MARINE (Rossett Park)

After Saturday's  double disappointment of Everton only drawing 1-1 with the Wolves and Celtic Crusaders getting beat 36-10 by St Helens, it was back to the old non-league football today and a trip to Crosby for a re-visit to The Arriva Stadium (aka Rossett Park) for the Northern Premier League clash between Marine and FC United.

It was also another chance to visit the Aladdin's Cave that is the Marine supporters club shop, again it didn't disappoint as I spent a good 25 minutes in there rummaging through the boxes of programmes and books.

Today's game was a ticketed affair and was being played on a Sunday on police advice. This is due, i'm led to believe, to the traditional Scouse v Manc rivalry overstepping the mark at a previous game when a Marine player (who was subsequently sacked) made an 'aeroplane' gesture at United fans, in reference to the Munich air disaster. Perhaps this is why there such a low away following today, with the overall crowd not reaching the 1000 mark. However, it didn't stop the nasty chants today and certain supporters from both sides were guilty as each other.

As for the game itself, well that was won at a canter by FC United who were by far the better footballing side. Two goals, one in each half, from Michael Norton (one a penalty) settled the match. It was a niggly foul-ridden game as Marine, instead of concentrating on their own game, seemed intent on kicking United off the park. This led to Marine finishing the game with 9 men as Thomas Moore and Kevin Leadbetter were shown red cards.

For those of you who have not visited Rosset Park, it is a very compact ground surrounded by housing and whilst the game was in motion I wondered, how many balls do Marine lose during the course of a season? I must have counted at least 7 going over the roofs, into hedges and in one instance, almost through somebodys bedroom window! No wonder they were trying to get matchball sponsorship in the programme!

Sunday 22nd August 2010
Northern Premier League
Marine 0-2 FC United of Manchester
Attendance: 933

PICKERING TOWN (Mill Lane Recreation Club)

For over 400 clubs, this weekend saw their respective FA Cup campaign get underway and thus they set out on that long and winding road that leads to, err, wembley next May. As I was otherwise engaged on Saturday (busy eating and drinking at a friends party in Derby)  my options were somewhat limited as I had to select from the few Sunday matches scheduled.  This game stood out, for me, as Pickering has been on my "must visit" radar for a while, being one of the most northerly clubs of the Northern Counties East League.

As Pickering's ground is shared with the local cricket team they have to play their first half dozen or so league away from home whilst the cricket season is wrapped up, but with this being an FA Cup tie the game has to take place this weekend, hence why they are playing South Shields, of the Northern League, today.

Pickering is a delightful town on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors,  the ground is just on the outskirts  as you come from Malton. Before the game I had chance to have a brief walk around, sample some lovely fish and chips and grab a quick beer, just a crying shame that the entry in the GBG for Pickering was shut.  

The ground, obviously, is a three sided one with seated stands at one side of the pitch and behind one goal (I was told by a fellow hopper that this is what causes Pickering grief when they are eligible for promotion, as they have the requisite amount of seats but the powers that be insist that they are all together and not split) and a covered terrace behind the other goal, next to the clubhouse.

The match itself was pretty much a one sided affair as Shields looked fitter, more powerful and played the more controlled football. They took the lead after 10 minutes from the penatly spot, Lee Scroggins slotting home. It was Scroggins who doubled the lead on the half hour when he burst through and fired home. He completed his hat-trick two minutes after the re-start with a powerful header from a corner ball. Tom Adams, who was the Pikes' best player today, reduced the deficit after 55 minutes and it did look as if they might drag themselves back into the tie, with plenty of possesion and a few decent efforts. However, with two minutes remaining Chris Wynne finally put the tie beyond any doubt when he netted the fourth Shields goal.

Obviously being my first 'competitive' non-league game of the season I did have my doubts as to why I was starting the process off again for another season, but a great afternoon of good football, amongst fellow hoppers and the doubts soon we go again!

Lee Scroggins opens the scoring for South Shields, from the penalty spot

Sunday 15th August 2010
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Pickering Town 1-4 South Shields
Attendance: 210

CHESTERFIELD (B2net Stadium)

The first Saturday of the new English season and another new ground joins the ranks of the 92, the 29th to do so since Scunthorpe started the trend in 1988. After 139 years the Recreation Ground, Saltergate has bitten the dust and Chesterfield have moved to a purpose built ground 1.5 miles away, the B2Net Stadium.

Normally when a club moves to an out of town ground like this, it is usually in the middle of nowhere but this ground has been built on the site of and old glassworks just off the A61, as part of a re-generation scheme.

Naturally the obligatory supermarket is adjacent to the new stadium, but also on the Sheffield Road is a row of shops, takeaways and pubs, including the Derby Tup which just happens to be in the GBG and just happens to have ten handpulls of real ale!

The ground, as like most new grounds, is pretty bland and uninspiring but they have tried to make it a little bit different by arching the roof of the two stands that run alongside the pitch. The two stands behind each goal are your traditional new build stands. The capacity of the new ground is set at 10,400 but that was not needed today as just over 6,000 were present to witness this historic occasion.

Even with just over 6,000 fans, there were still massive queues outside the ground at 2.45 all trying to purchase tickets to gain entry. I had a hunch it could be a bit of a mither getting tickets in the Chesterfield end (new computer system, phonelines etc) so I contacted the Barnet ticket office, purchased from them and sat with the travelling Hertfordshire hordes in the Printability North Stand.

The game was entertaining enough and Chesterfield led at the interval after a very even first half, Dwayne Mattis, scoring the first ever league goal at the B2Net, giving them a 24th minute lead. The Spirerites extended their lead when Jack Lester curled home a shot on the hour mark. Barnet continued to press on and cut the deficit on 70 minutes when Glenn Poole blasted a shot into the top corner.

On 83 minutes a dreadful lunge on Steve Kabba by Craig Davies resulted in the Chesterfield man receiving a straight red card and the Barnet man leaving the field on a stretcher. The Bees made the numerical advantage count in terms of attacking play but they couldnt force the equaliser, even in the 7 minutes of stoppage time.

Enjoyable day out in the August sunshine and the only blot on the afternoon was the jobsworth prick in the yellow coat who had a go at me for taking pictures of the ground, "no photo's with a camara" he insisted, so unfortunately readers the majority of the pictures of the new ground that go with this note were taken on a mobile phone........

Steve Kabba leaves the field on a stretcher after a
tackle by Craig Davies, who was red carded.

chief jobsworth twat (centre) making his notes...
1619 reprimanded some hopper with a camera.

Saturday 7th August 2010
Football League Two
Chesterfield 2-1 Barnet
Attendance: 6,431


CHESTER FC (Deva Stadium)

Sunday 1st August 2010
Pre-Season Friendly
Chester 4-0 Wigan Athletic
Attendance: 1,638

Thought i'd do a quick write up of my visit to The Deva for this friendly. Its been over two years since I set foot in the Deva and the troubles that have occured in the meantime have been well documented.

Hopefully that is now all in the past as the fans set about rebuilding the club and its reputation in the footballing community.

Today's friendly was squeezed into the Latics' schedule as a favour to the fledgling club by former players Roberto Martinez and Graham Barrow.

Chester paraded what is now their brand new first team squad but for Wigan it was a squad full of youth and reserve players.

This should not take the gloss of what was a great performance by Chester as they cruised to an emphatic 4-0 win. Goals from Michael Wilde, Ollie Ryan, Rob Hopley and George Horan secured the victory for the Blues and they played some good stuff to boot.

The very respectable crowd of 1,638 (there was a race meeting on at the roodee) went home very happy and can look forward to the coming season (in the Evo-Stick Division One North) with great optimism.


Michael Wilde is denied by the Wigan goalkeeper

Rob Hopley heads home Chester's 3rd goal