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My Matchday - 474 Borough Briggs

Elgin City 3v2 Stirling Albion
Petrofac Training Cup 1st Round
Saturday 25th July 2015
 I decided that for my 50th birthday to go somewhere different and as I'm not the sort of person who gives into cliché or type, there was no trip to New York or a holiday in the sun.
As my birthday fell on a Saturday there had to be football involved, so I decided to head as far north as possible, with a night in Inverness and to visit the northernmost senior league ground in the UK*.

Whereabouts and Whatsabouts
Elgin is a former cathedral city and Royal Burgh, the administrative and commercial centre for Moray. The town sits south of the River Lossie on the higher ground above the floodplain and was first documented in the Cartulary of Moray in 1190 AD. It was created a Royal Burgh in the 12th century by King David I of Scotland and by that time had a castle in the west on top of the present day Lady Hill. Nowadays the former castle site on the hilltop is an 80 feet monument erected in 1839 in honour of the 5th Duke of Gordon, the first commander of the Gordon Highlanders regiment.
The modern town straddles the river, splitting the suburbs of Bishopmill to the north and New Elgin to the south. Rare Permo-Triassic rocks are commonly found around Elgin, which comprises of aeolian sandstone formed when the area was subjected to desert conditions. 
 Plantpot History
In the late 19th century there had been two different clubs that used the Elgin City name. The first of which was founded in October 1879, but lasted for only a short time before a new club was formed in October 1884 and continued until early 1887. The present club was formed on the 10th August 1893 by the union of Elgin clubs, Rovers (Formed 1887) and Vale of Lossie (Founded 1888). The present club's first major honour came in the 1898/99 season when they became the first club outside Inverness to win the North of Scotland Cup beating Clachnacuddin 2-1. The Black and Whites have gone on to win this trophy a total of 18 times including a club record victory in the competition, when they hammered Brora Rangers 18–1 in February 1960.
Elgin City became members of the Scottish Football League in 2000, when the league was expanded with two new clubs, as Peterhead joined them from the Highland League. The club were league champions for the first time in 1931-32 and they won a total of 15 titles as well as lifting the League Cup on five occasions.
 Ground no.474 Borough Briggs
(Scottish Grounds 66 Scottish League Grounds 32/42

Elgin City moved from Cooper Park to Borough Briggs in 1921.The Main Stand looks in great nick for its age, the white exterior walls have the club and ground name proudly displayed at the entrance. The stand sits on the halfway line with a capacity of 478, although I stood on the terraces I may have already park my backside on one of its seats, as it is filled with seats giving to the club from Newcastle United when the club were elected to the Scottish League and the Toon were revamping the Milburn Stand. Next to the stand is a small open terrace at one side, with the snack bar which also sells club merchandise on the other side in front of the turnstile entrance. The team dugouts and four sets of thin floodlight pylons are also on this side. Opposite is a pitch length covered enclosure, which has four sets of floodlights which go through the roof and onto the terrace.Behind each goal is new terracing with grass banking behind, so on a lovely summer’s afternoon it was nice to lie on the lawn and watch the game.
The ground currently capacity is 4,520, with a record attendance of 12,608 against Arbroath on the 17th February 1968 in the Scottish Cup.
 The Match
The Black and Whites twice came from behind to book their place in the second round of the Scottish Challenge Cup.Craig Beattie fired Stirling into the lead on 19 minutes when he capitalised on a misplaced backpass, then just before the break the hosts were back in it, after a foul in the box saw Craig Gunn stroke home the resulting spot kick.
Stirling looked to have taking charge of the tie, when Sandy Cunningham was on hand to fire in the rebound in the 55th minute after the initial shot hit the post, but City quickly responded making it all square five minutes later when Jamie Duff  fired in a right wing cross from six yards.
Elgin dominated the closing stages and were awarded for their efforts when Brian Cameron volleyed in a superb winner to save the match going into extra time and allow us to catch the earlier train back to Inverness.

Matchday Stats
ECFC 3(Gunn 42 Duff 60 Cameron 83) SAFC 2(Beattie 19 Cunningham 54)
Att.612
Top Bloke - Marc McKenzie (Elgin City)

Spondoolicks
Admission £10
Programme £2
Pin badge £2.50
Fridge magnet £2
Coffee 60p
 My Matchday
After my two nights in Glasgow, I headed across to Edinburgh on Friday for a birthday eve night out. I met up with the breadknife who was arriving on the 1555 train from Newcastle, and we headed to the James Little guest house for our overnight stay. There was mince 'n' tatties on the menu, which was good blotting paper for our pub crawl around the south side of Edinburgh. We were joined by James' pal John and later Jamie McQueen, who had been to the match at Whitehill Welfare.
After a heavy drink and a late night, me and the breadknife were up sharp at 7am for the Megabus trip to Inverness, where we arrived just after midday. On our arrival there was just enough time to drop off our luggage at the hotel, buy our tickets and catch the 1247 Aberdeen train to Elgin. 
Before the match there was the obvious stop off at Wetherspoons, where I enjoyed a tasty Highland Burger and my first birthday drinks of the day. Just prior to kick off I had a quick flick through the matchday programme to find that Elgin City were good enough to wish me a happy birthday, which was a very nice touch ... but how did they know?
Another canny bevvy was enjoyed for my birthday night in Inverness where we found some cracking little pubs and also a few lively ones. The town centre was jumping and I've never seen so many lasses wearing mini-skirts. So much so that I saw more pairs of legs in one night than I've seen watching football so far this season.
So that was my 50th birthday... a wee tour of Scotland, 3 matches and 4 days on the lash. I can now boast that I spent my half a century birthday at the most northerly league ground in Britain*, and not many people, if at all anyone outside Elgin can make that claim.
(* English 92 and Scottish 42)


Foetoes (Matchday album of 32 pictures from Borough Briggs)

My Matchday - 473 Abbey Park

Kilwinning Rangers 1v3 Kilmarnock
Pre-Season Friendly
Thursday 23rd July 2015
 Following on from the match at Kilsyth the previous evening, the second game on my Glasgow stopover was 20 miles south of the city in Kilwinning.
Whereabouts and Whatsabouts
Kilwinning is a town on the River Garnock known as "The Crossroads of Ayrshire" Its ancient name is Segdoune/Saigtow from the word 'Sanctoun', meaning ‘Saint town’. Kilwinning is steeped in religious history deriving from its 12th century Abbey, the site of which is said to have been revealed to Saint Winning by a visionary Angel. It was founded sometime between 1162 and 1188 with monks coming from Kelso, dedicated to Saint Winning and the Virgin Mary. The date assigned to St Winin is 715 AD, when his festival was celebrated on the 21st January, when a town fair was held and called St Winning's Day.
According to legend the Saint sent his monks to fish in the River Garnock, however no matter how hard they tried they could even catch a tiddler. The dejected saint placed a curse on the river, preventing it from ever having fish in its waters; the river responded by changing course and thereby avoiding the curse.
This part of North Ayrshire was where the missionary enterprise began in Scotland, with the Celtic Christians or Culdees founded here. The town is also home to the oldest Masonic Lodge not only in Scotland, but the world. The Mother Lodge of Scotland attributing its origins to the 12th Century, and is often called Mother Kilwinning
Kilwinning was a noted centre of Archery in medieval times. Later the town had an association with coal mining, quarrying, iron-founding and textile manufacture, with the Pringle knitwear company originally manufactured their goods in the town.
Kilwinning fell within the area designated to Irvine New in 1966, expanding with new estates built on surrounding farmland to meet the planned increase in population. This included new inhabitants relocated from the Glasgow overflow, and according to the last Census the population is just over 16,000.
Modern industries include the manufacture of plastics and electronics. The refurbishment of Kilwinning Main Street in 2010 by Irvine Bay Regeneration Company led to a number of new businesses opening shops in the town centre, one of a number of regeneration projects in the Irvine Bay area.
Plantpot History
Kilwinning Rangers formed in 1899 and are affectionately known as “The Buffs” a nickname giving to them by the Irvine Herald newspaper after an emphatic win over Kilmarnock Belgrove in 1900. The club began life as a juvenile club, originally playing at Blacklands Park, which they shared with senior team Eglinton Seniors, before officially joining the Junior ranks on the 26th July 1902. The club bagged their first trophy in the Ayrshire Cup in 1905 and won the the Ayrshire First Division in 1920-21, becoming champions an additional nine times throughout their history.
The Junior Cup was won for the first time in 1909, beating Strathclyde 1-0 in a replay after the original tie finished goalless. The Buffs lost out twice in the final against Ashfield in 1910 and St Rochs in 1922, before finally lifting the trophy again after a 90 year wait, when a goal from Gerry Peline was good enough to beat Kelty Hearts at Firhill Park. That 1999 success meant they were the first and last Ayrshire club to win the Scottish Junior Cup in the 20th century, which topped off their greatest season when they won six trophies in 1998-99.
Kilwinning were the second club and the first from Ayrshire to win the West Super League in the 2003-04 season, but over recent years they’ve yo-yoed between the Super League First Division and the Ayrshire District  League, winning promotion again last season. 
Ground no.473 Abbey Park
(Scottish Grounds 65 SJFA Grounds 19 Lifetime Junior Cup Winners 13/27)
Abbey Park is hidden off Church Street, just a short walk from Main Street. From the corner entrance there's seven wooden sleeper steps running up half way towards the away dugout. These sleepers are also behind the far goal with a covered terraced enclosure opposite. The main part of the ground is down one side behind the home dugout. There are cabins which provides catering, a hospitality bar, toilets and the changing rooms. After walking around the ground I discovered there's another paying entrance around the far side, although this too lacks a sign to let you know this is the home of Kilwinning Rangers. The ground looks in great nick, the pitch is immaculate (Aye, I know its still July) and overall the lawns and facilities are well maintained.
The Match
Kilmarnock are regular pre-season visitors to Abbey Park. The Buffs wear blue and white hooped shirts, but tonight they were kitted out in an all lemon number, while Killie wore all orange, so this along with the bright sunshine gave it a summery feeling.
Kilwinning took the lead after just seven minutes when a 20 yard free kick from a central position was nicely placed out of the 'keeper's reach by Ben Lewis. Kilmarnock quickly responded and equalised minutes later when Scott McClean headed home a left wing cross. The first half was pretty even, but it was the senior side that dominated the second half, snatching victory with two goals in the last ten minutes. The game seemed to be heading for a draw until substitute Jack Whittaker got on the end of a right wing cross with a neat side foot volley at the far post. Moments later a shot from Adam Frizzell took a big reflection off the defender to wrong foot the goalie to make it 3-1. Judging by this performance I think the Buffs will do OK in the Super League First Division this season, while Killie have a few talented young'uns on their books.
Matchday Stats and Spondoolicks
KRFC 1(Lewis 7) KFC 3(McClean 13 Whittaker 80 Frizzell 81)
Att.270.apx
Top Bloke - Dean Hawkshaw(Kilmarnock)
Admission £4
Mince & onion pie and coffee £2.30
My Matchday
After a pleasant day in Glasgow, where I got up to my usual gubbins of pub ticking and record store shopping, I caught the train down to Kilwinkie at 6pm. I didn't have to time for a bevvy in the town before or after the game, but a steady pub crawl of about 5 pubs from station to ground is an option for visitors. After returning to Glasgow I called into The Horse Shoe, my favourite pub in the city then a couple of bevvys on Sauchiehall Street, before retiring back at my digs after a long eventful day.
I had a smashing couple of days in Glasgow, my next stop on my wee Scottish tour is Edinburgh, where I'll be meeting up with the breadknife, James Little and Jamie McQ for a birthday eve night out, before my next match which is as far north as I could possibly get to this Saturday.
Foetoes  (Matchday album of 20 pictures from Abbey Park)

I'm in the process of writing a book on the winners of the Junior Cup over the last 50 years, so there'll be a more detailed account of my Kilwinning visit in the publication.

My Matchday - 472 Duncansfield Park

Kilsyth Rangers 0v4 St Roch's
Pre-Season Friendly
Wednesday 22nd July 2015
 This was the week of my 50th birthday so I headed off to Scotland for a few days beginning with two nights in Glasgow. I arrived at 4pm, checked into the guest house, supped a quick couple of pints before catching the 89 bus from Buchanan Street to Kilsyth for the first part of my Kil’ Rangers double.


Whereabouts and Whatsabouts
Kilsyth is a narrow strip of land about 200 feet above sea level, between the Kilsyth Hills and the River Kelvin. The town occupies a sheltered position in the Kelvin Valley, between Kirkintilloch to the west and Falkirk in the east, with the “Tak Ma Doon Road” from Stirling heading from the north to Cumbernauld in the south. The North Lanarkshire town has always been one of the main routes between Glasgow, Falkirk and Edinburgh, and is very close to the Roman Antonine Wall, and the Forth & Clyde Canal.
There is archaeological evidence of a settlement since Neolithic times, before The Romans got in on the act building forts at Colziumbea and Castle Hill  as well as the Antonine Wall forts of Bar Hill and Croy Hill which are clearly still visible from the town. In the Middle Ages its central narrow location made it the prime site for two castles at Balcastle and Colzium which have since been destroyed.
The Civil War Battle of Kilsyth took place on hillsides between Kilsyth and Banton, as part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in August 1645. The battle was another victory for the Royalist general Montrose over the Covenanters despite a numerical disadvantage and marked the end of William Baillie's pursuit of the Royalist forces.

Modern day Kilsyth is now more of a commuter town to nearby Glasgow, having a high proportion of council housing, built during the 1950’s replacing old miner’s rows and run down accommodation. The town can also claim to be the birthplace of the winter sport of curling. The Kilsyth Curling Club was formed in 1716 and is the oldest surviving club in the world. The sport has been played in Kilsyth since the 16th century on the Curling Pond in the Colzium Estate in the east of the town.

Plantpot History
Nicknamed “The Wee Gers” Kilsyth Rangers formed in 1913 and have won the Junior Cup on two occasions. The first of which was in 1955 against Duntocher Hibs, when a huge Hampden Park crowd of 64,976 saw the game end in a 1–1 draw. Less than half that figure saw Kilsyth win the replay 4–1 with all four goals scored by Alex Querrie, the club’s most prolific striker, who is the only player to achieve this feat in a final (so far)
The Wee Gers were red hot favourites to win the trophy two years later but narrowly lost the 1957 final 1-0 against Banks O'Dee. It was ten years before Rangers again graced the final, winning at the second attempt beating Rutherglen Glencairn 3–1 after a 1–1 draw in the first game at Hampden, which was played in front of 22,000 fans.
The club have won a large selection of cup honours, especially during the 1950’s when they lifted the Stirlingshire Junior Cup eight years running and were twice Central League Champions during that decade. Recent years have brought league and cup success for the first time in a long while. After a gap of 30 years the club won the Central League Division One title in 2002-03 followed by the Superleague First Division title in 2004–05.
The club has been a decent breeding ground for players who have gone onto senior level, including six players who have gone on to win full Scotland caps, such as:James Dougall (1 cap 1932),George Mulhall (3 caps 1960-64),Drew Jarvie (3 caps 1971),David Stewart (1cap 1977),Frank McGarvey (7 caps 1979-84) and Willie Wallace (7 caps 1965-69).
 Ground no.472 Duncansfield Park
(Scottish Grounds visited 64 SJFA Grounds 18 Lifetime Junior Cup Winners 12/27)

Duncansfield is another belter Junior ground, dominated by the pitch length covered terrace enclosure on the far side. The stand has a con-iron peaked roof with an old advert in large capital letters for Whiteinch Demolition Ltd, with room for 500 spectators. Opposite at the entrance side is terracing with grass banking behind each goal. The main area of the ground has a car park and two separate buildings; the members bar and the changing rooms. A great feature of the ground is its proper player’s tunnel, which leads from the changing rooms, then underneath the terrace and onto the pitch between the dugouts. There is also a perimeter track and 4 sets of lights on each side.
The current capacity is set at 2,000 but the record attendance at Duncansfield Park is 8,740 for a Scottish Junior cup tie against Broxburn Athletic in 1951 
 The Match
The Wee Gers were in pre-season action for the first time this season against St Roch’s. Before the match I was outside the changing rooms and I overheard one of the team managers telling his team, that this ISN’T a pre-season friendly and to treat it as a competitive match. Judging by the performance and result I’m guessing I had earwigged on the away dressing room.
Kilsyth donning a red changed kit fielded an inexperienced side and were punished for some sloppy play. They went a goal behind when a cross was cut out by the defender who headed past his own ‘keeper after quarter of an hour. Just before the break Jordan Logan banged in a brace, the first with a mazzy run and good finish, before finding the bottom right hand corner again after good work from Mussa. The big number 19 for St Roch’s looked a good player, his stance and movement reminded me of Mario Balottelli, but thankfully he has a good attitude and no stupid haircut. It was he, Baboucarr Mussa who made it 4-0 ten minutes from the restart with a close range finish, before being subbed along with his strike partner Logan.
Kilsyth played much better after the fourth goal, after rearranging the back-four and adding a bit more width, they looked much better going forward, but were unable to find the net and the visitors comfortably kept the clean sheet in a good pre-season performance.

Matchday Stats and Spondoolicks
KRFC 0 StRFC 4(Heenak 15OG Logan 40,41 Mussa 55)
Att.102hc
Top Bloke - Jordan Logan(St Roch’s)
Admission £2
Programme:none
Pin badge £3
My Matchday.
My trip to Glasgow was on the 1239 from Newcastle to Edinburgh, then for a change I caught the bus between the two cities. That’s because it cost a quid on the bus, yes just 100 British pence if you book on the Megabus website, so there’s a handy tip for fellow football travellers. The 89 bus to North Lanarkshire took a good 50 minutes, but the bus stop as it turned out is just outside the ground. When I arrived I was approached by Russell from the club committee who took me inside the Members Club and made sure I got a cuppa tea and sorted out a pin badges, courtesy of fellow committee man John. I had a chat with some of the Kilsyth fans in the bar, all good crack and very friendly.

After the match, I made sure I caught the last bus back to Glasgow, arriving at the bus stop with plenty of time to give the breadknife a ring to let her know I was still alive. Before heading back to my digs I stopped off at the Bon Accord on North Street for a night cap, which was recommended via a Facebook comment by Paul “Splodge” Proctor. Overall a great first day in Glasgow and another day to look forward to when I’ll be heading to North Ayrshire for the second part of my Kil’ Rangers double at Kilwinning.

Foetoes (Matchday album with 33 pictures from Duncansfield)

Footnote
I'm in the process of writing a book on the winners of the Scottish Juniors Cup over the last 50 years, so I'll be writing a more detailed piece on Kilsyth Rangers with a few added extras.

Pre-Season Oddities


The good thing about pre-season is the possibilities of watching matches at venues that aren’t generally used by non-league clubs. A good example is the annual Clayton Charity Cup which this year has its group stage at Wallington’s Oakford Park and for the first time - Selman Park in Heddon-on-the-Wall. The ground is found on the east side of the village and it hosted Group B in the round-robin competition which involves Hexham, newly formed Prudhoe YC Seniors and Heddon St Andrews from the Tyneside Amatuer League. 
Hexham were expected to easily progress through this section of the Tynedale tournament and I was in attendance for their opening match with hosts Heddon St Andrews. As anticipated they took the lead after just 12 minutes when Kurtis Harvey followed in to net from close range but they failed to build on that positive start and fell behind by half time. Just before the half hour mark a Dan Walker daisy cutter free kick from a good 25 yards found the bottom corner of the net, then he repeated the trick five minutes later, this time lifting the ball past the ‘keeper again from a good distance. St Andrews held on to take the three points but that wasn’t the end of proceedings as the match finished with a penalty shoot out for a bonus point, with the hosts winning that as well 4-2 to give them a maximum 4 points on matchday one


 The following night I again headed over to the west end of Newcastle to Blakelaw Park. Ryton & Crawcrook Albion hosted Wearside League newcomers Murton on the park’s 3G pitch as the new surface at their own Kingsley Park ground isn’t quite ready yet. 
The game got off to a lively start with Sam Moore scoring after just three minutes when a clearance by a defender fired off the strikers body and past the helpless ‘keeper. Moore grabbed his second on 26 minutes, but Murton finished the half strongly and halved the deficit when Anth Cowie headed home from a corner kick two minutes before the break. The second half was a goal fest, starting off with a cracking 30 yard drive by Phil Robinson on 55 minutes, quickly followed by a fine strike by Adam Chrostowski. Phil Hodges nodded in on 61 minutes before Chrostowski added his second to make it 6-1. Kendjo Zadjo was introduced as a second half substitute for Murton and he looked quite lively, scoring a brace with two opportunist finishes, which was sandwiched with a second goal for Hodges which made the finally tally 7-3 to Albion.

 My final game of the week was in the former colliery village of Marley Hill, situated six miles south west of Gateshead. As Whickham FC share their ground with the cricket club, I can usually rely on them to host a game elsewhere, so the Marley Hill Welfare ground is the third different venue that I’ve seen the Lang Jacks at “home” but away from the Glebe.
Whickham were up against Felling Magpies, who are part of the Leam Rangers set up, promoted into the Northern Alliance First Division for this season. The match was a good workout for both teams and a comfortable win for Whickham, who had the advantage of the slope and the wind factor in the first half. They took an early lead when a low Mark Pattison free kick(see bottom picture) went under the wall and the ‘keepers body, before Chad Collins doubled their lead on 38 minutes. Just before half time Pattison capitalised on a clumsy error by the goalie to make it 3-0 at the break. 
I watched the match with Squad #121 Paul Johnson, who had travelled up via several buses from Stockton for just another ground tick. We saw Felling improved in the second half but fall further behind late on when Pattison completed his hat-trick with a fine finish on 74 minutes, to round off an easy 4-0 victory for Whickham.

(click on images to enlarge)

Matchday Stats
469. Selman Park
Monday 13th July 2015 (6.45pm ko)
Heddon St Andrews 2(Walker 29,34) Hexham 1(Harvey 12)
Clayton Charity Cup Group B Att.25hc

470. Blakelaw Park(3G)
Tuesday 14th July 2015 (7.30pm ko)
Ryton & Crawcrook Albion 7(Moore 3,26 Robinson 55 Chrostowski 57,67 Hodges 61,79)
Murton 3(Cowie 43 Zadjo 74.84)
Pre Season Friendly  Att.25hc

471. Marley Hill Welfare
Saturday 18th July 2015 (1.30ko)
Whickham 4(Pattison 8,38,74 Collins 38) Felling Magpies 0
Pre Season Friendly Att.34hc


My Matchday - Wirral Double

In 2005 as part of my 40th birthday celebrations, me and the lads had a splendid weekend in Liverpool. So for the tenth anniversary of that memorable weekend(and for another significant birthday) we returned to Merseyside for a couple of nights on the lash. Of course there has to be some football as well, so special thanks to Tranmere Rovers for arrange a double with their Wirral neighbours  to coincided with our visit. 
We travelled down on the Friday afternoon. Jimmy Jimmy and Zippy are survivors from the 2005 team, with Plymouth Pete and Honest Paul replacing absent “pilot light friends"

After a heavy drinking session on Friday night/Saturday morning, I had breakfast and hair of the dog in the new 'Spoons in Lime Street, before we(apart from lightweight Zippy, who was bad with the beer) caught the Merseyrail service from Central Station to Heswall. This was Tranmere's opening friendly in preparation for life in the Conference (can't get used to the new fangled name) with a 1pm kick off. 


467. Gayton Park
Heswall 0v3 Tranmere Rovers
Pre-Season Friendly
Saturday 11th July 2015(1pm ko)
 Heswall is a town in Wirral in the county of Merseyside, located on the eastern side of the Dee Estuary. The town is found in between Liverpool and the Roman city of Chester, with a population of over 16,000, which includes the nearby villages of Barnston and Gayton. 
Prior to the Norman conquest, Heswall has been cited in Egil’s Saga as a possible location for Dingesmere, in the Battle of Brunanburh. Heswall was recorded in the Domesday Book as Eswelle and owned by Robert de Rodelent, as well as much of the land on the eastern side of the River Dee. Before 1897 it was known as Hestlewelle or Hesselwelle, and the small population of the town grew with the arrival of two railway connections to Liverpool and the Borderlands Line between Bidston and Wrexham.

The town is the birthplace to quite a few famous people including former England cricket captain Ian Botham, Bullseye presenter Jim Bowen and a couple of ex-footballers like Paul Bracewell, Ian Woan and Scott Minto. The town also gave birth to vocalist Ian Astbury from The Cult and Andy McCluskey, the singer from OMD who had a dancing style similar to my old Geography teacher at the end of term disco.

In August 1939 a radio broadcasting legend was born in Heswall, one John Robert Parker Ravenscroft who became Radio One DJ John Peel. I used to listen to his late night show as a young teenager, lying in bed with an old transistor radio glued to my lug. When I got my first radio/cassette player I used to tape all the Peel sessions, amassing dozens of tapes of performances from punk bands from the late 70’s early 80’s.


 Heswall FC have been in existence since 1891 and joined the West Cheshire League in 1958-59. They were promoted to the First Division as Second Division champions in 1968-69, winning the top division twice in 2004-05 and 2012-13. They also reached the third round of the FA Vase on three occasions during the 1980’s.
Gayton Park is hidden off the main road between the rail station and the town centre. The ground has a small covered enclosure with one dugout at each side. The impressive clubhouse is at the top corner of the ground elevated about the pitch and its leafy surroundings make it a pleasant venue to watch football.


 A decent crowd was in attendance to see Rovers ran out comfortable winners with three first half goals. Jack Fleming headed Tranmere in to the lead on 17 minutes, before Lois Maynard doubled the lead from close range just half the half hour mark. On the stroke of half time Liam Ridehalgh rifled in from 20 yards. In the second half Rovers fielded a fresh set of players but they were unable to add to the tally in which was a good workout against the West Cheshire League side.

On route to the match I met Steve Horton(100FgC #87) for the first time and at the game another first meeting with Stuart Latham (100Fgc #94) which means I’ve now met 62 original members of this gang. Also at the match I swapped a smile, a nod, a wink and an “Alreet!” with Nigel Blackwell from Half Man Half Biscuit. 
My mates knicked off back across to Liverpool while Steve took advantage of a rare visit to this side of the Mersey to tick off some CAMRA pubs. Thankfully Stuart agreed to travel down to Vauxhall, so instead of trying to cadge a lift off a kind stranger (as public transport between to two grounds is too much of a clart on) I was sorted for the second game of the day in Ellsemere Port.

Matchday Stats
HFC 0 TRFC 3(Fleming 17 Maynard 33 Ridehalgh 45)
Att.450.apx
Admission with programme: £4

468. Riveracre Park
Vauxhall Motors 0v7 Tranmere Rovers
Pre-Season Friendly
Saturday 11th July 2015 (4pm ko)

The distance between the two grounds is just over 8 miles so we arrived a good 45 minutes before kick off, so plenty of time for a chat and something to eat before the game. Riveracre Park is found just off the M53, the club originally played on the company-owned Hooton Park, before moving here in 1987. The ground brags a large car park, although we struggled to get a decent spot and I avoided having a pint at the Astra Bar in the entrance grounds, as I was still feeling a wee bit fragile.
The ground has a main stand on one side with a capacity of 350 blue and white flip seats. The large dugouts are in front of the stand which means the bottom two rows of seats have a restricted view. Opposite the stand is a fairly large standing enclosure and there’s open hard standing areas behind each goal. The changing rooms are next to the turnstile entrance along with the Cafe Bar.
 The town of Ellesmere Port was founded at the outlet of the never completed Ellesmere Canal, originally part of a project to connect the rivers Severn, Mersey and Dee. The canal was intended to be completed in sections, but due to financial problems the canal never reached the Severn. The village of Netherpool gradually changed its name to the Port of Ellesmere, then to Ellesmere Port in the early 19th century.
The growth of the expanding industrial areas around the canal and its docks attracted more workers to the region, to incorporate the villages of Great and Little Sutton, Hooton, Whitby, 
Overpool and Rivacre as suburbs, once the the Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894. 
In the 20th century, a number of new private and council housing estates were developed, many of them on the sites of former farms such as Hope Farm and Grange Farm. The demand for housing increased with the opening of the Vauxhall Motors car plant in 1962, opened as a components supplier to its main Luton plant. It’s now Vauxhall's only car factory in the UK since the end of passenger car production at the Luton plant in 2004, and employs 2,500 workers.
Out of the car plant came a football club - Vauxhall Motors F.C. was founded in 1963, beginning life playing in the Ellesmere Port League and the Wirral Combination.The club progressed to the  West Cheshire League, becoming championship in the 1985–86 season, before joining the North West Counties League in 1987. They won the league's Second Division in their second season, then finished fourth in the First Division in 1989–90, but after just two more seasons the board took the decision to move back down to the West Cheshire League.
In 1995-96 they rejoined the NWCL, again winning the Division Two title, then at the turn of the millennium joined the Northern Premier League after becoming Division One champions as well as reaching the semi finals of the FA Vase. Another promotion quickly followed, before the high point in the club’s history when they knocked out Queens Park Rangers in the first round of the FA Cup in 2002-03. 
The Motormen were placed in the Conference North after the pyramid reconstruction in 2004, escaping relegation due to the misfortune of other clubs.In March 2014 the club announced its intention to withdraw from the Conference North due to "ever-increasing costs" leaving the club with no alternative but to return to the West Cheshire League to stabilise and rebuild once again for the future.

The Motormen provided a stiffer test for Tranmere with new signing Andy Mangan producing a good finish on 31 minutes to give the visitors a slender half time lead. Again for the second half a new team took the field which meant over 40 players had represented the club on this afternoon. The team was made up of trialists for the second half and one of them was the star of the show. After just 15 seconds “Trialist H’ fired in with a fierce shot before helping himself to another three goals and hitting the woodwork twice, surely this lad has done enough to earn himself a contract. Another two trialists “J” and “I” scored late on to round off a brilliant second half performance from players playing for their futures.


Matchday Stats
VMFC 0 TRFC 7(Mangan31 Trialist H 46 60 77 81 Trialist J 85 Trialist I 87)
Att.400.apx
Top Bloke - Trialist H
Admission £3
Programme:none
Coffee £1.50
Pasty £1.50, Mars Bar 70p


After the match Stuart was kind enough to drop me off at Hooton station and I only had to wait a few minutes for a train, so I was back in Liverpool by 6.20pm. I returned to the hotel earlier than I anticipated so I was ready for the second part of our Liverpool CAMRA trail by half seven. Overall we had a fantastic weekend. I always enjoy my visits to Liverpool,  so much so that we’re already making plans to come back again next year, as it’s Jimmy Jimmy’s turn to have a significant birthday celebration.


My Matchday photo album (32 pictures from both games)