Friday, 28 April 2017

Setting Standards

Knutsford  2  Rylands  2

Cheshire Football League – Premier Division

Standards – you either have them or you don’t.

It was absolutely clear from the moment I parked up at Knutsford Football Club’s Manchester Road ground that they have high standards, everywhere you looked you could pick up on them.

The façade of the clubhouse tells you exactly where you are, freshly painted and with clean lines, it was a warm welcome, without the handshake.

The playing surface is immaculate, and you don’t win Groundsman awards from the FA without it being in a first class condition. Not only was it flat, grassy and well manicured, it also had one of those patterns woven into it that artistic ground staff like to create.

Inside the clubhouse, the walls are decorated with memorabilia, photographs and awards. But not only that, the notice boards tell you everything you need to know, from the pre-season training schedule to how to practice safe sex! (I kid you not!)

I had a pie, it was bloody magnificent, one of the finest I've ever had, and apparently they think they have the best pies at Step 7, and who am I to argue?

Billiard Table
The ground is very tidy, everywhere is well maintained, its in good order, its clean and there is a definite attention to detail.

A small stand adorns one side, and they’ve also put in some seats and some tables, so you can take out your teas and coffees to watch the game in comfort. As the game comes to its conclusion a chap comes round to collect the empty mugs. (attention to detail!)

That brings me on to the people, plenty of them, chatty, friendly and helpful, what more could you want?

They don’t miss a trick, this football club is certainly no Ragtag Rovers, but the cynics will scoff. 

Knutsford is a very well to do area, some of that affluence may well find its way into the club, I couldn’t say for definite, but clearly you can’t create and maintain what they have without an income stream.

They also have an abundance of officials who can help out, that is critical at any football club.

Money and bodies, they are very hard to come by at the best of times and at this level of football I suspect 95% of clubs will look at Knutsford and wish they had what they had. Enviously maybe, jealousy possibly, but nothing wrong in having something to aspire to.

Bespoke Furniture
It does actually come down to the fact that Knutsford have standards that all at the club buy into, and they simply live and breathe them on a constant basis. Yes, they are fortunate in some respects, but how much of the good fortune comes from the fact that people would rather associate themselves with an organisation that takes pride in itself and also upholds certain values? It does make you wonder?

On the pitch they have had a poor season. They won the league last year and have been consistently one of the best sides in the league over recent years. This season they are likely to finish anywhere between 3rd and 6th, Whaley Bridge have the league in the bag already, by their high standards (the standards extend to the team) it’s been a struggle.

Tonight’s game against Rylands pitched them against a side in the lower reaches of the table, but in terms of a spectacle it was one of the best I’ve seen all season. Knutsford had the lions share of play in the first half, but their good approach play became a bit too predictable once they got into dangerous areas and Rylands were able to keep them at bay. It came as no shock that on one of the visitors increasingly regular breaks that they took the lead late in the first half.

Knutsford continued in the same vein in the second period but showed a bit more purpose in attack and in a fifteen minute spell they turned the scoreline on its head to make it 2-1. It wasn’t over though, Rylands dug in, threw bodies forward and scored a deserved equaliser in injury time.

Compelling, entertaining and interesting, it had been all of those things, but also it had been of a high standard. It was better than many Step 5 games I’ve seen recently.

You are perhaps sensing I enjoyed my evening at Knutsford. Yes, clearly I did, but it wasn’t just the football, it was the whole experience that had the impact upon me.

Just along from the ground is the McLaren Showroom, I don’t know if the football club have approached them about any sponsorship, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they had at some point.

If you are going to have standards, set them high!

Even The Shadows Are Perfect!

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