Sunday, 7 May 2017

Feel Good Factor

Billinge  2  AFC Macclesfield  1

Cheshire Football League - First Division

I started writing my blog two months ago now, and one thing that has been a real surprise throughout is the amount of positive feedback and encouraging comments that have come my way.

None more so than after I'd written about Billinge winning 10-1 at Egerton on Bank Holiday Monday. The clubs Twitter account was very complimentary, as was the Manager Geoff Parr who left a message via the comments section.

It's always nice to read the comments, but it was also nice to know that people are actually enjoying browsing the blog. I guess as well some clubs don't get a vast amount of interest from outside, so if I can promote a club then I'm more than happy to do so.

Consequently, I've now got a few new 'favourite' clubs as a result, and one of them is Billinge. On Monday I talked about the fact they needed to win the last three games to pip Warrington Town Reserves to the league title, clearly the first hurdle was overcome without any dramas, but the second one today against third placed AFC Macclesfield was to be an altogether different proposition. Third spot was between the lads from Macc and the team from just over the East Lancs Road, Pilkington, with the added spice that it might mean a promotion berth this season depending on what transpires at the end of the campaign.

Billinge Soccer Centre Looms Large
More on the game later. I parked up at the ground and had a walk to the nearby Masons Arms, a pub that is CAMRA award winning (in Wigan at least). Being a neanderthal I avoided some of the real ales and decided to plump for a quite sublime pint of Veltins lager, a drink that I last had the pleasure of in the stadium of Schalke 04. But then when your ground is called the Veltins Arena........

I could have stopped for more, it was a cracking boozer, but driving and a lack of time meant a return to the football ground. It's a bit of a weird one as the ground is located at the back of a small industrial / retail estate, but it looks like it was previously a farm. The Billinge Soccer Centre sits to the very rear of the Barrows Farm ground (ah, so it was perhaps a farm after all?), and this is a large warehouse type building that houses indoor football courts.

I asked if Geoff was around for a quick chat, turns out it was his Father who was working behind the tea bar who I asked the question to. He disappeared and then back he came, with Geoff, and we had a brief discussion about the game. Geoff was quietly assured about the match, they have a superb team spirit at Billinge and they're also playing with confidence, but AFC Macclesfield are no Egerton. He pinpointed a couple of visiting players who they had to be wary of, but at the same time he had a pretty good idea how they would set up. Clearly Geoff is a man a does his research, but at the same time, this was going to be a tough game.

Rural Barrows Farm
It was a cool day in what was a very rural and open location, which seems strange for me to say based on the fact I've just described the journey to the ground as being through a retail estate. I chose to stand behind the visitors dugout in an elevated position, which offered views across to St Helens. Just along from me were a contingent from Warrington Town, no doubt here in hope rather than expectation.

It was a very different game to last Monday, the visitors were clearly well organised, but I did feel that Billinge had the quality, certainly in attack. It was a tight first period but the hosts got the breakthrough to make it 1-0, and then a glorious chance went begging when a clear header on goal should have at least found the target. They paid the price, a long range Macc effort found the net just before half time, the league title bid would rest on the next 45 minutes.

The Warrington Gaggle In The Distance
Just after half time a low shot found the bottom corner and Billinge were back in front. Macc pushed on thereafter but didn't quite have the quality to break Billinge down. Billinge did have a couple of chances to seal the victory but it proved to be a nervy end to the game, but the end did come and the players had a moment to celebrate, before they move on to the final game next week at home to Mersey Valley.

I had to decline Geoff's offer to have a pint in the Soccer Centre after the game, but I will be watching the results closely next weekend. I'm confident they will do what's required, not just because they are a very good side, but mainly because they have the right mindset as both a football team and as a club. That comes from the top, with men like Geoff Parr running the show, you wouldn't expect anything less would you?

The Home Of The Champions?


  1. Neil, great to see you again and thanks for another great blog about our club.
    I was suprised to see you Saturday as I had not seen you reply on your last blog but again great you traveled over.

    Hope to see you again soon and keep up the good work

    1. Cheers Geoff, it's a pleasure. Hope all goes well on Saturday, and thanks for the kind comments about the blog. No doubt our paths will cross again next season.