Monday 8 April 2024


6th April 2024 - Winstanley Warriors 2 v 2 Congleton Town Reserves - After a morn wandering around and recording nature at the Three Sisters Nature Reserve, we headed to a ground nearby and got in a good Non-League fix.  Prior to the game we grabbed a coffee and headed to the seating area only to be met with arse-holding devices that were lower than the balls of Tom Thumb.  Now all this is well and good but with a twanging hernia my own testes screamed out in protestation as I lowered my chuff and slurped my brew.  I was a trifle fidgety so I had a pre-match wander whilst the good lady soaked up a few unexpected rays and read her book. As my conkers clapped together with celebratory delight I roamed the periphery of the area and saw the following wildlife species.  The end total of the visit being 8 insect species, 4 different birds, 6 different flowers in bloom and the fungus (Galerina clavata).

As I returned to my spot I lowered my framework with care, sprawled the old ham shanks and also joined in the solar absorptions.  We didn't have to wait long before the teams took to the pitch and the nib of the pen was ready to weave its way across the papery substrate and conjure up something akin to a match report.

As matters unfolded it seemed that the uneven and slightly tacky playing surface, along with the whistling wind, would make for something of a 'leveller' with both teams having to work hard to earn their side a 3 point prize.  The first notable action came when the hosts won a gratis boot after No 9 (Jack Hurst) twisted and tumbled.  The ball was punted into the box, No 8 (Josh Gregory) rose and put his cranium on the leather with the horizontal trembled.  Before any further danger could arise the referee blew for an infringement.

The action remained minimal until No 7 (Pierce Ryan) for the home lads was released.  Good pace was exposed, the chasing marker was found wanting and a shot at goal came.  The guest mitter stood his ground and blocked with the Congo pack immediately breaking via a long ball that looked to be overhit.  The keeper came and dummied the ball to let it run dead.  The visiting No 10 (Ethan Harding) read the situation, picked up on the seemingly lost cause, moved into the box and popped the globe into the net.  0 - 1 it was and in truth it could have been 0 - 2 when No 11 (Josh Wood) had a dig moments later with the keeper failing to fully deal with the effort and relying on his defender to quell the peril.

The golden orb in the sky grew in stature, it seemed to give the Winstanley pack a surge with a push coming and a deflected shot falling onto the bonse of Hurst who just couldn't keep the ball below the bar. Within a mere instant though a mix up saw the home No 6 (Jamie Derbyshire) receive the ball in front of an open goal with the net bulged and the scoreline duly levelled.

The game continued, Congleton were guilty of overhitting their forward balls whereas the Warriors just needed to adopt a little more composure up front.  The visiting tribe put together a sweet liquid move next with the final shot at goal decent but with the resident No 4 (Ollie Cooper) putting in a quite eye-snagging block.  A free-kick the same way followed, no penetration was had with a long ball from Winstanley the response.  Ryan was away and only had the keeper to negotiate which he did with a neat end placement.  2 - 1 it was and perhaps it was fully deserved, then again...!

The hosts now began to have more of the play but the opposing ranks were still good value and the next goal was still up for grabs.  Winstanley's Hurst had a shot wide, a few half chances followed.  The Warriors conjured a flashing 3 pass move down the wing to earn a corner.  The angled kick came, bugger all was the result with The Town reacting with a nice on-the-deck sortie that saw a shot over the keeper hit the underside of the bar and then Wood pounce and bumble the ball home.  

With the game all square we headed to the clubhouse with the referee blowing for the break whilst we were on our way.  We had another brew, I got teamsheet photo's from the amiable referee and returned to the seating spot with my globes not at all happy.  I considered using my good lasses phone to see if I could order a Non-League Truss on-line - I decided to risk matters and just concentrate on the report.

From the whistle for period 2 the guests put in a quick attack that left Harding with a golden chance to bury.  The blood rushed and gushed, a wild swing was committed, the ball blazed over after getting a slight touch from an opposing bod.  2 corners ensued, no further triumph was had.  No 10 (Vinicius De Souza) for the hosts had a reactive shot just wide as did the Warriors No 2 (Bienfait Kambege) who came up with the same outcome.

Some good endeavor was being shown, some fair battling and a period that was for the purist only.  Both teams worked up a good lather to try and grab that all important winner with the outcome being a rather disjointed affair lacking in any real chances.  Several corners came at each end, some desperate scrambling saw all danger snuffed out with things becoming more hectic and desperate by the minute.

The half seemed to whizz by, we entered the latter stages with the next goal seemingly destined to be the decider.  Congleton made a superb move that was nearly missed due to the sun dazzling the peepers. The apical action saw a shot come and the keeper make a good regulation save.  The angled offering brought no joy and before the final pips from the pea-laden device Winstanley had one more crack at goal with a long ranger that wasn't too far off the mark.  Eventually we were done, in fairness a share of the spoils was the right outcome and I was left to contemplate the Man of the Match.  I went for the Winstanley Warriors No 5 (Corey Morgan) who was a rock solid component in the rearguard ranks and who put in a stout an disciplined performance that gave those around him a certain comfort.  

We pootled off home having enjoyed our trip to an area where I use to practice my golf (30 years ago) and where I once saw a woman drop her knickers, expose her 3 cornered rug and take a leak.  As one can imagine, the shot I hit with my six-iron went a little awry and I kept all further balls away from the piss-soaked area.  

FINAL THOUGHTS - A new ground visited, a good day out and not a bad set up at all.  It is good to see these Non-League teams having a go and it is equally heart-warming to see people putting in their all for this fine but overlooked sport.  Today Congleton Town Reserves worked well as a unit with some good scrappers noted, a few steady players observed and some genuinely earnest and well-behaved grafters putting in several good stints.  A reserve team is always going to be on the back foot but I liked what I saw today and there is great potential here that I hope gets truly tapped.  Winstanley Warriors also have some good grafters in the mix and some players who show good composure and a good reading of the game.  The key is to work hard on the training ground and make sure all players are in communicative sync.  At times the full width of the playing space was not used, a few balls were rushed and a backing up of the front players was slow to arrive.  This shouldn't detract from a hard-working team though who battled away in testing conditions.  We hope to return soon, next time though I may bring two egg-cups in which to rest my chestnuts and my own wind barrier to stave off the gustings - needs must for we old punk rock duffers.

Monday 4 March 2024


2nd March 2024 - Maine Road 0 v 4 Droylsden FC - Match report 411, I am being very sketchy with my scribblings these last few seasons.  The problem is I am getting old, I am overly busy, my mental health is up and down and I have had enough stress during the past 18 months to make anyone question their sanity and the world around them.  I have set myself many targets this year - if all goes to plan it will be a productive annual adventure, if the head really goes twang then I may end up in Broadmoor for trying to molest a Chinese piglet - stranger things have happened.  

And so, after a morn of 'ifs' and 'buts', some shopping, a coffee and a consideration of the climate, I ended up at Maine Road FC (again), a favoured footy spot and one that usually brings the unexpected.  Upon arrival I paid my dues, purchased the obligatory cuppa and sought a perch away from folk.  I was on my lonesome and prepared to scribble, the pitch looked sticker than the fingers of that thieving bastard Richard Madeley, the ground did indeed look as trustworthy as that tossbag George Galloway and the skies looked greyer than the underwear of old man Steptoe - I expected this to be a mucky affair, I hope both clubs had the Daz Automatic ready!

The teams came out looking all spick and span in their freshly washed kits, after several minutes of play one or two were looking a little worse for wear.  The game started with both teams looking to build some early momentum and despite Droylsden having greater possession it was the hosts who had the first real opportunity with No 11 (Yousif Yousif) receiving, beating his marker and somehow missing the target zone.  For me, this was a real chance, would it come back to haunt the striker?

The Bloods reacted to this, won a free-kick which was followed by some neat interplay and darn quick movement.  The Road stuck to their task and stood firm with a counterpunch coming in the form of a liquid move executed with No 4 (Ben Mooney) a serious integral part and contributing to the corner won.  The angled hoof however had way to much loft to bear any threat, we stayed at sour bugger all for the time being.

Back and forth the ball went, akin to the pendulous testicles of Fatty Fuckwit, the giant man of Gonad Town who once got his left nut trapped on the Snake Pass and brought traffic to a standstill for 8 days (another Fungal fact for you to chew on).  Suddenly the Blooded Buggers broke, No 2 (Anthony Warburton) was let from the traps, he neatly rode a tackle and knocked in a fair cross that No 9 (Joel Ankers) just couldn't keep on target with his awaiting bonce.  Within mere seconds Warburton was away again with another cross executed, the first striker missed but the ball ended up at the feet of No 10 (Shaquille Lewys) who tapped home from all of 3 feet.  They all count, 0 - 1 it was and the game was set.

From here the guests came in several waves, one ending in a wasted corner, another finalised by a shot from No 8 (Caelan Kilheeney) that zoomed over the horizontal. The home Blues pounced next with a quartet of headers won leading to a cross that was gathered by Yousif who instantaneously shot on the turn only to see the sphere immediately blocked by the alert and animate No 5 (Owen Whitehead). From within some in-box mither the Road had a decent claim for handball. The referee looked unimpressed, the game was waved on with a gritty period ensuing.  

From the depths of the grinding momentum Mooney for the home lads ruptured a conker via a good touch and run with the final shot forcing the mitter to produce a top drawer one handed save.  The loose globe was buried by the predatory No 9 (Tyler Devlin) who looked to celebrate.  The liner however waved his flag whilst pissing on the chips of the wannabe goal-grabber (quite a skill in itself don't ya know).

It seemed as though the game was due another strike, likely, it seemed, to come from the Brantingham Road boys.  Alas for the resident ranks a counterpunch came with a ball in the box causing chaos, a half clearance had before a dink back in found the head of Lewys who nutted home from a similar distance to his first - it is all about being in the right place at the right time it seems.

The half had been good value, Maine Road were still in this.  A chance did come when the guest keeper dropped a cross and the goal gaped.  Two home players were indecisive and in each others way and the chance went begging.  The away unit pushed next, Yousif was backed in a corner and worked up a good lather whilst negotiating his way out of trouble and relieving the pressure on his team.  The half ended with great endeavour from both packs. The visiting Lewys displayed good strength, allowing Ankers to shoot on the turn and the home keeper to display a solid hand to deny a third strike.  The corner was shite, Maine Road had one last push and that was that.

I stayed put for the break, there was a good crowd on today and queueing for a coffee is not my bag.  I kept myself entertained during the interval, I drew vile obscenities on the seat where I was sat, set fire to a groundhoppers bag and let go a recently shaved mole that I had been keeping as a pet.  The Mole ran free and quickly began to dig into the squelchy substrate - a few mounds of earth may help the home team today, you see, it is all about forward thinking.

Half two began, the cold had upped its spiteful ante, I was a trifle dithered.  The pen spider-scrawled across my notepad, this is what I deciphered when putting the report online.  

No 7 (Mohammed Samb) for the Road battled well, a ball was posted, a shot came.  No joy was had but another pop at goal immediately followed with the underside of the bar trembled.  The globe was latched onto, the net bulged, Samb was the executor but the goal was disallowed - I have no idea why, I don't think anyone else did either - how strange!

A fractured period came and went, the game ground on without any unit gaining any semblance of ascendancy. A flock of Redwing flew over, a few Ring Necked Parakeets darted by too, all beneath cobalt skies that were becoming more imposing by the minute. The Road seemed undeterred by the threat from above and cultivated a swift surge that saw a player felled and the game continue with the ball buried in the onion bag.  1 - 2 it seemed to be, the referee however made a blooper of magnificent proportions and called the game back to the initial foul.  The 'play-on' advantage was ignored and when the resultant free-kick was hoofed over the bar it seemed Maine Road were destined never to gain a goal on this grim and gloomy day.

The Heavens eventually ruptured, the sleet fell with spite, a Road attack ended with a weak touch by Yousif, now was the time to defy and dig deep, this was a tough test for the hosts with the decisions far from helping matters.  The ball went back and forth, the Bloods mittman cleared one danger ball with his head and then his team strode on, Kilheeney put the ball into the perilous zone, No 4 (Joseph Keyworth) applied a power header that produced a superb save but the loose ball was swiftly buried by Whitehead and in truth, put the game to bed.

The tempo remained high, a few tempers were raised too, the hosts worked hard and put together a few decent moves but only forced the travelling keeper to make one save of any note.  Before the close a high hopeful ball was played by the guests, No 11 (Fuad Kasali) collected, let fly and bagged a real eye-catching zipper that brought up his sides 4th goal and gave the player good reward for a very applaudable stint.  A final shot came for the hosts, the ball went over the bar, I witnessed the final throes and  the Maine Road manager receive a red card after the whistle. I pootled off home perished.

Man of the Match was contemplated whilst trying to get warm when back in the car, No 5 (Owen Whitehead) for Droylsden was the end choice due to a stubborn and simple style of play that saw many chances for the home team quashed and a good reading of the game exhibited. If this kind of consistency is maintained the team are gonna be hard to beat during the rest of the campaign.

FINAL THOUGHTS - A game blemished by a few refereeing errors, a couple of which I am still astounded by.  The fact is though, the game is played with pace, a ref only has one pairs of eyes and even with his liners, he can't keep tabs on everything.  The disallowed goal when play should have continued however was a real stinker - hey ho.  When all is said and done though Droylsden were the better side, showed more diversity of play, used the full width of the pitch and always seem to have that extra option.  There is no doubt the team will be in the play-offs, they will be a tough cookie to crack and I do not envy their opponents one bit.  Maine Road are a better prospect than they were a couple of months ago and are gradually becoming a team that is no pushover.  They have several players who put in 100%, a few tricky teasers in the mix and a keeper who is pretty solid.  The key - attack with gusto, get those sights as sharp as possible and be prepared for a good campaign next season.  The increasing mole-hills should make it a nightmare for any visiting team too.

Tuesday 16 January 2024


14th January 2024 - Maine Road 3 v 1 Alsager Town - Another match report - what am I thinking of?  I am in the midst of a busy period (as always) and have been art and abart nearly every day of the new year and have a run of Fungalised gigs coming up to test the resolve of the most ardent punk bastard.  After a morn of mooching around a local cemetery for fungi and birds, a trip into Chorlton followed where a coffee was swilled and a bookshop visited (with several tomes purchased). Me and the missus did a quick spot of veggie shopping and soon after arrived at the ground clemmed and fagged.  My missus didn't fancy a brew though and indulged in a recently purchased veggie pasty whilst I had a minor slip from my diet and had a warm pie and a sugar laden coffee (by heck it went down a treat).  On the touchline we went, nattered and greeted fellow keen onlooker Darren Duffy.  Darren's son Tommy plays for Maine Road and so it is only decent that Dad does the duties.  Today the said gent had come armed with a camera, one I found out he was using to take shots of players taking a leak in the hope of creating a new jazz mag known as 'Non League Nobs'.  On a cold day such as this I reckoned the loon of the lens was hopeful but he showed me a few snaps that showed what a good rub down with 'deep heat' can do.  I was appalled and yet intrigued but was assured that a prison sentence would soon be on the cards for this perverse entrepreneur. My missus averted her eyes from the exposed pics which was just as well, she is a delicate soul and to be fair, why would she want to gaze at shriveled scraps when she can witness some prime steak anytime she wants to (apologies for any exaggeration here, perhaps a past its sell-by date chicken wing would be more apt).  Anyway, too the match, and here are my usual observations done for the sheer love of the game.

Kick off, no sooner had I licked my ballpoint (ooh err) than No 11 (Yousif Yousif) for The Road was on the globe, making a sweet move and threading a choice pass.  No 7 (Declan Hacking) collected and had a poke at the meshing, the outcome was just wide but No 10 (Oliver Lomas) gathered from a tight angle and crossed for Hacking to step up and guide home - 1 - 0 - and with the conkers not fully warmed this was a right welcome heat generator I can tell ya.

Alsager now looked to get their noggins together, gather up their gonads and gain a foothold.  A penalty shout was hopeful, the sable clad gent in charge was having none of it and the Bullets had to reload and keep up the applaudable response.  Another push from the guests attracted the attention of the peepers, No 10 (Jordan Cobley) gained possession, had a glimpse of goal and put his shot shy of the target zone, it should have been on target at least.  The Road responded, No 9 (Mohammed Samb) fed Lomas, a cross came, the keeper did well to quell some serious danger.

This was a good game of football, Alsager were hanging in but struggling with the on-the-deck sorties that the hosts were cultivating over and over again.  A surge by the Blues saw a ball enter the box and Yousif attempt to side-foot home with a defender doing well to block any penetration.  Alsager were under the cosh but looked to relieve matters with a long hopeful ball. A head met the plummeting sphere, over the keeper it went but the home No 6 (James Perry) was there to collect.  Alas a dawdle on the ball was punished, No 7 (Ryan Jackson) gained ownership and sent the ball homeward - 1 - 1 - a real surprise to be fair.

The Bullets now upped the ante, Maine Road had to gallop like gibbons with the shits - Lomas was a pivotal component and working up a fair lather.  A free-kick was eventually earned by the home lads. The ball was hit with ideal height and pace with the guest keeper reaching and hoping to pluck it from the sky like a multi-jointed chameleon catching a passing arse wasp.  The spherical object was missed by the mitted man, No 8 (Jack Wray) was prowling at the back post like a canine-loving pervert around a lamppost and duly guided the ball home to regain his side the lead.  A nice finish if ever I saw one.Alsager responded, the home defending was rather poxy with a shot allowed but getting deflected wide. The corner came, was dealt with in the most unruly fashion and a breakaway charge ensued.  Samb beat his marker, put the ball to Hacking who in turn supplied Lomas who was brave enough to have a first time punt.  The result was an effort just a little off target - a shame as that would have been some goal. The follow-up to this was a liquid advancement by the hosts, Yousif supplied Wray, ball in, out, No 4 (Oscar Campbell) had a pop but his own player was in the way - cripes.

Prior to the break Alsager had a couple of bonus bootings that led to fuck all, the weather started to turn to crud and an Alsager fan nearby sneezed and both his eyes left his head and landed in my lap.  I pocketed one, you never know when an extra peeper can come in handy.

We stayed put for the break and had a quick snack.  Corrupt click-o-matic man Duffy mithered a couple of folk and duly sold some old glossy snaps of Goalkeeping Gonads of the 1920's.  The camera work was rather sketchy but one could still make out the important bits with the use of pebble-glasses and a vivid imagination.  Who knew Dixie Dean had a U-bend in his todger - fascinating!

Half two began with the drizzle falling and the murk building.  The initial gaspings were rather scrappy with little in the way of arousing action to report until Hacking for the hosts dashed with purpose with the bonce down and the pins pedalling. Hope rose but the visiting No 14 (Lewis Porter) had other ideas when he put in a solid tackle that led to a corner.  The angled hoof was played short, 2 passes followed and another corner conceded. This time the ball entered the box, the keeper fisted well and a free-kick came and went as did another kick from the sharp end of the pitch.  Pressure rose, a break for Alsager was halted, and another high hopeful Bullet-boot was this time gathered by a very grateful mitter.

Alsager continued to build, a corner saw Porter's header stray just off the mark and then after a bad Road pass at the back a player snaffled the ball and shot but the outcome was disappointingly off target.  Time hammered on, we entered the last 20 with a penalty claim had for the resident ranks when No 14 (Ben Mooney) was clumsily tumbled in the box.  The decision was 'no pen' for me the referee got it wrong.  A great chance soon came the same way next though when No 12 (Louis Edwards) was left to bulge the netting.  The shot was skewed, the loose ball not buried but moments later Samb raced for the ball with the keeper, the stray globe was connected with by the striker and the score line read 3 - 1 to the Blues.

Matters now went to and fro with no real incisive action had.  Half chances came as both teams continued to look for a goal with Alsager coming close right at the death when a peg made a good connection in the midst of some in-box mayhem but the No 1 (Oliver Brockbank) put in a good save to keep his team two goals to the good.  The referee blew up (not literally of course, that would be just horrific) soon after and I was left to contemplate the Man of the Match.  My choice was difficult, there had been some good home stints today but I thought the blue clad No 2 (David Durant) worked well on and off the ball, communicated well and was a strong component in an improved Maine Road team.  Homeward we went prior to the night's gigging - I was already fagged but the game had been a good un' with a solid home win bagged.

FINAL THOUGHTS - And so to my end summary with Alsager Town something of a disappointment today and seemingly lacking that killer punch.  They play a good organised system, they seem to have many options but they struggle when a team runs at them and works hard off the ball.  After a recent 5 - 0 drubbing of Cheadle Heath Nomads I expected more today but perhaps it was just one of those and Maine Road did enough to keep them unsettled.  The home team certainly are looking more of a unit and really use more of the playing area than recent outings.  With a new management team and an 100% win record (well, 2 out of 2 so far) the momentum has got to be built upon.  The lads are in a league where a good run of wins can really put them in with the movers and shakers and away from the sinking and quakers.  Looking ahead there are some very winnable games coming up with a good test away at Ashville at the end of Feb.  Who knows what is in store, one thing is for certain, I will be at quite a few of the games and enjoying what transpires.  You never know, if I play my cards right I may be the next centre spread in the 'Duffy's Donglers' mag - ooh I best get my bottle of Dr Stiffy Cream out!

Sunday 31 December 2023


30th December 2023 - Widnes  1 v 2 Clitheroe FC - The 409th match report is here, which isn't bad seeing that for the past few seasons I am just picking and choosing where I scribble. Today we had a morn doing what needs to be done and then the missus and myself headed to Widnes for a trip back to a ground we hadn't been to for quite a while.  The last time we were perched in the DCBL Stadium was when the hosts were a North West Counties Team and there were about 30 other people for company.  Today I expected a few more but not many to be fair.  

Prior to going to the ground though we had a walk at Victoria Park with the birds fed, counted and recorded and a good brew enjoyed in the local cafe.  The weather played fair for once and the stroll was mighty pleasant, we even spied a couple of fungi, one of which was the Wolf-Fart Puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme).  I have never seen a wolf expel its anal gas but I have known a few Jack Russell's to make a reek from the rectum and so am campaigning for a fungus name-change - The Jack Russel Shit-Arse Spore Shooter would look grand in many mycological tomes and would be one many a punter on my walks would surely remember.

And to the ground, we arrived, paid our fees, purchased a couple of choccy bars and I had another coffee and a pie.  The pie was delectable, this will be my last one for a few months as I am aiming to drop a few pounds.  The coffee was akin to a liquid version of the aforementioned shroom although I guzzled it down due to the fact that it was warm - by heck it was a shocker.  

With seats taken a decent crowd built up (a darting 180 I believe) and the teams came out.  The desire was for a footballing masterclass with oodles of goals, what we got instead was thus:-

The early state of play saw two teams indulge in an examination process of the opposing force with retainment of the ball very much the key priority.  Clitheroe eventually won a corner from nothing with the ball posted and No 9 (Sefton Gonzales) putting too much head-beef on the sphere and sending it over the horizontal.  Widnes began to push next, No 2 (Louis Isherwood) knocked a choice ball forth that needed some alert defending.  A throw followed, some decent movement ensued but the guests remained disciplined and suppressed the danger. 

Clitheroe were the next team to raise levels of hope with an advancement that saw No 11 (Veron Parny) cross, the ball get nudged away only for No 10 (Ross Dent) to latch onto and have a dig. The effort was sadly deflected wide.  The resultant corner was abysmal. Clitheroe soon came again, No 2 (Jacob Hanson) out wide put in a fair cross that Gonzales collared.  With good muscle the striker shrugged off his marker and let fly a shot that the home No 1 (Cameron Terry) did well to save in his bottom corner.  The hoof from the angle was decent but Widnes resisted any penetration.

As the hosts stuttered along the best they could muster was a free-kick that was duly wasted by a rotten shot over the bar. Clitheroe were having a lot of the ball but were a trifle  negative in the approach whilst the home team kept up a good work rate to make sure their defending remained watertight.  Alas the two teams were not wearing watertight clothing and got a good soaking as the Heavens opened and the liquid misery fell with relentless insistence.  

The game now seemed to be dragging until Widnes advanced, a superb cross found the nut of No 10 (Sean Miller) who put in a good header that was wonderfully saved.  A quick break followed, Gonzales was at the apex of matters and after negotiating an inch of space, he fired and found the back of the onion bag - 0 -1 and on the balance of play it was deserved.

The half-time came soon after with little else to report.  The main gripe with the game is that there were too many passes made by both teams that were going the wrong way.  Back, back and back and this, combined with a lack of creativity wasn't making for the greatest spectacle - hey ho, sometimes a clash of styles can kill the greatest sources of potential.  

Half two began with the rain hammering down and a few hardy Widdy fans striving to cultivate a tune or two.  Their team certainly needed the encouragement and had to up their game.  The initial battling was good from both units with the resident pack putting together some good passing that was testing the Clitheroe resolve.  Despite this, the visitors always looked the most likely to score with the point nearly proven when Veron Parney released Dent who had a pop at goal but couldn't keep his shot down.  

Widnes made a few subs before a long ball saw No 3 (Matty Rain) have a chance to finish but who chose to cross instead.  No 15 (Matt Van Wyk) connected, the ball flew way off target but was retrieved, crossed and duly hoofed away.  No 16 for Widdy (Steve Milne) put in a positive run next with a punt at the net moving in the bracing air.  The No 1 (Burton) kept his peepers on matters and pushed away well.  Soon after the hosts came again, a ball into the box laden with players saw the globe saved and then Van Wyk turning home to get the game back to all square.

With just over a quarter of an hour to play the game was up for grabs although my pre-match prediction of 1-1 was looking good.  Half chances came and went, the clock ticked away, into the last 5 we went when, Widnes became a trifle static, a long Clitheroe ball was played with Gonzales in the right place at the right time and from the edge of the box sending a looping header over the befuddled keeper.  It was an out of the blue moment, a real gift and, as it turned out, the winning goal.  The referee blew for time, we headed home and pondered.  Man of the Match must go to the 2 goal hero (Stefan Gonzales) who did what he set out to do, held the ball up, be a pain in the oppositions conkers and get a couple of goals - it is as simple as that (well so it seems).  The rain was still pouring come the end of the game, I suspect this wouldn't bother the away fans as much as the home 'erberts - hey ho, a New Year awaits.

FINAL THOUGHTS - A big stadium, but still a good Non-League game can be viewed for a fair price.  Today both teams nullified each other with very few chances made.  It was always going to be a close game and perhaps, on reflection, Clitheroe did deserve it.  I can't make too many comments about either unit as I haven't seen them before during this campaign but I would suggest they do need to work harder off the ball and make sure their aim is to attack, attack and attack rather than ponder too much and end up playing back to their own goal.  These are merely personal thoughts from a punter who just likes to see a fair few games here and there and who appreciates all that goes into keeping this game alive.  2024 is just around the corner, best wishes to both clubs and their staff, I hope we can get back here in 2024 and when we do I am opting for a cup of tea instead of a coffee and expect the pies to be as good as ever - tis all about priorities.

Tuesday 19 December 2023


16th December 2023 - Droylsden FC 5 v 3 Longridge Town - The shambolic state of the belfry after a year of emotional battering has seen me on the back foot as regards doing football reports of late.  It has been a tough year with the latest body blow coming via the unexpected loss of my best mate and touchline buddy STP Stu.  We pootled here and there, nattered and enjoyed many games, cafe visits and of course gigs.  He was taken a few weeks back and I have wandered around like a gutted fish ever since.  After my health scares earlier in the year, the loss of the fine Mother-in-Law that knocked the stuffing out of my wonderful wife, a few more losses on the punk scene and many everyday gripes, this has been a real shitbag of a campaign that has seen me dip into depths I thought were left behind.  Hey fuckin' ho and on we must go and so after a morn doing chores whilst the lasses went to a dance fundraiser, we three stalwarts eventually were sorted and out. My fantastic daughter was dropped at the local train station, me and the missus went to Debdale Park for a walk.  The birds were fed (utterly important), recorded (crucial), a few fungi were recorded too (a veritable must) and a warm brew was bagged (unavoidable behaviour these days) and we had a fine stroll.  We are simple folk, we want to do what we do, make a difference and be always true to one another and anyone who is decent to us - onwards.

To the football we went, Droylsden was the choice due to a friendly nudge by joint manager and decent bloke Phil Cooper.  We arrived, had a wander and gasbagged.  Seats were chosen and my pen and paper were ready.  Here are my considerations, I hope they continue where I left off and help keep people intrigued about this fine 'under the radar' game.

The start of the game saw Longridge Town put in some good possession whilst gently probing and looking for a killer ball. No 2 (Mitchell Marshall) posted a few early knocks into the box, all questions of the home defense were tidily answered. No 10 (Paul Turner) for the guests had a shout for a penalty that was ignored by the black clad central official and then Droylsden had their first sortie forth via a rapid breakaway that saw No 11 (Fuad Kasali) dash like his rear was laden with furious fire-ants. No 9 (Nellson Van) looked to receive the crucial pass but as his legs whirred and he looked to collect and bury the ball, the opposing No 1 (Kier Barry) was out to collect in the nick of time.

The game continued with both teams trying to play sound football.  A Droylsden free-kick brought the next glimmer of net bulging hope.  The ball was sent forth, flicked on and booted away.  No 8 (Benjamin Lowe) collected, made a quick dart and dink and beat the initial player in his way.  A repeat trick was had before the goal was eyed from a decent distance.  The player in ownership of the globe was undeterred and let fly a delicious shot that found the bottom corner and surely made a claim for the Fungalised goal of the season, what a way to open the game's account. The celebratory backflips were totally deserved.

Longridge now strove to respond and earned a bonus boot of their own.  No 11 (Morgan Homson-Smith) hoofed and No 9 (Dean Ing) put bonce on ball only to send it just the wrong side of the upright. Soon after the guests came again with an attack quelled and then another gratis kick earned. Homson-Smith had a dig at goal, the keeper punched away, No 7 (Scott Harries) tried to bury the follow-up but sent the ball high over the horizontal.  As The Ridge prowled with purpose they were caught with their trousers down and conkers exposed.  The ball was gained by The Bloods, a liquid 3 pass move came with Van at the apex and battling away so as to get a touch on the ball and double the lead in sterling fashion, 2 - 0 - who would have thought it?

Longridge now upped their efforts, a corner was sent into the box by Homson-Smith with the globe heading goalward but urgently palmed away by the ever-alert mitter. A follow-up corner was hoofed straight out of play - it was very disappointing.  Droylsden cultivated some good pressure in response with an angled hoof won.  The ball came, a flick on was just missed, a shot was mis-hit, Lowe gathered and weaved inward but only won yet another corner. This time the entrance of the ball in the box caused mayhem.  In, out, in, out, a few players tried to shake matters about, the result was a kick from the opposite angle that the keeper did well to punch clear.

Longridge pushed on whilst the half wound down.  No 6 (Calen Gallagher-Allison) had a chance close in to slap the sphere into the onion bag but wellied over and then a long ball found Ing who was closely marked by No 6 (Elvis Amoakwa).  The ball spurted towards goal, a deathly silence pervaded the Butcher's Arms Ground as the ball nestled in the netting - it was an own goal, a shocker and a late foothold for the trailing team.  No further action of any note came before the referee called for a break.

I had a wander for a brew but was in no mood to queue so, pointed the old pecker at the porcelain, sent forth a gush of gold, zipped up and returned to my place next to the good lady.  We checked the half-time scores, shared a bit of choccy and watched the teams roll out for period 2 whilst the discordant defecation that spilled from the distorting speakers slowly abated (how about some 60's garage, some underdog punk or even Northern Soul you blighters).

Half 2 and Longridge Town started with good impetus with a corner won. A sweet delivery was the result with the ball slapped off the underside of the bar and into the net by the awaiting Gallagher-Allison to get matters back to all square.  The Bloods were guilty of a lapse in concentration methinks.

Longridge pressed once more, a long range effort saw the keeper spill and gather at the second attempt before the home lads had a push with No 6 (Kyle Oakes) finalising matters with a punt wide.  The same team had a choice opportunity to retake the lead next when a breakaway saw two players have only the mittman to beat but get involved in a real indecisive mix up that saw the chance disappear into the ether. Undeterred, the hosts came on once more with No 10 (George West) collecting a safe pass, showcasing a pair of twinkle tootsies and after working some space, sending the ball home to recapture the advantage.  And yet again, what a delectable goal.

The action was now incessant, The Ridge advanced, a ball out wide was followed by a long laser-like cross that saw Turner nip in and just beat the keeper to level matters yet again.  This was turning into a real lottery, would the next goal be the golden ball and bag the cup victory?  

With matters balanced some end to end to action came with an Invasion of the Killer Balloons from Space still distracting some folk who were in serious danger of missing some crucial action (ooh the silly sods).  We entered the last 5, the resident pack had a free-kick which was beautifully delivered.  The keeper saved a shot, the ball went loose, No 17 (Shaquille Lewis) was on hand to bury, surely that was the clinching moment!

The last throes, Droylsden could have added another but once more two players failed to make their minds up and let the opportunity slip. This was all irrelevant though as soon after the game was sealed when the flank was dashed and a cross saw No 16 (Elliott Fenton) thwack the globe home and finalise the game at 5 goals to 3.  A few minutes extra, all done and it was time to consider the Man of the Match which went to No 3 (Harry Shipton) who was pretty ruddy tidy at the back, kept up a good work rate and was an under-the-radar chief component in a solid team's output.  

We buggered off home after the game and had a quiet evening, this had been a classic encounter and a good showcase for Non-League - here's to more of the same for the rest of the season.

FINAL THOUGHTS - It had been a couple of years sine we last visited this ground, that was with my mate STP Stu and my lasses where we saw the mighty City of Liverpool come and do what they do.  This was a choice return with two well matched teams going toe-to-toe (or pecker to pecker if you are of that persuasion) in a game that had some great goals, open play, good to honest endeavour and a certain Non-League beauty you will never find in the upper echelons of the cash cows arsehole.  Longridge Town are not at their best at the mo, but I am sure they will get there. Several players were oozing potential and goals, sometimes it is never going to be your day.  We need a trip back to The Mike Riding Ground to see this lot again, the last trip was a cracker with the hosts bagging 7 strikes against a flabbergasted opposition (there were free biscuits too - smashing).

Droylsden FC are looking a decent outfit and look set to do better as the season advances.  Many old heads are in the mix with several players recognisable from various clubs I see on my local travels.  I like the way they play with purpose and a certain freedom with individuals all working with expression and as part of the pack.  I hope we can get back and see how the team are doing before the season ends, we are ultra busy on many fronts but we do try, and on this evidence, it is ruddy well worth it! NB - cheers for the hugs and kind words Brendan Johns - it matters.

Wednesday 25 October 2023


21st October 2023 - Congleton Town 3 v 1 AFC Wulfrunians - I am picking and choosing what match reports I do these days, my life is rammed to the rafters with many tasks and my arse is perpetually on the go.  Today, me and the missus were in Staffordshire leading a Fungi Walk.  In these days of self-serving foraging greed it is important that someone defies the flow and tries to get the wild world and its gems respect and appreciation.  The future is precarious, the concrete is spilling, the people are detached with posing, social media and worshipping Gods - bollocks to that.  Anyway, the walk went well, 65 species were named, we ended up filthy and fagged but reckoned some good football, Congo chips and a brew would do the business and get us back on the right track.  A 40 minute drive, into the ground and a purchase of the victuals and a viewing spot was chosen where we swilled and scoffed with earnest desire.  It had been a fair while since we last visited this fine ground, the home team was in the North West Counties Football League, the Covid nonsense was still twisting minds and the crowds when the team were less successful were not as they were today - ooh those ruddy success jockeys who appear out of the woodwork.  So, for the 32nd game of the season I thought a report would be apt and after the greasy fingers had reached for the pen and initial notes were made, I watched the game unfold and came up with the following textual twattery.

The first hint at any worthwhile action came when the home 'erberts won a gratis hoofing. The ball was neatly delivered but the keeper did well with his fists and punched the globe clear.  Mere tickings of the clock later and the ball came forth again and an angled kick was earned.  Another sweet delivery found a cranium at the back post, the ball entered the main mush of belfries with No 6 (Darren Chadwick) rising without any real pressure and nutting the ball home to break the early deadlock.

From here the Congo men pushed again, a corner came and went, a follow-up attack with No 7 (George Sankey) galloping forth like a man with recently pepper-dipped testicles.  The guest No 1 (Thomas Hayward) advanced, a shot came and the save was solid.  A corner ensued but the blue-clad No 3 (Rio Sawyers) put a good amount of crust on the globe and quelled any threat.

As matters progressed the visitors grew into the game.  A free-kick was earned after No 10 (Benjamin Worthington) was crudely tumbled.  The posted ball was decent but it only led to a swift counterattack.  This breakaway gave rise to a corner that the guests dealt with (just).  

A period of equilibrium came, all that was lacking was an accuracy of passing. A rare guest corner saw No 5 (Brad Maslen-Jones) punt forth, some in-box mayhem ensue and No 11 (Jack Sane) provide the final shot that was, in truth, wank.  Maslen-Jones hit a delicious ball forward next, a penalty shout came but only a corner was given.  The travelling manager was unimpressed, let the verbals flow and was duly sent off for his troubles.  After much jeering the AFCW pack tried to turn the screw.  The Congonians looked unsettled but made a break from the blue tidal wave.  The ball was lost, a counter punch came, Congleton's vulnerable areas were exposed, Worthington was away and looked set to bust the bollocks of the hosts.  The keeper was there to beat and beat he was, the game was all level, I think it was a fair state of play.

This was now a game up for grabs, the visitors were shading matters but the hosts always held good threat. A shout for a home pen came, was ignored by the man in the middle and from here a bit of tetchy spice entered the game.  Before matters came to a head, and after a few half chances, time was called for a break, perhaps it was just as well.

With 482 in attendance we decided to stay put for the interval.  With only a couple of bogs and one hatch for brews we felt that many of the punters in attendance would be queueing either for a cuppa or a splash - we were both happy to clench the bladder muscles and soak up the diluted sunshine.

Half two began with the odd minor threat, some real scrappy play and Congleton eventually getting a grip on the gonads of the game. Respite came briefly for the guests when Maslen-Jones had a pop that the keeper gathered at his near post.  From here matters settled with a lot of rolling around and disjointed play. Out of the mush a choice ball was played for Congo, No 9 (Daniel Cocks) collected, waltzed around the keeper and slotted home like a man ingrained with striker's instincts, splendid. The striker looked 'cock-a-hoop'.

The impetus of the game now lessened, the Congo Crew were the dictators of the pace and fought hard not to have their upperhand molested.  Pressure was gently instilled on the visiting defence although the away team did cultivate a break that Maslen-Jones finalised with a quick jab at goal which saw the keeper push behind.  The corner bore no further threat.

As the game looked to settle a rob and run moment saw Congo's No 11 (Daniel Needham) get vulgarly hacked down on the edge of the box by the opposing No 4 (Curtis Cocking) who was duly shown a scarlet card and told 'piss off out of it' (well not in those words exactly).   The resultant free-kick was shabby and went straight into the wall.  

More shots came each way, I had a 3-1 prediction and was hoping the hosts could bag another when with 3 minutes left a throw for the Wulfrunians was lost, an overhit pass was recovered by Needham who cut in, shot and somehow found the back of the net.  The keeper may have made a blooper here but shit happens.  Moments later the game was done - a home win, a prediction nailed, the chips nicely digested.  Man of the Match must go to Congleton Town's No 6 (Darren Chadwick) who put in a captain's stint, was a dominant force and repeatedly put his head on the ball and saved his side undue stress - a fine stint if ever I saw one.

FINAL THOUGHTS - Well, after a morn of fungi recording it was nice to unwind at an old favoured haunt and enjoy some chips and a brew and watch a decent game that was perhaps a little closer than the score line suggested. AFC Wulfrunians could have gained something from this one but losing their manager early on and then a player really kybosched their hopes and kept them in the lower half of the table with a busy period soon to come.  I don't think they should be in any danger of relegation, they have too many good players and put together some good footballing moves but, if heads remain heated and focus is lost, the fan could be clogged with crap before they know it.  Congleton Town are flying high at the mo but there is a heap of work to do.  This looks like a competitive league and during parts of this game they were on the backfoot and look to be out of sync.  The sign of a good team however is to win when their backs are against the wall and the bollocks are dangling low.  Today Congo showed that they know how to stand up and be counted, tuck in any trailing testes and get the job done.  I think that the next time I am on Fungal duties close by, we may be popping in again.

Monday 9 October 2023


30th September 2023 - Portland United 2 v 0 Bournemouth Poppies - Nearly 300 miles on the clock, a drop off of our holiday gear at the Portland Bill Lighthouse, a few hello's to many fine and familiar faces and after a quick brew we were out and paying our way in to watch some more Non-League Footy.  This was the 28th game of the season, which isn't bad for a bloke immersed in wildlife duties, holding down a job and involved in the DIY music realms.  I was hoping for a good 90 minute spectacle as my lasses were with me - I feared a frown and a severe 'tut, tut' and hoped all would be well enough to return on the following Tuesday to watch the same team in a cup match, I do push my luck.  So after a warm welcome by the guys on the gate, brews and choccy were purchased and the seating positions chosen.  Predictions were made, the weather was clement and at 3pm the game duly commenced.

Half the first, and the opening threat came when the hosts won a free-kick high up the pitch with the breeze at their backs.  No 8 (Ryan McKechnie) put in a floater that had a trifle too much weight with No 6 (Jamie Symes) arriving but just not being able to make any contact.  A midfield contest ensued with both teams prodding and poking like perverted doctors but failing to make any crucial penetration.  The Poppies started to knock forth few questioning balls and gain some territorial advantage but the apical sharpness was lacking and the home lads easily mopped up any danger. Suddenly, the resident ranks broke, a free-kick was won, played and No 9 (Greg Borthwick) gathered in a seemingly innocuous position.  With back to goal a turn was made and a glimpse of the onion bag had.  A shot came, the ball was buried, this was a fine opener but surely the Poppies were rather akin to Liberace and somewhat slack in the rear department.

Portland now had their peckers enthused.  Another swift sortie, No 7 (Luke Sheehy) had the ball at his tootsies, cut in, put in a glided cross that was hurriedly defended behind for a corner.  This bonus kick was cleared but Portland continued to exert pressure.  No 4 (Josh Williams) put the next cross into the danger zone with the keeper gathering at the second attempt.  Again the home team came, No 11 (Ben Morris) fed No 10 (Brin Doyle) who swept a shot forth with the guest No 1 (Jakub Lewiarz) doing well to tip over the bar.  The corner was once more dealt with.

Bournemouth were on the ropes, the odd foray forth was easily snuffed out as the leading force looked to double the lead.  Morris had a pop from distance that wasn’t too far wide and then a quick multi-pass move was finalised by Doyle who boomed his shot into the air and duly let out a justified yell of utter disappointment.  Morris had another dig after being given time to turn in the box.  The shot took a slight deflection, the man between the uprights did well to tip over.  Again the corner brought no joy.

Several more corners came toward the Bournemouth zone of peril, the keeper earned his crust several times and in my opinion, went into the half time changing rooms as a real stand out player.  This was all well and good but his outfield compatriots needed to up their game to see that he wasn’t on the losing side come the 90 minute call.

We had a drink for the break, I was caffeine’d out so went for a cuppa-soup – it was awful.  All I can say is that the gnats around these parts must have awfully big bladders and the branding company who make this stuff have it all wrong. Surely Cuppa-Shite is a more honest tag – I will stick to a good old coffee in future that is for sure.  Following this date with defecation I needed a quick whizz, it came as no surprise that when I pointed the old John Thomas at the porcelain the smell was a subtle blend of mouldy peas, buggered chicken with a hint of rectal dust gravy – I failed to quell the smell and just hoped the next person to use the urinal had a strong constitution.

Back on the touchline and half the second soon began.  My lasses decided to sit behind me whilst I scribbled my notes.  Bournemouth started with a good spell of possession football which was noteworthy enough but few advances were made. After a Portland corner that was about as effective as a pair of tissue-based swimming trunks Bournemouth played a long ball laden with danger but the resident Symes put in an eye-catching block that surely saved his sides bacon.

Bournemouth were certainly having more of the ball but unlike the great Tony Hart, they were severely lacking in the creativity department.  The home team were eventually allowed to worm their way back into matters with an initial free-kick ruined by a rather silly infringement.  The leading team now started to display more urgency on the ball and produce a greater sense of promise when roaming forth.  A free-kick came, the ball went in and out with Borthwick sending forth a crisp shot that the keeper saved well (again).  The game now carried a good tempo, at 1-0 this was still up for grabs.  Once more Borthwick had a punt at the netting but again, the mitted protector was up to the task and stopped any bulging of the mesh.

10 minutes were left, Bournemouth had a minor push that resulted in a keeping fumble.  Somehow a break was the outcome, No 18 (Joseph Wickham) raced away and found himself with two defenders hot on his arse and only the keeper to beat.  The shot came and was an example of consummate coolness with the ball nestled in the net and doubling the teams lead. My pre-match prediction was now looking mighty good.

Action came at either end but the defenders stood firm with the guest keeper called into action yet again when No 5 (Shaun Bessant) for Portland had a poke at goal from a corner but was denied by some solid keeping.  From here the time ticked away, high end action fizzled and we were done.  The Man of the Match was a close call with Lewiarz for Bournemouth Poppies nearly getting the nod.  In the end I had to give the Fungalised pick to No 6 (Jamie Symes) for Portland United who was the veritable rock at the rear and got his head, legs and feet on everything and duly thwarted all the oppositions attempts at gaining a strike. 

FINAL THOUGHTS – A new ground visited, 2 new teams seen, a warm welcome and a viewing of what transpires in the Velocity Wessex Football League.  We can’t complain.  Thoughts on the teams were as follows:- Bournemouth Poppies tried to play too many long balls, they didn’t do enough off the ball and their options when marauding forward always seemed a little limited.  There is a lot of work to do with this lot but one thing is for sure, the keeper certainly needs to keep his place and keep putting in stints like today.  Portland United may start to build a good run from here, they have a few players that catch the eye, look to play some good football and are surely better than their current position suggests.  The key will be keeping players healthy and hungry and making sure they play wide and when attacking they do so with pace and as a unit.  We plan to watch this lot again soon, we are in the area so why not?  I do believe the next game is a cup match, I would like plenty of goals and to get another prediction right, and of course, to stay well clear of that darn soup – watch this space!

FOOTNOTE: We did watch Portland on the following Tuesday - they dominated Romsey Town in a cup match, played some delicious football and won 7 - 0.  I avoided any soup-based upset, my lasses enjoyed it and we got back to the lighthouse now PUFC fans - it may be a while before we return but when in the area, we will be on the touchline.