Thursday, 24 August 2017

A Good Heart

Rochdale Sacred Heart  7  Walshaw Sports  2

Manchester League – Premier Division

Readers of my blog may well recall that I made an attempt to visit Rochdale Sacred Heart for a game during the back end of last season, but I was ultimately thwarted as the opposition called the game off at short notice due to not being able to raise a side.

I had to make a swift detour that night to Uppermill, which in itself wasn’t a bad move as it gave me chance to visit one of the most scenic grounds in the Manchester League, located of course in Yorkshire!

Sacred Heart to their credit sent me an apology for the postponement, albeit not their fault, and invited me to return to them at some point, and when someone does that I make sure that I make an effort to act upon the offer.

What's Not To Like?
It didn’t turn out too badly last season for the club from Rochdale, they went on to win the league ahead of heavily fancied Wythenshawe Amateurs, and this on the back of a fourth placed finish the previous season.

They didn’t apply for a promotion to Step 6, but with an expected increase in the number of promoted clubs to that level at the end of the season, especially in this part of the World due to the expansion of the North West Counties League, is a move upwards on the cards?

Looking Towards Rochdale
Sacred Heart have a really nice ground, located on the Eastern edge of town in the district of Belfield, you travel down a narrow lane, cross over the railway line and the ground is tucked away on the right, between the said railway line and a canal. A stone construction two story club house greets you at the bottom of the car park, and once inside, the bar is a really smart affair, and not only that it has a balcony from which the game can be viewed.

I chose to watch the closing stages of the Astana v Celtic Champions League Qualifier from the bar while enjoying a pint of God’s finest German lager, but one thing that did attract my attention was the fact they had an area set aside for sponsors, and a meal was being prepared for them. This is Step 7, how bloody good, and indeed forward thinking is that?

The majority of the ground is railed, some metal, some wooden, while large parts of it are also kitted out with hard standing. No cover is in place and no floodlights are located, but the ground is fully enclosed, to which I would go as far as to say that it can’t be that far away from being capable of hosting Step 6 football.

Lots Of Advertising - The Way Forward
Do they want it? I genuinely don’t know, but from my visits to this particular league, they are equipped as any to make the transition. Yes, Avro have landed themselves a ready made Step 6 facility in Oldham, while Wythenshawe Amateurs once at their new ground have ambitions to progress, as have Manchester Gregorians if they can find the right location to make the move, but Sacred Heart look in great shape to me.

The game itself didn’t get off to the best of starts, Bury based Walshaw took the lead with a goal that can only be described as a ‘Worldie’ from the best part of twenty five yards, but by half time the tone was set and the hosts went in with a 4-1 lead.

The second half was pretty much one way traffic and in the end a couple of very neat finishes found the net on the way to a 7-2 victory for the reigning champions. Can they go on and win it again? Certainly, but I suspect some of the aforementioned teams will be wanting to have a big say in matters.

Would I like them to win it and get promoted? Yes, I would, because some clubs deserve success and progression for so many reasons, Rochdale Sacred Heart are one of them. 

Forgot To Mention The Pitch - Very Good!

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