Saturday, 17 December 2011

Who could ask for anything more

 17th December 2011 – Curzon Ashton v Witton Albion 

A customary freezing day in December with ice on the ground. But Saturdays, freezing or not, mean football. I could see on Twitter that plenty of matches in the area were being cancelled, but I rang the club and was assured the game was on. On with the thermals then and a very slippy hike up to the ground.  It didn’t help that I was a tad late which made the skating on the icy pavements even more tricky. I’m a martyr to the game.

With Witton Albion just a few places below Curzon Ashton in the League, I was hoping for an exciting and close game. Now, you won’t know this, but my Uncle Jack played for Witton Albion back in the ‘50’s (or ‘60’s?) (also Altrincham, but mainly Hyde United). But now you know. Jack Dobson if you’re interested.

The game had just kicked off when I arrived and I could see that the pre-match kick about hadn’t disturbed too much of the frost on the pitch. It was going to be interesting.

Witton Albion had brought along plenty of supporters with them, which was nice to see.  Many of them were dressed as Father Christmas which provided a seasonal and visual treat and an interesting change from the usual winter football supporter uniform of big coat, hat and gloves which wouldn’t look out of place on Earnest Shackleton (you youngsters can look him up on your Google machines).

Back to the game. It wasn’t the best of starts for Curzon.  The Witton players were running rings round them.  In a tutting competition with Skippy, I would have won hands down. After 20 minutes, Witton scored.  The only surprise there was that it took them so long. It wasn’t looking good for Curzon.

Just before half time, Mike Fish was on a great run and looked set to score when he was brought down by the Witton goalkeeper. It was a straight red and left Witton with only 10 men. The Witton fans, not surprisingly, were not best pleased with the Ref’s decision.  Witton didn’t have a reserve goalkeeper so their number 2 had the unenviable task of taking over in the nets. Luckily for him, the resulting free kick didn’t trouble him.

Father Christmas's galore
Half time and a chance to give my head a rest from the shaking and tutting.  However, the barracking which the Ref had endured for much of the game by a number of Witton fans, continued by one particularly passionate/barmy member of their contingent. He was frighteningly vocal and looked like he might give himself a coronary if he didn’t stop. It looked at one point like there might be trouble when others joined in. Luckily his mates dragged him away to the tea bar. Phew, crisis averted.

And now onto my next gripe. Far too often this season, the club has only opened the downstairs tea bar and not the large function room above the main stand.  There were that many people crammed in there it must surely have contravened health and safety regulations. Apparently the upstairs room was being made ready for Jack Crompton’s birthday party the next day, which is fine, except - isn’t the club supposed to be about the football fans. Don’t get me started.....

So Curzon Ashton have a new mascot, Super Nash. What can I say? The kids seemed to like it and I suppose they’re the target audience. Moving on....

The second half got underway and we were hoping that Curzon would take advantage of Witton’s depleted squad. As usual, Curzon weren’t about to give up easily and pushed hard against what increasingly looked like a deflated and weakened Witton defence. But still no equaliser.

Then half way through the second half, drama. Dave Young was given a red card for what looked like a pretty nasty tackle. Both teams were down to ten men. Blimey. Nails were about to be nibbled.

With just five minutes to go, Curzon were still unable to find the back of the net. It looked as though we were about to witness their second defeat of the season. But then Lee blackshaw, who was having a cracking second half, broke through and scored for Curzon. Fantastic! But the drama didn’t end there. Just a couple of minutes later, Witton were awarded a penalty. Lordy. Amazingly, Josh Ollerenshaw managed to push it away and the final whistle was blown. Wow!

Witton Albion are certainly a team to watch - they played great football, probably the best team I’ve seen all season, and Curzon were very lucky to get a draw. So to sum up, Witton Albion played brilliantly, Curzon not so brilliantly. But one thing you couldn’t say about the game was that it was dull. 


Final score - Curzon Ashton 1 Witton Albion 1

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Should I stay or should I go?

17th September 2011 – Curzon Ashton v Prescot Cables

The day couldn’t have started any wetter than it did, and the rain didn’t let up all morning. What could be any worse than Manchester on a very rainy September day? I suppose I could have taken the sensible approach and opted to stay in and watch whatever Film4 was showing that afternoon. But no, this was a Saturday and that can only mean one thing. Football.

The big question was of course, would the match be on or not. Scanning the Curzon Ashton website there was no sign of the game being cancelled. Good news? I rang the club and they said the game was definitely on.  However my Twitter conversation with Curzon’s Dave Young (@YoungDave86 if you’re interested) was less hopeful that the match would happen. Dave said I wasn’t to listen to what the club said and that there was to be another pitch inspection shortly.

By now, the rain had stopped and we thought we’d try our luck and headed off to the match. Being a season ticket holder, I didn’t have to worry about paying in to a game that might not happen, but the next dilemma - to buy a coffee, or not buy a coffee? We bought a coffee. Just about everything that I’d done that day seemed to be going against my better judgement. We were momentarily cheered up by the sight of the two Prescot supporters carrying a drum and two trumpets in the ground. It was turning into a strange day.

So I’m in the ground, I’ve bought a programme, I’ve bought a coffee and we’re still not sure if there’s going to be a game.  I don’t think this is how it works at Old Trafford. The referee was still to make a final decision and it was only ten minutes before the game was due to kick off. The paddling pool that was doubling as the penalty box was the problem area. The water on the rest of the ground had drained away and wasn’t an issue. In the end, the Ref decided the pitch was satisfactory for playing on, or at least to start the match, and he would see how it went. We took our seats.

When the teams came out, it was like we were about to watch a Midlands derby with Prescot Cables in their orange kit and Curzon in blue.  I opted to support Birmingham City.  The game kicked off and the massive splashes every time the ball hit the pitch provided much amusement. Mike Fish should have been at home in the conditions.

And the band played on
Amazingly, after around ten minutes, Curzon’s pocket sized player Matty Purcell managed to head in the first goal past Prescot’s goalie.  The two Prescot supporters who made up the band weren’t going to conform to the usual of only playing when you’re wining.  They decided they were also going to play when they were losing. Badly.

Then drama as Andy Watson sustained an injury meaning he had to be carried off the pitch. Luckily for him, he didn’t have to exit on Curzon’s Dad’s Army style stretcher which always seems to pose more of a danger than the injury the unfortunate player being carried off is suffering from. From where we were sat, we could see the blood oozing through his sock and it didn’t look good. He hobbled out of the stadium on crutches and was taken to hospital.

At half time, we were treated to Curzon’s under 7’s who charged around the pitch in the way kids do. It was just like watching Mossley. (Joke)

The second half was no less dramatic, luckily this time it was just the football. Matty Kay scored after twenty minutes closely followed by a goal from Prescot. Matty Kay hit back again for Curzon after ten minutes and the only person not wanting him to get a third goal was Bob who sponsors Curzon hat tricks. Sadly for Bob, and happily for Curzon, Matty got his third goal and Prescot were finished off.

There’s just one final thing to say – cough up Bob.

Final score – Curzon Ashton 4 Prescot Cables 1

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Just like watching Mossley

10th September 2011 – Curzon Ashton v Salford City
It was to be a strange day.

Prior to kick off, Curzon’s John Flanagan received his award for Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Manager of the Month for August. He deserved it. Curzon have made a fantastic start to the season and haven’t lost a game. In fact, all of the local Tameside teams have started well this season. All that is, except local rivals Mossley who have struggled at the bottom of the table. More on them later.

It was good to discover where Jimmy Ogoo had disappeared to since departing from Curzon at the end of last season.  It was nice to see him as he pootled around the pitch in his Salford City kit before the teams came out for the start of the match. Although his footballing skills never quite matched his enthusiasm, he was always something of a favourite with Curzon supporters.

Salford came out fighting and took the lead after 14 minutes due to a cock up (not literally) between Peter Collinge and Connor Hampson which resulted in an own goal.  Unfortunately this also resulted in Hampson being carted off injured and had to be replaced by Matty Kay.

Our flags are bigger than your flags
Rhodri Giggs, Salford’s player/manager had made a good start to the match but was subbed off with an injury after around 15 minutes.  He spent the remainder of the match hopping around in his technical area wearing an odd shorts and leggings combination.  I’ll just leave you for a second so you can fix that image in your mind..........

Despite looking promising pre-season, Lee Blackshaw was yet again consigned to the bench. All wasn’t lost for him though as it allowed him to scoff a pie as he sat on the sub’s bench watching the game.  Not sure if that’s part of his training schedule.

Mike Fish had obviously been playing FIFA 11 on his Playstation or something as he kept attempting an odd new move of using his shoulder rather than chesting the ball down. He failed miserably and even got carded for handball. Back to the drawing board for him.

Jimmy Holden, who is on loan to Curzon from FC United, really isn’t impressive to watch. He seems incapable of hanging on to the ball for more than four seconds and you can guarantee when he passes it, he will pass it backwards. Oddly enough, this is identical to the style of play the aforementioned Jimmy Ogoo favoured while he played for Curzon. Bizzarely, it appears that Jimmy is the new Jimmy.

Back to the game, and Curzon’s metaphorical bacon was saved when Matty Kay headed in an equaliser half way through the second half.   All credit to Salford City though, they played to win, and to be honest, Curzon were very lucky to get away with a draw.  It seems that Giggs’s spying mission the previous week had paid off.

To make matters worse, Twitter updates were showing that the Mossley scoreline was steadily increasing, ending with Mossley winning 6 – 2 against Ossett Albion.  This is the Mossley that have had such a dreadful start to the season. Oh, the irony.  

So Curzon have lost their 100% record this season and go second behind Lancaster City who top the table on goal difference. Never mind. To quote American basketball coach Dean Smith, “If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems.  For one thing, you'll be dead a lot.”  Onwards and upwards.

Final score – Curzon Ashton 1 Salford City 1

Monday, 5 September 2011

I spy with my little eye

Saturday 3rd September 2011 - Curzon Ashton v Bamber Bridge 
It's FA Cup time again. Curzon's hopes of emulating their cup run back in 2008 began with a preliminary round match against Bamber Bridge.The game began well with both Curzon and Bamber Bridge putting in an equally good effort and offering an entertaining start to the game for those of us who had bothered to turn up on 'Non-League Day'. 

But then around 20 minutes in, Curzon's Chris McDonagh went in with a two footed tackle which ironically left him injured on the ground. When he eventually staggered to his feet, he was shown the red card and had to be helped off the pitch by the physio. So Curzon were down to ten men and there was still another 70 minutes to play. Daunting. But they played on and despite several chances from both sides, the players went for their orange segments at half time with the scoreline still at 0 - 0.

With no oranges available for spectators, I went for a little stroll around the perimeter of the pitch, I spied Rhodri Giggs with his sweatshirt hood up over his head away from the other spectators, trying to look inconspicuous. As it happens, he just looked dodgy. He was either there to get a glimpse of the new look Curzon team, or he was hiding from the press given his recent shenaningans.

The floodlights had come on during at half time providing a depressing glimpse of the matches to come as we march towards winter. This doesn't make me smile. Then as the players came out for the second half, the rain started, and worse than that, it was that fine rain that gets you wet. While it lasted, this provided an amusingly slippery surface, with players providing us with slapstick head over heels falls all over the place. Oh, how I laughed.

A few times during the game, the ref had managed to miss seeing the liners flagging for incidents on the pitch, and on a couple of occasions, the crowd had to point out that the liner had his flag up. At one point, one of the liners was repeatedly shouting the ref’s name to get his attention, and didn’t stop until he eventually heard him and blew his whistle. Very reminiscent of the Alan Partridge sketch.

Bamber Bridge eventually broke the deadlock and scored. However, the depleted Curzon side didn’t give up, and five minutes later, came back with an equalizer from Kris Dennis who just can’t stop scoring!

At the end of a great game, the teams had to be content with a tie and a replay to take place at Bamber Bridge. This time, both teams will have eleven men each. Game on.

Final Score - Curzon Ashton 1 Bamber Bridge 1

Saturday, 3 September 2011

I want my money back

Saturday 20th August 2011 - Mossley v Woodley Sports
With Curzon playing an away game, we chose to go to Mossley to watch our first game at Seel Park this season.  The first thing of note was the price of admission. £8. Yes, £8. At a time when the whole country is suffering a recession, the committee at Mossley have seen fit to increase the price of admission. So that's the end of me buying a programme there then.

What followed was a complete mismatch of a game. It’s usually apparent by the amount of fouling that goes on when a team isn't as competent as their opposition, and this was certainly true in this match. Mossley were out of their depth and fouling Woodley for fun. The ref's yellow card certainly got a good workout.

By half time, Woodley should have been five up. As it turned out, they’d only managed to score once.
The best view in non-league

The final five minutes saw a mini goalfest, with Woodley managing to put three goals past the Mossley keeper. What was more amazing was that it had taken Woodley so long to score again as there was no one in the Mossley defence that competent enough to stop them.

To sum up - Mossley were hopeless, in all senses of the word. It’s going to be a long season for them unless they drastically improve their performance. I’m not sure I’ll be spending £8 to watch them again in a hurry. Not unless they start offering refunds to their supporters when they play as badly as this.

There was nothing amusing about this game at all. Nothing.

Final score – Mossley 0 Woodley Sports 4

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

This week's game was brought to you by the letter F*

Saturday 13th August 2011 – Curzon Ashton v Radcliffe Borough
And we’re off. The new season has finally arrived and a home game for the first match to boot. Curzon Ashton took on Radcliffe Borough with the knowledge that Radcliffe had not won their opening game for 15 years and haven't beaten Curzon at home since moving to the Tameside Stadium. All positive omens for Curzon.

The game had only just kicked off when just five minutes in, it had to be stopped. No fighting had broken out, no-one was injured, no-one was arguing. Somehow the liner had broken his flag. What he'd been doing with the flag, I don't know - waving it too vigorously perhaps? Anyway, everyone had to wait until a replacement could be found, and after five minutes, one was. Phew. On with the game.

Can you see what it is yet?
We had the referee assessor sat a couple of rows in front of us in the first half. Peeking over his shoulder, we tried to decipher his complicated chart and associated notes. None of which made any sense. My mind was well and truly boggled. Earlier, I'd seen a message on Twitter from the ref who said this was his first Evostik game. He obviously wanted to make a lasting impression in his first match as he booked around eight players (or more - I lost count). And they deserved them as this was a pretty rough game with plenty of pushing, tripping and pulling.

In the first half, it seemed as though Radcliffe were leading a charmed life until Dave Young finally found the net and scored. Huzzah! First goal to Curzon. As it turned out, it was the only goal. It was the classic game of two halves unfortunately and the first half domination by Curzon fell away in the second. But still, 3 points is 3 points.

It’s still feels slightly odd to sit behind the dugouts without the bellowing at the players from the management. Shouts of, “Well done son” from the coach still seem a little alien but is something we at Curzon are quite happy to get accustomed to.

In other news, this was the week John broke his diet and bought a pie. This he shall be reminded of all season. Don't forget to keep tuned for more pie news throughout the year.

Final Score – Curzon Ashton 1 Radcliffe Borough 0


A taste of the exotic

Saturday 6th August – Curzon Ashton FC v Barton Rovers FC
Gosh, a visit from a team that plays in the first division of the Zamaretto League, the equivalent of the Evo-Stik League. How very exotic! A bit of a change from the usual teams Curzon get to play in friendlies. The reason for the visit soon became clear.  Before the teams had even exited the tunnel the PA announcer had made several references to the Barton Rovers players going to the Printworks in Manchester City Centre after the match. Apparently, they were on a stag do in the evening and the offer of a match with a Northern team tied in nicely.

They probably wished they hadn’t bothered. It wasn’t a great day for Barton Rovers. The team coach had broken down so they all had to come up in cars from Luton. Not a great start. And then they were barely competition for Curzon as they failed to put up a fight. Well not in terms of skill anyway. They were pretty proficient in fouling however, and the ref had to use his yellow card liberally. Not what you expect in a friendly. I hope they were a little more affable when they hit the dancefloor later that evening.

And the lottery numbers this week are.....
At half time, the PA announcer took some time out from trying to pronounce the name of the sponsor to inform us it was Curzon’s physio’s birthday that day. On a gorgeous hot summer’s day, she had chosen to wear a woolly hat and a thick sweatshirt. Maybe they were presents that she felt obliged to wear.

It was a good game for Matty Purcell who got his first start in a first team match and looked good throughout the game. Steve Settle scored the final goal – he had tweeted that he was going to score so hopefully he’ll do more tweeting of predictions.

The highlight of the day had to be watching Ken Barlow’s actual dog exercising in the field opposite the ground having a run around. It just goes to show, you never know which celebrity you might see when you go to a match.

Final Score – Curzon Ashton 4 Barton Villa 0