr Wilks let it be known he was up for a trip. A look at the fixtures, and there was one place that I kept coming back to. Gresley.

So on an overcast Manchester Saturday lunchtime we set off for the East Midlands. Down the M6, off at Junction 16, past Stoke-on-Trent and the rest of the Potteries and on to Uttoxeter. A planned stop for lunch. Cods Corner chippy. If you are ever in the area give it a go, delicious. Food eaten. On to Church Gresley and Moat Ground the home of Gresley FC.

What a place Moat Ground is. I love it. Gresley have been here for 111 years, a couple of the areas look as though they are still original parts, but what character. If you have never been here it is an absolute must. Entry is either on Moat Lane or Church Street, if you use the latter you will miss the pair of club guys selling programmes and golden goals, quite a duo.

The ‘top’ or Oxford Street end is inaccessible for supporters, though you can regularly see a ballboy shimmying precariously along the top of the wall behind the goal. Moving anti-clockwise is the Queen Street Side. The area is quite narrow, but still has room for a  covered seated area and a couple of covered standing areas. Carrying on round, behind the goal at the Church Street end is both open and covered standing in, again, a quite narrow area. Finally, on to the gem that is the Moat Lane/Main Stand side. A raised supporters clubhouse, mini terrace areas either side of the Main Stand, which in itself is a deep and quirky structure. Includes the changing rooms, press box, food hut. All finished off with a covered standing area at the top near the Oxford Street end.

Prior to the match getting underway there was a presentation to home captain Barrett for a club record number of appearances (over 600), followed by a mark of respect silence on Remembrance Day, observed by all apart from those coming out of the supporters clubhouse. Once the match kicked off the hosts looked to push forward on a very heavy pitch that looked to hamper the visitors who are used to their flat 3G pitch. Chances were at a premium early on, but slowly the game started to open up.

The hosts had a couple of half chances before the visitors very nearly took the lead in the 28th minute, noted because it was Mr Wilks’ golden goal time. A cross from the left was turned goalbound by home defender Eggington, who must have been relieved to see Hawkins change direction and pull off a very good stop. Back came Gresley, but they just didn’t appear to have that cutting edge up front. At the opposite end, Christie and Keen weren’t getting the service, until the 37th minute, Christie slicing an effort in the air, he picked up the loose ball and after tantalising the home defence, he found Keen in space who gave United the lead, 1-0.

After the break, we continued in the same vein, nice build up play from Gresley, but without a decent final ball, Bedworth looking dangerous up top, but all too often the pass up to their forwards was wayward. On the hour it was 2-0. A ball in from the right somehow found its way to Keen at the far post and he finished easily, the Greenbacks lead had been doubled.

Ten minutes later it should have been 3-0, last weeks star Bailey-Nicholls had come on as a substitute had a glorious chance at the far post and somehow put the chance wide. With a dozen minutes left the hosts got back into the match, as United cleared a home attack the ball ricocheted into the path of the hard working Melbourne and he remained composed to finish past Crane, 2-1.

A couple of minutes later, encouraged by the home fans, Gresley poured forward, a defleced effort looped onto the bar, the rebound gave Manship a glorious chance. He missed. He ballooned it.

A free-kick from 25 yards out for United was hit well by Rowe forcing Hawkins into a brilliant save. Before we moved into added on time, 5 minutes, as a loose ball was cleared by a United defender into a neighbouring garden, we found out that Gresley had run out of balls. Finding a replacement took up the majority of the time they had.

That was that. Bedworth United left with 3 points. Two weeks running I have seen them win 2-1. I had better stay away from The Oval next week or Lincoln United might get upset!

As Mr Wilks drove us back to Manchester as we planned next week and marvelled at Gresley’s home. It really is a gem.

ADDED ON

Derby week.

After being moved from the Friday to the Wednesday it was off to the Cross Border Derby, Chester v Wrexham. Bit of a weird one this as most of Chester’s ground is actually in Wales, including where I was sat with Mr Wilks for the evening.

A delayed kick-off, minutes silence, the worst playing of ‘The Last Post’ I have ever heard later and we finally got underway. Chester were let down by a lack of composure in the frantic opening 45 minutes, having the better chances, but it was the visitors who went into the break in the lead, Pearson nodding in from a free-kick swung into the box.

For the half hour after the break, until the blues took Akintunde off, they were the better side, the tricky midfielder ran at the Wrexham defence and caused problems, he clipped the top of the bar, after Dawson had smashed an effort against the post. Chester couldn’t find a way through. Once the substitution had been made, Chester really lost all their threat and the reds were comfortable towards the end, 1-0 to the team from Wales.

Friday and another derby.

This was not just another derby. What a cracker. Fourteen months ago West won 6-0 at Irlam on a Friday night. This could easily have seen a similar difference for the away team. In fact West were lucky it wasn’t double figures. They just could not cope with the pace and directness of the Irlam attack.

Goals came in flurries in the 1st half. 17,20,22 minutes saw Irlam go 1 then 2 up and West pull one back. Just before half-time in the 41st minute it was all level, by the time the teams had gone in Irlam had restored their 2 goal lead. What a first half, 4-2 to Irlam.

Straight after the break came the goal of the night, Tinkerfor West letting leash from distance after a long run, on the hour the 2 goal lead was reestablished in style by Boland. Irlam continued to have chance after chance, West the occasional one.

What a match. And on a night when England ‘held their own’ in a 0-0 friendly draw against Germany. Hmm, I know where I would rather be.

GAMES

Wed: Chester 0 Wrexham 1

Fri: West Didsbury & Chorlton 3 Irlam 5

Sat: Gresley 1 Bedworth United 2

FACTS

Games: 438

Goals:  1493

Grounds: 209

Games since a 0-0: 51

Milestone: 50 games since my last 0-0.

Random Fact: 1st time since May I have seen 3 away wins on the bounce.

SOUNDTRACK

Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version – Ol’ Dirty Bastard

What About Me

But it’s alright you know
I really don’t mind that you know

GAME OF THE WEEK

Wembley 3 Broadfields United 0

The Buildbase FA Vase 1st Round Proper

Attendance: 44

Gate: £5

Programme: £2

Thanks to another Virgin Trains Sale I was off to London.

After a quick look at the fixtures I picked a game, contacted the club concerned and never received the courtesy of a reply. So on Thursday I decided to change my mind, struggling to find a league match that grabbed me I remembered it was FA Vase weekend. Off to the site of the racists who run our game I scanned through the fixtures and one name jumped out straight away. Wembley. Sorted.

Excellent journey down to London (first class, got to love these sales) and Underground across to Sudbury Town, Vale Farm is a 10 minutes stroll away. When you turn off the road and down a driveway you are met by the clubhouse, with the turnstiles suddenly appearing on your left. In the cubicle was sat a wonderful gent who I had a nice chat with. My ignorance got the better of me and I didn’t get his name. Apologies sir and thank you for your time.

I love older grounds. Prefer any ground that is made up of different parts than something fresh with the flat pack stands. Wembley FCs home is a prime example of the latter, especially on the clubhouse side. Three sides of the ground have cover, the sides with seats, one end, to the north, is open standing, at which is the food bar where you can get a pretty decent burger and chips. In the distance you can see the arch of Wembley Stadium. Home to the bunch of buffoons who do their best to ruin our game.

Storm Brian blew threw North London throughout the game and made conditions hard to play in and on a number of occasions the wind took the ball away from its intended target. A pretty even first half saw Wembley cope better with the conditions and this showed in the number and quality of chances they created compared to United. Tyrer the right full-back/wing back/winger stood out as did Sabti who added a touch of class to proceedings. It was Sabti that gave his team the lead after 25 minutes when good play on the left led to the ball being cut back from the byeline, Sabti ome from 15 yards, 1-0 to the Lions.

The visitors nickname is the ‘Fighting Cocks’ and they certainly came out and gave it a fight in the second half. They controlled the game in terms of possession and territory but again struggled to create clear cut chances. Wembley looked dangerous on the break, when the forwards stayed onside they looked like adding to their single goal. Their second came on the break as Osborne pounced on a loose ball and slotted into an empty goal, it was harsh on United but class was showing.

Broadfields continued to push forward and as the game moved almost permanently into the Wembley half they gave it a bloody good go. A point blank save from Spinks by the hosts keeper Zulmatashvilli stopped United from having a chance of a comeback before with 10 minutes remaining Sabti finished off a move at the far post giving Faley in goal no chance.

In added on time a poor challenge from Edwards led to mass handbags, saw the referee try to break the world whistling record and ultimately after a thousand blasts on said whistle a red card for the blues number 5.

Back onto the tube to Euston, first class seats on Virgin Trains with the Macclesfield Town team. I arrived home after thoroughly enjoying a day out at Wembley in the FA Vase.

ADDED ON

A planned trip to Sandbach United was cancelled last minute due to traffic, off to Brookburn Road for my twelfth visit, and ultimately seventh defeat out of that 12, a kind of statistic that will get me barred. I was in the company of Mr Wilks, slowly introducing him to the grounds of the non league world, and in the presence of Mr I Breeze-Block, though he was hob-nobbing it with non league royalty.

Weird game really. West had most of the ball but Barlick looked the more dangerous side, an early header from Cavanagh gave the visitors the lead and whilst West had chances to pull level they were foiled either by their own quality or the defending of their opponents. The game was settled late on by Hill. His free-kick curled round a crumbling wall giving Ashley no chance in goal.

A deserved win for Barlick.

GAMES

Wed: West Didsbury & Chorlton 0 Barnoldswick Town 2

Sat: Wembley 3 Broadfields United 0

FACTS

Games: 429

Goals:  1464

Grounds: 203

Games since a 0-0: 42

Milestone: None

Random Fact: The Wembley match was my lowest attendance of the season.

SOUNDTRACK

The Cribs – The Cribs