Wednesday, 23 May 2018

POYNTS OF VIEW

21st May 2018 - Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads 0 v 1 Poynton FC - The season is staggering to a closure, teams are looking tired, in disarray and seemingly hoping to have done and dusted.  The Cheshire League is the one of the last leagues still operating and it seems within the next week all will be finalised.  Before the closing matches a cup final needed playing out - The Stockport and District FA Senior Cup Final no less - a limited competition with few entrants but one, when it comes down to it, that gives a chance to raise a bit of silverware and generate more interest in your chosen club.  I had seen both teams play against one another recently in a tight affair and expected more of the same tonight.  We arrived at Edgeley Park, located a lofted perch, shared a choccy bar and watched folk arrive and the teams warm up.  The crowd was primarily made up of other league players, families and people with close connections to each club with, I suspect, the odd hopping maniac still clocking up the totals (and why not, better than eating babies or crapping in bus shelters).  Eventually the game was afoot, I watched, scribbled and composed some words that fell; into place as thus:-

The start was regular, both teams with plenty of ants in their pants.  Poynton applied greater pressure during the opening passages of play, No 10 (Rick Bailey) was slotted through and denied by a keeper who had obviously set his alarm and left the line in good time.  Moments later another ball came in, No 9 (Mark Faulkner) twisted like a cheap Chubby Checker mimic and flipped like a Haddock with a hook in its pectoral.  The reason for this spasmodic body warp was in attempt of a spectacular overhead kick, the ball would not obey the contortionists request and flew into the sky rather than the hoped for net - hitch up yer truss sir and carry on.  The Nomads eventually began to grab a smattering of possession albeit without any end sting.  No 7 (Craig Coates) had a fair old run at one stage, crossed and allowed No 11 (Steve Kirby) to be denied at the last by a strong tackling No 7 (Matt Toole) but other than that the problems posed for the Poynton pack were few and far between.  The Poynton players were still producing the greater danger but the service was lacking to the frontman and the game slipped into realms best described as drab and sober and without any major thrills.

After a weaving run and a low drive from Poynton's No 11 (Rob Black), that went shy of the upright, Cheadle had a flourish with a couple of balls into the box that caused a certain defensive hesitancy.  Eventually No 4 (Ashley Crank) had a side foot effort that went a little too close for comfort and left all and sundry with something to ponder.  A certain tetchiness began to sidle into the game of the Nomads as Poynton passed with patience.  Discipline was now an important commodity something which both rear guards showed in abundance.  Black had the next chance for Poynton with a good battling burst followed by a noticeable wherewithal to release the ball to Toole who saw his cross clobbered clear.  Soon after Toole tried to make amends with a dig from distance, the keeper relaxed and watched the ball hit the Heavens and leave us still void of a real on-target strike.  It was a blessing that the half was halted soon after.

Me and my good lady were unimpressed.  The half had been a let down, we shared another choccy bar to make up for it - we like the simple things.

The second period started with a Nomadic spurt, No 9 (Rick Tindall) passed to No 10 (Leon Grandison) who shot and saw the mittman fumble.  Tindall pounced for the scraps, somehow the ball was dumped away.  2 corners came, both poor and when Cheadle pushed again Poynton attempted a sucker-punch with a long ball to their galloping No 3 (Jake Wright).  Again the keeper (Aaron Tyler) did enough and was backed up by Crank who quashed the peril.  From here, for a lengthy spell, the game lost all fluency, with a lot of bluster ending in a frequent flaccid fart of 'bugger all'.  No 3 (Liam Danaher) had a brief adventure forth for The Nomads, nothing came of it and then Poynton had 2 shots, one of which was saved and one of which was blazed wide.  No 15 (Nick Challinor) came on for Poynton, he made an instant nuisance of himself, laying off, using the head in the box and adding a crucial option.  His side were awarded a free-kick after another bout of nob-numbing nonsense.  The ball was played, a save followed, Toole followed up soon after with a turn and tickle - just wide folks, just wide!  Soon after a ball over the top saw Toole chance his arm (well leg in fact) and the keeper was in the way again.  He duly fumbled but had done enough, the tide was rising.  The Linotypers had a push, Tindall to No 12 (Joe Campbell) who put in a sweet drive only slightly off the mark - now this is more like it!  

The tempo picked up, Poynton dashed, a player was clobbered, advantage was played and then mysteriously stopped.  Confusion followed and a free-kick ungraciously hoofed over for a corner.  Nothing came of the angled kick but tension was growing that was for sure.  Next up, Challinor was away and duly shot from the angle.  Another good save followed which, as icing on the cake, was backed up by a stunning double-block when Toole had 2 bites of the cherry to give his side the lead.  Great action for sure, albeit a little late in the day to gloss this game over and give it the pretence of a 'classic'.  Poynton now were on a roll, the Linotype lads looked weary and in disarray.  Black had a shot that was stopped by the gloved guardian and then a corner was put in, No 16 (Andy Simpson) rose from the pack and banged home with his balding bonse.  0 - 1, it was a game winner as it turned out and the final few minutes were spent defending this lead with the other team scampering to no avail whatsoever.  The referee blew, I was mighty glad to hear it and off we tootled, calling at the chippy and strolling home in the fumes of vinegar - lovely.  Man of the Match was easy, The Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads' No 1 (Aaron Tyler) had a great game and it was a shame he went home on the losing side.  5 great saves were executed which kept his team in with a chance up until the last - unlucky squire, keep at it!

FINAL THOUGHT - I have never been a fan of 'finals' - I always find the games building up to this full-stop far more intriguing and laden with extra possibilities and drama.  This was a shabby game, the result of a long season when legs are tired and thoughts of a rest are in the head.  The Nomads looked a forlorn side come the end, they were always on the backfoot during this encounter and they now just need to finish the season and build for the future.  Poynton on the other hand looked to have a good spark left in the tank and pushed the ball about well but, as is the case at these lower levels, lacked a consistency in the killer department. In truth they deserved a few more goals when all said and done the Cheadle crew have a good back pack and this is something they can hopefully rely on in their next campaign.  So I sign off with the chips digested, the footballing neurones not fully titivated and with congratulations given to Poynton FC on their cup victory - well done chaps!

Monday, 21 May 2018

NO ROYAL SHALL SPOIL - NATURE, NON-LEAGUE AND DIY NOISE

19th May 2018 - Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads 1 v 1 Congleton Vale - Hoorah the royals are having a wedding!  Hoorah, tis the day of the FA Cup final!  Hoorah, the country is full of mentally redundant gits as well as a mass of wasters that do nothing except for self gain - hip, hip and fuckin' hoorah - isn't everything glorious!  Please add own spittle-soaked sarcasm to the previous comments and think of me whilst I cut my own knackers off with a rusty blade instead of indulging in the aforementioned capitalist supporting bullshit - ouch me vas deferens. Irritated by much I woke up and cracked on, some more bugs will be recorded, I have two walks planned this week sharing my passion and I plan to keep the sightings up to date on my site to hopefully promote real beauty and ignite enthusiasm.  Dinner was had, a bit of sun soaked up and my good lasses went shopping whilst I got another footballing fix.  Straight from this match I had an anti-royal wedding gig to attend - a few beers and some good DIY noise is good for the soul as a whole don't ya know!  I arrived in glorious weather, had a chinwag, a pootle and took up my favoured spot - once more I scribbled and once more I hope you enjoy!

The game started in spacious fashion, both teams were allowing the other space and time and some fluent football beckoned.  A corner each way passed without fuss and then the visiting tribe dashed, delivered and the home keeper roamed.  A ball went in, No 7 (Ryan Brookes) pushed disappointingly wide.  2 crosses followed soon after, No 5 (Jonathan Rand) for The Nomads threw his carcass in the way of the first, the second was hit too hard and missed all potential takers.  No 11 (Aaron Cooke) followed up this double-ended moment of promise with some tricky moves and a shot that was boomed over with enthusiastic gusto.  The Congleton lads swooped again, a ball in was touched on and a superb goal line clearance was had, I missed the player in the melee - bah. The Nomads broke from the next attack, No 6 (Callum Clegg) ran and sent in a pass, it was easily dealt with - the report card was duly filled in 'must do better'.  A home free-kick was had, it was put forth and eventually fell to  No 2 (Dan Taylor) who had a deflected shot dip forth toward the lower side of the bar. The keeper read the situation well and tipped over with aplomb.  The corner produced nowt, a patch of little subtlety ensued with a hopeful crack for Congleton way off the mark and No 7 (Craig Coates) for the Nomads trying to add a spark to the action.  

Eventually the game got some added spice, the Linotypes pressured, a shot was had, a wicked deflection could have gone anywhere but somehow went straight into the awaiting keepers arms - buy a lottery ticket sir, buy one now!  No 9 (Brian Barton) for the Congo provided the next ray of hope with a delicious crossfield ball that was collected by the eager Brookes.  The latter player needed no second invite and shot from the angle and the ball whizzed across the face of goal and just missed the far stick, unlucky!  Congleton were now passing with care and attention, it was just a finishing assassin's touch that was needed. Cooke displayed neat tootsies when turning, cutting in and shooting at the keeper.  Soon after he was at it again, putting out a fine cross ball that terminated with a cross and a tame shot. The Nomads reacted, Coates had a great surge and shot that was saved and saw a follow-up shot also blocked by the visiting No 1 (Cameron Phelps).  The hosts continued to finish the half well with growing cohesiveness and better movement - alas the referee stopped the improvement and called for half-time.

I stayed put during the break, had a chat and munched a few jelly beans and then watched the teams wander back out.  

Both teams worked up a good foam early on, some panic football resembled an Aldi wine list and lacked any quality.  Both teams were treating the ball like a 4 cornered turd dipped in curdled breastmilk - uncontrollable and unwanted.  Congo eventually got to grips with matters, No 14 (Tyler Harrison) on the wing put a ball in, Barton rattled one first time, unfortunately it whizzed just wide.  Harrison came again, No 6 (Andy John) had a crack fly over and then a corner was won after Harrison battled and pestered like a gay knight at a local 'Molest A Jester' party!  A corner followed, an ambitious overhead saw fresh air struck and a testicle twanged, a drinks break followed and cooled events down.  As soon as the actions started Cooke of the visiting tribe played to Barton who walloped first time only slightly off target - promising indeed. From here No 10 (Tom Cavanagher) of the Nomads displayed fine desire and bust a gut trying to make headway and ease the pressure on his side.  He strode forth and let fly only for a deflection to ping the ball above the crossbar.  The corner missed all heads but soon after Cavanagher was racing forth once more, laid off the ball for No 11 (Kieron Terry) who smacked home like a seasoned pro.  The game needed this strike, it generated a spark from which further flames of action could grow.

Now in the lead the last thing the Nomads needed was for anyone to lose their noggin.  A bit of rough and tumble saw two players come together, a suggestion of a headbutt was made, No 16 (Ben Connell) for the hosts was sent marching.  From this a free-kick was given to the guests, 2 passes ensued, No 12 (Carl McCurrie) found the ball at his feet and scored a deliciously sublime goal that floated over the stretching keeper into the awaiting net.  It was a double whammy for the home lads who had worked so hard for the breakthrough only to see it thrown away by a moment of distraction.  A harsh lesson to be taught  but one that very much needs learning.  Cavanagher for the home team kept on striving but from a corner Congleton broke, Cooke was on the end of it and blasted over - a shame, it deserved more.  From here the teams battled hard, Cheadle looked nervy at times, Congleton overly enthusiastic and as a result no real opportunities arose that would give either team a full complement of points.  We ended all square and, in truth, all fair.  Man of the Match goes to the Linotype No 3 (Matt Dale) who was concrete at the back, just got on with matters and made life mighty difficult for the opposition strike force.  Good work fella!  I strolled home in the sun, it hadn't been a bad trip out, next stop was an Anti-Royal gig - I saw 4 grand bands, Eye Licker were bang on form - tis all about variety tha' knows.

FINAL THOUGHT - An average game with one or two talking points and much to mull over. Both teams worked hard, deserved a point each and perhaps, on another day, cracked in a couple more goals apiece.  This is the major difference one finds as one ascends up the league - that finishing touch, that killer ball to open up a defence and leave a striker room to burst the net.  The only thing that can remedy this is hard work.  Work as a unit, as an individual and as a thinking machine that is always aware of the gaps and the spaces available.  Tis easier said than done, but if either team wants to progress then the choice is there to be had.  I think Non-League, for this and a few other reasons, generates superb excitement for the punter and if all and sundry give 100%, keep their heads down and play the game fairly and squarely and get thorough enjoyment out of what they do then true success is had.  Personally I wouldn't change a thing, it keeps me enthralled but man, some of those managers must be on a bloody good mix of tablets to help them get through each and everyday - and why the Hell not?

Thursday, 17 May 2018

HIGH FIVE AS NOMADS GET KNUTTED

15th May 2018 - Knutsford FC 5 v 1 Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads - A very busy day at work was finalised with a bike ride home, a read of 2 chapters of my latest book (Of Human Bondage) in the sun-blessed garden, a quick tea and out.  Arriving at the ground we purchased tea, had a wander and came across a pristine hoverfly, namely Merodon equestris - what a stunner.  Hello's and chats to a few friendly folk was had, we acquired team-sheets from Knutsford's secretary Nev (in exchange for a Viennese Whirl I'll have ye know) and sat and waited for the teams to appear.  The home team came out and had their photo's taken with a brace of cups they had picked up - The Cheshire League and Cheshire Amateur League Trophies were the prizes for a good old season, they seemed mighty chuffed with themselves. Eventually the two units for tonight's match took up their positions, I predicted a good contest and a 3 - 3 drawer, what a misdirected wanker I turned out to be, although there were 6 goals so some face was saved.

After an initial bout of probing the first invasion took place via the home team after a great ball from their No 8 (Nehru McKenzie) led to a corner being won.  The kick from the angle came, several legs swung and struck air, it was a threat free moment.  Knutsford soon started to dictate but the Linotypers had a surge against the grain and won a free-punt after the No 11 (Steve Kirby) was unceremoniously brought down.  The same player took the kick, into the wall it went and from here, for what seemed a lengthy period, action was scarcer than the hairs on Duncan Goodhew's scrotum.  The guests scurried, the home team foraged forth but neither team bejeweled the nipples of glory and left them swinging and lactating milk of misery.  Knutsford upped the ante, they prodded and poked like an aroused Old MacDonald with his latest synthetic pig purchase.  For all their huffing and puffing no bacon was brought home.  No 9 (Ash Harrison) used good muscle to lay the ball off with his noggin.  The ball was received and played back to his exerting self, he duly walloped but shot too high to put the shits up the keeper!  Knutsford were undeterred and moved the ball around with tidy gracefulness.  A free-kick on the edge of the box was bilge to say the least but the home No 7 (Dean Warburton) was making positive contributions and keeping his side on the advance.  No 6 (Phil Yulie) let go a turf trimmer, it failed to ripple mesh but a few of the wannabe daisies held their blooms back for a little while longer. 

Cheadle were hanging in by the skin of their teeth (although teeth don't have skin so feel free to use a term more apt - 'skin of their rectum' perhaps).  Out of the flow No 7 (Joe Campbell) for the Nomads robbed a home defender, he laid off and saw a shot snatched and put wide - careless indeed and a rare chance lost.  Soon after a free-kick came the same way, the ball went in, No 9 (Rick Tindall) made a nuisance of himself, won a grotty header and watched the ball fall to No 10 (Liam Millen) who slapped home with direct authority.  This was a stunner, a real reality check for the team in charge, somehow Knutsford had gone 1 goal down and now had it all to do.  The game, for the rest of the half went flatter than the chest of Charles Hawtrey and it was with great relief that the man in black put a full stop on matters.

We stayed put for half-time and were joined by local Tatton Park warden and punk chum Darren.  A good chat was had about many topics, he was now a Knutsford FC convert and had attended a few games of late - next stop is the tattoo parlour for the tagline 'I may be a man, but I still love Knuts' scrawled across his arse - it is all part of the big over-50 breakdown!  And so to matters back on the pitch!

The teams reappeared, 2 early corners were had for the visitors and a multi-pass combination in return for the hosts.  The latter occurrence saw a great cross get nutted wide - one across the bows methinks.  The Knutsford set-up now played with purpose, As I was chatting with the aforementioned Tatton Ranger about the merits of 'Dracula' I turned to see a hum-dinging shot fly from the boot of a home player.  The away keeper rose and stretched and got the slightest touch on the ball (or did my peepers play tricks) and put it on the bar.  A free-kick brought the next thrill, Knutsford were the executioners, the ball was floated into the box and McKenzie rose with ease and nutted home.  No sooner had celebrations subsided and Harrison was marauding, a free-kick was won and No 10 (David Owens) fired straight at the keeper who collected only at the second attempt.  A corner came soon after, another drifted ball went in and fell to the feet of No 4 (Joe Hare) who, despite his surprise, controlled in double quick time and cracked home with little fuss.  From here we had another flat period and then a burst from the home lads once again.  A ball over the top was knocked in from the angle and a nut home from No 3 (Sean Lynch) had sealed this game and put pay to any dwindling hopes the guest team may still be harboring.  What a turnaround this was, I was struggling to keep pace!

The time ticked, Cheadle were under a serious cosh.  A long ball came at their rear, the mitter dashed out, No 11 (Ben Brooks) took on the predators role and pilfered the ball and slotted home.  This was now getting plain old silly.  As Knutsford settled further into the driving seat a quick acceleration and a cross in followed with Owens connecting on the volley and bringing up the 5th - what a thoroughly commanding performance!  No 15 (Liam Crellin-Myers) was still hungry for the hosts, a cross came and he had a chance of personal glory but was over-enthusiastic with his header and was further off the mark than a blind man's nob in an 'anything goes' brothel.  Myers was at it again soon after, he worked outward, cut in, delivered a delectable chip to the far corner and saw the ball miss by only a few inches.  From here we witnessed a real Knut-Job with several more shots coming in, one or two on target but of no trouble to the keeper and the odd one flying off the mark but maintaining impetus.  When the 90 minute mark arrived and a sliver of extra time was played it was a great relief to the Nomads when the final whistle came.  Man of the Match goes to No 7 (Dean Warburton) who was a cut above and displayed a solid performance that was built on simplicity, sound balance and a perpetual positive thinking that resulted in some very good football - a quite stout effort! Goodbyes were said, an attempt to slash the rangers bike tires was foiled and off we went back home with only a few matches of the season left - we are not complaining.

FINAL THOUGHT - On this evidence it is plain to see why Knutsford FC are champions again and are destined to be in the mix for several seasons to come.  They play good football, have a good presence on the pitch and work together as one tidy unit.  Several players could make the step up, as could the team as a whole, but I reckon they should stick together and try and get this club to places new and contribute to a history bank filled with success.  The Nomads are my most local team and, over the last few weeks, have impressed me no end.  Tonight they were on the back foot from the off and were the second best team throughout.  Several key players were missing but a 5 - 1 drubbing is never good to take no matter what the circumstances.  They look like a team ready for the rest and in need of some repair work before the next campaign comes.  Incredibly that will be in about 3 months time, there is much to do and a real test awaiting - I shall be there now and again offering some support and hopefully witnessing some fine victories - crikey, I am getting all excited already!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

WHERE EAGLES ARE BARE

12th May 2018 - Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads 0 v 0 Eagle Sports - The Eagles were swooping into town today, hoping to pick up a few sneaky points from the buttock end of the season where some teams ease up, others dig in and play to the Death and the odd one or two stagger to the end tape with withered testicles, sweating brows and that 'enough is enough' look in their eyes.  The Linotype Lads will certainly be keeping their peckers up and looking to finish with a flourish and grab a fine runners-up spot, just deserts methinks for a strong campaign.  The visitors have had a long haul and prior to kick-off were languishing in the lower depths, a position which, with a few late-on wins, could be seriously altered and given something of a respectable look.  My Saturday morn was as per, catching up on many fronts and welcoming home my daughter for a weeks break from her Uni duties.  Dinner and a natter and I left my lasses to pootle whilst I snuck in another Non-League Match - oh aye!  Arriving early I had a sprawl and enjoyed a read (Somerset Maugham is a genius), slurped some tea (with bonus Custard Creams), acquired teamsheets and wagged the jaw with a few decent folk.  For those of you following these reports you have my thanks, I am nearly done for the season, thanks for hanging in, I hope the scars heal soon.

The start to the match was brisk, Nomads probing with purpose, No 6 (Terence Butler) and No 11 (Steven Kirby) were particularly busy and keeping the guest team honest.  From a moment of little note came a ball that allowed No 7 (Tom Cavanhager) to nip in and stick out a shank that resulted in a poor contact and the opportunity to grab an early goal lost.  The hosts looked tetchy. They were on each others cases, never a good sign and creating pressure not needed.  The Eagles swooped next, a ball in the box, a good lay off to No 10 (Edward Burthem) who struck fresh air rather than mesh.  The guests remained undeterred by this miss and put together some simple passing moves that looked good on the eye but lacked significiant advancement.  The Linotypes nearly cultivated a chance when No 10 (Rick Tindall) tried to force a gap.  The defending was resolute, some good marshalling was had and the sniff at goal quelled.  The Eagles had the next chance when a mix-up at the Nomads rear saw the mitter leave his line and the visiting No 7 (Ged McAllister) attempt a spectacular lob.  The ball went high, stayed high and knocked out the satellite service for Ladyboys TV - many a good night was now ruined, I hope it doesn't affect dress sales at M&S - they need a boost!  The hosts responded with some sweet play via Kirby who cut in well, unselfishly laid off for Cavanhager to have a crack.  It was like a fatman's bowel movement after a Pot Noodle and Sherry bender - loose and wide, nasty!


A patchy period followed, No 9 (Josh Purcell) was nearly in for the visitors but the keeper blocked well.  A brace of corners followed, both were too long, this game needed some quality deliveries - call the midwife or Postman Pat methinks!  The bitty play continued, it was like the work of an autistic abstract artists on shrooms, what was going on!  McAllister and No 2 (Stephen Robinson) combined for the birds of prey, the latter player swung and clattered, only a free kick was had from which little success was found.  2 balls through came, both for the Eagles, both identical with the second ending in a lob that only just dropped wide.  This was an unsettled Nomadic side (true to their name in fact) and half-time needed to come to get the heads right and the team working as a unit.  The Eagles grew in confidence as they sensed the disgruntlement and they nearly snuck in at the death but the home No 2 (Craig Coates) was alert and ready and made sure his side went in on level terms.


During the first half a bloke I know from watching Abbey Hey turned up and we had a wander and a good chat.  Tea was had and a waffle with a few more bods and then a stroll back to the seats was taken.  Things were still all to play for!


The Nomadic lads pushed with patience early on, No 3 (Adam Stuart) and Tindall worked well, they were part of a team reinvigorated with a new attitude and desire. A move saw Kirby put in a pearling ball that the visiting mittman duly made a meal of (chips, gravy, two puddings and a ball please).  As the globe fell towards the gaping mesh a defender hoofed clear and from here the intensity rose and a few spiced tackles flew in this way and that!  The Eagles were biding their time, looking to find a vulnerable spot and pounce, more like a Sparrowhawk laden with spite in fact!   After a home free-kick the guests broke.  The defenders backed off, McCallister was allowed to run and cross - the outside of the post was clobbered.  It was a let off for the Linotypes, there were two attackers in space and waiting - if only...!  A corner came at the other end, it was thumped low, knocked out and whacked back by No 12 (Ryan Murphy) - over!  The Cheadle boys were on it now, the next attack saw Tindall battling, passing to Cavanhager who banged one against the bar.  Grandison latched onto the rebound, a kick, a bounce and yet again...over!  The Eagles flew back, the strike was swift, the end decision wrong - a familiar story indeed.


Still the scoresheet was goalless, we needed a moment of pure inspiration.  No 8 (Ben Connelly) swivelled on the edge of the box and was duly floored.  A free-kick went straight into the wall and the follow-up shot was off target - frustrations rose above the levels of safety and when the visitors dashed away and No 3 (Oliver Fleming) was upended in the box the penalty that came aged the Nomads bench by several years.  McAllister took responsibility, he struck low in the corner with no disguise.  The keeper's recognition levels were spot on, he dove, he stretched, he saved his side's skins.  This was still anyone's but when a host ball was beautifully delivered and Tindall, the usually reliable marksman, was found only a couple of feet out only a fool would place a wager on an unruptured net.  The fool would have been well rewarded as Tindall swung and blazed over with style, a truly scandalous miss.  The Nomads were roused, they passed with pace but lacked a sanguinity when it mattered most - the game remained on a knife edge.  The game went into the depths, No 16 (Liam Millen) was playing many positive balls and hoping to find that killer touch. It was the guests who had the next good move, Purcell turning, dashing and putting the ball across for McAllister.  The wannabe assassin flew in, he stretched, his touch was weak - that could have been a real match winner.  Before the final rattle of the ref's pea Grandison and Millen produced a fine long ball and hammered cross move that allowed Connelly to thump first time - the goalkeeper just stood and watch it fly past his upright!  Eagles had one last free-kick, the ball in was decent, the subs head not forceful enough, some day's a goal will never ever be had, this was such a day - the referee blew - a point apiece was fair.  Man of the Match today goes to the Cheadle No 2 (Craig Coates) who was steady, focused and made sure he wasn't distracted by the bickering and eternal  frustration - it was a safe and tidy stint, get the lad a beer!


FINAL THOUGHT - So a blank, a void, a score free zone that could have been played over several hours and still ended up with the same state of play.  These things happen, the ball can be a stubborn bugger and when in cahoots with circumstance will never end up were it should do and always remain a constant source of discombobulation.  On another day we could have had a glut of goals but only if the players stayed calm and made sure the end pass was not rushed and done with crafted care.  A point each will not make much difference to either side but it is better than a kick-up the arse and a defeat.  Positives and negatives can be found in each and every match, I wonder how the managers will view this one.  I strolled home far from disappointed, it was another decent jaunt out, how will next season treat these sides is anyone's guess but without goals the outcome may be easy to predict.  Get your shooting boots on chaps, here's to the next one!

ETCETERA, ETCETERA...ZZZZZ

10th May 2018 - Ashton Athletic 0 v 2 Irlam FC - The days are counting down to the last game of the season, I am getting a final fix in before summer time comes and a pootling we shall go.  Two familiar sides were on show tonight, ones I try and keep tabs on and see as much as I can. I was hoping both units could get over their recent bad run and put on a ruddy good showcase and, perhaps share the spoils and end the season in a chirpy and hopeful mood.  So, we put in a day at work, got sorted and set off in good time as the roads of late are quite shite and are a reflection of a country becoming overpopulated and too reliant on the 4-wheeled tin can - we need to cut back further for sure!  the M6 was duly clogged like the bowels of Elvis Presley but an eventual auto-laxative was had and we were eventually shat out at our destination.  Upon arrival refreshing tea was obtained, a chat with a few friendly faces enjoyed and seats taken.  It was a clement night, I was in a T-shirt - about ruddy time too. 

The teams soon came out, the ball got rolling and action was minimal.  The first pot shot at goal came via the Irlam No 8 (Joshua Nixon) who eyed glory and got disappointment as the globe scooted off target.  No 9 (Dale Korie-Butler) and No 8 (Paul Watson) linked up well for The Yellows next, the latter bod cracking one off close in (ooh, and on such a pleasant night too) but being denied by a keeper on the early qui vive and with legs well-spread.  A long ball came again from the hosts, No 7 (Matthew Reid) ran like a vicar with the shits, swung his peg and hit the corner of the framework, it was a ruddy good effort nonetheless.  Ashton came once more, No 11 (Joshua Nicholson) was in but a last minute mis-touch allowed the mesh protector to safely gather in his eager arms.  The hosts seemed to be just shading matters early on as Irlam were somewhat subdued and quiescent in their manner.  The visiting pack did cultivate a corner but it led to a breakaway that ended in an offside and was duly followed up with Reid on the charge and winning an angled kick.  The globe entered the box, a punch out came and a shot was returned that was, not to put to light a point on matters...crap!  A bonus belt to Irlam ensued, it looked inocuous enough, the ball entered the box, a nut across from No 5 (Steven Mills) was had and a header came via No 9 (Haydn Foulds) and brought the first goal of the night - it seemed as easy as A, B, C!

Into the depths of the half we went, a good passing move from Ashton saw Nicholson and Korie-Butler in the mix but the final ball put pay to any rising passions as the offside web was fallen into.  Nicholson came again, he roamed wide, rushed and laid off the ball for Watson to whack.  The contact was sound, the aim not so - hey ho, start all over again!  A few minor gaps now started to appear, the game looked to be warming up but both teams were appearing to play like a donkey with its dick in a blanket - and not showing enough width.  Nothing of note happened for the remainder of the half and no matter how far I strained the imaginative juices the paper on which I scribbled remained void of waffle.

Half-time - tea and natter, many agreed this was far from a classic, I think they were understating matters.

Out the teams came, it was yet another subdued start, like a game of chess between two Valium addicts but eventually a shade more purpose did arise.  Irlam had a free-kick, No 10 (Matthew Boland) wellied one and the keeper spilled.  A chance was there to be had but the referee blew for some unknown faux pas - what a bugger.  No 7 (Marcus Perry) whizzed away next, he had space and time but neither shot nor crossed - the chance was lost.  From here very little happened and reminded me of the time I was stuck in a lift with a numismatist, a dust laden librarian, an elective mute and a member of the local Lettuce Appreciation Society - they were discussing the colour variations of dust particles, as you can imagine I was a trifle glazed of eye.  Both teams continued like headless dung beetles, a lot of scurrying, no real shit moved.  Korie-Butler for the hosts had a rare effort, it was no surprise to see it flash wide.  Irlam held the greatest threat however, No 14 (Zack Dulson) was working particularly hard, he was making the home defence break sweat and made space for No 2 (Macauley Harewood) to dash and win a corner.  The cross that followed was bang on the mark and bodies flew this way and that with a clearance coming from the melee.  Ashton had a brief flourish but No 8 (Joshua Nixon) put a superb ball over the top of the home rear pack allowing Foulds to toe-poke - the mitter was awake and saved - tidy work fella.  Ashton laboured away and tried to level matters, a ball in to the Irlam box pinged around like a whizzed up pea at a punk gig but alas there was a lack of control and the pesky round thing was booted away.

A few people now moved and fidgeted, I suspect they wanted this one over and when a loud bang went off in the distance and several Wood Pigeons took to the air I wondered if we had just aurally witnessed the first suicide of the evening.  A clonking shot came the Irlam way and almost raised a tingle in the privates - emphasis though was on 'almost'.  Another Irlam attack saw a dig fly off the radar and then a great move was had with Harewood a chief component and starting off a 2 pass sequence that culminated in a goal for No 16 (Connor Martin).  It was a tasty move, not reflective of the nights mundane spectacle.  Soon after the referee blew, he dashed off, no doubt seeking psychiatric help for the horror show he had just conducted - these things happen, I hope the medication helps ease his pain.  Man of the Match goes to No 2 (Macauley Harewood) of Irlam for sheer consistency, an attempt to make something happen and for sticking to his role with resolute determination - see, every cloud has a silver lining laden with positivity.  Before tootling off home we said farewells and had a chat with that fine, amiable chap Matty Kay (Irlam's Assistant Manager) - he is stepping back come season end to spend time with his family - he has always been grand with me, I can only wish him all the best in what he does and no doubt can rest assured, at some point, he will be back.  Cheers chap.

FINAL THOUGHT - I will sum up tonight's match like this - I once spent a night in a Travel Lodge with Derek Nimmo, I did it for a bet and ended up learning the 138 ways a napkin can be folded whilst discussing the merits of knitted slippers - I was kind of numb at the end of it and glad to get home - do you get my drift!  Look, let us be honest, this was a tough affair to get excited about and both teams need to take a break, recharge and rebuild for the next campaign or some serious shit will hit the miniature windmill.  A judgement on tonight's performance would be false as there was nothing to play for and both teams were more jaded than the eyes of Fumanchu after a naked Mah Jong session.  I will certainly be watching both sides next year, popping in and popping out amidst the mush of other matches I pootle about at.  I hope all players are on their toes and have a strong start - there are concerns to be had and promises to hold onto - I think next year could be a tough one, a few good teams are coming up, a few look to be setting firmer foundations by the season, whatever happens I will be watching and describing and I hope it has more positive excitement than on show tonight.  PS - while leaving the ground I found a man broken by the game and crying his eyes out in the car park, I hugged him and gave him a signed copy of 'After Dinner Speeches' by Nicholas Parsons - I never though that book would ever be off my hands and offer such a ray of hope to one so lost - ahem!

Friday, 11 May 2018

LABURNUM FLOWERS WITHERED

9th May 2018 - Atherton Laburnum Rovers 0 v 2 Holker Old Boys - If the season were personified then we were now at the nob-end of the campaign, the part of the long haul were some will squirt onward with success, some will piddle forth and see their efforts out with a good final splash and some will dribble and splutter in an exhausted mockery ready to zip up, tuck away and recharge the motivating knackers. Me and my good lady were squeezing in the final few matches and hoping to not get dribbled on, a good old saturation of flamboyance would be much more preferable and as we headed down to one of our favourite grounds we had no idea what to expect.  Atherton LR were in 16th position, Holker Old Boys were standing at a very respectable 9th, a slot looking very much set in stone. The chance was had for some liberal and expressive football once more, come on lads, let it all hang out and go for it - anything less and a charge of indecent under-exposure will be sent your way - Fungal and his good lady expect!

For such a back end affair the game started in sprightly fashion with both sets of players exuding a sound urgency.  The ALR crew were passing well on a pitch to test the temperament and they duly had the opening attempt on goal after an Old Boys player was robbed, the ball was passed on to No 8 (Dominic Butler) who surged with high octane zeal and shot low with gusto.  The ball skimmed the head off many daisies and went far off the near side stick.  The home lads won a free-kick soon after but the taker, No 7 (Nathan Randall) put too much 'oomph' on the globe and put it way over the horizontal.  The HOB nobs now worked forward, a throw in, a cross by No 6 (Kevin Watkin) and a simple nut home by No 10 (Benedict Rebello) was against the early grain and highlighted some shambolic defending - it was a gift indeed.  ALR woke up, No 10 (David Moore) burst and delivered, the ball in was choice, it was unfortunate for the hosts that it fell at defensive rather than attacking feet.  From this moment of promise the Atherton lads were caught napping again when, from a moment of hesitancy, a long cross ball found a fleeing No 9 (John-Paul Stanway) who duly cracked off a first time effort but missed the target - now that could have been a real killer blow!  Atherton now started to work well, No 6 (Bradley Aspinall) put in a pearling ball that was inches away from a pure connection.  Following on from this the home No 9 (Theodore Kidd) advanced with purpose, wove through 3 players, put in a shot but was denied by a well-stretched mitters legs.  Promising indeed!

The hosts now looked to be carrying the greater threat but when a defensive error was had, a goalkeeping blip followed and the team were lucky not to fall deeper into the karsi of consternation.  The Holker unit had a chance but took too long to pull the chain of assassination and let the host's turds of hope remain afloat.  No 7 (Bradley Hubbold) for the HOB's came next, a pass to Stanway saw an adventurous shot ensue.  Some poor keeping of the mesh gave a corner away from which a cross came and a static defence allowed a tap forth to come - it went wide, The Rovers got off lightly.  A free-kick came for the guests, Stanway blew one over and then the same bod had another hopeful punt, saw the keeper handle the ball like a butter soaked piglet and drop.  The home No 1 (Ben Purdham) was fortunate that no hungry assassins were around, he could have been thoroughly embarrassed.  ALR responded, Moore exhibited good strength and shoulder-charged himself into a position to cross.  The ball in was tidy, somehow a clearance was had, a shame as the effort deserved better.  Some late on work came from the resident No 11 (Ben Giverin) which saw a fantastic and skillful rush result in a brace of angled hoofs.  The first was crapper than a crap thing in Crapsville but the second was a superb delivery that forced the Old Boys to defend with concentrated effort.  This they did and then had to deal with one last boot in that saw confusion rein and No 5 (Aaron Walmsley) for ALR fire in a too relaxed manner and miss the awaiting target - for me that was a real chance but the score remained 0 - 1 and half-time duly followed.

A good match this and whilst contemplating matters we had a cup of cha' and a Kit-Kat to quell the sneaky chill in the air.  The rain now decided to fall and banish any memories of the recent sunny spell, this precipitation didn't dampen any spirits though and the second half began in fine style.

The first action came via some lightning pace of Giverin for Atherton, one wondered if he was being chased by an invisible Jimmy Saville or the manager had inserted some illegal device up the flashing players jacksie during the prolonged break - by heck he was moving.  A cross followed, 2 swipes found fresh air, a defender missed the elusive globe too and when a connection was made the ball flew...yes you guessed it...wide.  ALR dawdled in possession soon after, the Holker chaps put in 2 easy passes that were finished by a feeble effort from No 10 (Benedict Rebello), it wasn't even on target, crikey!  Randall pounced at the other end, the option was taken to pass instead of to shoot, the ball, like the gonads of a frustrated Pavarotti, was too weighted.  The chance disappeared up the rectal passage of 'Unmemorables-Ville' -  a shite place to live, laden with one hit wonders, bit part soap opera stars and a shop selling those polythene underpants that were never 'all-the-rage' back in the winter 1958.  ALR were undeterred by this moment and put together some eye-catching and highly acute passing moves.  One tricky spot was escaped from with such an example of this well-versed work but any hopes were crapped on by that ever-present emblem of Killjoy Heaven, the offside flag.  Despite the hosts growing endeavour and neat movement the guests remained disciplined, efficient and in control, they applied themselves with a marked focus - I like that!

The game advanced. I was enjoying this one.  Atherton broke next, Giverin to Kidd who sent in a dipping shot that just wouldn't drop quick enough.  A free-kick soon came the same way, Butler hammered, the shot was blocked and a HOB break came.  Rebello went on a sweet dash and put in an equally tasty cross which brought about a period of in-box bagatelle - ping, boing, twang - and out.  The guests travelled forth again, a muscular burst from No 14 saw a ball go to Stanway who turned quickly and shot only inches wide.  The home side responded, a cross from Giverin hit a crust but the nut on was straight at the keeper - a shame.  The rain now increased, we went down the back stretch, Atherton pushed, a zipping cross went in and the keeper parried.  A corner saw a nut on the line get blocked and soon after No 6 (Bradley Aspinall) hit a delectable shot that rattled the bar and brought gasps and groans from many a punter.  A free-kick forced the visiting mittman to produce a stunning save and another effort was again blocked by a very watertight Holker squad.  A late angled kick saw all heads miss the globe and the Old Boys break with a 3 pass sequence and their sub just fail to clatter home.  The game looked done, a late free-kick came the way of the travellers, No 7 (Bradley Hubbold) decided to take a chance and struck quite sweetly.  The lead was doubled, it looked too easy and was a real cruel kick in the goolies for the ALR lads - tis a bugger this game we love.  Soon after, the game was called to a halt, the points had been grabbed and taken 'oop North', for sheer stubborness and organisation the Old Boys derserved it but my Man of the Match goes to the home No 11 (Ben Giverin) who really caught my eye with his quick thinking, zested runs and abundance of skilful touches - a great performance depsite being on the losing side - better luck next time.

FINAL THOUGHT - Tonight may have been a match for no real prize, a mere latter end encounter that saw 2 squads go at it with admirable gusto and play out a match that I thought was thoroughly enjoyable.  Atherton Laburnum Rovers, despite losing by 2 goals, impressed me in many ways with their sharp interplay, quick movement and individual pace.  One or two players shone bright, the only flaw in the armoury is the last-minute decision making and the need for a killer ruthlessness when in the final third - something to chew on in the closed season and next year I hope better things come their way - I can't see why not!  Holker Old Boys have had a decent campaign and it is plain to see why this has been.  By crikey they are a tough nut to crack, one would find it easier to turn Charlton Heston gay or indeed get Lester Piggott to part with a fiver rather than breakdown the team tonight.  They are a unit, a group of players who work as one and put in a steady and reliable stint.  For me, a bit of extra flair here and there and the league could be their oyster - they could surely be in the play-off shake up next year and that would be some achievement.  They have a pleasing set-up at their ground, methinks I am due back - get the kettle on chaps!

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

THE SUN HAS GOT HIS HAT ON

7th May 2018 - New Mills 2 v 2 Chadderton - The sun is making an exhibition of itself and adding a feel-good factor to these end of season matches.  Due to pondering the hazards of busy roads we decided to have a morning birdwatching at Carrington Moss and then go to a match that avoided motorway mayhem and any great distance.  The walk was grand, hardly anyone around, a few birds, butterflies, bugs and blooms seen and all in superb weather - can't fault it.  We headed home, had dinner, I typed up the wildlife lists and lounged about and then...we headed out.  Arriving in good time tea and snacks were had, a nice shaded spot chosen and arses were parked.  This match had everything set up for the teams to played relaxed football and just express themselves - if that was going to be the case it should be a cracker...we were certainly hoping so.

The commencement was a quiet affair, the Chad's were having the better of the early exchanges and eventually won the first corner although the hoof in was straight into the keepers reaching mitts.  A long ball soon after saw the home No 6 (Jack Miller) who was forced into an error and committed a clumsy foul.  No 8 (Jack Ward) took the responsibility of the kick, partook of a simple crack and found the net whilst the home heads were seemingly contemplating their navels.  From this surprising moment Chadderton still dictated matters and passed the ball with greatest effect.  New Mills found their first taste of promise when No 11 (George Blackwell) knocked a great ball to No 9 (Dennis Sherriff) who collected and hit a low cross that was disappointingly void of any takers - a pity!  From here little else happened as the match plodded on, the baked pitch meant control was difficult and the heat was certainly a factor at this stage of a long campaign.  Suddenly No 10 (Jake Pollard) for the home lads was in with a chance.  A daisy-cutting shot came, the mitter read it well, sprawled low and pushed the ball wide.  From the corner Blackwell thumped a sizzler, a defender impeded the effort on the line and belted clear, a drink break followed.


After liquids were swilled the Chadderton mob took hold of the reins and had the first surge.  A corner was had, it was nutted clear, put back in and an offside rule dampened any growing excitement. New Mills reacted with a corner of their own, the delivery was sweet, No 4 put his angled nut over the bar.  The Millers pushed again with pace,  the ball bobbled between every pass but eventually ended up at the feet of No 8 (Jack McConnell) who struck low and firm and found the inside near post.  A decent equalising dig, time for another drinks break - it was a hot un', that's for sure - thank goodness for those rectal ice-cubes I acquired 5 minutes before kick-off.  Ok, they may of melted and my rear was sopping wet but man I was as cool as a cucumber in a fridge - nice!  Into the last 10 minutes of the first half we went, the NM boys were playing better but the Chadderton No 2 (Joseph Richards) nearly pissed on their warming chips with a cracking ball that No 10 (Matthew Wilkinson) nearly connected with - the mitter was just too quick  and booted clear with relief.  Chadderton now built with patience, Ward was an intricate component in a clockwork move.  A final ball came in, No 9 (Bradley Kay) rose with authority and clobbered home with his bonse, a purist goal for sure and a great way to regain the lead.  The last dregs of this period saw Ward bend one wide for the visitors and New Mills put together a choice move with No 7 (Samuel Marshall) busting a bollock, passing to Blackwell out wide who laid one off for Pollard to eagerly thwack over - and we were done!


Half-Time - we couldn't be arsed to move and checked other scores.  One of my local teams Maine Road looked doomed, 3 - 0 and only a victory would save their chuffs - not a way to spend a sunny afternoon.  The teams soon came back out, onwards!


The start to this second period was bright, a free-kick for the hosts saw McConnell take and only place into the awaiting keepers arms.  His team were showing a better intensity though, a long ball from No 12 (Jack Beswick) put Blackwell in who shot and forced a solid, low save.  Chadderton grew into the half and subdued their opponent's ambitions whilst protecting their narrow lead.  From a New Mills push Chaddy broke, Ward to Kay who was denied by a defender, the question arose - was the tackle legal?  A ball in, a dig by Ward brought no further success to the Chadderton side of the scorecard and up the other end Blackwell had a shout for a penalty but was refused his claim.  Another attack came, I was distracted by a Speckled Wood butterfly (my fave) but looked up in time to see a quick pass and the ball fly home via Samuel Marshall who got just reward for some decent labour.  We were back to all square and now the New Mills outfit worked better and McConnell had a low drive soon after, one that was only collected by the keeper at the second attempt, there really should have been some in-rushing 'erberts - you just never know!


Into the last 10 minutes we went, a late spark was nearly added when Chaddy's No 11 (Jack O'Leary) turned in the box and fired.  A deflection led to a corner, the ball in was good and found the crust of the in-flying No 3 (James Dwyer) who should have hit the target but nutted way too high.  Marshall was put through at the opposite end, he raced and shot close-in but the visiting No 1 (Daniel Havern) spread and blocked well.  The ball went loose, Blackwell fired forth and a great follow-up block by the mittman was had, fine action indeed. McConnell for the Millers raised the next hopes with a superb dissecting ball and as 2 colleagues chased it was with high disappointment that the linesman was seen to be waving for offside - what a rotter!  New Mills had 2 corners at the death, the second saw Pollard blaze one...over.  Soon after we were done, it hadn't been the greatest match but we had been treated to a competitive contest and had 4 goals thrown in for good measure.  Man of the match goes to the high energy and busy bee bod of New Mill's, namely their No 7 (Samuel Marshall). He worked until the last and as the game progressed his effect became more apparent.  We went home with match 102 of the season under the belt, only a few left now, crikey!


FINAL THOUGHT - A clash of 2 teams who have had a below average season and who both need to now get done and dusted and look forward to the next campaign.  Chadderton play some fine football at times, they need a good pitch on which to perform and to maintain a sizzling intensity that is counterbalanced by controlled thinking and some composed movement that finds good space is used to its maximum potential.  Easy to say from the touchline but it can be done.  New Mills are an odd commodity who seem to play many matches with a Jekyll and Hyde style.  They have periods that really please the eye and put teams under the cosh and then have moments where a mental blanket seems to snuff out ideas and creativity which sees a whole lot of effort produce nothing.  This can be addressed by communication and a few leaders in the pack keeping all heads alert - again just the thoughts of a punter enjoying the game and wishing all the best.  I like my jaunts to New Mills, tis a right pleasant place to watch the glorious game, and...as in the words of Fumanchu - 'I shall return', along with my very own bride of course, who ain't evil in anyway but an all round good un'.