My Matchday 131 - Hurst Cross

Ashton United 0v3 Gateshead
Unibond League Premier Division
24th March 2007
This was my first of three games in three days, (marvellous!) as it was all aboard the Heed Army Charabanc to Greater Manchester for Gateshead’s Unibond Premier League clash at Ashton United
Ashton United history goes as far back as 1878,under their previous name of Hurst FC, it wasn’t until 1909 that they first played competitive league football,playing in the Manchester League and going on to lift there first title in 1912 after having previous success in the Manchester Senior Cup.
They then joined the Lancashire Combinations League (1917 Champions) and later the Cheshire County League until 1946 when they changed their name to the club we know today,Ashton United FC.
Their league history yo-yoed between the two associations including a brief spell in the Midland League,until becoming founder members of the North Western Counties League in 1982, after relegation and a brief spell in the 2nd Division, they regained promotion,but the club was in financial trouble with the Hurst Cross ground in decay and in need of some tender loving care.
The Robins found that tender care in 1990 through Businessman Terry Liversidge who helped turn the club around and transform the ground,his faith in the club was rewarded in 1992 when the club had their most successful season in their history winning the NWCL,League Cup,League Challenge Cup and Manchester Premier Cup.
The club took the step up to the Northern Premier League 1st Division and after a ten year stint in which they finished 3rd six times they finally made it into the Premier Division via the inaugural play offs of 2002, they became founder members of the Conference North in 2004 but alas were relegated in that first season, and so reside back in the Unibond Premier Division.
Ashton-Under-Lyne lies in the Metropolis district of Tameside, under the Pennine Hills,so this meant about a 3 hour journey from the Heed,so after a shift at work and an early finish achieved with a little help from a work colleague(Cheers Gav!) I made the coach pick up at 10.10am and we arrived at Ashton at around 1.30pm, the trip included a half-hour bait stop and a brief “You don’t know where you’re going” moment aimed at the coach driver after getting lost,all this on top of being fed 5 bottles of dodgy Brazilian bottled lager,so it was straight off the bus and into the nearest boozer(be it a ManYoo pub)for a few pints of John Smith’s Smooth.
Apart from it being a day out supporting Gateshead and grabbing ground no.131,it also was a farewell appearance for Private Goody,who was going from Heed Army to Real Army back to his day job of being a member of our Armed Forces,his regiment are posted out to Afghanistan this week for 6 months,so this was his last match and last good drink till the Autumn,so the best of luck to him,having to be teetotal that is. ;-)
I was told by Captain Carter on the way to Ashton that I would love the ground because it’s a dump,well I’ve seen worse,but Hurst Cross certainly doesn’t lack character.The grounds capacity is 4500,it has two uncovered terraces behind each goal,the Lees Road End which is classed as the away end(well it was for the first half)and the Rowley Street End which is a smaller standing area,in each corner of the terrace is a toilet which is basically a wall to piss on(see bottom pic)
The main stand is called the Sid Sykes Stand which is named after (not Eric’s brother) the clubs former chairman, it holds 240 seats,but only about a dozen punters take up this offer,it also holds a press box at the rear and on top of it’s red roof are 11 flag poles with the flags of Lancashire,the five home nations,Union Jacks and also(don’t know why?)Spain and France.To the left of the stand is a sponsors box and the very pleasant and homely social club,to the right is the refreshment area and club shop,these buildings have been painted red to blend in with the stand.
The opposite side is the Popular Stand,this is a covered terrace with a 500 spectator capacity, the black back wall has AUFC painted in white,this stand to be honest looks a bit tattie,and could do with a facelift,light comes via four thin pylons on each side of the pitch.
The match itself was a comfortable 3-0 win for the Tynesiders,this following on from their fabulous 6-0 win over Grantham in midweek,the support for Gateshead was superb on the day as the Heed Army sang throughout (a particular mention to Ashton United keeper Lee Bracy who took it in good spirits regarding the ribbing of his lack of hair)and celebrated Italian style by setting off a orange smoke bomb,which was something I thought I’d never see in the Unibond League,so a smoking end to a smoking performance, and a good day all round.

Links -
Ashton Match Report
Gateshead Match Report
Heed Army Blog Fan Pics
HeedForum pictures and here.


fitba daft said...

Haha..your toilet photo is superb!

Anonymous said...

Not the best ground but the Gateshead supporters made up for that. What a great bunch of supporters we are.

Pieman said...

Smid - I went to Hurst Cross a few years back and liked the place. You need to be careful with dodgy foreign beers, not sure about the Brazilian lager but the Cambridge Dustman has been suffering recently as a result of some Polish stuff. Looking Forward to your Darlo report.

Casey Jones said...

To back up the concerns over dodgy foreign beer expressed by the Pieman. I had the misfortune to witness the result of consumption of some of very dodgy looking Polish Lager, when our fellow travelling Spurs fan "The Cambridge Dustman", purchased four cans from an equally dodgy looking off-license near Kings Cross after a recent trip to The Emirates Stadium. Known to be a bit of a lightweight when it comes to his ale, he set about "decorating" the pavements in variuos parts of Cambridge very shortly after he finished his fourth can, causing one young girl to hurdle one of his better efforts to avoid being covered! So be warned, stick to what we know!

Pieman said...

I agree with Jamie about the toilet photo. There was a similar facility at Eccleshill United last Tuesday but apart from my struggles with new camera (all resolved now as per Swansea blog) and frostbite, I did not have a group of Gateshead fans to pose for the picture.

Shaun said...

I might start a sister site and call it 'Great Sporting Toilets' or 'The Football Bog Blog' :-)

Stevie C said...

Im not too sure the toilet was actually a toilet.

Shaun said...

Well Stevie there was no other urinal alternatives,and there was one of these in a corner of each terrace,mefinks it qualifies for a bog!