Step 15… Shepshed Dynamo v Rocester FC (FAVase #4)

We were always going to make this 90 mile trip to Leicestershire to watch Shepshed it was just a matter of when to go and with only 5 games left for us between now & Christmas we thought we would use our £30 worth of ‘Red Spotted Hanky’ vouchers we’ve saved up (and have to be used before 31/12/12) on today’s FA Vase 2nd round tie with Rocester FC. Why were we always going to make this trip? Because they play at Butthole Lane! Yes i know it’s a schoolboys dream but like i’ve said before, we’re old enough to know better but too young to care! And it’s not like anyone takes this nonsense seriously anyway :-)

The week leading up to the game had gone well. I had joined the Shepshed forum and got a bit of feedback from a couple of members about the place especially the post telling me that Happy Hour in the clubhouse was 1 till 2 with beer at just £2 a pint! (that will please the big fella) and i had sent an email to the club informing them we were coming and got a great reply from Mick, the press officer telling me 2 tickets would be left on the gate for us plus a mention in the match day programme! Spot On :-)

I felt the need to Facebook this info as Mick’s email ended with the quote “Looking forward to meeting you on Saturday Tony, you will love it up the Butthole!” (see it’s not just me!) Tracey O’Brien immediately commented on the FB status and a rather odd public conversation broke out, i’ll leave it to you to enlarge the photo and have a look :-) i’ve never met Tracey but she’s the girl on the left in the ‘bus chase’ photo from Step 13 and she has tracked the Rhino down to confirm she was indeed being ‘groped’ at the time of the photo and because of this the big fella has to sign some sort of register once a week for the next 12 months! How’s about that then! ;-)

10am and we’re at the bus stop with plenty of time to get into Piccadilly for the 10.43 train to Sheffield. My girlfriend has jumped in on the act as her FB status reads “Tony has just left telling me – i’m off to take the Rhino up the Butthole, see you later” yeah thanks Hun, that had various texts & pm’s lighting our phones up! Even more concerning was the big fella give it a ‘like’ !!!

All was going well, we arrived at the station at 10.30 but when we got to platform 13 we found the Liverpool to Norwich service (calling at Sheffield) was delayed by 30 minutes and we only had a 15 minute connection window at Sheffield for the train to Loughborough! There was a local service leaving for Sheffield at 10.45 but it calls at all stations and without knowing what time it was due in at Sheffield we got on it.

As the train departed i finally got the Rail App to work on my phone only to discover we were due in at 12.04 meaning we would still miss our connection by 12 minutes! The knock-on effect of this delay means we would be walking into the clubhouse at Shepshed at about 2.20 instead of 1.20 and so miss Happy Hour (that won’t please the big fella) but all this was nothing compared to the drama that was about to unfold!

As the train stopped at New Mills all the passengers were now alerted by the sounds of someone banging on the toilet door from inside and the faint feminine cry of “help! Let me out… i’m stuck” could be heard coming from within the tiny compartment. The train guard, a young blonde girl in her 20’s seemed to be panicking somewhat coming out with the usual “keep calm, help is on its way” rubbish and when the ‘help’ did arrive it was the driver with a little screwdriver!

After 5 minutes or so of the driver picking at the broken lock and scratching his head & his arse a lot while the guard was telling everyone else on the train to stay calm for some reason i felt i had to act and do something to help this fair maiden in distress! So i jumped from my seat, slapped my hand on the Rhino’s shoulder and announced “what we need is a big lad who can smash the door down and set her free!”

This resulted in operation ‘Rhino Rescue’ as the big fella calmly walked up the train, pointed at the drivers little screwdriver telling him “that’s pathetic” then elbowed the little glass panel to release the emergency axe and set to work hacking away at the door! lol BRILLIANT! Even i didn’t expect this from him. The driver stepped back and shrugged his shoulders and the guard, thinking i was videoing the Rhino at work, started shouting at me… “put that camera away, i’m sure the young lady trapped is embarrassed enough without you filming it!” i wasn’t really sure what she meant considering the girl was still trapped so obviously out of sight, so i simply replied “behave yourself, i’ll get £250 off Jeremy Beadle for this!”

About 15 minutes later the poor girl emerged from the toilet to a hearty cheer from everyone on the train, like that wasn’t going to happen :-) Droylsden’s newest superhero handed the axe back to the guard for some stupid reason as she was now using it as a pointer as she chastised me yet again! (bit scary) But i wouldn’t be at all surprised if Northern Rail send the big fella a bill for the mangled door lock even though we would of probably still been there if he hadn’t of done it!

We finally arrived at Sheffield at 12.25 so we were still in good time for the 12.47 to Loughborough which was one of those nice inter-city trains as opposed to the last one which was more of a cattle truck! No dramas on this service and we arrived on time-ish at 1.45 to connect with the Shepshed Sprinter bus right outside the station.

£2.30 for a single ticket on the bus, can’t buy a return because the last bus back is 5.25pm and because today is a Vase game there may be 30 minutes extra time if it’s a draw at the end of 90 meaning we would miss it and have to catch a different bus from another provider or a taxi back to the station.

The bus left on time as you would expect considering the station is its starting point, at 1.53 and arrived just after 2.15 at The Crown pub on the Bull Ring to complete our eventful peasant-powered journey! We checked with the driver for walking directions to the ground but before he could answer one of the passengers piped up.. “that’s where i’m off to, c’mon i’ll show you the way” the old boy wasn’t too nimble on his feet as we chatted to him slowly walking towards the ground, which suited us fine! But as we approached Butthole Lane he did come out with a little gem of a statement when he said “normally i would point out some places of interest here in Shepshed, but…. well there isn’t any” lol lol TOP MAN! :-)

So after walking out of my front door at 9.45 this morning, we arrive at the ground just after 2.30! only an hour late to be fair and not too bad on the purse, £24.75 day return with the railcard less £15 worth of vouchers plus a £2.30 bus ride meant we had spent £12.05 each on travel so far.

Dynamo press office, Mick Voce met us at the gate and welcomed us as his guests for the day, “welcome to The Dovecote guys, hope you had a good trip?” fortunately he had been keeping an eye on the tweets i had been sending throughout the day so that saved me a lot of time answering his question lol :-)

Once inside the Butthole Dovecote, we bought a programme and a couple of golden goal tickets even though i’ve never, ever won one of these things! before moving on to the club shop for a Shepshed scarf as I’ve now decided to collect the odd scarf from here & there on my travels.

From there we’re in the clubhouse for the first of the day! The steward had been told of our delayed journey and said we could have the 2 pints at Happy Hour prices which was very nice of him :-) however this was not needed as a chap called Nick Blackburn insisted on buying them for us! Nick and a few other avid Dynamo fans collect money for the ‘Help the Heroes’ campaign by going to all of Shepshed’s games both home & away in shorts! Bit cold for that if you ask me but it’s for a great cause and if you’ve not spent all your money on children in need have a quick look at Nick’s page and maybe chuck a few bob over? Shorts for Heroes

ooh quick rant – Why do we need Children in Need to raise £30 million to pay for what should be being provided by the government (which apparently can’t afford them) when the same government can afford to throw away £100 million on PCC elections we neither needed nor wanted? – rant over :-)

We took our place for kick off right on the half way line right in the middle of the 2 dugouts, it was just on the other side of the players tunnel which put us in with the away fans which wasn’t a problem, we just normally side with the home team on match day but we planned to get in with the ‘shorts for heroes’ crowd for the second half because they seemed like our sort of people…. MAD! :-)

3 o’clock came around and Mr. Oldham gets step 15 off & running! Dynamo in their home colours of a toon-army style black & white kit are only playing their second Vase game of the season after safely dispatching Blidworth Welfare 2-0 in the last round which was also their entry level into the competition. Rocester or The Romans are playing in an all blue kit and have had to play in all 3 of the previous rounds but have blown away Sporting Khalsa 2-1, Castle Vale JKS 4-0 and Bewdley Town 4-0 to be here today.

A rather physical encounter from both sides in the opening 15 on a heavy, rain-soaked pitch with one or two eyebrow raising tackles flying in that had both dugouts on their feet and on the ref’s back. The game wasn’t going to form with the Romans looking the better of the 2 sides but without causing any real threat up front.

Dynamo were hitting back on the break and with pace, left back Ricky Aietan was linking up well with Kieran Bradshaw down the left feeding new signing Alex Troke who had a couple of efforts early on go just wide & over. Rob Mulonga was also having success down the right for the home side and i thought the opening goal was coming from him but he just couldn’t connect from a Aietan cross.

Aietan was involved in the action again with a rather crunching tackle on Romans No.7 Mensah Kinch. I don’t think the pitch helped as the winger was sent crashing to the ground but it did enrage the visitors’ dugout & mainly gaffer Dave Langston who voiced his anger towards his opposite number shouting.. “Do you teach them that? Really, is that what you coach?” which i have to say i thought was brilliant lol lol

The visitors bench now firmly believing the Ref was a ‘Dynamo in Disguise’ were more than a little critical of any decisions he made against them but unfortunately i try to keep this blog as clean as i can making it impossible for me to type them out! But there was nothing either the Romans bench or defence could do as we approached the half hour for the first goal of the day.

A free kick from about 30 yards out was sent in by Sam Wood that found skipper Rob McCormick on the far post, McCormick headed it back towards the penalty spot and No. 9 Liam Fitzpatrick kept his cool to pick his spot through the crowded area and slotted the ball home for 1-0. Just one minute later Dynamo nearly doubled their lead when the luckless Troke blasted his shot against the crossbar to the relief of Romans keeper Richard Froggatt who was well beaten.

A rather scrappy last 10 minutes with lots of needless, annoying tackles from both teams that had more action coming from the benches than on the pitch. A bit of ‘handbags’ right at the end of the half seen Fitzpatrick’s name taken by Mr. Oldham but as he blew to end the first 45 Langston was laying in wait for him! I only caught a little of his rant as they left the pitch but to ask a referee “Don’t you think you should be doing better?” and “you do know all the rules of the game yeah?” is pure class! I like this guy…. A LOT! :-) HT. 1-0.

Rhino – i’ve gone for the steak & kidney option today, because it was the only option as it goes but i’ve tarnished it with chips & gravy for an extra £1.70 bringing the total to £3. I was just going to get the pie on its own but the staff at the Dynamo Diner, who i’m tempted to call Burt & Ernie but i won’t, talked me into going for the full meal.

The pie tasted a lot like a Wright’s offering but i could be wrong. A nice flaky pastry top but a somewhat weaker or thinner pastry used for the sides & bottom meaning this is NOT a pie that can be eaten by hand unless you want a sleeve full of gravy of course! Good size pieces of steak & kidney are held within and no evidence of that annoying gristle stuff that gets stuck between your teeth for hours after either, well done. Bovril made with the excellent granules is on offer for a mere 80p a cup for extra points from me as i score today’s half time treat at 8.4 out of 10.

Mel B. – well what a refreshing change to find a couple of men at the helm in the Dynamo Diner! As much as i think a woman’s touch in the kitchen is a good thing i’m pretty sure Ernie & Burt cope just fine without that feminine touch. A quick look at today’s price list doesn’t show different types of pies on offer and with the Rhino only having the one option i’m a little concerned that’s all you have? If so then there’s room for improvement there.

A nice, clean looking little set up the guys have going on there at the Diner but gentlemen please… HATS! You don’t have to go with them silly hair nets or the full-on chefs special but i think one of those butchers’ trilbies at a jaunty angle would look great! Added points for the Bovril from me also in my score of 7.3  and the Pundit quote (Jon Champion on Suarez) is.. When you only have one to choose from, then that’s the one you choose!

We’re back for the second half and although we had promised the Shepshed Ultras we would watch the rest of the game with them, we decided to stay where we were as we felt sure there was more banter to come from both benches :-)

Both sides appeared to have had a ‘pep talk’ during the interval as chances were now being created at both ends in the first 10 of the half. Troke should of done better when he was 1-on-1 with the keeper but his tame shot was easily gathered up by Froggatt to keep the Romans just one adrift. At the other end, Edwin Asante-Ahenkorah shrugged off a couple of defenders to shoot just wide and Ryan Grocott must of thought he had levelled the scores when his perfectly hit free kick was heading for the top corner only for Scott Low to produce one of the best saves i’ve seen on tour this season!

Rocester finally got back on level terms 15 minutes in from another set play. A free kick floated into the Dynamo box wasn’t dealt with properly and the loose ball fell to the feet of No. 2 Joe Rogers who spotted a gap in the crowd to side-foot home. 1-1.

Just 2 minutes later the Langston bench were on their feet again as Carl Allen won the ball in midfield and played a quick pass to Asante-Ahenkorah. A-A ran with the ball down the left before sending a low cross into the Dynamo 6 yard box and Chris Sterling was right on the money (ooh sorry) to smash the ball home! 1-2.

It was ‘heads down’ i’m afraid to say for the home side from now on, totally deflated by the 2 quick goals from Rocester who in contrast were growing in confidence as you might expect. Mensah Kinch who had impressed all day for the visitors once again found himself upside down after a late tackle and when Mr. Oldham decided to take no action following this common assault Langston once again sprang to his feet… “Oi… GINGER! You GOTTA’ be kidding me!!!” lol lol i love this guy!

The Romans played out the rest of the second half with a packed but well organized midfield, pass & move was the order of the day and it worked well limiting Dynamo to only a few half chances for the remainder. As the clock ticked past 90 Sterling was brought down in the area by Scott Low and the keeper was lucky to be shown just a yellow by Mr. Oldham as everyone in the ground was expecting a red. I quickly glanced over to see Dave Langston’s reaction to the yellow but he just stood hands on hips, shaking his head lol i bet he would have reacted differently if there was 20 minutes left instead of 2!

Sterling took the spot kick himself and notched up his second for the day and sent Rocester into Monday’s 3rd round draw with the £1,200 cheque from the FA on its in the post. A ‘touching moment’ as i get a photo with Dave Langston as the teams leave the pitch, if ever Rocester play Droylsden it would be worth the admission price just to see this guy and Dave Pace on the touchline never mind the football lol! FT. 1-3.

In the past we’ve found that when the home side get beat the fans tend to wander off and can’t be bothered with a couple of Manc’s on a jolly up but that wasn’t the case at Shepshed. The home fans tipped their hats to the better side on the day (even though they wasn’t happy about it) and congratulated them on their win. Spirits were still high in the clubhouse even after losing and the Shorts for Heroes lads told me it’s free admission for the next home game so people will have extra money to throw into the collection buckets! What a great gesture from the club, well done Dynamo :-)

After 20 minutes in the club it was time for us to ‘stick or twist’ should we stay for a few more beers and get a £15-ish taxi back to the station or be cheapskates & go for the last bus? The latter of course! We’re Manc’s lol lol.

After a 5 minute walk & a 5 minute wait the 5.25 turned up bang on time! “right let’s see what the journey home has in store for us”  i tell the big fella as we part with another £2.30 to board the bus. During the journey our thoughts turn to our ‘man of the match’ for today’s game, we both decided on Liam Fitzpatrick for the home side but for the Romans & outright winner we went for Mensah Kinch. Played well, quite skilful, got kicked off the park more often than not but the thing that swung it was the Dynamo fan who shouted out at him during the game “Hey Mensah, No.7, is that your shirt number or your I.Q.?” yeah, bet he’s never heard that one before mate.

Easy up to now, bus arrived at 5.55 and the 6.04 to Nottingham was only a couple of minutes late and it was one of them speedy quick trains from St. Pancras with comfy seats instead of one of them cattle truck jobs. We arrive at Nottingham at 6.30 and the 6.45 to Liverpool calling at Sheffield & Manchester is on time! Wait a minute; didn’t Notts Forrest play Sheff Wednesday today?

Platform 6 at Nottingham had an army of the hi-vis brigade as well as more police than i’ve seen in one place since the Manchester riots! Wednesday had been beaten 1-0 at the City Ground less than 2 hours ago and the station was rammed with blue & white owls all wanting the same train as us! The big fella blamed me for this minor inconvenience and said something about me and the brains i was born with when it comes to travel plans but i didn’t quite catch what he said :-(

To be fair the Wednesday fans were great! Even though the train was packed with most of the standing room taken up as well, they were in fine voice all the way to Sheffield including the classic song that all clubs have their own version of that starts… “we hate Nott-ing-ham Forr-est, we hate _ _ _ too” if nothing else it was entertaining but i think the young Wednesday fan who looked about 10 summed it up when he turned to his dad and said “this is great! Imagine what it would be like if we were good & win?” lol the things kids say eh?

Into Piccadilly for 8.35 and another 5 minute walk to the bus station for the last leg of our 180 mile round trip to Shepshed. The 216 Sweaty Spaniard Special set off with us on it just before 9pm and one of us is very happy about it :-)

We finally walk through the door of Droylsden’s No. 1 Tapas bar The Sweaty Spaniard at about 9.20! a bit of a monster day out and the Rhino immediately sets up a bar tab and posts 3 pints in rapid succession in the time it took me to get through my first!

I spent the next hour or so trying to convince the big fella that Northern Rail had looked at their CCTV and got the web address off the back of his coat and had now sent an email asking for an address they could send the bill to for the damage to the door he had caused. The battery on the big fella’s phone had long since died so he had no way of checking it himself until his stupid Brother turned up with a charger!

So that’s it, I took the Rhino up the Butthole and we both loved it! we went to Shepshed as Dynamos for the day and came away with a real soft spot for the Romans as well. There’s some video footage of today’s game that’s free to watch on Dynamo’s website plus i would also like to apologise to all Rocester fans for spelling Rocester with an ‘H’ in all the tweets i sent on the day – my bad, it’s a Manc thing :-(

Down to the last 32 in the Vase now with only Winsford United & Wigan Robin Park left in it from all our local teams and we’ve seen both of them already so it looks like we’ll be munching up some more miles again on Dec. 8th

Next up is the 1st round proper in the Trophy and a relatively short journey over to FC Halifax and a look at the Shaymen as they take on Altrincham for our 16th game of the season. Until then Blog Buds…….

Today’s Stats….

Travel Cost each – £14.35 Bus & Train

Admission each – Nil

Mileage covered – 183.8

Total Travel Cost – £81.80

Total Admission – £73.00

Total Mileage – 933.0






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Step 14… Droylsden FC v Rushall Olympic FC (FATrophy #4)

Well you can’t really get much closer to home than today’s game as we go back on the Trophy Trail with the Mighty Bloods at home to Rushall Olympic FC from the Evo-Stik Prem. Although Droylsden are second bottom & struggling in the Blue Square North, they are still odds on with the bookies for a win today. But this is cup football and of course anything can happen so i’ll watch the game with my ‘neutral’ hat on and see what unfolds….. C’MON YOU BLOODS! LET’S ‘AV IT!!! :-)

Normally my blogs start with the journey or travel plans for wherever we’re off to, can’t really do that today as nothing happened on the 5 minute walk from my front door to the home of the Bloods, The Butchers Arms! So i’ll start today’s adventure the night before, if that makes any sense?

We somehow managed to blag our way into the Manchester sports awards at Old Trafford cricket ground where there was lots of gold on show with a sprinkling of Olympic medal winners showing off their bling at the posh doo. Etienne Stott, who is one half of the C-2   slalom canoe winning team was first in line for a photo with me, who is one half of the infamous 1LOTC pie eating team :-)

The Rhino had his eyes on a much sweeter pot of gold in the form of the very pretty Welsh taekwondo gold medallist, Jade Jones! The big fella looked very nervous putting his arm around the young beauty when posing for the photo but who wouldn’t!? If the big fella’s hand was to slip a couple of inches she would see it as a ‘grope’ and probably smash his face in! Lol

With all the guests of the evening now taking their seats for the awards, we move on to the real reason we were there. BBC radio Manchester are broadcasting their Friday night sports show from the cricket ground and they’re obviously struggling for guests for the non league hour between 7 & 8 because we’re on! We shamelessly plug our web address while chatting football but also make sure that BBC non league guru, Ian ‘Burkey’ Burke (also of fame) accompanies us to Droylsden as a guest pie reviewer and for some expert analysis on the game!

Obviously i’m first to arrive at the clock in Droylsden centre on match day but Burkey is on route and the big fella has text me to tell me he is a couple of minutes away and i should go and get the obligatory Greggs sausage rolls! I decided not to go shopping but to do one of my better ‘catalogue poses’ for a photo of me with the Sweaty Spaniard away in the distance!

With 20 minutes to spare all 3 of us are in the ground and take our seats in the main stand. After a quick glance at the team sheet it makes me realise that doing this blog has made me so far out of touch with the current Bloods line up :-( and expecting the game to be a walk in the park for the Bloods i didn’t do any research at all on Rushall. Fortunately i have a non league expert with me today so i hand him the team sheet and give him a couple of minutes to read through it before asking, “so Burkey, what can you tell me about today’s teams?” he folded the piece of paper carefully, handed it back, took a deep breath and said “nowt really 1 Leg” lol lol BRILLIANT! Expert Analysis there!

Just before kick off The Butchers, like all football games over the weekend paid their respects by remembering those who have lost their lives for us and the 2 minutes was observed perfectly by all inside the ground before Mr. Meredith blew his whistle to get us underway.

Not sure who won the toss but the teams surprisingly changed ends before kickoff meaning the Bloods were kicking towards Droylsden centre or what shall now be known as the ‘Sweaty End’ honouring the famous Droylsden tapas bar, but more importantly this meant the setting sun was now in the face of Bloods keeper, Dale Latham. This problem has proved fatal with keepers in the past at The Butchers!

The Bloods quickly settled and started to control the game straight from the whistle. Burkey was trying to work out what formation the Bloods were playing, he was unsure if No. 2 Jimmy Derbyshire was a right back in a 4-4-2 or part of a 3-5-3 set up? It was confusing as the little fella was flying up & down the right side lol.

Rushall didn’t look too far out of it though and were winning early aerial battles mainly due to the man-mountain centre half Lucan Spittle. Up front they had the very quick No. 10 Hakeem Islam and No. 9 Dave Walker. The visitors No. 11 Andre Landell was beginning to get on my nerves with a succession of little fouls on Derbyshire & Lee Rick that seemed to be going unnoticed by the man in the middle, what happened to the totting up process? I counted 4 in the first 10 minutes!

The first real chance of the game fell to the Bloods from a Derbyshire corner; he curled the ball over everyone in the box to find Ashley Palmer unmarked at the back post and i bet he’s still wondering himself how he missed the easiest of easy tap-ins!

Not long after i thought for one horrible moment Rushall were going to take the lead! Walker & Islam linked up well on the break and Walker’s pass to Jordan Fitzpatrick had the midfielder bearing down on goal with just Latham to beat. The Bloods keeper had not been called upon up to this point but i feared the worse, Fitzpatrick’s effort had Latham beat but not the upright as the ball shaved the post on its way to safety to keep us at 0-0.

Coming up to the half hour we had one of those controversial moments when Bloods favourite, Carlos Logan found himself in the box with the ball at his feet. Without a clear sight at goal he unselfishly squared the ball for the incoming Lee Rick who’s thunderous effort smashed against the bar, bounced onto the goal line (without crossing it apparently) and away to safety :-(

As the first half came to an end it was the visitors who seemed to be on top, Burkey was still struggling to work out what formation the bloods were playing as left back, Rob Sissons was also venturing further up field leaving the Ginger Guru totally clueless as he told me “they’ve definitely got 2 at the back, but i’m not sure after that!” lol i’m so glad he came! His imput will prove vital today! I was pleased we ended the half with a clean sheet because Latham had looked a bit dodgy in goal for the Bloods and hopefully would do better in the second without the sun in his eyes. HT. 0-0.

Rhino – A little help for me to review the pie here at the Butchers today, not that i need it as i’m quite professional at it and it’s only a Holland’s meat & potato anyway! not much you can say about them really, we’ve all had them and each one is the same as the last one you had.

It came out of the oven piping hot and i mean hot! I had to leave it a good 10 minutes in the cold air to cool enough to eat it and this didn’t help in any way my personal pet hate of Holland’s pies – the soggy bottom. No Bovril on offer here today either but i’m told this is only temporary and vending machine portions are usually on sale. A poor 5.0 from me on the day, i was expecting better from my home club.

Burkey – Thrust in at the deep end as i’m a special guest! I’m not really that happy about it as i was lead to believe that Mel B. & her BAPS would be on show today and i have been disappointingly let down. I’ve never done this before so bear with me… it cost £1.50, it was a Holland’s meat & potato, it had traces of meat, lots of potato-like filling and it was all mixed together in a hot, wall paper like substance!

How’s that!? feeling sure that pie review will be my last for 1LOTC that only leaves me to score it and give some sort of Alan Hansen quote but before i do, did you know the phrase ‘Bear with me’ comes from asking someone to help you carry a coffin at a funeral? As in ‘help me out, be a pall-bearer with me’ just thought you should know ;-) my score is 7.2 i like Holland’s pies and my pundit quote is Barry Davies on Torvill & Dean.. Oh and how we, the public love them!

I’m back in the stand for the second half and it looks like the Bloods have had one of those special pep talks from Chairman / Manager Dave Pace! Anyone not familiar with the Bloods gaffer should take 30 seconds to listen to him in this interview with him on a local radio station lol top man! [audio:]

The second half gets underway and the big fella is not happy with Burkey for not taking the pie report seriously and immediately informs Mel B of his mistake. On the pitch the Bloods have started the better of the two, Logan forces a fine save from Chris Gemmell and James Ellison shot just wide from the edge of the area after some good passing in midfield. Surley the Bloods would get one in the bag soon? It just can’t be them who break our run of 41 games without a nil-nil.

On the hour my expert pundit finally comes up with a bit of useful info! Well sort of. Hakeem Islam’s number is held aloft as Rushall swap the front man for No. 12 Ahmed Obeng. “OOH! Did he say Obeng?” Burkey shouts up as he’s still picking bits of pie out of his beard from half time, “he collapsed on the pitch about a month ago, the club were really worried but i’ve not heard anything since. I’m glad he’s ok” it makes life so much easier for me to do a match report with a non league expert alongside me! Especially when the said expert is now convinced the Bloods are playing a 2-7-1 formation :-)

Although i’m pleased the substitute is back to full fitness i could of done with him waiting another week or so before he put his boots on again as 10 minutes after he come on, the inevitable happened. Obeng played the perfect ball to find Landell who smashed the ball towards goal, Latham made a great save but the ball fell to Obeng who had carried on his run into the box and he slotted the ball into the ungraded net for the opener, the whole team then ran over to the away dugout to celebrate which on any other day i would of found great, but not today :-(

Not long after the goal things went from bad to worse for the Bloods as Jimmy Derbyshire was shown a straight red for a 2 footed tackle on Josh Craddock! It didn’t look that bad and to be fair Craddock didn’t really milk it but the Bloods were really up against it now and Derbyshire had been one of our better players on the day.

The Bloods were now struggling with the loss of Derbyshire and of course it had the complete reverse effect on Rushall, with their tails well up Obeng came again, Droylsden really were only playing 2 at the back and the super Sub carried the ball unchallenged into the box and made no mistake from 10 yards doubling his own & Rushalls tally for the day 0-2.

The splattering of Rushall fans that were in the crowd of 211 had already started to party with 10 minutes to go and i couldn’t really blame them. I just couldn’t see how the Bloods were going to get back into this until the lifeline thrown our way in the last 5 minutes. Steve Hallis was brought down in the box by Jonathan Haynes and with everyone in the ground expecting quite a lot of extra time to be added on, there was even more pressure on Carlos Logan as he stepped up to take the kick, once Hallis had finally hobbled out of the way of course lol :-)

[jwplayer config="1 Leg On The Cup Player" mediaid="2193"]

5 minutes were added on and the Bloods gave it all they had, which wasn’t much to be honest. Rushall played the ball around and kept possession well as the clock ticked away. Mr. Meredith finally put me out of my misery and sent Rushall into Monday’s draw with the £4,000 from the FA’s purse for today’s win safe & sound in their back pocket. FT. 1-2.

Ahmed Obeng was being championed off the pitch and did a pretty good Usain Bolt impression as he left which made me chuckle and on any other day i would have really been made up for the lad. But what now for the not-so-mighty Bloods? Out of both the FA Cup & Trophy at the first hurdle and in serious trouble at the bottom of the Blue Square North! I fear the worse for my little hometown team but i hope they turn it around soon and get back to winning ways.

AS it’s still early and we don’t have to travel that far to get back to the Sweaty we go into the clubhouse at the Butchers for a couple and to see if we can get a chat with Pacey about the team. Burkey and the big fella are wrestling over a mobile phone because Burkey’s phone has died and he wants to check his bets, the Rhino later told me he was just being a bit eager to get his vote in for Rylan whatever that means?

The Rushall team & their fans were in the club and as you would expect, rather happy with the day’s events and already talking about who they would like to get in the next round. I wish them good luck and hope they get a decent run in the Trophy as my thoughts turn to  Loughborough and our next step on the 34 when we’re off to see Shepshed Dynamo in the Vase.

With no sign of Pacey or the team in the clubhouse, he must have kept them in the dressing room for a little chat! so we make our way to the Sweaty to drown our sorrows, hmmm been there before with the Bloods lol. No more local games now as Monday’s draw will send us somewhere new on the 24th and there’s the small matter of a quick 180+ mile round trip to Butthole Lane this Saturday :-)

I’ll end this blog with a shout out to our good pal ‘Chilli’. The mad, crazy Bank of Scotland worker with a rather strange habit of photographing himself outside various RBS branches has decided to up his game and visit 40 different RBS branches in 80 hours for children in need. He’s created a facebook page (or more than likely his better half has, she’s the brains of the outfit) plotting his progress and it would be great if you guys would give him a ‘thumbs up’ like on his page. Good Luck Chilli we couldn’t let you visit Droylsden without getting your mug in the blog! :-)

Today’s Stats….

Travel Cost each – Nil

Admission each – £10

Mileage covered – 0.0

Total Travel Cost – £67.45

Total Admission – £73.00

Total Mileage – 749.2



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Step 13… Preston North End v Yeovil Town (FACup #7)

After watching all non league encounters so far this season we’ve decided to make the step up to an all league 1 fixture for our 13th game as the FA Cup reaches the 1st round proper stage. Preston North End & Yeovil Town are 9th & 10th respectively in the middle of league 1 and both have 22 points from their league campaigns so far, so a nice even contest beckons but we’ll lend our support towards the home side given their rich history in the Cup and who could forget their 26-0 defeat of Hyde FC back in October 1887? A record that stands proudly in the FA history books as the biggest ever score line in an FA Cup match!

I’m in position at the bus stop and i can see the 218 in the distance heading towards me but i’ve not received the usual ‘on it’ text from the Rhino? I ring the big fella as the bus is approaching me to find he’s still at his bus stop & has missed it! He tells me to get on the 218 and he’ll catch me up further down its route and the chase was on!

The big fella was now on a different bus heading for Piccadilly Gardens in the centre of Manchester as my 218 winds its way around the houses on its way to Victoria Station but will cross paths with the Rhino’s bus twice. I’m pressing the button to make sure we stop at every bus stop on the way in an attempt to slow it down but if only my driver would have stopped instead of running a red light on the edge of town the Rhino would of been saved a 10 minute quick march across the city!

I’m stood at the ticket barrier of the train station at 11.17 a very out of breath Rhino finally arrives! I’m still a little unsure as to why he was out of breath, he told me it was because he had been walking quickly but by the look on the face of the girl on the left in the photo i’m not so sure? He had been explaining his dilemma to these 2 bus passengers during the chase but still had time to stop for the quick snap in Piccadilly and where’s his right hand!?!?

We’ve still got a couple of staircases to negotiate to catch the 11.22 to Preston but fortunately i’ve picked the tickets up during the week which was a good job as the que for the machines was massive.

If it was any other day missing the train wouldn’t have been a problem, we would of simply just caught the next one but today we were meeting a guy called Des who is launching a new non league magazine in December and wanted to interview us about what we do for the new mag. He’s also going to Preston today for the book he’s writing where he’s trying to visit all 92 league clubs and watch a game in one season and after speaking to him in the week we had arranged to meet on the same train so we could do the interview while on the journey to Deepdale.

I send Des a text telling him we’re on the train as we take our seats and he replied with “i’ve just missed it! I’ll get the next & catch you up later” lol is there only ME who can get up, get ready and be on time when plans are made? To be honest, it was probably a good thing that Des missed the train as the world & his wife seemed to have picked this little 2 coach service for their trip to Blackpool and by the time we got to Bolton it was like a cattle truck with not much standing room left! Des’ voice recorder would of just been full of the sounds of ear piercing, screaming children.

We finally arrived at Preston about 12.15 and couldn’t wait to get off as more people were shoe-horning themselves onto the Schindler Special. We walked up past the taxi rank and turned right heading into town looking for coffee & food :-)

I had joined & posted on the Preston forum in the build up to this game just to let them know who we are and what we’re doing this season, we had only just set off walking down the high street when a chap approached us saying “you’re Tony, i recognise your photo from the blog” i only know him by his forum name of ‘Tark’ but he was a top bloke and told us where the nearest Greggs was as well as directions to a pub we should stop at called the Angel on our way to Deepdale.

2 sausage rolls for 99p from the Preston Greggs! The cheapest on tour yet so we’re off to a good start & apart from them being hotter than volcano larva the best yet. We waited here for Des who wasn’t too far behind by now and we played a little game of ‘i hope this isn’t him’ as various weirdo’s came walking towards us along the street.

Fortunately for us Des seemed quite normal so we headed off to the Angel for a pint & a chat. Man U v Arsenal was being shown on various flat screens in the pub and RVP had already scored by the time we got there, the place was pretty busy but we found a corner to sit down and went through our FA Cup run from last season with Des. Hopefully his new non league magazine ‘Seven Steps’ will be on sale at grounds all over the land in December and the good thing about it (apart from us being in it of course!) is the profits from sales will go to the club where you buy it from. A fantastic idea!

The Rhino then turned tables on Des and asked him about the book he’s writing on doing the 92 all in one season, “so that’s a pretty big ask to do a game at all 92, how many have you done so far?” a rather sheepish looking Des told the big fella that today’s visit to Deepdale would be his 12th game of his challenge. “12..!?!??.. is that it? you better pull your finger out & put some effort in if you want to succeed!”

Tark had also made his way to the Angel while we were with Des and offered to be our guide to the stadium when we were ready to go. I asked him a few things about the team & who i should look out for on the pitch as we walked as well as asking him if he knew anything about the 26-0. I was rather surprised when he told me that Preston’s centre forward from that record breaking score line only scored ONE goal! Wonder if that’s right?

Tark left us to stop off for a pint in a pub called The Army & Navy because the beer is cheap (i’ll remember that for later) he left us with.. “turn left at that cross roads, keep walking & you’ll fall over it” and he was right :-) about 5 minutes walk down Sir Tom Finney Way and we were at Deepdale.

I had received an email from Preston in the week telling me there would be 2 tickets waiting for us at the office on our arrival and also a nice surprise for the Rhino at half time ;-) i had not told the big fella about his duties of going onto the pitch at half time to draw the winning tickets for their lottery or the interview we was going to do over the PA with a chap called Adam, all i told him was to do his pie report before the game instead of half time :-)

Rhino – with 1 Leg telling me i have to do a pre match pie review rather than at half time i ask a few of the Preston massive in the que what is the best or most popular from today’s selection. ‘A Butter Pie’ seemed to be the most common answer so after a quick look up at the price list i noticed there’s a meal deal on offer at Deepdale for any pie & hot drink for £4.50. not too bad but non-negotiable after all my charm & charisma fell on deaf ears with the tuck shop staff when trying to get at least 50p off the price! So with a butter pie & a large Bovril in hand i’m off to find a quiet corner to get stuck in and wonder what half time will bring??

I’ve got to say i wasn’t that happy with the Butter Pie although it does exactly what it says on the tin so i shouldn’t of expected anything else really, it reminded me of a Pukka Meat & Potato but without the meat obviously.

A buttery, creamy mash/sliced potato filling with a hint of onion thrown in and that’s it! Definitely not for me but looking round there’s plenty of locals tucking into them so they can’t be all bad? Other pies are on offer at Deepdale so if we ever find our way down this neck of the woods again i’ll be opting for one with a bit of cow in it somewhere! The Bovril was top notch as ever but unfortunately i can only give a score of 5.6 on the day.

Mel B.- Well i think the Rhino is being a bit harsh on Preston here. i for one welcome this different vegetarian option to others that are out there on match day, even though they may not be friendly on the figure more clubs should take note and maybe place an order or 2 with suppliers, Clayton Park.  A very impressive Victor Hot Cupboard keeping the pies at the correct temperature that looks like an early HC20MS if i’m not mistaken, and i’m hoping these are used in all of the stadiums many outlets.

A nice healthy portion of pre-packed Bovril in branded cups always ticks my box and is a must as the weather is now getting colder as winter football’s upon us. A 6.8 from me giving a grand total of an unflattering 12.4 and the Pundit quote (Jim Beglin on David N’Gog) is.. A Very Second, 2nd Best here tonight.

Our seats are in the ‘Sir Tom Finney Stand’ and i’ve told the big fella to get close to the half way line as i go off in search of a team sheet for today’s line up. No luck with a team sheet so i’ll have to rely on fans in the crowd to help me out with player names for my match report but i had more luck spotting the big fella on my return as the teams were out and about to kick off.

It had been quite a while since we had watched 2 football league sides do battle on the pitch, and the opening exchanges was a refreshing eye opener as we adjusted to the discipline and professionalism shown by Preston & Yeovil.

Preston had allocated for 200 travelling fans and although they only brought closer to 150 they were on their feet just 7 minutes in when Yeovil striker on loan from Carlisle picked up on a loose ball and let fly from 25 yards which went just over the Preston cross bar. Yeovil gaffer Gary Johnson had to make a few changes to his team for today’s game with 3 of his regular loan players out after being refused availability from their parent clubs & Byron Wilson had failed a late fitness test that morning.

Preston had player trouble of their own to deal with inside the first 10 minutes when Shane Cansdell-Sherriff had to be substituted with what looked like a pulled hamstring or as the Rhino described it “looks like he’s done his hammy”

After a couple of shots from range our first real chance came on 15 minutes when Preston were awarded the first corner of the game, Yeovil defended it well then broke at a frightening pace with Gavin Williams down the right who then played the perfect pass for Paddy Madden who brought a fine save from Steve Simonsen in the Preston goal. end-to-end stuff already! Love cup football me :-)

Madden was through on goal again not long after but took his shot early from the edge of the box and sent it just wide of the upright as Simonsen was closing him down. Gavin Williams & Keanu Marsh-Brown we also impressing for Yeovil as we entered the last 10 mins of the half.

GOAL! on 38 minutes there’s one in the onion bag for the home side. A fantastic through ball from Jack King split the Yeovil defence wide open & Joel Byrom had timed his run to perfection to run onto the perfectly weighted pass. He drove into the box with the struggling defender in his wake & picked out the bottom corner of the goal giving the keeper no chance. 1-0.

Moments later Preston doubled their lead with a great counter-attacking move. Left back Scott Laird won the ball in his own area then played the easy pass to goal scorer Byrom, he then found Stewart Beavon in the centre circle with his back to goal. Beavon’s swivel & pass all-in-one move was superb to find Nicky Wroe who played the perfect ball for the very impressive substitute David Amoo. Amoo carried the ball into the box, rounded the keeper then fired home for 2-0. Yeovil looked certain to score at the end of time added on but after at least 3 point blank attempts were either blocked or saved in one of the maddest goal mouth scrambles i’ve ever seen, Mr. Haines blew his whistle to end the first 45 with the visitors still on a blank. HT 2-0.

“Right come on follow me” i tell the big fella as i head for the half way line. The email i had received off the club during the week telling me about the tickets also said that they wanted us to do the half time lottery draw on the pitch then have a quick interview with us about our FA 34 journey. I was feeling certain that with a crowd of over 4000 at Deepdale they would burst into song at the sight of us on their sacred turf with a rendition of the fine old Max Bygraves classic.. ‘Who Ate All The Pies’ but alas, no :-(

I did my absolute best to put the Rhino off while he was being interviewed pulling some of my better schoolboy faces at him and throwing the odd swear word his way but he remained solid, apart from when the lottery guy asked him to try and pick a blue ticket out of the tub full of white & blue tickets without looking!

There’s obviously no ‘non league dogs’ to be seen at the game today but there was a big Duck! Always up for a photo with a club mascot the Deepdale Duck duly obliged and told me that he had been ‘un-masked’ that morning in the newspaper! And not just any newspaper it was the Times!

I just had time to get a refill of Bovril before the teams were out for the second half. On my way back to my seat i met Colin the stewards mate who very kindly offered to write out a team sheet for me… what a top man! I record each match on a voice recorder using shirt numbers and without a team sheet i’m knackered, Colin wrote one down for me and only missed a few of the Yeovil players out! True fan!

We’re off again! Preston looked relaxed & comfortable from the whistle, with their 2 goal cushion intact they looked quite happy to soak up a little pressure in the middle then wait for the visitors to commit players forward before hitting them with some great counter attacking with one & two touch football from Beavon and King as well as quick wing play with Monakana on the right and Amoo on the left, well i say left, he was popping up all over the place as the half grew older but wherever he was he was effective.

The game changed just before and after the hour, Yeovil subbed Marsh-Brown off, which came as a bit of a surprise to me as he seemed one of their better players on the day, but they were also down to 10 men minutes later when Ed Upson got his marching orders after a nasty looking foul on Byrom. Colin come to tell me that Upson had been sent off the last time the 2 teams had met as well, he just must have something against Preston!

As the temperature dropped so did the Yeovil heads, they were coming up short on ideas and not much in the creative department, almost as if they would of been happy to hear the whistle now. Preston with their man advantage were in full control and with just less than 20 to go increased their lead once more from a set piece.

Scott Laird fired in a left footer from the corner flag and centre back Chris Robertson made no mistake with his header from 6 yards and the home side were safely in the hat for the second round draw on Sunday. Simonsen was not going to give up his clean sheet without a fight either as Yeovil did have a couple efforts saved by the keeper late on. Preston were good value for their win and although Monakana, King, Beavon & Laird all caught the eye, i would have to say David Amoo was Man of the Match not sure why he wasn’t in the starting 11 or if today was a one-off good game for him as this is the first time i’ve seen Preston but if he plays half as good as he did today for the rest of the season, then he’s more than good enough for league 1. FT 3-0.

The obligatory hand shaking is taking place on the pitch as well as off it as me and the big fella say goodbye to Colin and a few people we’ve been chatting to here at Deepdale. We’ve had a good day and seen some good football and i’m sure by now both teams websites have a more in-depth match report posted if you want to know more about today’s action because let’s face it.. ITV’s FA Cup highlights programme was bobbins!

We re-trace our steps in the chilly night air back towards town in search of the cheap pub Tark had stopped off at earlier. Des had gone straight for the train after the match to meet up with friends on a night out in Manchester so with no more interviews or ticket drawing left to do we were now ‘officially’ on the beer! :-)

Tark was right about the beer in the Army & Navy, only £2.10 a pint :-) Result! The place was pretty full with a lot of people who seemed to have been on the beer all day lol, not exactly a twilight zone sort of experience but i thought it best not to get the camera out as we stood at the bar. Man City were about to kick off on the TV so we had a couple before moving on.

Only a few yards down the road we arrive at the Fleece, slightly better than the last pub & still cheap at £2.20 a pint. The only problem i had was one of those awkward moments when i made eye contact with an old boy who was bladdered and holding onto the bar for dear life! “you alright mate?” i felt obliged to ask, he let go of the bar with one hand thrusting it towards me wanting to shake hands with me, gravity took over because of this action & he went crashing to the floor! His mate came rushing over to assist and explained to the frowning barman “it’s ok don’t worry, he’s got money!” oooh Classy lol :-)

Quickly moving on from the Fleece we were heading back to the Angel but the with the night getting colder we decided to get a few cans from the off licence and try and catch the 6.47 train to Piccadilly that hasn’t come from Blackpool so shouldn’t be full of screaming kids!

We’re on the platform with 5 minutes to spare as we bid farewell to Preston. Not that much room on the train so we had to share a table with a couple of old girls on their way to the airport, one reading a book called ‘dealing with depression’ the other a book called ‘depressed or possessed’ “i’ll tell you girls about depression” the big fella barked at them “you should try being a Droylsden fan!” The 2 had managed to munch their way through a full box of Mr. Kippling’s luxury mincers on their journey which of course prompted me & the big fella to sing the Max Bygraves song to them! didn’t go down that well if i’m honest, tuff audience depressed people ;-)

We walk through the doors of the Sweaty Spaniard about 8.30 and our Preston day out was over, back in Droylsden where funnily enough my next blog will come from! Yes the mighty Bloods have been drawn at home in Saturday’s FA Trophy 3rd round qualifying game against… who cares! Some Olympic team from the midlands or summat??? I will bring you a totally unbiased match report as usual as Droylsden go marching along the Trophy Trail! So until then Bloods, Blog Buds……

Today’s Stats….

Travel Cost each – £7.05 Train Tickets

Admission each – FREE

Mileage covered – 95.6

Total Travel Cost – £67.45

Total Admission – £63.00

Total Mileage – 749.2



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Step 12… Buxton FC v North Ferriby United FC (FATrophy #3)

Well unless Droylsden get a home game in Monday’s Trophy draw, this is last of the ‘close-ish to home’ games for us today as we make the relatively short trip to the spa town of Buxton in Derbyshire for their FA Trophy 3rd round qualifying game with Evo-Stik Prem. League leaders, North Ferriby United. The 2 teams have already met once this season in a league game back in August at Ferriby’s Grange Lane ground and Buxton snatched a point with Grant Black’s 30 yard screamer in the 96th minute even though the Ref had only added 4 minutes on! :-) so the stage is set all we have to do now is get there!

I was in position at the bus stop at 11.10 when the Rhino texts me the words ‘on it’ he’s a man of few words the big fella but i’ve received this text before and it means he’s on the bus heading my way and we’ll be in Manchester for about 11.30 for the 11.52 train to Buxton. £6.10 each for a day return! Bargain!

On the train the big fella puts me on the spot and asks me about any interesting facts regarding today’s 2 teams and after burning the inside of my mouth on a scalding hot Greggs sausage roll i told him i didn’t know anything about Ferriby but Buxton is the highest football ground in the country! He didn’t look that impressed if i’m honest.

Only an hour on the train and we arrive in Buxton for about 1 o’clock. Outside the station is a steep hill with a speed camera to catch any budding Lewis Hamilton’s that may fancy their chances and the Rhino spends 5 minutes hoping someone will roar past and his picture will be on the evidence when the fine is sent out in the post!

The hill outside the station isn’t the only one in Buxton as it goes, no wonder this place gets cut off from the rest of the world at the first sign of snow, the place is full of them! Buxton play at Silverlands and that would normally take a couple of blokes about 10 or 15 minutes to walk to but in our case – 45 minutes! But at least we did it without the aid of any ropes, grappling hooks or the assistance of the mountain rescue services ;-)

Different kind of blog for this game, firstly i’ve changed software and gone self hosting so hopefully your reading this as normal and i’ve not crashed the site & deleted everything! I’m not what you would call ‘savvy’ when it comes to tech stuff in fact i’ve only just found out that the text abbreviation ‘WTF’ does NOT mean ‘why the face?’

Also we’re here today as ‘Special Guests’ of the match day sponsors! After doing at bit of pre-match forum & twitter groundwork for today’s game a guy called Gilly & a few others told me they were sponsoring today’s game and would we like to come along as their guests and have a few drinks and a bit of lunch at half time in the sponsors lounge? We even got a mention in the programme! Top man   :-)

Rhino – An early pie review today as we’ve been invited for lunch at half time so while 1 Leg is off making a nuisance of himself somewhere i hit the canteen to see what’s on offer here at Silverlands.

I’ve gone for the meat & potato from today’s selection and notice straight away it’s from the local supermarket chain, Morrisons. They’re not a bad pie maker when it comes to mass producers of pastry pleasantries and this was no exception. The only problems i had was there was no Bovril and the young girl serving me was very young. I would guess she was only about 14 so i decided not to take any photos of someone so young i just wish i hadn’t made ‘that’ comment when counting out the correct £1.70 to pay her because i’m sure the last thing a young girl wants to hear off a bloke more than twice her age is “how’s about that then”

Quickly moving away from the canteen to eat my pie and i can report it was as standard as they come from the reputable supplier, almost collapsed on the 4th bite but i managed to recover with a quick double bite avoiding a sleeve full of filling.

I’ll score this at an even 7 today as i didn’t have any real complaints other than the lack of Bovril and photos of the serving area although i did bump into Jane who’s the grub-hut gaffer here at Buxton on her way back from getting more stock and she very kindly posed for a photo with me which as you can see i was more than happy about.

Mel B. – Well done Johnny on a tricky pie report given the circumstances at Buxton and speaking as a young mum, it’s nice to see child labour alive & well at the place ;-) Not really that much i can add without more information but i do like the ‘Brasserie’ horning it gives the place that quality look about it and more clubs should follow your example.

No Bovril is always a sore point with me but as always, easily rectified and explained in the email i’ve sent to Jane, i’ve also asked her to smooth things over with the young girl who served you after your poor choice of words so don’t worry about it ‘Jane’ll fix it for youuuuuuuu’ ;-) Best i can offer is a 6.5 for my score giving Buxton a respectable 13.5 total and the Pundit quote (Mark Lawrenson on Man. City) is.. Back to the standard set up everyone knows

I’ve spotted a bloke with a dog but i stopped to have a chat with someone else and now i can’t find him or the dog! They will have to wait because the teams are out and about to kick off and get game No. 12 of ours underway, the Bucks are in all blue today with the visitors wearing an all yellow kit making things easy even for a colour blind fool like me :-)

Referee Anthony Moore from Stockport gets us going as i set off around the ground for a few photos as today’s match report will be a little different to my normal rubbish but more on that later. The first 10 minutes or so had both teams trying to settle on the hard pitch that had just about survived the cold weather from the night before and big thanks to the ground staff here at Silverlands for making it possible for today’s game to go ahead. Buxton had survived an early goal mouth scramble in the opening few minutes but other than that it was fairly even.

Making my way round to the other side of the ground i come across Sam Shepherd. Sam is a fellow blogger i had met on twitter earlier in the week and he writes about Ferriby on his own site, follow him on twitter @ferribyshep and read his blog about today’s game (here)

We’re about 15 minutes in and Bucks forward, Lee Morris saw his overhead effort go just wide and 5 minutes later Jack Muldoon’s header was deflected out for a corner for the visitors in what was turning out to be a very scrappy first half on the firm, bobbling pitch. And this was to be the story for the remainder of the half, scuffed chances & goal mouth scrambles with nether side dominating or dictating the game. HT. 0-0.

A spot of lunch at half time? Don’t mind if we do :-) we kindly accept the offer of a few beers and pie & chips from today’s sponsors and while i was in the sponsors lounge i had a chat with Teacher Rob who has to be Buxton’s No. 1 fan. Born in Buxton sometime before decimalisation Robert first went to watch the Bucks on the 15th March 1971 and even though he now lives in that London SW6 he still travels to watch them home & away as often as he can! In fact he has seen the Bucks play at over 90 different grounds over the years covering 1000’s of miles in his car to do so! Well done that man :-)

Obviously today’s sponsors are in the lounge and i was expecting a few blokes from a local firm throwing a few quid in the pot for a bit of advertising or similar, but i was really surprised to find out it was 3 guys who are just Buxton fans and put money into the club now & again over the course of a season to be match day sponsors, what a fantastic idea and food for thought for all fans of small non league clubs, why not get together and actually support the team you support a couple of times a year? Hats off & thanks very much to Psyzo, Simmer & Gilly for the hospitality today and apologies for the hole left by the Rhino in your fridge where all the Carling once stood!

Back to the action as the teams are out for the 2nd half in a game that had 0-0 written all over it! the pitch seemed to getting most of the blame for poor attacking football from both sets of fans but to be fair i’ve seen a lot worse; we’ve been to Guiseley in the past! Mr. Moore was also under the cosh from the home support as the locals seemed to think the man in the middle was siding with the visitors on most of the decisions he was making & hindering the Bucks chances. Imagine that, a ref bias towards the away team? Wouldn’t happen in the EPL………………………… or would it? ;-)

The breakthrough finally came on the hour when No.8 Michael Towey was left unmarked in the box to take the lead for the Bucks with a looping header over Ferriby keeper Adam Nicklin 1-0. And yet again we’ve avoided a nil-nil. More scrappy play for the next 15 or so and the Bucks bring on substitute & underpants model (so i was told) – Kieran Lugsden and Deakin pulled off a tremendous point blank save from Liam King to keep the Bucks noses in front.

About 20 left on the clock when Ferriby level the game, Chris Bolder rose above the crowd to head home Ben Hunter’s cross to make it 1-1 and hopefully give us a last 10 minutes of good old fashioned cup football as neither team wanted a draw from today’s game.

Step up Kieran Lugsden! The super-sub had the goal at his mercy on 83 minutes after a terrible defensive blunder and Mr. Underpants made no mistake smashing the ball home from close range. 2-1. Not long after the announcement for man of the match came over the PA; “Today’s man of the match, awarded by our match day sponsors goes to Ian Deakin” at this point everyone leaning on the wall outside the sponsors lounge turned to look at the big fella sat in the doorway who felt obliged to shout “don’t look at me… i didn’t give it!!”

The game came to an end after 3 minutes added on and the Bucks went into Monday’s hat for the next round on Nov. 10th FT. 2-1. And the reason for my very limited match report is because of a chap called Paul Curran. Paul used to play for the Bucks back in the 70’s and now hosts a free on line TV channel for all the games and has put together a nice 20 minute package of today’s action here (BFCTV) with a bit of help from Alex McKenna no doubt ;-) well worth a watch or even subscribing to…. IT’S FREE! :-)

Back in the lounge and i’m pleased to see the big fella hasn’t drunk all the beer although there was still time for this to happen! Gilly & the boys decide to go into town to catch the Man City game on ESPN and said “nice to meet you guys, hope you’ve had a good day, all the best to you on your cup run and just drop the latch on your way out!” as they left leaving us alone with a fridge full of beer! We left a business card in the fridge like the Milk Tray guy used to in the adverts years ago but instead of leaving a box of chocolates we unfortunately just left a hole in the stock! Sorry.

We had a great day out in Buxton and if you’ve never been then you should go! Friendliest people we’ve met on tour so far this season and we wish them luck & hope they do well in the Trophy this season unless they come up against the mighty Bloods of course ;-)

We took the long way home getting off the train at Stockport and a bus from there to avoid the crowds coming out of the Etihad meaning we didn’t get to Droylsden’s No.1 Tapas bar, The Sweaty Spaniard until about 9 o’clock, Scottish sisters and owners of the Sweaty, Aileen & Geraldine keep telling us the place is called something entirely different but i can’t pronounce it let alone spell it! i’ve never had the food there but i’m told it’s very nice & if you’re in town you should try it :-) (there… i’ve plugged it lol free pint?)

So as i’ve already said, hopefully everyone has logged on to this site as normal and there’s not only me that can see this lol. I’ve swapped over to self hosting because WordPress started to put their own advertising on my blogs because; quote – “your site generates a lot of traffic & advertising helps us pay for the free space we allocate to you” yeah well stuff that! i’ll pay for my own space from now on thank you! Also the Rhino has taken charge of the 1LOTC facebook page (well someone had to) and will now be adding photo albums from each of our games starting with Buxton found (here) g’waaannn, give us a ‘like’

Next up we’re off to Preston, this time last year we followed non league Nantwich Town to Football League 1 side the MK Dons in the FA Cup 1st round so we thought we would do similar this year for Yeovil Town’s league 1 encounter with North End, a goal-fest? An upset? Only time will tell :-) until then my blog buds x

Today’s Stats….

Travel Cost each – £6.10

Admission each – FREE

Mileage covered – 50.0

Total Travel Cost – £60.40

Total Admission – £63.00

Total Mileage – 653.6

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Step 11… Hyde FC v Harrogate Town FC (FACup #6)

Quite simply today is a MASSIVE day for all non league clubs who have made it this far in the FA Cup. Not only is there a £12,500 purse for all the winners of today’s games but they’re in the hat for the first round proper draw with the money-spinning league 1 & 2 clubs! What more incentive could today’s teams need?

We’ve stayed local once again for our step 11 as Harrogate Town make the trip over from Yorkshire to play Hyde FC at Ewen Fields in today’s 4th round qualifier of the cup. Don’t really know much about Harrogate apart from we once bought the most stupid camper van from there to tour Germany in for the 2006 World Cup! As for the football team, they’re currently mid table in the Blue Square North with 4 league wins under their belt so far from this season.

Hyde on the other hand are sitting rock bottom of the Blue Square Prem with only a couple of league wins to date but after coming from 0-1 down against Tamworth to win 2-1 last week the Tigers tails must be up and feeling confident taking on lower league opposition especially at home.

A cheap day all round for us today with free bus travel on the 2 buses it takes to get to Hyde from Droylsden plus Hyde FC secretary Andy McAnulty has very kindly put our names on the guest list for today’s game as well! Thanks very much Mr. Mac :-)

“So what’s Hyde famous for?” the big fella asks me as we stood in the middle of the market square chomping away on sausage rolls, “i’m told the Rubber Glove was invented in Hyde” was the only answer i could give even though i hadn’t confirmed this information it was just something that someone had once told me, “or that bloke who used to work over there, i suppose he put Hyde on the map as well” i said nodding towards the building once frequented by the infamous Dr. Harold Shipman!

We made the short, 10 minute walk from the town centre to Ewen Fields and went straight to the club house for a beer & watch a bit of the Spurs v Chelsea game on their big screen. It was 2-1 to Spurs but by the time i had bought a programme & been to the bar it was 2-3 to Chelsea! Wish i had Juan Mata in my fantasy team now!

Exiting the club house through a different door and we’re inside the ground heading for the press box to find Luke & Burkey from to find out what it takes to be a professional radio broadcaster! Something me & the big fella have thought about doing through Winamp while we’re out & about on match days :-) on the way i met the Hyde mascot so i had to get my photo with him ‘Tony (and) the Tiger’ Grrrrreat!

Referee Simon Bennett gets us underway with Hyde attacking the goal to our left wearing red shirts and navy blue shorts & socks. They’re also wearing shirts with their names printed on the back now they’re in the Blue Square Prem making it a little easier for shite match reporters like me :-)

Harrogate, in their yellow & black kit had just numbers on their backs meaning i had to have a copy of today’s team sheet handy or rely on the professional radio presenters behind me, HA! I’ll get a team sheet! :-) Not much happened in the opening 5 minutes as both teams looked to settle, Ryan Crowther cut inside for Hyde but his weak effort was easily dealt with by Craig McGillivray in the visitors goal but did prompt a rather odd shout from the home terrace….. “c’mon Crowther, i hit the wife harder than that!” 

With just 8 minutes gone we avoid our ‘No-Nil-Nils’ once again as Hyde’s main hit man, Scott Spencer makes a great run into the box, Adam Griffin found him perfectly with a defence splitting pass. A late, lunging tackle from Harrogate skipper, Alan White had Spencer falling to the ground and the radio professionals behind me jumping up & down demanding a penalty! Mr. Bennett duly obliged and pointed towards the spot calming Luke and the ginger cookie monster down.

I was fully expecting Spencer to step up and take the spot kick himself but after missing one earlier in the season, Phil Jevons is now first choice until he misses one that is, then it will be back with Spencer lol. Jevons made no mistake sending McGillivray the wrong way and i managed to get it on video (here) 1-0.

Hyde began to dominate the game after the opening goal but didn’t really have that clinical edge to kill off the tie in front of goal. Hyde’s best chance coming from a Spencer free kick from just outside the area that went that far over the bar it cleared the stand and ended up in the car park of the swimming baths next door!

At the other end the visitors had chances of their own, mainly coming from long balls played over the midfield. Dan Forrest & Paul Beesley both shot wide from range and Luke Dean’s crisp volley was only inches over the bar. As the half came to an end Chib Chilaka went in one on one with Dave Carnell in the Hyde goal, everyone in the ground was expecting the equalizer but Chilaka smashed the ball against the Hyde keeper and the score stayed the same. HT. 1-0.

Rhino – Off to the tuck shop i go leaving 1 Leg to destroy all chances of 26Nil broadcasting a decent show, but i’m somewhat hesitant about buying a pie from here today as i’ve been told the chap selling them is an undertaker by trade! Not sure if i would fancy a pie from an undertaker if i’m honest but i’m also told there’s a 50/50 chance he will be on car park duty if he’s not in the canteen so off i went regardless.

Result! A very nice young lady behind the counter who looked nothing like an undertaker asks me for my order, i take a few long, hard sniffs at her and with no evidence of embalming fluid to be found i order a Steak & Kidney and a Bovril.

Peter’s Pies are on offer here at Ewen Fields at £2 a pop which isn’t too bad i suppose as it is a pretty good half time snack when all said & done. i returned to my seat to tuck in and opted for the upside down, one handed method of eating as Peter’s top crust serves well holding up the rest of the body in this position. Tasty with definite pieces of steak & kidney within surrounded by a nice, rich, thick gravy that didn’t run through my fingers even on my 4th bite :-)

The downside was there wasn’t any Bovril, plenty of other hot beverages to be had including hot Vimto and packet soups so why there is a lack of the beefy goodness god only knows? Winter is coming ya know. Solid & reliable slightly overpriced pie with no Bovril scores 6.9 from me.

Mel B. – Nice to see Peter’s goods being kept well and at the right temperature, too hot and the contents dry up, too cold and the gravy sets like the lard in a chip pan so Kudos there Hyde. Why is the pie warmer tucked away at the back of the canteen? As my dear ole mum used to say to me just before i went out on a Friday night “get the goods up front & out there on show! Let people see what they’re paying for!” which is pretty sound advice on various levels, especially pie selling.

The lack of Bovril is always a thorn in my side, it’s obvious you shop at some sort of cash & carry for your other catering items so would it kill you to buy a tin of Bovril granules? Slight room for improvement at Hyde but i’ve seen a lot worse. 6.5 from me giving a total of 13.4 and the Pundit quote (Martin Tyler on John Terry) is.. Always reliable & Always dependable.

Back to the action as Harrogate get us going again for the second half. The visitors must of had one of those special team talks during the break from gaffer Simon Weaver as they had upped their game right from the whistle. Hyde on the other hand seemed to just be content with sitting back and trying to hit Harrogate on the break, a dangerous game to play when you’re only 1-0 up.

Adam Bolder was pulling all the strings in the middle for the visitors, picking out team mates at will with some excellent passing and the home side just seemed to let him do it? Chances fell for Dean & Chilaka as well as Alan White who was up from the back looking for goal whenever he could and Hyde were letting him.

It seemed only a matter of time before the visitors would be back on terms as they piled the pressure on, Hyde had no answerers and they couldn’t seem to string 3 passes together without giving the ball away! it was like they were just waiting for the full time whistle and they were 5 or 6-0 up, which of course they wasn’t.

Spencer was now feeding off long balls pumped up to him from the Hyde defence and the way the game was going you could quite easily be forgiven if you thought the 2 teams league positions were reversed. Hyde’s midfield had gone missing and when they did show up it was to foul someone or get booked for decent, Hyde boss Scott McNiven seemed to be going along with this areal-only threat also as he swapped Jevons for the very tall Matty Blinkhorn to assist Spencer up top.

Harrogate pressed on through the half but although they were well on top and by far the better team it looked as if it just wasn’t going to be their day. Shots were flying in from all over the place from the visitors but they were all either off target or scrambled clear by a nervous looking Hyde defence.

More changes were made from both sides and with just 2 minutes left on the clock we got our 2nd goal of the day :-) Sub, Dan Clayton collected the ball and headed for goal, his deflected effort went out for a corner that was whipped in by Dan Forrest. Another Harrogate sub, Jonny Allen got his  head to the ball to send it downwards towards goal, the 3rd and final Sub, Leon Osborne was on hand to flick it over the line in one of those ‘was it / wasn’t it over’ moments. The liner on the far side was in no doubt and signalled for a goal immediately 1-1.

With no time left to respond the home side were left shell-shocked as the visitors now played a little keep ball content with doing it all over again on Tuesday night back at Wetherby Road. A relived & very happy looking visitors dug out erupted at full time after the inspired substitutions from Weaver had seen all 3 lend a hand in the equalising goal. FT 1-1. (‘Up For The Cup’ another fellow ground hopper was at the game today and blogged his own views of today’s game here)

The big fella headed for the clubhouse and i turned to my favourite radio presenters with my best did my best topical impression “now then, now then… how’s about that then” it didn’t really go down that well as both Luke & Burkey looked distraught and gutted with only a draw from today’s game. i left the guys to interview a very disappointed looking Scott McNiven and went to find the big fella.

I went to the clubhouse but there was no sign of my beer monster chum! I got myself a beer and a good seat for the Norwich v Arsenal game about to come on the big screen when a young lad came in and flopped into his chair at the next table. His dad asked him what was the matter with him and the little lad said there was a big guy outside booting a football at all the kids! this didn’t sound good and sure enough when i went outside to check, there he was with jumpers for goal posts!

With the make shift pitch covered with fresh blood & milk teeth, i rescued what was left of the young players by taking the big fella back indoors for a beer or 2 where the Rhino explained that he had been taunted into the game by the youngsters so he played in a ‘Vinne Jones’ style so they made him go in nets :-)

Burkey turned up after half an hour or so and we whisked him off to Droylsden’s No. 1 tapas bar the Sweaty Spaniard. The landlady was a bit reluctant to serve him at first because he looked like the homeless guy outside Greggs in Manchester town centre but after we had vouched for him the rest of the night went well… well at least i think it did? It got a bit fuzzy for me and that was nothing to do with Burkeys beard!

Back on the Trophy trail next week as we head off to Buxton for a glass of mineral water and their game against North Ferriby United. Until next time Blog Buds…… :-)

Today’s Stats….

Travel Cost each – FREE

Admission each – FREE

Mileage covered – 11.0

Total Travel Cost – £54.30

Total Admission – £63.00

Total Mileage – 603.6

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Step 10… Cheadle Town v Wigan Robin Park (FAVase #3)

1st round proper in the FA Vase today and we’ve decided on an all North West Counties clash at the Park Rd. stadium between Cheadle Town & Wigan Robin Park. We were set for a trip to Leicestershire for our step 10 but the rules for Vase games are a bit different than other comps as in there will be 30 minutes extra time if the game is a draw on 90 so with that in mind we went for a tie closer to home just in case.

Even though Cheadle’s ground is only about 10 mile away it’s going to take 3 buses to get there! The big fella is not really that happy about using peasant power for this season’s challenge so i told him that we would be stopping for lunch in Stockport at Reggie’s Chippy :-) right next to the bus station in Stockport, Reggie’s is a great English chippy that sells huge portions of chips & gravy for £2 and also sells Battered Mars Bars for £1 for some reason. Breaking up the journey by stopping at Reggie’s for lunch might just cheer the big fella up a little & i may just get him desert as well :-) I offered to buy the Rhino one of these deep-fried delights but he told me the only thing that would be battered was me if i expected him to eat one of them!

A 10 minute bus ride later and we’re walking up Park Road, home of Cheadle Town. “is this Doggers lane?” the big fella asks me as we approach the gates, in a way i was quite hoping it was because i’ve not seen any non league dogs for a couple of weeks now but somehow i think that’s not what the Rhino meant when he asked the question :-)

£5 admission and we were one of the first to arrive at about 2.15. The first thing you notice when you’re at Cheadle is there’s a very low flying plane every 2 minutes or so on its way to the nearby airport, they really are that close together as well, as one is going over you can already see the next one in the distance coming in!

Still too early for a pie so we head for the social club in search of some other form of liquid refreshment. we walked into the portacabin / bar next to the main stand to find empty pint pots turned upside down on all the pumps on the bar, this means only one thing… we’re on cans!

Staying with the official sponsors of the FA Vase we ordered 2 cans of Carlsberg and took a seat. Horse racing was on the battered old TV in the corner and the dozen or so people in there were concentrating more on trying to get warm rather than the racing as it seemed warmer outside of this dark & gloomy place, the smell reminded the big fella of his garden shed but it reminded me more of a cellar i one worked on years ago when a young woman was converting it into a dungeon so she could work from home? must of been some sort of fitness instructor or something ;-)

Back outside and Mr. Midgley was about to get our 10th step underway! After struggling to find his seat the Rhino takes his place in the main stand as i go off in search of today’s team sheet, just hope i will be able to find him in the crowd on my return!

No luck with the line up for either team for today so i’ll just have to ask fans from either side who’s playing what shirt numbers….. if i can find any that is! Cheadle are in green playing from right to left & kicking the other way are the reds of Wigan, well that’s a start i suppose but i did notice the linesmen are on the wrong lines, near left & far right as you look at the pitch from the half way line. I’ve had many different explanations in the past as to why this happens let’s hope i can get another today :-)

Abandoning all hope of finding the big fella in the vast crowd of the main stand, i take up position just down from the home dug out close to the 18 yard line hoping the liner won’t be one of those who have selective deafness.

A very scrappy opening to the game with lots of shouting & swearing from both sides about who should be picking up who and who’s not woken up yet. Cheadle No. 9 was getting caught offside in nearly every route one attack from the home side and disputed every raised flag with the liner but at least the liner was answering him back, he may be the chatty type after all :-)

With about 15 gone we get our first bit of real action, Wigan are on the offensive and a foul in the box has the Ref pointing to the spot. Wigan No. 6 stepped up & hit the spot kick low and to the keeper’s left. Steve Piggott went the right way and smothered the ball on the line to keep the scores level.

Another 15 minutes or so of kick & chase football before Wigan are awarded another chance from the spot to take the lead. This time No. 9 Phil Howard hits his left footer towards the same spot as the previous pen and sending Piggot the wrong way the ball finds the back of the net safely. 0-1.

The weather looked like it was going to make an already woeful game even worse as the grey clouds gathered but at least it seemed to have an effect of the amount of jets overhead, either that or the clouds just covered them up & dampened the noise a little.

With 5 minutes left i think the players & fans alike were just waiting for the whistle so we could all go and do something a bit more interesting at half time. I couldn’t recall the Wigan keeper being tested & other than a few set pieces Cheadle never looked like threatening him. Wigan weren’t much better either but as the half was coming to an end right back, Ian Rowlands ventured up field with the ball at his feet and not being able to find an outlet he carried on and took the shot on himself, Piggot looked to have saved it but the ball bobbled out from under him to cross the line! 0-2. More hands in the air gestures from the home bench and the ref sent us for a pie minutes later with Wigan on top. HT. 0-2.

Rhino – I had noticed that the beer mats in the bar were sporting the ‘Peter’s Pies’ logo when we were having a pre match beer and i was rather looking forward to this having not had one for a while. Only a couple of people in front of me as i waited for the Princess Jasmine lookalike to serve them & take my order.

It’s the last pie! This is something myself & fellow pie lovers throughout the land don’t like to hear at half time at any game but at least it was mine and 1 Leg would have to put up with a sausage roll. £1.50 for the pie & 50p for vending machine type Bovril makes for a cheap treat but i don’t think this was this pie’s first visit to the oven as i had use the fork in a frenzied, Norman Bates style motion to break open the pastry! I’ve definitely had better from the Peter’s range. 5.6 from me on the day.

Mel B. – So sad when one of the greats fall through lack of affection. Peter’s have been producing great pies and keeping fans happy for a long time now and abuse like this should be reported to someone, it’s a shame Esther Rantzen has her hands full these days or i’m sure she would step in to help. I don’t think it was a case of Jasmine re-heating the pies more than once as the Rhino suspected, it’s just the temperature is set too high for a ‘keep warm’ operation; something us girls were taught a long time ago in basic home-ec at school.

The kitchen and general food area is lacking in the odd personal touches. Table cloths or place mats, some air freshener or floral decorations wouldn’t go a miss and a few gallon of Cillit Bang thrown about the place would be a great start! 5.2 from me giving an overall total of just 10.8 and the Pundit Quote (Hansen on Rooney) is.. The crowd pleaser just wasn’t on form today!

The home side sent out their go to playmaker, Aaron Riley for the 2nd half in an attempt to get back into the game. Cheadle were the better team and were now at least attempting to play their way forward in search of a goal. After a couple of scuffed efforts the home side got their rewards when Riley’s cross / shot was met by Andy Lindon at the far post who made sure the ball crossed the Wigan line. 1-2.

With Cheadle tails now up & looking for their second goal, we were all worrying wondering if this would end in a draw and we would have another half hour to endure. With 20 minutes left Ben Brooks looked certain to make it all square, about 10 yards out he had a free header after the ball had been crossed in from the right & he connected sweetly heading downwards & on target. Jason Foulds in the Wigan goal pulled off the best save i’ve seen so far this season, remember that Gordon Banks famous save from Pelé in 1970? This was like a carbon copy of it.. Just Brilliant!

We were joined by Twitter Footy-Family man Gary (@bebbz) for the second half, with it being non league day today Gary was midway through his Cheshire ground hop, after going to Macclesfield for the 12.30 kick off he had come here instead of Stockport County on his way to Hyde FC for their 6.30 kick off so he really didn’t want this to go to extra time!

Fortunately for Gary and Wigan, Ryan Small managed to squeeze the ball under Piggott for the visitors 3rd goal of the day with about 10 minutes to go. Against the run of play it has to be said but it was enough to squash any hopes of a Cheadle come back and the liner finally answered my question as to why he was on the wrong line? “he’s as old as Ben Hur” he said nodding at the man in the middle “he’s got us running these lines!” God Knows what that means but it’s another answer to my collection for the same question :-)

The game fizzled out with Wigan playing keep ball safe in the knowledge that they had secured the £900 prize from the FA and were in Monday’s draw for the 2nd round. Ben Hur put us out of our misery after 4 minutes of added time and we headed for the bus stop before the players had left the pitch. FT. 1-3.

Local teams are getting a bit thin on the ground for us in the Vase now and we’re a bit reluctant to travel or spend big money on a hotel for an overnighter at this level, well at this stage anyway. So we’re hoping for a bit of luck & a better game for the next Vase game on the 17th Nov.

Back in the Sweaty Spaniard for Hyde’s 6.30 kick off on Burkey’s wireless show! We’re off to Ewen Fields for our next game when the Tigers will host Harrogate Town in the ‘Big One!’ the FA Cup 4th round qualifying. Win this game and not only do you net a good purse from the FA kitty you go into the draw for the 1st round proper – the potential money spinner!

The Rhino tells me he’s set it up with Luke & Burkey for us to be on their show on Saturday when they commentate on the game… “ooh am i going to be a DJ? Now then, now then guys & gals an all that?” with a frown on his face the big fella said “yeah, say that when you’re on i’m sure Burkey will fix it for you!” 

Today’s Stats….

Travel Cost each – FREE

Admission each – £5

Mileage covered – 20.6

Total Travel Cost – £54.30

Total Admission – £63.00

Total Mileage – 592.6


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Step 9… AFC Fylde v Solihull Moors FC (FACup #5)

FA Cup day today! Probably our favourite competition of the 3 we’re following and things are hotting up as we enter the 3rd round qualifying stage. £7,500 is on offer for the winners of today’s games across the country, so we look at the fixtures to try and find a possible ‘upset’ that might be out there.

AFC Fylde who are currently in 8th position in the Evo-Stik Prem are at home to Solihull Moors from the Blue Square North and although the Midlands team are struggling a little in 19th spot, form suggested that this would be a closely contested game to go to, then again i study form before placing bets on football and i’m still skint! :-(

With our choice of fixture confirmed & £7.10 return tickets to Kirkham & Wesham booked the only thing left was to come up with a plan to make the train journey a little better for fellow blogger, Gibbo! Who was joining the train at Bolton and coming to the game with us. In the past the young Bolton Wanderer has had a torrid time with rail journeys & rail staff to the point where he can’t stand them anymore!

Gibbo had celebrated his 17th Birthday in the week so we thought we would have a little party for him on the train! We had to leave Droylsden early because Man City were at home & kicking off at 12.45 and the Rhino needed to go to his ‘secret bakery’ which is near the Etihad, to get Gibbo a special birthday pie! Once that was done it was into Manchester for banners, balloons, hats, poppers etc.. basically, ‘tat’ from the pound shop :-)

We’re on the 12.22 from Victoria and find a suitable booth to decorate; we sent the birthday boy a text making sure he was in position & ready to catch the same train when it stopped at Bolton. We had 20 minutes to prepare! I got busy with the sellotape & banner and we enlisted the help of our fellow passengers to blow up some balloons while the Rhino cut the £1 birthday cake into pieces & arranged the candles on it. i handed out party poppers to all aboard and told them to insert the word ‘Gibbo’ when they get to that line of the famous ‘Happy Birthday’ song :-) everyone seemed up for it, or scared of me, apart from one woman who wanted nothing to do with it.. “no problem” i told her, “you can be the photographer then” she reluctantly agreed lol.

The ticket inspector then appeared and as he stopped at our table the Rhino told him “all this was already here when we sat down mate, i think it was some bigger boys that done it and now they’ve run off!” Ha! Classic use of the school boy default excuse from the big fella there but the guard must of heard it all before and come back with “you do know this train started at Victoria don’t you?” silence followed as the guard scribbled on our tickets then moved on telling us “and if you light them candles i’ll be throwing you off at the next station!” nice man! :-)

We stopped at Bolton and the little chap appeared in our carriage with a big cheesy grin on his dial as i prompted everyone into song! I think a few joined in but everyone armed with a popper let them go making a right mess for someone to clean up later! The Rhino presented Gibbo with a huge ‘It’s My Birthday’ badge and placed a little party hat on his head :-)

We had presents for him too, as well as the special meat & potato pies the big fella had bought him a pack of Bovril cubes (as every good ground hopper should carry) where as i had invested a whole £1 on a table football game for the lad. The Rhino challenged him to a game and thrashed him 5-3! And on his birthday as well.. the tight git!

Chorley was the next stop for the train and a group of middle age-ish women got on who were on their way to Blackpool for a girls night out birthday party, we we’re getting off at the next stop so we very kindly gave them the rest of the birthday cake and told them they should swap to our table for the remainder of their journey and continue their party with the mess decorations we had left :-)

We left the 4 girls with 5 pieces of cake! Probably not a good idea on reflection as they reminded me of the sort of people who describe themselves as ‘voluptuous’ or ‘bubbly’ in the lonely hearts columns of the local newspaper and we all know what that means! ;-)

Off the train & we’re stood outside the station at Kirkham, the plan was to skateboard or scooter our way to the ground from here but it was about 4 mile away and i’m pretty sure it would of ended in carnage with at least one hair line fracture so we asked directions to the nearest pub and we’ll get a taxi from there.

On the short walk to the St N Arms (well it looked like that from a distance) we came across Fox’s Biscuit factory and Gibbo took a quick photo of it and said “i didn’t know Kirkham was famous for its biscuits” the Rhino found this highly amusing and said.. “It’s more famous for one of Her Majesty’s hotels being here than biscuits mate!” we arrived at the Stanley Arms and go inside.

The big fella gets the beer in & a phone number for the local taxi firm and the 3 of us watch a bit of the City game on TV. I spotted a poster on the notice board advertising today’s game as ‘FA Cup Fever’ NICE! As well as advertising admission prices, day, date & time. AFC Fylde also offer a free bus shuttle service from various parts of the area to Kellamergh Park when the Coasters are playing at home! what a nice touch :-)

Unfortunately for us, the Stanley Arms wasn’t on any of the free bus service routes so we had to settle on splitting the £9 taxi ride to the game! i’m just glad we opted out of skateboarding our way, the KP is right out in the middle of the sticks as the Rhino pointed out to the driver “all this grass around here, they could of built it a bit nearer!”

On arrival at the ground i get the birthday boy & his big badge to stand in front of the gate while i take his picture just to prove to Mrs. Gibbons that we were looking after her little lad :-)

After a bit of deliberation at the turnstile about how disabled you have to be before you’re disabled, we paid the £8 (and £5 for me!) and we were in. A very polite young fella knocking programmes out for £2 a pop is the first thing you come across and it’s a bit hard to say no when he calls everyone sir, so i bought one and we moved round to the open air side of the ground to stand next to the away team dug-out for the game.

The teams line up on the pitch and the coaching staff take their places next to us. But who’s this smart looking chap barking orders at the Solihull players? Is this the same Marcus Bignot i seen a few years ago playing for Millwall & QPR? Yes, yes it is and doesn’t he look different all dressed up :-)

The announcer at Fylde today read his name out a few times so we had to go round and see if we could get a photo with him or even a few words we could use in the blog, to be fair to the announcer, he was having a bit of a day today, he struggled with a few of the names of today’s teams and encouraged the away fans to go and see the famous Blackpool illuminations after the game telling them “you’re better off waiting till it goes dark, it will go dark later on” lol well that’s a relief!

A nice sunny afternoon was the backdrop as our step 9 got underway but being close to the coast there was a bitter wind that came blasting across the pitch now & again that brought a slight tear to the eye, but it must have been worse for the guy with the TV camera stood on top of the little tower, i bet it was a bit windy up there!

The first 10 minutes was all one way traffic, Fylde had started much the better team and were first to every ball and first to my favourite terrace shout; ‘Seconds!’ so there was no chance of us getting the attention of Mr. Bignot as he was far too busy barking at his team!

The opening goal came just 12 minutes in, a shot from outside the area was deflected out to Fylde’s No. 9 James Dean, the monster looking centre forward with one of the coolest names known to man, knocked the ball down for No. 7 Joe Booth who struck it sweetly passed Jasbir Singh in the Moors goal to open the scoring 1-0.

With the first goal in the bank the home side grew in confidence constantly attacking & probing the Midlands team who just didn’t have any answers to the onslaught from Fylde. Tom Kemp & Omar Bogle up front for Moors, hardly got a touch of the ball let alone a chance at goal, in fact you would of easily been forgiven if you thought these 2 teams league positions were reversed.

No.10 & shining light for Fylde was Michael Barnes, playing down the right side he was beating Moors left back Michael Blackwood at will & his delivery wasn’t too bad either presenting great chances for Matty Hughes, Jack Dorney and of course James Dean who all brought the best out of Singh.

On the half hour Barnes was this time on the receiving end of a cross from Dorney, the ginger genius made no mistake hammering his shot home to double Fylde’s lead. 2-0. “he deserves that” i said to the Rhino who replied with a brilliant statement…. “last time i seen a bloke like that, running that quick he ended up in a sand box & a post box in Milton Keynes was painted gold!” good point :-)

As the half came to an end the inevitable happened, Barnes was away with the ball at his feet & bearing down on goal, once again he had left Blackwood for dead but this time a desperate lunge from behind from the left back brought Barnes down leaving Mr. Holmes with only one option; Red!… it was alimentary ;-)

Surprisingly the home fans were none too happy about this, they would of much preferred Blackwood to stay as Barnes had him ‘in his pocket’ which i must admit, he did. This was going to have to be some team talk from Bignot at half time, i could only recall one real chance from Solihull from the first half when a Bogle effort was saved by Ben Hinchliffe and now they were down to 10 men! HT. 2-0.

Rhino – hearing good things about today’s offerings at the KP so i’m off to the tea hut to see what all the fuss is about. “Award winning pies supplied by David Giglis” is there for all to see on Fylde’s website along with a new Steak & Ale pie for this season at only £1.80! how could i refuse?

A monster of a pie was presented to me by the very shy tea lady who very politely asked me not to take her picture so i got 1 Leg to snap a sneaky one while her back was turned ;-) The glaze on top was that shiny it made it look wet & the plastic fork was needed to crack open this whopper to gain access to the good stuff within. I suppose i was a little disappointed after such a big build up with average size pieces of meat & plenty of room for more.

The gravy lacked in Ale flavour but held a unique taste i’ve not come across before, 1 Leg had opted out on today’s half time treat telling me he wasn’t hungry but i knew he was off somewhere nursing a broken tooth he thinks i didn’t know about but fortunately i had Gibbo on hand to compare notes with.

Coming from Bolton the young lad has been brought up on good quality pies by Mrs. G. And knows his stuff. He was more disappointed than me as his pie seemed to have less filling than mine but we both agreed that they were probably good value for the money but definitely have room for improvement. 6.9 from me, not too bad.

Mel B. - The trouble with building something up big time is you have to live up to it, looks like they’re banking on ‘size matters’ where a bit of extra filling & a slight change in recipe is needed from Fylde suppliers for this fine looking specimen to come up to the billing it’s been given, i’m sure by adding lots more & rounding the price up to £2 would solve this slight problem for staff & punters alike. People don’t mind paying a little extra for good quality.

I like this ‘catalogue pose’ from the Rhino as he sips from his adequate Bovril in the chilly, Northern wind but i also like the little cardboard sleeve on the cup advertising the club & preventing you burning your fingers, it fits well with the ‘beach hut’ style snack bar that reminds me of strolling along the sands with my BAPS enjoying the sunshine. 6.9 from me as well the Pundit Quote (Motty on Crouch) is.. There’s none bigger in this league!

The second half picked up where the first had left off with the home side completely in control. All the play was now in the visitors half of the field and Solihull were reduced to punts up field and any chance on goal they may have would come from set pieces.

Just before the hour they got a break, a foul on the edge of the box gave No. 11 Ryan Beswick a chance to wrap his left foot around the free kick and test Hinchliffe from 20 yards. Best described by a Solihull fan who had wandered over to the main stand where i was sat with all the home support, the young fella was on his phone to someone at the time and in a loud voice we all heard… “yeah we’re 2-0 down and playing rubbish again, we’ve just got a free kick now & Beswick’s taking it… a couple of years ago this would of flown into the top corner but now.. well he’s just going to slam it into the wall!.. here he comes……” BOOM! A great strike from the Moors winger gave the keeper no chance making it 2-1. Not often you see home supporters laughing at a goal they’ve conceded but they did as various remarks were shouted at the red faced, phone-fan who was now running off, still on his phone screaming “He’s done it! He’s scored!… we’re gona win this now!”

The visitors heads lifted a little after the goal and Bignot was vocal from the far side to do all he could to rally his troops into action. Fylde were patient and still controlling the middle of the park and 6 minutes later normal service was resumed.

With some fine ‘pass & move’ football the ball was crossed into Barnes on the edge of the box and the ‘Man of the Match’ left Singh with no chance as he blasted the ball past him for 3-1. No way back for the visitors now and 5 minutes later more misery was heaped on them when Barnes turned provider for Richie Allen to get his name on the score sheet. 4-1.

Fylde finally took their foot off the gas and were quite happy to run the rest of the game out with what looked like a training exercise. The 10 men of Solihull were dead on their feet and had that ‘just blow the whistle’ look about them as Mr. Holmes added 4 extra minutes.

A fine performance from a team in the division below their opposition but that’s 4 losses on the spin now from Solihull and they’re freefalling in the league so on paper today was an upset but in reality only one team turned up. They’ve spent a fortune here at Fylde in a bid to gain Blue Square status and after today’s performance they deserve it!  FT. 4-1. (you can catch all the goals from today & previous home games at the KP on their web page here)

We had received a tweet from Twitter Football Family member, Malky Watson earlier that day telling us he would meet us at today’s game, he was there with his son and must of still been in a good mood after the result as he offered to give all 3 of us a lift back to the station! Nice one, hope he has a big car because we’re certainly not small lol well apart from Gibbo :-) fortunately he did and after a bit of what appeared to be some sort of mad Hogg Tying in the front seat, the Rhino finally fastened his seat belt and we we’re off!

We arrived at the station with just 5 minutes to spare before the train was due, we had to change at Preston but from there it was to infinity & beyond! Well according to the big fella it was, he had turned into some sort of Buzz Lightyear after seeing the sign on the platform.

At this point i noticed Gibbo had removed the big ‘it’s my birthday’ badge he had been wearing all day so i asked him where it was? “wherever i went in the ground to take photo’s people would burst into the Happy Birthday song when they seen it!” awww bless him :-) We changed trains at Preston and bid farewell to the Bolton wanderer at Horwich on our way back to Manchester. i know Gibbo has already posted his blog for today’s game and you can read it (here) well worth following or bookmarking the young lad’s efforts on doing the 92 & more!

No dramas for us back in the town centre, 10 minute walk from Victoria to Piccadilly gardens then a 5 minute wait for the bus back to Droylsden… job done! We’re soon propping up the bar in Droylsden’s best tapas bar; The Sweaty Spaniard but on my return from the gents i notice the big fella has “done me a favour?” and drank my beer! I demand an explanation & he tells me “you think i don’t know you’ve broke your tooth do you?… i’ve drank your beer so you don’t get cold in it lol..all the stick you give me the other week when i had gob rot, did you think i was going to let you get away with it?” and that was me on Irish coffees for the rest of the night! :-)

Cheadle Town is next on our journey when they take on Wigan Robin Park in the 1st round of the Vase this Saturday, we seen Cheadle twice last year but never on their home turf and a free bus there & back sealed the deal for us! Until then blog fans……

Today’s Stats….

Travel Cost each – £7.10 train & £3 taxi

Admission each – £6.50 (1 at £8 & 1 at £5)

Mileage covered – 108.8

Total Travel Cost – £54.30

Total Admission – £57.00

Total Mileage – 572

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Step 8… FC United of M/cr v Mossley AFC (FATrophy #2)

Back on the Trophy trail for today’s game as we take the 2 bus, 12 mile trip to Gigg Lane in Bury. Not to watch the shakers obviously but to see the ‘infamous’ FC United of Manchester take on Mossley in the 1st round qualifying of the FA Trophy.

We were originally booked in for a trip to Chorley for today’s slot in the calendar, but changes had to be made once my lovely girlfriend told me i had to be back for 7pm to get ready for a fancy dress party we were going to that night! So after a quick look through the fixtures for today as well as the bus timetables, if all goes well i should be back from the game & walking through the front door at 6.45 if we go to Gigg Ln. instead…. if all goes well

We inform our good pal, Burkey of our intended fixture change & he tells us he fancies the idea and asks if he can tag along? “of course you can!” i tell him and me & the Rhino immediately start betting with one another on what day of the week he will cancel & what the excuse would be! Feeling certain his excuse would be work related i went for Friday & snowed under. The Rhino however told me that Burkey is secretly the front man in a Stockport folk band called “Nine Bob Note” and felt sure they were headlining at a gig at Macclesfield church fate this Saturday.

Friday night and Burkey is on his BBC radio Manchester, non league show and announces to the thousands of listeners that he’s off to watch FC United in the FA Trophy tomorrow, so maybe he’s coming after all? But as the Rhino stated “there’s still time for him to bail yet”

Saturday morning we both receive the same text at 10.30. “morning chaps, i really, really, really do have too much work on today…..blah blah etc” no prizes for guessing who it was from :-) The Rhino rings me to see if i have got the text and after i confirm i have he then went on to tell me… “told you! He’s none too shabby with a penny whistle and has now reached a ‘proficient level’ on Kazoo, his ginger beard is at the recommended folk band length so it’s no wonder Nine Bob Note snapped him up as their front!” lol, yes i had to check & he did say ‘front’! Well, all bets are off & rolled over until the next time Burkey decides to come to a game with us and we shall once again bet on his “can’t make it” reasons :-)

A bus into town and a quick stop at Greggs for coffee & sausage rolls before we catch the next bus to Bury. “sausage rolls are genius!” the big fella tells me as we board the 135 ‘Bendy Bus’ to Bury, (which are a bit tricky to stand up on when you’ve got a leg missing!) “they’re breakfast wrapped in pastry” he’s very easily pleased sometimes the Rhino :-)

The 40 minute bus ride gives us plenty of time to look at the form of today’s teams, both play in the Evo-Stik league and both have 8 league games under their belt. But while Mossley are flying high topping the 1st division North with 6 wins & a draw, United are 6th in the Premier division with 4 wins & 3 draws. We went to a pre season friendly between these 2 teams back in August in which Mossley won 2-0 on their home turf but United fans on the night were telling us they wasn’t that bothered because they were giving their young lads a try out? This is FC United & not Man United right???

We arrive at Gigg Ln. well before kickoff giving us chance to have a look around before we pay the £8 admission and go inside. I was really hoping that all the ‘hype’ involving FC United was a bit of a myth & they really are just your average, run of the mill non league side but the amount of traffic cones we passed on the short walk from the main road to the ground suggested otherwise.

Hi-vis vests as far as the eye could see! ok, bit of an exaggeration there but there were plenty of them milling about and one of them was a middle age woman who also had a head-set on and was going around all her hi-vis  colleges saying “search everybody, and i mean everybody! And if they have got a bag, search that too!” was i missing something here? Is there some history behind this fixture i don’t know about?

We spotted vis-vest No. 572 on duty on the disabled entrance gate so wandered over for a chat while waiting for today’s team sheets to arrive at the main reception. To be fair he was quite helpful after he had told us we couldn’t go into the game via the gate he was assigned to, but then again it was a gate for vehicles. He informed us that if we wanted a bit more room to watch today’s match we would be better off in the ‘away’ section as the rest of the ground would be packed! So maybe i was just being a bit of a bitch and all these cones & hi-vis people are needed on match day? it was still only about 2.15 so there will probably be a mad rush of home fans in the next half hour or so?

The team sheets finally arrived and we headed for the gate to get searched, oh & pay in :-) after being told “No” when i asked if there was any reduction in price for disabled fans, i then asked if there should be a police officer present if i was to be searched as i couldn’t see one anywhere at the ground?

We didn’t get searched! Which was strange because the woman we had seen before seemed quite adamant that everyone should be? But i’m not complaining (yeah i know… for once!) £8 in, £2 for a programme and we ‘slipped’ through the turnstile :-)

The reason for the ‘search everyone’ became clear once we were inside. The Mossley Ultras were here! lol i’ve come across this bunch of young lads before, they made me laugh once after a floodlight failure when they all produced their phones and started to wave them about like torches while singing “Get your phones out for the lads” lol they’re noisy, boisterous & completely harmless! But today the little tykes had snuck alcohol into the game! shock – horror! Imagine that…. beer at a football match! The very cheek of it!!

The Rhino come up with the perfect solution to this problem and told vis-vest 155 to confiscate all the beer, leave it with him for 15 minutes and he would make the problem ‘disappear!’ unfortunately No. 155 didn’t speak or understand English as his tight-lipped, blank stare at the big fella proved.

Only one side of the ground is being used today at Gigg and the fans will be segregated for the game. i’m not happy, no changing ends at half time to stand behind the goal your team is attacking, well it’s no standing behind the goal full stop today! Home & away fans mingling together is one of the best things about non league football in my opinion, we had been to the friendly between these 2 sides back in August at Mossley and you could just go where you like once inside and everything was fine that night.

i walked over to the barriers separating the fans to get a photo of this ‘massive’ home support, 3 hi-vis’s came rushing towards me telling me to go back, there was no way through! It would probably have been easier to get on a plane at the airport carrying a box with the word ‘semtex’ written on it than get through that gate! So i headed for the smoking area.

More bad news! I get to the top of the stairs and i’m stopped by No. 89. Who tells me the smoking area is NOT open until half time. I look down the 2 flights of stairs at a couple of blokes stood in the little area who are…. smoking! I look back at 89 with the shoulders shrugged, open handed, WTF? Gesture… “they’ve not come upstairs yet” 89 tells me! with total disbelief i have to make sure on this rule and ask “so let me get this right, they’ve paid their money, passed through the turnstile into the smoking area & are allowed to smoke there but if they get to the top of these stairs they can’t go back until half time like me?” 89 confirmed this and also felt the need to warn me that if i was caught smoking i would be evicted from the ground immediately! Words fail me, apart from obvious ones that usually offend. I return to my seat and spot a banner on the far side of the pitch that i couldn’t agree more with! :-)

Well i’m here for the football instead of moaning about everything else so at 3pm Mr. Dwyer gets us started :-) United are in their home strip of red shirts, white shorts & black socks, a perfect contrast to the white shirts, black shorts & white socks of the visitors. “all football games should be played in these colours” the big fella informs me, although i’m not so sure City, Chelsea, Everton..etc fans would agree with him, i perfectly understood. Then again i’m colour blind so today’s choice of kit was great for me :-)

A good tempo to the game in the first 10 minutes with both sides looking to attack when they could, United No. 9 Chris Amadi was looking like a handful & after beating off two challenges his cross found No. 3 Lee Neville unmarked in the box, but his first time effort was soft & easily saved.

Lilywhites; Mark Haslam & Gary Gee carved up the home defence with some great passing but the final ball was just too long for lone front man Kayde Coppin to get on the end of, James Spencer came off his line to gather the ball & his kick up field found Amadi once again but Keil O’Brien won the ball back as Amadi tried to turn and Mossley were on the attack again! It was all good stuff and my bitchy mood was fading :-)

On 16 minutes our ‘No Nil-Nils’ record remained intact! Mossley’s No. 10 Jay Gorton picked up on a loose ball in the United half and played a fantastic through ball for Coppin, the Mossley hit man had timed his run to perfection & hit the defence-splitting pass low into the far corner passed the outstretched Spencer to score one of the best goals we’ve seen this season! 0-1.

The Mossley fans we were sat with were expecting a United onslaught after taking the lead but in fairness it never really came, if anything they were struggling to contain the Lilywhites packed midfield and the very in-form Coppin up front. The old boy sat next to us seemed to take great delight in the scoreboard telling us “look-e there, our name up in lights!”

20 minutes gone; Coppin unleashes a pile driver from the edge of the box forcing Spencer into a fine double fisted save. United well & truly under the cosh as all the play was in and around the home penalty area. 30 minutes Coppin with the ball at his feet goes into the area, a combination of Spencer & centre half, Adam Jones block the striker’s run and come away with the ball, Dwyer thinks about it for a second or 2 then blows his whistle & points to the spot. Penalty to Mossley!

GOAL! 0-2. As calm as you like, Kayde Coppin steers the ball past Spencer to give the Lilywhites their 2nd of the afternoon. As the game re-started Carlos Roca is on for the injured Wolfenden for United and immediately gets involved in the game. Roca hits a ball into space for Jerome Wright who’s cross was perfect for Amadi. Martin Pearson was well beaten in the Mossley goal and was relieved to see the ball go inches wide from the big man.

Roca looked like he might be just what the home side needed to get themselves back into the game; he linked up well with No. 8 Jake Cottrell in centre midfield to go down the middle or switched the play to either flank with some pin-point passing but the home side lacked an end product and Mossley were waiting to pounce on the counter. The half came to an end with the Ultras knocking out that Doris Day classic about going to Wem-ber-leeey and their team with an unexpected 2 goal lead. HT. 0-2.

Rhino – I’m off to the tuck shop as the 1 legged chap hops off for a smoke & no doubt have another go at the hi-vis brigade, a nice enough young chap is serving but tells me he doesn’t want his picture taken for this week’s pie review! Ok, no problem i thought as i ordered a ‘Wrights’ steak & ale pie and a Bovril. “that’s £5.10 please mate” the guy says to me as i fumble for change, remembering that the same pie from the same firm was on offer at Winsford only a week ago for £1.50 i asked the guy to confirm the price? “it’s £3 for the pie & £2.10 for Bovril” i couldn’t believe it! “wow really?” i said to him “i thought you didn’t want your picture taken because the CSA was after you or somethin’ but it’s because you don’t want me to send it to Crime Watch! You’re a thief!”

So glad 1 Leg had decided to smoke rather than eat lol this pie better be good! I went for the ‘fork’ option when eating, mainly because i wanted to get as much value as i could for my money but it was needed as it turned out. A very nice but messy pie with disintegrating, flaky pastry on the top and soft, suet sides & bottom, no way this is a hand held job as the thick chunks of steak within would of brought the walls of this baby crashing down on their own even without the thick, gloopy gravy that held that wonderful ale flavour.

The Bovril wasn’t much to shout about unfortunately, i think ‘tepid’ is the word i’ll use to best describe it. nowhere near the correct serving temperature but at least i can confirm it had not been tampered with in any way it was just un-loved. Score of 7.2 from me, it was a very nice pie all said & done.

Mel. B – I can’t believe this, i just can’t! After going back through various pie reports i found that a pie & Bovril from Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge was £5.30! so if you’re at Gigg Ln. watching FC United in non league or landlords Bury, who are bottom of football league 1 just remember you could be dining with the champions of Europe for just 20p more!

I obviously can’t comment on the kitchen area thanks to the young bandit behind the counter putting a block on the Rhino taking photos, but i wouldn’t be as generous with the scoring even if i could, i just can’t get over the price! I would normally expect to be chatted up for a couple of hours, a few Martini’s and a movie before penetration like that! £5.10!!! i’m sorry but 6.4 from me, Pundit quote (Ray Wilkins) is.. MY WORD!

Back for the second half and the big fella is a little reluctant to tell me about the pie! I explain to him that i had been chatting to a few people outside who seem to think all the ‘massive club’ things that i’m not happy about are due to Bury FC putting lots of rules & regs in place before they agreed to let FC United use Gigg Ln. so i take it all back! lol well maybe not all of it :-) on with the game!

United are out early for the second half and look as though they have been properly ‘motivated’ by gaffer Karl Marginson’s half time little chat with them :-) No. 12 Mike Norton, one of United’s main goal scorers is on for Scott Cheetham for the home side while the Lilywhites remain unchanged as Mr. Dwyer once again gets us going.

Much of the same for the opening period of the second half, O’Brien & skipper Dave Young are solid at the back for Mossley keeping Amadi and now Norton under wraps. Man of the Match contender, Kayde Coppin is causing havoc for United’s defence playing the lone strikers roll although he did have good support from the midfield.

United’s main threat was coming from Carlos Roca, playing more right-sided now, the guy can certainly find a pass or two when he wants and he’s not shy at taking people on & running with the ball either. Roca’s high & wide attempt from outside the area was the only pop at goal from the home side in the first 10 minutes.

Cometh the hour an all that…. 60 minutes gone Coppin wins the ball close to the half way line then sets off down the left wing. Holding the ball up until white shirts arrived in the box he then whipped the ball in with his left peg for Ash Young to guide home without breaking stride. BOOM! 0-3 half hour left – game over! Young continued running towards the corner flag, threw himself at Coppin before the rest of the team arrived for the proverbial pile on!

United wouldn’t lie down though, pushing the Lilywhites further & further back they started to probe and test the visitors and eventually got their rewards on 73 minutes when Roca’s low cross was turned in by Amadi to bring a splattering of applause from the home fans. 1-3.

Only 5 minutes later and a bigger cheer was to come from the home support, a route one style big hoof up the pitch from United defender Dean Stott was heading for the huge frame of Chris Amadi, god knows why but Martin Pearson came rushing off his line in an attempt to get to the ball first and had to watch helplessly as Amadi nodded the ball over him & his outstretched fist but under the Mossley crossbar for his & United’s second of the day. 2-3.

Was the comeback on? The Ultras had gone a bit quiet while the home fans had turned the volume up! 871 in attendance today or so i was told at half time, not sure if that includes the thousands & thousands of hi-vis’s though (ok ok i’ll shut up already!) :-)

United now on the front foot & with their fans behind them went in search of the equaliser, committing more players forward and leaving massive holes at the back this game had turned into a real cup tie! Could Mossley hold on? Gaffer Steve Halford had brought himself on for Ben Richardson in an attempt to get his team playing further up the pitch or so the orders he was barking out could be more easily understood, or both! lol either way it seemed to be working as Mossley stood firm.

87 on the clock and United are awarded a free kick about 25 yards out, United pack the area throwing everyone in there bar Spencer. No. 10 Jerome Wright has to float this ball in & find a red shirt with it… NO… BANG! He smashes it low, past the wall and the surprised Pearson to make the net bulge again! 3-3.

WOW what a game this had been, United even had a chance to grab a winner deep in time added on when Amadi forced a point blank save from Pearson who had redeemed himself for his error on United’s 2nd goal and maybe their 3rd

4 minutes had been added but Bury’s scoreboard stops counting at 90, and when Mr. Dwyer brought an end to this epic game the Mossley players collapsed to the ground a bit like the losers do at Wembley after the cup final. A great comeback from FC United but it must feel like a loss to Mossley after they had such a big lead with less than 20 minutes to play at one point. Both teams will have to meet again on Tuesday to decide the outcome of this one. FT. 3-3.

(edit : FC United won the replay 1-3 & are away to Stamford AFC in the next round)

So we’re off home, but i’m still not happy! A great game of football spoilt by the way it was run or should i say policed. No standing or sitting behind the goals, you can’t move around the place freely and away fans are kept penned in like they’re Millwall fans from the 70’s! It just takes all the fun out of following non league football.

I really hope it is something to do with Bury and not the FC United people as to how home games are run but either way, me & the big fella won’t be going back to Gigg Ln. again after today which is a shame because United look like a good team & their fans seem great. On the way to the bus stop the Rhino tells me i should write this blog with the headline.. Burkey Bails on a Belter!

Still we have parties to go to :-) it’s day 2 of the Ryder Cup and the big fella is off to a house party to see if Europe can peg the yanks back after they started the better earlier on today. I’m off to a fancy dress party with my lovely girlfriend! Still not quite sure how i agreed to go to a fancy dress party or actually remember agreeing to it for that matter?

After much deliberation and mind changing i’ve decided to go as the fit one from Brokeback Mountain & my girl is going as Pocahontas. The Rhino’s job is easy; drink beer, watch golf and keep checking today’s results for a potential next Trophy visit on the 27th.

While on one of my many trails to the bar i spot Mel B. & her BAPS! Yes the wonderful princess of pastry perfection is out with her ‘Bovril And Pie Society’ so i immediately send this photo to the Rhino with the caption “i’m with Mel B & she’s got her BAPS out!” that’ll teach him to laugh at my costume and tell everyone in the Pig & Ball Bearing i’ve gone as a geriatric Milky Bar Kid!

Strangley, i didn’t hear back off the big fella and presumed he had moved on from the pub to the golf party & the game must be intense for him not to answer? I whipped my phone out of my holster, yeah i had my phone in a cowboy holster – what? Do you think i would walk around Droylsden even with a fake gun?? Anyway Pocahontas put a stop to any sort of sky go, golf viewing! bless her :-)

A couple of hours had passed and still nothing from the big fella, i was getting worried! Worried i was missing a better comeback from the European side than FC United’s that day! i wrestled my phone back from my squaw and sent him 3 texts; “have you checked any of today’s results?” ; “how we doing in the golf?” ; “you better not be dead! You still owe me £3” about an hour passed before he sent me the photo with the caption “Who’s your Caddy” lol the big fella’s got his hands full there! We’ll call it a day :-)

FA Cup 3rd round qualifying next up and we’re off to AFC Fylde v Solihull Moors on the 6th along with our favourite youngling, Gibbo! Who’s not so young anymore as he’s got a birthday in the week before we go. We should buy him a birthday cake pie for the journey :-)

Today’s Stats….

Travel Cost each – FREE

Admission each – £8

Mileage covered – 24.4

Total Travel Cost – £44.20

Total Admission – £50.50

Total Mileage – 463.2

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Step 7… Ashton United v Marine FC (FACup #4)

Well the Rhino has finally forgiven me for the Winsford trip and we’re on an early start today because we have to get the gates opened up at Droylsden FC before our FA Cup 3rd round qualifying game between Ashton United & Marine FC! Is the game being played at Droylsden? I hear you cry……. err, NO :-)

We are meeting up with Adam Faiers today at about 12 o’clock at the home of the mighty Bloods as he cycles from Milton Keynes to Bury for the Don’s league 1 match at Gigg Ln. of course he wanted his picture taken at Manchester’s No. 1 football club whilst on this mission and preferably with a couple of local celebrities too!

Instead, me & the Rhino met Adam at the Butchers arms! Perhaps not the big-boob celeb’s he was hoping for & maybe not the first ground that springs to mind when you think of the No. 1 football club in Manchester but you really can’t get bigger tits than me & the big fella! :-)

Adam’s not mental by the way, well apart from associating with me & the Rhino that is, he’s risking life & limb to raise £1,000 by covering 1000 miles on his bike following the MK Dons! Avid readers of this nonsense will remember last season we latched on to the Dons on our road to Wembley for 4 games & made some great MK-Army friends while we were with them. we presented Adam with a Droylsden scarf on the pitch in a “hands across the Country” type of moment and he is now officially a Droyls-Don! :-)  Big thanks to Graham & Nigel at the Butchers for letting us on the pitch for the photo, i’m sure that Bloods Gaffer – Dave Pace won’t find out.

With his Lucozade drank & his bag packed Adam was ready for the off. Adam’s next port of call was another little club just down the road from the Butchers, can’t remember what the club’s called but i’m told they have a striker called  Agüerooooooooooooo! :-)

The Rhino then explains to Adam about some travelling cock-up to Winsford he’s blaming me for??? Tells me to make my own way to Ashton and he will get a ‘backie’ off Adam to the match! lol poor Adam! The big fella gets off the bike to adjust his clothing for the journey & Adam spots his chance to make a break for it! His feet, in their Norwegian socks,  hit the pedals and he set off at a speed that would of given Chris Hoy a run for his money! Please follow Adam’s progress on Twitter – @GetSETfora1000miles and more importantly, if you could see your way to giving a couple of quid for his ‘Dons sport & education trust’ you can do so (here) he’s so close to his £1,000 target, G’waaan… you can do it :-) cheers x

Well even i couldn’t get a trip from Droylsden to Ashton wrong, or so the big fella told me, it’s only about 4 mile away & there’s various buses that run between the 2 places. With our borrowed bus passes in hand we jumped on the first bus with the word ‘Ashton’ on the front of it. Amazingly the bus went via Hurst Cross (the home of Ashton United) on its way to Ashton town centre and we got to the ground for about 2 o’clock! Naturally i tried to claim the credit for this and did my best to convince the big fella i knew this particular bus would go this way & drop us here :-)

A look of disbelief was plastered all over his dial while he was listening to me and then he quietly said.. “you’re just special” i’m really hoping he means that in the way my old Mum used to say it to me when i was little and not in a way suggesting i need 24 hour care & supervision for when i’m holding sharp objects!

We had time to spare, so a quick pint in the clubhouse at Hurst Cross and watch a bit of the Everton game on the box. £5.80 secured 2 pints of the good stuff which went down very well on a warm & sunny afternoon. Just one dark cloud hovered overhead in an otherwise perfect sky. “let’s hope the rain holds off” i tell the Rhino as i nod towards the solitary black cloud “we don’t want to get a tad wet again like the other night”

“a ‘tad wet’???” the big fella growls back at me, “you really are Special” hmm, i’m beginning to think he’s not using this word in a good way about me after all? still, it’s better than him challenging the legitimacy of my birth as he has been all week i suppose :-(

We pay the entrance fee of £9 and take up a position just behind the away team dug-out. There are little wooden picnic tables just behind us so it’s coats off & take a seat for a bit of pre match tweeting in the sunshine to make sure Adam got to Gigg Ln. safe & sound, which he did :-)

I’m not happy with Ashton’s match day programme, it’s huge! A full-on A4 size glossy mag that won’t fit on my neat little pile from the season so far back at home. flicking through its shiny pages i come to the away team section and spot a smiling photo of Mariners boss & ex-Blood Kevin Lynch. He was part of the Droylsden team that won Conference North and also played for the Vauxhall Motors side that beat QPR in the cup in 2002!

We get underway just after 3pm as Ashton & Marine show their respects with an impeccable minutes silence for WPC’s Fiona & Nicola just before kickoff. United are playing from right to left as we look at it with red & white halved shirts against the yellow shirted Mariners.

Yes! there’s non league dogs at Ashton :-) not seen a dog at the football since New Mills in step 2 then wouldn’t you just know it 3 come along at once! I have an on-going row with the Rhino that i’m sure i’ve seen a sign ‘inside’ a non league ground that says “clean up after your dog or you will receive a fine” or words to that effect anyway? the big fella reckons i’m talking out of my arse but i’m sure i’ve seen it somewhere!? If you know where the ground is please let me know.. bout time i won an argument with him!

Football.! lol oh yeah, i forgot there was a match on. Ex-Bloods legendary keeper Paul ‘Phillo’ Phillips was on the bench for United but there was no sign of Marine’s ex-Blood, Paul Brown either on the field or the visitor’s bench but he did get a mention in the massive programme.

Marine had most of the possession early on with their first real chance coming just 5 minutes in, right full back Shaun Dowling went bombing down the right to link up with Robbie Lawton who’s cross found No. 10 Nick Rogan. The striker took a touch to set himself but fired well over Terry Smith’s crossbar.

Ashton seemed to be playing a 4-3-3 with No. 9 Ben Deegan furthest forward who was winning the early aerial battles with the Marine defence but his knock-downs were snapped up by yellow shirts more often than not. The No. 2 shirt of Dowling was involved in just about everything that was happening on this near side in the opening exchanges, both defensively & in attack.

With half an hour gone most of the action had been played in the Ashton half,  Andy Fowler was causing all sorts of problems for the home defence down the left and  Alan Burton’s neat 1 – 2’s with Thomas Moore to then find the overlapping Dowling were just carving through at will down the right channel, a Marine goal was surely only a question of when.

United looked combatable on the ball when they had possession but without any real attacking force, the visitors seemed quite happy for the home side to knock it about between their back four but quickly closed them down if they tried to venture further up field. United’s No. 10 Tom Baker’s shot didn’t trouble McMahon in Marine’s goal as he was forced to shoot from distance and when Mark Peers finally got through to the goal line with the ball at his feet, the visitor’s keeper just got a fist on the cross to take it off the head of the incoming Beattie.

GOAL! about 36 on the clock and the visitors take the lead! well it had been coming and who else but Dowling, once more the impressive right back had played his way into space and shot from the edge of the box, blocked by the centre half the ball came back out to Dowling who made no mistake with his second effort blasting it past Smith in United’s goal. 0-1.

Before the half ended, Ashton’s Matty Burke had an effort from outside the area blocked by the Marine defence and Deegan, who had been feeding on scraps throughout the game, headed over from a rare United corner. The visitor’s went in at the break with a well deserved one goal lead. HT. 0-1.

Rhino – A somewhat covert pie report from Hurst Cross from me today due to a rather disturbing incident that happened the last time we were here. We were meeting fellow ground-hopper, Gibbo for a bit of festive footy on Bank Holiday Monday last January. I couldn’t believe it when the young blogger told me he had never had Bovril before! I rectified this catastrophic oversight from Mrs. Gibbons and bought her little lad one immediately! However, when tasting the hot drink i could tell something was wrong… it was OXO and the menu clearly stated that it was Bovril on sale!

I had a quick glance into the kitchen here today as i sent 1 Leg to buy the pie and i noticed a box of Bovril cubes next to the hot water geezer, so at this point i would like to say to the canteen staff that if i was to receive a written apology along with a substantial compensation payment, then i may be prepaid to drop the pending court case.

On with the pie! Supplied by the local Carrs bakery i was sure i was in for a meat & potato feast. Served on a polystyrene tray, which was a nice touch, i felt it lacked in weight when i picked it up. Sure enough once a bite had been taken & the contents reviled, it reminded me of the problems caused by girls wearing ‘Wonder Bras’ we all encountered years ago… ‘Looks great in the shop window, but once you get home & unwrap the contents… where did they go???’

This pie was a lot of pastry but somewhat limited filling, a very tasty filling i have to say, but there was plenty of room inside for more. Still, i’ve had worse and i suppose there will be worse to come this season so i’ll give it 6.4 from 10 and keep an eye out for the postman.

Mel B. – yes a tricky report for today’s pie given the current situation, in fact i totally got the wrong end of the stick when the Rhino told me he would be gagging me later!

But what on earth is going on at Carrs bakery? They seem to be falling into the ‘mass production’ trap like Holland’s etc. DON’T DO IT! bring back that loving touch that had you challenging for a European spot in the past rather than just settling for premiership status, that distinctive flavour i could recognise even when blindfolded! A girl likes to know what’s in her mouth even if she can’t see it coming ;-) i’m going to give a score of 6.7 for this one, i’ve added points for serving pies in trays making it easier for the punter to add the gravy made on site – clever. 13.1 total. Pundit quote is.. They’ll have to dig deep to turn this one around.

Yes! back to the more important things happening today, i’ve spotted another dog! The little chap was hiding from me under the seat on the next table and i just about got a picture of him before his owner reeled him in on one of them mad retractable dog leads. I’ve often wondered about these people? I can only imagine what they shout to the wife as they leave the house on matchday’s…. “just taking the dog for a walk love, i’ll be about 90 minutes.. plus Fergie time!”

I was franticly tapping the Rhino on the shoulder like a kid wanting sweets off his mum in a shop to tell him i had spotted another dog… “look, look another one!” i was fully expecting the ‘special’ response from the big fella but instead i got.. “shut up you clown, the second half’s started” oh yeah it had… no changes from either side :-)

As always in non league the fans had changed ends and the various banners had been re-hung. A group of Ashton supporters had a big drum and i had heard this being battered just after kickoff in the first half, it had now been silenced by either the lack of opportunities created by the home side or the visitors dominance of the game, i think it was the latter but it still made a nice little table for the United fans to put their drinks on :-)

Marine continued to play in the second half as they had finished the first, in control. Smart, one & two touch passing with good movement from the front men finding space & stretching the Ashton back line.

Ashton once again only had possession in their own half in the early knocking’s of the second half and Danny Caldecott had a chance to put the home side back on terms but over hit his free kick from just outside the area.

Marine’s No. 7 winger, Andy Fowler was beginning to impress and on 55 minutes he was in the right place at the right time when Ashton skipper, Chris Lynch attempted to knock the ball across his own penalty area to Alex Frost. Fowler pounced onto the woeful pass and picked his spot carefully as he went 1-on-1 with the keeper. 0-2.

With the home side looking deflated after the second goal, gaffer Danny Johnson changed the formation and brought Matty Devine on for Burton in an attempt to get back into the game.

Kyle Harrop’s free kick was met by Deegan as the home side went searching for a goal, but his header went just wide and Ryan McMahon still hadn’t been really tested in the visitor’s goal… wonder if he’s any good? Marine were still playing attacking football rather than sitting on their lead, Nick Rogan picked the ball up on the half way line and drove all the way into the Ashton area leaving 3 men in his wake but a fine save from Smith prevented Marine extending their lead.

Ashton were trying to get back into the game but on the day they were up against an ‘on form’ Marine side who snuffed out anything & everything the home side attempted. We were expecting a much closer game from these 2 sides today as both are free scoring and riding high in the EvoStik prem. Marine top the division & Ashton are 3rd after 6 games each played, but today there was only one side that turned up.. shame :-(

With less than 5 minutes on the clock Ashton get their first & only shot on target! Deegan was brought down 20 yards out and Baker stepped up to hit a perfect, curling free kick, the outstretched McMahon got a hand to it, deflecting it on to the post, and away to safety. A few minutes later it was all over and Marine were through, job done! FT 0-2.

Sat on the terrace at Hurst Cross we got chatting with a couple of lads who had made the trip over from scouse-land, as we chatted about the game i told them i was writing a blog and gave them the address. On Sunday night i got a tweet asking me if i had done the blog yet? I told him i was putting together the ‘Ashton plus points’ and i would write it up, this was what he sent me back… “Erm, plus points… Still doing well in the league? Attendance boosted by 3 poodles? The weather held up? Massive programme?” lol nice one Chris, nice bloke if you want to follow him on twitter @csmlfc 

Another couple of beers in the clubhouse before we leave Hurst Cross because there’s another photo i wanted to take. After starting the day with Adam the MK fan, we had told him about the photo we had taken with Don’s gaffer Karl Robinson last season. We knew Karl’s brother Craig was the assistant manager here at Ashton as well as being another ex-Blood, and we wanted to see if we could get a similar picture taken with the other Robbo!

Craig was at the bar so i went over and asked him if it was ok for the photo? A chap at the bar offered to take the pic for us & after he had he wanted to know what the story behind it was again. The Rhino explained all about our MK excursions and how Karl had looked after us while we was there… “that doesn’t sound like our Karl” the chap said. turns out that this guy was their dad! We are now officially…… STALKING THE ROBBO’S! :-) :-) :-)

So that’s it, Step 7 done & dusted and after a couple of days pondering Monday’s draw, we’re off to AFC Fylde v Solihull Moors on the 6th Oct. For the next FA Cup game in this quest. But before that we’re back on the Trophy Trail for the next game with FC United of Manchester v Mossley at Gigg Ln. this Saturday! It’s all happening too quick for me this…. can we stop yet? I wanna get off!

Today’s Stats….

Travel Cost each – FREE

Admission each – £9

Mileage covered – 8.6

Total Travel Cost – £44.20

Total Admission – £42.50

Total Mileage – 438.8


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Step 6… Winsford United v Glossop North End (FAVase #2)

Well we got lucky there! All them games being played in the FA Vase last Saturday and only 4 of them ending in a draw, and out of them 4 Winsford is only 35 mile away! i remember saying to my old Dad the day i lost my leg….. “i’m one lucky git me!”

We had a few travel options for this Vase 2nd round qualifying game but we wanted to avoid travelling during valuable drinking time :-) the big fella left me in charge of sorting out the logistics saying “i’ll just step in and sort it out when it all goes wrong!” lol the faith he has in me!?!?

Quite simple really, 4.15 bus arrive Manchester 4.25 – 5 min walk to Piccadilly – 4.55 train arrive Crewe 5.27 – 5.57 train arrive Winsford 6.06 – 6.30 bus outside Winsford station arrives at the Top House pub (just outside the ground) 6.45! Simplez :-) what could possibly go wrong? We’ve even got time for a cheeky pint in the Crewe Arms Hotel while we wait for our connection!

So far so good, we walk into the Crewe Arms just after 5.30 and pay a whopping £7 for 2 pints of Carling! The trip however is running as smooth as a Swiss watch, apart from a minor mix up involving me sitting in a reserved seat on the 4.55 train to London. I told the lady i was getting off at Crewe so i didn’t mind switching seats but when i asked her if she went “all the way?” she took the question totally out of context & went looking for the guard! so i went and stood in the bar-car for the remainder of the short journey.

It all went a bit wrong as we were half way through our cheeky pint, a quick check on my phone tells me the 5.57 to Winsford has been cancelled & the next one isn’t until 6.40 and i have no idea if there will be a connecting bus at the other end! A smug looking Rhino looks at me and asks if i have a backup plan? I didn’t, i was pretty sure i had it all covered and had to tell him as much… “thought not…. Dick!” which i thought was a bit harsh :-(

Fortunately we were in a hotel and there was lots on information & flyers at the reception desk about local attractions & general tourist information including bus timetables with phone numbers on them. a couple of calls later and we were back on track :-) well sort of, right outside the Crewe Arms Hotel was stop No. 5 and the 37 was due at 6.20. it goes a bit round the houses but ends up at the Top House pub about 7.15. “Perfect!” i told the big fella as he relayed this information to me, “there’s even a rainbow at the bus stop pointing the way!” I can’t remember word for word what his reply was but i was quite shocked he uses the same mouth to kiss his own Mother!

After explaining our plans to the driver, he reckoned the best thing was for us to buy day tickets for £4.60 each just in case anything goes wrong with the return journey plans i had made. The Rhino whole heartedly agreed and then went on to tell him about various other times my logistical skills had been called into question as well as throwing in a few nicknames he had for me on such occasions, he then bought his ticket & took his seat leaving me stood looking at the driver who, when giving me my change said “now keep hold of your friends hand when you get off, we don’t want you getting lost now” much to the amusement of everyone behind me! I couldn’t think of anything to say in my defence so instead i just burst into song! “Hail to the bus driver, bus driver, bus driver… Hail to the bus driver, bus driver MAN!” which wiped the smerk off his face! :-)

We seemed to be on the bus for ages! I think we went up & down every little street between Crewe railway station & Winsford town centre as well as a few others in between. The driver finally gives us a shout that we’re at our stop and we’ve made it with about 20 minutes to spare! “i can’t wait to see what you’ve got planned for getting home” the big fella tells me as we walk across the car park shared by the Top House & the Barton Stadium.

As we were walking across the car park we overheard a couple of Glossop fans who had just come from the Top House, “not bad that, cheap beer only £1 a pint” obviously our ears pricked up at the sound of this but then we also heard his mate’s reply… “you can’t drink that stuff! & it’s not that cheap when you’ve got to have the rest of the week off work because of it” lol lol – Nuff Said :-)

Well that’s the summer been & gone, if you could call it that. Cold, Wet & Dark at Barton for tonight’s game but on the bright side, only £6 to get in! Add that to the £8.10 train fare & £4.60 bus ticket you still have a bit of change left out of £20 for a night out :-)

It looked like most ‘normal’ people had stayed in for a bit of Champions League football as tonight’s gate was just 89 and a large portion of them seemed to be travelling Glossop fans! The City v Madrid game was on the big screen in the clubhouse so if tonight’s game was really poor, you had that as an option lol.

ALL of our little gathering of 89 observed the minutes silence for Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, the 2 WPC’s from Tameside who were tragically killed recently, impeccably just before kickoff. R.I.P. & God Bless x.

Step 6 gets underway with Winsford in blue kicking from right to left as we look at it. Glossop have dodgy tangerine shirts for tonight’s game but fortunately for them it’s quite dark as only half the flood lights seemed to be working? I asked the chap next to me if the rest of the flood lights were working or not? He looked out at the pitch, then back at me and said “no that’s it mate, plenty of light out there for them… well it’s a bit dark in that corner but other than that….”

He was right too, as i looked out at the far corner the blackest of black rain clouds was hovering closer & closer to us! Despite the impending thunderstorm the home side were on their game right from the whistle with the first chance coming just 5 minutes in, good play from Brian Matthews down the left ended with him cutting in & heading for goal, Ben Proctor came off his line to narrow the angle and ended up blocking Matthews in a 50/50 type of challenge on the edge of the area, the ball bounced out into the path of No. 8 Andy Keogh who fired it through a crowded penalty area and in off the post into the bottom right hand corner. 1-0.

Glossop picked their game up slightly after going a goal behind with a bit of pressure of their own, i think it was McGregor who almost converted from a corner but i can’t be sure as it was just too dark! I asked the same chap next to me once more for a little guidance.. “was that No. 10 who nearly scored from that corner?” he looked back down field for a long time before answering, i though he was waiting for the big lad to turn round so he could see his shirt number but in the end he said.. “was it a corner?” lol and this was the guy who said there was enough light! Realising i wasn’t going to get any help at all from this bloke i moved nearer to the half way line to give myself a fighting chance to see what was going on.

With about 15 gone the visitors get back on terms, Sam Marshall went on a run down the left and cut inside to hit his shot from just outside the area, the ball took a couple of defections but ended up back at Marshall’s feet! This time he made no mistake and side-footed home for 1-1. Good job i moved up a bit or i would of missed it :-)

A somewhat scrappy game, not helped by the cold, wet weather, but at least we had (just about) seen a couple of goals to keep our “No Nil-Nils” run going and on 25 minutes we had another. A corner for the home side was whipped in by a shadowy figure and No. 9 Andy Hurst got his head on it to give the home side the lead once again. 2-1.

By now a very chilly Rhino was clock watching and counting the minutes left before he could get in to the warmth of the clubhouse for his half time pie that i would be avoiding like the plague after i had noticed them on the way in! Nothing much to rave about on the pitch in the remainder of the half and Mr. Richardson only added 1 minute before he brought the first half to an end, even though there should of been a lot more. HT. 1-1.

Rhino – very cold & very wet, the sort of weather that’s perfect for Pies & Bovril. Wright’s pies are on offer tonight and they’ve become quite a favourite of mine over the last couple of seasons. They seem to offer a consistency in weight, texture and flavour as well as it was a Wrights steak & kidney that tried to kill my 1 legged friend at Nantwich last year! :-)

I went for the full meal deal tonight as i was sure this night wouldn’t be coming to an end this side of midnight so the £1.50 meat & potato was accompanied with chips and a palatable, thin onion gray. A jar of Bovril ‘gloop’ was produced by Winnie (not sure if that was her name but we were at Winsford so it must of been) in the canteen and i was charged the standard £1 for a mug of the beefy goodness.

i had a slight problem with the pie being served ‘arse upwards’ but this was my fault for not ordering properly, normally i would just use my fingers to spin the pie over to photograph it correctly but a combination of hot gravy and some vigorous scratching of myself i had just enjoyed, prevented me from doing this.

“As you would expect” were my first thoughts when consuming the half time treat and once i had removed enough chips i used the plastic knife & fork to flip the lid over for inspection. This wasn’t as you would expect as it seemed a little light in colour but other than that it was a nice crust. All in all a good pie scoring 7.2 out of 10 from this pie reporter.

Mel B. – A good effort from Winnie at the Barton Stadium considering she seems to be running the canteen single handily. A good selection of different pies was on offer on the night although there was some sausage roll contamination in the little pie warmer that appeared to be sponsoring Roberts Bakery of Northwich for some reason? This could of quite easily confused some people but fortunately 1 Leg spotted it was a Wright’s selection within even though he’s not the sharpest knife in the draw.

Invest in a catering size can of Bovril granules and maybe brush a little beaten egg on the upper crust of the pies for a higher score but for now it’s a 6.7 from me which should see you into a top half finish at the end of the season. Stay On Your Feet.

Back to the football and i’m really struggling to see now, maybe it’s because i’m getting on a bit? I really don’t know but i shuffled up to the 18 yard line of Proctor’s area and hoped most of the action would be with the home side & i would just have to rely on others if Glossop turned it on! Well there was enough of their fans who had moved down field to the opposite area to help out if needed :-)

It was looking like i had made the right choice with my position as the home side took control of the game with some neat passing and played good possession football mainly in the Glossop half.

With about 10 minutes gone the home side struck again, a harmless throw in to the feet of No. 7 Bennett who fired it cross field to Matthews, who had impressed all night. Matthews travelled with the ball then slotted home for the goal of the game. 3-1. Winsford went on to turn the screw with the comfort of a 2 goal lead holding the ball in the middle of the pitch and restricting Glossop to just a couple of half chances for the rest of the game.

As so often in cup football (which is why we love it) Glossop went looking for goals leaving big holes at the back, either that or the defence had already hit the showers lol i really couldn’t see that far now :-)

Winsford’s 4th goal came late in time added on, the Visitors had committed more & more players forward looking for a way back into the tie. Winsford’s defence held firm and the inevitable break-away chance came from a ball cleared from the area for Hurst to latch onto and easily double his tally for the evening. I was tweeting the scores from the Barton on the evening and when i sent out this message poker genius, Teacher Rob replied with “ was there some people on the pitch as Hurst got his 4th?” it took a minute or 2 for the penny to drop lol nice one Rob :-) FT. 4-1.

It was just after 9.30 and the big fella looks at me and asks “c’mon then, how we getting home?… i can’t wait for this” but i pretty much had it sorted. Not knowing if the game would of gone into extra time or even a shoot-out i had planned to get the bus back to the station at 10.20. there’s a pub over the road called the Brighton Belle and we were to stay in there for as long as possible until our train at 00.11.

“are you telling me there’s no train until 10 past 12 home???” the big fella asked me in disbelief. There was a 10.12 train but no bus to get us there for it, but he convinced me we would be able to walk the 0.8 of a mile in time! The ‘short’ walk was at least 2 mile! Not only that the rain, that had been threatening all night, finally came and it was torrential! We walked along the side of some sort of bypass & cars were hurtling past that fast, if the rain didn’t soak you, the spray off the traffic did!

There wasn’t any pavement or footpath so as we trudged through the grass a police car stopped, put the blue, flashing lights on & asked us what we were doing? thinking quickly & wanting a lift to the station i said to the panda driver “we’ve been to the football and got a bit lost, are we going the right way for the station Sir?” he nodded towards the top of the sweeping bend saying “yeah, it’s just up there, take it easy lads” and drove off! Not at all happy with the young PC’s actions, the Rhino vented his anger on me threatening to insert my camera somewhere not very nice if i took the picture of him i was about to!

10.18 we arrived on the platform! Missed it by 6 minutes but more confusion as there was a train at 11.12 i didn’t know about? so over the road we went to the pub for a pint & dry off while we re-assess the situation. It was Christmas time in the Brighton Belle, well they had a tree up anyway, but even this didn’t make the Rhino ‘jolly’ as he searched on his phone for the quickest way home.

The reason the 11.12 had not been listed in my journey planner is because it connects with the same train as the 00.11 does in Crewe. The next train to Manchester from Crewe was 00.44 so we either stay here in the pub & catch the 00.11 with a 20 minute wait in Crewe or the 11.12 meaning an extra hour to wait in Crewe.

The barmaid in the pub told us the Landlord would probably throw everyone out & lock up about 11.20 / 11.30 meaning we would be on Winsford platform for 45 minutes or so and i could see that my footy-mad friend was becoming a little upset! “you do know i’m up at 8 in the morning don’t you?” he asked me and it didn’t go down very well when i laughed saying “really? I’m not!”

We decided to go for the earlier train because it’s less time to wait on a cold Winsford platform, there should be a few more options for somewhere to go in Crewe for an hour or so and more importantly, if the 00.11 is cancelled the Rhino would probably kill me!

We’re on time and get into Crewe for 11.25. considering this is one of the busiest stations in the country, it was deserted. Everywhere was locked and any sort of refreshment you may need  comes via vending machines only, all information about services are on electronic boards and there wasn’t anyone in uniform to be seen anywhere so we set off walking down the road to see what we could find.

A large que outside a club was the first place we come across, every time the door opened to let the next punter in, the music came booming out! This was a ‘no’ and we kept walking. Next was a pub on the corner with a very helpful doorman :-) after telling us the beer inside was overpriced & bottles only he suggested we went back towards the station to the Passage To India restaurant and try our luck there.

After taking pity on us, Ali said it was ok for us to prop up his bar for an hour and down a couple of Cobra’s. For the first time in the last 3 hours the big fella was starting to look a little more human :-) we arrived back at the station to find the warm, 00.44 waiting for us & we left on time.

I did try sleeping on the way back to Manchester but someone, i don’t know who, kept kicking my foot and waking me up! Strange because there was only me & the Rhino on the train! We arrived on time and were stood at the bus stop at 01.45 waiting for the 2am night bus home. once again my planning goes wrong as we’re waiting for a service that only runs on Friday & Saturday nights! I keep a good ten feet away from a fuming Rhino as he gathers 3 random people who are going the same way as us to share a cab, i also have to duck on a few occasions as various bits of street debris are hurled my way!

£5 each in a taxi and i’m finally walking through my front door at just gone 3am! I thought it was a pretty entertaining trip all things considered, i’ve text the big fella a few times since but only had one word answer replies usually starting with ‘B’ and ending with ‘astard’ lol. Oh well, Ashton United is next up it’s only 4 mile away with a bus every 10 minutes! I’ll let him plan that one :-)

Today’s Stats….

Travel Cost each – £8.10 train + £4.60 bus + £5 taxi = £17.70

Admission each – £6

Mileage covered – 70

Total Travel Cost – £44.20

Total Admission – £33.50

Total Mileage – 430.2

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