Friday, 25 August 2017

Manchester Plastic

East Manchester  1  Dukinfield Town  0

Manchester League – Premier Division

The Wright Robinson College in Abbey Hey is regarded by many as something of a football safety net.

To put a little bit of context into that statement, essentially once the winter months are upon us and pitches start to suffer, with the college having a 4G playing surface, it can be relied on for a game. The Manchester League is very forward thinking though, it has a policy of allowing it’s clubs to switch games at short notice to such surfaces to avoid postponements. They also have very good social media and web coverage so it’s dead easy to find out about changes.

Night Fall Over Abbey Hey
The college is the official home of East Manchester Football Club, which by definition means if the weather strikes, you have a 50% chance of them having a home game, but not only that, other clubs have been known to take advantage of it, so more often than not, someone will be at home on any said day.

I never thought I would say this, but if the weather is really bad, your safest bet for a game of football is typically Manchester!

It hadn’t been the original plan as I was ‘saving’ it for a rainy day, but my game of choice at Old Altrinchamians got moved to the previous night, so I was left with no other option to be honest. If the choice is a plastic pitch or no game at all, then plastic it is.

Dukinfield Warm Up
Set in the heart of the East of Manchester, I approached the college via a swift GBG accredited Real Lager (Carling IPA) in the Fairfield on Ashton Road. The Abbey Hey estate is a mixture of the old and the new, terraced houses and then new builds, but when it comes to new builds the relatively modern Wright Robinson complex is a huge piece of work. Located on the edge of the estate, the first thing that strikes you is the size if the car park, simply huge, either they have a hell of a lot of teachers or they drive at a very young age in these parts (less said the better!)

The college has a Sports Centre attached to it and behind this are numerous pitches, but the game tonight was being played at the very far end on a floodlit pitch. With an 8pm kick off, which presumably was down to pitch availability, then place had quietened down by the time we got going, but an hour prior it was a pretty busy place with lots of junior football taking place.

It was cage football, but spectators had access inside the cage, not only that though, you could access all the way round the perimeter which is quite unusual.

It was a local derby, it was the pride of East Manchester, with visiting Dukinfield from just down the road. A reasonable crowd had pitched up, split between both sides, plus it looked to have attracted the attention of a couple league officials.

It was a tight game, goalless at half time and chances at a premium. It was also played in a good spirit, but it was competitive at the same time. To be honest as the second half wore on it did look as though it may well finish goalless, but the hosts found space, an attacker raced into the box, which prompted the visiting keeper to fly from his line at pace.

A collision was inevitable but the big question was who would get to the ball first. The attacker got a toe to it before impact took place, and quite an impact it was, he hit the deck!

The referee had no choice, no one was in a position to argue, the yellow card was inevitable, and the ball was on the spot. The resultant penalty went straight down the middle and the net bulged.

The visitors had the bulk of the possession in the final stages of the game, but never really looked like breaching a well organised and determined defensive line. It had not been the most enthralling game you would see, but it was engaging all the same. The bragging rights are with East Manchester.

The Abbey Hey estate looks as though it comes to life at night, police cars were patrolling in the vicinity but after weaving my way through the streets I was soon on the Hyde Road, down the M67 and into Derbyshire, it felt like a World away.

But, I suspect come the winter months, it will be well trodden path again, and I, like many, will be thankful for that.
Dugouts Etc



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