Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Dark Satanic Mills

Uppermill  3  Chapel Town  3

Manchester Football League – First Division

I had a foreboding feeling as I drove into the car park at the impressive home of Rochdale Sacred Heart.

It was all too quiet, so I had a wander up the clubhouse stairs, only to be told the game against Dukinfield Town had been called off just an hour previously as the visitors were unable to raise a team. I guess given what I had to say about Dukinfield on last week’s blog, combined with the fact I advertised I’d be seeing them again tonight, gave them as good a reason as any to cause me some inconvenience!

Sorry RSH, it’s probably my fault, and as a result my pre-prepared missive about dark satanic mills, religion and football will have to wait until next season now, you are spared for the time being……..

So, it was time to check the fixtures and the clock, where could I get to, given I was in Greater Manchester in the midst of rush hour? The obvious choice was Uppermill, only eleven miles from Rochdale and a rural location that shouldn’t involve too much traffic congestion.

Hiding From The Rain - Uppermill's Tree's Provide Shelter
Normally I do a bit of research before going to a game, but with Plan B swinging into action, other than a postcode, I had no idea really of where I was going or what to expect. The journey was a very pleasant one, rising up over the edges of Saddleworth Moor before dropping down into the charming and authentic  village of Uppermill, which is another one of those Manchester League grounds that actually sits in West Yorkshire.

I was solely reliant on the navigation system, which took me via a housing estate, and that was both arduous and perilous as I was behind a bus that was trying to weave its way between the cars parked on both sides of the road, with a fair degree of abandon. But, with fifteen minutes to spare, I had apparently reached my destination, and thankfully I could spot what looked like footballers emerging from a building.

The Huddersfield Road & Railway Is Up There Somewhere.....
What a pleasant surprise I was in for, Uppermill’s ground is a wonderfully scenic venue nestled in a natural valley. The views across to where the Huddersfield to Manchester road, and indeed railway line, cut across the edge of the hillside were tremendous. The football pitch forms part of a bigger sports ground, and tonight both another football match and rugby training were taking place at the venue, but the main railed pitch is the one used by Uppermill. No cover, just dugouts, and the dressing rooms were some buildings fifty yards or so away.

A chill was in the air, indeed I’d travelled through sleet and snow as my journey wound its way round the edges of Huddersfield, but with some trees for shelter along one corner that also provided cover from the intermittent rain, I’d got my spot for the evening.

As the players and officials ran through the pre-match pleasantries I had a look at the league table. Uppermill sat bottom, Chapel Town were mid-table, but with only two wins to their name all season and a -93 goal difference I was pretty much expecting one way traffic.

If You Look Carefully Saddleworth Moor Sits Just Above The Trees...
I was very wrong. The visitors indeed took the lead but by half time a penalty made it 1-1, there had been very little in the game. Uppermill made it 2-1 and then 3-2, before missing a couple of good late chances that would have all but guaranteed the three points.

But, when you are bottom of the league things don’t go your way, and with virtually the last kick of the game it was the side from Derbyshire who made it 3-3 and gleaned a point that they perhaps didn’t really deserve on balance.

What a great game of football though, and what a cracking setting for a game. Plan B was definitely a good plan. Funnily enough though, Uppermill, as the name would suggest, is a village where the history is steeped in the textile industries, with mills dominating the skyline.

They might not have been dark and satanic tonight as I was planning, but as I drove back through Mossley and down towards Stalybridge, the gritters were out in force. It’s still the bleak mid-winter in this part of the World, but the again we are almost in May!

Three games seen now in the league I dared to explore. Manchester, so much to answer for……….
Ask Dusk Arrives Satan Makes His Way To The Mill

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