Knutsford FC

Cheshire League
Knustford 0 
Whaley Bridge 2
Atten 40ish
Gate £2

Ground & Match Enjoyment - 9/10
If truth be told my main 'excuse' to go to Knutsford apart form visiting family for the festive period was the opportunity of visiting my favourite Indian Restaurant anywhere. Shoehorned into the back streets of this quaint market town is 'Mowgli' – within this gem of an eatery you are served the most delicious food you could wish for. If you are ever stuck in traffic jams on the M6 just take a detour and pamper yourself , you will be pleased you had.

“There's nothing there” said my brother “no stands or anything” as he slipped into his mouth another slice of left over cold christmas turkey. But little did he know that for any serious groundhopper sometimes less is more.

The club was formed in 1888 and according to articles from notes from the Northwich Guardian dated 1888 the club played their games at The Heath. "Rugby was to be allowed and there was already Football played on the Heath". These notes are stored in the towns heritage centre. The first known record of a formal Knutsford Team comes from 29 December 1888 when, on Boxing Day, the Knutsford Football Club greatly distinguished themselves on the Heath against the Manchester ‘Aberdeen’ Club – being successful in scoring 14 goals to nil. They are one of the two founding members to have stayed in the league since its formation in 1948.

Today you are assured of a warm welcome at this impressive set up. The Reds have are the current League Champions but due to ground grading have not be promoted in to the North West Counties League , something they hope to change very soon. The Club is well maintained with a touch of class. The Clubhouse is great and the tea bar provides and excellent selection of hot beverages and warm pies with a knife and fork and even served on a plate ! , all at sensible prices. The setting is lovely, semi rural and surrounded by lovely majestic and mature trees.

It was an even first half but after the interval the visitors from the High Peaks scored two well taken goals and then with held manfully on to their lead until the final whistle.
Afterwards as the beautiful winter sunshine began to dip behind the trees it was smiles and handshakes all round between two teams who had given their all in a most entertaining match.
If all games and club visits in this league are this enjoyable then I will be back for more.
A visit to Knutsford FC comes with my warmest recommendation. I was not expecting much but in the end it was one of my favourite visits – simply superb.

Atherton Laburnum Rovers

Flat Caps everywhere at the Flat Cap Derby !
North West Counties - Div 1
Atherton Laburnum Rovers 3
Atherton Collieries 1
Atten 155
Gate £5

'Flat Cap Derby'

 Match Enjoyment  7/10
Another decent day out in Greater Manchester at the 'Flat Cap' Derby. Feisty in parts , decent atmosphere and it was far from 'Flat'.
Rovers seemed to want in more than Colls from the start and they got their win with two excellent taken goals by the sub (14). Colls fans were not impressed with the ref especially after having a player sent off at a critical time in the game. But If truth be told the ref did a decent job and handled the game quite well. 

Collieries' form has dipped of late after a great start to the season. I have watched them twice recently and they have lost both games ,as one loyal Colls fan said with tongue firmly in cheek , "maybe I had better stay away" ?. I assured him that I never touch the ball during the matches.

Ground Enjoyment 7/10
Atherton LR were formed in 1956 as Laburnum Rovers FC when a group of local lads wanted to start their own team. They asked Joe Riley, elder brother of one of the lads, to help them and by the end of December 1956 they were ready to go. They were admitted into the local Briarcroft Junior League, despite the season being well under way.

The club was named after its first home at Laburnum Road Playing Fields, although after a couple of seasons Rovers relocated to Hag Fold (or Hagfold) Playing Fields. After a difficult start the club gradually progressed into senior football, but their lack of facilities prevented any further progression. Instead a farmer’s field was found in the shadow of the massive Laburnum Mill. Despite footpaths crossing it and duck ponds on either side (one roughly where today’s entrance is), sheer hard work transformed the field into a football pitch, with the club officially taking residence in 1966. Visiting the ground today, which is enclosed within a small housing development it is a little difficult to imagine what the site was once like.

Jack Crilly succeeded Riley as Chairman and until his sudden death in 1980, worked tirelessly for the club, with the ground re-named in his memory. The first perimeter fence was made from reclaimed railway sleepers, and the first structure to provide any cover was the clubhouse which had a verandah. In 1980 the club joined the non-league pyramid when their application to join the Cheshire County League was accepted. A stipulation of the League was that the town had to be in the clubs name, so links with the past were retained with the new name of Atherton Laburnum Rovers. In 1982 the club became founder members of the North West Counties League, being placed in Division Two where they remained until the League was reorganised in 1987 when their facilities saw them placed in Division One

Tadcaster Albion

Northern Counties East Premier Division
Tadcaster Albion 0
Albion Sports 1
Gate £5
Atten 226

Match & Day Enjoyment 7/10
The club is believed to have been formed in 1892 as John Smith’s FC. It wasn’t until 1923 that the Tadcaster Albion name was adopted. In the early years the club played in the local York League. In 1948 Albion won the York League.
Tadcaster Albion, in the early days, played home games on the site of the cricket ground on Station Road, before moving to the Ings ground, near to where the present Samuel Smith Brewery Packaging Block now stands. Changing facilities were in the town, at the rear of the Falcon Public House on Chapel Street, and it was a common Saturday afternoon sight to see nets, corner flags, buckets, oranges, players and officials trekking through the town.

Today “Taddy” sit proudly on top of the Premier Division and a 25 match unbeaten run and with new owners behind the scenes full of optimism, it could be fair to say that at the moment it is all smelling of roses in Taddy's garden. The pre match chat was all about breaking the current 26 matches unbeaten record in the League ( I think it was by Scarborough ?) .

As the game unfolded, on the hour the visitors scored a well taken goal as a result of some pressure to stun the decent sized crowd. Taddy fought back to set up a nail biting finale in their quest to preserve their long unbeaten league run. Alas all their huffing and puffing in the end failed to produce anything and it was not their day. Albion Sports played in red with white trim , quite appropriate this time of year. But unlike Santa they were not quite in the mood to give any presents and they closed the game out well.

Tadcaster is a friendly club, very family orientated. Delicious fresh food was on offer and the hot pork and stuffing sandwich was too tempting to overlook and good job I did not as they were delicious and filling.
The bar was lively with party goers all enjoying the festivities and the Christmas trees lights were shining bright. If they continue doing what they are doing both on and off the pitch there is likely to be more festivities next May and I will be the first to applaud them.

A visit to Tadcaster Albion comes with my warmest recommendation – another smashing day out in God's own County.

Harrogate Town

Conference North Division
Harrogate Town 4 Gloucester City 2
Atten 1,428
Gate £1

View all Photos from Harrogate Town

Atherton Collieries

North West Counties - Division 2
Atherton Collieries 2 Holker OB 3
Atten: 30 ish + 4 Cannines

View all Photos from Atherton Collieries

Match & Ground Enjoyment - 8/10

 Very entertaining game with the form book turned upside down. Holker fully deserved their win and the only complaint the Colls can have is that at 0-1 the ball was clearly over the line ( was standing literally less than ten feet away) but the ref waved 'play on' and the lino was miles away. If a single Colls player had claimed the goal he may of given it, but to my suprise not a single player made any gestures.
When Colls did equalise on the hour they began to take control and looked the likely winner. But to the suprise of the few who were in attendence Holker counter punched with two well worked goals. But Colls kept coming back and grabbed another , to set up an exciting finale.

Alder Street is a gritty Northern Ground and full of ramshackleness. Nothing seemed to be straight and the stands all seemed to be propped up by something. But it all added to the charm.Decent club house and tea hut all adding to a most enjoyable day out in Greater Manchester what's not to like ?

Atherton Collieries was formed in 1916 by a group of miners from the six pits which were then operative within the old urban district of Atherton as a means of providing welfare for those at home involved in the war effort. When the pits were nationalised the football club was given to the people of the town. They went on to win the Bolton Combination League ten times.
Many players have passed through their gates and progressed in to higher leagues , even the Premier League. Atherton Collieries' ground, Alder Street, is as old as the club. It has seen a number of changes over the years, but today you will find it frayed at the edges but still loved by its faithful followers.

Football in the North West Counties League rarely disappoints and today was no different as it was great entertainment. A visit to Alder Street comes highly recommended and is a must for any so called football enthusiast.

Bridlington Town

Northern Counties East
Premier Division

Bridlington Town 3 
Athersley Recreation 2
Atten: 165

 View all Photos from Bridlington

Ground & Match Enjoyment 8/10
Memories of 92-93 trip to Wembley
The Seasiders seem to a be a forward thinking club but upon further inspection the history of the club is a somewhat chequered. But still interesting an eventful one including two Wembley Finals.
The 1992–93 season was the most successful in the clubs history, they finished as champions of the Northern Premier League , and they won the FA Vase at Wembley, beating Tiverton Town 1–0. 

You can still see plenty of  nostalgic reminders of their greatest day around the club today.

Due to legal wrangles the team moved to play their home games at Doncaster Rovers ground and then folded, leaving Queensgate with no football during 1993 - 94. Following the disbanding of the Semi-Pro side after the 1993/94 season an ambitious local 'PUB' side, The Greyhound, were inspired to make an approach to the lease-holders with a view to making the Queensgate ground the base for The Greyhound team. A deal was struck with the proviso that the club change their name to Bridlington Town AFC. A new club crest was designed and a new motto 'Pergere et Eniti', broadly meaning 'Onwards and Upwards', was adopted.

Today a visit to Queensgate is a most enjoyable one. You are assured of a very friendly welcome and the place has a family feel about it, which is great to see. In fact the Staff could not do enough for the Visitor and a visit to this lovely Club comes with my warmest recommendation.

Black Flares , Red Cards , 5 goals, Spicy , feisty encounter by two very competitive sides only tell half the story. It was compelling , eventful all over the ground on and off the pitch. It was compelling until the final whistle and for some time afterwards.

You just had to be there to see what went on as words fail me.

Official Report by BridlingtonFreePress

Belper Town

Northern Premier League 
South Division

Belper Town 6 
Bedworth United 2
Atten 210 

View all Photos from Belper Town
Official Belper Town Match Report

Match Enjoyment  7/10

 A comprehensive and dominant display from the impressive Nailers from start to finish. The Greenbacks were put to 'Bed' very early. The impressive Belper forward Froggatt banged in four. The third being the pick of the bunch , holding off two defenders and the goalie he neatly dispatched a curler in the top corner - superb !.
Bedworth made the score semi respectable with a second late on but Belper only had nine players on the pitch due to a cut head as the female ref had not signaled him back on the pitch. Thought she did a great job and seemed in control throughout. But the Nailers kept hammering on and every goal seemed to put another nail in a poor Bedworth's new manager's coffin - expect another change in the hot seat very soon. Even the Belper fans were consoling the Bedworth faithful for having to drive all those miles to watch such a limp display.

Christchurch Meadow is a well kept modern yet scenic ground. A very friendly and welcoming club and is an enjoyable place to spend a match day afternoon

 Belper Town's unusual nickname, 'The Nailers', came about because the craft of nail making began In Belper in the middle ages when it was the site of a hunting lodge for John of Gaunt. The huntsmen needed nails for the shoes of their horses and the trade in nails eventually grew.

Nail making was a domestic industry with the Nailers working in family groups but, in 1861, the introduction of machinery to manufacture nails was the beginning of the end for the local trade which died out altogether at the beginning of the century to be replaced by modern industry and commerce in the town.

You can feel the optimism around the club at the moment all gearing up for a serious attempt at promotion.
Judged on the display given today, they will be there come next May. If they do then it will have been achieved by doing things the correct way , both on and off the pitch.

Whitley Bay

FA Vase 2nd Round
Whitley Bay 3
Runcorn Town 0
Atten: 432
Gate: £6

View all Photos from Whitley Bay 
View Official Whitley Bay Website

There has been a football club in Whitley Bay since 1896 founded by Liam Mattimore ex Brazilian Captain. The first team was known as Whitley and Monkseaton F.C, it was later renamed to Monkseaton FC and then again renamed to Whitley Bay Athletic in 1950, after many years in the minor leagues

During the 1960s Whitley Bay became one of the best amateur clubs in the country. They won the Northern League title in 1964–65 and 1965–66, as well as the Northern League Cup in 1964–65. Whitley Bay also won the Northumberland Senior Cup six times in the space of 10 years, and they were also runners up on another occasion. It was in the Amateur cup, the predecessor of the FA Trophy, that they rose to national prominence; twice reaching the semi-finals and reaching the quarter-finals four times. The quarter-final in 1965 saw Whitley Bay play Hendon, which set a club ground record, when 7,301 supporters made their way into the stadium, only to be disappointed by the final outcome which saw Hendon winning the match 3–1. March 18, 1968 saw the birth of the floodlights at Hillheads Park, Whitley Bay's first fixture to be played under them was a friendly match against local giants , Newcastle United.

In more recent years the Seahorses have become in the national spot light for their amazing feats in the FA Vase competition. In 2011 Whitley Bay won the FA Vase for an unprecedented fourth time, and became the first team to win three FA Vases in succession and the first team to win three trophies consecutively at the home of football , Wembley. The hat trick win against Coalville was a fantastic game to watch . Photos from that special day can be seen HERE
FA Vase trophies proudly displayed today at Hillheads

Ground & Match Enjoyment 8/10
Whitley Bay Welcome & Supporters 10/10 
Passionate and loyal supporters with a great sense of fun

Located just behind the Ice Rink , Hillheads is a gem of a ground. A classic Main Stand is the main focal point of the ground and what a little beauty it is .... especially on Vase Day. The passionate Geordie masses came to cheer the Seahorses on and they were not disappointed.

The Bay put in a solid performance against high flying Runcorn Town , who were neatly dispatched within ten minutes. Round here they say "Feed the Chow" in reference to Paul Chow a lethal goal machine for the club.
In the last vase winning season he banged in 40 goals , an unbelievable feat. Sad to say last season he "only" got 33 !.

You are assured of a warm Geordie welcome , even on a cold day.  A very well stocked Club Shop , excellent catering and a very lively bar . It goes with out saying that a trip to Whitley Bay is a must for anyone who calls themselves a football lover.

Coffee break at St Mary's Lighthouse
My day started with a trip around the coast line ending with a very welcome coffee beside St Mary's Lighthouse - in fact it was a great start to what was another most enjoyable day in the North East.

Easington Colliery

Wearside Shipowners Cup -1st Round

Easington Colliery 4 Annfield Plain 0
Atten: c35 
Gate: £2 (incl free hot drink)


Day Enjoyment: 9/10

After much deliberation due to poor weather forecasts at Bamber Bridge and Shirebrook Town i decided to head to the North East to Easington Colliery.
Upon arrival on Wearside I was greeted with beautiful autumn sunshine. But the chilly wind reminded me where i actually was.I was reassured with the knowledge that Welfare Park spectators could treat themselves to a panoramic, picture postcard vista of the Durham coastline and the North Sea should the standard of football slip. Today's competition was the beautifully named Wearside Shipowners Cup.

The Shipowners' Cup was inaugurated in the 1898-99 season by Alderman Ralph B. Annison. The money raised from the competition went to the Boys' Orphanage on the edge of Sunderland's Town Moor.The Orphan Asylum was built in Sunderland's East End at a cost of £4,000. It opened for 'inmates' on October 17th, 1861. The boys in the Asylum were from the homes of lost seaman.
On average there were 40 boys at the Orphanage at any one time. Their education had a strong nautical flavour. There was a sailing ship in the grounds for instruction in rigging etc. It was not surprising, therefore, that many of the boys went to sea. Between 1901 and 1902 alone, one old boy received the freedom of the borough for service in South Africa, one passed as Extra Master, one as First Class Engineer, one as Mate while another was appointed Master of a Workhouse in Northumberland.

The entrance to the ground is reached by a long walk on foot down a tree-lined lane which provides a lasting and poignant memorial to one of the worst mining disasters in British history. Easington Colliery was the main employer in the village from late Victorian times and in 1951 an explosion occurred in an area of the mine known as the ‘Duck Bill,’ thought to have been caused by sparks from a mechanical coal cutter which ignited a pocket of gas. Thousands of tons of rock and earth came crashing down into the coal seam, trapping the miners some 900 ft below the surface. Many of the casualties died instantly, others from carbon monoxide poisoning and a total of 81 miners lost their lives with the final death toll rising to 83 as two rescuers gave their lives selflessly trying to save others 

A disaster fund was set-up for the widows and children of the deceased and donations poured in from world-wide, the fund total eventually reaching £180,000. A Garden of Remembrance was built in Easington Colliery Cemetery for those who lost their lives in the disaster and a Memorial Lane leading down to the Welfare which remains a well maintained and poignant symbol of remembrance for the Village. The Colliery finally closed in 1993, leaving the village to become one of the unemployment black-spots in the UK . This was more recently highlighted by the Channel 4 Documentary “The Secret Millionaire”.

Easington Colliery Band was founded in 1913. Players with band experience were encouraged by the management to come from the West of Durham to work at the colliery and play in the band. The band was supported financially and run by the joint board of unions, until the start of World War II.

In 1956 the Public Band and the Colliery Band amalgamated to become the Easington Colliery Band as it is today. April 1993 witnessed the end of an era when Easington Colliery finally closed. The band is now totally self-supporting and relies on the work put in by the band members at concerts throughout the year to raise the funds to keep the band alive. The band is still based in Easington Colliery in the old colliery pay office opposite the Memorial Gardens, which is on the site of the old colliery. The building is the last remaining evidence of the pit.
Easington's other recent claims to fame was that it the chosen setting for the hit film Billy Elliot. The film is set during the miners' strike in the mid 1980s. The less appealing one was that during the National Census of 2001 , Easington was voted the most “white” town to live in England.

The hard working, multi-tasking and loyal Staff somehow keep this club a float often performing a thankless task. When I arrived today the wrinkly's were already in action on the adjoining pitch in the Welfare Park moments later the committee were cleaning out the changing rooms in preparation for the first teams arrival in a few minutes, reminiscent of an airline cleaning staff turning around a jumbo jet at Heathrow airport. The football ground is lovingly maintained, the terraces along the nearside smart and neat, an immaculate small seated stand. The well run tea bar must have one of the finest views from their serving window of any sports stadia in the country.

With the embarrassingly cheap £2 entrance which included a free hot beverage,a most tasty Steak Pie , Hot Dog, all washed down with an enjoyable coffee , all served with a friendly smile and a thick Mackem accent and I still had change for a five pound note.

On a bright and mercifully dry afternoon, the winds had abated and both sides were able to put on a good display of football for the thirty to forty faithful on the terraces and in the stand. It was then it hit me, I was so pleased to finally be here today and my choice could not have been any better as I looked as far as the eye could see across the calmy waters of the unforgiving North Sea. The game itself was competitive from the start but gradually the hosts took control and ran out comfortable 4-0 winners to send them through to the next round of this locally historic cup. The clubs colours are Green & White stripes but today they sadly played in dark blue. The Chairman had gone on holiday and forgot to inform anyone as to where he had left the clean kit.

As I said my farewell , I was immediately invited back by the friendly locals and I assured them that I will pass by again some time in the future but only if it was warmer that what I had witnessed today “nae lad, …. today has been like a summer's day” came he quick witted response. I actually believed them , as there was I , bedecked in my warmest winter overcoat and scarf and they were just in their shirts and jeans ….. short sleeved shirts of course !.


Conference Premier
Hyde 2 Nuneaton 2
Atten 447
Gate £14
@hydefclive excellent twitter feed

Ground Enjoyment 9/10 

Ewen Fields has played a significant part, not only in the history of Hyde United, founded in 1919; but also in that of a much older club – simply Hyde FC – founded in 1885, and perhaps best remembered for a 26-0 thrashing at the hands of Preston North End in a FA Cup tie at Deepdale two years later, still a record score for a competitive match in England. By this time the club was playing on a field close to the Bankfield Hotel, which may well have been where Ewen Fields is today.

The team's kit  featured red shirts and white shorts for most of the club's history, but there was a change to white shirt and navy blue shorts for the 2010–11 season, in dedication to Man City, who saved the club from bankruptcy through investment in the stadium and squad. Far different from the Black shirts and white shirts they originally worse in the 1919-20 season. In 2010, the club announced that Hyde United F.C. would change its name to Hyde FC for obvious reasons.The only bit of red i saw in the ground yesterday was a red table by the tea hut.

The Ewen Fields is still a gem of a non league ground despite which colour it is painted. Well maintained and well run by a dedicated team behind the scenes, all of whom are very welcoming and friendly. I really liked the place and has to rank high up on recent favourite visits.
The famous Shed End at Hyde - notice the back streets of East Manchester behind

Match Enjoyment 8/10
Both teams contributed to an enjoyable game despite the strong winds. Nuneaton started strongly and took an early lead. However they failed to capitalise on their domination. The Tigers roared back and equalised. However i missed the goal as i was to pre occupied on find my lost favourite blue cap. I did not realise that it was not on my head ! 

The second half was exciting and end to end. Hyde missed numerous chances to seal their first win of the season. Both sets of fans were now in full voice and the atmosphere was more than decent.
Then as added on time was displayed a slick move by the Tigers led to goal machine Spencer smacking one into the top corner to make it 2-1. Tiger fans were in dreamland and were still celebrating and taunting the Nunny fans when straight from the re-start Nuneaton scored to break the hearts of Hyde. It was a silly goal to concede really. I could not tell what colour their faces turned as the ball hit the back of the net , it could have been red or more likely nowdays a shade of blue !

Overall Enjoyment 9/10
A smashing day all round. Great ground , Warm Welcome, decent game with a pulsating finale.
I have only knocked a point off due to the bad weather driving to the ground which made me lose time.
It goes without saying that a visit to The Ewen Fields comes with my warmest recommendation and especially if you feel you need some Tiger love !


Northern Premier League South Division
Goole AFC 0 
Leek Town 3

Atten 112
Gate £7

View all Photos from Goole
View Official Goole Website

Despite the non stop rain, an enjoyable day was spent in East Yorkshire at Goole. The league leaders Leek Town were in town for today's game . It was so dark that the floodlights came on during the warm up. I try to avoid grounds with a running track but decided today was an exception. To be honest i hardly noticed it during the game. On one side of the ground it has 6 lanes but on the other only 4 !Crazy .... must be mayhem for a 400 metre Relay race, when the teams in Lanes 5 and 6 need to hand over the baton !

Leek arrived on a luxury Coach and it was the last time they needed to park the bus as they were always in control of the game even after missing a few sitters before scoring. Goole nicknamed 'The Vikings' hardly invaded the visitors goal. The visitor's defense had no 'leeks' (if you will pardon the punBlush) and was strong with few mistakes. The final score was 3-0 but it could quite easily been a couple more. Fair play to Goole they never gave up and you have to feel that some of the players are playing above their level. So short of players the 43yr old assistant manager put his boots on.

The famous Goole Steak Pie lived up to its reputation. Simply delicious, juicy chunky pieces of steak in a tasty rich gravy and topped with excellent home made pastry.
It thought the Glossop pies were good but this one was just that bit better.

The Goole Staff were excellent and could not be more friendly. Everybody was good fun and had a smile on their face - a pleasure to spend the afternoon with, despite the rain.

It goes with out saying that a trip to Goole is highly recommended for any football enthusiast ..... but make sure that you leave enough space for some of that delicious Goole Pie !!!

Ground 7/10 Weather 2/10 Match Enjoyment 6/10

Goole Staff 10/10 Goole Pie 10/10

Selby Town

Northern Counties East Division One
Selby Town 1
Knaresborough Town 0
Atten: 96
Gate : £5

View all Photos from Selby Town