Thursday, 31 May 2018

2017/2018 SEASON ROUND UP

Matches attended

109

Goals witnessed

400

Average goals per game

3.66

Highest scoring game

Rochdale Town 10 v 3 AFC Darwen 

Ten most seen teams

Cheadle Town 13
Irlam FC 11
Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads 9
Stockport Town 9
West Didsbury and Chorlton 8
Abbey Hey 8
1874 Northwich 7
Abbey Hey 8
Burscough 6
Ashton Athletic 6
Chadderton 6

Raffles won

Fuck-all (bah)

End of season round-up

I set out on this annual journey with the target being to see 60 matches, mix and match the viewing matter, offer a bit of support here and there and put back a report for every match so as to pay back the entertainment given and do my small and simple bit.  My good lady has been a regular escort and must have done at least 75% of the matches I have attended with a few punky dudes hopping in along the way (special mention to Stu Taylor here, grand company and a pleasure to share the touchline with).  Somehow, after a prolific run I had achieved my target early on and, like the target-setting enthusiast I am, I decided to go for the century, a manoeuvre that got me a good old frown from my aforementioned loved one (one of many I get on a regular basis I may add).  Extra cups of tea, trays of chips and nob-numbing freezings were partaken of, some interesting trips outside the expected soccer spectrum were had and some genuinely enthusiastic and welcoming folk met.  As stated above, 109 was the total achieved, I won't be replicating that again as I have many passions and many things that need attending to but, I have no complaints and, in a very perverse way, have enjoyed the whole shebang - to those doubting my sanity - I don't blame ya.

The outcome of all the mooching about has been one of positivity with some great touchline talk had and some great folks met over and over again.  There have been some choice moments and classic performances, the odd game one would rather forget and the odd silly incident where machismo-crap overruled decency and sent things AWOL.  Many a good player has been seen, an abundance of quality goals and many frustrations as some sides repeatedly clutch defeat from the jaws of victory, all part and parcel of this game we adore.  It all started back on the 5th August when Maine Road won their opening cup match against Winsford Utd in a 5 goal thriller - oh how the MR season went downhill from there.  This is still one of my favoured haunts though but Burscough FC, New Mills, Runcorn Town, Congleton Town, Squires Gate and and FC Oswestry still rank as some of the best grounds for me.  Mind you, I have no complaints about any I visit although the smaller the better I reckon and good tea and chips can swing my opinion oh so easily.  Saying that, Ashton Athletic and Irlam FC have been great venues and I was so taken by the former team's efforts I took out an advertisement in their programme to help the cause and spread the Fungalised word.  Applause please for the lovely folk at both of these clubs.  Away from the North West Counties league we managed to fit in a few Evo-Stik matches, many Cheshire League fixtures and one from the Welsh Premier League.  Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads, Whaley Bridge and Knutsford FC will be getting many more visits over the years that is for sure, what accommodating folk they are and hopefully we can continue to sneak in the odd excursion to pastures new and keep things fresh for all (cheers to Nev at Knutsford for his friendly ways and the free tea and pie on our first visit - what a gent).

The characters at Non-League level seem more sincere and colourful than those observed at the money-soaked top end and it is quite a nice feeling to turn-up to a ground and recognise a few familiars who are always up for an enthusiastic wag of the jaw.  Some seem really clued in to matters and win, lose or draw carry on regardless with that inner fire unquenched and that motivation level set at 'high' - I like that!  Some of these folk will be met over and over again as I pootle about, they are a blessing and to share a few words, anecdotes and general waffle is the way it should be, we are all rowing the same way and enjoying the great game in its most natural form.

Thanks must go to all who have provided me with teamsheets and who have taken time to read these off-the-cuff scribblings - it is valued by my Fungalised self and, in many ways, keeps me firing on all cylinders.  

So that is my brief round-up, there are too many good folk to thank individually but you know who you are and my advice to every player, every club official, every supporter and every referee and lines-man is to keep on doing what you do, enjoy, keep it fair and square and rather than bicker and spill bollocks, encourage and perspire magnetising passion - this is a game, a form of escapism and in a wicked world where many get a duff deal we should be proud to be in the know.  As per, Up the Underdogs, keep it real and...sithee next season folks.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

LAST BLAST IN THE BREEZE

26th May 2018 - Billinge FC 0 v 3 Congleton Vale - Well, after a morn of nature mooching and a Full-English breakfast we arrived at our final game of the season...just in time.  It has been a long enjoyable haul but not one I will repeat - 109 matches is enough for me and next year I will be back to the regulation 60.  I have too many interests to commit to one but 60 match reports per year ain't too bad I hope.  So, we arrived, pootled about in the car park and then heard a whistle blow and some shouts.  We expected a 3pm kick-off, we had checked the Cheshire League Site - crikey the game was a foot and a mad dash was had and only the first few kicks taken.  The wind down one side was wicked, we moved and took up residence next to that fine mucka Paul Moran, a grand gent I last met at Ashton Athetic v City of Liverpool earlier on in the season.  He had clocked up 169 matches so far this time around and made me look like a mere amateur - bloody hell.  So whilst chatting away and my wife rested her legs by sitting in the Buttercup-laden grass the match unfolded and these are my observations.

The wind whipped, Congleton seemed the more controlled team and looked to play the ball on a surface well baked and unforgiving.  Billinge, in their pea-green shirts generated the first real attack and finalised a fair move with a blast from No 10 (Jack Irlam).  The ball however was wind-assisted and flew with pace off target.  Both units were playing narrow, it was making for an unappealing spectacle and out of the midfield mess No 9 (Rob Ablewhite) chanced his peg but could only find the mittman's midriff.  After another wild effort by Irlam came then The Vale responded with some tidy and efficient play.  Eventually a ball was threaded to their No 9 (Brian Barton) who turned on a tadpole's tit, sent forth a mid-paced effort that bumbled over the stretched keeper and put the first strike on the scoresheet.  It wasn't a classic goal but it broke a tight deadlock.  It wasn't long after that the visitors were applying more pressure and duly won a free-kick after Irlam executed another quick turn and was put on his arse.  The free-kick was floated by No 11 (Aaron Cooke), the ball hung and then dropped (a bit like a parachutist's nuts when sneezing in mid-air) and missed the keepers raised arms by mere inches.  No 10 (James Dodd) was the next visiting player through but the home No 3 (Brad Bailey) was quick to eye the danger and put in a very good tackle indeed.  A corner followed, went in, out and ended with a shabby shot over the horizontal.  

BIllinge were on the back foot now, they did manage to get a free-kick on-line but the goalies hands were glue-like (Evo-Stik of course) and held on with authority.  No 8 (Steve Wolhuter) advanced for the hosts next, he won a foul and a free-kick followed via the toes of Irlam - just too high.  A delicious Billinge foray followed; No 11 (Craig Byrom) was an integral component but some leaning in the box brought an untimely whistle and the move was halted.  The same team came again, a sweet sequence saw Ablewhite put in a choice touch but the end cross sail over all heads, and the touchline.  A late gratis-boot for Congo saw a weak kick in followed by an equally delicate header and that was that - 0 - 2 and it seemed the 3 points were only going one way.

A wander, a cuppa and a snap of the teamsheets and back out into the buttercup blessed grass, an area that Paul Moran described as 'yellow stuff' growing in between 'green stuff' - ooh the ruddy philistine!

The second half began, an early corner for the travellers saw a cracking ball go into the perilous patch.  No 4 (Chris Lawton) put a firm noggin on the globe, the post was rattled, brief confusion ensued and somehow matters were dealt with.  End to end play was indulged in, nothing concrete was noted Cooke came close for Congleton but other than that - my hands could leave the scribbling duties for a while.  Eventually Congleton pushed with purpose, a throw in, a moment of danger and a penalty shout - the referee looked to contemplate the incident and then gave a foul throw - how odd!  This bizarre call was soon forgotten when the same team advanced, and No 10 (Jame Dodd) shot at point blank range.  The keeper who looked a little uncertain in the first half blocked mighty well and kept his team within touching distance.  No 14 (Ryan Brookes) had a dreadful shot that had me reaching for my shorts and pondering an appearance but soon after he was closer with a cross cum shot that hit the stanchion and put a different type of wind up the keeper.  

Down the back stretch, the Congo river was running with force as Billinge tried mighty hard to swim against the current.  No 6 (Dan Beuhler) for the black and white boys swiveled and shot wide and then the Pea-Bodies had a scarce thrust with Irlam sawing in a daisy decapitator at a sharp angle that the keeper pounced on and did well to hold.  Beuhler and Brookes linked up at the other end the shot though was too tame and caused little fuss.  Brookes ran again late on and put in a sweet cross that missed all incomers and then Cooke put forth a delectable chip (aren't all chips delectable) that just wouldn't drop in time to bring up the 3rd.  A sweet volley soon after was ruled offside and then with the last kick of the game Cooke connected on a cross and put one over the keeper and settled the scoreline as 0 - 3 whilst giving me my 400th goal of the season.  The referee blew, farewells were said and that me old china...was that.  The final Man of the Match choice goes to Congleton Vale's No 11 (Aaron Cooke) for a work-man-like performance, several good runs, a bit of off-the-ball thinking and of course, 2 goals.

FINAL THOUGHT - Today both teams looked to just want to get the season done and played a match out in what was far from easy conditions.  The wind was a ruination, the surface hard and unaccommodating but Congleton Vale worked that little bit harder, a bit more presence and moved with greater urgency to take all 3 points and end the season on a high note.  Billinge looked out of sync and a trifle sluggish but having said this their campaign has been a rewarding one with their highest ever finish and a cup in the bag - can't be bad can it.  I shall now have a break and hopefully catch up with these teams in the new season whilst doing a bit more pootling around the Cheshire League.  Knutsford FC look bang on to bring home the bacon again and it is up to all the rest to up their game - challenge set fellas, enjoy the rest and then get at it - it has been a pleasure.

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!