Thursday, 20 April 2017

Testing Resolve

Dukinfield Town  1  Walshaw Sports  0

Manchester Football League Premier Division

I have kept my promise, I said a few weeks ago that I would make every effort to get to a few Manchester League grounds in April, and after having a very enjoyable evening at Springhead, I was even more determined to maintain my pledge.

Dukinfield Town were the opponents at Springhead, but tonight they were the hosts, and after being sat in a meeting all day in Liverpool, it was a moderately stress free journey via the M62 and M60 into Ashton-Under-Lyne and then onto the suburb of Dukinfield.

Dukinfield is a brutally urban satellite town on the East edge of Manchester, and with the absolute greatest of respect, it isn’t the most aesthetic area of the World you will ever visit. Social Housing proliferates the area close to the Woodhams Park ground that the club play at, while a youth centre backs onto the community facilities that mark the space between the car park and the concrete fence that surrounds the football facilities.

The Pearly Gates
A pint in the nearby Wheatsheaf saw me sat lonely as a cloud, and with some debate as to when the game would kick off (the website said 6.45 but the Dukinfield players thought 6.30), I had to be quick in my guzzling. I arrived back bang on 6.30, but it was not yet kick off time, it did however get underway at 6.38, so betwixt the advertised and the assumed.

The ground was fenced in on two with the concrete post and slab construction that is commonly seen, but panels were missing. On the other two sides were housing and industrial units. The pitch was posted and railed while hard standing surrounded it. The grass areas were overgrown, it looked to lack loving care and attention, but it did the job. Clubs don’t have the hands these days to keep things spick and span, you can’t blame Dukinfield Town for that, indeed it may not even be their responsibility?

There was a bit of a chill in the air, the crowd was sparse and the two teams were both struggling at the wrong end of the table. Bury based Walshaw Sports did have the advantage though and it was they who looked the most likely side in the early exchanges.

Urban Jungle
The Walshaw bench were a lively bunch, very little passed by without a comment, a shout or a scream, typically aimed at the linesman (he was the nearest). But if they thought their methods would influence the officials positively in their favour, they were mistaken.

The only goal of the game came in the first period and it was an absolute cracker. An overhead kick from the edge of the box found the back of the net, and to be honest it wasn’t really in keeping with the game.

Plenty of effort, plenty of fight, but not a great deal in the way of quality in the areas that mattered. 1-0 was probably about right. Dukinfield, while actually hitting the bar with the last kick of the game, might argue they deserved a point, but Walshaw will point to the times they got behind the home defence, especially in wide areas, but the final ball was lacking.

The pitch didn’t help matters much, it was bobbly, as they often are at this stage of the season, but in summary, it wasn’t a great spectacle.

If you are thinking I didn’t enjoy tonight’s game much, you are probably right. It didn’t float my boat, and that isn’t anyone’s fault, it was just the combination of factors already mentioned that lead to that conclusion.

I won’t let it put me off though, remember this is a man who bravely battled two divisions of the Leicestershire Senior League without needing medical attention or a lawyer!

Rochdale Sacred Heart next week, with a name like that, what’s not to like?

Grey Skies

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