Thursday, 12 April 2018

Lost In Wythenshawe

Wythenshawe Amateurs  3  Old Altrinchamians  2

Manchester Football League – Premier Division

“Excuse me mate, can you tell me where Wythenshawe Amateurs play?”

“Eh?” was the puzzled reply.

“Err, they play at Hollyhedge Park apparently”

“Nah mate, this is Wythenshawe Park, Hollyhedge Park is about two miles that way!”

Bollocks, that served me right for using the road name rather than the postcode, you see Altrincham Road is a very long road, and I was at the wrong end of it. A quick look on Google Maps and my mistake was clear to see, I should have gone East rather than West, then if I’d looked at the map closely enough in the first place I would have seen the neat outline of a football ground.

Ok, it cost me ten minutes at worst, but it was something of a schoolboy error, albeit rectified. So when I pulled into the car park at Hollyhedge Park in Sharston, there were plenty of signs of life given the proximity to the kick off.

Found It!
The very first game I ever went to in the Manchester League was a home game involving Wythenshawe Amateurs, at the Longley Lane ground in December 2006. It was a large sports complex with a vast social club from memory, but clearly not suitable to see them move up the football pyramid in a hurry.

Longley Lane, as the crow flies is probably about a mile further North, on the other side of the M56, from their new home.  The new home that they moved into at the start of this season, with a view to gaining promotion to the North West Counties League.

Ironic really, because another applicant to join the NWC is Wythenshawe Town, who compete in the Cheshire League. Both it seems have passed the grading so we could well see a senior Wythenshawe Derby fixture next season.

Give Me Shelter
Members of the Manchester League for the past thirty seasons, the ‘Ammies’ have created a smart and functional facility, which in some ways does remind me of the Ericstan Park home of their neighbours Town.  Behind the goal adjacent to the car park is a single story clubhouse facility with the dressing rooms combined within it. It does appear this facility is open seven nights a week so clearly it’s seen as a revenue driver.

The ground itself is fully enclosed by tall, green mesh fencing, while the pitch surround is hard standing with a permanent rail. A small area of cover straddles the half way line, and floodlights I’m sure will arrive sooner or later. It does three things for the club, it drives revenue as I said, it creates a home of their own, but it also ticks the boxes in terms of progression.

It’s been going pretty well on the pitch to be fair as well. The club sit second in the league behind an Avro side that are going to win it. League placings don’t matter hugely this season due to an expansion at Step 6, but by the same token, if you are going to get promoted you need to be sure you have a side that can compete at the next level.

I’ll be honest, with visiting Old Altrinchamians sat bottom of the league, I was expecting a comfortable home victory, but it didn’t work out like that at all.

Old Alts were more than a match for their hosts in the first period and in my view they deservedly took the lead through a neat close range finish just prior to the half time interval.

The Crowd Gathers
Wythenshawe came out looking somewhat galvanised at the start of the second period, equalising through a penalty and then scoring twice more in relatively quick succession to effectively seal the points.

However, as the gloomy and cold evening descended into darkness, the visitors found a second wind and scored a very well take second goal, creating some anxiety within the home camp as the game played out to a conclusion. Ammies deserved the win, but Old Alts deserved credit for the battling performance. They did not look like a side doomed to relegation, but then again maybe they were playing with a bit of freedom given the inevitable conclusion?

A decent crowd had assembled to watch the game, including a number of neutrals, and it does strike me that the club have very much created a togetherness and a community spirit. All credit to them, and the old adage of, if you build it, they will come, seems to be proving to be true.

Assuming of course you know how to find it in the first place!

Action Stations

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