Category Archives: Cup Football

Ground-hopping #1 x Non-League football #1

Welcome to the “Abacus Community Stadium” or Cantilever Park for short

WARRINGTON TOWN 1 – 2 LEEK TOWN – FA TROPHY FIRST PRELIMINARY ROUND

So I’m back to trying to get some regular blogging done, which feels rather nice actually. For those of you who aren’t aware the last couple of months have been hectic, hence the lack of blog updates. I’ve gone and got myself married to a fantastic woman, I’ve moved towns and I’ve gone and got myself back into work after just over a year out, brilliant. Now that all these things have happened it means that now, even though I have a lot less spare time on my hands, I do have a bit of extra income which means I can finally go out and do activities, and purchase items which will give me some subject matter in which to actually commentate on in this here blog, which, and let’s be honest now, is what my blog has lacked….subject matter.

So anyway, like I mentioned before I have moved home and into a little place with my Wife in, well…Warrington. I know that straight away that will raise a few eyebrows and I have to admit, despite the fact my Wife comes from here, I’ve always been somewhat cynical and a bit harsh on Warrington. It’s only since moving here I’ve actually come to the conclusion Warrington isn’t actually that bad. I mean yeah it has it’s bad parts, but where doesn’t these days? Also, yeah it may not be as good a place as Liverpool or even Wirral in my eyes, but that’s because for me Merseyside has been my home for 25 years. To be fair on Warrington I’m starting to find some of it’s hidden gems that you only realise are here from living here and not just occasionally popping through to go to IKEA. I have no doubt that some of these gems will create some kind of subject matter for future blog entries.

However, I do have an issue with Warrington. Unfortunately, this is a Rugby League town, famous for it’s Cup winning side Warrington Wolves. Anyone who knows me knows that when it comes to Rugby, well I’ll be honest, I really don’t care for it. I played some Union when I was a kid in school but never stuck with it and I don’t believe I’ve actually sat down and watched a full Rugby match either on the telly or in real life since England won the World Cup v Australia back in 2003 when I was still in college. So as you can imagine the majority of people who do follow football in Warrington tend to support Utd, City, Liverpool or Everton and maybe perhaps a few other teams that aren’t geographically far away, that saying I have seen a few people in recent weeks wearing replica kits of Norwich, Palace, Ipswich and even Brighton & Hove Albion which is kind of odd. For the true passionate football fan in Warrington however there is Warrington Town FC.

Just like in most large towns around the country, or towns that are more famed for their Rugby, you’ll always find a little lonely non-league club hidden away in the middle of nowhere. Based roughly half a mile from my house on the banks of the Manchester ship canal overshadowed by the Cantilever bridge you will find Cantilever Park home of Warrington Town formally known as Stockton Heath Albion FC. Little fact for you, former Liverpool legend and World Cup winner Roger Hunt began his career here before brief spells at Bury and Devizes Town and then returned all before signing for Liverpool in July ’58.

Warrington Town are currently sat in 8th tier of English Football in the “Evo-Stick Northern Premier League Division One North” which is the league that the new birth Chester FC found themselves in a few seasons ago, in fact Chester’s first league match as a new-co club was actually against Warrington at the Cantilever. This Saturday just gone Warrington we’re scheduled to take on Division One South outfit Leek Town in the first preliminary round of the FA Trophy at the Cantilever, and seeming as I had the weekend off work, I love football of all levels and can never say no to an opportunity to visit a pastures new when it comes to football grounds, well it was a no-brainer really, and to make it better I invited my old man up for the day to experience some non-league cup football.

First half view from the ‘Bridge End’ Terrace. Warrington are the team in Yellow shirts, Blue Shorts. Leek Blue shirts, white shorts

Prior to kick off I headed to the pub with my old man to watch the second half of the Norwich-West Ham game and take in a few scoops. As soon as that had finished we took the short stroll up towards the Cantilever and found ourselves with 10 minutes to spare before kick off and headed into the Sports social attached to the ground which at £2.50 a pint is a cracking little pre-match drinking option. After throwing back a couple of quick pints we headed through the turnstiles (pictured at the top) paid our £8 in and headed straight for the small snack bar that was serving the usual pie, chips and gravy option at £3, before heading over to the “Bridge End Terrace” located at the far end of the ground in the shadow of the Cantilever Bridge.

The Bridge End Terrace

This was my first match day experience at Cantilever, although certainly not my first non-league match as I’ve frequented Marine, Chester, Cammel Lairds and even Burton Albion prior to their promotion 3 years ago, so it was all about first impressions today. To be honest, I can’t knock the ground at all. Considering how low down the pyramid ‘The Wire’ are the Cantilever is a decent ground, I mean it’s showing it’s age a little bit and obviously it homes a club with not alot of money behind it but there have been a few changes to help it bring it into the modern game a bit without going over the top i.e a fairly new smart looking clubhouse which has a balcony where you will find the club’s Directors standing during the match. There are 3 stands around the 4 edges of the ground. One stand is connected to the snack bar and the clubhouse located just behind the dugouts that homes about 80 seats, another stand located directly opposite the dugouts which homes about 100 seats and the ‘Bridge End’ terrace, which is a rather large all standing terrace behind one of the goals. In between all that there is plenty of standing space which in total can house 3,500 people (not that that is likely to happen anytime soon). Yeah it would be fair to say that I got a great first impression from the ground, cheap beer, cheap (and tasty) scran, decent entry price and a covered all standing terrace, what’s not to like.

The ‘Canal side’ stand, directly behind this you will find a large drop into the Manchester Ship Canal

As for the match itself the first half was a fairly dull affair, Warrington found themselves with the best of the chances but couldn’t make the breakthrough, no thanks to Leeks goalkeeper who was actually a cracking shot stopper, the first half finished goalless. At this point I headed for the Social for another pint with my dad but on my way round I couldn’t help but notice who was Warrington’s manager, Sean Reid. Sean is a former ex-pro who made his career in the lower ends of the football league with the likes of York, Preston, Chester and Rochdale oh and he also happens to have a brother, yep, Peter, the former Everton legend who happened to be there the week before to watch his brothers team progress into the next preliminary round of the FA Cup after beating Maine Road, unfortunately he wasn’t there today.

So after supping a couple of more pints at half time we headed back into the playing area where we found ourselves stood alongside the dugout as the Leek Fans (who by the way we’re in full voice even if there was only 26 of them) had moved to the Bridge End terrace. I love that about non-league, the fact you can swap ends at half time. As for the second half the match looked more lively, again Warrington creating most of the chances. They we’re finally rewarded with a goal when one of the strikers (no I don’t know his name) was brought down in the box and was rewarded a stone wall penalty which he cooly and calmly buried into the bottom corner sending the keeper the wrong way, 1-0 Warrington. However, this wasn’t to last. Just a few minutes after scoring the penalty, Town found themselves on the back foot and after a clever bit of play from Leek the score was even once again, 1-1. It got worse for Town as with 10 minutes to go a cross from the right was glided in straight on to the head of the Leek striker to make it 2-1.

View from the second half of the Bridge End and the Cantilever Bridge just above it

In the last 10 minutes Town tried to get themselves back on to level terms and possibly push a replay but it was to no avail and Warrington’s dreams of pushing for a place in this years FA trophy will have to wait another year. My old man and I left the ground chuffed we got to see a decent entertaining game but a little bit gutted the Wire didn’t walk away with the win, we headed back to the pub to get more drinking done, watch the Liverpool-Sunderland game and then eat some Chinese food.

All in all, my first experience of the ‘The Wire’ was a good one apart from the score. I mean I wouldn’t sacrifice Everton and become one of them fellas that only supports a non-league club and bangs on about how ‘I support my local club and the ONLY’ who’s biggest dream is the possibility of seeing his team in the dizzy heights of a FA Cup first round draw at Carlisle, but I will definitely be making a few trips up to the Cantilever again in the future. After all, the ground is literally half a mile from my house and with the current state of the Modern game making it more and more difficult for the average fan to get to a big game with the hike in ticket prices and the soulless cylinder block modern stadiums and being told to sit down and shut up by stewards it seems like a bit of a no-brainer for someone who loves football as much as I do.

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Filed under Cup Football, Ground-Hopping, Non-League

Everton’s “The Double” Season 85 Archive Footage

Despite supporting my beloved Blues for almost 21 years now I’ve unfortunately never seen any great glory come to Goodison in my life time. A fantastic FA Cup win followed by Charity Shield win in 95 is the best I’ve seen, not bad granted, but without doubt Everton’s finest years were unfortunately before my time and without any question one of, if not the greatest season was that of Everton’s 1984/85 “Double” Season. The year before I was born Everton managed to win both the league and the European Cup Winners Cup as well as making it to the FA Cup final which unfortunately slipped away from us when a Norman Whiteside goal secured the cup for Man Utd that season.

Despite seeing plenty of footage of the great “double” season in the past somebody has finally put together a huge compilation of archive footage from most of Everton’s wins and goals from that famous season which include footage from the famous 5-0 drubbing of Utd at Goodison, THAT goal from Sharpy, the Bayern Munich semi final and the Rapid Vienna final as well as some of the less known/documented wins from the Blues that season. My friend Ped from Followtonians put this up on Facebook the other day so I felt I’d share with any fellow Blues who read this blog. SO sit back, relax, reminisce and remember it wasn’t all doom and gloom once.

PLEASE NOTE: I do not own the copyright of these videos, I am simply sharing them, they will be removed at request of copyright owner ONLY via email.

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Filed under Cup Football, Everton

Everton 1 – 2 Chelsea

Row M Seat 107, My seat for the night (for the first half anyway)

It was not that long ago that going to a night game at Everton was really really special to all Evertonians. Be it in Europe, League or mid-week cup ties Goodison Park under floodlights usually creates a different atmosphere. Loud, intense, full on deafening, a full house. I can remember coming home from such memorable nights at Goodison like when we beat Chelsea 2-1 a few seasons back, THAT game against Fiorentina, even if it was heart breaking, The Big Dunc Man Utd win or the “Dan Gosling” derby, leaving the ground with a ringing in my ear and tingles down my spine. In recent times, however, that all seems to have gone. Granted we’re not in Europe anymore (and are not likely to be for a while) and alot of people seem to jibb off the Carling Cup because it’s been given that Mickey Mouse appeal for some reason. For me it’s silverware and it’s still something Everton should aim for. I don’t want to sound like I’m moaning or giving anyone grief here because I’m not but only just over 23,000 attended Goodison tonight in a cup tie against CHELSEA. That’s almost half empty. I’m not sure if it’s because of the price of tickets (£24 for a Carling Cup tie I agree is extortionate) or the general air of negativity and unawareness of what’s going on behind the scenes at Everton but, I dunno, I just really miss that midweek excitement and I do hope we have seen the last of it.

£24 for a Carling Cup Ticket...ridiculous

As for the game itself I would definitely go as far as saying it was a game of 2 halves (well 4 in this occasion). First half saw a weaker Chelsea side missing most big star names, come at Everton over and over again and Everton not able to take the game to Chelsea. Everton conceded a penalty early in the first half which was sent wide by Nicolas “Eggheaded tit” Anelka much to the Evertonian’s delight. However, Chelsea opened the scoring on 37 after what I can only describe as one of the worst butter finger goalkeeper moments I have witnessed by Jan Mucha. A light cross/shot by Kalou was caught by Mucha only to slip through his hand and into the net. I’m not going to go on a tirade about Mucha cos in all fairness to him he made a few decent saves in the game but for me, and I’ve always said this, he is not good enough as a first choice keeper and even with Tim Howard out the squad for the night I would have chosen Marcus Hanneman over him any day, but that’s just my opinion.

Second half came along and I decided to move seats next to my two old regular mates who I used to have a season ticket next to due to the fact I was sitting in front of 3 complete and utter titheads who were annoying throughout the first half. The half started with Phil Neville being replaced by Tony Hibbert and Everton went straight into it and generally looked great. All the midfielders (except Bilyaletdinov who, YET AGAIN, had another howler) seemed to work well together specially Fellaini and Rodwell even Drenthe I thought played well and was helping to create space by making Chelsea players go at him and taking them out of position. For me though his big problem was he gets too greedy and tries the impossible and tries to take everyone on rather than putting on simple lay offs and that is something he has to get out of his system as he’s not in La Liga anymore. Needless to say we looked the much better team.

A glimmer of hope came midway through the 2nd half when Everton were awarded a penalty and Chelsea saw Keeper Turnbull red carded for bringing Saha down in the box. Needless to say Everton missed the penalty. Baines’ kicked saved well by Chelsea replacement keeper Cech. It just looked like that equaliser wasn’t going to happen. The game changed however when Seamus Coleman came on to replace Billy (who for me was shite again) and straight away was getting in great runs and good crosses that looked dangerous. Eventually, Seamus provided a lovely cross into Louis Saha or banged in the equaliser in the 82nd minute. Chelsea down to 10 men, 1-1, 10 minutes to go, game on. Everton went into all out attack bringing on Denis Stracqualursi who could have won the game had it not been for a rubbish header despite being completely open. In all honesty as well, I don’t rate this Denis lad, he hasn’t impressed me yet.

So 1-1 at the end of the 90. Extra time saw a pretty 50/50 first half with both teams trying to go at each other despite everyone being knackered, however it all crumbled for Everton when Drenthe was sent off for a 2nd bookable offense and it became all Chelsea. It was only inevitable that Chelsea were gonna try and set up camp in our half and put the game to bed, fate was sealed with 5 minutes to go in the 2nd half of injury time after Mucha pushed away a shot from Ivanovich only for Sturridge to hit it home and kill Everton off.

All in all a disappointing night for us Blues, a game that should of and could have been killed in regular time, in the end dragged out too long and wore the players down. As for the atmosphere in Goodison, well you only have to read my rant from earlier, moments of loud singing and general hope we could win but nothing to write home about. At least our fans didn’t do “The Bounce” like Chelsea’s complete and utter HELMET supporters did. Seriously, so bored of these bounce and Poznan-esque celebrations. They’re not clever they’re not cool, they’re just fucking stupid, but then again what do you expect from a club with a fan base that’s been supporting them through their 7 year history.

So that’s it, Carling Cup campaign over for another season, a piece of silverware that won’t be coming to Everton, typical. Like most Everton fans tonight I have a slight feeling of deflation and disappointment, but that’s Everton for you, have to take the crap with the good I suppose oh well there’s always the FA Cup, right? Right? Meh…Who am I kidding?

FACTS

My man of the Match: Fellaini (another excellent performance)

Attendance: 27,103

Squad: Mucha, Distin, Neville (Hibbert), Baines, Heitinga, Drenthe, Rodwell (Stracqualursi), Bilyaletdinov (Coleman), Cahill, Saha

Unused subs: Hanneman, Vellios, Osman, Barkley

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Filed under 2011/12, Cup Football, Everton

Ale Trail #1/Birthday & Pre Match Build Up: Chelsea (Carling Cup)

So a triple header Blog update rather than a further three separete blog updates on three different days like I promised I’d try and avoid as that’s what makes blogging stagnant and repetative, so here it goes.

ALE TRAIL #1

A regular feature what will be occurring in my blog is a little feature I like to call ALE TRAIL. Like most pretentious meffs I like to consider myself a bit of an elitist when it comes to drinking ale, which is a bit weird considering just 3 years ago I was still Straight Edge (HA!). All kidding aside though I do appreciate a good Real Ale when I find one so I figured it would make a decent topic to include in this here blog, so without further delay. My first entry for the “ALE TRAIL” is a newly introduced bitter into my local boozer I’ve found myself drinking and enjoying called “Daniel’s Hammer”

Unfortunately, my local, The Saughall, as much as I love the place, is not exactly the best of pubs for the Ale Enthusiast or CAMRA member, mainly due to the fact it’s more of a modern eatery pub than a traditionalist pub and is licensed under the brewery company Thwaites. Needless to say every now and again we do get a good guest or new regular ale come in on tap that doesn’t disappoint. “Daniel’s Hammer” is the newest ale to come into The Saughall and despite it’s slightly homo-erotic title I have to say is a damn good pint. Described as a “strong pale golden ale with a delicate malty palate and well balanced zesty hop character” this ale is full of body with a good pale colour, not too dry and is actually surprisingly refreshing for a pale ale and pretty strong as well at 5% despite the fact it actually tastes pretty light and doesn’t feel to heavy on the stomach.

It’s a pint that doesn’t leave behind that bitter aftertaste that some ales do and is definitely one of them ales you can at least sup more than one pint of. Granted, it’s not the best pint I’ve ever had neither but it’s one that I’ll happily choose over a pint of Fosters or Carling anyday. Recommended.

BIRTHDAY

So today was my 25th birthday and rather than sit here and moan about “oh mann I’m getting old etc etc.” I’m actually quite chuffed about turning 25. It’s a big year for me this year as it’s the final year of being technically classed as “single” by the time my next birthday comes around I’ll be married, pretty exciting stuff.

As for my day today I’ve spent it relaxing with my family and my missus who bought me a smart Northern Boys Club tshirt (pictured below) and Bulgari aftershave. My plan for tonight after finishing this is head back to the Saughall with the missus for the pub quiz. Sound.

PRE MATCH BUILD UP: CHELSEA AT GOODISON (CARLING CUP)

"In Soviet Russia, football plays you"

Everton enter into the 4th round of the Carling Cup tomorrow evening against what can only be described as a deflated Chelsea team. I say deflated mainly because the Cockney rent boys will be without Drogba (thank Christ), Ashley Cole and Bosingwa who all received cards and marching orders in, what can only be described as the most hilarious game of football I have ever watched, Sunday’s defeat to local rivals QPR at Loftus Road, but let’s be honest, it’s Chelsea, even without them 3 they’re hardly shit.

Players like Juan Mata, Ladyboy Torres (if he is no longer suspended I’ll have to check), Anelka, Fat Frank and Adolph Terry are all available for the rent boys tomorrow and will no doubt be out to try and bounce back from their derby day defeat on Sunday. However, despite the recent League defeat to this lot at The Bridge, our record against Chelsea isn’t all that bad, especially at Goodison. We have managed to beat them twice at Goodison in 3 years and once in the FA Cup away last season, as well as countless amount of draws, then again though these bastards have a way of crushing us at the final hurdles in the past, i.e 2009 FA Cup Final and 2008 League Cup Semi-Final.

As for Everton, it’s a mixed season so far. Some crap performances leading to crap results and some crap performances leading to scrappy last minute wins, like that at the weekend against Fulham at Craven Cottage, mixed with drama off the pitch and lack of money, which I won’t get into right now but probably will in the nearby future. All in all making it a bit of a headache so far, however the weekends result against Fulham gave me a glimmer of hope, despite us not actually playing that well, the squad and tactics looked more positive and players like Vellios and Drenthe were given starts which, as we all saw, lead to Drenthe’s AMAZING goal. For me it’s important for us to play positive and really go at Chelsea tomorrow and maybe stick to the squad we started with on Sunday (except maybe put Saha back in from Vellios) because, let’s be honest,despite the Carling Cup loosing it’s reputation as a big trophy over the years, in my eye, it still is and it’s probably one of the only chances we’re going to get on putting our hands on silverware at the current rate so needless to say it’s an important game and a big chance tomorrow. I just hope, for the love of Christ, the players realise this and go at Chelsea. If they do I’m going with a simple 1-0 and that goalscorer to be….oh christ knows, let’s say Bainesy, yeh Leighton Baines Freekick, why not?

So yeh, looking forward to this one, I’ll be in attendance with my good mate Al Bentley thanks to my little sister getting me a ticket for my birthday and no doubt will be supping a few pre-match pints on County Roads finest establishments. So until then, Come On You Blues.

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Filed under 2011/12, Ale Trail, Clobber, Cup Football, Everton, General, Pre-Match Build Up